Tag Archives: Commandments

St. Peter of Damascus: . . . if someone wants to be saved, no person and no time, place or occupation can prevent him. He must not, however . . .

Icon of St. Peter of DamascusBriefly, we may say that in the nature of things, if someone wants to be saved, no person and no time, place or occupation can prevent him. He must not, however, act contrary to the objective that he has in view, but must with discrimination refer every thought to the divine purpose. Things do not happen out of necessity: they depend upon the person through whom they happen. We do not sin against our will, but we first assent to an evil thought and so fall into captivity. Then the thought itself carries the captive forcibly and against his wishes into sin.

The same is true of sins that occur through ignorance: they arise from sins consciously committed. For unless a man is drunk with either wine or desire, he is not unaware of what he is doing; but such drunkenness obscures the intellect and so it falls, and dies as a result. Yet that death has not come about inexplicably: it has been unwittingly induced by the drunkenness to which we consciously assented. We will find many instances, especially in our thoughts, where we fall from what is within our control to what is outside it, and from what we are consciously aware of to what is unwitting. But because the first appears unimportant and attractive, we slip unintentionally and unawares into the second. Yet if from the start we had wanted to keep the commandments and to remain as we were when baptized, we would not have fallen into so many sins or have needed the trials and tribulations of repentance.

+ St. Peter of Damascus, Book I: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: You receive the Cup which seemingly comes . . .

CrucifixionYou receive the Cup which seemingly comes from the hands of man. What is it to you whether the bearer of the Cup acts righteously or unrighteously? As a follower of Jesus, your concern is to act righteously; to receive the Cup with thanksgiving to God and with a living faith; and courageously to drink it to the dregs.

+ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Cup of Christ

Read in full at Orthodox England

 

St. Anthony the Great: The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view . . .

Icon of St. Anthony the Great“The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and to conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view, he disciplines his soul, and whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God for the compass and depth of His providential ordering of all things. For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His  providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.”

+ St. Anthony the Great, “On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life: One Hundred and Seventy Texts,” Text 2, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

Jesus: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another . . .

Jesus Good ShepherdA new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

+ Jesus, John 13:34-35 (KJV)

St. Sebastian Dabovich: The land of the Gadarenes was a place favored by the legion of darkness. . . .

Jesus Gadarene Demon 2“The land of the Gadarenes was a place favored by the legion of darkness. The people disobeyed the law of Moses, if not by using as food the flesh of swine, then by keeping swine for commerce. These people were ungrateful, malicious, and mercenary. When the Lord Jesus Christ delivered the two possessed with devils, and the people lost their herd of many swine, they did not think of the sin of breaking the law, nor did they even wonder at the pity shown by the great Miracle-Worker, but they came out, in a matter of fact way, and besought Jesus that he would depart from their borders. My dear brethren and sisters, let us look to ourselves, that for the appetites of the flesh, the pleasures of frivolous society and false philosophy, and that for gain and business, we lose not Jesus, our Saviour, and fall a prey to the adversary of our eternal salvation. Amen.”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sunday for the Fifth Sunday after Trinity”

St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . here is the path-start walking!

Icon of St. Theophan the Recluse“True, one may know man’s final goal: communion with God. And one may describe the path to it: faith, and walking in the commandments, with the aid of divine grace. One need only say in addition: here is the path-start walking!”

+ St. Theophan The Recluse, The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation

Kneeling Vespers of Pentecost — Prayer 1

Icon of PentecostO pure and blameless Lord, Who art without beginning, invisible and incomprehensible, unchangeable, immeasurable, and unbounded, Who art without evil and alone immortal, who dwellest in the unapproachable light, Maker of heaven and earth and the seas and all that was created therein, Who grantest to all their petitions before asking, to Thee we pray and of Thee we ask, O philanthropic Master, the Father of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the ever-virgin Mary, the noble Theotokos; Who first didst teach by word, and then gave testimony in deed while bearing the saving Passion, teaching us Thine unworthy, sinful, and miserable servants, to offer Thee our supplications with bent head and knee, for our sins and human ignorance.

