Tag Archives: Prayer

Orthodox Church quotes about prayer

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: Speak will of those who speak evil of you. . . .

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov 2Speak well of those who speak evil of you.

Pay good for evil.

Pray for those who cause you various offenses, wrongs, temptations, persecutions.

Whatever you do, on no account condemn anyone; do not even try to judge whether a person is good or bad, but keep your eyes on that one evil person for whom you must give an account before God–yourself.Book The Arena St Ignatius

+ St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life

St. Theophan: The best prayer is . . .

The best prayer is: “Lord! Thou knowest all things. Do with me as Thou willest!”

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, From the Reading for the 13th Wednesday after Pentecost in Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God

St. Paisios of Mt. Athos: Women usually have no sense of moderation when it comes to household chores. . . .

Women usually have no sense of moderation when it comes to household chores. They’re constantly finding things to do. While they do have a lot of heart and could do much “housecleaning” in their soul, they often waste their heart on insignificant things. Let’s say we have a delicate glass with very intricate designs. Now, if this glass didn’t have all these designs on it, it would still serve its purpose as a glass. But no, women go to the store and start: “No, I want the designs up higher, to this point; no, not this way, the other way…” And if there should be some floral details on it, well then the heart really starts leaping! But by doing this, women lay waste to all their energy and potential. You’ll hardly find a man paying so much attention to such details. For example, a man will hardly notice if a lamp shade is brown or black. But a woman wants something beautiful and she rejoices in it; she gives a port of her heart to this, a part to that, and then what is left for Christ? Only a tired yawn is spared for the time of prayer. The more a woman distances her heart from material things, the closer she comes to Christ. And when her heart is given to Christ, then she acquires great strength.

+ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Councils IV: Family Life

St. John the Wonderworker: . . . the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than [St. Theodosius’s] prayer.

20566_pThen, having successfully passed through the toll-houses and bowed down before God, the soul for the course of 37 more days visits the heavenly habitations and the abysses of hell, not knowing yet where it will remain, and only on the fortieth day is its place appointed until the resurrection of the dead [5]. Some souls find themselves (after the forty days) in a condition of foretasting eternal joy and blessedness, and others in fear of the eternal torments which will come in full after the Last Judgment. Until then changes are possible in the condition of souls, especially through offering for them the Bloodless Sacrifice (commemoration at the Liturgy), and likewise by other prayers [6].

How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring with me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents” — and he gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria). “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”

+ St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily on Life after Death

Read entire homily here

Elder Joseph the Hesychast: The only hope of salvation from the delusions . . .

Photo of Elder Joseph the Hesychast“The only hope of salvation from the delusions and the heresies, the innovations and the traps of wicked people and of the devil is prayer, repentance and humility.”

+ Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Joseph the Hesychast: Struggles, Experiences, Teachings

St. Peter of Damaskos: As you lie in bed, repent of what you say in your heart . . .

Icon of St. Peter of Damascus“In the words of the psalmist, ‘As you lie in bed, repent of what you say in your heart’ (Ps. 4:4 LXX), that is, repent in the stillness of the night, remembering the lapses that occurred in the confusion of the day and disciplining yourself in hymns and spiritual songs (cf. Col. 3:16) – in other words, teaching yourself to persist in prayer and psalmody through attentive meditation on what you read. For the practice of the moral virtues is effectuated by meditating on what has happened during the day, so that during the stillness of the night we can become aware of the sins we have committed and can grieve over them.”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Twenty-Four Discourses”, XXII Joy, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

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. Raphael the Archangel: Do that which is good . . .

Archangel Raphael“Do that which is good, and no evil shall touch you. Prayer is good with fasting and alms and righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than much with unrighteousness. It is better to give alms than to lay up gold: For alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin. Those that exercise alms and righteousness shall be filled with life: But they that sin are enemies to their own life.”

+ St. Raphael the Archangel, Tobit 12:7-10

St. Basil the Great: When you sit down to eat . . .

Giving Thanks 2“When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.”

+ St. Basil the Great, from Homily V. In martyrem Julittam. A different translation is quoted in the Prolegomena in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series II Volume 8

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. Theognostos: When . . . you find yourself full of tears in prayer before God, lie on the ground stretched out . . .

