Simple Quote on Charity

A Christ-loving man said: “He who gives alms must offer them with such a joyful disposition that it would appear that he is the one receiving them. Only then does chrity draw a man near to God.”  ~The Evergetinos, Book 4

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Judge Not…

We are warned in the Scriptures not to judge. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Mt.7:1-4) and “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged…”(1Cor. 11:31)

There are those “who lack eyes to see the rays of the Sun of righteousness, and ears to hear of God’s glory, are sunk in the darkness of total ignorance, of empty hope and vain words. Not one of them speaks justly or judges truly; for they have put their trust in vanities and their words are vacuous. They conceive envy and beget spite and malice (cf. Isa. 59:4. LXX), for their ears are obdurate and deaf. On account of this they revile the word of God’s knowledge and refuse to listen to it.” (Nikitas Stithatos, On SPiritual Knowledge, Love and the perfection of living: One Hundred Texts; The Philokalia)

“Some people are prone to the sin of condemnation due to habit, others from remembering wrongs, others from envy and hatred, but for the most part, we are prone to this sin due to conceit and haughtiness. In spite of our incorrigibility and sinfulness, it seems to us that we are better than many others. If we desire to be corrected of this sin of condemnation, we must in every way force ourselves to be humble before God and man, and implore God for help in this.” St. Ambrose of Optina

“He who seeks forgivness of his sins loves humility, but if he condemns another he seals his own wickedness.” (St. Mark the Ascetic, 200 texts on the SPiritual Law; Philokalia)

“…when we use futile or slanderous speech we condemn our soul. Now it is characteristic of an obtuse man to lay the blame for his sins on the conditions of his birth or on something else, while in fact his words and actions are evil through his own free choice.” (St. Anthony the Great; Philokalia)

“But if you are unable to bridle your temper, censure yourself whenever you lose it, and repent before God and before anyone to whom you have spoken or have acted evilly. If you repent at the inception of sin you will not commit the sin itself; but if you feel no pang in committing minor offences you will through them fall into major transgressions.” (St. Gregory Palamas, A New Testament Decalogue; Philokalia)

“Be attentive to yourself,’ says Moses (Deut. 15:9. LXX) – that is, to the whole of yourself, not to a few things that pertain to you, neglecting the rest. By what means? With the intellect assuredly, for nothing else can pay attention to the whole of yourself. Set this guard, therefore, over your soul and body, for thereby you will readily free yourself from the evil passions of body and soul. Take yourself in hand, then, be attentive to yourself, scrutinize yourself; or, rather, guard, watch over and test yourself, for in this manner you will subdue your rebellious unregenerate self to the Spirit and there will never again be ‘some secret iniquity in your heart’ (Deut. 15:9). If, says, the Preacher, the spirit that-rules over the evil demons and passions rises up against you, do not desert your place (cf, Eccles. 10:4) – that is to say, do not leave any part of your soul or body unwatched. In this way you will master the evil spirits that assail you and you will boldly present yourself to Him who examines hearts and minds (cf. Ps. 7:9); and He will not scrutinize you, for you will have already scrutinized yourself. As St Paul says, ‘If we judged ourselves we would not be judged’ (1 Cor. 11:31). (St. Gregory Palamas, In Defense of Those Who Devoutly Practice a Life of Stillness; Philokalia)

May God grant us the ability to see our own sins before the sins of others.

What goes around…

What’s the old saying? “What goes around, comes around.”

It may not be 100% patristic or Orthodox, but I’ve always maintained due to my own personal experience that our sins are like “mini-Falls” (as in the fall of Adam and Eve), in that the peace we may have had is ruined by our sins, and it affects everything around us like a virus. The sin of Adam messed up the whole world.

“If you do not want to suffer evil, do not inflict it, since the suffering of it inevitably follows its infliction. ‘For whatever a man sows he will also reap. (Gal. 6:7).”

Love those who hate you- and those you hate. 

“If you harbor rancor against anybody, pray for him and you will prevent the passion from being aroused; for by means of prayer you will separate your resentment from the thought of the wrong he has done you. When you have become loving and compassionate towards him, you will wipe the passion completely from your soul. If somebody regards you with rancor, be pleasant to him, be humble and agreeable in his company, and you will deliver him from his passion.” -St. Maximus the Confessor; Third Century on love, Philokalia volume II

Love, even when slandered…

“Watch yourself, lest the vice which separates you from your brother lies not in him but in yourself. Be reconciled with him without delay, so that you do not lapse from the commandment of love.”

“Do not hold the commandment of love in contempt, for through it you will become a son of God. But if you transgress it, you will become a son of Gehenna.”

“Has someone vilified you? Do not hate him; hate the vilification and the demon which induced him to utter it. If you hate the vilifier, you have hated a man and so broken the commandment. What he has done in word you do in action. To keep the commandment, show the qualities of love and help him in any way you can, so that you may deliver him from evil.”
-St. Maximus the Confessor; Fourth Century on Love, The Philokalia

“Fiery Sermon”

This post has been tweaked only slightly, as it was originally from a Protestant source. The truth contained in these few short sentences are powerful. We are part of a Holy Community, and outside of it, we are nothing.

With that said, our connections to one another -even without saying a word- are powerful. We mustn’t forget that we are all parts of the same body, and that we must love one another with the understanding that we cannot be truly One without each other.

“A member of the church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the priest decided to visit him.

It was a chilly evening. The priest found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

Father made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, he took the fire tongs, carefully picked up the rightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.The priest glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the priest reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday.”

The world we live in tries so hard to pull us away from one another, we who gain strength from the love and support of our brothers and sisters. Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken.

Be Strong!

“Whoever fears the Lord will not fear the sickly attacks of demons or the threats of evil people. Like a flame or a burning fire, he goes about day and night through dark and hidden places, and instead of fleeing from the demons he makes them flee from him, so as not to be scorched by the flaming rays of divine fire that pour from him.

Whoever goes in the fear of God is not afraid when surrounded by evil men, for he has the fear of God within him and wears the invincible armour of faith. This gives him strength to do all things, even those that seem to most people difficult or impossible. Like a giant among monkeys or a roaring lion among dogs and foxes, he is resolute in the Lord, unnerving his enemies with the constancy of his purpose and filling their minds with terror; for he wields God’s wisdom like a rod of iron(cf.Ps.2 :9).”
~St. Symeon the New Theologian
A Century of Practical and Theological Texts
The Philokalia, Vol. 4

And this is why we fast and pray so often and for long periods of time. This is why we cross ourselves constantly, and hold the Saints near and dear to our hearts! -Fr. P