Spiritual atrophy

Just as our brains and bodies weaken and atrophy from lack of use, so too does the soul if it is not exercised through a life of prayer, devotion to God and the practice of the virtues and Commandments.

St. Mark the Ascetic agrees: “Often our knowledge becomes darkened because we fail to put things into practice. For when we have totally neglected to practice something, our memory of it will gradually disappear.”

And so let us not accept weakness, in this case. Let us not accept the darkness of an unpracticed mind and heart (nous). Let us instead prefer the Light of Life.

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The Soul that loves God…

“The soul that loves God has its rest in God and in God alone. In all the paths that men walk in the world, they do not attain peace until they draw nigh to hope in God.”
(St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 56, 89)

Delusion and Humility

St. Mark the Ascetic said “Some people when praised for their virtue are delighted, and attribute this pleasurable feeling of self-esteem to grace. Others when reproved for their sins are pained, and they mistake this beneficial pain for the action of sin.

Here the Saint illustrates to us how deluded we can be when it comes to our feelings and spiritual standing. I will take his last words here on the pain of being reproved one further: people will assume pain is always from the devil. We are deluded if we believe that our simple senses are a measure of our place upon the path of salvation.

Instead, when someone either praises us or reproves us, we should repeat the words our Lord gave us: “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.” This is the path of humility, and a path where we can never be led astray.

God be with you.

 

The Lord is near!

From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My Life in Christ”

All possible sins and passions are ready to break into the soul, and strive to do so at every moment. But fight against them valiantly and vigilantly unto your last breath, looking upon them as dreams of your imagination, as illusions of the spirits of evil.

Be so sure of the Lord’s nearness to you that you may feel when praying to God that you touch Him not only with your thought and heart, but also with your mouth and tongue. ” The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart;” that is God.

God will provide

From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My Life in Christ”

“Christ is the Bread of life, therefore let us lay aside our care about other bread. The God Who gives us the Body and Blood of His Son for our food and drink will likewise give us natural bread. He Who clothes our soul in Christ will likewise give us material clothing. He Who deigns to dwell in us will not deprive us of a perishable dwelling.”

I was reminded of this quote by a friend and parishioner of mine who has been struggling lately. God came through when he needed Him to, but of course in His own time, when He deemed it proper. 

Glory to God, Who supplies us with all we need for body and soul!

Mean what you say!

From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My life in Christ”

You ask the Lord that you may love Him with a love, strong as death, or until death. Suppose, now, that the Lord sends you a terrible inward disease that may bring you nigh unto death itself. Do not, then, murmur against the Lord, but bear it bravely, thanking the Lord for His fatherly visitation, and this will show that what you call your love for God is strong as death. And during the most violent fits or spasms of your illness trust in God, that He has the power to save you, not only from suffering, but even from death itself, should it please Him to do so. Do not spare, do not cherish your perishable body, but give it up willingly and wholly to the Lord, as Abraham gave his son Isaac as an holocaust, to the will of the Lord Who punishes you—not losing faith in God’s goodness, not growing despondent, not foolishly accusing God of injustice for so severely chastising you—and you will thus offer a great sacrifice unto God, like Abraham or like the martyrs.