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Author Topic: Pre-Modern Church Fathers (8th to 18th Centuries)  (Read 8054 times) Average Rating: 5
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Justin Kissel
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« on: July 18, 2012, 10:52:55 PM »

We have a thread for early church fathers, and one for modern Church Fathers, so here is a thread for those Fathers who fit in the middle period.
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2012, 10:56:35 PM »

To the degree that she is closer to God than all those who have drawn nigh unto Him, by so much has the Theotokos been deemed worthy of greater audience. I do not speak of men alone, but also of the angelic hierarchies themselves. Isaiah writes with regard to the supreme commanders of the heavenly hosts: "And the seraphim stood round about Him" (Isaiah 6:2); but David says concerning her, "at Thy right hand stood the queen" (Ps. 44:8). Do you see the difference in position? From this comprehend also the difference in the dignity of their station. The seraphim are round about God, but the only Queen of all is near beside Him.

-- St. Gregory Palamas, A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2012, 08:05:05 PM »

Indeed man's nature was created in the beginning for the new man, and mind and desire toward the new man were built. We were given thinking in order to know Christ; desire, in order to run to Him; memory, to remember Him, because even in the time of our creation, it was He our archetype. Because it was not the old man the exemplar of the new, but the new Adam was the exemplar of the old.

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. c. 1391), The Life in Christ (Source)
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2012, 08:45:00 PM »

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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 03:37:04 PM »

Therefore, my brother, if you wish to attain that which you strive for and long after, that is, the good things of God, and from among men become an angel on earth, you must love bodily affliction and embrace suffering. As for trials, love them as the means of obtaining every blessing. Tell me, what is more beautiful than a soul undergoing tribulation, which knows that by enduring it will inherit joy in all things? What is more courageous than "a humble and contrite heart" (Ps. 51:19) Without difficulty it routs the massed troops of evils and pursues them to their end.

-- St. Syemon the New Theologian (d. 1022), Discourse 2: To Christ Through the Beatitudes (Source)
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2012, 04:31:24 PM »

He [St. John Chrysostom] also wrought miracles while in the monastery. One of the citizens had such a pain on one side of his head that his right eye hung out, but when he consulted John he was immediately cured. A certain Archelaus, a wealthy and distinguished person, suffering from leprosy in the face, was ordered to wash in the pool out of which the brethren drank, and became well; after this, he distributed his wealth, said farewell to the world, and entered the monastery, his example being followed by many others. Another person named Eucleus, who had lost his right eye through the influence of an evil spirit, applied to the monastery for admission; his head was shaved while the man of God prayed, and he recovered his sight. A woman also who had an issue of blood seven years was healed. A lion, which was said to have carried off a number of travellers, after John had impressed the sign of the cross upon others, was killed by its influence.

-- St. Photius the Great (d. 893), Bibliotheca, 96
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2012, 11:59:56 AM »

A true santuary, even before the life to come, is a heart free from distractive thoughts and engergized by the Spirit, for all is done and said there spiritually. If we do not attain such a state in this life, we may because of our other virtues be a stone fit for building into the temple of God; but we will not ourselves be a temple or a celebrant of the Spirit.

-- St. Gregory of Sinai (d. 1346), On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; on Thoughts, Passions and Virtues, and also on Stillness and Prayer: One Hundred and Thirty-Seven Texts, 7 (Source)
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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2012, 12:05:34 PM »

If you want cure your soul, you need four things. The first is to forgive your enemies. The second is to confess thoroughly. The third is to blame yourself. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more. If we wish to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong acts to others. And God, Who is most compassionate, will forgive us.

-- St. Cosmas of Aetolia (d. 1779), Source
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« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2012, 02:24:33 PM »

He says, The half of my goods I give to the poor. Do you see his fervor? He began to disburse without stint, not giving just a little, but all that he had. Even what he held back, he held back so that he could give to those whom he had wronged. From this we learn that there is no benefit at all to a man who gives alms to others of money he has obtained unrighteously and ignores those whom he defrauded in obtaining that money. See what Zacchaeus does with this money: if he defrauded anyone he restores to him fourfold, thus remedying the harm he had done to each man he defrauded. This is true almsgiving. He not only remedies the harm, but he does so with increase.

-- St. Theophylact of Ohrid (d. c. 1108), Commentary on Luke 19:1-10 (Source)
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« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 09:09:00 PM »

The beginning of building the virtues is the fear of God, as the Divine Scriptures say, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 110:9). And thereafter the four great virtues, that is, wisdom, courage, chastity, and righteousness, and the others with them, each linked to another and forming a union of love, will grow into a holy temple of the Lord. Let us then, Brethren, build this habitation and adorn it with the virtues so that we might have within us the Holy Spirit, and so that we may bring joy to the holy angels and be of benefit to mankind through the accomplishment of the virtues.

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Homily 48: On Friday of the First Week--Concerning How We Should Adorn Our Eternal Habitation with Virtue (Source)
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2012, 01:22:21 PM »

On having any evil thought, one must call upon God's help, for, as St. Isaac of Syria said, we do not always possess within ourselves the strength to oppose evil thoughts, and there is no help in this matter but from God. Therefore, guided by the instructions of Nilus of Sinai, we need to assiduously pray, with sighing and tears, to the Lord Jesus Christ thus: "Have mercy on me, O Lord, and do not allow me to perish! Rout, O Lord, the demon attacking me. O my sure hope, make Thy sign over my head in the day of my battle with the demon! Overcome the enemy who is doing battle with me. O Lord, O Word of God, with Thy peace and quiet tame the thoughts that are assailing me!" Or, according to the instruction of blessed Theodore the Studite, on having unclean thoughts, pray using the Prophet David's words, 'Judge them, O Lord, that do me injustice and war against them that war against me' and then recite the entire 34th Psalm [Ps 35 in the KJV]; and as the hymongrapher wrote, "Gather together and collect my scattered mind, O Lord, and cleanse my wild heart. As Thou did unto Peter, grant me repentance, as unto the publican, sighing, as unto the loose woman, tears, that I might cry unto Thee: help me and rid me of foul thoughts! For, like ocean waves, my transgressions rise up against me, and like a ship in the deep, I am loaded down with my thoughts and intentions; but do Thou guide me into a quiet safe harbor. O Lord, save me as well through [my] repentance, for I mourn greatly over the weakness of my mind, for not of mine own will do I undergo truly involuntary changes - vacillation, assaults, defeats. Because of this I cry unto Thee: O Holy Trinity without Beginning, help me, and confirm me to stand firm in good thoughts and intentions, senses and feelings!"

-- St. Nilus of Sora (d. 1508), On Prayer (Source)
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« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2012, 08:49:03 AM »

Holy Baptism is like a door by which those that are baptized enter into the holy Church and become fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). And not just so, but before Baptism there are renunciations and vows:

1. We then renounced Satan and all his evil works. Satan is a wicked and evil spirit. He was created good by God, but he and those of like mind with him apostasized from Him, and so from light they became dark, and from good they became evil and wicked. His works are idolatry, pride, adultery, prodigality, all uncleanliness, slander, blasphemy and every sin; for he is the inventor of sin, and he beguiled our ancestors in paradise and led them into sin and apostasy from God. We renounce this wicked spirit and all his evil works before Baptism.

2. We renounce every vanity, pride and pomp of this world, as ones called to and renewed for everlasting life.

3. We promise to serve Christ the Son of God in faith and in truth together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and to follow in His footsteps.

4. Thus we establish a covenant between God and us. We, who have renounced Satan, promise to serve God and be faithful to him. God accepts us in His supreme mercy and promises us an inheritance in everlasting life and the Kingdom, and washes us who are defiled by sin in the laver of Baptism. He sanctifies and justifies us, as the priest says over everyone who is baptized, Thou art washed, thou art sanctified, thou art justified (cf. I Cor. 6:11).

Beloved Christians, let us remember these renunciations and vows, and consider whether we keep them, for it is a grave thing to lie to God, and it is very dangerous to be found false before Him.

-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1783), Remember Your Baptismal Vows (Source)
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2012, 12:38:24 PM »

But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have no repented at all, or great ones for which--even though they have repented over them--they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe, must be cleansed from this kind of sins, but not by means of some purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have said, has not at all be handed down to us). But some must be cleansed in the very departure from the body, thanks only to fear, as St. Gregory the Dialogist literally shows; while others must be cleansed after the departure from the body, either while remaining in the same earthly place, before they come to worship God and are honored with the lot of the blessed, or--if their sins were more serious and bind them for a longer duration--they are kept in [hades], but not in order to remain forever in fire and torment, but as it were in prison and confinement under guard.

All such ones, we affirm, are helped by the prayers and Liturgies performed for them, with the cooperation of the Divine goodness and love for mankind. This Divine cooperation immediately disdains and remits some sins, those committed out of human weakness, as Dionysius the Great (the Areopagite) says in 'Reflections on the Mystery of Those Reposed in Faith' (In 'The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 7, 7); while other sins, after a certain time, by righteous judgments it either likewise releases and forgives--and that completely--or lightens the responsibility for them until that final judgment. And therefore we see no necessity whatever for any other punishment or for a cleansing fire; for some are cleansed by fear, while others are devoured by gnawings of conscience with more torment than any fire, and still others are cleansed only the the very terror before the Divine Glory and the uncertainty as to what the future will be...

And so, we intreat God and believe to deliver the departed from (eternal torment), and not from any other torment or fire apart from those torments and that fire which have been proclaimed to be forever. And that, moreover, the souls of the departed are delivered by prayers from confinement in [hades], as if from a certain prison, is testified, among many others, by Theophanes the Confessor, called the Branded. ...In one of the canons for the reposed he thus prays for them: 'Deliver, O Savior, Thy slaves who are in the [hades] of tears and sighing' (Octoechos, Saturday canon for the deposed, Tone 8, Canticle 6, Glory).

-- St. Mark of Ephesus (d. 1444), First Homily on the Refutation of the Latin Chapters Concerning Purgatorial Fire (Source: The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity, by Archbp. Averky Taushev)
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2012, 12:43:50 PM »

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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2012, 04:43:00 PM »

Ah, tears upon mine eyelids, sorrow on mine heart,
I bring Thee soul-repentance, Creator as Thou art!
Bounding joyous actions, deep as arrows go;
Pleasures self-revolving, issue into woe!
Creatures of our mortal, headlong rush to sin:
I have seen them; of them -- ah me, -- I have been!
Duly pitying Spirits, from your spirit-frame,
Bring your cloud of weeping, -- worthy of the same!

-- St. Simeon Metaphrastes (d. late 10th century), Source
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« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2012, 11:29:44 PM »

But if we despise the commandments of God and reject His laws, which He will vindicate when He come again, and this time with awesome glory and powe, we show ourselves by our deeds to be unbelievers in terms of the faith, and in terms of unbelief believers merely in words. Be not deceived: Without deeds mere faith will not profit us at all, for it is dead. The dead will not become partakers of life unless they first seek it by practicing the commandments. As we practice them there grow up within us, like succulent fruits, love, mercy, compassion for our neighbor, gentleness, humility, endurance of trials, chastity, and purity of heart though which we shall be found worthy to see God, and in which the presence and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit are granted.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), The Discourses, 8, 6
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« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2012, 11:15:37 PM »

Two things, then, commend us to God, and in them lies all the salvation of men. The first is that we be intitiated into the most sacred Mysteries, the second, that we train the will for virtue. Human endeavour can have no other function than that of preserving what has been given so as not to waste the treasure...

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. c. 1391), The Life in Christ (Source)
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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2012, 05:55:23 PM »

Just as in legal marriage, the pleasure derived from procreation cannot exactly be called a gift of God, because it is carnal and constitutes a gift of nature and not og frace (even though that nature has been created by God); even so the knowledge that comes from profane education, even if well used, is a gift of nature, and not of grace--a gift which God accords to all without exception through nature, and which one can develop by exercise. This last point--that no one acquires it without effort and exercise--is an evident proof that it is a question of a natural, not a spiritual, gift.

-- Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), The Triads (Source)
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« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2012, 05:50:12 PM »

Read through Ambrose or Augustine or whatever Father you may choose: which of them wished to affirm anything contrary to the Master's word? If it is I, then I insult your Fathers. But if you say it whilst I deny it, then you insult them, and I condemn you of insolence towards the Fathers. But, you retort, they have written so, and the words the Spirit proceeds from the Son are to be found in their writings. What of it? If those fathers, having been instructed, did not alter or change their opinion, if after just rebukes they were not persuaded — again, this is another slander against your Fathers — then you who teach your word [Filioque] as a dogma introduce your own stubbornness of opinion into the teachings of those men. Although in other things they are the equals of the best [Fathers], what does this have to do with you? If they slipped and fell into error, therefore, by some negligence or oversight — for such is the human condition — when they were corrected, they neither contradicted nor were they obstinately disobedient. For they were not, even in the slightest degree, participants in those things in which you abound. Though they were admirable by reason of many other qualities that manifest virtue and piety, they professed your teaching either through ignorance or negligence. But if they in no way shared the benefit of your advantages [of being corrected], why do your introduce their human fault as a mandate for your blasphemous belief?

-- St. Photius the Great (d. 893), Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit, 68
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« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2012, 01:47:57 PM »

Only God who made us has power over us, and He is ready to help and protect from every temptation those who cry out to Him and want to do His holy will. Without Him we can do nothing: we cannot even suffer evil against our will unless God permits it in order to chastise us nd save our souls. But the evil that we commit ourselves is our own responsibility and arises from our own laziness with the help of the demons. On the other hand, all knowledge, strength and virtue are the grace of God, as are all other things.

-- St. Peter of Damascus (d. c. 12th century), The Seven Forms of Bodily Discipline (Source)
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« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2012, 07:49:48 PM »

If by nature or by havit you are inclined to get angry, take care to avoid anything which excites in you this passion. Calm yourself even though only for a short while, and count how many days you have passed without being cross. Supposing you are in the habit of getting irritable every day; well, if for a whole day, or for two or for three, you have not been angry, it is a sign that your anger is diminishing. If you see that a whole week has passed thus, go to church, and fervently thank your Creator for such mercy.

-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1783), Source
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« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2012, 02:11:08 PM »

If you wish to pray as you ought, imitate the dulcimer player; bending his head a little and inclining his ear to the strings, he strikes the strings skillfully, and enjoys the melody he draws from their harmonious notes. Is this example clear to you? The dulcimer is the heart; the strings--the feelings; the hammer--remembrance of God; the player--mind. By remembrance of God and of Divine things the mind draws holy feelings from the God-fearing heart, then ineffable sweetness fills the soul, and the mind, which is pure, is lit up by Divine illuminations. The dulcimer player perceives and hears nothing but the melody he enjoys. So the mind, during active prayer, descends into the depths of the heart with sobriety and can no longer listen to aught but God. All his inner being speaks to God with the voice of David: 'My soul followeth hard after thee' (Ps. 63:8).

-- St. Kallistos II Xanthopoulos (d. early 15th century), Source
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« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2012, 05:24:26 AM »

In that country was a man named Leofstan, rich in worldly things but ignorant of God. He rode to the saint with exceeding arrogance and insolently ordered that the holy saint be shown to him so that he might see whether Edmund was whole. But as soon as he saw the saint's body he went mad, and raged cruelly, and ended wretchedly in an evil death. This is similar to that which the pious Pope Gregory related in his narrative about the holy Laurentius, who lies in Rome, i.e., that men both good and evil wanted to examine how he lay, but God restrained them in such manner that seven men died all at one time at the examination. Then others with human shortcomings stopped examining the saint.

-- St. Abbo of Fleury (d. 1004), The Martyrdom of St. Edmund (Source)
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« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2012, 11:38:08 PM »

One type of watchfulness consists in closely scrutinizing every mental image or provocation; for only by means of a mental image can Satan fabricate an evil thought and insinuate this into the intellect in order to lead it astray. A second type of watchfulness consists in freeing the heart from all thoughts, keeping it profoundly silent and still, and in praying. A third type consists in continually and humbly calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ for help. A fourth type is always to have the thought of death in one's mind.

-- St. Hesychios the Priest (d. 8th-9th century), On Watchfulness and Holiness (Written for Theodoulos), 14-17
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« Reply #24 on: August 09, 2012, 09:15:37 PM »

Ascetic toil is initially painful for all those newly engaged in spiritual warfare; but for those exercised in the growth of virtue and who have reached the mid-point of their path, such toil is pleasurable and produces a strange sense of relief. When the mortal will of the flesh is swallowed up by the immortal life (cf. 2 Cor. 5:4) conferred through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in those truly striving towards the perfection of virtue, they are filled with unspeakable joy and gladness, for a pure spring of tears has opened within them, and streams of sweet compunction flow down on them from above.

-- St. Nikitas Stithatos (d. c. 1090), On the Practice of the Virtues: One Hundred Texts, 24
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« Reply #25 on: August 10, 2012, 04:54:43 PM »

The man engaged in ascetic practice finds that during prayer the knowledge of sensible things covers his heart like a veil, which he is unable to remove because of his attachment to these things. Only the contemplative man, owing to his non-attachment, can to some degree see the glory of God 'with unveiled face' (2 Cor. 3:18). Prayer combined with spiritual contemplation constitutes the promised land in which there flows, like 'milk and honey' (Exod. 3:8), the spiritual knowledge of the principles of God's providence and judgment. Prayer combined with a certain measure of natural contemplation is Egypt, in which those who pray still encounter the memory of their grosser desires. Simple prayer is manna in the desert (cf. Num. 11:7). Since it is unvarying, this manna does not disclose to the impatient the promised blessings for which they long; but for those who persevere with such restricted food, it imparts most excellent and abiding nourishment.

-- Ilias the Presbyter (d. c. early 12th century), A Gnomic Anthology, 51-52
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« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2012, 07:04:28 PM »

Nothing is more unsettling than talkativeness and more pernicious than an unbridled tongue, disruptive as it is of the soul's proper state. For the soul's chatter destroys what we build each day and scatters what we have laboriously gathered together. What is more disastrous than this 'uncontrollable evil' (James 3:8)? The tongue has to be restrained, checked by force and muzzled, so to speak, and made to serve only what is needful. Who can describe all the damage that the tongue does to the soul?

-- St. Philotheos of Sinai (d. 10th century), Forty Texts on Watchfulness, 5
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« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2012, 08:37:52 AM »

Slothful and inexperienced as you are, you too should ‘go to the ant’ (Prov. 6:6): imitate its simplicity and insignificance, and know that God, self-sufficient and superabundant, has no need of our virtues. On the contrary, He richly bestows His gifts on us and through His grace saves those who are consciously grateful, though in His compassion He also accepts whatever work we are able to do. If, then, you labor as one in debt to God for blessings already received, you do well and God’s mercy is close to you. But if you think that God is in your debt because of the good things you imagine you have done, you are quite deluded. For how can the bestower of gifts be the debtor? Work like a hired servant and, advancing step by step, you will by God’s mercy attain what you seek.

-- St. Theognostos, On the Practice of the Virtues, Contemplation and the Priesthood, 31
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« Reply #28 on: August 13, 2012, 12:12:29 PM »

The Fathers define prayer as a spiritual weapon. Unless we are armed with it we cannot engage in warfare, but are carried off as prisoners to the enemy’s country. Nor can we acquire pure prayer unless we cleave to God with an upright heart. For it is God who gives prayer to him who prays and who teaches man spiritual knowledge.

-- St Theodoros the Great Ascetic (d. c. 9th century), A Century of Spiritual Texts, 8
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« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2012, 02:55:54 PM »

"Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in by it." (Matt. 7:13)  The narrow gate means both trials that are voluntarily undertaken, such as fasting and the like, and trials that are involuntarily experienced, such as imprisonment and persecution. Just as a man who is fat, or who is carrying a great load, cannot go in through a narrow gate, neither can a gourmandize or a rich man. These go in through the wide gate. To show that narrowness is temporary and that width is likewise transitory, He calls them a "gate" and a "way." For the gate is hardship, and he who undergoes hardship passes through his hardship as quickly as he would pass through a gate. And the pleasure of the gourmandizer's feast are as transitory as any moment in a journey along a road. Since both are temporary, we ought to choose the better of the two.

-- St. Theophylact of Ohrid (d. 1107), Explanation of the Sermon on the Mount (Source)
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« Reply #30 on: August 15, 2012, 05:15:13 PM »

Many of the great, spiritual masters, who wore the ascetic vesture with true humility, shrunk from entering the ranks of the priesthood, because they considered it much higher than their capability. These great and true ascetics were in fact much more eligible for the priesthood than those others, who openly sought it, instead of avoiding it, regarding themselves most worthy of it because of the height and purity of their monastic values. There is no doubt, says St. Symeon, that the monastic ideals fit perfectly with the lofty and pure calling to the priesthood. Indeed, the Church knows this and has, therefore, entrusted her protection to the holy ascetics. It has become customary to have ascetic priests promoted to the hierarchy of the Church, and it is demanded that those priests, who are to become hierarchs, should first assume the ascetic habit.

-- St. Symeon of Thessalonica (d. 1429), On the Priesthood (Source)
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« Reply #31 on: August 16, 2012, 12:52:20 PM »

It is precisely thanks to the miraculous way of his deliverance from the Cretan Arabs which, according to his biographers, he turned to the composition of hymns. As Joseph was imprisoned, along with his fellow travelers, a mysterious figure (identified by biographers and the editors of the Vitae as either St. Nicholas of Myra or St. Andrew the apostle) appeared to him, handing hiim over a scroll and asking him to read it. Upon doing that, Joseph started to sing out a refrain from Romanos the Melodist's kontakion on the Three Hebrews, which prays for the help of God. It was on the next day that he was released and returned to Constantinople.

-- Concerning the life of St. Joseph the Hymnographer (d. c. 883), (Source)
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« Reply #32 on: August 17, 2012, 11:30:08 AM »

But we must be even more attentive to the divine Scriptures. While they are being read a man ought to look at himself, and reflect on his soul as in a mirror. In what state is it? What do I mean? A man hears the Lord say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand' (Matt. 4:17). he must therefore call to mind how he spends his days. If he is duly penitent he will increase and prolong his work; if he is negligent he will mend his ways.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), The Discourses, 31, 2
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« Reply #33 on: August 18, 2012, 07:48:41 PM »

Thus the grief that is full of graces derives from love of Christ, and love depends on the thoughts which concern Christ and His loving-kindness. Accordingly it is profitable to hold these [spiritual] things fast in our memory and turn them over in the mind and at no time to desist from this occupation, but rather to be of set purpose to meditate and to reflect upon them when we are alone, and to make them the delight of our speech and the matter of conversation when we are with others. Besides, as far as it is possible, we should display this preoccupation without ceasing, or at least frequently thorughout our lives, so that it may be deeply imprinted on our hearts and completely possess them.

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. c. 1391), The Life in Christ (Source)
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« Reply #34 on: August 20, 2012, 01:57:29 AM »

No one can learn the art of virtue by himself, though some have taken experience of their teacher. For to act on one's own and not on the advice of those who have gone before us is overweening presumption--or, rather, it engenders such presumption. If the Son does nothing of His own accord, but does only what the Father has taught him (cf John 5:19-20), and the Spirit will not speak of His own accord (cf John 16:3), who can think he has attained such heights of virtue that he does not need anyone to initiate him into the mysteries? Such a person is deluded and out of his mind rather than virtuous. One should therefore listen to those who have experienced the hardships involved in cultivating the virtues and should cultivate them as they have...

