Tag Archives: Soul

St. Macarius: Difference between bodily and spiritual sickness

Photo of St. Marcarius of OptinaThe soul is greater than the body: the body becomes sick, and with that it is finished. But a spiritual sickness extends into eternity. Deliver us, O lord, from such illness, and grant us healing.

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

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: About How God Whitens the Repentant Sinners

“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

O, the boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and ungrateful people, upon the people “laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters” (Isaiah 1:4), as “princes [rulers] of Sodom” (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the people who have become as the “people of Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10) – in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering [patient] and full of mercy and “neither will He keep His anger forever” [Psalm 102:9 (103:9)]. Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and turn to God with humility and repentance they will become “white as snow.” The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to whiten it. No matter how often linen is washed in water with ashes and soap, no matter how often it is washed and rewashed, it cannot receive whiteness until it is spread under the light of the sun. Thus, our soul cannot become white, no matter how often we cleanse it by our own effort and labor even with the help of all legal means of the law until we, at last, bring it beneath the feet of God, spread out and opened wide so that the light of God illumines it and whitens it. The Lord condones and even commends all of our labor and effort, i.e., He wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds and in the end of ends, He calls us to Him: “Come now,” says the Lord, “and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). That is, I will look at you and I will see if there is Me in you and you will look upon Me as in a mirror and you will see what kind of person you are.

O Lord, slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful Day.Book Prologue of Ohrid Volume 2

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homily for August 5 in The Prologue of Ohrid Volume II

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)

St. Anthony the Great: Men are often called intelligent wrongly. Intelligent men are not those who . . .

Books“Men are often called intelligent wrongly. Intelligent men are not those who are erudite in the sayings and books of the wise men of old, but those who have an intelligent soul and can discriminate between good and evil. They avoid what is sinful and harms the soul; and with deep gratitude to God they resolutely adhere by dint of practice to what is good and benefits the soul. These men alone should truly be called intelligent.”

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

St. John Maximovitch: . . . God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary . . .

Pascha 2Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of Paradise, returning to him his original state of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself.

This is accomplished by the action of Divine grace grated through the Church, but man’s effort is also required. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary; without it he cannot by saved. Striving towards God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to complete victory over sin.

+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

St. Isaac the Syrian: Do not pass through the streets of the hot-tempered and quarrelsome . . .

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“Do not pass through the streets of the hot-tempered and quarrelsome, lest your heart be filled with anger, and the darkness of delusion dominate your soul.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 17

St. Isaac the Syrian: Oppose no man in anything; do not quarrel, and do not lie . . .

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“Oppose no man in anything; do not quarrel, and do not lie, and do not swear by the name of the Lord your God. Be despised, and do not despise. Be wronged, and do not wrong. It is better for things of the body to perish with the body than for something pertaining to the soul to be hurt. Go to court with no man, but endure to be condemned, being uncondemned.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies, Homily 17

 

St. Sebastian Dabovich: Many a searching, although blind, mind has mistaken religion for some philosophical system. . . .

Greek philosophers (Socrates, Antisthenes, Chrysippus, Epicurus)“Many a searching, although blind, mind has mistaken religion for some philosophical system. Too irreverent and profane handling of religion often makes of it a science, a pastime study. Now and again we come by the way of such who make religion a speculation; yes, and a speculation without a question as to its nature. Do you not know that religion is one of the qualities of your soul? An essential substance, I might say, to be plain, of your self-recognizing, self-satisfied, living spirit? Those who are convinced of this fact are not indifferent to religion. Indifferentism has no place in the serious life of one who seeks to be right-minded.”

+ St. Sebastian Dabovich,  The Lives of Saints: With Several Lectures and Sermons [hard-copy book] | [read online], “Sincere Religion”

St. Isaac the Syrian: The fact that a man slips into accidental sins . . .

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“The fact that a man slips into accidental sins demonstrates the weakness of his nature; for to our profit God has permitted our nature to be susceptible to sinful occurrences. For He has not thought it good to make the soul superior to these occurrences before the second regeneration. It is profitable for the soul to be susceptible to accidental sins because this pricks the conscience. To persist in them is, however, audacious and shameful.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 6, “That to Our Profit God Has Permitted the Soul to Be Susceptible to Accidents, and on Ascetical Activities”

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: There is no need to prove that bodily nourishment cannot satisfy the soul of man . . .

