Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

works

93 Entries

"Abraham was not justified by works, but by faith [Rom. 4:3]. Therefore, even if they do good works now, it is of no advantage to them after death, if they do not have faith. Clement of Alexandria (190 AD)Miscellanies bk. 1, chap. 7)



"Man is like a tree; physical work is the leaves, and the guarding of the heart is the fruit. Since, according to the Scriptures, 'every tree which brings not forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire' (Matt. 3:10), it is evident that all our care must be for the fruit, that is, for guarding the mind. Yet the covering and adornment of leaves, that is, physical work, is also necessary for us. Nicephorus the Solitary (Profitable Discourse on Sobriety Chapter 13)

"When Scripture says, 'He will reward every man according to his works' (Matt. 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the Kingdom. On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but God our Creator and Redeemer. St. Mark the Ascetic.

... every time we banish negligence and force ourselves to do the work we should with diligence, Angels in heaven prepare for us the crown of a glorious victory; and that, on the contrary, not only has God no crowns for the negligent, but that little by little He takes back from them the gifts He had bestowed upon them for their former diligence in His service, and will finally deprive them of His kingdom if they continue to be negligent... Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 20)

...a man has no right to be called faithful, if his faith is a bare word and if he has not in him a faith made active by love or the Spirit. Thus faith must be made evident by progress in works, or it must act in the light and shine in works, as the divine Apostle says: 'Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works' (James 2:18), thus showing that the faith of grace is made evident by works performed in accordance with the commandments, just as the commandments are fulfilled in deed and are made bright through the faith which is in grace. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 119)

...we ought to learn the virtues through practicing them, not merely through talking about them, so that by acquiring the habit of them we do not forget what is of benefit to us. 'The kingdom of God', St. Paul says, 'resides not in words but in power' (I Cor. 4:20). For he who tries to discover things through actual practice will come to understand what gain or loss lies in any activity that he pursues..." St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1:A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 183)

...when the intellect forgets the purpose of a religious observance, the outward practice of virtue loses its value. For whatever is done indiscriminately and without purpose is not only of no benefit - even though good in itself - but actually does harm. St. John of Damaskos(On the Virtues and the Vices)

...without love the works of virtue are not praiseworthy or profitable to the man who practices them, and the same is true of love without works. St. Paul makes this fully clear with reference to works when he writes to the Corinthians, 'If I do this and that, but have no love, it profits me nothing' (cf. I Cor. 13:1-3); and with reference to love the disciple especially beloved by Christ writes, 'Let us not love in word or tongue but in action and truth' (I John 3:18). St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 58, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg.373)

2. For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice: and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines. Catechetical Lectures Of Our Holy Father, Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem - Lecture Iv: On The Ten[1] Points Of Doctrine

After our forefather's transgression in paradise through the tree, we suffered the death of our soul - which is the separation of the soul from God - prior to our bodily death; yet although we cast away our divine likeness, we did not lose our divine image. Thus when the soul renounces its attachment to inferior things and cleaves through love to God and submits itself to Him through acts and modes of virtue, it is illuminated and made beautiful by God and is raised to a higher level, obeying His counsels and exhortations; and by these means it regains the truly eternal life. Through this life it makes the body conjoined to it immortal, so that in due time the body attains the promised resurrection and participates in eternal glory. St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 39, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 363

An old man was asked, 'How can I find God?' He said, 'In fasting, in watching, in labors, in devotion, and, above all, in discernment. I tell you, many have injured their bodies without discernment and have gone away from us having achieved nothing. Our mouths smell bad through fasting, we know the Scriptures by heart, we recite all the Psalms of David, but we have not that which God seeks: charity and humility.' The Desert Fathers