-- St. Gregory of Sinai (d. 1346), On Stillness (Source)
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« Reply #35 on: August 22, 2012, 10:17:47 PM »

We believe a man to be not simply justified through faith alone, but through faith which worketh through love, that is to say, through faith and works. But [the notion] that faith fulfilling the function of a hand layeth hold on the righteousness which is in Christ, and applieth it unto us for salvation, we know to be far from all Orthodoxy. For faith so understood would be possible in all, and so none could miss salvation, which is obviously false. But on the contrary, we rather believe that it is not the correlative of faith, but the faith which is in us, justifieth through works, with Christ. But we regard works not as witnesses certifying our calling, but as being fruits in themselves, through which faith becometh efficacious, and as in themselves meriting, through the Divine promises (2 Cor. 5:10) that each of the Faithful may receive what is done through his own body, whether it be good or bad, forsooth.

The Confession of Dositheus (1672), Decree 13 (Source)
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« Reply #36 on: August 22, 2012, 11:28:17 PM »

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« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2012, 05:05:20 PM »

If there is something for me to undertake, and if I find nothing about it in Scripture, I lay it aside for a time until I do find some­thing. I do not presume to undertake anything at all on my own will and according to my own judgement. Whether you live as a hermit or in coenobitic life, pay heed to the Holy Scripture and follow in the footsteps of the Fathers, or be in subjection to one who is known to you as a spiritual man in word, life and judgement. The Holy Scripture is harsh only for earthly ways of thinking, but rather desires to live according to his own passionate will. Others do not wish humbly to search the Holy Scripture, do not wish even to hear of how one should live, as if the Scripture were not written for us or need not be put in all times, the words of the Lord will always be words as pure as refined silver; the Lord's commandments for them are dearer than gold and precious stones, sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.

-- St. Nilus of Sora (d. 1508), Source
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« Reply #38 on: August 24, 2012, 07:33:59 PM »

The Christian needs two wings in order to soar upward and attain Paradise: humility and love. When the first order of angels fell from angelic glory and became demons, the other nine orders humbled themselves and worshipped the All-Holy Trinity, and remained in their place and rejoice forever. We, too, my brethren, must reflect what an evil thing pride is - that it cast down the dcvil from angelic glory and he will always burn in Hades - and that humility kept the angels in Heaven, and they rejoice perpetually in the glory of the Holy Trinity. Let us then, my brethren, aviod pride, because it is the first daughter of the devil, is a path that leads to Hades; and let us have humility, because it is angelic, is a path that leads to Paradise.

-- St. Cosmas of Aetolia (d. 1779), Source
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« Reply #39 on: August 25, 2012, 07:01:03 PM »

The stages of conemplation are, it seems to me, eight in number. Seven pertains to this present age, while the eighth is the pursuit of the age to come, as St. Isaac says. The first stage, according to St. Dorotheos, is knowledge of the tribulations and trials of this life. This fills us with grief for all the damage done to human nature through sin. The second is knowledge of our own faults and of God's bounty, as St. John Klimakos, St. Isaac and many other fahters express it. The third is knowledge of the terrible things that await us before and after death, as revealed in the Holy Scripture. The fourth is the deep understanding of the life led by our Lord Jesus Christ in this world, and of the words and actions of His disciples and the other saints, the martyrs, and the holy fathers. The fifth is knowledge of the nature and flux of things, as St. Gregory and St John of Damascus put it. The sixth is contemplation of created beings, that is to say, knowledge and understanding of God's visible creation. The seventh is understanding of God's spiritual creation. The eighth is knowledge concerning God, or what we call 'theology'.

-- St. Peter of Damascus (d. c. 12th century), The Eight Stages of Contemplation (Source)
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« Reply #40 on: August 26, 2012, 03:49:44 PM »

Anyone know of some other saints from this time period that I can quote? I know of other saints, but their writings haven't been translated into English (or they didn't write anything to begin with). I've been going through things like the list of authors in the Migne collection, and the St. Pachomius Library, trying to come up with other people, but I'm not coming up with much.
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« Reply #41 on: August 27, 2012, 05:20:14 PM »

The carnal mode of life is one wholly devoted to the pleasures and enjoyments of this present life, and has nothing to do with the psychic and spiritual modes of life, and does not even have any wish to acquire them. The psychic mode, which is situated on the borderline between evil and virtue, is preoccupied with the care and strengthening of the body and with men's praise; it not only repudiates the labors required for virtue, but also rejects carnal indulgence. It avoids both virtue and vice but for opposite reasons: virtue because this requires toil and discipline; vice because that would entail forfeiting men's praise. The spiritual mode of life, on the other hand, has nothing in common with these two other modes, and on this account is not implicated in the evil that pertains to either: it is entirely free in every way from both the one and the other. Invested with the wings of love and dispassion, it soars above them both, doing nothing that is forbidden and not being hamstrung by evil.

-- St. Nikitas Stithatos (d. c. 1090), On the Inner Nature of Things and on the Purification of the Intellect: One Hundred Texts, 4
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« Reply #42 on: August 28, 2012, 12:35:06 PM »

The blessed remembrance of God - which is the very presence of Jesus - with a heart full of wrath and a saving animosity against the demons, dissolves all trickeries of thought, plots, argumentation, fantasies, obscure conjectures and, in short, everything with which the destroyer arms himself and which he insolently deploys in his attempt to swallow our souls. When Jesus is invoked, He promptly bums up everything. For our salvation lies in Christ Jesus alone. The Savior Himself made this clear when He said: 'Without Me you can do nothing' (John 15:5).

-- St. Philotheos of Sinai (d. 10th century), Forty Texts on Watchfulness, 22
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« Reply #43 on: August 30, 2012, 11:09:24 AM »

Such evils, begotten of the love for material things, are passions of a soul that has no zeal for spiritual work. We can free ourselves more easily from passions that are a matter of our own volition than from those rooted in nature. It is disbelief in God's providence that makes it difficult for us to eradicate the passions that arise from our love of possessions, for such disbelief leads us to put our trust in material riches. 'It is easier', said the Lord, 'for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God' (Matt. 19:24). But if we trust in material riches, this means nothing to us; we long for worldly, perishable wealth, not for a kingdom that is heavenly and eternal. And even when we fail to acquire that wealth, the mere desire for it is extremely pernicious. For, as St Paul says, those who want to be rich fall into the temptations and snares of the devil (cf. 1 Tim. 6:9). Yet when wealth comes, it proves itself to be nothing, since its possessors, unless they are brought to their senses by experience, still thirst after it as though they lacked it. This love that is no love does not come from need; rather the need arises from the love. The love itself arises from folly, the same folly that led Christ, the Master of all, justly to describe as foolish the man who pulled down his barns and built greater ones (cf. Luke 12:18-20).

-- St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), To the Most Reverend Nun Xenia, 31
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« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2012, 02:11:30 PM »

"And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could not we cast it out? And He said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." (Mark 9:28-29)

The disciples were afraid they had lost the grace which the Lord had given them, and this was why they had not been able to cast out the demon. See that out of respect they approached the Lord privately. This kind—what kind? The kind which may make their abode in lunatics, or, in general, the whole race of demons, does not come out except through prayer and fasting. Both the one suffering, and the one about to heal, must fast. Both are necessary. Good sense dictates that the one suffering must fast. He must not only fast, but also pray; and he must not only pray, but also fast, for true prayer is rendered when it is yoked to fasting. When the one who prays is not weighed down by the effects of food, his prayer is not burdened and ascends easily.

-- St. Theophylact of Ohrid (d. c. 1108), Commentary on Mark 9:17-31 (Source)
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« Reply #45 on: September 03, 2012, 08:21:14 PM »

You know that fervent penitence accompanied by tears that spring from the depth of the heart will melt and burn up the filth of sin like a fire and make pure the soul that has been defiled. In addition, penitence through the visitation of the Spirit generously imparts an abundant flow of light to the soul, whereby it is filled with mercy and good fruits (James 3:17). I pray, therefore, fathers and brethren, let us use fasting both during this third week of Lent and in those that follow, as we daily add fervor to fervor and zeal to zeal, until we arrive at the Sunday of Easter with souls and bodies alike resplendent.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses, 12, 2
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« Reply #46 on: December 28, 2012, 12:33:47 AM »

What shall I say about the belly, the queen of the passions? If you can deaden or half-deaden it, do not relent. It has mastered me, beloved, and I worship it as a slave and vassal, this abettor of the demons and dwelling-place of the passions. Through it we fall and through it--when it is well-disciplined--we rise again.

-- St. Gregory of Sinai (d. 1346), On Prayer: Seven Texts, 6 (Source)
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« Reply #47 on: December 28, 2012, 09:24:23 PM »

Everyone who has experience can only laugh at the contradictions of the inexperienced; for they have learnt not through words but effort, and the experience which indicates the pains they take. It is effort which brings the useful fruits, and challenges the sterile views of the lovers of disputation and ostentation.

-- St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), The Triads (Source)
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« Reply #48 on: December 29, 2012, 02:10:07 PM »

Then, you will say, if a living man has the dispositions you mention in his soul, and yet does not partake of the holy mysteries, will he nevertheless receive the sanctification which the sacrament gives? Not in all cases; only when it is physically impossible for him to receive the elements, as it is for the dead. Such was the case of the solitaries who lived in the desert, or in caves and grottoes in the mountain-side, and could not avail themselves of priest or altar. Christ gave them this sanctification in an invisible manner. We know this because they had life, which they could not have had without partaking of the sacrament, for Christ himself said: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Another proof is the fact that God sent angels to several of these men with the sacrament.

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. c. 1391), Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 42
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« Reply #49 on: December 30, 2012, 06:06:23 PM »

Are you ignorant of ancient things? Do you fear your fathers? Do you truly examine their doctrine? Recently (the second generation has not yet passed), Leo [III, pope of [Old] Rome, 795-816], another renowned man who was adorned with miracles, removed all pretext for heresy from everyone. Because the Latin language, frequently used by our holy Fathers, has inadequate meanings which do not translate the Greek language purely and exactly, and often render false notions of the doctrines of the Faith, and because it is not supplied with as many words that can interpret the meaning of a Greek word in its exact sense, that God-inspired man conceived an idea (the idea being conceived not only because of what we have just said, but also because of that heresy [the Filioque] now openly proclaimed without restraint, but then only being hinted at in the city of [Old] Rome). He decreed that the people of [Old] Rome should recite the sacred Symbol of Faith in the Greek tongue. Through these divinely inspired plans, he supplemented and redressed the inadequacy of the Latin tongue and expelled from the pious the suspicion of a difference in faith, pulling up by the roots the pollution then growing in the provinces of [Old] Rome.

In the city of [Old] Rome, he posted notices and decrees that the sacred Symbol of Faith be recited in the same Greek tongue with which it had been first proclaimed according to the authoritative utterance of the Synods, even by those who used Latin in the mystical and sacred rites. Not only for [Old] Rome did he decree it, but also throughout the provinces which deferred to the high priesthood and rule of [Old] Rome. He sent sermons and synodical letters that everyone think and do the same, and he ensured the immutability of the doctrine by anathemas. This practice was reverently maintained not only during his reign, but also during that of the praise-worthy Benedict, that gentle and forbearing man (as was befitting the office of archbishop) who was radiant with ascetical practices and who succeeded him to that arch-episcopal throne.

-- St. Photius the Great (d. 893), Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit, 87-88
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« Reply #50 on: December 30, 2012, 06:12:11 PM »

Thank you !  Back again !  Cheesy
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« Reply #51 on: January 01, 2013, 05:48:22 AM »

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness." (Gal. 6:1) Many of the Galatians imagined that they were rebuking sinners, when in fact, out of love for power, they were justifying their own passions. Therefore Paul instructs them, If a man be overtaken, that is, if he be seized and assaulted by a demon, ye which are spiritual, restore him. Do not punish him, but correct him in the spirit of meekness. He did not say, “in meekness,” but in the spirit of meekness, implying that the gentle correction of sinners is pleasing to the Spirit and is a gift of the Spirit.

