Monday, February 28, 2011

Which Step to Take

"All troubles come from mental outlook that is too broad. It is better to humbly cast your eyes down toward your feet, and to figure out which step to take where."

- Saint Theophan the Recluse

Reference: The Spiritual Life: And How to Be Attuned to It. St. Theophan the Recluse. Translated: Docham, Alexandra. Safford, Arizona: St. Paisius Serbian Orthodox Monastery, 2003. 80.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Studying the Gospel

"...Keep on studying the Gospel until the end of your life. Never stop. Do not think that you know it enough, even if you know it all by heart."

- Saint Ignatii Brianchaninov

Reference: Ware, Kallistos. The Orthodox Way. Press Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 1979. 110.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our Conscience

"Let us stand firm in the fear of God, rigorously practicing the virtues and not giving our conscience cause to stumble. In the fear of God let us keep our attention fixed within ourselves, until our conscience achieves its freedom. Then there will be a union between it and us, and thereafter it will be our guardian, showing us each thing that we must uproot. But if we do not obey our conscience, it will abandon us and we shall fall into the hands of our enemies, who will never let us go. This is what our Lord taught us when He said: 'Come to an agreement with your adversary quickly while you are with him in the road, lest he hand you over to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer and you are cast into prison (Matt. 5:25). The conscience is called an 'adversary' because it opposes us when we wish to carry out the desires of our flesh; and if we do not listen to our conscience, it delivers us into the hands of our enemies."

- Saint Isaiah the Solitary

Reference: Philokalia: Volume 1

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pray Slowly

"During prayer it is absolutely necessary that your heart should sincerely desire that which you ask for : that you should feel deeply and truly what you are saying. Pray slowly till an echo comes back into your heart from every word of your prayers. Yes. It is an absolute rule. Pray slowly, and with power on every word. Pronounce each successive word from the heart. Keep to the rule that it is better to say five words from the bottom of your heart, than ten thousand words from your tongue only. When your heart is cold, stop praying, and warm your heart by vividly representing to yourself your misery and your blindness and your deadness ; and then go on to pray slowly and fervently."

- Saint John of Kronstadt

Reference: Whyte, Alexander. Father John of the Greek Church: an Appreciation. London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1898. 62-63.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christ Abides

"It is very easy for us to be continually with Christ, to ceaselessly hear His sweet voice, and to nourish ourselves with His life-giving teaching; for the Lord Jesus Christ still abides with us. He abides with us in His Holy Gospels, through the Holy Mysteries of the Church; He abides through His omnipresence and omnipotence—bountifully, as befits the boundless, all-perfect God. That the Lord abides with us is plainly proved by souls freed from the captivity of sin, the bestowal of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and by many signs and wonders."

- Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Small Vessel

"The heart is but a small vessel: and yet dragons and lions are there, and there [are] poisonous creatures and all the treasures of wickedness; rough, uneven paths are there, and gaping chasms. There likewise is God, there are the angels, there life and the Kingdom, there light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasures of grace: all things are there."

- Saint Makarios

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christ's Palace

"...Within the heart are unfathomable depths. There are reception rooms and bedchambers in it, doors and porches, and many offices and passages. In it is the workshop of righteousness and of wickedness. In it is death; in it is life....The heart is Christ’s palace: there Christ the King comes to take His rest, with the angels and the spirits of the saints, and He dwells there, walking within it and placing His Kingdom there." (cont.)

- Saint Makarios

Monday, February 21, 2011

Grace Penetrates

"The heart governs and reigns over the whole bodily organism; and when grace possesses the ranges of the heart, it rules over all the members and the thoughts. For there, in the heart, is the mind, and all the thoughts of the soul and its expectation; and in this way grace penetrates also to all members of the body..." (cont.)

- Saint Makarios

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Unclean Thoughts

“If unclean thoughts trouble you, do not hide them but tell them at once to your spiritual father and condemn them. The more we conceal our thoughts, the more they multiply and gain strength... [But] once an evil thought is revealed, it is immediately dissipated... Whoever discloses his thoughts is quickly healed.”

- Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Merciful Heart

"And what is a merciful heart? It is the heart's burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons, and for every created thing; and by the recollection and sight of them the eyes of a merciful man pour forth abundant tears. From the strong and vehement mercy that grips his heart and from his great compassion, his heart is humbled and he cannot bear to hear of or to see any injury or the slight suffering of anything in creation. For this reason he offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of truth, for those who harm him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner he even prays for the lowest as a result of the great compassion which -- after the likeness of God -- is poured out beyond measure within his heart."

- Saint Isaac the Syrian

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grace Leads Us

"Go into the heart, blind, deaf and mute and seek God in the only place he can be found. What we find there is love, for grace leads us in prayer like a mother teaching a child to walk.”

- Elder Cleopa of Sihastria

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A True Father

"What is more to be desired than a true father - a father in God?"

- Saint Theodore the Studite

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Light Unapproachable

"As a friend talking with his friend, man speaks with God, and drawing near in confidence he stands before the face of the One who dwells in light unapproachable."

- Saint Symeon the New Theologian

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Do Not Know

'One day some of the brethren came to see Abba Antony, and among them was Abba Joseph. Wishing to test them, the old man mentioned a text from Scripture, and starting with the youngest he asked them what it meant. Each explained it as best he could. But to each one the old man said. "You have not yet found the answer." Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, "And what do you think the text means?" He replied. "I do not know," Then Abba Antony said "Truly, Abba Joseph has found the way, for he said: I do not know." '

- The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grasping God

"God cannot be grasped by the mind. if he could be grasped, he would not be God."