And just as tools without the workmen and the workmen without tools are unable to do anything, just so neither is faith without the fulfillment of the commandments, nor the fulfillment of the commandments without faith able to renew and re-create us, nor make us new men from the old. But, whenever we do possess both within a heart free of doubt, then we shall become the Master's vessels, be made fit for the reception of the spiritual myrrh. Then, too, will He Who makes darkness His hiding-place renew us by the gift of the Holy Spirit and raise us up new instead of old, and part the veil of His darkness and carry our mind away and allow it to peek as through some narrow opening, and grant it to see Him, still somehow dimly, and one might look on the disk of the sun or moon. It is then that the mind is taught -- or, put better -- knows and is initiated, and is assumed that that truly in no other way does one arrive at even partial participation in the ineffable good things of God except by way of the heart's humility, unwavering faith, and the resolve of the whole soul to renounce all the world and everything in it, together with one's own will, in order to keep all of God's commandments. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On the Mystical Life, Vol. I

As then it is His[God's] part to plant and to water, so it is yours to bear fruit: it is God's to grant grace, but yours to receive and guard it. Despise not the grace because it is freely given, but receive and treasure it devoutly. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, Lecture 1)

Away with arguments, where faith is reequired; now let dialectic hold her peace, even in the midst of her schools. I ask not what it is that philosophers say, but I would know what they do. They sit desolate in their schools. See the victory of faith over argument. They who dispute subtly are forsaken daily by their fellows; they who with simplicity believe are daily increased. Not philosophers but fishermen, not masters of dialectic but tax gatherers, now find credence. The one sort, through pleasures and luxuries, have bound the worlds burden upon themselves; the other, by fasting and mortification, have cast it off, and so doth sorrow now begin to win over more followers than pleasure. St Ambrose of Milan

BROTHER: How is love made known?

Old Man: By the fulfillment of works, and by spiritual care, and by the knowledge of faith. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984), pp. 262-263



BROTHER: Is he who is destitute of work also destitute of love?

Old Man: It is impossible that he who is of God should not love, and it is impossible for him that loveth not to work, and it is impossible to believe that he who teacheth but worketh not is a true believer, for his tongue is the enemy of his action, and though he speaketh life he is in subjection unto death.

BROTHER: And is he who is in this state free from retribution?

Old Man: Such a man who speaks the things of the spirit, and performs the things of the body, and supplies his own wants, is not deprived of reward, but he is deprived of the crown of light, because the guidance of the spirit refuses to rule him. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984), pp. 262-263



BROTHER: What are the works?

Old Man: The keeping of the commandments of the Lord with the purity of the inner man, together with the labor of the outer man. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984), pp. 262-263



But God said, I require mercy, and not sacrifice; and the acknowledgement of God, and not whole burnt offerings" Hosea 6:6.

What is meant by mercy? and what by sacrifice? By mercy then is signified Justification and grace in Christ; even that which is by faith. For we have been justified, not by the works of the law that we have done, but by His great mercy. And sacrifice means the law of Moses. St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke



Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3), and He grants freedom to those who serve Him well. For He says: "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord" (Matthew 25:23). St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

Cleanse thy vessel, that thou mayest receive grace more abundantly. For though remission of sins is given equally to all, the communion of the Holy Ghost is bestowed in proportion to each man's faith. If thou hast labored little, thou receivest little; but if thou hast wrought much, the reward is great. Thou art running for thyself, see to thine own interest. First Catechetical Lecture Of Our Holy Father Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem, To Those Who Are To Be Enlightened, Delivered Extempore At Jerusalem, As An Introductory Lecture To Those Who Had Come Forward For Baptism

Come now, my brethren - all who have received the name of faith, who have been deemed worthy to be called people of Christ - do not put aside our calling; let us not violate our faith through improper works. It is not enough for someone merely to be known as a believer, so let us show our faith through works. St. John of Damascus, Homily on the Withered Fig Tree and the Parable of the Vineyard

Come to love work, and soon God will send you peace. Glinsk elder Schema-hieromonk Andronicus Lukasha (1889-1974) (Glinsk Mosaic: Pilgrims’ Recollections of the Glinsk Hermitage, 1942-1961, Pilgrim Publishers, Moscow, 1997.)