Wherefore, O most merciful and philanthropic Lord, hear us on whatever day we call upon Thee, and especially on this day of Pentecost, whereon, after our Lord Jesus Christ had ascended into heaven and sat on Thy right hand, O God and Father, He sent down the Holy Spirit to his Disciples, the holy Apostles, Who alighted on each of them and filled them all with His inexhaustible and divine grace; and they did speak in strange tongues, prophesying Thy great deeds. Hear us who beseech Thee, and remember us, wretched and condemned. Deliver us from the (sinful) captivity of our souls by Thy loving intercession. Accept us, who kneel down before Thee and cry out: we have sinned. From birth, from the womb of our mother – we are Thine, O Lord – Thou art our God. But as our life passes in vanity, we have therefore been stripped of thine aid, and have become silent. Yet do we trust in Thy compassion and cry unto Thee. Remember not the sins of our youth and ignorance; cleanse us of our secret sins. Reject us not in our old age, and forsake us not when our strength fails. Before we return to the earth, prepare us to return to Thee. Measure our lawlessness with a measure of Thy generosity, and erect against our many transgressions a bottomless abyss of these generosities.

Look down from the height of Thy holiness upon Thy people who stand and await from Thee abundant mercy. Visit us with Thy goodness and deliver us from the force of Satan and preserve our life with Thy holy and solemn laws. Commit Thy people unto a faithful guardian angel. Gather us all unto Thy kingdom. Forgive those who put their trust in Thee, relinquish us and them from sin. Purify us by the operation of Thy Holy Spirit and remove from us the wiles of the adversary.

Blessed art Thou, Lord, Almighty Master, who illuminest the day with the light of the sun and the night with the glow of the moon, Who hast made us worthy to pass the course of the day and draw near to the onset of the night; hear our petitions and those of all Thy people. Forgive us all our sins, both voluntary and involuntary, and accept our evening supplications and send down the multitude of Thy mercies and compassions upon Thy people. Protect us with Thy holy angels. Arm us with the weapons of Thy truth. Envelop us with Thy righteousness. Preserve us by Thy power, and deliver us from every oppression and from every conspiracy of the cunning one. Grant us that this evening and the approaching night and all the days of our life may be perfect, holy, peaceful, sinless, without doubt and vain imaginings, by the intercessions of the holy Theotokos and all the saints who have done Thy will from the beginning of time.

St. Thalassios the Libyan: The person advancing in the spiritual life studies three things . . .

Icon of St. Thalassios the Libyan“The person advancing in the spiritual life studies three things: the commandments, doctrine, and faith in the Holy Trinity.”

+ St. Thalassios the Libyan, “On Love, Self-Control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect,” 3.28, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Maximus the Confessor: As I man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the ConfessorAs man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity (cf. Gen. 3:5), dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; and he was proud to have thus brought death into existence, for he delights in the corruption of human nature. Because of this, God became perfect man, taking on everything that belongs to human nature except sin (cf. Heb. 4:15); and indeed sin is not part of human nature, In this way, by enticing the insatiable serpent with the bait of the flesh. He provoked him to open his mouth and swallow it. This flesh proved poison to him, destroying him utterly by the power of the Divinity within it; but to human nature it proved a remedy restoring it to its original grace by that same power of the Divinity within it. For just as the devil poured out his venom of sin on the tree of knowledge and corrupted human nature once it had tasted it, so when he wished to devour the flesh of the Master he was himself destroyed by the power of the Divinity within it.

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 1.11, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. John of Kronstadt: Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ (Part 7)

Nativity of Jesus 3“What, then, O, brethren, is required of us in order that we might avail ourselves of all the grace brought unto us from on high by the coming to earth of the Son of God? What is necessary, first of all, is faith in the Son of God, in the Gospel as the salvation-bestowing heavenly teaching; a true repentance of sins and the correction of life and of heart; communion in prayer and in the mysteries [sacraments]; the knowledge and fulfillment of Christ’s commandments. Also necessary are the virtues: Christian humility, alms-giving, continence, purity and chastity, simplicity and goodness of heart.

Let us, then, O brothers and sisters, bring these virtues as a gift to the One Who was born for the sake of our salvation – let us bring them in place of the gold, frankincense and myrrh which the Magi brought Him, as to One Who is King, God, and Man, come to die for us. This, from us, shall be the most-pleasing form of sacrifice to God and to the Infant Jesus Christ.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, Sermon on the Nativity of Jesus Christ

Read Full Sermon at Pravoslavie

From the Russian text appearing in Chapter 2 of “Solntse Pravdy: O Zhizni i Uchenii Gospoda Nashego, Iisusa Khrista” [“The Sun of Righteousness: On the Life and Teaching of Our Lord, Jesus Christ”], by Protopriest [Saint] Ioann [John] (Sergiev) of Kronstadt, pp. 4-6. Translated into English by G. Spruksts.

St. Nikon of Optina: Most of our sins happen . . .

Icon of St. Nikon of Optina“Most of our sins happen because we forget the commandments of God.”

+ St. Nikon of Optina, Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. John Chrysostom: Let us give thanks to God continually. . . .

Icon of St. John ChrysostomLet us give thanks to God continually. For, it is outrageous that when we enjoy His benefaction to us in deed every single day, we do not acknowledge the favor with so much as a word; and this, when the acknowledgment confers great benefit on us. He does not need anything of ours, but we stand in need of all things from Him.

In point of fact, thanksgiving adds nothing to Him, but it brings us closer to Him. For if, when we recall the benefactions of men, we are the more warmed by affection for them; much more, when we continually bring to mind the benefits of the Master towards us, shall we be more earnest with regard to His commandments.

For this cause Paul also said, Be ye thankful. For the best preservative of any benefaction is the remembrance of the benefaction, and a continual thanksgiving for it.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 25, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew

For less than the price of a cup of fancy coffee, you can get The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection which can be read with the the free Kindle reading app. This includes 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words.

St. Theophan the Recluse: Every Christian is chosen . . .

Icon of St. Theophon the RecluseThe Lord chose the apostles, that they should be with Him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.

Every Christian is chosen—chosen for similar deeds, namely: to be with the Lord, through unceasing remembrance of Him and awareness of His omnipresence, through the preaching and fulfillment of His commandments, and through a readiness to confess one’s faith in Him. In those circles where such a confession is made, it is a loud sermon for all to hear.

Every Christian has the power to heal infirmities—not of others, but his own, and not of the body, but of the soul—that is, sins and sinful habits—and to cast out devils, rejecting evil thoughts sown by them, and extinguishing the excitement of passions enflamed by them.

Do this and you will be an apostle, a fulfiller of what the Lord chose you for, an accomplisher of your calling as messenger. When at first you succeed in all this, then perhaps the Lord will appoint you as a special ambassador—to save others after you have saved yourself; and to help those who are tempted, after you yourself pass through all temptations, and through all experiences in good and evil.

But your job is to work upon yourself: for this you are chosen; the rest is in the hands of God. He who humbles himself shall be exalted.Book Thoughts for Each Day of the Year

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: Why are Vigil Lamps Lit Before Icons?

Why are vigil lamps lit before icons?

1. Because our faith is light.  Christ said: I am the light of the world (John 8:12).  The light of the vigil lamp reminds us of that light by which Christ illumines our souls.

2. In order to remind us of the radiant character of the saint before whose icon we light the vigil lamp, for saints are called sons of light (John 12:36, Luke 16:8).

3. In order to serve as a reproach to us for our dark deeds, for our evil thoughts and desires, and in order to call us to the path of evangelical light; and so that we would more zealously try to fulfill the commandments of the Saviour: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works” (Matt. 5:16).

