Friday, December 11, 2009

Know two thoughts and fear them.

One says: you are a saint; the other: you will not be saved. Both these thoughts are from the enemy, and there is no truth in them.

Silouan of Mt. Athos here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On annoyances

Our goal should be to take all that comes our way and make the best out of it for the sake of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged. We must strive to acquire inner tranquility...

If you cannot find tranquility in the midst of disturbance, you will not be tranquil even in the midst of tranquility. When inner tranquility comes to a man, everything inside him will be tranquil, and he will not be disturbed by anything.

Elder Paisios, found here

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Christian must not be fanatic

A Christian must not be fanatic; he must have love for and be sensitive towards all people.

The way of the Church is love; it differs from the way of the legalists. The Church sees everything with tolerance and seeks to help each person, whatever he may have done, however sinful he may be.

A person that begins to do something with a good intention and eventually reaches an extreme point, lacks true discernment. His actions exemplify a latent type of egotism that is hidden beneath this behavior; he is unaware of it, because he does not know himself that well, which is why he goes to extremes.

Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos, here

I die daily

If we awaken each day and think "I will not be alive until evening", and again when we are about to go to sleep, if we think "I am not going to wake up", then we will not take for granted that our life is so certain when we know that it is measured out each day by Providence.

Thus if we are disposed in this way and live each day like this, we will neither sin nor will we desire anything, nor will we be angry with anyone, nor will we lay up treasure for ourselves on earth. But because we expect to die each day, we will live without possessions and will yield everything to everyone. With regard to the lust for women or some other pleasure, we will not even entertain it but, as though passing right by it, will turn ourselves completely away from it, always struggling against it as we look toward the day of judgment.

Anthony the Great, in The Life of St. Anthony

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christ Pantocrator, the Ruler of all

You cannot put straight in others what is warped in yourself.

Athanasius, On the Incarnation

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

True fasting

True fasting is to put away all evil, to control the tongue, to forbear from anger, to abstain from lust, slander, falsehood and perjury. If we renounce these things, then is our fasting true and acceptable to God.

Andrew the Blind, from a Lenten Vespers service

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Just as you conceal your sins from men,

conceal from them also your efforts [in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving]!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Each day

let each person take an accounting of the things he has done during the day and during the night and, if he has sinned, let him stop. If he has not sinned, let him not boast.

Let this system of observation assure us of not sinning: let each of us note and write down his deeds and the movements of his soul as though we were going to report them to each other.

...If we write down our thoughts as though we were going to report them to one another, we will keep ourselves very far away from filthy thoughts, ashamed as we are to have others know about them.

Anthony the Great in his Life

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hope for you and me

"I shall tell you something strange, but do not be surprised by it. Should you fail to attain dispassion because of the predispositions dominating you, but at the time of your death be in the depths of humility, you will be exalted above the clouds no less than the man who is dispassionate."

St. Theognostus, here

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

You cannot destroy the passions on your own

You cannot destroy the passions on your own, but ask God, and He will destroy them, if this is profitable for you.

St. Anatoly of Optina, found here

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bless My Enemies O Lord

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.
Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world. They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself. They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments. They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself. They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance. Bless my enemies, O Lord, Even I bless them and do not curse them. Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish. Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf. Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background. Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand. Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep. Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me: so that my fleeing to You may have no return; so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs; so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul; so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger; so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven; ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life. Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself. One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends. It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies. Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich who suffered at Dachau. Prayer can be found in pdf form here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We should marvel how

demons and various diseases are dispelled by the sign of the precious and life-giving Cross, which all can make without cost or effort... The two fingers and single hand with which it is made represent the Lord Jesus Christ crucified, and He is thereby acknowledged to exist in two natures and one hypostasis or person. The use of right hand betokens His infinite power and the fact that He sits at the right hand of the Father. That the sign begins with a downward movement from above signifies His descent to us from heaven. Again, the movement of the hand from the right side to the left drives away our enemies and declares that by His invincible power the Lord overcame the devil, who is on the left side, dark and lacking strength.

St. Peter of Damaskos in the Philokalia

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Set me free, O God

Set me free, O God, from that multitude of speech which I suffer inwardly in my soul, wretched as it is in Thy sight, and flying for refuge to Thy mercy; for I am not silent in thoughts, even when silent in words...

O Lord the one God, God the Trinity, whatever I have said in these books that is Thine, may those who are Thine acknowledge; if [I have said] anything of my own, may it be pardoned both by Thee and by those who are Thine.

Augustine, conclusion of On the Trinity

Friday, June 12, 2009

Always think of your soul as knowing nothing

that you may be preserved from the reprehensible things which the supposition that you are capable of directing others stirs in you.

...Always consider yourself as needing instruction so that you may be found wise throughout your life.

St. Issac the Syrian On Ascetical Life

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We ought to love afflictions

God does not want us, His children, to be pestered. He gives us temptations and hardships in order to become perfect. Temptations will cease to exist in our life, when we reach the level of perfection...

We Christians ought to love afflictions and not try to get rid of them; afflictions are necessary means leading to our perfection.

Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos, quoted here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Isn't Christianity in the West better off

being in freedom? [Some one asked Father Dimitry Dudko during the the Soviet era] --he replied: "No. There they have a spirituality with comfort, and you can't expect much from that; here in Russia we have martyrs and suffering, and from that can come resurrection and new life."

...We [in the West] are in a privileged position of peace and freedom, and this is dangerous for us. We can sit in the midst of our Orthodox treasures, the treasures that give salvation that no one else has -- and be satisfied with our situation and so be totally fruitless. If we have difficulty in being Orthodox -- then let us rejoice, for that means we must struggle, and there is hope that we won't wither and die spiritually.