- Evagrius of Pontus

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Profound Happiness

“Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world.”

- Father Seraphim Rose

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Morning Prayer

Grant unto me, my Lord, that with peace in mind I may face all that this new day is to bring. Grant unto me grace to surrender myself completely to Thy holy will. Instruct and prepare me in all things for every hour of this day. Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept them calmly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy holy will. Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say. When things unforeseen occur, let me not forget that all cometh down from Thee. Teach me to behave sincerely and reasonable toward every member of my family and all other human beings, that I may not cause confusion and sorrow to anyone. Bestow upon me, my Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day and to bear my share in all its passing events. Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love. Amen.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Poison into Our Nature

“It sometimes happens that wicked people give a man poison; likewise the serpent of old, the devil, pours deadly poison into our nature. This poison tortures the soul and makes it ill. See what pride breeds in a man, how it torments him, what manifold ways it invents in search of the world’s honor and glory and praise! Having once grasped them, with what care it keeps this treasure! How indignant a man is if someone despises him! How he sickens, is troubled, grumbles and blasphemes when deprived of honors!”

- Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Master's Compassion

"The Lord loves man and reveals Himself to man. And when the soul beholds the Lord she humbly rejoices in the Master's compassion, and from that hour her love for her Creator is greater than her any other love: though she may see all things and love all men, yet will she love the Lord above all."

- Saint Silouan the Athonite

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Prayer at Home

"Why is it necessary to pray at home, and to attend divine service at Church? (Answer:) Well, why is it necessary for you to eat and drink, to take exercise, or to work, every day? In order to support the life of the body and strengthen it. So also it is absolutely necessary to pray in order to support the life of the soul, to strengthen the soul, which is sick with sin, and to cleanse it, just as you employ some kinds of food and drink to cleanse the body."

- Saint John of Kronstadt

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sanctifying God in the Heart

"What does it mean to sanctify God in the heart? It means showing great reverence before Him unceasingly, always bearing in mind the thought of His omnipresence; being eager at every instant to zealously please Him, and with all fear to beware of everything unpleasing to Him. Especially, it means committing all of your temporal and eternal life unto His fatherly care; to accept all that happens humbly, submissively and thankfully, as coming straight from His hand."

- Saint Theophan the Recluse

Monday, February 7, 2011

Faith Without Works

"What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

- Saint James' Universal Letter 2:14-26, KJV

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Convicting and Judging

"If you want to be a true, zealous son of the Orthodox Church, you must do so by the fulfillment of the commandments of the Gospel toward your neighbor. Do not dare to convict him. Do not dare to teach him. Do not dare to condemn or reproach him. To correct your neighbor in this way is not an act of faith, but of foolish zeal, of prelest and pride. Abba Poemen the Great was asked, "What is faith?" The great man replied that faith consists in always remaining in humility and showing mercy to one's neighbor, forgiving them all their discourtesies, offenses and sins. Foolish zealots make out that their faith is the prime cause of their zeal, but true faith and true zeal is humility and mercy toward all. Let us leave the work of convicting and judging people on the persons whose shoulders is laid the responsibility to rule and judge their brethren."

- Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Stand Your Ground

"Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honour your patience."

- Saint John of the Ladder

Friday, February 4, 2011

Inside the Heart

"Heaven will be inside you if you are pure; and you will behold the angels in it, radiant with joy. The kingdom of the pure in soul, is inside the heart. The sun shining in it is the light of the Holy Spirit, its air is the breeze of the comforting Holy Spirit; and his fellow dwellers are the spiritual attributes of the pure; their life, joy, and rejoicing are Christ, the Light of the Father."

- Saint John Saba

Thursday, February 3, 2011

All Into the Hands of God

"When they got in the ship to sail to the other side of the lake, did the apostles think that they would meet with a tempest and expose their lives to danger? Meanwhile, a tempest suddenly arose and they did not expect to remain alive. Such is the path of our life! You do not know how or from where misfortune will sweep in, capable of destroying us. Air, water, fire, beasts, man, bird, house, in a word—everything around us could suddenly be transformed into a weapon for our death. From this comes a law: live in such a way that every minute you are ready to meet with death and fearlessly enter into its realm. This minute you are alive, but who knows whether you will be alive the next? Keep yourself according to this thought. Do everything you have to, according to the routines of your life, but in no way forget that you could immediately move to a country from which there is no return. Forgetting this will not postpone the determined hour, and intentional expulsion of this decisive upheaval from your thoughts will not lessen the eternal meaning of what will happen after it. Commit your life and all into the hands of God; spend hour after hour with the thought that each hour is the last. From this the number of empty pleasures will decrease; while at death this deprivation will be immeasurably recompensed with a joy to which there is nothing equal in the joys of life."

- Saint Theophan the Recluse

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Carrying Your Cross

"If the Lord sends a cross, He also gives strength to carry it, and He also makes it lighter. One must not assert one's own will in such cases, but rather give himself over entirely to the will of God. It is not worthy of a Christian to go against the will of God; and after a person patiently endures the trials sent to him, the Lord sends spiritual joy."

- Metropolitan Nicholas (Mogilevsky) of Alma-Ata and Kazakhstan

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Life Itself

[Christianity] ”is not a theory, either a mythology, or a ritual, but life itself.”

- Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia