Faith is (readiness) to die for Christ’s sake, for His commandments, in the conviction that such death brings life; it is to regard poverty as riches, insignificance and nothingness as true fame and glory and, having nothing, to be sure that you possess all things. But above all, faith is attainment of the invisible treasure of the knowledge of Christ, regarding everything visible as dust or smoke.
Faith in Christ is not merely neglect of the pleasures of life, but also a good and patient disposition of the soul in enduring all temptations, whether griefs, sorrows or unpleasant happenings, until God’s favor looks down upon us; thus we would imitate David who says: ‘I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry’ (Ps. xi. 1 ). (In other words, I bore my sorrows in hope that the Lord would help me; therefore the Lord, seeing me await His help without wavering, looked down upon me and showed me His mercy.)
St. Symeon the New Theologian, Practical and Theological Precepts
You should love your neighbor, but sincerely, not with calculation. Love-it is most beautiful, most holy. It is so beautiful! But people have distorted it. It must be like that of Christ, when he suffered for us.
-Saint Nektary of Optina
This Christmas night bestowed peace on the whole world;
So let no one threaten;
This is the night of the Most Gentle One –
Let no one be cruel;
This is the night of the Humble One –
Let no one be proud.
Now is the day of joy –
Let us not revenge;
Now is the day of Good Will –
Let us not be mean.
In this Day of Peace –
Let us not be conquered by anger.
Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;
So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.
Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;
So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.
This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;
Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.
Today the DIVINE BEING took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,
In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of DIVINITY.
The divine Apostle says: ‘Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular’ (I Cor. xii. 27) and again: ‘There is one body, and one Spirit’ (Eph. iv. 4). Just as the body without spirit is dead and senseless, so a man, who is deadened by passions through neglect of commandments, remains inactive after baptism, since he is not enlightened by the Holy Spirit and by the grace of Christ. For, although he possesses the Spirit through faith and regeneration, the Spirit remains inactive in him and does not move since his soul is deadened.
St. Gregory of Sinai, Philokalia, On Commandments and Dogmas, #129
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…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…May Thy Cross, O Lord, be my staff and my support on the path along which I walk.”
-St. Ephraim the Syrian
Too much stress is harmful. You can mistakenly lose your strength and become weak. You must surround yourself with the iron ring of the commandments. You must perform every action only after you have verified whether it is in accordance with the Commandments, with Holy Scripture. And you should pronounce your words only after you have prayed and considered them.
-Saint Nikon of Optina
“Men who strive after a virtuous and God-loving life are zealous for virtues of the soul, as a possession which is inalienably their own and brings eternal comfort. They use temporal things only as much as is necessary and as God wishes and provides, using them with gladness and all gratitude, even if they be very moderate. For a rich table feeds bodies, as being material, whereas knowledge of God, self-mastery, goodness, doing good to others, piety and meekness-deify the soul.”
St. Anthony the Great