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Author Topic: Pre-Modern Church Fathers (8th to 18th Centuries)  (Read 8249 times) Average Rating: 5
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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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