Sunday, July 31, 2011

Do this and you will be saved

Venerable Anthony the Great
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶1. When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by accidie*, and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, 'Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?' A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. He heard the angel saying to him, 'Do this and you will be saved.' At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

*accidie - despondency, depression, listlessness

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let me now make a beginning of good

Venerable Arsenius the Great
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶3. It happened that when Abba Arsenius was sitting in his cell that he was harassed by demons. His servants, on their return, stood outside his cell and heard him praying to God in these words, 'O God, do not leave me. I have done nothing good in your sight, but according to your goodness, let me now make a beginning of good.'

Friday, July 29, 2011

If you have a heart

Venerable Pambo the Hermit
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶10. Abba Pambo said, 'If you have a heart, you can be saved.'

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Leave vengeance to God

Venerable Sisoes the Great
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶1. A brother whom another brother had wronged came to see Abba Sisoes and said to him, 'My brother has hurt me and I want to avenge myself.' The old man pleaded with him saying, 'No, my child, leave vengeance to God.' He said to him, 'I shall not rest until I have avenged myself.' The old man said, 'Brother, let us pray.' Then the old man stood up and said, 'God, we no longer need you to care for us, since we do justice for ourselves.' Hearing these words, the brother fell at the old man’s feet, saying, 'I will no longer seek justice from my brother; forgive me, abba.'

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Get up again and again

Venerable Sisoes the Great
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶38. A brother asked Abba Sisoes, 'What shall I do, abba, for I have fallen?' The old man said to him, 'Get up again.' The brother said, 'I have got up again, but I have fallen again.' The old man said, 'Get up again and again.' So the brother said, 'How many times?' The old man said, 'Until you are taken up either in virtue or in sin. For a man presents himself to judgement in the state in which he is found.'

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Complaint Against the World

Venerable Ephriam the Syrian
The Spiritual Psalter ~ Psalm 75 ~ A Complaint Against the World

No advantages do you offer those who love you, O world, you dwelling-place of sorrows. All who draw near to you do you seduce with your treasures and with all your delights, but in the day of death both the fair countenance of the beautiful and the might of the strong will be cast down into the grave. Woe to him who loves you and is loved by you, for his joy will be transformed into cries.

In the world - the sea of sin - all my days have passed in vain. My life has gone by without bringing me any profit. I have even forgotten about the day of death. I have whirled about and gathered a burden of sins, whole sheaves of tares destined to be consumed by fire. And behold - lamentation and sighs await me in that land full of horrors.

Because I have loved you, O cunning world, from youth through old age, the time of my life has passed without my notice; and lo, in sin will death steal me away. O, if only I had never set foot in you, O world that deceives all who enter! Those who love you enjoy no pleasures, and those who hate you weep not. Blessed is he who has torn your snares asunder - he shall inherit the habitation of joy.

This world deceives even the wise with its appearance, for at times it appears desirable. It even offers benefits and treasures for loan, but in the day of death it will take them back and give in return torment incomparably greater than our sins. For a short while will it let us sin, but as a reward it will give us eternal darkness.

Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and righteous is Thy judgment that condemns the world and those who love it! Therefore do I pray Thee that Thy right hand which pulled Simon out of the sea might also pull me out of the waves and the tumult of this world that rise up against me. I have become mired in filth; the waters of the world are drowning me, they do not let me break loose to catch my breath. May Thy Cross, O Lord, be my staff and my support on the path along which I walk.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Interior activity into accord with God

Venerable Arsenius the Great
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶9. A brother questioned Abba Arsenius to hear a word of him and the old man said to him, 'Strive with all your might to bring your interior activity into accord with God, and you will overcome exterior passions.'

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two reasons to weep

Venerable Pambo the Hermit
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶4. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, of holy memory, begged Abba Pambo to come down from the desert to Alexandria. He went down, and seeing an actress he began to weep. Those who were present asked him the reason for his tears, and he said, 'Two things make me weep: one, the loss of this woman; and the other, that I am not so concerned to please God as she is to please wicked men.'

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Orthodox priest more privileged than the archangels

Saint Nektarios: Saint of our Century
Sotos Chondropolous ~ p. 189

Many of Nektarios' students went on to be ordained as priests. He even ordained some of them himself, and this was a great source of happiness for him, for he knew that it opened shining roads leading to the gates of the kingdom of Heaven. An Orthodox priest was even more privileged than the archangels, for a humble cleric was allowed to lend his hand to God during the performance of the bloodless sacrifice, the Eucharist. Even in death, he would not cease to perform the great mystery at the heavenly altar along with chosen souls, of all different races and nationalities, in front of the sacrificed lamb, the Son of the living God. An Orthodox priest is a person who partakes in the sublime sacrifice of God; it is the voluntary sacrifice of a man that approaches the sacrifice of God.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The remembrance of the name of Jesus

St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople
Letter to Monks

The remembrance of the name of Jesus rouses the enemy to battle. For a soul that forces itself to pray the Prayer of Jesus can find anything by this prayer, both good and evil. First it can see evil in the recesses of its own heart, and afterwards good. This prayer can stir the snake to action, and this prayer can lay it low. This prayer can expose the sin that is living in us, and this prayer can eradicate it. This prayer can stir up in the heart all the power of the enemy, and this prayer can conquer it and gradually root it out. The name of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it descends into the depths of the heart, will subdue the snake which controls its ranges, and will save and quicken the soul. Continue constantly in the name of the Lord Jesus that the heart may swallow the Lord and the Lord the heart, and that these two may be one. However, this is not accomplished in a single day, nor in two days, but requires many years and much time. Much time and labor are needed in order to expel the enemy and instate Christ.