Jesus 7When, energized by divine grace, you find yourself full of tears in prayer before God, lie on the ground stretched out in the form of a cross, beat the earth with your brow and ask for deliverance from this life as a release from corruption and a liberation from trials and temptations.

But ask that this may be granted, not as you wish, but as and when God wills.

For your part, you should long for your departure now, hoping that, if you come before God with, tears and in the depths of humility, you will stand firm and confident in the fire of your desire and your prayer; but you should also be ready for your death to be delayed for the time being, should God foresee something better for you.

Pursue your goal forcefully, dedicating your whole life to God, in all your actions, words and intentions seeking by all possible means not to fall away from Him.

+ St. Theognostos, On the Practice of the Virtues, Contemplation and the Priesthood from the The Philokalia (Vol. 2)

Elder Thaddeus: It is of great significance if there is a person who truly prays in a family. . . .

Elder Thaddeus“It is of great significance if there is a person who truly prays in a family. Prayer attracts God’s Grace and all the members of the family feel it, even those whose hearts have grown cold. Pray always.”

+ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

St. Theophan the Recluse: . . . be sober, watch, and pray—and the enemies will do nothing to you.

Christ Tempted By SatanThe devil approaches the God-man with temptations.
Who among men is free of them?

He who goes according to the will of the evil one does not experience attacks, but is simply turned more and more toward evil. As soon as one begins to come to himself and intends to begin a new life according to God’s will, immediately the entire satanic realm enters into action: they hasten to scatter good thoughts and the intentions of the repentant one in any way they can.

If they do not manage to turn him aside, they attempt to hinder his good repentance and confession; if they do not manage to do that, they contrive to sow tares amidst the fruits of repentance and disrupt his labors of cleansing the heart.

If they do not succeed in suggesting evil they attempt to distort the truth; if they are repulsed inwardly they attack outwardly, and so on until the end of one’s life. They do not even let one die in peace; even after death they pursue the soul, until it escapes the aerial space where they hover and congregate.

You ask, “What should we do? It is hopeless and terrifying!”

For a believer there is nothing terrifying here, because near a God-fearing man demons only busy themselves, but they do not have any power over him. A sober man of prayer shoots arrows against them, and they stay far away from him, not daring to approach, and fearing the defeat which they have already experienced.

If they succeed in something, it is due to our blundering. We slacken our attention, or allow ourselves to be distracted by their phantoms, and they immediately come and disturb us more boldly.

If you do not come to your senses in time they will whirl you about; but if a soul does come to its senses they again recoil and spy from afar to see whether it is possible to approach again somehow.

So be sober, watch, and pray—and the enemies will do nothing to you.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. John of Kronstadt: Do not let pass any opportunity to pray for anyone . . .

Praying in front of an icon“Do not let pass any opportunity to pray for anyone, either at his request or at the request of his relatives, friends, of those who esteem him, or of his acquaintances. The Lord looks favorably upon the prayer of our love, and upon our boldness before him. Besides this, prayer for others is very beneficial to the one himself who prays for others; it purifies the heart, strengthens faith and hope in God, and enkindles our love for God and our neighbor. When praying, say thus: ‘Lord, it is possible for Thee to do this or that to this servant of Thine; do this for him, for Thy name is the Merciful Love of Men and the Almighty.’”Book St John Kronstadt My Life in Christ

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

St. Theophan the Recluse: This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. . . .

Icon of St. Theophon the Recluse“This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” [Matthew 17:14-23]

If this kind goes out by the prayer and fasting of another person, then it is even less able to enter one who fasts and prays.

What protection!

Although there are a slew of demons and all the air is packed with them, they cannot do anything to one who is protected by prayer and fasting.

Fasting is universal temperance, prayer is universal communication with God; the former defends from the outside, whereas the latter from within directs a fiery weapon against the enemies. The demons can sense a faster and man of prayer from a distance, and they run far away from him so as avoid a painful blow.

Is it feasible to think that where there is no fasting and prayer, there already is a demon? Yes, it is.

The demons lodging in a person, do not always reveal their presence, but lurk there, stealthily teaching their host every evil and turning him away from every good thing; so this person is certain that he is doing everything on his own, but meanwhile he is only fulfilling the will of his enemy.