-- St. Theophylact of Ohrid (d. c. 1108), Commentary on Galatians (Source)
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« Reply #52 on: January 02, 2013, 04:36:58 PM »

Let us have love for God and for our fellow men. Then God comes and brings us joy and implants the eternal life in our hearts, and we fare well in this life and also go to Paradise, there to rejoice forever.

-- St. Cosmas of Aetolia (d. 1779), Source
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« Reply #53 on: January 03, 2013, 02:04:44 PM »

First I will say this, that whatever the Law says, it says to those under the Law. The ancient commandments should not be imposed on those under grace. If they were, we would keep the Sabbath, and be circumcised; many things contrary to our faith would follow. But we must understand these things only as a fore-shadowing. The apostle says that the Law is a shadow but not the true image of the realities.

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Second Refutation of the Iconoclasts, 36 (Source)
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« Reply #54 on: January 05, 2013, 04:31:08 AM »

The truly humble man never ceases to reproach himself, even when the whole world attacks and insults him. He acts in this way, not simply in order to attain salvation as it were passively by enduring with patience whatever befalls him, but in order to press forward actively and deliberately to embrace the sufferings of Christ. From these sufferings he learns the greatest of all the virtues, humility: the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, the gateway to the kingdom of heaven, that is to say, to dispassion. He who passes through this gateway comes to God; but without humility his road is full of pain and his effort useless.

-- St. Peter of Damascus (d. c. 12th century), Twenty-Four Discourses: Discourse 10, On Humility
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« Reply #55 on: January 06, 2013, 03:41:36 PM »

If you are having a meal with your brethren, eat unhesitatingly of what is presented to you, whatever it may be. If, however, you have been told not to eat fish or some other food, and it is offered to you, should the person who gave you the order be close at hand, go to him and request him to let you partake; but should he not be present, or if you know that he would not give his permission, and at the same time you do not wish to offend your hosts, tell him what you have done after you have eaten, and ask his forgiveness. If you are unwilling to do either of these things, it is better for you not to visit your brethren. For in this way you will be the gainer in two respects: you will escape the demon of self-esteem, and at the same time spare them offence and distress. If the foods offered to you are on the rich side, keep to your rule; yet even in this case it is better to take a little of everything. In short, when you are invited somewhere, apply the principle laid down by St Paul: 'Eat all that is set before you without raising questions of conscience' (cf. i Cor. 10:25).

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), One Hundred and Fifty-Three Practical and Theological Texts, 148
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« Reply #56 on: January 07, 2013, 02:32:57 PM »

If through humility and prayer you have been initiated into the spiritual knowledge of God, this means that you are known by God and enriched by Him with an authentic knowledge of His supernatural mysteries. If you are tainted with conceit, you have not been so initiated, but are governed by the spirit of this material world. Thus, even if you imagine that you know something, in fact you know nothing about things divine in the way you ought to (cf. 1 Cor. 8:2). If, however, you love God and regard nothing as more precious than love for God and for your fellow being, you will also know the depths of God and the mysteries of His kingdom in the way that someone inspired by the Holy Spirit must know them.

-- St. Nikitas Stithatos (d. c. 1090), On Spiritual Knowledge, Love and the Perfection of Living: One Hundred Texts, 80
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« Reply #57 on: January 09, 2013, 03:33:11 AM »

I will add this from my own small experience. When you sit in stillness, by day or by night, free from random thoughts and continuously praying to God in humility, you may find that your intellect becomes exhausted through calling upon God and that your body and heart begin to feel pain because of the intense concentration with which you unceasingly invoke the name of Jesus, with the result that you no longer experience the warmth and joy that engender ardor and patience in the spiritual aspirant. If this is the case, stand up and psalmodize, either by yourself or with a disciple who lives with you, or occupy yourself with meditation on some scriptural passage or with the remembrance of death, or with manual labor or with some other thing, or give your attention to reading, preferably standing up so as to involve your body in the task as well.

-- St. Gregory of Sinai (d. 1346), On Stillness: Fifteen Texts, 9
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« Reply #58 on: January 10, 2013, 08:02:32 AM »

But when you hear that other path of life called 'broad', do not suppose it to be free of sorrow, for in fact it is filled with many oppressive misfortunes. He calls it 'broad' and 'wide' because there are many who pass along it (cf. Matt. 7:13), each bearing a heavy load of the rubbish of this fleeting material life. But yours is a narrow path, O virgin, not even wide enough for two together. None the less, many at first embroiled in the world have renounced it on the death of their spouses, emulating your supernatural way of life and choosing to journey along your path so as to share in its rewards.

-- St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), To the Most Reverend Nun Xenia
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« Reply #59 on: January 11, 2013, 03:36:44 PM »

To give free rein to the senses is to shackle the soul, to shackle the senses is to liberate it. When the sun sets, night comes; when Christ leaves the soul, the darkness of the passions envelops it and incorporeal predators tear it asunder. When the visible sun rises, animals retreat into their lairs; when Christ rises in the heaven of the praying mind, worldly preoccupations and proclivities abscond, and the intellect goes forth to its labor - that is, to meditate on the divine - until the evening (cf. Ps. 104:19-23). Not that the intellect limits its fulfillment of the spiritual law to any period of time or performs it according to some measure; on the contrary, it continues to fulfill it until it reaches the term of this present life and the soul departs from the body. That is what is meant in the Psalms when it is said, 'How I have loved Thy law, O Lord; it is my meditation all the day long' (Ps. 119:97) - where 'day' means the whole course of one's present life.

-- St. Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia (d. 1322), On Inner Work in Christ And the Monastic Profession
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« Reply #60 on: January 13, 2013, 02:00:56 PM »

One of the brethren asked Abba Agathon which is the better, bodily asceticism or the guarding of our inner state. The elder replied: 'Man is like a tree: bodily asceticism is the leaves, the guarding of our inner state the fruit. Since, according to the Scriptures, "every tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matt. 3:10), it is clear that all our efforts should be devoted to producing the fruit, that is, to keeping watch over our intellect. But we also need the shelter and canopy of the leaves - bodily asceticism.' How astonishing it is that this saint denounced those who fail to learn how to keep watch over the intellect and who boast only of their bodily asceticism: every tree, he said, which does not produce fruit - by which is meant keeping watch over the intellect - but only has leaves, that is, bodily asceticism, is cut down and thrown into the fire. How terrible, father, is your verdict.

-- Nikiphoros the Monk (d. 13th century), On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart
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« Reply #61 on: January 14, 2013, 12:39:00 PM »

And the Lamb of God not only did this, but was chastised on our behalf, and suffered a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins, because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the scourging, the insults, and the dishonour, which were due to us, and drew down on Himself the apportioned curse, being made a curse for us. And what is that but the price of our souls? And so the oracle says in our person: "By his stripes we were healed," and "The Lord delivered him for our sins," with the result that uniting Himself to us and us to Himself, and appropriating our sufferings, He can say, "I said, Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee".

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. c. 1391), Source
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« Reply #62 on: January 15, 2013, 10:34:02 PM »

I also accept every God-inspired book of the Old and New Testaments as well as the biographies and divine writings of all the holy fathers, teachers, and ascetics... In addition, I acknowledge that the monastic life is lofty and exalted, even angelic, pure of every sin on account of its perfect way of life. It is clear that the monastic life must be ordered according to the ascetic rules of the holy Basil the Great and not by half measures so that some in one place choose some rules and let others go.

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Testament (Source)
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« Reply #63 on: January 17, 2013, 10:08:39 PM »

Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of you salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins. Putting them off year after year, month after month, day after day, you will not at all desire with your whole heart to repent, and you will not find one to have compassion on you.

O with what torture you will then begin to repent without success. Having the opportunity today to do some good deed, do not put off until tomorrow, my beloved soul, holy repentance, because you do not know what today will bring forth or what misfortune might happen to you this night. For you do not know what the day or night will bring, whether a long life stands before you or not, or if you will suddenly and unexpectedly receive a miserable and speedy death.

-- St. Paisius Velichkovsky (d. 1794), Source
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« Reply #64 on: January 21, 2013, 07:31:54 PM »

Anathema to those who spurn the teachings of the holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church, taking as a pretext and making their own the arguments of Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and Dioscorus, that unless we were evidently taught by the Old and New Testaments, we should not follow the teachings of the holy Fathers and of the holy Ecumenical Synods, and the tradition of the Catholic Church.

-- 7th Ecumenical Council, Session 1 (Source)
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« Reply #65 on: January 22, 2013, 09:25:23 PM »

Many doubt whether the things that are said about the blessed Gerald are true, and some think that they are certainly not true but fantastic. Others, as though seeking excuses for their sins, extol him indiscreetly, saying that Gerald was powerful and rich, and lived well, and is certainly a saint. They strive indeed to excuse their luxurious lives by his example. It seemed to me therefore that I ought to reply a little to these according to my ability. For I too, formerly, hearing the fame of his miracles, was nevertheless in doubt, and for this reason chiefly, that stores get about here and there, through I know not what channels, and are then gradually discredited as empty. Now with the others, now alone, I carefully investigated what each one said and whether they agreed, silently pondering if his life was one in which miracles frequently occured. Having learned how religiously he lived and that God had shown this man to be in His grace by many signs, I could no longer doubt of his sanctity. I marvel rather, that in this age of ours, when charity has almost entirely grown cold, and the time of Antichrist is at hand, the miracles of the saints should not cease, but He is mindful of the promise, that He makes by Jeremiah: "I will not turn away from doing good to [my people]" (Jes. 32:40)

-- St. Odo of Cluny (d. 942), The Life of Saint Gerald of Aurillac (Source)
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« Reply #66 on: January 22, 2013, 11:00:34 PM »

"And should we fall, we should not despair and so estrange ourselves from the Lord's love. For if He so chooses, He can deal mercifully with our weakness. Only we should not cut ourselves off from Him or feel oppressed when constrained by His commandments, nor should we lose heart when we fall short of our goal. Rather, let us learn that a thousand years in the sight of the Lord are but a single day, and a single day is as a thousand years (cf. Ps. 90:4). Let us be neither hasty nor tardy, and let us always be ready to make a new start. If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again. Only do not abandon your Physician, lest you be condemned as worse than a suicide because of your despair. Wait on Him, and He will be merciful, either reforming you, or sending you trials, or through some other provision of which you are ignorant."

-- St. Peter of Damaskos (p.233, The Philokalia, Vol.3)
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« Reply #67 on: January 23, 2013, 10:46:22 AM »

Tell me now, worthy friend, what I ask of thee,
Tell me where thou dost dwell who art snatched away?
With what souls has thy lot been appointed thee?
Hast risen to the regions celestial?
Hast thou attained to the things thou hopedst for?
Hast thou found an abode in the shining light?
O tell me Where the choirs of the living make melody,
As the shout of their triumph goes up to the Lord,
Their Alleluia.

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Hymn For the Burial of a Monk (Source)
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« Reply #68 on: January 24, 2013, 07:19:55 PM »

After Vespers, and late at night, especially on long dark nights, the saint used to leave his cell and go the round of the monk's cells. If he heard anyone saying his prayers, or making genuflections, or busy with his own handiwork, he was gratified and gave thanks to God. If, on the other hand, he heard two or three monks chatting together, or laughing, he was displeased, rapped on the door or window, and passed. on. In the morning he would send for them and, indirectly, quietly and gently, by means of some parable, reprove them. If he was a humble and submissive brother he would quickly admit his fault and, bowing low before St. Sergius, would beg his forgiveness. If, instead, he was not a humble brother, and stood erect thinking he was not the person referred to, then the saint, with patience, would make it clear to him, and order him to do a public penance. In this way they all learned to pray to God assiduously; not to chat with one another after Vespers, and to do their own handiwork with all their might; and to have the Psalms of David all day on their lips.