4. So that the vigil lamp would be our small sacrifice to God, Who gave Himself completely as a sacrifice for us, and as a small sign of our great gratitude and radiant love for Him from Whom we ask in prayer for life, and health, and salvation and everything that only boundless heavenly love can bestow.

5. So that terror would strike the evil powers who sometimes assail us even at the time of prayer and lead away our thoughts from the Creator. The evil powers love the darkness and tremble at every light, especially at that which belongs to God and to those who please Him.

6. So that this light would rouse us to selflessness. Just as the oil and wick burn in the vigil lamp, submissive to our will, so let our souls also burn with the flame of love in all our sufferings, always being submissive to God’s will.

7. In order to teach us that just as the vigil lamp cannot be lit without our hand, so too, our heart, our inward vigil lamp, cannot be lit without the holy fire of God’s grace, even if it were to be filled with all the virtues.  All these virtues of ours are, after all, like combustible material, but the fire which ignites them proceeds from God.

8. In order to remind us that before anything else the Creator of the world created light, and after that everything else in order: And God said, let there be light: and there was light (Genesis 1:3).  And it must be so also at the beginning of our spiritual life, so that before anything else the light of Christ’s truth would shine within us.  From this light of Christ’s truth subsequently every good is created, springs up and grows in us.

May the Light of Christ illumine you as well!

Canon of St. Andrew: With all eagerness and love thou didst run to Christ . . .

ITo St. Mary of Egypt: With all eagerness and love thou didst run to Christ, abandoning thy former way of sin. And being nourished in the untrodden wilderness, thou didst chastely fulfill His divine commandments.

+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew, Song 2 Wed

Text of the Canon
Read the Life of St. Mary of Egypt

Canon of St. Andrew: From my youth, O Christ, I have rejected Thy commandments. . . .

Icon of the Last JudgmentFrom my youth, O Christ, I have rejected Thy commandments. I have passed my whole life without caring or thinking as a slave of my passions. Therefore, O Savior, I cry to Thee: At least in the end save me.

+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Wed 1.1
Text of the Canon

St. Justin Popovich: Life according to the Gospel . . . is the natural and normal life for Christians. . . .

Icon of St. Justin Popovich“Life according to the Gospel, holy life, Divine life, that is the natural and normal life for Christians. For Christians, according to their vocation, are holy: That good tidings and commandment resounds throughout the whole Gospel of the New Testament1. To become completely holy, both in soul and in body, that is our vocation2. This is not a miracle, but rather the norm, the rule of faith. The commandment of the Holy Gospel is clear and most clear: as the Holy One who has called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of life (1 Peter 1:15).”

— St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith & Life in Christ, “Introduction to the Lives of the Saints”

1cf. 1 Thes. 4:3,7; Rm. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1-18, 2:19, 5:3, 6:18; Phillip. 1:1, 4:21-22; Col. 1:2-4, 12, 22, 26; 1 Thes. 3:13, 5:27; 2 Tim. 1:9; Phlm. 5:7; Heb 3:1, 6:10, 13:24; Jude 3.

2cf. 1 Thes 6:22-23.

St. Maximus the Confessor: A soul that is nurtured by hatred toward man . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“The deiform soul cannot nurse hatred against a man and yet be at peace with God, the giver of the commandments. ‘For’, He says, ‘if you do not forgive men their faults, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your faults’ (cf. Matt. 6:14-15). If your brother does not wish to live peaceably with you, nevertheless guard yourself against hatred, praying for him sincerely and not abusing him to anybody.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 4.35, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Nikon of Optina: In order to fulfill the commandments of Christ . . .

Icon of St. Nikon of Optina “In order to fulfill the commandments of Christ, you must know them! Read the Holy Gospel, penetrate its spirit and make it the rule of your life.”

+ St. Nikon of Optina

St. Maximos the Confessor: Let yourself die while striving . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“Let yourself die while striving, rather than living in laziness. For those who die while trying to keep the commandments are just as much martyrs as those who died for Christ’s sake.”