Confess thyself to be saved by grace, that He may profess Himself a debtor to thee; and not for thy good works only, but also for such rightness of mind. For when we do good works, we have Him debtor for our good works only; but when we do not so much as think we have done any good work, then also for this disposition itself; and more for this, than for the other things: so that this is equivalent to our good works. St John Chrysostom, HOMILY III., MATT. I. 1

Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die. St. Gregory the Great

Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die. St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends Of God

Every good deed we perform by our own natural powers, although it removes us further from the (evil deed) opposed to it, cannot make us holy without grace. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

Every good work which we perform through our own natural power causes us to refrain from the corresponding sin; but without grace it cannot contribute to our sanctification. St. Mark the Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 1

Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything worldly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; they are its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow men. Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God. St John Cassian

For the method of godliness consists of these two things, pious doctrines, and virtuous practice: and neither are the doctrines acceptable to God apart from good works, nor does God accept the works which are not perfected with pious doctrines. For what profit is it, to know well the doctrines concerning God, and yet be a vile fornicator? And again, what profit is it, to be nobly temperate, and an impious blasphemer? A most precious possession therefore is the knowledge of doctrines... St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 4 no. 2)

For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments. . . . [W]ith what confidence shall we, if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the kingdom of God? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found having holy and righteous works?' Second Clement 6:7, 115AD

God created us in His image and likeness; and every Christian is obliged to keep himself, and to preserve and honor in himself God's image, and to be sanctified by good works. St. John Chrysostom

Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into Christ; and it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively observe the commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do good - as far as lies in our power - depends on us. St. Mark the Ascetic, Philokalia, Vol. 1

He who does good and seeks a reward works not for God but for his own desire. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

He who keeps these [commandments], will be glorified in the kingdom of God; but he who chooses other things will be destroyed with his works." St. Barnabas 125 AD Letter of Barnabas chap. 21)

He who raised Him up from the dead will also raise us up - if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness." St. Polycarp 69-156 AD Letter to the Philippians chap. 2)

If a person pushes himself to attain prayer alone, when he has none, in order to attain its grace, without striving earnestly for meekness and humility and charity and all the other commandments of the Lord, neither taking pains nor struggling and battling to succeed in these as far as his choice and free will go, he may at times be given a grace of prayer with some degree of repose and pleasure from the Spirit according as he asks. But he has the same traits he had before. He has no meekness, because he did not seek it with effort and he did not prepare himself beforehand to become meek. He has no humility, since he did not ask for it and did not push himself to have it. He has no charity toward all men, because he was not concerned with it and did not strive for it in his asking for the gift of prayer. And in doing his work, he has no faith or trust in God, since he did not know that he was without it. And he did not take the pains to seek from the Lord for himself to have a firm faith and an authentic trust. St. Macarius the Great, Fifty Spiritual Homilies.

If we shall be eager to make brighter by good deeds the light within us -- I mean the grace of the Spirit -- so that it is never quenched, we shall enjoy the title of newly baptized for all times. But just as the sober and vigilant man whose conduct is worthy can continue to be a neophyte, so it is possible after a single day for a man to relax his vigilance and become unworthy of that title. St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions

If you love knowledge, love also work, for bare knowledge puffs a man up. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

If you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign of the Cross and say:In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. To let in fresh air we have to open a window; to get tanned we must go out into the sunshine. Achieving faith is no different; we never reach a goal by just sitting in comfort and waiting, say the Holy Fathers. Let the Prodigal Son be our example. He "arose and came" (Luke 15:20). Tito Colliander The Way of the Ascetics.

It is necessary, therefore, that we be prompt in the practice of good works. For He forewarns us, 'Behold, the Lord comes and His reward is before His face, to render to every man according to his work.' ... Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those who wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised reward. But how, beloved ones, shall we do this? By fixing our thoughts on God by faith. By earnestly seeking the things that are pleasing and acceptable to Him. By doing the things that are in harmony with His blameless will. And by following the way of truth, casting away from us all unrighteousness and sin." St. Clement of Rome 30-100 AD Letter to the Corinthians chaps. 34, 35