Just commence prayer and fasting and the enemy will immediately depart, then wait on the side for an opportunity to somehow return again. And he truly will return, as soon as prayer and fasting are abandoned.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

Elder Thaddeus: The Most Holy Mother of God prays for us ceaselessly. . . .

Icon of the Theotokos“The Most Holy Mother of God prays for us ceaselessly. She is always visiting us. Whenever we turn to her in our heart, she is there. After the Lord, she is the greatest protection for mankind. How many churches there are in the world that are dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God! How many healing springs where people are cured of their ailments have sprung up in places where the Most Holy Theotokos appeared and blessed those springs to heal both the sick and the healthy! She is constantly, by our side, and all too often we forget her.”Book Elder Thaddeus Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

+ Elder Thaddeus, Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos delivered Auguest 15/28

Quoted from Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

St. Theophan the Recluse: Everyone knows that a church calls for reverence . . .

Icon of St. Theophan the Recluse“My House shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Everyone knows that a church calls for reverence, for a collecting of thoughts, for deep thinking about God, and for standing in the presence of God, but who fulfills this? People go to church with a desire to pray, to stand in it for a while with warm fervour; but then thoughts begin to wander, and bargaining begins in one’s head even louder than that which the Lord found in the Jerusalem temple.

Why is this so?

Because the way one stands in church is a reflection of one’s entire life. As people live, so do they behave in church. A church influences and somewhat supports spiritual movements; but then the usual course of one’s spiritual constitution takes over.

Therefore if you want your time in church to consist of worthily standing in the face of the Lord, prepare for this in your ordinary life; walk, as much as you can, in a prayerful frame of mind.

This labour will bring you to the point that in church also you will stand reverently all the time. This reverence will inspire you to be reverent in your ordinary life as well. Thus you will walk ever higher and higher. Say, ‘O Lord, help’ —and begin!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. Nikon of Optina: Do not forget . . .

Icon of St. Nikon of OptinaDo not forget prayer─it is the life of the soul.

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

St. Joseph of Optina: Prayer is food for the soul. Do not starve the soul, it is better to . . .

St. Joseph of Optina“Prayer is food for the soul. Do not starve the soul, it is better to let the body go hungry. Do not judge anyone, forgive everyone. Consider yourself worse than everyone in the world and you will be saved. As much as possible, be more quiet.”

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

St. Barsanuphius of Optina: Prayer in church is important. The best thoughts and feelings come in church, yes, and the enemy attacks more violently . . .

St. Barsanuphius of Optina“Prayer in church is important. The best thoughts and feelings come in church, yes, and the enemy attacks more violently in church, but with the sign of the Cross and the Jesus Prayer, you drive him away. It is good to stand in some dark corner in church and to pray to God. “Let us lift up our hearts!” the priest exclaims, but our mind often creeps along the ground, thinking about indecent things. Fight against this.”

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

St. Macarius of Optina: Concerning prayer in church, know that it is higher than . . .

Icon of the Optina Elders“Concerning prayer in church, know that it is higher than prayers at home, for it is raised by a whole group of people, among which many are most pure prayers, offering to God from humble hearts, which He accepts as fragrant incense. Along with these our prayers are also accepted, even though they are feeble and worthless.”

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

Fr. Seraphim Rose: Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? . . .

Photo of Fr. Seraphim Rose“Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world. I am at this moment in some pain, and I call on the Name of Jesus—not necessarily to relieve the pain, but that Jesus, in Whom alone we may transcend this world, may be with me during it, and His will be done in me. But in pleasure I do not call on Him; I am content then with what I have, and I think I need no more. And why is a philosophy of pleasure untenable?—because pleasure is impermanent and unreliable, and pain is inevitable. In pain and suffering Christ speaks to us, and thus God is kind to give them to us, yes, and evil too—for in all of these we glimpse something of what must lie beyond, if there really exists what our hearts most deeply desire.”

+ Fr. Seraphim Rose, quoted in Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works

St. John of Kronstadt: We ought to have the most lively spiritual union with the heavenly inhabitants . . .