— St. Maximos the Confessor

St. Porphyrios: Those who desire and crave to belong to Christ . . .

Icon of St. Porphyrios“Those who desire and crave to belong to Christ and who abandon themselves to the will of God become worthy. It’s a great thing, all-important, to have no will. The slave has no will of his own. And it is possible for us to have no will of our own in a very simple manner: through love for Christ and the keeping of His commandments.

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he is the one who loves me; and he who loves me shall be loved by my Father and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. [John 14:31].

Effort is required. For we have to wrestle against the rulers of the darkness of this age [Eph. 6:12]. We have to wrestle with the roaring lion [1 Pet. 5:8]. We cannot allow the devious enemy to prevail in the struggle. ”

— St. Porphyrios, Wounded by Love

St. Anthony the Great: . . . whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God . . .

Icon of St. Anthony the Great“The truly intelligent man pursues one sole objective: to obey and conform to the God of all. With this single aim in view, he disciplines his soul, and whatever he may encounter in the course of his life, he gives thanks to God for the compass and depth of His providential ordering of all things.

For it is absurd to be grateful to doctors who give us bitter and unpleasant medicines to cure our bodies, and yet to be ungrateful to God for what appears to us to be harsh, not grasping that all we encounter is for our benefit and in accordance with His providence. For knowledge of God and faith in Him is the salvation and perfection of the soul.”

— St. Anthony the Great, The Philokalia

St. Symeon the New Theologian: You may find yourself hampered by someone who sows tares of despondency. . . .

Icon of St. Symeon the New Theologian“You may find yourself hampered by someone who sows tares of despondency. He tries to prevent you from climbing to such heights of holiness by discouraging you with various thoughts. For instance, he will tell you that it is impossible for you to be saved and to keep every single one of God’s commandments while you live in this world.

When this happens you should sit down in a solitary place by yourself, collect yourself, concentrate your thoughts and give good counsel to your soul, saying:

Why, my soul, are you dejected, and why do you trouble me? Put your hope in God, for I will give thanks to Him; for my salvation lies not in my actions but in God (cf. Ps. 42:5). Who will be vindicated by actions done according to the law (cf. Gal 2:16)? No living person will be vindicated before God (cf. Ps. 143:2). Yet by virtue of my faith in God I hope that in His ineffable mercy He will give me salvation. Get behind me, Satan (cf. Matt. 16:23). I worship the Lord my God (cf. Matt. 4:10) and serve Him from my youth; for He is able to save me simply through His mercy. Go away from me. The God who created me in His image and likeness will reduce you to impotence.”

—St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Thalassios the Libyan: Search the Scriptures . . .

Gospel“Search the Scriptures and you will find the commandments; do what they say and you will be freed from your passions.”

+ St. Thalassios the Libyan, “On Love, Self-Control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect,” 4.54, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Dorotheos: What is the result of pride?

Icon of St. Dorotheos of GazaOh, Brethren, what is the result of pride? Oh, see what humility can do? What was the need for all these sufferings? For, if from the beginning Man had humbled himself, obeyed God, and kept the commandment he would not have fallen.

Again, after his fall, God gave him an occasion to repent and to receive mercy but he kept his stiff-neck held high. He came to him and said “Adam, Where are you?” instead of saying “What glory you have left and what dishonor you have arrived at?” After that, He asked him “Why did you sin? Why did you transgress the commandment?” By asking these questions, He wanted to give him the opportunity to say, “Forgive me.” However, he did not ask for forgiveness. There was no humility, there was no repentance, but indeed the opposite.

He answered, “The woman whom You gave to be with me” (Gen 3:9-12), he did not say, “the woman deceived me,” but “The woman whom You gave to me,” as if he wanted to say: “This catastrophe has come upon me because of You.” So it is, brethren, since Man is not accustomed to blame himself. He does not hesitate to consider even God as the cause of evil.