It is necessary, therefore, to not only be called by the name 'Christian' but to actually be a Christian.... If we are not ready to die in the same manner of His suffering, His life is not in us" (John 12:25). Ignatius the God-bearer(50-100 AD), Letter to the Magnesians chap. 5)

It is well, therefore, that he who has learned the judgements of the Lord, as many as have been written, should walk in them. For he who keepeth these shall be glorified in the kingdom of God; but he who chooseth other things shall be destroyed with his works. The Epistle of Barnabas

It was said about John the Little that one day he said to his older brother: I want to be free from care and not to work but to worship God without interruption. And he took his robe off, and went into the desert. After staying there one week, he returned to his brother. And when he knocked at the door, his brother asked without opening it: Who is it? He replied: It's John, your brother. The brother said: John has become an angel and is not among people anymore. Then he begged and said: It's me! But his brother did not open the door and left him there in distress until the next morning. And he finally opened the door and said: If you are a human being, you have to work again in order to live. Then John repented, saying: Forgive me, brother, for I was wrong. Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Knowledge without corresponding practice is still insecure, even if it is true. All is made firm by practice. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

Let the light of your good works shine before men, and let not Christ be blasphemed on your account. Wear a garment of incorruption, resplendent in good works; and whatever matter you receive from God to administer as steward, administer profitably. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 15 no. 26)

Let us beware therefore of saying anything about ourselves, for this renders us both odious with men and abominable to God. For this reason, the greater the good works we do, the less let us say of ourselves; this being the way to reap the greatest glory both with men and with God. Or rather, not only glory from God, but a reward, yea, a great recompense. Demand not therefore a reward that thou mayest receive a reward. St John Chrysostom, HOMILY III., MATT. I. 1

On the Power and Influence of Good Deeds

It is difficult, my brethren, to dispute with an atheist; it is difficult to converse with a stupid man; it is difficult to change an embittered man. It is only with the greatest difficulty that you will convince an atheist, a stupid man or an embittered man with words. Firstly, you must sway them by your deeds. They will come, "by your good works, which they shall behold, to glorify God" (I Pet. 2:12). Do good to him who would quarrel with you, and you will win the argument. A single act of compassion will penetrate to a stupid man and soften a bitter man more quickly than hours of discussion. If atheism and stupidity and bitterness proceed from ignorance, that ignorance is like a fury that is most easily bridled by the influence of good deeds. If you argue with an atheist on his own diabolical terms, you simply strengthen the demon of atheism. If you converse with a stupid man in a spirit of derision, the darkness of stupidity will be made the greater. If you think to change a bitter man by anger, you will merely add more fuel to the fire of bitterness. But a meek and well-intentioned act is like throwing water on the flames.

Always remember the holy apostles and their behavior towards men. If an atheist challenges you, then it is not the man that challenges you but the devil, for man is by nature devout and tends Godwards. If a stupid man scoffs at you, then it is not the man who scoffs but the devil, for man is by nature intelligent. If a bitter man persecutes you, it is not the man that is doing this but the devil, for man is by nature good and well-disposed. It is the devil that challenges us in lengthy debates and fruitless discussions, but he flees from the power of good deeds. Do good in the name of Christ, and the devil will flee. You will be working with men, men who are devout and intelligent and good. Everything, therefore, that you do, be sure that you do it in the name of Christ. The Prologue from Ochrid: Lives of the Saints and Homilies for Every Day in the Year by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic from the entry for June 30 (Vol. 2, p 380)



Only those who fear the Lord and keep His commandments have life with God. But as to those who do not keep His commandments, there is no life in them.... All, therefore, who despise Him and do not follow His commands deliver themselves to death, and each will be guilty of his own blood. But I implore you to obey His commands, and you will have a cure for your former sins. " 125 AD Hermas Shepherd bk. 2, comm. 7; bk. 3, sim. 10, chap. 2)

Passionate habits are the precursors of the torment of hell, just as active virtues are the forerunners of the kingdom of heaven. By good deeds one should understand actions in accordance with the commandments, and by virtues good tendencies rooted in habit ... all alike will receive their reward according to their merits. The amount and nature of the reward will be determined either by virtues or passions, rooted in habit. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 35-36)

