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 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 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.”
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 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: “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.
Do not restrict the benefit of fasting to abstinence from food alone. True fasting is abstinence from evil. Let go of every unjust tie. Do not sadden your brother. Forgive others their debts. Do not argue and fight when you fast. You do not eat meat, but you bite your brother. You stay away from wine, but you do not refrain from cursing others…Fasting is speaking in moderation; refraining from anger; separation from [evil] desires, criticism, lies, and oaths. Deprivation of these things is true fasting.