Icon of All Saints“We ought to have the most lively spiritual union with the heavenly inhabitants, with all the saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, prelates, venerable and righteous men, as they are all members of one single body, The Church of Christ, to which we sinners also belong, and the living Head of which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is why we call upon them in prayer, converse with them, thank and praise them, It is urgently necessary for all Christians to be in union with them, if they desire to make Christian progress; for the saints are our friends, our guides to salvation, who pray and intercede for us.”Book St John Kronstadt My Life in Christ

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

St. John of Kronstadt: The candles lit before icons of saints reflect their ardent love for God for Whose sake . . .

Photo of St. John of Kronstadt“The candles lit before icons of saints reflect their ardent love for God for Whose sake they gave up everything that man prizes in life, including their very lives, as did the holy apostles, martyrs and others. These candles also mean that these saints are lamps burning for us and providing light for us by their own saintly living, their virtues and their ardent intercession for us before God through their constant prayers by day and night. The burning candles also stand for our ardent zeal and the sincere sacrifice we make out of reverence and gratitude to them for their solicitude on our behalf before God.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt

St. John of Kronstadt: Firmly purpose in your soul to hate every sin of thought, word, and deed, and when you are tempted to sin . . .

Icon of St. John of Kronstadt“Firmly purpose in your soul to hate every sin of thought, word, and deed, and when you are tempted to sin resist it valiantly and with a feeling of hatred for it; only beware lest your hatred should turn against the person of your brother who gave occasion for the sin.  Hate the sin with all your heart, but pity your brother; instruct him, and pray for him to the Almighty, Who sees all of us and tries our hearts and innermost parts. ‘Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.’ (Hebrews 12:4)  It is impossible not to often fall into sin unless you have a hatred of it implanted in your heart.  Self-love must be eradicated.  Every sin comes from the love of self.  Sin always appears, or feigns to be, to wish us well, promising us plenteousness and ease.  ‘The tree was good for food, and it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise.’ (Genesis 3:6)  This is how sin always appears to us.”Book St John Kronstadt My Life in Christ

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

You don’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle version of this book, which is available a very reduced cost. Try Amazon’s FREE Kindle Cloud Reader app for your computer, phone, or tablet.

St. John Climacus: The memory of insults is the residue of anger. . . .

Icon of St. John ClimicusRemembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sins, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind, shame of prayer, stopping of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul, pleasureless feeling beloved in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice.

This dark and hateful passion, I mean remembrance of wrongs, is one of those that are produced but have no offspring. That is why we do not intend to say much about it.

He who has put a stop to anger has also destroyed remembrance of wrongs; because childbirth continues only while the father is alive.

+ St. John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 9.2-4

St. John of Damascus: . . . Nor are the saints whom we glorify fictitious. . . .

Icon of St. John of Damascus“Possibly a contentious unbeliever will maintain that we worshiping images in our churches are convicted of praying to lifeless idols. Far be it from us to do this. Faith makes Christians, and God, who cannot deceive, works miracles. We do not rest contented with mere colouring. With the material picture before our eyes we see the invisible God through the visible representation, and glorify Him as if present, not as a God without reality, but as a God who is the essence of being. Nor are the saints whom we glorify fictitious. They are in being, and are living with God; and their spirits being holy, the help, by the power of God, those who deserve and need their assistance.”

+ St. John of Damascus, Treatise on Images

Canon 64 of the Apostolic Canons: Prayer with Heretics

Jesus 6If any clergyman or layman shall enter into a synagogue of Jews or heretics to pray, let the former be deposed and let the latter be excommunicated.

+ Canon 64 of the Apostolic Canons

St. Maximos the Confessor: The demons attack the person who . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the ConfessorThe demons attack the person who has attained the summits of prayer in order to prevent his conceptual images of sensible things from being free from passion; they attack the gnostic so that he will dally with impassioned thoughts; and they attack the person who has not advanced beyond the practice of the virtues so as to persuade him to sin through his actions. They contend with all men by every possible means in order to separate them from God.

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 2.90, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. John of Karpathos: . . . How much more, then, will a Christian be heard when he prays to be delivered from spiritual death?