Prove your love and zeal for wisdom in actual deeds. St. Clement of Rome

Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness. St. John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 5

So the active life is to give bread to the hungry, to teach the ignorant with the word of wisdom, to set aright the lost, to recall a proud neighbor to the life of humility, to care for the weak, which services each of us should perform, and provide the wherewithal of subsistence for those entrusted to us. Truly the contemplative life is to hold fast with the whole mind, at least to the charity of God, our neighbor but to abstain from external action; to cleave to the sole desire for the Creator, so that the only recourse for the spirit is, scorning all cares, to burn to see the face of the Creator, so that it now understands how to bear the weight of corruptible flesh with grief; to seek with all its desires to be among those hymn-singing choirs of Angels, to mingle with the citizens of Heaven, to rejoice at the eternal incorruption in the present of God. The Homilies of Saint Gregory the Great On the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

Some think they believe rightly, while not practicing the commandments; others, while practicing them, expect the kingdom as a just reward. Both sin against truth. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

Someone asked Abba Nisterus, "What good work is there that I could do?" He said to him, "Are not all actions equal? Scripture says that Abraham was hospitable and God was with him. David was humble, and God was with him. Elias loved interior peace and God was with him. So, do whatever you see your soul desires according to God and guard your heart." The Desert Fathers

The Gentiles, by faith in Christ, prepare for themselves eternal life through good works." 170-236 AD St. Hippolytus Fragments from Commentaries "On Proverbs.")

The perfection of the Christian life -- and I mean that life which is the only one the name of Christ is used to designate -- is that in which we participate not only by our mind and soul but in all the actions of our lives, so that our holiness may be complete, in accordance with the blessing pronounced by Paul, in our 'whole body and soul and spirit' (I Thess. 5:23), constantly guarded from all admixture with evil. St. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory

The root of all good works is the hope of the Resurrection; for the expectation of the recompense nerves the soul to good works. For every laborer is ready to endure the toils, if he sees their reward in prospect; but when men weary themselves for nought, their heart soon sinks as well as their body. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 18 no. 1)

The self-controlled refrain from gluttony; those who have renounced possessions, from greed; the tranquil, from loquacity; the pure, from self-indulgence; the modest, from unchastity; the self-dependent, from avarice; the gentle, from agitation; the humble, from self-esteem; the obedient, from quarrelling; the self-critical, from hypocrisy. Similarly, those who pray are protected from despair; the poor, from having many possessions; confessors of the faith, from its denial; martyrs, from idolatry. Do you see how every virtue that is performed even to the point of death is nothing other than refraining from sin? Now to refrain from sin is a work within our own natural powers, but not something that buys us the kingdom. St. Mark the Ascetic, The Philokalia, Vol. 1

The soul... [will] be rewarded according to what it deserves, being destined to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and blessedness, if its actions shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered up to eternal fire and punishments, if the guilt of its crimes shall have brought it down to this." 185-255 AD Origen Of First Things preface, chap. 6)

The thief was on the cross and he was justified by a single word; and Judas who was counted in the number of the apostles lost all his labor in one single night and descended from heaven to hell. Therefore, let no-one boast of his good works, for all those who trust in themselves fall. Abba Xanthias.

There are three things that impel us towards what is holy: natural instincts, angelic powers and probity of intention. Natural instincts impel us when, for example, we do to others what we would wish them to do to us (cf. Luke 6:31), or when we see someone suffering deprivation or in need and naturally feel compassion. Angelic powers impel us when, being ourselves impelled to something worthwhile, we find we are providentially helped and guided. We are impelled by probity of intention when, discriminating between good and evil, we choose the good. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 32)

Therefore, there is no other way of attaining to spiritual knowledge except by following this order, which one of the prophets has neatly expressed: 'Sow for yourselves unto righteousness; reap the hope of life; enlighten yourselves with the light of knowledge' (Hosea 10:12). First, then, we sow for ourselves unto righteousness - that is, we must increase practical perfection by works of righteousness. Then we must reap the hope of life - that is, we must gather the fruit of spiritual virtues by expelling our carnal vices. Thus we shall be able to enlighten ourselves with the light of knowledge. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

These are the things which befall someone who approaches God: first temptation, then tribulation, then toil, despondency, nakedness, sufferings, anguish, contempt; in these the endurance and testing of believers is manifested; and in all these the person who gives himself wholeheartedly to God’s direction, and submits to his will, triumphs completely.

