Most Men…

Most men not only bear Satan’s burden willingly in their hearts, but they become so
accustomed to it that they often do not feel it, and even imperceptibly increase it. Sometimes, however, the evil enemy increases his burden tenfold, and then they become terribly despondent and fainthearted, they murmur and blaspheme God’s name. The usual means that men of our time take to drive away their anguish are–entertainments, cards, dancing, and theatres. But such means afterwards increase still more the anguish and weariness of their hearts. If, happily, they turn to God, then the burden is removed from their heart, and they clearly see that previously the heaviest burden was lying on their heart, though frequently they did not feel it. O, how many men there are who have “forsaken [God] the Fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no [living] water”!
Men have very many such broken cisterns–nearly everybody has his own. The
broken cisterns are our hearts, our passions.
St. John of Kronstadt

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Evil Spirits…

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…

“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.”

St. John of Kronstadt

Seest Thou what fasting does…

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.

The Lord knows…

“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.