Seraphim (Rose) in Orthodoxy in America

Friday, June 5, 2009

The fathers

says the Gerontikon, kept the commandments; their successors wrote them down; but we have placed their books on the shelves. And even if we want to read them, we do not have the application to understand what is said and to put it into practice; we read them either as something incidental, or because we think that be reading them we are doing something great, thus growing full of pride. We do not realize that we incur greater condemnation if we do not put into practice what we read... And we should remember what the Lord says about the servant who knew his master's will but failed to carry it out.

St. Peter of Damaskos in the Philokalia

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pray and then speak.

That’s what to do with your children. If you are constantly lecturing them, you’ll become tiresome and when they grow up they’ll feel a kind of oppression. Prefer prayer and speak to them through prayer. Speak to God and God will speak to their hearts. That is, you shouldn’t give guidance to your children with a voice that they hear with their ears. You may do this too, but above all you should speak to God about your children. Say, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, give Your light to my children. I entrust them to You. You gave them to me, but I am weak and unable to guide them, so, please, illuminate them.’ And God will speak to them and they will say to themselves, ‘Oh dear, I shouldn’t have upset Mummy by doing that!’ And with the grace of God this will come from their heart.” He also said, “It is not sufficient for the parents to be devout. They mustn’t oppress the children to make them good by force. We may repel our children from Christ when we pursue the things of our religion with egotism.

Elder Porphyrios in Wounded by Love quoted here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

If the question which you raise

is concerning God, your inquiry is no simple or ordinary matter, for the Divinity is incomprehensible; and it will be sufficient for you to study the traditions of the holy apostles about Him and the teaching of the divine Fathers who followed in their steps and not trouble yourselves any further... [L]et us abstain from vain and dangerous questionings and let us each consider that which concerns ourselves... for it is written: 'Seek not out the things that are to high for thee, neither search the things that are too deep for thee.'

St. Daniel the Stylite in his Life

Sunday, May 31, 2009

After John had been elected

[Patriarch of Alexandria, he said to all in the Patriarch's council-chamber]... 'Go therefore through the whole city, please, and make a list of all my masters down to the last'. But his hearers could not imagine who these could be, and besought him to tell them, as they were astonished that any could possibly be masters of the Patriarch; and he opened his angelic mouth again and said: 'Those whom you call poor and beggars, these I proclaim my masters and helpers. For they, and they only, are really able to help us and bestow upon us the kingdom of heaven.'

St. John the Almsgiver, in his Life

Friday, May 29, 2009

If you want to be freed

from all the vices simultaneously, renounce self-love, the mother of evils.

Thalassios the Libyan, in the Philokalia, vol. ii, p. 311

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


recounted of a friend of the poor who died, and could not cross the river of fire which had separated him from Paradise, that the poor to whom he had given alms then lay down and formed a bridge, by means of which he attained to the Kingdom of God.

Venerable Paphnutius of Borovsk, in the Synaxarion

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A man of compassionate heart

has a heart aflame for the whole of creation, for humankind, for the birds, for the animals, for the devils, for every creature. When he thinks of them or sees them, he sheds tears. So strong and violent is his compassion that his heart is in anguish and he cannot bear to hear or see the slightest ill or the least sadness in the heart of creation. Accordingly, he prays with tears at every moment for the dumb animals, for the enemies of the truth and for all who do him harm, that they may be protected and forgiven. In the immense compassion which arises overwhelmingly in his heart in the image of God he prays even for reptiles.

Isaac the Syrian Ascetic Homilies Discourse 71

Monday, April 27, 2009

We must

begin with thanksgiving for everything. The beginning of joy is to be content with your situation.

- St. Ambrose of Optina

Friday, April 24, 2009

This grass is an icon;

this stone is an icon; and I can kiss it, venerate it, because it is filled with God's grace. The world is not for us to take things from, but a place where we cast off our passions and desires.

Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos, quoted in Through Creation to the Creator

Monday, January 26, 2009

Flee from

discussions of dogma as from an unruly lion; and never embark upon them yourself, either with those raised in the Church, or with strangers.

Isaac the Syrian, in Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Neither greive,

nor be sad, beloved soul, that you have suffered unjustly, for it behooves you to accept all for your benefit.

St. Maximus the Greek, in his autobiography

Monday, January 12, 2009

A brother from Abba Poemen’s neighbourhood

met an anchorite.... The brother told him about Abba Poemen. When he heard of his virtue, the anchorite wanted to see him.... [and] said to him, ‘Please will you be so kind as to take me to Abba Poemen.’ So he brought him to the old man... So Abba Poemen received him with joy. They greeted one another and sat down.

The visitor began to speak of the Scriptures, of spiritual and of heavenly things. But Abba Poemen turned his face away and answered nothing. Seeing that he did not speak to him, the other went away deeply grieved and said to the brother who had brought him, ‘I have made this long journey in vain. For I have come to see the old man, and he does not wish to speak to me.’

Then the brother went inside to Abba Poemen and said to him, ‘Abba, this great man who has so great a reputation in his own country has come here because of you. Why did you not speak to him?’ The old man said, ‘He is great and speaks of heavenly things and I am lowly and speak of earthly things. If he had spoken of the passions of the soul, I should have replied, but he speaks to me of spiritual things and I know nothing about that.’ Then the brother came out and said to the visitor, ‘The old man does not readily speak of the Scriptures, but if anyone consults him about the passions of the soul, he replies.’

Filled with compunction, the visitor returned to the old man and said to him, ‘What should I do, Abba, for the passions of the soul master me?’ The old man turned towards him and replied joyfully, ‘This time, you come as you should. Now open your mouth concerning this and I will fill it with good things.’ Greatly edified, the other said to him, ‘Truly, this is the right way!’ He returned to his own country giving thanks to God that he had been counted worthy to meet so great a saint.

Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p 167