For God only asks of us a perfect intention, and he himself will give us the strength and grant us the victory; as it is written, He is the champion of all who hope in him. And again he says, The Lord is near to all who call upon him in truth. He will do the will of those who fear him and will listen to their supplication and will save them. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'To the Monks in Egypt", 2nd Exhortation. An invitation to right conduct, http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/egypt1-10.htm



This is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God, and to expect temptation to his last breath. St. Anthony the Great

This is the mark of Christianity--however much a man toils, and however many righteousnesses he performs, to feel that he has done nothing, and in fasting to say, "This is not fasting," and in praying, "This is not prayer," and in perseverance at prayer, "I have shown no perseverance; I am only just beginning to practice and to take pains"; and even if he is righteous before God, he should say, "I am not righteous, not I; I do not take pains, but only make a beginning every day. St. Macarius the Great

Truly wise is he who teaches not in words but in deeds. 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.)

Truly wise is he who teaches not in words but in deeds. Glinsk elder Schema-hieromonk Andronicus Lukasha (1889-1974) (Glinsk Mosaic: Pilgrims’ Recollections of the Glinsk Hermitage, 1942-1961, Pilgrim Publishers, Moscow, 1997.)

Two brethren came to see Abba Pambo one day and the first asked him, “Abba, I fast for two days, then I eat two loaves; am I saving my soul, or am I going the wrong way?” The second said, “Abba, every day I get two pence from my manual work, and I keep a little for my food and give the rest in alms; shall I be saved or shall I be lost?” They remained a long time questioning him and still the old man gave them no reply.

After four days they had to leave and the priests comforted them saying, “Do not be troubled, brothers. God gives the reward. It is the old man’s custom not to speak readily till God inspires him.” So they went to see the old man and said to him, “Abba, pray for us.” He said to them, “Do you want to go away?” They said, “Yes.” Then, giving his mind to their works and writing on the ground he said, “If Pambo fasted for two days together and ate two loaves, would he become a monk that way? No. And if Pambo works to get two pence and gives them in alms, would he become a monk that way? No, not that way either.” He said to them, “The works are good, but if you guard your conscience towards your neighbor, then you will be saved.” They were satisfied and went away joyfully. Abba Pambo, from Sr. Benedicta Ward, “The Desert Christian,” (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1975), pp. 195 - 198



We have been taught ... that He accepts only those who imitate the virtues that reside in Him-self­restraint, justice, and love of mankind.... And so we have received [this teaching] that if men by their works show themselves worthy of His design' they are deemed worthy of reigning in company with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering." 110-165AD St. Justin Martyr First Apology chap. 107, written before 150 A.D.)

We who have been granted the bath of eternal life do good works not for the sake of reward, but to preserve the purity which was given us. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

Well it is said that he [the Prodigal Son] went into a foreign country who is cut off from the sacred altar, for this is to be separated from that Jerusalem which is in heaven, from the citizenship and home of the saints. For which reason the Apostle says: 'Therefore now ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of "the household of God." "And," it is said, "wasted his substance." Rightly, for he whose faith halts in bringing forth good works does consume it. For, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." And faith is a good substance, the inheritance.of our hope. St.. Ambrose of Milan, Concerning Repentance, Book II

When the mind forgets the purpose of piety, then visible works of virtue become useless. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

Whoever obtains [the truth] and distinguishes himself in good works shall gain the prize of everlasting life.... Some people correctly and adequately understand how [God provides necessary power], but attaching slight importance to the works that lead to salvation, they fail to make the necessary preparation for attaining the objects of their hope." 190 AD St. Clement of Alexandria Rich Man chaps. 1, 2)