Jesus Gadarene DemonPharaoh entreated, saying: ‘May God take away from me this death’ (Exod.10:17), and he was heard. Similarly, when the demons asked the Lord not to cast them into the abyss, their request was granted (cf. Luke 8:31). How much more, then, will a Christian be heard when he prays to be delivered from spiritual death?

+ St. John of Karpathos, For the Encouragement of the Monks in India who had Written to Him: One Hundred Texts (69)

Elder Paisios On Common Prayers: . . . Is it proper to mix trash with gold? So much struggle was waged to distil the dogma. . . .)

Photo of Elder Paisus of Mount AthosToday unfortunately, the European courtesy has come in and they try to show themselves as being nice. They wish to show superiority and finally they end up worshiping the two horned devil. “One religion, they tell you, should exist” and they level out everything. Some also come to me and tell me “All of us who believe in Christ should create one religion.” “Now it is as if you are telling me, I told them, about gold and copper, so many carats gold and that much copper, that was separated, to gather them and make them one again. Is it correct to mix them again? Ask a jeweler. Is it proper to mix trash with gold? So much struggle was waged to distil the dogma.”

The Holy Fathers must have known something for prohibiting the relationships with the heretics. Today they say: “we should pray together not only with a heretics but also with the Buddhist and with the fire worshiper and the demon worshiper. The Orthodox must also be present in common prayers and in their conferences. It is a presence.” What presence? They resolve everything with logic and justify the unjustifiable. The European mind believes that also the spiritual matters can also come into the Common Market. Some of the Orthodox who are shallow and wish to make a promotion, “a mission,” they arrange conferences with the heterodox to cause a sensation, believing this way that they promote Orthodoxy, by becoming so to speak “Hungarian goulash” with the false believers. Then the super-zealots take hold of the other end; they also blaspheme against the Mysteries of the New-calendarists, etc. and deeply scandalize the souls who have piety and Orthodox sensitivity.

On the other hand, the heterodox come to conferences, act like teachers, take whatever good spiritual thing they find from the Orthodox, they process it, they give it their own colour and mark and they present it as a prototype. And the strange contemporary world becomes touched by such strange things and is spiritually destroyed. The Lord though at the appropriate time will present the Marks, the Eugenikos and the Gregorys Palamas who will assemble all our deeply scandalized brothers, to confess the Orthodox faith and strengthen the traditions of the Church and give great joy to our Mother, the Church.”

+ Elder Paisios

From the Book: “With anguish and love for the contemporary man.”
Publication: Holy Hysichastirion of Evangelist John the Theologian by Souroti, Thessaloniki.
Original Link

St. Gregory of Palamas: Let not one think, my fellow Christian, that only priests and monks need to pray without ceasing. . .

Icon of St. Gregory of PalamasLet not one think, my fellow Christian, that only priests and monks need to pray without ceasing and not laymen No, no; every Christian without exception ought to dwell always in prayer.

+ St. Gregory of Palamas

Canon of St. Andrew: When the Lord had fasted for forty days in the wilderness . . .

Jesus 5When the Lord had fasted for forty days in the wilderness, He at last became hungry, showing His human nature. Do not be despondent, my soul, if the enemy attacks you, but let him be beaten off by prayer and fasting. [Matthew 4:1-11; 17:21; Mark 9:29]

+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Mon 9.8
Text of the Canon

St. John of Kronstadt: . . . Do not help the Devil to spread his kingdom. . . .

Icon of St. John of KronstadtYou see very clearly that it is extremely difficult, and without God’s grace and your own fervent prayer and abstinence, impossible, for you to change for the better.  You feel within yourself the action of a multitude of passions: of pride, malice, envy, greediness, the love of money, despondency, slothfulness, fornication, impatience, and disobedience; and yet you remain in them, are often bound by them, whilst the long-suffering Lord bears with you, awaiting your return and amendment; and still bestows upon you all the gifts of His mercy.

Be then indulgent, patient, and loving to those who live with you, and who also suffer from many passions; conquer every evil by good, and, above all, pray to God for them, that He may correct them—that He may turn their hearts to Himself, the source of holiness.

Do not help the Devil to spread his kingdom. Hallow the name of your Heavenly Father by your actions; help Him to spread His Kingdom on earth. ‘For we are laborers together with God.’

