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Archive for the ‘Wisdom of the Saints’ Category

In the hour in which we are tempted we must be patient and pray. Temptation is a clever craftsman. He is able to make small things loom large. Temptation disquiets, saddens and creates external battles. He knows many arts. He brings man to doubt. For this reason we have many shipwrecks. When we are beset by temptations, that’s when the grace of God comes. When one undergoes temptations, he recognizes his weakness, is humbled and attracts the grace of God. Don’t let the winds of temptation affect you. They can’t do you any harm.

–Elder Amphilochios, Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit, p 56

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His Sovereignty Our Freedom

Chirst ‘overcame the world’ [cf. John 16:33]. And now there is no one and nothing that could set limits to His Sovereignty. In much suffering we free ourselves from the power of our past. Enriched by the experience of victory through repentance, we become kin to the only-begotten Son in His Lordship. Hell no longer has dominion over us–our old dread has gone.

–Elder Sophrony, We Shall See Him as He Is, p 188

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That They All May Be One

After Holy Communion one day [Jesus] made me understand the significance of these words in the Canticle of Canticles: “Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of Thy ointments.” So, Jesus, there is no need to say: In drawing me, draw also the souls I love. The simple words “Draw me” are enough! When a soul has been captivated by the intoxicating odour of Your ointments, she cannot run alone. Every soul she loves is drawn after her–a natural consequence of her being drawn to You.

As a river sweeps along it carries with it all it meets down to the depths of the sea, and so, my Jesus, the soul which plunges into the boundless ocean of Your love carries with it all its treasures. You know that my treasures are those souls which You have linked with mine. You have entrusted these treasures to me and so I dare borrow Your own words, those You used on the last evening You spent as a mortal traveller on earth. . . .

Jesus does not demand great deeds. All He wants is self-surrender and gratitude. . . .

This is all Jesus asks from us. He needs nothing from us except our love.

St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul

From a brief life of St. Moses the Ethiopian (emphasis added):

He was a slave, but was cast out by his master due to his evil life. He then became the leader of a murderous band of robbers in Egypt. He came to repentance and took up monastic life in the desert under St Isidore of Sketis. For many years he struggled tirelessly, through prayer, fasting and vigils, with lustful and violent thoughts; he was finally freed of them through the prayers of St Isidore. He was revered by all the brethren for his ascetical life, his wisdom, and his deep humility. Once a brother committed some sin and the monks gathered to judge him. Moses at first refused to go at all, but when they insisted, he filled an old, leaky basket with sand and carried it into the assembly on his back. When the brethren asked him what his action meant, he said “My sins run out behind me, and I do not even see them, and I have come to judge my brother.” The monk was forgiven.

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If you get depressed, then cry out ‘Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!’ Just like a child. The Lord will hear, and will console you.

Schemamonk John the Silent (in The Orthodox Word, no. 251, November-December 2006, p. 278 )

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One who is firm in faith, if he will speak and contend with heretics or unbelievers, will never be disturbed, because he has within himself Jesus, the Source of peace and stillness. And such a one, after contending peacefully, can with love bring many heretics and unbelievers to the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ. Wherefore, O brother, since the judging of other subjects is above your measure, then keep to the royal path, I say, the faith of the 318 Holy Fathers [of the First Ecumenical Council] in which you were baptized: it includes within itself precisely everything for those who understand completely . . . . From now on do not be concerned over subjects which are not assigned to you, for the Lord has taken all cares away from you . . . . Pray for me, O brother, that it may not be said of me: Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? (Rom. 2:21).

–Answer 58 in Guidance Twoard Spiritual Life 2e, tr. by Father Seraphim Rose (St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood 2002)

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[This citation is from my other blog, which I thought those who only visit this site would enjoy with me.]

And of these passions as the occasions are recognized by everybody as soon as they are laid open by the teaching of the elders, so before they are revealed, although we are all overcome by them, and they exist in every one, yet nobody knows of them. But we trust that we shall be able in some measure to explain them, if by your prayers that word of the Lord, which was announced by Isaiah, may apply to us also—”I will go before thee, and bring low the mighty ones of the land, I will break the gates of brass, and cut asunder the iron bars, and I will open to thee concealed treasures and hidden secrets”—so that the word of the Lord may go before us also, and first may bring low the mighty ones of our land, i.e. these same evil passions which we are desirous to overcome, and which claim for themselves dominion and a most horrible tyranny in our mortal body; and may make them yield to our investigation and explanation, and thus breaking the gates of our ignorance, and cutting asunder the bars of vices which shut us out from true knowledge, may lead to the hidden things of our secrets, and reveal to us who have been illuminated, according to the Apostle’s word, “the hidden things of darkness, and may make manifest the counsels of the hearts, that thus penetrating with pure eyes of the mind to the foul darkness of vices, we may be able to disclose them and drag them forth to light; and may succeed in explaining their occasions and natures to those who are either free from them, or are still tied and bound by them, and so passing as the prophet says, through the fire of vices which terribly inflame our minds, we may be able forthwith to pass also through the water of virtues which extinguish them unharmed, and being bedewed (as it were) with spiritual remedies may be found worthy to be brought in purity of heart to the consolations of perfection.

