Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


25 Entries

I think about that older generation that is now almost gone, and I want to weep for the young know-it-alls who have missed the point. But the understanding comes only through real suffering, and how many can do that? REF:Fr Seraphim Rose, "Letters"

...whatever we choose, suffering is inevitable. But when we opt for the way of God our sacrifice likens us to Christ. 'Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done' (Luke 22:42). St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 36)

A man who, instead of avoiding and running away from sufferings of the heart produced by fear of eternal torment, willingly accepts them in his heart...will be determined, as he progresses, to tighten this bond ever more and more, and will thus advance more quickly. It will lead him to the presence of the King of kings. When this comes to pass, then, as soon as he sees, however dimly, the glory of God, his bonds - fear - will at once fall off, his executioner will hasten away and his hearts grief will turn into joy which will become in him a fountain of life or a spring for ever gushing forth: physically - rivers of tears; spiritually - peace, meekness and unspeakable delight, together with courage and free and unhindered readiness to strive towards every fulfillment of God's commandments. St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical And Theological Precepts no. 69, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber, pgs. 112-113)

He who chooses to live well for eternity, will live in discomfort for the present. He will be subjected to all types of troubles and burdens as long as he is on earth, so that in the end he will have divine and heavenly consolation. On the other hand, he who chooses to live well for the present will fare badly in eternity. Lactantius (260-330 AD) Institutes bk. 7, chap. 5)

He who reveres the Lord does what is commanded, and if he commits some sin or disobeys Him, endures whatever he has to suffer for this as being his desert. 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 God suffers in the flesh when He is made man, should we not rejoice when we suffer, for we have God to share our sufferings This shared suffering confers the kingdom on us. For he spoke truly who said, 'If we suffer with Him, then we shall also be glorified with Him' (Rom. 8:17)...The outcome of every affliction endured for the sake of virtue is joy, of every labor rest, and of every shameful treatment glory; in short, the outcome of all sufferings for the sake of virtue is to be with God, to remain with Him for ever and to enjoy eternal rest" Philokalia, Vol. 2, St. Maximos-First Century of Various Texts, p. 170, 73

If a man has a friend and he is absolutely certain that his friend loves him, and if that friend does something to cause him suffering and be troublesome to him, he will be convinced that his friend acts out of love and he will never believe that his friend does it to harm him. How much more ought we to be convinced about God who created us, who drew us out of nothingness to existence and life, and who became a man for our sake and died for us, and who does everything out of love for us? Abba Dorotheos (+ c. 570)

If you are not willing to repent through freely choosing to suffer, unsought sufferings will providentially be imposed on you. St. Thalassios (7th c.)

If you love Christ God, then endure as He endured, and do all that is pleasing to Him. He taught and did. Unfailingly your love also should be such as does good, endures, is disturbed by nothing present, and in everything ever thanks Him not with words and tongue, but with very deeds. You must love Him with heart, with mind, with your whole soul, strength, and mind. Abbot Nazarius of Valaam, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. II

In truth, whatever we may suffer, we suffer it because of our sins. If the saints suffered, they suffered for God's name or to demonstrate their virtue for the benefit of many or to gain greater reward from God. As for us wretches, how can we say this? We sin like this daily and in seeking to satisfy our passion, we abandoned the right path, which the Fathers spoke about, that of self-accusation. Each one of us follows the wrong path, tries on every occasion to put the case against his brother and throw the burden of responsibility upon him. Each one of us is negligent and keeps nothing, but demands that our neighbor keeps the commandments. Abba Dorotheus, Practical Teaching on the Christian Life

Many desire good spiritual life in its simplest form, but only a very few actually fulfill their good intentions. These are people who steadfastly obey the words of divine Scripture that we must enter the Kingdom of Heaven by way of many sorrows, and who, calling upon Godís help, strive to endure without complaint the sorrows, ills, and discomforts they encounter, always keeping in mind the words of the Lord Himself that whosoever wishes to enter into life, must obey the commandments. Counsels of the Venerable Elder St. Amvrossy of Optina