Icon of the Samaritan WomanThere is no need to prove that bodily nourishment cannot satisfy the soul of man, nor can bodily drink quench its thirst. But even all this spirit of life, that shines through all created things, giving them life and harmony, is incapable of feeding and refreshing the soul.

The body directly receives food that is in essentials identical to the body. The body is of the earth, and food for the body is of the earth. This is why the body feels at home, among its own, in the world. But the soul suffers; it is crucified and suffers; it is disgusted and protests at having to receive food indirectly, and this a food not identical to itself. The soul therefore feels itself, in this world, to be in a foreign country, among strangers.

That the soul is immortal, and that it, in its essence, belongs to the immortal world, is proved by the fact that, in this earthly world, it feels itself a discontented traveller in a foreign land, and that nothing in the world can fully feed and refresh it. And even were the soul to be able to pour the whole universe into itself like a glass of water, its thirst would not only not become less but would, of a certainty, become greater. For then there would not remain in it one single illusory hope that it would, beyond the next hill, light on an unsuspected source of water.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year, Volume 1, “24. The Gospel on the Giver of Living Water and the Samaritan Woman John 4:5-42”

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: This is not a cry by a poor and simple man, who had no way of refreshing his soul . . .

“Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul is athirst for God; yea, even for the living God!” (Psalm 41/42:1-2)

This is not a cry by a poor and simple man, who had no way of refreshing his soul with human wisdom, worldly knowledge and skills, philosophy and art: the knowledge of the fine threads from which the lives of men and nature are woven. It is not; but it is the sad and heartfelt cry of a king, rich with earthly riches, genial in mind, noble in the motions of his heart, and powerful in the strength and acts of his will. Refreshing his soul with all of these, for which the unfree soul craves in this world, King David suddenly felt that his spiritual thirst was not only unquenched but had grown to such proportions that all this material universe was in no way able to quench it. He then felt himself to be, in this world, in a barren and dry land, where no water is (Psalm 62/63:2), and cried to God as the only Source of immortal drink, for which a rational, awakened soul yearns. “My soul is athirst for God; yea, even for the living God!

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year, Volume 1, “24. The Gospel on the Giver of Living Water and the Samaritan Woman John 4:5-42″”

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: Blessed is the man who uses his sufferings, knowing that all suffering in this brief life is loosed on men by God in His love . . .

Icon of St. Nikolai VelimirovichBlessed is the man who uses his sufferings, knowing that all suffering in this brief life is loosed on men by God in His love for mankind, for the benefit and assistance of men. In His mercy, God looses suffering on men because of their sins – by His mercy and not His justice. For, if it were by His justice, every sin would inevitably bring death, as the Apostle says: “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1: 15). In place of death, God gives healing through suffering. Suffering is God’s way of healing the soul of its sinful leprosy and its death.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year, Volume 1, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women”

St. John Chrysostom: . . . For there is a certain love deeply seated in our nature, which imperceptibly to ourselves knits together these bodies of ours.

Icon Wedding at Cana 2A certain wise man, setting down a number of things in the rank of blessings, set down this also in the rank of a blessing, A wife agreeing with her husband. [Sirach 25:1] And elsewhere again he sets it down among blessings, that a woman should dwell in harmony with her husband. [Sirach 40:23] And indeed from the beginning, God appears to have made special provision for this union; and discoursing of the two as one, He said thus, Male and female created He them [Genesis 1:27]; and again, There is neither male nor female. [Galatians 3:28]

For there is no relationship between man and man so close as that between man and wife, if they be joined together as they should be. And therefore a certain blessed man too, when he would express surpassing love, and was mourning for one that was dear to him, and of one soul with him, did not mention father, nor mother, nor child, nor brother, nor friend, but what? Your love to me was wonderful, says he, passing the love of women. [2 Samuel 1:26] For indeed, in very deed, this love is more despotic than any despotism: for others indeed may be strong, but this passion is not only strong, but unfading. For there is a certain love deeply seated in our nature, which imperceptibly to ourselves knits together these bodies of ours.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20, Homilies on Ephesians

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St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . A mother’s love cannot separate her dead children from those living . . .