St. John Cassian: On Battling the Passions

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“One first gives himself totally to God, and then God cleanses him and gives him back to the people. When such a person believes that he is the worst of all, then one of his “Lord have mercies” said on behalf of the world is worth more than someone else’s one thousand “Lord have mercies.”

from an Athonite Gerontikon

[from Word from the Desert]

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Once again, be silent! Let no one notice what you are about. You are working for the Invisible One; let your work be invisible. If you scatter crumbs around you they are willingly picked up by birds sent by the devil, the saints explain. Beware of self-satisfaction: in one mouthful it can devour the fruit of much toil.

Therefore the Fathers counsel: act with discernment. Of two evils one chooses the lesser. If you are in private, take the poorest morsel, but if anyone is looking, you should take the middle way that arouses the least notice. Keep hidden and as inconspicuous as possible; in all circumstances let this be your rule. Do not talk about yourself, of how you slept, what you dreamed and what happened to you, do not state your views unasked, do not touch upon your own wants and concerns. All such talk only nourishes your self-preoccupation.

Do not change your work, your residence, and the like. Remember: there is no place, no community, no external circumstance that is not serviceable for the battle you have chosen. The exception is only such work as directly serves your vices.

Do not seek higher posts and higher titles: the lower the position of service you have, the freer you are. Be satisfied with the living conditions you now have. And do not be prompt to show your learning. Hold back your remarks. . . . Contradict nobody and do not get into arguments; let the other person always be right. Never set your own will above that of your neighbor. This teaches you the difficult art of submission, and along with it, humility. Humility is indispensable.

Take remarks without grumbling: be thankful when you are scorned, disregarded, ignored. But do not create humbling situations; they are provided in the course of the day as richly as you need. . . . [T]he truly humble person escapes notice: the world does not know him (I John 3:1); for the world he is mostly a “zero.”

–Tito Colliander, Way of the Ascetics, pp. 25-26

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Pantocrator.jpg[W]hy is it that, whereas the priest asks them to pray for so many different things, the faithful in fact ask for one thing only–mercy? Why is this the sole cry they send forth to God?

In the first place, as we have already said, it is because this prayer implies both gratitude and confession. Secondly, to beg God’s mercy is to ask for his kingdom, that kingdom which Christ promised to give to those who seek it, assuring them that all things else of which they have need will be added unto them [Matt. 6.33]. Because of this, this prayer is sufficient for the faithful, since its application is general.

Nicholas Cabasilas, Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, (SVS Press, 1960/2002), p. 47

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From my other blog, Wisdom!: Readings from the Fathers of the Church:

The mystery hidden from the ages (Col 1:26) and from the nations is now revealed through the true and perfect incarnation of the Son and God. For he united our nature to himself in a single hypostasis, without division and without confusion, and joined us to himself as a kind of first fruits. This holy flesh with its intellectual and rational soul came from us and is ours. He deemed us worthy to be one and the same with himself according to his humanity. For we were predestined before the ages (cf Eph 1:11-12) to be in him as members of his body. He adapted us to himself and knitted us together in the Spirit as a soul to a body and brought us to the measure of spiritual maturity derived from his fullness. For this we were created; this was God’s good purpose for us before the ages. But this renewal did not come about through the normal course of things, it was only realized when a wholly new way of being human appeared. God had made us like himself and allowed us to participate in the very things that are most characteristic of his goodness. Before the ages he had intended that man’s end was to live in him, and to reach this blessed end he bestowed on us the good gift of our natural powers. But by misusing our natural powers we willingly rejected the way God had provided and we became estranged from God. For this reason another way was introduced, more marvelous and more befitting of God than the first, and as different from the former as what is above nature is different from what is according to nature. And this, as we all believe, is the mystery of the mystical sojourn of God with men. For if, says the divine apostle, the first covenant had been blameless, there would have been no occasion for a second (Heb 8:7). It is clear to all that the mystery accomplished in Christ at the end of the age (Heb 9:26) shows indisputably that the sin of our forefather Adam at the beginning of the age has run its course.

(in Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken, trs., On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, pp 70-71)

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