Then God came to the woman and said to her, “Why did you not keep the commandment?” as if He wanted to say, “At least you, say forgive me, so as to humble your soul and to receive mercy.” Again, there was no request for forgiveness. She also answered, “The serpent deceived me,” (Gen 3:13) as if she wanted to say, “If the serpent sinned, where is my mistake?”

Why did you act in this way, you pitiable ones? Make a bow of repentance, recognize your fault, be sorry for your nakedness. Neither one of them could blame himself, neither of them had the least bit of humility.

— St. Dorotheus

St. Mark the Ascetic: . . . Both are mistaken.

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic“Some without fulfilling the commandments think that they possess true faith. Others fulfill the commandments and then expect the kingdom as a reward due to them. Both are mistaken.”

— St. Mark the Ascetic, On Those who Think that They are Made Righteous by Works, 18

St. Mark the Ascetic: Prayer comprises the complete fullfillment . . .

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic“Prayer comprises the complete fulfillment of the commandments; for there is nothing higher than love for God.”

— St. Mark the Ascetic

St. John of Kronstadt: What hinders you from fulfilling Christ’s commandments? . . .

“What hinders you from fulfilling Christ’s commandments?

The flesh and the world: that is, pleasant food and drink which men like, in which they delight both in thought and in fact, which make the heart gross and hard—a partiality for elegant dress and adornment, or for distinctions and rewards; if the dress or adornments are made of very beautiful coloured and delicate materials, then care and anxiety arise how to avoid staining or soiling them, or getting them dusty or wet, whilst care and anxiety how to please God in thought, word, and deed vanish and the heart lives for dress and adornment, and becomes entirely engrossed in these things, ceasing to care about God and being united to Him; if such is the case with a priest, then he neglects praying for his people, and becomes not soul-loving, but money-loving and ambitious, seeking not the men themselves, but that which appertains to them, that is, money, food, drink, their favour, their good opinion and good word, and flattering them.

Therefore fight against every worldly enticement, against every material enticement that hinders you from fulfilling Christ’s commandments, love God with all your heart, and care with all your strength for the salvation of your own soul, and the souls of others, be soul-loving.”

— St. John of Kronstadt

St. John Chrysostom on Departing from Iniquity

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“Let  every one,” he says, “that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” [2 Timothy 2:19]

These are the distinguishing marks of the foundation. As a foundation is shown to be firm, and as letters are inscribed upon a stone that the letters may be significant. But these letters are shown by works, “Having,” he says, “this seal” fixed thereon, “Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” Thus if any one is unrighteous, he is not of the foundation. So that this too is of the seal, not to do iniquity.

Moral. Let us not therefore put off from us the royal seal and token, that we may not be of those who are not sealed, that we may not be unsound, that we may be firmly grounded, that we may be of the foundation, and not carried to and fro. This marks them that are of God, that they depart from iniquity. For how can any one be of God Who is just, if he does iniquity, if by his works he opposes Him, if he insults Him by his misdeeds? Again we are speaking against injustice, and again we have many that are hostile to us.

For this affection, like a tyrant, has seized upon the souls of all, and, what is worse, not by necessity nor violence, but by persuasion and gentle insinuation, and they are grateful for their slavery.

And this is indeed the misery; for if they were held by constraint and not by love, they would soon depart. And whence is it, that a thing which is most bitter, appears to be sweet? Whence is it that righteousness, which is a most sweet thing, becomes bitter? It is the fault of our senses. Thus some have thought honey bitter, and have taken with pleasure other things that were noxious. And the cause is not in the nature of things, but in the perverseness of the sufferers.

The judging faculty of the soul is disordered. Just as a balance, if its beam be un-steady, moves round, and does not show accurately the weight of things placed in it; so the soul, if it has not the beam of its own thoughts fixed, and firmly riveted to the law of God, being carried round and drawn down, will not be able to judge aright of actions.

+ St. John Chrystostom, Homily V, Homilies on TimothyBook Complete Church Father Series

For less than the price of a cup of fancy coffee, you can get The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection which can be read with the the free Kindle reading app. This includes 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words. 