Passing by on the way, O Lord, Thou didst find a man who was blind from his birth. And the disciples, in astonishment, asked Thee and said: Teacher, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? And Thou, O my Saviour, didst cry unto them: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of Him that sent Me, which none else can work. And when Thou hadst said this, Thou didst spit upon the ground and make clay, and didst anoint his eyes, saying unto him: Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. And he washed and was made whole and cried unto Thee: Lord, I believe; and he worshipped Thee. Wherefore, we also cry out: Have mercy on us. Doxasticon (Glory) of Stichera of Vespers, Pentecostarion

Remember that each of us has his own cross. The Golgotha of this cross is our heart: it is being lifted or implanted through a zealous determination to live according to the Spirit of God. Just as salvation of the world is by the Cross of God, so our salvation is by our crucifixion on our own cross. Bishop Theophan the Recluse.

Sometimes in the affliction of your soul you wish to die. It is easy to die, and does not take long; but are you prepared for death? Remember that after death the judgment of your whole life will follow. You are not prepared for death, and if it were to come to you, you would shudder all over. Therefore do not waste words in vain. Do not say: 'It is better for me to die,' but say rather, 'How can I prepare for death in a Christian manner?' By means of faith, by means of good works, and by bravely bearing the miseries and sorrows that happen to you, so as to be able to meet death fearlessly, peacefully, and without shame, not as a rigorous law of nature, but as a fatherly call of the eternal, heavenly, holy, and blessed Father unto the everlasting Kingdom. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery, pg.18)

St. Peter reminded the early Christians in their despair that 'the Spirit of glory' (I Pet. 4:14) rested upon them. One not open to doubt: the hour will come when all our trials and tribulations will disappear into the past. Then we shall see that the most painful periods of our life were the most fruitful and will accompany us beyond the confines of this world, to be the foundation of the Kingdom 'which cannot be moved' (Heb. 12:28). Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 8; SVS Press pg. 66)

Suffering cleanses the soul infected with the filth of sensual pleasure and detaches it completely from material things by showing it the penalty incurred as a result of its affection for them. This is why God in His justice allows the devil to afflict men with torments. St. Maximos the Confessor (+ 662)

The body is a slave, the soul a sovereign, and therefore it is due to Divine mercy when the body is worn out by illness: for thereby the passions are weakened, and a man comes to himself; indeed, bodily illness itself is sometimes caused by the passions. Abba Tithoes

The cross is the door to mysteries. Through this door the intellect makes entrance in to the knowledge of heavenly mysteries. The knowledge of the cross is concealed in the sufferings of the cross. And the more our participation in its sufferings, the greater the perception we gain through the cross. For, as the Apostle says, `As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac of Syria

We Christians are disciples as were the apostles. We must be followers of both of the teachings and of the example set by the life of the Master ---- And what is it then, to follow Christ? To do good and to suffer for the sake of the will of God who desires our forbearance; to endure all, looking upon Christ who suffered; for many wish to be glorified with Christ, yet few seek to remain with the suffering Christ. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Your past and present torments and sufferings are poured down upon you to test your faith and 'steel' it; they also work to curb your lusts and passions. Humble yourself. God gives help to the humble. Judgment of others, insistence on their shortcomings, can only increase the bitterness of your sorrow. Choose the better part. Elder Macarius of Optina

Let not us who would be Christians expect anything else than to be crucified....for to be Christian is to be crucified in this time and in any time since Christ came for the first time. His life is the example and warning to us all. We must be crucified personally, mystically; for through crucifixion is the only path to resurrection,if we would rise with Christ,we must be humbled with him even to the ultimate humiliation, being devoured and spit forth by the uncomprehending world ... we must be crucified outwardly in the eyes of the world, for Christ kingdom is not of this world and world cannot bear it, even a single representative, even for the single moment. The world can only accept antichrist now or at any time. Fr Seraphim Rose

54. Those who suffer for the sake of true devotion receive help. This must be learnt through obeying God's law and our own conscience. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

128. He who enjoys bodily pleasures beyond the proper limit will pay for the excess a hundredfold in sufferings. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

156. If you refuse to accept suffering and dishonor, do not claim to be in a state of repentance because of your other virtues. For self-esteem and insensitivity can serve sin even under the cover of virtue. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

218. No one can experience suffering and remorse in a way that accords with God's will, unless he first loves what causes them. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

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