God has done all things for our benefit. We are guarded and taught by the angels; we are tempted by the demons so that we may be humbled and have recourse to God, thus being saved from self-elation and delivered from negligence.
-St. Peter of Damascus
Who has greater repose and honor, the person who devotes himself to God and acts accordingly, or the person involved in hustle, law courts and worldly cares? The person who always converses with God through meditation on the Holy Scriptures and undistracted prayer and tears, or the person who is always on the go, who devotes himself to fraud and lawless actions which, when they come to nothing, leave him only with his exhaustion and perhaps twofold death? Consider how some of us endure even painful and dishonorable death all for nothing. Indeed, some for purely destructive ends have inflicted the greatest injury on their own souls. I have in mind robbers, pirates,
fornicators, instigators of quarrels – all of them people who refused salvation and the repose, honor and rewards that go with it. How blind we are! We endure death for the sake of destruction, but do not love life for the sake of salvation. And if we prefer death to the kingdom of heaven, in what do we differ from the thief or grave-robber or
soldier? These, simply for the sake of food, have often endured the death that is to come as well as death in this present life.
We must make Christ our primary goal; for on those who choose Him He confers the kingdom of heaven. This means that in this present life we must rise spiritually above all things, subjecting them all to Him. We must rule not only: over external things but also over the body, through our non-attachment to it, and over death, through the courage of our faith; then in the life to come we shall reign in our bodies eternally with Christ through the grace of the general resurrection. Death comes both to the righteous and to the sinner, but there is a great difference. As mortals both die, and there is nothing extraordinary in that But the one dies without reward and possibly condemned; the other is blessed in this world and in the next.
-St. Peter of Damascus
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