St. Herman of Alasaka: And I, a sinner, have been trying to love God for more than forty years . . .

Icon of St. Herman of Alaska“And I, a sinner, have been trying to love God for more than forty years, and cannot say that I perfectly love Him. If we love someone we always remember him and try to please him; day and night our heart is occupied with that object.

Is that how you, gentlemen, love God? Do you often turn to Him, do you always remember Him, do you always pray to Him and fulfill His holy commandments? ‘For our good, for our happiness at least let us make a vow that from this day, from this hour, from this minute we shall strive to love God above all else and to fulfill His holy will.'”

+ St. Herman of Alaska

St. Silouan the Athonite: We may study as much as we will . . .

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“We may study as much as we will but we shall still not come to know the Lord unless we live according to His commandments, for the Lord is not made known through learning but by the Holy Spirit. Many philosophers and scholars have arrived at a belief in the existence of God but they have not come to know God. And we monks apply ourselves day and night to the study of the Lord’s command but not all of us by a long way have come to know the Lord, although we believe in Him.”

— St. Silouan the Athonite

St. John Chrysostom: . . . that he should be a diligent hearer of the divine Scriptures . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“Never deem it an unnecessary thing that he should be a diligent hearer of the divine Scriptures. For there the first thing he hears will be this, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother’; so that this makes for thee. Never say, this is the business of monks. Am I making a monk of him? No. There is no need he should become a monk. Why be so afraid of a thing so replete with so much advantage? Make him a Christian.”

— St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Ephesians, Homily 21

Prayer before the Gospel: Illumine our Hearts . . .

“Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

— Prayer read silently by the priest before the reading of the Gospel

St. Symeon the New Theologian: Those of whom I speak and whom . . .

Picture of St. Symeon the New Theologian“Those of whom I speak and whom I call heretics are those who say that there is no one in our times and in our midst who is able to keep the Gospel commandments and become like the holy Fathers…Now those who say that this is impossible have not fallen into one particular heresy, but rather into all of them, if I may say so, since this one surpasses and covers them all in impiety and abundance of blasphemy. One who makes this claim subverts all the divine Scriptures. I think (that by making this claim) such a person states that the Holy Gospel is now recited in vain, that the writings of Basil the Great and of our other priests and holy Fathers are irrelevant or have even been frivolously written. If, then, it is impossible for us to carry out in action and observe without fail all the things that God says, and all that the saints, after first practicing them have left in writing for our instruction, why did they at that time trouble to write them down and why do we read them in Church? Those who make these claims shut up the heaven that Christ opened for us, and cut off the way to it that he inaugurated for us. God who is above all, stands, as it were, at the gate of heaven and peers out of it so that the faithful see him, and through his Holy Gospel cries out and says, ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (Mt. 11:28). But these opponents of God or, rather, antichrists say, ‘It is impossible, impossible.’”

–St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Peter of Damascus: Should we fall, we should not despair . . .

Icon of St. Peter of Damascus“For to sin, even in the case of those who are most righteous, is easy, while repentance is not easy for everyone because death is near; and even before death comes there is despair. It is good, then, not to fall; or, if we fall, to rise again. And should we fall, we should not despair and so estrange ourselves from the Lord’s love. For if He so chooses, He can deal mercifully with our weakness. Only we should not cut ourselves off from Him or feel oppressed when constrained by His commandments, nor should we lose heart when we fall short of our goal. Rather, let us learn that a thousand years in the sight of the Lord are but a single day, and a single day is as a thousand years (cf. Ps. 90:4). Let us be neither hasty nor tardy, and let us be always ready to make a new start. If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again. Only do not abandon your Physician, lest you be condemned as worse than a suicide because of your despair. Wait
on Him, and He will be merciful, either reforming you, or sending you trials, or through some other provision of which you are ignorant.”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Twenty-Four Discourses,” VIII Mortification of the Passions, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)