Unless with much wisdom…

Unless, with much wisdom, a man compares in his mind the greatness of the life to come with the brevity of the sorrow of this short life, he will not be able to take such courage as to dare to endure afflictions, so that he might set out on his journey on the path to the new world. I entreat you, reckon up in your mind the number of the years of this place wherein we dwell, then elevate yourself as much as possible, and compare this number with the days of the world to come, and see whether the number of what you give will amount to the number of what you will receive in return. And consider whether you will make an equal exchange in what you will give up with what you will receive in return. Therefore the wise man, being astonished at the greatness of that world and the infinite life there, as compared with the brevity of this life here, will say, ‘The number of a man’s days, if he lives long, are a hundred years, and this is like filling a bucket from the sea or taking up a grain of sand. But a thousand years in this world are not even like unto
one day in the world of the righteous.’
St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies

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Just Like Metal…

Just like metal that comes into contact with fire becomes unapproachable, so do frequent
prayers strengthen the mind for battle against the enemy. That is why the demons, in knowing that prayers can conquer them, apply all their strength to weaken our endeavors toward them. St. John of Karpathos

Without Winter…

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Without winter there would be no spring, and without spring there would be no summer. So it is also in the spiritual life: a little consolation, and then a little grief and thus little by little we work out our salvation. Let us accept everything from the hand of God. If He comforts us, let us thank Him. And if He doesn’t comfort us, let us thank Him.

+ St. Anatoly of Optina

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

We need Knowledge…

We need knowledge based on experience to understand these things (the spiritual life), and that if we wish to attain knowledge of God mere reading or listening is not enough. For reading and listening are one thing, and experience is another. One cannot become a craftsman simply by hearsay: one has to practice and watch, and make numerous mistakes, and be corrected by those with experience so that through long perseverance and by eliminating one’s own desires one eventually masters the art. Similarly, spiritual knowledge is not acquired simply through study but is given by God through grace to the humble. – St Peter of Damascus

When we misuse…

‘When we misuse the soul’s powers their evil aspects dominate us. For instance, misuse of our power of intelligence results in ignorance and stupidity; misuse of our incensive power and of our desire produces hatred and licentiousness. The proper use of these powers produces spiritual knowledge, moral judgment, love and self-restraint. This being so, nothing created and given existence by God is evil.’

St. Maximos the Confessor

An Elder Said…

An elder said: “Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus and placed it in a clean shroud in a new sepulchre [cf. Mt 27:57–60], that is, in a new man. Let each one studiously endeavour not to sin in order not to do violence to the God who dwells within him and drive him out of his soul. Manna was given to Israel to eat in the desert: to the true Israel the Body of Christ was given.”

The Anonymous Sayings of the Desert Fathers (p. 23). Cambridge University Press.