Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


17 Entries

'In what does free will consist, then, and how may our efforts be considered praiseworthy if God begins and ends in us everything that pertains to our perfection?' It would be odd indeed if in every work and practice of discipline there were only a beginning and an end, and not also something in the middle. Accordingly, just as we know that God offers opportunities for salvation in different ways, so also it is up to us to be either more or less attentive to the opportunities that have been granted to us by God. For just as 'leave your country' was a matter of God's beckoning, so the leaving was a matter of Abraham's obedience; and just as there was need of an obedient person so that the words 'come to the land' would be fulfilled, so the words that are added 'which I shall show you' are due to the grace of the God Who commands and promises. (Abba Paphnutius) St. John Cassian, The Conferences

... Thou art not the sole author of the evil, but there is also another most wicked prompter, the devil. He indeed suggests, but does not get the mastery by force over those who do not consent. Second Catechetical Lecture Of Our Holy Father Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem, Lecture Ii.- On Repentance And Remission Of Sins, And Concerning The Adversary

...habit is wont to alter nature and change its action in accordance with the direction of the will. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 123)

At the first call and beckoning of grace, at the first entering within, the spiritual realm opens up before us, and we are granted the vision of another world, independently of whether we desire it or not. But afterwards this vision, together with the power to dwell constantly within, are left to man's free choice and we must work to attain them. The Art of Prayer compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valamo

Do not abandon the will of God in order to serve the will of man. Glinsk elder Schema-hieromonk Andronicus Lukasha (1889-1974) (From the book Glinsk Mosaic: Pilgrims’ Recollections of the Glinsk Hermitage, 1942-1961, Pilgrim Publishers, Moscow, 1997.)

Do not abandon the will of God in order to serve the will of man. Glinsk elder Schema-hieromonk Andronicus Lukasha (1889-1974) (Glinsk Mosaic: Pilgrims’ Recollections of the Glinsk Hermitage, 1942-1961, Pilgrim Publishers, Moscow, 1997.)

For he lieth not who said, that to them that love God all things work together for good. God is lavish in beneficence, yet He waits for each man's genuine will: therefore the Apostle added and said, to them that are called according to a purpose[7]. The honesty of purpose makes thee called: for if thy body be here but not thy mind, it profiteth thee nothing. Procatechesis, Or, Prologue To The Catechetical Lectures Of Our Holy Father, Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem

If the soul is vigilant and withdraws from all distraction and abandons its own will, then the spirit of God invades it and it can conceive because it is free to do so. St. Theophan the Recluse

It is true that God, in His unbounded mercy, often does good to men without their faith; but in seeking faith from men, God lays emphasis on the dignity of men as free and rational beings. How is man free and rational if he, on his part, is not ready to contribute to his own salvation? God seeks of men the least that it is possible to seek: faith in the living God, in His love for men and His constant readiness to give to man, and do for him, all that works towards his good. Bp. Nikolai Velimirovic, Homilies, Vol. 2

Spiritual virtue is the daughter of the will's virtue, and necessarily so. Therefore free will, not bondage, is the natural power of reason. But when it is diverted to one side or the other and stays there, then it gives birth to another power that does not belong to the natural state. When this is born, free will is ruled by, and in servitude to, compulsion, and I dare say that it is bound and has no dominion over itself. Before this, compulsion was a matter of the will, but now compulsion has enslaved the will. St. Isaac of Syria, The Ascetical Homilies

There are three things that move us to the good: natural tendencies, the holy Powers, good choice. The natural tendencies - as, for instance, when what we wish men would do for us, we likewise do for them; or, when we see someone in sore straits, we then naturally have pity. The holy Powers - as when moved to some fine deed, we experience their good assistance and prosper. Good choice - when, for example, discerning good from evil, we choose the good. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Ascetic Life and Four Centuries on Charity

You must sacrifice everything to God and do only His will. Yet you will meet in yourself as many wills as you have powers and wants, which all clamor for satisfaction, irrespective of whether it is in accordance with the will of God or not. Therefore, to reach your desired aim, it is first of all necessary to stifle your own wills and finally to extinguish and kill them altogether. And in order to succeed in this, you must constantly oppose all evil in yourself and urge yourself towards good. In other words, you must ceaselessly fight against yourself and against everything that panders to your own wills, that incites and supports them. Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare Chapter 1)

85. A passion which we allow to grow active within us through our own choice afterwards forces itself upon us against our will. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

159. He who is under the power of sin cannot by himself prevail over the will of the flesh, because he suffers continual stimulation in all his members. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

161. He who tries to conquer his own will by means of obedience and prayer is following a wise ascetic method. His renunciation of external things indicates his inward struggle. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

Our Lord and Savior shows us this holy will (when our will perfectly says 'Thy will be done...') by giving us the example of its being done in Himself in order to suppress the free will of the flesh in us when He says: "I have come not to do my own will, but to do the will of the One who sent me." And again He says in His holy passion: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by." This voice of fear in the Lord was that of the flesh He had assumed, and shows us that the acts of life must always be well considered if death to come must be feared. . . . REF:St Benedict of Nursia, from "The Rule of the Master" - (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 95 - 101

The simplest means for confining the will within its proper bounds lies in disposing children to do nothing without permission. Let them be eager to run to their parents and ask: May I do this or that? They should be persuaded by their own experience and that of others that to fulfill their own desires without asking is dangerous; they should be put in such a frame of mind that they even fear their own will. REF:St Theophan the Recluse, "The Path to Salvation" p 58

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