[PG 60, p. 753]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bend the bow so much and it will break

Venerable Anthony the Great
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶13. A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, 'Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.' So he did. The old man then said, 'Shoot another,' and he did so. Then the old man said, 'Shoot yet again,' and the hunter replied 'If I bend my bow so much I will break it.' Then the old man said to him, 'It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs.' When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The spirit is finer than thoughts

St. Nikolai Velimirovic
The Prologue of Ochrid ~ February 20 Reflection

Water is finer than earth; fire is finer than water; air is finer than fire; electricity is finer than air. Nevertheless, air is a dense element in comparison to the spiritual world and electricity is a dense element in comparison to the spiritual world.

Electricity is very fine but the voice is finer than electricity; the thought finer than the voice; the spirit finer than thoughts.

The air is fine and it carries the voice over a great distance. Electricity is fine and it carries light over a great distance. Nevertheless, how much more is every deed, every word and every thought of yours carried to all ends of the spiritual world. O how awesome it is to commit sinful deeds and to speak sinful words and to think insane thoughts! To what immeasurable distances are amassed from that on the waves of the spiritual sea! But do not go into the details of the unknown world. The main thing is that you know and that you measure how all of your deeds, words and thoughts unavoidably create an impression on all four sides: On God and the spiritual world, on nature, on men and on your soul. If you train yourself in this knowledge, you will attain a higher level of saving vigilance.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Be gentle, humble, simple

St. John of Kronstadt

As far as is it possible, be gentle, humble and simple to all, considering yourself, without hypocrisy, to be spiritually below everyone. Pride is the reason for a cold, pompous and insincere manner towards those whom are considered to be below us, or those from whom we hope to derive some benefit. When people speak ill of you and you feel resentment, it means that you are proud, and pride must be eliminated from your heart by worldly dishonour. Therefore, do not resent and hate those who speak ill of you, but try to love them as you would love people who benefit you, and pray for them. Maintain a peaceful and loving disposition towards your brother even if he deprives you of your last shilling; show him that, above all, you love God's image in him. However most people are angry when they are deprived even of a very small part of their property!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Inward peace

Venerable Seraphim of Sarov

When the Spirit of God descends upon a man and overshadows him with the fullness of His outpouring, then his soul overflows with a joy not to be described, for the Holy Spirit turns to joy whatever He touches. The Kingdom of Heaven is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (cf. Romans 14:17). Acquire inward peace, and thousands around you will find their salvation.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The heart

Venerable Macarius the Great

The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and there are also lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil. But there too is God, the angels, the life and the kingdom, the light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasuries of grace - all things are there. Homily 43.7

Friday, July 15, 2011

A living altar for the Living God

St. Nikolai Velimirovic
The Prologue of Ochrid ~ October 15 Reflection

The saints of God place great importance on receiving Holy Communion before their death. Even though they were sacrificing their lives for Christ the Lord and washing away all their sins by the blood of martyrdom, the martyrs longingly received the Holy Mysteries whenever it was possible. St. Lucian was in prison with several of his disciples and other Christians. On the eve of Theophany, Lucian longed, on such a great Christian feast, to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, for he knew that his death was imminent. Seeing the sincere desire of His sufferer, God Almighty arranged that some Christians pass bread and wine into the prison. When the Feast of Theophany dawned, Lucian called all the Christian prisoners to stand in a circle around him and said to them: "Surround me and be the Church.'' He had no table, chair, stone or wood in the prison upon which to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. "Holy Father, where shall we place the bread and wine?'' they asked Lucian. He lay down in their midst and said: "Place them on my chest, let it be a living altar for the Living God!'' And thus the Liturgy was celebrated correctly and prayerfully on the chest of the martyr, and all received Holy Communion. The next day, the emperor sent soldiers to bring Lucian out for torture. When the soldiers opened the door of the prison, St. Lucian cried out three times: "I am a Christian! I am a Christian! I am a Christian!'" and with that, he gave up his soul to his God.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Image of God

St. John of Kronstadt

Do not confuse man - this image of God - with the evil which is in him, because evil is only his accidental misfortune, a sickness, a devil's dream; but man's essence - the image of God - is always there.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jesus Prayer

Venerable Seraphim of Sarov

Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How to please God

Venerable Anthony the Great
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

¶3. Someone asked Abba Anthony, 'What must one do in order to please God?' The old man replied, 'Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.'

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hail, Holy Queen!

Hail, Holy Queen!
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O gentle, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A world within a world

Venerable Nilus the Faster of Sinai

You are a world within a world: look within yourself, and see there the whole creation. Do not look at exterior things, but turn all your attention to that which lies within. Gather together your whole mind within the intellectual treasure-house of your soul, and make ready for the Lord a shrine free from images.