“Let us hold on to Christ as firmly as we can, for many are those who try in every way to remove Him from the soul. Nor must we ourselves allow such a state of affairs that Jesus should convey ‘himself away, a multitude’ (of thoughts) ‘being in that place’ (of the soul) (John v. I 3). But to keep Him is impossible without painful labour of the soul. Let us try to trace the footsteps of His life in the flesh, in order to spend our own life in humility. Let us receive His passion into our feeling, in order to imitate Him in patiently enduring all suffering. Let us taste of His ineffable loving kindness to us, in order that, having tasted it in our soul, we should understand how good is the Lord. And over it all, or before it all, let us have firm faith in everything He says, and every day let us hope to have His care directed upon us. Whatever befalls, whatever we may meet with, let us accept it with thankfulness, love and joyous content, in order that we should learn to look on the One God, Who rules over all according to the Divine laws of His wisdom. When we have done all this, we shall not be far from God. (We should also know that) devotion to God is perfection which has no end, as said one of the saints, perfect in spirit.”
St. Philotheos of Sinai
Every affliction and oppression arises either from want of faith or from some passion
concealing itself within the man, or from some other impurity visible to the Almighty, and shows that the Devil is in the heart, and that Christ is not in the heart. Christ is the peace, the freedom, and the ineffable light of the soul. -St. John of Kronstadt
Amma Theodora said, ‘Let us strive to enter by the narrow
gate. Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s
storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm
and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can
obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.’
“How does a person become bad?─from forgetting that God is over him.” – St. Ambrose of Optina
‘It is good to live in peace, for the wise man
practises perpetual prayer. It is truly a great thing for a virgin or
a monk to live in peace, especially for the younger ones. However,
you should realize that as soon as you intend to live in peace, at once evil comes and weighs down your soul through accidie (laziness), faintheart-
edness, and evil thoughts. It also attacks your body through sick-
ness, debility, weakening of the knees, and all the members. It dissipates the strength of soul and body, so that one believes one is
ill and no longer able to pray. But if we are vigilant, all these
temptations fall away. There was, in fact a monk who was seized
by cold and fever every time he began to pray, and he suffered from
headaches, too. In this condition, he said to himself, “I am ill, and
near to death; so now I will get up before I die and pray.” By
reasoning in this way, he did violence to himself and prayed. When
he had finished, the fever abated also. So, by reasoning in this way,
the brother resisted, and prayed and was able to conquer his
thoughts.’ -Amma Theodora
…and the power of God’s help.
“A (sin-loving) soul, being fenced off and surrounded by evil spirits as by a wall, is bound by the fetters of darkness, and because of this enveloping darkness cannot pray as it should: for it is bound by darkness in secret (in its own secret depths and all unwittingly) and its inner eyes are blinded. But when it starts running to God in prayer, and while praying strives to practice sobriety (watchfulness; -Fr. P) as well as it can, then, through the power of the prayer it begins, little by little, to be freed from this darkness; otherwise it has no possibility whatever of becoming free.”
St. Philotheos of Sinai
Run to God! RUN!
A brother said to Abba Poemen, ‘Give me a word,’ and he
said to him, ‘As long as the pot is on the fire, no fly nor any other
animal can get near it, but as soon as it is cold, these creatures get
inside. So it is for the monk*; as long as he lives in spiritual activities,
the enemy cannot find a means of overthrowing him.’ -Sayings of the Desert Fathers
*To believe this can only apply to monks or nuns would be a spiritually deadly assumption on our part.
The Lord allows us to be tossed by various passions in this life in order that we may
hate these passions with all our heart, that we may look upon everything earthly as nothing, however precious and pleasant it may appear, and that we may long with all our hearts for God alone, the source of tranquility and life, may cling to Him alone, may value Him before everything, His holy will, His peace and joy. -St. John of Kronstadt
God is strong in our weakness.
“The insane desire of the enemy to oppose God by instigating transgression of His commandments, God himself defeats in the medium of human weakness.”
St. Philotheos of Sinai
Your sins have turned back these blessings from you
If you do not possess good in abundance, O people, that means you have sin in abundance. Your sins have turned your good from you. O people, if you wish good for yourselves, reject sin and sin no more. Then you will move toward good, good will come to you, and good will not depart from you. O man, if you do not have good, it means that you have sin. Good cannot dwell in the same house with sin, just as light and darkness cannot exist in the same place at the same time. When light departs, darkness settles in, and when the darkness departs, the light shines. Thus, sin and good can be interchanged, but they cannot dwell together.
O my brethren, your sins have turned back these blessings from you. These words were not spoken by just one prophet to just one nation; rather, every true prophet spoke these words to his people. False prophets flatter their people with sins, and thus they assist even more in turning back good from their people. The true prophets oppose the sins of the people, for they consort with good and cry out against sin, so as to introduce the good from God into their people’s souls. If the beehive begins to stink, will the honey-bees enter and deposit their honey in it? No! And when irrational bees refuse to enter a putrid and smoke-ridden beehive, then how will the rational Spirit of God enter a soul that is putrid and smoke-ridden from sin? And the Spirit of God is the possessor and the dispenser of all good gifts.
O Lord, Holy Spirit, help Thy people by Thine irresistible power to drive away sin from their souls; so that Thou wouldst be able to enter inside with Thy life-creating gifts. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From the Prologue of Ochrid, By Nikolai Velomirovic, homily for May 7th