Be zealous of the fulfillment of His will on earth, as it is in heaven. Forgive them that trespass against you with joy, as a good son rejoices when he has a chance of fulfilling the will of his beloved father.

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

You don’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle version of this book, which is available a very reduced cost. Try Amazon’s FREE Kindle Cloud Reader app for your computer, phone, or tablet.

 

Fr. Seraphim Rose: This weekend, at the Sunday Vigil of the Prodigal Son . . .

Photo of Fr. Seraphim RoseThis weekend, at the Sunday Vigil of the Prodigal Son, we will sing Psalm 135.[1]

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion”.

In these words of the Lenten Psalm, we Orthodox Christians, the New Israel, remember that we are in exile. For Orthodox Russians, banished from Holy Russia,[2] the Psalm has a special meaning; but all Orthodox Christians, too, live in exile in this world, longing to return to our true home, Heaven.

For us the Great Fast is a session of exile ordained for us by our Mother, the Church, to keep fresh in us the memory of Zion from which we have wandered so far. We have deserved our exile and we have great need of it because of our great sinfulness. Only through the chastisement of exile, which we remember in the fasting, prayer and repentance of this season.

Do we remain mindful of our Zion?

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem…”

Weak and forgetful, even in the midst of the Great Fast we live as though Jerusalem did not exist for us. We fall in love with the world, our Babylon; we are seduced by the frivolous pastimes of this “strange land” and neglect the services and discipline of the Church which remind us of our true home. Worse yet, we love our very captors – for our sins hold us captive more surely than any human master – and in their service we pass in idleness the precious days of Lent when we should be preparing to meet the Rising Sun of the New Jerusalem, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is still time; we must remember our true home and weep over the sins which have exiled us from it. Let us take to heart the words of St. John of the Ladder: “Exile is separation from everything in order to keep the mind inseparable from God. An exile loves and produces continual weeping.” Exiled from Paradise, we must become exiled from the world if we hope to return.

This we may do by spending these days in fasting, prayer, separation from the world, attendance at the services of the Church, in tears of repentance, in preparation for the joyful Feast that is to end this time of exile; and by bearing witness to all in this “strange land” of our remembrance of that even greater Feast that shall be when our Lord returns to take His people to the New Jerusalem, from which there shall be no more exile, for it is eternal.

— Fr. Seraphim Rose, March 1965

Footnotes:

[1] “By the Waters of Babylon” is the entire Psalm 136, sung to a plaintive melody, after the Polyelos Psalm during Matins. It is only sung in church the three Sundays that precede Great Lent: Sunday of the Prodigal Son, The Last Judgment (Meatfare) and Forgivensss (Cheesefare) It is significant that this same hymn is chanted at the beginning of the service of monastic tonsure.
[2] This homily was written in 1965, when the church in Russia was still under captivity to the Communist regime.

St. John Climacus: Let your prayer be completely simple. . . .

Icon of St. John of the Ladder“Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.”

— St. John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 28.5

St. Isaac the Syrian: A Prayer of Repentance

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“At the door of Your compassion do I knock, Lord; send aid to my scattered impulses which are intoxicated with the multitude of the passions and the power of darkness. You can see my sores hidden within me: stir up contrition—though not corresponding to the weight of my sins, for if I receive full awareness of the extent of my sins, Lord, my soul would be consumed by the bitter pain from them. Assist my feeble stirrings on the path to true repentance, and may I find alleviation from the vehemence of sins through the contrition that comes of Your gift, for without the power of Your grace I am quite unable to enter within myself, become aware of my stains, and so, at the sight of them be able to be still from great distraction.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, from The Prayers of St. Isaac the Syrian

St. Justin Martyr: . . . we may ask the same petition from God, who is able to turn away every shameless evil angel from taking our souls.

Icon of St. Justin Martyr“And what follows of the Psalm [21/22],—‘But Thou, Lord, do not remove Thine assistance from me; give heed to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword, and my only-begotten from the hand of the dog; save me from the lion’s mouth, and my humility from the horns of the unicorns,’ is indicative of the suffering by which He should die, i.e., by crucifixion. For the ‘horns of the unicorns,’ I have already explained to you, are the figure of the Cross only. And the prayer that His soul should be saved from the sword, and lion’s mouth, and hand of the dog, was a prayer that no one should take possession of His soul: so that, when we arrive at the end of life, we may ask the same petition from God, who is able to turn away every shameless evil angel from taking our souls.”