-- St. Sergius of Radonezh (d. 1392), The Life, Acts and Miracles of our Revered and Holy Father Abbot Sergius (Source)
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« Reply #69 on: January 26, 2013, 05:54:02 PM »

And also, far and wide, as we said before, more than should be are lost and perjured through the breaking of oaths and through violations of pledges, and through various lies; and non-observances of church feasts and fasts widely occur time and again. And also there are here in the land Gods adversaries, degenerate apostates, and hostile persecutors of the Church and entirely too many grim tyrants, and widespread despisers of divine laws and Christian virtues, and foolish deriders everywhere in the nation, most often of those things that the messengers of God command, and especially those things that always belong to Gods law by right. And therefore things have now come far and wide to that full evil way that men are more ashamed now of good deeds than of misdeeds; because too often good deeds are abused with derision and the Godfearing are blamed entirely too much, and especially are men reproached and all too often greeted with contempt who love right and have fear of God to any extent.

St. Wulfstan II of York (d. 1023), The sermon of the Wolf to the English
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« Reply #70 on: January 27, 2013, 04:18:11 PM »

Hence she is the treasury and overseer of the riches of the Godhead. For it is an everlasting ordinance in the heavens that the inferior partake of what lies beyond being, by the mediation of the superior, and the Virgin Mother is incomparably superior to all. It is through her that as many as partake of God do partake, and as many as know God understand her to be the enclosure of the Uncontainable One, and as many as hymn God praise her together with Him. She is the cause of what came before her, the champion of what came after her and the agent of things eternal. She is the substance of the prophets, the principle of the apostles, the firm foundation of the martyrs and the premise of the teachers of the Church . She is the glory of those upon earth, the joy of celestial beings, the adornment of all creation. She is the beginning and the source and root of unutterable good things; she is the summit and consummation of everything holy.

-- St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary
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« Reply #71 on: January 27, 2013, 05:09:21 PM »

"If someone seeks for success and pleasure, comfort and glory in this world, then he loves the wisdom of this world. But if someone struggles for what is contrary to these things - if he suffers, practices self-control, and endures all kinds of afflictions and disgrace for the kingdom of heaven - then he loves the wisdom of God. The first longs to attain material benefits, secular learning and secular power, and often suffers on this account; but the second shares the sufferings of Christ. Thus the first places all his hopes in the things of this world, desiring to possess them even though they are transitory and hard to come by; while the second is hidden from the 'eyes of the foolish', as Holy Scripture puts it (Wisd.3:2), but is clearly revealed in the world to come, when everything hidden is disclosed."

-- St. Peter of Damaskos (p. 274, The Philokalia, Vol. 3)
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« Reply #72 on: January 27, 2013, 05:53:06 PM »

“For he created all things that they might be: and he made the nations of the earth for health: and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor kingdom of hell upon the earth.” (Wisdom of Solomon 1:14) This verse shows that God is the author of good things - not of the bad, thus he is a righteous judge, who rightly vindicates foul acts and sins. We do not sin by necessity when we transgress, but through the perverse volition which proceeds from the nature (quality) of free will. We know God to be the righteous and good creator of our human substance and of both internal and external senses, so that all that pertains to nature comes from him, and all that is against nature does not come from him. Sin is against nature and it is from it that death and all things that belong to it arise. With these evils man vested himself when, stripped of his faith and obedience, the devil turned him away from the Law of God through his promises, and he bound to himself all the seeds of his posterity by the condition transmitted to the offspring.

Rabanus Maurus, Abbot of Fulda, Commentary on the Book of Wisdom I, 3 (Patrologia Latina 109, col. 676-677)   
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« Reply #73 on: January 27, 2013, 05:56:30 PM »

Rabanus Maurus

Thank you! Smiley
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« Reply #74 on: January 27, 2013, 07:11:38 PM »

We must not despair about anybody, as long as the patience of God leads him to repent, since God desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live (Ez. 33:11). He is a pagan today: how do you know whether he won’t become a Christian tomorrow? He is an infidel Jew today: what if tomorrow he believes in Christ? He is a heretic today: what if tomorrow he follows the catholic truth? He is a schismatic today: what if tomorrow he embraces the catholic peace? What if these whom you see in any sort of error and you condemn as totally hopeless, before they end this life, repent and find true life? Whoever spoke any words, in all his life in this body – whatever its length, be it with his mouth or only in thought, with an impenitent heart, against the remission of sins that is in the Church, spoke against the Holy Spirit.

Thus, if the Father, the Son and the Spirit forgive sins, why is that unforgivable impenitence said to be blasphemous to the Spirit only, as if he who is bound by the sin of this impenitence seemed to oppose the very gift of the Holy Spirit by which remission of sins is possible? Among others, these things are said to stress the inseparable operation of the Trinity. When the Father is said to do something, it must not be understood that he works without the Son and the Holy Spirit; when the Son does something, it is not without the Father and the Holy Spirit; when the Holy Spirit acts, it is not without the Father and the Son. This is well known to those who believe rightly or to those who strive to understand as they can. It was said of the Father that “he does the works”, because the origin of works is from him from whom the existence of the cooperating Persons originates: the Son is born from him, and the Holy Spirit principally proceeds from him, who begat the Son, with whom he has the same Spirit in common.

This is why the Lord Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit; not that he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this by himself and he would have needed the Spirit to come to his aid because he was not strong enough for the deed. But the spirit divided in itself was conveniently expelled by that Spirit, whom the Father and the Son have undivided in himself in common. So also the sins, because they are not forgiven outside the Church, needed to be remitted in that Spirit in whom the Church is gathered as one.

So, if somebody regrets his sins outside the Church, but his heart is impenitent for such a great sin that is alien to the Church of God, what use is his penitence to him, if he says this one word against the Holy Spirit, through which he excludes himself from the Church, who received this gift so that the remission of sins be done in it through the Holy Spirit? Although this remission is the work of the Trinity, it is understood to belong peculiarly to the Holy Spirit.        

For him who opposes this gift, so that he does not ask for penitence through it, but contradicts it impenitently, his sins become irremissible; not any sin in particular, but the despised or opposed remission of sins. Thus is the Holy Spirit spoken against, when one never comes from the dissipation to the congregation, which received the Spirit to forgive sins.  

--Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), Commentary on the Wisdom of Sirach V, 1 (PL 109, col. 903-905)
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« Reply #75 on: January 28, 2013, 06:01:49 PM »

^If you post another one of those I promise to shine your boots for a month!  Grin
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« Reply #76 on: January 28, 2013, 06:08:15 PM »

Those who have broken the bonds of worldly sense-perception are free from all servitude to the senses: they live solely in the Spirit, communing with Him, impelled by Him, and brought through Him in some measure into union with the Father and the Logos who are one in essence with Him; and so they become a single spirit with God, as St. Paul says (cf. 1 Cor. 6:17). Not only are they exempt from the dominion of the demons but they actually fill them with terror, since they share in the divine fire and are in fact called fire.

St. Nikitas Stithatos (d. 11th century), On the Practice of the Virtues: One Hundred Texts, 20
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« Reply #77 on: January 29, 2013, 04:00:49 AM »

“Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman.” (Gen. 2:21-22) That woman was made from man’s rib must be believed to have happened thus for the very power [of his desire to be] united with her (propter ipsius coniunctionis vim). That the bone extracted was replaced by flesh while he was sleeping was done for the sake of a higher mystery. This was to signify that sacraments of salvation were to come out from the rib of Christ who fell asleep by dying on the Cross: blood and water, from which the Church would be built as a spouse for him. 

Had it not been for the type of such great a sacrament in the creation of woman, what need was there for Adam to be asleep, so that God could take the rib from which he made the woman, since he could have done the same with Adam being awake and without causing him pain? Why was it necessary that, when the bone taken from man’s rib was built into the woman, the bone be replaced not by bone, but by flesh, if not to signify that Christ became weak for the sake of the Church, whereas the Church would be strengthened through him?   

For the sake of the same mystery, Scripture employed a symbolic word, not saying that God “made” or “fashioned” or “created” as with all his other creatures, but that “the Lord God built (aedificavit) the rib which he took from Adam into a woman”, as if speaking not of a human body, but of a house: which (house) we are, if only we keep the faith and the glory of hope strong until the end. Thus was it fit that the origin of mankind proceed through God’s aid, so as to bear witness through corresponding symbols to the redemption which was to come at the end of the world (in fine saeculi) by the same Creator.

We must know there is no way to attain the summit of contemplation, unless we cease from the oppression of exterior preoccupations. We never behold ourselves, so as to know that there is reason which rules, and another animal/psychic part (aliud animale) which is being ruled, unless, returning to the secret of silence, we fall asleep from all exterior disturbance. This silence of ours Adam signified well by being asleep, from whose rib the woman proceeded instantly – through this everyone is carried off (rapitur) to understand what he bears inside himself, when he shuts the invisible eyes of the mind, and then distinguishes within himself that which must rule manly and that which must be subjected as weaker, so that there be a part that can rule as man and another to be ruled as woman. 
   
--Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), Commentary on Genesis I, 14 (PL 107, col. 484-485)                   

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« Reply #78 on: January 30, 2013, 05:56:08 PM »

 Grin
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« Reply #79 on: January 30, 2013, 06:04:02 PM »

We believe to be members of the Catholic Church all the Faithful, and only the Faithful; who, forsooth, having received the blameless Faith of the Saviour Christ, from Christ Himself, and the Apostles, and the Holy Œcumenical Synods, adhere to the same without wavering; although some of them may be guilty of all manner of sins. For unless the Faithful, even when living in sin, were members of the Church, they could not be judged by the Church. But now being judged by her, and called to repentance, and guided into the way of her salutary precepts, though they may be still defiled with sins, for this only, that they have not fallen into despair, and that they cleave to the Catholic and Orthodox faith, they are, and are regarded as, members of the Catholic Church.

-- Pat. Dositheus II of Jerusalem (d. 1707), Confession of Dositheus (Source)
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« Reply #80 on: January 31, 2013, 03:21:57 PM »

The immersion into water, and specifically a triple immersion, and also a triple coming out of the water was not instituted arbitrarily or accidentally, but as the image of the Resurrection of Christ on the third day. "The water," says blessed Basil, "has the symbolic meaning of death, and accepts the body as into a coffin." How then, do we liken ourselves to the One Who descended into hell, imitating His burial through baptism? The bodies of those who are baptized in water are buried, in a certain sense. Consequently, baptism mystically represents the laying aside of bodily cares, by the word of the apostle: "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2: 11)."

St. Cyril, in his commentary on the above words, says: "Thus, with the help of these signs you have represented the three-day burial of Christ because, as our Saviour was in the heart of the earth three days and three nights, so in the first coming up from the water you symbolized the first day of His sojourn under the earth, and through your immersion, you symbolized the night. For, as one who walks in the night sees nothing, and he who walks during the day does so in light, so you, having immersed yourself in water saw nothing, as if you saw nothing in the night, and having come forth from the water, you see everything as in daylight. You were both dead and then born. So the salvific water was for you both a coffin and a mother. Although we neither actually die, nor get buried, nor are we nailed to the cross, but only simulate this symbolically, we, however, do indeed achieve salvation. Christ was truly crucified, truly buried, and truly resurrected. He granted all this to us, so that we, in imitating His passions, would become partakers of them and indeed would achieve salvation.

Archbp. Nikiphor of Slovania (18th century), Source
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« Reply #81 on: February 01, 2013, 06:38:32 PM »

Most of us do not realize that all evil thoughts are but images of material and worldly things. Yet if we persist in watchful prayer, this will rid our mind of all such images; it will also make if conscious both of the devices of our enemies and of the great benefit of prayer and watchfulness. 'With year eyes you will see how spiritual sinners are recompensed; you yourself will see spirituality and understand', says David the divine poet (cf. Ps. 91:8).

