Sometimes we do not see any outlet, any escape from our sins, and they torment us: on account of them, the heart is oppressed with sorrow and weary. But Jesus looks upon us, and streams of tears flow from our eyes, and with the tears all the tissue of evil in our soul vanishes. We weep with joy that such mercy has suddenly and unexpectedly been sent to us.
St. John of Kronstadt
We have learned from experience that for one who wishes to purify his heart it is a truly great blessing constantly to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus Christ against his intelligible enemies.
Notice how what I speak of from experience concurs with the testimony of Scripture. It is written: ‘Prepare yourself, O Israel, to call upon the name of the Lord your God’ (cf. Amos 4:12. lxx);and the Apostle says: ‘Pray without ceasing’ ( 1 Thess. 5:17). Our Lord Himself says: ‘Without Me you can do nothing. If a man dwells in Me, and I in him, then he brings forth much fruit’; and again: ‘If a man does not dwell in Me, he is cast out as a branch’ (John 15:5–6). Prayer is a great blessing, and it embraces all blessings, for it purifies the heart, in which God is seen by the believer.
St. Hesychios the Presbyter, Philokalia, #173
A thief hates the sun. A proud man despises the meek.
St. John Klimakos -The Ladder of Divine Ascent “On Pride”
I have seen this many times over, even among those who profess to be followers of Christ. The simplistic love of God and the piety of the meek make them ill. This is the burning of the sun, the burning of God’s love shining on them. I have told the story before of a close relative of mine who used to practically shriek and climb the walls when I suggested prayer as a tool for relaxation, and to help her sleep. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” the demons said…
“They who truly love God, are engaged to His service, neither by the consideration of the
Kingdom, as an object of profit or gain, nor by that of the punishment which awaits all sinners, but they love Him for Himself alone, and as their Master; being sensible that it is due, in the order of things, that servants should render themselves pleasing to their Master and Creator. And such persons use all incidents and circumstances with wisdom, knowing that all may become obstructions to their pleasing God. For not only poverty and obscurity, but wealth and honor also, present themselves as temptations to the soul. Nay, even the peace and consolation of Grace, when it occupies the soul, unless the soul entertains a perpetual sense that it has received it by favor, and unless it employs it with much judgment and moderation, tend rather to an occasion of temptation, by relaxing its tone, and inducing upon it languor and negligence. Wherefore, Grace itself, to be duly received, demands a fearing and an understanding soul; which shall reverence it, and bring forth fruits worthy of it. There is danger, therefore, lest not only afflictions, but also ease from afflictions, should become a temptation to sin. For souls are proved to the Creator by both, that it may be clearly demonstrated which love Him, not in prospect of a benefit, but for Himself alone, as being worthy of the greatest love and honor.”
St. Macarius the Great
In other words, we who mess things up continually -even the great gift of grace- must receive the gifts of God with all reverence and humility, for we do not deserve them. If we receive God’s gifts in such a way, then we are doing well. Otherwise, we make them worthless!