Orthodox Graves JordanvilleDeath has one characteristic in common with love: it, like love, works a profound change in many that experience it and go on living. A mother after a funeral goes to the graves of her children. Who goes there? The children in the mother’s soul, with the mother, go to their graves. In a mother’s soul, the mother lives only in one little corner; all the rest is a palace for the souls of the children taken from her.

So it is with Christ, though to an immeasurably greater extent. He submitted to the confines of the grave so that men, His children, should know the spaciousness of the limitless palace of Paradise.

A mother goes to the graves of her children, as though to raise them to life in her soul, to redeem them by her tears, to have compassion on them by her thoughts. A mother’s love saves her children from disappearance and annihilation in this world, at least for a time.

The Lord, humiliated and spat upon, succeeded, through bowing to His Cross and Tomb, in truly raising the whole human race by His love, and saving it forever from vanishing away and being annihilated. Christ’s act is incomparably greater than the act of any lonely mother in the world, His love for the human race being immeasurably greater than the love of any mother in the world for her children.

Theotokos Softener Evil HeartsAlthough a mother, out of her great love and sorrow, always has tears to shed, she takes her remaining tears with her when she herself goes down into the grave. The Lord Jesus, though, shed all His tears for His children, to the last drop – and all His blood to the last drop. Never, O sinner, will more precious tears be shed for you, neither living nor dead. Never will a mother, or wife, or children, or homeland, pay more for you than Christ the Saviour paid.

O poor and lonely man – do not say: who will mourn for me when I die? Who will weep over my dead body? Lo, the Lord Christ has mourned for you and wept over you, both in life and in death, more whole-heartedly than your mother would for you.

It is not fitting to call those dead for whom Christ, in His love, suffered and died. They are alive in the living Lord. We shall all know this clearly when the Lord visits the graveyard of this world for the last time, and the trumpets sound.

A mother’s love cannot separate her dead children from those living. Still less can Christ’s love. The Lord is more discerning than the sun: He sees the approaching end of those still alive on earth, and sees the beginning of life for those who have entered into rest. For Him who created the earth from nothing, and man’s body from the earth, there is no difference between the earth’s, or his body’s, being a man’s grave. Grain lying in the field or stored in a granary – what difference does this make to the householder, who is thinking in both cases of the grain, and not of the straw or the granary? Whether men are in the body or in the earth – what difference does this make to the Householder of men’s souls?

Coming on earth, the Lord paid two visits to men: the first to those living in the grave of the body and the second to those in the grave of the earth. He died in order to visit His dead children. Ah, how very truly a mother dies when she goes to the graves of her children!

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year, Volume 1, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women”

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: . . . what selfishness can there be in a man’s caring for the dead . . .

Icon of St. Nikodemus of Mt. AthosMan is sublime when he cares for the living; man is more than sublime when he cares for the dead.

A man often cares for the living out of selfishness. But what selfishness can there be in a man’s caring for the dead? Can the dead pay him, or express their gratitude?

Some animals bury their dead; giving them to the grave, they give them over to forgetfulness. But when a living man buries a dead one, he buries a part of himself with the dead man and returns home carrying a part of the dead man in his soul. This is especially clear – terribly clear – when a kinsman buries a kinsman, and a friend a friend.

O gravediggers, in how many graves have you already been buried, and how many corpses live in you!

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year, Volume 1, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women”

St. Thomas Sunday Nocturns: Pilot my wretched soul . . .

Last Judgement 3“Pilot my wretched soul, O pure one, and have compassion upon it, for because of a multitude of offenses it is slipping into the pit of perdition, O all-immaculate one; and at the fearful hour of death do thou snatch me away from every torment and from the demons which will accuse me.”

From St. Thomas Sunday, Nocturns, Canon of the Trinity, Ode 6 Theotokion, HTM Pentecostarion, p. 71

Four Stichera at the Praises, Matins, Meatfare Sunday: I think upon that day and hour when we shall all stand naked . . .

Last Judgement 3I think upon that day and hour when we shall all stand naked, like men condemned, before the Judge who accepts no man’s person. Then shall the trumpet sound aloud and the foundations of the earth shall quake, the dead shall rise from the tombs and all shall be gathered together from every generation. Then each man’s secrets will be manifest before thee: and those that have never repented shall weep and lament, departing to the outer fire; but with gladness and rejoicing the company of the righteous shall enter into the heavenly bridal chamber.