-- St. Hesychios the Priest (d. 9th century ), On Watchfulness and Holiness: Written for Theodoulos, 154
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« Reply #82 on: February 03, 2013, 01:39:06 AM »

This is the image of the Saviour who, with the position of his limbs, makes sacred for us the most salubrious, gentle and loving form of the Cross, so that by believing in his Name and obeying his commandments we may obtain eternal life thanks to his Passion. However, every time we raise our eyes to the Cross, let us remember the one who died for us to save us from the powers of darkness, accepting death to make us heirs to eternal life.

-- Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), Source
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« Reply #83 on: February 06, 2013, 12:28:01 PM »

It is fitting, however, that in whatever way, be it in corrupt or in language of perfect grammar, that mankind praise the author of all things, Who gave them the instrument of the tongue to sound the word of His praise among themselves, Who seeks in us not the worship of polished words but the pious mood of thought, the piling up of works in pious labor, not useless lip-service.

-- Otfrid of Weissenburg (d. c. 870), Letter to Liudbert
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« Reply #84 on: February 08, 2013, 07:40:33 PM »

The whole praise and blessedness of the saints consists of these two elements--their orthodox faith and praiseworthy life, and the gift of the Hoy Spirit and His spiritual gifts. A third point follows on them. When a man lives rightly, as a friend of God, with orthodox faith, and when God bestows His gifts on him and glorifies him through the gift of the Spirit, there follows the praise of the whole Church of the faithful and on the part of all its teachers and their pronoucnement of his blessedness.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), Discourse 10: Perfect Holiness, 2 (Source)
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« Reply #85 on: February 10, 2013, 07:41:58 PM »

Now, those who do not rise--through the reason endowed in nature and in the Holy Scriptures--to the hypostatic Logos of God, those who do not love Him "through whom all things were made" (Jn. 1:3), as most of the worldly philosophers do not, all of these people act contrary to the Creator's purpose in nature and in the Holy Scripture. And according to the wise and most insightful Kallistos, the thought of such people has lost its natural tendency and has become unnatural. This has occured because they use the means as ends in themselves, and the causes as results, and they love the gifts more than the Giver and the creatures more than the Creator, as St. Augustine has said. Since creation was not created for itself, but for the vision and glory of its Creator, it is not proper that it should be seen and admired for its own sake, but rather for the sake of its Creator. It is the same with the mirror which one does not look at for its own sake, but for the sake of the one reflected in it.

-- St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain (d. 1809), A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel (Source)
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« Reply #86 on: February 12, 2013, 03:16:57 PM »

For I begin to think from whence such things [characteristics] [come] to it [the stone] and I realise that they are naturally present in it without the participation of any creature, whether visible or invisible. Soon, with reeason leading, I am introduced above all things to the cause of all things. [It is] from this [cause] that place and order, number and species and genus, goodness and beauty and essence, and other gifts and grants are distributed to all.

-- Johannes Scotus Eriugena (d. c. 877), Expositions on the Celestial Hierarchy (Source)
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« Reply #87 on: February 14, 2013, 06:44:28 AM »

O living Spirit, O falling of God-dew,
O Grace which dost console us and renew,
O vital light, O breath of angelhood,
O generous ministration of things good,
Creator of the visible, and best
Upholder of the great unmanifest
Power infinitely wise, new boon sublime
Of science and of art, constraining might,
In whom I breathe, live, speak, rejoice, and write,
Be with us in all places, for all time!

-- Manuel Phile (d. 1345), To the Holy Spirit (Source)
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« Reply #88 on: February 16, 2013, 01:20:17 PM »

At length, when the blessed Rupert knew by divine revelation that his death was at hand, he said to Blessed Erendruda, whom he had called to him: "My beloved sister, my private conversation is to you; I pray that you will tell none of this, as I have told you a secret. It has pleased God to show me my departure from this Earth, and now I ask, Lady Sister, that you pray for my soul when God sees fit to call it to His peace." The holy virgin responded with tears: "If it is true as you say, master, arrange that I die before you do!" The bishop said to her: "Sister, most dear one! You should not wish to hasten to an inopportune death, nor to choose your exit while sin is great. Our end has not been fixed in our wishes, but in divine providence." The holy virgin prostrated herself at the feet of the priest and begged him: "Father, master, I ask you to remember that you have led me here from my own country, and now you wish to leave me a poor orphan. I ask only one thing of you, that if I am not worthy to depart before you or with you, at least intercede as a witness with God that I may be worthy of the passing wished for!" The most holy priest Rupert granted these requests, and when for a long time they had joined in talk sweetly about eternal life, and they had wept together, they said a final sad farewell.

-- Life of St. Rupert of Salzburg (d. 710), Source
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« Reply #89 on: February 18, 2013, 09:36:40 PM »

Patience is a heavenly gift, a gift from the Heavenly Father... With patience, and love for your fellow men, you become a victor in life's continual trials.

When there is no patience, all goodness in the soul is quickly suppressed and sin grows.

Patrience adorns the soul with diamonds which are not of the earth but belong to the Jerusalem that is above.

Patience increases obedience to the Divine words that have been written, are being written, and will be written.

-- St. Raphael Of Lesvos (d. 1463), Source
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« Reply #90 on: February 19, 2013, 03:58:54 PM »

Mercy and truth precede all the other virtues. They in their turn produce humility and so discrimination; for, according to the fathers, discrimination conies from humility. Without discrimination, neither practice nor spiritual knowledge can fulfill its purpose. For practice uncontrolled by such knowledge strays here and there aimlessly, like a calf; while knowledge that refuses to clothe itself in the honorable vesture of practice lacks nobility, however much it may pretend to possess it.

-- Ilias the Presbyter (d. 12th century), A Gnomic Anthology, 7
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« Reply #91 on: February 24, 2013, 08:55:50 AM »

Those aspiring to the state of virtue must strive to fulfill the commandments by sustaining this inward struggle, travail and meditation unceasingly night and day, whether praying or serving, eating or drinking, or doing anything else. In this way, if any good comes about it will be to God’s glory and not to their own. The fulfillment of the commandments presents no difficulty or trouble to us when it is facilitated by the love of God and when this love relieves it of all that is burdensome. As has been said, the whole effort of the enemy is directed towards distracting the intellect from the remembrance, fear and love of God, and to turning it by means of earthly forms and seductions away from what is truly good towards what appears to be good.

-- St. Symeon Metaphrastis (d. 10th century), Paraphrase of the Homilies of St. Makarios of Egypt, 1.14
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« Reply #92 on: June 23, 2013, 12:38:18 AM »

In addition he who is supremely good nourishes us when we hunger, with regard to our bodies with the fruits that the earth bears year by year; with regard to the soul with the most pure Mysteries, as he longs for us more than a mother or a nurse and embraces us with affection. For a mother nourishes her child with milk for a time, while he our true master and father gives his own body and blood as food and drink, and this permanently. Oh, what unfathomable goodness! And oh, what an incomparable gift!

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Catechesis 24
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« Reply #93 on: June 24, 2013, 03:09:32 AM »

To God the just Judge, both the noble man and the lowly are equal.  He forbade the well-born to offend the lowly, as well as the lowly to offend the noble, and both the well-born and the lowly shall stand before His just Judgement. But look at the graves of your ancestors, and there you will see your nobility. 'But he is an evil man,' you say.  It is not for you to judge him.  It is also not known who is better, you or he, for God judges according to the inward and not the outward disposition.  'The Lord examineth the righteous man and the ungodly.' (Ps. 10:5.). Likewise, you do not know how you and he shall end.  Many begin well but come to an evil end, others begin ill but end well.  It is not the good beginning but the good end that is worthy of praise and accomplishes all things. 'He will not,' you say, 'ask me, though I should ask his forgiveness.'
 
No, humility has such power that it inclines even the hard of heart.  For God, the lover of humility, works through the humble.  You just humble yourself before him, and you shall see the power of humility.  He will unfailingly embrace you with love and joy, and kiss you.  But if you do not do more than what is expected you will already be responsible for your misfortune.  'But he will become conceited at my humility.' you say. Not true.  When he sees your humility, he will also humble himself.  But if he should be conceited, then he shall unfailingly be humbled, according to the word of the Lord, 'Every on that exalteth himself shall be abased.' (Lk. 18:14). But cease all your excuses, let him do what he wishes.  You should do what is needful and profitable to you and what is commanded by the Lord.

-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1783), Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian, pp. 141-142
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« Reply #94 on: June 24, 2013, 10:14:47 PM »

Elsewhere, we learned that the Hebrew name “Cephas” means “Rock”; here we are told that “Thomas” means “Twin”. The Evangelist provides the meaning of the name here to indicate that Thomas was prone to be of two minds—a doubter by nature. He doubted the news brought to him by the others, not because he thought they were liars, but because he considered it impossible for a man to rise from the dead. And his doubt made him excessively inquisitive. Gullibility is a sign of light-mindedness; but stubborn resistance to truth is a sure indication of thick-headedness.

-- St. Theophylact of Ohrid (d. c. 1108), Commentary on John 20:19-31
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« Reply #95 on: June 25, 2013, 12:51:23 AM »

Elsewhere, we learned that the Hebrew name “Cephas” means “Rock”; here we are told that “Thomas” means “Twin”. The Evangelist provides the meaning of the name here to indicate that Thomas was prone to be of two minds—a doubter by nature. He doubted the news brought to him by the others, not because he thought they were liars, but because he considered it impossible for a man to rise from the dead. And his doubt made him excessively inquisitive. Gullibility is a sign of light-mindedness; but stubborn resistance to truth is a sure indication of thick-headedness.

-- St. Theophylact of Ohrid (d. c. 1108), Commentary on John 20:19-31

Interesting.  We say the "Twin" reference is to two of his fingers which were joined together as one, separated upon probing the side of the risen Lord. 
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« Reply #96 on: July 26, 2013, 09:36:40 AM »

When we are in trouble or despair or have lost hope, we should do what David did: pour out our hearts to God and tell Him of our needs and troubles, just as they are (cf. Ps. 142:2). It is because He can deal with us wisely that we confess to God; He can make our troubles easy to bear, if this is for our benefit, and can save us from the dejection which destroys and corrupts.

-- St. Hesychios the Priest (d. 9th century), On Watchfulness and Holiness: Written for Theodoulos, 135
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« Reply #97 on: July 26, 2013, 09:37:50 AM »

Interesting.  We say the "Twin" reference is to two of his fingers which were joined together as one, separated upon probing the side of the risen Lord. 

Well "interesting" back at you... I had not heard of this tradition before. Smiley
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« Reply #98 on: July 27, 2013, 05:44:52 PM »

Spare your inheritance, O God, disregarding all our sins. For this you have interceding with you her who on earth conceived you without seed, when in your great mercy, O Christ, you willed to be shaped in a form that was not your own.

-- St. Joseph the Hymnographer (d. c. 883), Canon of the Akathist
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« Reply #99 on: July 30, 2013, 12:00:28 AM »

One of these late Byzantine hermits was St. Maximos Kafsokalyvitis, the 'hut burner,' who spent seventy years wandering on the rocky peninsula from one hut or cave to another, until his death at the advanced age of ninety-five. Maximos was born to pious parents in western Asia Minor in either 1270 or 1285. As a child he was obedient to his mother and father, devoted to the Virgin Mary, and at a young age began to give away his own food and clothes to the poor. Unlike Athanasios the Athonite he did not have a classical education, but studied only the Scriptures, committing large chunks to memory.

When his parents began to make preparations for his marrage at age seventeen, he left home for Mount Ganos in Thrace. As was typical of many saintly teenagers, he began monastic life with a  spiritual apprenticeship to an elderly solitary monk. He also began to engage in the mortification of the body that would characterize his entire monastic career, sleeping on the ground, fasting, and keeping long vigils. After the death of his spiritual father he visited another Thracian holy mountain, Papikion, en route to Constantinople where he went on pilgrimage to visit the churches and their icons and relics. Demonstrating behabior typical of a much earlier era, he lived in a gateway of a church, pretending to be a 'fool for Christ,' going barefoot, wearing a single tattered hair shirt, and feigning madness.

