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
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
As we being the Nativity Fast, let us ponder on the words of St. Theophan the Recluse:
“May the Lord give you the blessing of a strong desire to stand inwardly before God. Seek and you will find. Seek God: such is the unalterable rule for all spiritual advancement. Nothing comes without effort. The help of God is always ready and always near, but it is only given to those who seek and work, and only to those seekers who, after putting all their own powers to the test, then cry out with all their heart: Lord, help us. So long as you hold on to even a little hope of achieving something by your own powers, the Lord does not interfere. It is as though He says: ‘You hope to succeed by yourself -very well, go on trying! But however long you try you will achieve nothing.’ May the Lord give you a contrite spirit, a humble and a contrite heart.”
God be with you.
From St. John of Kronstadt’s “My Life in Christ”
“It is a remarkable phenomenon in nature that, if you put a plant into a large, wide pot or tub, it grows very much at the roots; they thicken, they give out many ramifications, but the tree itself does not grow much in height, and only yields few and small leaves and flowers. But if it is planted in a small pot, then the roots are small, but the plant itself grows rapidly in height and yields beautiful leaves and flowers (if it is the nature of the plant to produce flowers). Is it not the same with man? When he lives in full liberty, in abundance and prosperity, then he grows in body and does not grow in spirit, does not bring forth fruits–good works; whilst when he lives in straightness, in poverty, sickness, misfortune, and afflictions, in a word, when his animal nature is crushed, then he grows spiritually, bears flowers of virtue, ripens and brings forth rich fruits. This is why the path of those who love God is a narrow one.”