How shall it be in that hour and fearful day, when the Judge shall sit on his dread throne! The books shall be opened and men’s actions shall be examined, and the secrets of darkness shall be made public. Angels shall hasten to and fro, gathering all the nations. Come ye and hearken, kings and princes, slaves and free, sinners and righteous, rich and poor: for the Judge comes to pass sentence on the whole inhabited earth. And who shall bear to stand before his face in the presence of the angels, as they call us to account for our actions and our thoughts, whether by night or by day? How shall it be then in that hour! But before the end is here, make haste, my soul, and cry: O God who only art compassionate, turn me back and save me.

Daniel the prophet, a man greatly beloved, when he saw the power of God, cried out: “The court sat for judgment, and the books were opened.” Consider well, my soul: dost thou fast? Then despise not thy neighbor. Dost thou abstain from food? Condemn not thy brother, lest thou be sent away into the fire, there to burn as wax. But may Christ lead thee without stumbling into his kingdom.

Let us cleanse ourselves, brethren, with the queen of the virtues: for behold, she is come, bringing us a wealth of blessings. She quells the uprising of the passions, and reconciled sinners to the Master. Therefore let us welcome her with gladness, and cry aloud to Christ our God: O risen from the dead, who alone art free from sin, guard us uncondemned as we give thee glory.

— Four Stichera at the Praises, Matins, Meatfare Sunday, Lenten Triodion, pp. 164-165

St. Peter of Damaskos: Patient endurance kills the despair . . .

Icon of St. Peter of Damascus“Patient endurance kills the despair that kills the soul; it teaches the soul to take comfort and not to grow listless in the face of its many battles and afflictions”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Book II: Twenty-Four Discourses,” V Patient Endurance, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

St. John of Kronstadt: Do not despise any man . . .

Give to PoorDo not despise any man, however poor he may be; but behave with full respect and kindness to every well-intentioned man, especially to the poor, as to our members worthy of compassion — or, rather, to members of Christ — otherwise you will cruelly wound your soul.

O, how easy it would appear to be to live in simplicity and love, and yet how difficult it is for our corrupt hearts to live in love!

At every step there is a pretext for enmity against our brother.

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

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Canon of Supplication at the Parting of the Soul: Count me worthy to pass, unhindered, by the persecutor . . .

Icon of Jesus“Count me worthy to pass, unhindered, by the persecutor, the prince of the air, the tyrant, him that stands guard in the dread pathways, and the false accusation of these, as I depart from earth.”

+ Ode 4 of the Canon of Supplication at the Parting of the Soul in The Great Book of Needs p. 77

St. John of Kronstadt: Avoid by every means occasions, causes, and words that produce enmity . . .

Icon of St. John of KronstadtAvoid by every means occasions, causes, and words that produce enmity, and avail yourself of every opportunity and occasion to show holy and sincere love.

By doing the first, the inimical disposition of the soul will little by little be eradicated, and by the second, love will be nourished and strengthened.

Do not allow yourself for a moment to have any ill-feeling against anyone; always be kind to everyone, conquering your evil disposition by the love that endureth all things and conquereth all things.

Avoid obstinacy, self-will, and opposing your neighbor; do not persist in having your own way, in order to satisfy your caprice, or in order to intentionally injure anyone.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. Macarius the Great: When the soul of a man departs from the body . . .

Icon of St. Macarius the Great“When the soul of a man departs from the body, a certain great mystery is there enacted. If a person is under the guilt of sin, bands of demons and fallen angels approach along with the powers of darkness which capture the soul and drag it as a captive to their place. No one should be surprised by this fact. For if, while a man lived in this life, he was subject to them and was their obedient slave, how much more, when he leaves this world, is he captured and controlled by them?”

+ St. Macarius the Great, The Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Homily 22

St. Theognostos: When the soul leaves the body, the enemy advances to attack it . . .