Next he journeyed to Mount Athos, where he entered the Great Lavra, serving as timekeeper and singing in the choir. Even within the confines of a cenobitic monastery he contined to act in an eccentric manner, refusing to sleep in a cell and keeping long vigils, snatching only quick naps on a bench in the church narthex between services...

-- Concerning St. Maximos Kafsokalyvitis (d. 14th century), The Monastic Magnet: Roads To and From Mount Athos
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« Reply #100 on: August 06, 2013, 07:10:04 AM »

Then St. George the Recluse tonsured his disciple, “who had reached perfection of age, wisdom and understanding,” into the great schema and sent him to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. According to his teacher’s counsel, George then moved from Jerusalem to the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos to continue the work of St. Ekvtime—the translation of theological texts from the Greek to the Georgian language. George considered himself unworthy and unqualified to continue St. Ekvtime’s great work, but St. George the Recluse was insistent, so he set off for the Holy Mountain in humble obedience.

The monks of the Iveron Monastery received St. George with great joy. But instead of translating the patristic texts as his spiritual father had advised him, George soon grew slothful and for seven years performed only the work of a novice. When St. George the Recluse heard this, he sent his disciple Tevdore to Mt. Athos to rebuke him and remind him of the reason he had been sent there. Finally George of the Holy Mountain obeyed the will of his teacher, and soon he was enthroned as abbot of the monastery. From that time on St. George of the Holy Mountain pursued his work with great earnestness. He gathered information on Sts. Ekvtime and John, compiled their Lives, translated their holy relics to ornate burial vaults covered in precious jewels, and enhanced the life of the monastery in many other ways.

-- Concerning Saint George the Hagiorite (d. 1065), Source
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« Reply #101 on: August 11, 2013, 08:34:43 PM »

Just as sick people need surgery and cautery to recover the health they have lost, so we need trials, and toils of repentance, and fear of death and punishment, so that we may regain our former health of soul and shake off the sickness which our folly has induced. The more the Physician of our souls bestows upon us voluntary and involuntary suffering, the more we should thank Him for His compassion and accept the suffering joyfully; For it is to help us that He increases our tribulation, both through the sufferings we willingly embrace in our repentance and through the trials and punishments not subject to our will. In this way, if we voluntarily accept affliction, we will be freed from our sickness and from the punishments to come, and perhaps even from present punishments as well. Even if we are not grateful, our Physician in His grace will still heal us, although by means of chastisement and manifold trials. But if we cling to our disease and persist in it, we will deservedly bring upon ourselves agelong punishment. We will have made ourselves like the demons and so will justly share with them the agelong punishments prepared for them; for, like them, we will have scorned our Benefactor.

-- St. Peter of Damascus (d. c. 12th century), Book I: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge (Philokalia, Vol. 3)
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« Reply #102 on: August 14, 2013, 06:14:40 AM »

Those aspiring to the state of virtue must strive to fulfill the commandments by sustaining this inward struggle, travail and meditation unceasingly night and day, whether praying or serving, eating or drinking, or doing anything else. In this way, if any good comes about it will be to God’s glory and not to their own. The fulfillment of the commandments presents no difficulty or trouble to us when it is facilitated by the love of God and when this love relieves it of all that is burdensome.

-- St. Symeon Metaphrastis (d. 10th century), Paraphrase of the Homilies of St. Makarios of Egypt, Homily One: Spiritual Perfection (Philokalia, Vol. 3, p. 290)
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« Reply #103 on: August 15, 2013, 08:54:45 PM »

Q. 25. If God foresaw Adam's sin, why did he create him?

R. God knew very well not only that Adam would sin, but also the evil of Lucifer himself, even before the latter was created; in fact, he knows the most insignificant thoughts of every creature, what they think and what they do. But since he did not want the sin of man and the evil of the Devil to overcome the Divine goodness, he created, as a sign of his greater goodness, that Angel as good, who later became evil by his own free will. It is the same with man, who sinned by his own initiative. But because with man's sin God foresaw that his divine goodness would shine forth more brightly, when he would send forth his only-born Son to this earthly vale in order to redeem man, taking his flesh from the most pure Virgin through the activity of the Holy Spirit, thereby gathering man-to the confounding of the Devil - into the kingdom of God, in greater honor than that of Paradise, therefore, that sin did not stop God from creating man.

-- St. Peter Mogila (d. 1646), Orthodox Confession of Faith
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« Reply #104 on: August 17, 2013, 12:39:42 AM »

St. John was born in a village by the name of Skrino, near the ancient city of Sredets (now Sofia). His parents, of Bulgarian ancestry, were God-fearing people, and from an early age the Saint was disposed towards a life of piety and good deeds. Some lazy villagers mocked his godly behavior, but the boy learned to disregard their taunts. Still in his youth, the Saint distributed his possessions among the poor and went to a monastery where he became a monk. After mastering the virtues of obedience and humility, he was graced with a divine vision whereby he was led to an uninhabited mountain. There he built a small hut for himself. Dressed only in a leather coat end sustaining himself on wild plants, he spent his time in fasting, prayer, vigil and other ascetic labors, preserving a golden silence which is, in the words of St. Isaac the Syrian, the mystery of the future age.

-- on St. John of Rila (d. 946), Source
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« Reply #105 on: August 19, 2013, 08:01:12 AM »

This holding of synods had fallen into desuetude through the constant fear of war and the hostility and attacks of the surrounding barbarian tribes and through the attempts of hostile enemies to destroy the Frankish realm by violence. They had been forgotten so completely that no one could recall such an assembly's having taken place within living memory. For it is in the nature of the world to fall into ruin even though it is daily restored, while if no attempt is made to reform it it quickly disintegrates and rushes headlong to its predestined doom. Therefore if in the course of this mortal life means have been discovered to remedy such evils they should be preserved and strongly defended by Catholics and fixed indelibly in the mind. Otherwise human forgetfulness and the enticement of pleasure, both of them instigated by the devil, will prove a stumbling block. For this reason the holy bishop, in his anxiety to deliver his people from the baleful influence of the devil, repeatedly urged Carloman to summon the episcopal synods already mentioned in order that both present and later generations should learn spiritual wisdom and should make the knowledge of Christianity available to all. Only in this way could unsuspecting souls escape being ensnared.

-- Willibald (d. c. 787), The Life of St. Boniface
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« Reply #106 on: November 17, 2013, 01:17:31 PM »

...This light is not the essence of God, for that is inaccessible and incommunicable; it is not an angel, for it bears the marks of the Master. Sometimes it makes a man go out from the body or else, without separating him from the body, it elevates him to an ineffable height. At other times, it transforms the body, and communicates its own spleandour to it when, miraculously, the light which deifies the body becomes accessible to the bodily eyes.

-- St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), Source
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« Reply #107 on: November 18, 2013, 10:16:50 PM »

A passion is not the same thing as a sinful act: they are quite distinct. A passion operates in the soul, a sinful act involves the body. For example, love of pleasure, avarice and love of praise are three particularly noxious passions of the soul; but unchastity, greed and wrong-doing are sinful acts of the flesh. Lust anger and arrogance are passions of the soul produced when the soul's powers operate in a way that is contrary to nature. Adultery, murder, theft, drunkenness and whatever else is done through the body, are sinful and noxious actions of the flesh.

-- St. Nikitas Stithatos (d. c. 1090), On the Practice of the Virtues: One Hundred Texts, 27 (The Philokalia, Volume 4, page 89)
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« Reply #108 on: November 19, 2013, 06:29:26 PM »

It is better to dress your immortal soul in good ways than to deck with fine clothes the body that soon rots in dust. Clothe and feed Christ in the poor, that so doing you may reign with Christ. Redemption is a man's true riches. If we loved gold we should send it to heaven to be kept there for us. We have what we love: let us love the eternal which will not perish. Let us love the true, not the transitory, riches. Let us win praise with God, not man. Let us do as the saints whom we praise. Let us follow in their footsteps on earth, to be worthy to share their glory in heaven.

-- St. Alcuin of York (d. 804), Letter to Higbald (793)
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« Reply #109 on: November 20, 2013, 12:10:26 PM »

At their first Coming into Frisland, as soon as [Willibrord] found he had leave given him by the prince to preach, he made haste to Rome, where Pope Sergius then presided over the apostolical see, that he might undertake the desired work of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, with his licence and blessing; and hoping to receive of him some relics of the blessed apostles and martyrs of. Christ; to the end, that when he destroyed the idols, and erected churches in the nation to which he preached, he might have the relics of saints at hand to put into them, and having deposited them there, might accordingly dedicate those places to the honor of each of the saints whose relics they were. He was also desirous there to learn or to receive from thence many other things which so great a work required. Having obtained all that he wanted, he returned to preach.

Concerning St. Willibrord (d. 739)

(found in: St. Bede the Venerable, Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, 5.11)
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« Reply #110 on: November 22, 2013, 11:01:57 PM »

A true sanctuary, even before the life to come, is a heart free from distractive thoughts and energized by the Spirit, for all is done and said there spiritually. If we do not attain such a state in this life, we may because of our other virtues be a stone fit for building into the temple of God; but we will not ourselves be a temple or a celebrant of the Spirit.

-- St. Gregory of Sinai (d. 1346), On Commandments and Doctrines..., 7  (The Philokalia, Volume 4, page 213)
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« Reply #111 on: November 24, 2013, 03:12:47 AM »

For because of the very nature of agitation the troubled mind is quite powerless to approach God. Peace establishes unity among many, but agitation divides one into many, and how could an individual so disturbed be united to the One and Indivisible God? Therefore he who is not at peace cannot pray aright, and cannot expect any good to come of his prayer. If anger disturbs his soul or if ill-feeling has driven out peace, his prayer will not obtain forgiveness of his sins, and still less will he receive any other grace. If his conscience pricks him because of his sins and he is agitated by self-accusation and misgivings he will be deprived of confidence in God according to the saying "And when he prays, he prays without confidence," that is, without faith, and the man who prays without faith prays in vain and to no purpose. That is why we are commanded to pray to God in peace, and above all to ask for the peace from above.

-- St. Nicholas Cabasilas (d. c. 1391), A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy (Source)
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« Reply #112 on: November 26, 2013, 01:58:45 AM »

There is no better teacher than death. Have death before your minds: the time when you will leave this unreal world and will go to the other one, which is eternal.

-- St. Cosmas of Aetolia (d. 1779), Source
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« Reply #113 on: December 01, 2013, 10:11:25 AM »

"But when the Pharisees had heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." - (Matt. 24:34-40)

Out of immeasurable spite this man comes forward to put the Lord to the test. For when they saw the Sadducees put to shame and the Lord praised for His wisdom, they came forward to test Him to see if He would add something to the first commandment, and thus give them the chance to accuse Him of being an innovator who corrects the law. But the Lord discloses their malice, and because they came not to learn, but rather, devoid of love, to show their envy and their spite, He reveals to them the exceedingly great love expressed by the commandments. And He teaches that we ought not to love God partially, but to give all of ourselves to God. For we perceive these three distinctions of the human soul: the vegetative, the animal, and the rational. When the soul grows and is nourished and begets what is like unto it, it resembles the plants; when it experiences anger or desire, it is like the animals; when it understands, it is called rational.

See, then, how these three facets are indicated here. Thou shalt love thy God with all thy heart—this is the animal part of a man; and with all thy soul (or life)—this is the vegetative part of a man, for plants are alive and animate; and with all thy mind—this is the rational. So one must love God with all one's soul, that is, attend to Him with all the parts and powers of one's soul. This is the first and great commandment, training us in piety. The second is like unto it, exhorting us to do to other men what is just and right. For there are two things which lead to perdition, evil doctrines and a corrupt life. Lest we fall into unholy doctrines, we must love God; so that we do not lead a corrupt life, we must love our neighbor. For he who loves his neighbor fulfills all the commandments, and he who fulfills all the commandments, loves God. So by means of each other these two commandments are welded together and united, containing within themselves all the other commandments. Who is it that loves God and his neighbor, but also steals, or bears grudges, or commits adultery, or murders, or fornicates? This lawyer, then, at the onset came to test Him but then, hearing Christ's answer, he amended his ways, and the Lord praised him, as Mark also says that Jesus looked at him with love, and said, Thou art not far from the kingdom of heaven (Mk. 12:34).