— St. Justin Martyr, The Second Apology, Chapter CV

 

St. Theophan the Recluse: Why is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book . . .

Icon of St. Theophon the RecluseWhy is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book, and still not have prayer in his heart? I think the reason is that people only spend a little time lifting themselves up to God when they complete their prayer rule, and in other times, they do not remember God. For example, they finish their morning prayers, and think that their relation to God is fulfilled by them; then the whole day passes in work, and such a person does not attend to God. Then in the evening, the thought returns to him that he must quickly stand at prayer and complete his evening rule. In this case, it happens that even if the Lord grants a person spiritual feelings at the time of the morning prayer, the bustle and business of the day drowns them out. As a result, it happens that one does not often feel like praying, and cannot get control of himself even to soften his heart a little bit. In such an atmosphere, prayer develops and ripens poorly. This problem (is it not ubiquitous?) needs to be corrected, that is, one must ensure that the soul does not only make petition to God when standing in prayer, but during the whole day, as much as possible, one must unceasingly ascend to Him and remain with Him.

In order to begin this task, one must first, during the course of the day, cry out to God more often, even if only with a few words, according to need and the work of the day. Beginning anything, for example, say ‘Bless, O Lord!’ When you finish something, say, ‘Glory to Thee, O Lord’, and not only with your lips, but with feeling in your heart. If passions arise, say, ‘Save me, O Lord, I am perishing.’ If the darkness of disturbing thoughts comes up, cry out: ‘Lead my soul out of prison.’ If dishonest deeds present themselves and sin leads you to them, pray, ‘Set me, O Lord, in the way’, or ‘do not give up my feet to stumbling.’ If sin takes hold of you and leads you to despair, cry out with the voice of the publican, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ Do this in every circumstance, or simply say often, ‘Lord, have mercy’, ‘Most Holy Theotokos save us”, ‘Holy Angel, my guardian, protect me’, or other such words. Say such prayers as often as possible, always making the effort for them come from your heart, as if squeezed out of it. When we do this, we will frequently ascend to God in our hearts, making frequent petitions and prayers. Such increased frequency will bring about the habit of mental conversation with God.

— St. Theophan the Recluse, On prayer, Homily 2
Delivered 22 November, 1864

 

St. John of Kronstadt: When you read a worldly magazine or newspaper . . . you easily believe in everything in it. . . .

Newspaper“When you read a worldly magazine or newspaper, it is light and agreeable reading, you easily believe in everything in it. But if you take up a religious publication or book to read, especially one relating to church matters, or sometimes when you begin reading prayers? You feel a weight upon your heart, you are tormented by doubt and unbelief, and experience a sort of darkness and aversion. Many acknowledge this. From what does it proceed? Of course, not from the nature of the books themselves, but from the nature of the readers, from the nature of their hearts, and chiefly from the Devil, the enemy of mankind, the enemy of everything holy: ‘he takes away the word out of their hearts’ (Lk. 8:12). When we read worldly books, we do not touch him and he does not touch us. But as soon as we take up religious books, as soon as we begin to think of our amendment and salvation, then we go against him; we irritate and torment him, and therefore he attacks us and torments us on his side. What can we do? We must not throw aside the good work, the reading or prayers that are profitable to our souls, but we must patiently endure and in patience save our souls.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

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St. Justin Popovich: If you wish, the Lives of the Saints are a sort of Orthodox Encyclopedia. . . .

Icon of St. Justin Popovich“If you wish, the Lives of the Saints are a sort of Orthodox Encyclopedia. In them can be found everything which is necessary for the soul which hungers and thirsts for eternal righteousness and eternal truth in this life, and which hungers and thirsts for Divine immortality and eternal life. If faith is what you need, there you will find it in abundance: and you will feed your soul with food which will never make it hungry. If you need love, truth, righteousness, hope, meekness, humility, repentance, prayer, or whatever virtue or podvig, in them, the Lives of the Saints, you will find a countless number of holy teachers for every podvig and will obtain grace-filled help for every virtue.”

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