Icon of the Last Judgment“When the soul leaves the body, the enemy advances to attack it, fiercely reviling it and accusing it of its sins in a harsh and terrifying manner. The devout soul, however, even though in the past it has often been wounded by sin, is not frightened by the enemy’s attacks and threats. Strengthened by the Lord, winged by joy, filled with courage by the holy angels that guide it, and encircled and protected by the light of faith, it answers the enemy with great boldness: ‘Fugitive from heaven, wicked slave, what have I to do with you? You have no authority over me; Christ the Son of God has authority over me and over all things. Against Him have I sinned, before Him shall I stand on trial, having His Precious Cross as a sure pledge of His saving love towards me. Flee from me, destroyer! You have nothing to do with the servants of Christ.’ When the soul says all this fearlessly, the devil turns his back, howling aloud and unable to withstand the name of Christ. Then the soul swoops down on the devil from above, attacking him like a hawk attacking a crow. After this it is brought rejoicing by the holy angels to the place appointed for it in accordance with its inward state.”

+ St. Theognostos, On the Practice of the Virtues, Philokalia Volume 2

Friday Vespers: When my soul is about to be forcibly parted . . .

Last Judgement 3“When my soul is about to be forcibly parted from my body’s limbs, then stand by my side and scatter the counsels of my bodiless foes and smash the teeth of those who implacably seek to swallow me down, so that I may pass unhindered through the rulers of darkness who wait in the air, O Bride of God.”

+ Octoechos, Tone Two, Friday Vespers

St. Ambrose of Optina: Our invisible enemy plants a sinful thought . . .

Icon of St. Ambrose of Optina“Our invisible enemy plants a sinful thought in the soul of a person, and then records it as if it were the person’s own thought, so that later he can accuse the person at the terrible judgement of God.”

+ St. Ambrose of Optina, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. John Cassian: No matter what provokes it, anger . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“No matter what provokes it, anger blinds the soul’s eyes, preventing it from seeing the Sun of Righteousness.”

+ St. John Cassian,  The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1), “On the Eight Vices: On Anger”

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. 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

Canon to our Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ: Cleanse me of all sin before the end; for frightful and terrible . . .

Icon of Jesus“Cleanse me of all sin before the end; for frightful and terrible is the place that I must pass through when I have separated from this body, and a multitude of dark and inhuman demons awaiteth me, and there is no one to come to my help or to deliver me.”

+ Canon to our Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ, Final Prayer

 

St. Ambrose of Milan: By the death of martyrs religion has been defended, faith increased, the Church strengthened; the dead have conquered, the persecutors have been overcome. . . .

Icon of All Saints“By the death of martyrs religion has been defended, faith increased, the Church strengthened; the dead have conquered, the persecutors have been overcome. And so we celebrate the death of those of whose lives we are ignorant. So, too, David rejoiced in prophecy at the departure of his own soul, saying: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.’ He esteemed death better than life. The death itself of the martyrs is the prize of their life. And again, by the death of those at variance hatred is put an end to.”

+ St. Ambrose of Milan, On Belief in the Resurrection

Elder Sampson: One must always remember the difference between the emotional, the spiritual, and the physical . . .

Photo of Elder Sampson “One must always remember the difference between the emotional, the spiritual, and the physical: the life of the spirit, the life of the soul (that is, the senses and emotions,  and the life of the body. This is exactly where there is so much confusion. By the way, the Western [Christan] denominations . . . all have precisely this confusion between the spirit and the soul. The mother can transmit to the child many wonderful qualities of character, of the soul, right? But not the qualities of the spirit: faith and love towards people which are given by the Holy Spirit.

“Therefore [because Orthodoxy discerns the difference between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and mere emotions] satan has risen up against us … against Orthodox people. We are always openly infringing upon his sphere of spiritual influence, his evil powers, evil influence.”

+ Elder Sampson, Orthodox Word #177, “Discussions & Teachings of Elder Sampson”

St. John Cassian: A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are satisfied. . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are satisfied.

When the Apostle said, ‘Make no provision to fulfill the desires of the flesh’ (Rom. 13:14), he was not forbidding us to provide for the needs of life; he was warning us against self-indulgence. Moreover, by itself abstinence from food does not contribute to perfect purity of soul unless the other virtues are active as well. Humility, for example, practiced through obedience in our work and through bodily hardship, is a great help.

If we avoid avarice not only by having no money, but also by not wanting to have any, this leads us towards purity of soul. Freedom from anger, from dejection, self-esteem and pride also contributes to purity of soul in general, while self-control and fasting are especially important for bringing about that specific purity of soul which comes through restraint and moderation.

