Evil spirits bind a fallen soul with shackles of darkness. That’s why it is not in a position
to love God as much as it wants, nor have faith, nor pray as much as it would like. After all, since the fall of the first person, resistance against good has become deep-seated in us both openly and clandestinely. St. Macarius the Great
“A strange illness has appeared in our days – the passion for distractions. Never before was there such a desire for distractions; people have forgotten how to lead a serious life for the good of others; they have no spiritual life and are bored. They exchange the profound content of a spiritual life for distractions! What madness! It is here that pastors must deploy their strength: they must re-introduce into life its lost meaning and give back to the people the knowledge of the true purpose of life.”
Seest thou what fasting does: it heals illnesses, drives out demons, removes wicked thoughts, and makes the heart pure. If someone has even been seized by an impure spirit, let him know that this kind, according to the word of the Lord, “goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). Saint Athanasius the Great.
If pride turned some of the angels into demons, then humility can doubtless make angels out of demons. So take heart, all you sinners. St. John Klimakos -The Ladder of Divine Ascent “On Humility”
“The Lord knows our weaknesses and He has granted us daily repentance until we die. St. John of the Ladder writes: ‘Previous habit often tyrannizes even over him who deplores it. And no wonder! The account of the judgements of God and our falls is shrouded in darkness, and it is impossible for us to comprehend it’. He says further: ‘Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly the Angel who guards you will honour your patience’. St. Abba Dorotheos says: ‘A man who drinks once is not called a drunkard, nor is a person who once commits fornication called a fornicator… but only when these are habits’. According to spiritual knowledge, even punishments differ. Lenience should be shown towards a person who strives for virtue and falls, for he was not aiming at sin, but was unexpectedly tempted. But severe punishment is needed for one who does not strive for virtue so that he may come to his senses and do so. Thus your single weakness too deserves lenience; a mere trifle. More likely a touch of pride is disturbing you. ‘How could I let this happen?’ The Lord keep you.”
From the book: Christ is in Our Midst, Letters from a Russian Monk, by Fr. John.
…nothing can be accomplished. If laziness or depression is keeping us from a good beginning – or even another good beginning- then we should ask God for the grace simply to start. Then, with the action of grace within us, we can reap a great harvest!
“A certain brother asked an old man, “What shall I do about my negligence?” The old man said unto him, “If thou wilt root out this small plant, which is negligence, a great forest will come into being.”
The Paradise of the Fathers, #293, Vol. II, p. 65
I bet if everyone actually set out to do this, the world might just be a better place very quickly! As Christians, what St. Anthony discusses as a remedy to sin should be commonplace among us. It may seem crazy and extreme –but it shouldn’t!
“As a safeguard against sin let the following be observed.
Let us each one note and write down our actions and the impulses of our soul as though we were going to relate them to each other. And be assured that if we should be utterly
ashamed to have them known, we shall abstain from sin and harbour no base thoughts in our mind. For who wishes to be seen while sinning? or who will not rather lie after the commission of a sin, through the wish to escape notice? As then while we are looking at one another, we would not commit carnal sin, so if we record our thoughts as though about to tell them to one another, we shall the more easily keep ourselves free from vile thoughts through shame lest they should be known.”
St Anthony the Great, in his Life by St Athanasius