-- St. Theophylact of Ohrid (d. c. 1108), Commentary on Matthew 22:34-40
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« Reply #114 on: December 06, 2013, 12:12:01 AM »

For now, those who are ignorant of You live in bodily self-indulgence,
and here they exult like leaping, irrational beasts.
They have all things that You have given for the enjoyments of life,
and seeing only these things, they suppose it will be the same after the departure of their soul and of their life.
But they speculate badly, and badly do they believe
when they say that they are not with You, but still they prepare a certain place of repose--oh the folly!--(Jn. 14:2)
They do not receive light, yet they have no share in darkness,
they are outside the Kingdom, but also outside of hell,
both outside the bridal chamber, and away from the fire of punishment, (Jude 7)
the wretched pray to arrive at such a place.
And they say there is no need for your eternal glory
or the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is enough to be in repose. (Mt. 3:2)
Alas for their darkness! Alas for their ignorance!
Alas their wretchedness and vain hopes!
Nowhere has this been written nor shall this be,
but only those who do holy things are in the light of good things,
and the workers of worthless things shall be in the darkness of vengeance. (1 Jn. 3:18-21)

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), Divine Eros: Hymns of Saint Symeon the New Theologian, Hymn 1.99-117
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« Reply #115 on: December 16, 2013, 07:12:20 AM »

If you want to find perfect love, go sell all your belongings, give them to the poor, go where you find a master and become a slave. Can you do this and be perfect? You say this is too heavy? Then do something else. Don’t sell yourself as a slave. Just sell your belongings and give them all to the poor. Can you do it? Or do you find this too heavy a task? All right, you cannot give away all your belongings. Then give half, or a third, or a fifth. Is even this too heavy? Then give one tenth. Can you do that? Is it still too heavy? How about this. Don’t sell yourself as slave. Don’t give a penny to the poor. Only do this. Don’t take your poor brother’s coat, don’t take his bread, don’t persecute him, don’t eat him alive. If you don’t want to do him any good, at least do him no harm. Just leave him alone. Is this also too heavy? You say you want to be saved. But how? How can we be saved if everything we are called to do is too heavy? We descend and descend until there is no place further down. God is merciful, yes, but he also has an iron rod.

-- St. Cosmas of Aetolia (d. 1779), Source
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« Reply #116 on: December 17, 2013, 01:47:17 PM »

Blessed John the Merciful of Rostov (also known as “the Hairy”) struggled at Rostov in the exploit of holy foolishness, enduring much deprivation and sorrow. He did not have a permanent shelter, and at times took his rest at the house of his spiritual Father, a priest at the church of the All-Holy, or with one of the aged widows. Living in humility, patience and unceasing prayer, he spiritually nourished many people, among them St Irenarchus, Hermit of Rostov.

-- St. John, Fool For Christ of Rostov (d. 1580), Source
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« Reply #117 on: December 18, 2013, 01:15:03 PM »

For a long-standing habit assumes the strength of nature; but if you do not give way to it, it loses strength and is gradually destroyed. Whether a habit is good or bad, time nourishes it, just as wood feeds a fire. Thus, so far as we can, we should cultivate and practice what is good, so that it becomes an established habit operating automatically and effortlessly when required. It was through victories in small things that the fathers won their great battles.

-- St. Peter of Damascus (12th century), The Philokalia, Volume 3, p. 87)
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« Reply #118 on: January 20, 2014, 06:03:21 PM »

You shall not store up gold in your monastery, but you should share your abundance of whatever sort with those in need at the portal of your court as the holy fathers did.

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Testament of Theodore the Studite for the Monastery of St. John Stoudios of Constantinople (Source)
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« Reply #119 on: January 22, 2014, 01:10:38 AM »

Moreover, faith is twofold. For faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17). For by hearing the divine Scriptures we believe in the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The same is perfected by all the things enjoined by Christ, believing in work, cultivating piety, and doing the commands of Him Who restored us. For he that believes not according to the tradition of the Catholic Church, or who has intercourse with the devil through strange works, is an unbeliever. But again, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1), or undoubting and unambiguous hope alike of what God has promised us and of the good issue of our prayers. The first, therefore, belongs to our will, while the second is of the gifts of the Spirit.

-- St. John of Damascus (d. 749), Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4.10
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« Reply #120 on: February 13, 2014, 02:29:50 AM »

To dispel sleep and indolence while practicing mental prayer you may occupy your hands with some quiet task, for this, too, contributes to the ascetic struggle. All such tasks when accompanied by prayer quicken the intellect, banish listlessness, give youthful vigor to the soul, and render the intellect more prompt and eager to devote itself to mental work.

-- St. Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia (d. 1322), On Inner Work in Christ And the Monastic Profession (Philokalia, Volume 4, p. 185)
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« Reply #121 on: February 21, 2014, 02:54:46 AM »

The most important task for an ascetic is to enter into his heart, to wage war against Satan, to hate him, and to battle with him by wrestling against the thoughts he provokes. If you keep your body outwardly chaste and pure, but inwardly are adulterous where God is concerned and profligate in your thoughts, then you gain nothing from keeping your body chaste. For it is written, 'Whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart' (Matt. 5:28). In other words, you can fornicate through the body, and you also fornicate when your soul communes with Satan.

-- Nikiphoros the Monk (d. 13th century), On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart (Philokalia, v. 4, p. 201)
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« Reply #122 on: February 23, 2014, 09:07:56 AM »

The words, commands, and sayings of the Lord are not bound to time, and thus the intellect must properly interpret obscure phrases. It was on account of their impiety that He described their shamelessness. After saying, 'I am going to the Father' (John 14:28), He said, 'But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But the truth I speak to you. It benefits you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.' (John 16:6) 'I still have many things to say to you, but you are not now able to understand them. But whenever that One comes, the Spirit of truth, that One will guide you into all truth; for that One shall not speak from Himself, but whatever that One hears will that One speak, and the things coming that One will announce to you. That One will glorify Me, for that One shall receive of Mine and shall announce it to you. All things which the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that One shall receive of Mine and shall announce it to you.' (John 16:12-14) Are these words not sacred, since they are delivered from God?

-- St. Photius the Great (d. 893), Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit, 24
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« Reply #123 on: April 28, 2014, 09:56:42 PM »

If someone is rightly offended with you, but you repent before he calls on you to do so, you lose nothing; but if you repent only after you have been asked to, you forfeit half the harvest. If you never cause estrangement by giving offence to others, you recover all the seed that you sowed; but if you always put the blame on yourself, you gain in addition more than you originally laid out.

-- Ilias the Presbyter (d. c. early 12th century), A Gnomic Anthology, 36
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« Reply #124 on: May 01, 2014, 02:00:57 AM »

First there is provocation; then a coupling with the provocation; then assent to it; then captivity to it; then passion, grown habitual and continuous. This is how the holy fathers describe the stages through which the devil gets the better of us.

-- St. Philotheos of Sinai (d. 10th century), Forty Texts on Watchfulness, 34
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« Reply #125 on: May 10, 2014, 03:24:20 PM »

The first step is that of purest prayer.
From this there comes a warmth of heart,
And then a strange, a holy energy,
Then tears wrung from the heart, God-given.
Then peace from thoughts of every kind.
From this arises purging of the intellect,
And next the vision of heavenly mysteries,
Unheard-of light is born from this ineffably,
And thence, beyond all telling, the heart's illumination.
Last comes--a step that has no limit
Though compassed in a single line--
Perfection that is endless.

-- Theophanis the Monk (8th century?), The Ladder of Divine Graces
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« Reply #126 on: May 13, 2014, 06:44:36 PM »

Just as lightning presages thunder, so divine forgiveness is followed by the calming of the passions. This in its turn is accompanied by a foretaste of the blessedness held in store for us. There is no divine mercy or hope of dispassion for the soul that loves this world more than its Creator, and is attached to visible things and clings wholly to the pleasures and enjoyments of the flesh.

-- St. Theognostos, On the Practice of the Virtues, Contemplation and the Priesthood, 8
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« Reply #127 on: May 22, 2014, 10:15:18 PM »

Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding Him in your ignorance as powerless? Is He, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? And if you say that this fact, as well as His incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and He will receive your repentance, as He accepted that of the prodigal son (Luke 6) and the prostitute (Luke 7). But if repentance is too much for you, and you sin out of habit even when you do not want to, show humility like the publican (Luke 18): this is enough to ensure your salvation.

-- St. Peter of Damascus (12th century), The Philokalia, Volume 3, p. 160
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« Reply #128 on: May 23, 2014, 06:50:58 PM »

Thou wilt say: I will shew thee the contrary, for the Scripture saith: 'I will kill and I will make alive; I will smite, and again I will heal.' (Deut. 32:39) And these are contraries; therefore there are contraries with God.

Answer: What is contrary may be of two kinds—of choice or disposition, or of action. That of action only hindereth nothing, nor argueth defect. For he that purposeth to restore a house, first pulleth down, and then rebuildeth; but these are contraries of action only, but not of defect; and this is true of God in His building. But those of disposition are when any one thinketh or purposeth one thing today, and another tomorrow; such is a defect, but is not found with God. For if He killeth and maketh alive, it is not that He desireth death, which He made not. For He is the maker and fashioner, but far be it that He should desire the death of what He Himself hath formed. But we see man subjected to death. Is God, therefore, unwillingly impelled to such destruction? Far be it; for the counsel of God is good always.

-- Cyril Lucaris (d. 1638), Homily [for the Lord's day] after the Exaltation [of the Cross] (as quoted at the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672)
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« Reply #129 on: June 24, 2014, 12:44:41 AM »

-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1783), Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian, pp. 141-142

One year later...


We note five causes of sin:
 
1. The corruption of human nature.  Man is conceived in iniquity and born in sins, as the Psalmist says, 'For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me' (Ps. 50:7). The sinful passions with which he is born incline and draw him to sin. 'O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' (Rom. 7:24).  Corruption and accursedness have entered into man from the fall of Adam.  This inclines a man to every sin.  'That which is born of the flesh is flesh' (Jn. 3:6). But Christians must stand against inclinations and passions and struggle according to the power of holy Baptism and the vows made then, and not allow them to progress into deed. 
 
2. The devil leads man to sin.  Of this the Apostle says, exhorting Christians to be on guard against him, 'Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Oppose him firm with faith' (I Pet. 5:8-9). The Apostle says the same in another place, 'Be strong, in the Lord, and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places' (Eph. 6:10-12). These unseen enemies are always eager for our destruction, O Christian! Be vigilant, and make haste to guard against every sin.  We must not, therefore, slumber.
 
3. The seductions of the world also lead toward sin.  We see that evil grows; one does such and such a thing.  Another either sees it or hears of it, and recklessly imitates it.  Temptation is like a pestilence that begins in one man and infects many living near him.  'Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!' (Mt. 18:7).
 
4. A cause of sin is often the bad upbringing of children.  Such children, when they come of age hasten toward every manner of evil.  This comes about from the carelessness of parents.  Give heed to this, fathers and mothers!
 
5. Habit strongly attracts a man toward sin.  We see this evil; we see that drunkards are always drawn toward drunkenness, thieves toward theft, fornicators and adulterers toward impurity, slanderers toward slander, and so on.  For their habit draws them like a leash toward sin, and they are drawn toward the sin to which they have become accustomed just as a hungry man is drawn toward bread and a thirsty man toward water.

-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1783), Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian, pp. 67-69
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"I haven't done anything wrong, and I won't be hounded by you and your soulless minions of orthodoxy! I haven't broken any laws... except perhaps the laws of nature." - Dr. Elias Giger
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