The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit.
St. Basil the Great
Love for God begins to manifest itself, and to act in us, when we begin to love our neighbor as ourselves, and not to spare ourselves or anything belonging to us for him, as he is the image of God: “For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
St. John of Kronstadt
Our spirit should be quick to reach out toward God, not only when it is engaged in meditation; at other times, also, when it is carrying out its duties, caring for the needy, performing works of charity, giving generously in the service of others, our spirit should long for God and call Him to mind, so that these works may be seasoned with the salt of God’s love, and so to make a palatable offering to the God of the universe. Throughout the whole of our lives, we may enjoy the benefit that comes from prayer if we devote a great deal of time to it.
St. John Chrysostom
Those who choose what is pleasing to God are, by virtue of the choice, admitted to immortality and fellowship with God.
St. Justin Martyr
This is from the book “Everyday Saints”
In Egypt, in whose ancient Christian past there had once been many grand monasteries, there once lived a monk who befriended an uneducated and simple peasant farmer. One day this peasant said to the monk, “I too respect God who created this world! Every evening I pour out a bowl of goat’s milk and leave it out under a palm tree. In the evening God comes and drinks up my milk! He is very fond of it! There’s never once been a time when even a drop of milk is left in the bowl.”
Hearing these words, the monk could not help smiling. He kindly and logically explained to his friend that God doesn’t need a bowl of goat’s milk. But the peasant so stubbornly insisted that he was right that the monk then suggested that the next night they secretly watch to see what happened after the bowl of milk was left under the palm tree.
No sooner said than done. When night fell, the monk and the peasant hid themselves some distance from the tree, and soon in the moonlight they saw how a little fox crept up to the bowl and lapped up all the milk till the bowl was empty.
“Indeed!” the peasant sighed disappointedly. “Now I can see that it wasn’t God!”
The monk tried to comfort the peasant and explained that God is a spirit, that God is something completely beyond our poor ability to comprehend in our world, and that people comprehend His presence each in their own unique way. But the peasant merely stood hanging his head sadly. Then he wept and went back home to his hovel.
The monk also went back to his cell, but when he got there he was amazed to see an angel blocking his path. Utterly terrified, the monk fell to his knees, but the angel said to him:
“That simple fellow had neither education nor wisdom nor book-learning enough to be able to comprehend God otherwise. Then you with your wisdom and book learning took away what little he had! You will say that doubtless you reasoned correctly. But there’s one thing that you don’t know, oh learned man: God, seeing the sincerity and true heart of this good peasant, every night sent the little fox to that palm tree to comfort him and accept his sacrifice.”
To those who are just beginning to long for holiness the path of virtue seems very rough and forbidding. It appears like this not because it really is difficult, but because our human nature from the womb is accustomed to the wide roads of sensual pleasure. But those who have traveled more than half its length find the path of virtue smooth and easy. For when a bad habit has been subjected to a good one through the energy of grace it is destroyed along with the remembrance of mindless pleasures; and thereafter the soul gladly journeys on all the ways of virtue. Thus, when the Lord first leads us into the path of salvation, He says: ‘How narrow and strait is the way leading to the kingdom and few there are who follow it’ (cf. Matt. 7:14); but to those who have firmly resolved to keep His holy commandments He says: ‘For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light’ (Matt. 11:30). At the beginning of the struggle, therefore, the holy commandments of God must be fulfilled with a certain forcefulness of will (cf. Matt. 11:12); then the Lord, seeing our intention and labor, will grant us readiness of will and gladness in obeying His purposes. For ‘it is the Lord who makes ready the will’ (Prov. 8:35. LXX), so that we always do what is right joyfully. Then shall we truly feel that ‘it is God who energizes in you both the willing and the doing of His purpose’ (Phil. 2:13).
St. Diadochos of Photiki
“Beware of your own self as your bitterest enemy, and do not follow your own will, mind, taste or feeling, if you do not wish to get lost.
Therefore always be fully armed against yourself, and when your desire inclines towards something, however holy, strip it naked of everything extraneous and place it, alone, before your God, with the greatest humility, imploring Him that in this His will and not your own may be done.
Do this with a sincere and heart-felt surrender to the will of God, with no trace of self-love, knowing that you have nothing in yourself and can do nothing by yourself in your work of salvation.”
St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain; Unseen Warfare Chpt 17