Wishing to show that to fulfill every commandment is a duty, whereas sonship is a gift given to men through His own Blood, the Lord said: "When you have done all that is commanded you, say: "We are useless servants: we have only done what was our duty"' (Luke 17:10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for His faithful servants. St. Mark the Ascetic, "The Philokalia," Vol. 1

Wishing to show that, although every commandment is obligatory, none the less it is by His blood that sonship is granted to men, the Lord says: "When you have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for deeds, but a gift of the Lord prepared for faithful servants. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

You know that evil entered into us through the transgression of the commandments. Hence it is obvious that by keeping them, evil departs from us. But without the doing of the commandments we should not even aspire or hope for purity of soul, because at the very outset we do not walk on the path that leads us to purity of soul. Do not say that God can give us the grace of purity of soul even without our keeping the commandments. Epistle to Abba Symeon in The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the

[Jesus], in administering the righteous judgment of the Father to all, assigns to each what is righteous according to his works. ... Justification will be seen in the awarding to each that which is just; to those who have done well, there will be justly assigned eternal happiness. The lovers of wickedness will be assigned eternal punishment. ... But the righteous will remember only the righteous deeds by which they reached the heavenly kingdom." 170-236 AD St. Hippolytus Against Plato sec. 3)

Whenever you wish to make a beginning in some good work, first prepare yourself for the temptations that will come upon you, and do not doubt the truth. St Isaac of Syria

Often our knowledge becomes darkened because we fail to put things into practice. For when we have totally neglected to practice something, our memory of it will gradually disappear. For this reason Scripture urges us to acquire the knowledge of God, so that through our works we can serve Him rightly. St. Mark the Ascetic

Even good actions are frequently carried out for the sake of empty glory, and on this account they will be judged by God in the same way as theft, injustice and other major sins. 'God has scattered the bones of those who seek to please men'; it is said (Ps. 53:5). The devil, being wily, versatile, torturous and inventive, seeks to gain our allegiance and service even through our good actions. St. Symeon Metaphrastis, Paraphrase of the Homilies of St. Makarios of Egypt.

Wherefore, brethren, labor the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing these things, you shall not sin at any time. For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:10-11

Our deeds, dear sister, will not save us; God's infinite mercy will. Elder Amphilochios Makris - http://agrino.org/cyberdesert/makris.htm

2. Wishing to show that to fulfill every commandment is a duty, whereas sonship is a gift given to men through His own Blood, the Lord said: 'When you have done all that is commanded you, say: 'We are useless servants: we have only done what was our duty' (Lk 17.10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for his faithful servants. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

11. Those who, because of the rigor of their own ascetic practice, despise the less zealous, think that they are made righteous by physical works. But we are even more foolish if we rely on theoretical knowledge and disparage the ignorant. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

12. Even though knowledge is true, it is still not firmly established if unaccompanied by works. For everything is established by being put into practice.

13. Often our knowledge becomes darkened because we fail to put things into practice. For when we have totally neglected to practice something, our memory of it will gradually disappear.

14. For this reason Scripture urges us to acquire the knowledge of God, so that through our works we may serve Him rightly. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779



22. When Scripture says 'He will reward every man according to his works' (Mt 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the kingdom. On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but God our Creator and Redeemer. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

24. Every good work which we perform through our own natural powers causes us to refrain from the corresponding sin; but without grace it cannot contribute to our sanctification. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

36. Whatever we do without prayer and without hope in God turns out afterwards to be harmful and defective. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

51. When the intellect forgets the purpose of true devotion, then external works of virtue bring no profit. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

53. Philosophize through your works about man's will and God's retribution. For your words are only as wise and as profitable as your works. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

57. He who does something good and expects a reward is serving not God but his own will. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

Every work which does not have love as its beginning and root, is nothing. REF:Saint John Chrysostom

Whoever bears fruit with works of faith and love, he is a real disciple of Christ. REF:Saint John Chrysostom





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