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Author Topic: Pre-Modern Church Fathers (8th to 18th Centuries)  (Read 6763 times) Average Rating: 5
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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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