No one whose stomach is full can fight mentally against the demon of unchastity. Our initial struggle therefore must be to gain control of our stomach and to bring our body into subjection not only through fasting but also through vigils, labors and spiritual, reading, and through concentrating our heart on fear of Gehenna and on longing for the kingdom of heaven. ”

+ St. John Cassian
On the Eight Vices : On the Demon of Unchastity and the Desire of the Flesh

St. John Chrystostom: [F]rom the parable, it is quite certain that souls when they leave the body do not still linger here, but are forthwith led away. . .

Last Judgement 3[F]rom the parable, it is quite certain that souls when they leave the body do not still linger here, but are forthwith led away. And hear how it is shown: ‘It came to pass,’ it is said, ‘that he died, and was carried away by the angels.’ Not the souls of the just only, but also those of sinners are led away. This also is clear from the case of another rich man. For when his land brought forth abundantly, he said within himself, ‘What shall I do? I will pull down my barns and build greater,'(Luke xii. 18.) Than this state of mind nothing could be more wretched. He did in truth pull down his barns; for secure storehouses are not built with walls of stone; they are ‘the mouths of the poor.’ But this man neglecting these, was busy about stone walls. What, however, did God say to him? ‘Thou fool, this night shall they require thy soul of thee.’ Mark also: in one passage it is said that the soul is carried away by angels; in the other, that ‘they require it;’ and in the latter case they lead it away as a prisoner; in the former, they guard and conduct it as a crowned victor. And like as in the arena a combatant, having received many wounds, is drenched with blood; his head being then encircled with a crown, those who stand ready by the spot take him up, and with great applause and praise they bear him home amid shouting and admiration. In this way the angels on that occasion led Lazarus also away. But in the other instance dreadful powers, probably sent for that purpose, required the soul. For it is not of its own accord that the soul departs this life; indeed, it is not able. For if when we travel from one city to another we need guides, much more does the soul stand in want of those who can conduct it, when it is separated from the flesh, and is entering upon the future state of existence.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Four Discourses, Chiefly on the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Discourse 2.1-2

St. Silouan the Athonite: . . . the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“Filled with love, the holy Apostles went into the world, preaching salvation to mankind and fearing nothing, for the Spirit of God was their strength. When St. Andrew was threatened with death upon the cross if he did not stay his preaching he answered: ‘If I feared the cross I should not be preaching the Cross.” In this manner all the other Apostles, and after them the martyrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering. For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.”

+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Wisdom from Mount Athos: The Writings of Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938

St. Macarius the Great: . . . Unless the man who is under the influence of the passions will come to God, denying the world, and will believe with patience and hope to receive a good thing . . .

Icon of St. Macarius the Great“Whatever the soul may think fit to do itself, whatever care and pains it may take, relying only upon its own power, and thinking to be able to effect a perfect success by itself, without the co-operation of the Spirit, it is greatly mistaken. It is of no use for the heavenly places; it is of no use for the kingdom – that soul, which supposes that it can achieve perfect purity of itself, and by itself alone, without the Spirit. Unless the man who is under the influence of the passions will come to God, denying the world, and will believe with patience and hope to receive a good thing foreign to his own nature, namely the power of the Holy Spirit, and unless the Lord shall drop upon the soul from on high the life of the Godhead, such a man will never experience true life, will never recover from the drunkenness of materialism; the enlightenment of the Spirit will never shine in that benighted soul, or kindle in it a holy daytime; it will never awake out of that deepest sleep of ignorance, and so come to know God of a truth through God’s power and the efficacy of grace.”

+ St. Macarius the Great, Spiritual Homilies, Homily 24

St. John of Kronstadt: . . . Recognize that the Holy Spirit stands in the same relation to your soul as air stands in relation to your body.

“Everything that breathes, breathes by air and cannot live without air; similarly all reasonable free creatures live by the Holy Spirit, as though by air, and cannot live without Him. “Every soul is quickened by the Holy Spirit.” Recognize that the Holy Spirit stands in the same relation to your soul as air stands in relation to your body.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

St. John of Kronstadt: The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who fills the whole universe, passes through all believing, meek, humble, good, and simple human souls, dwelling in them, vivifying and strengthening them. . . .

Icon of St. John of Kronstadt“The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who fills the whole universe, passes through all believing, meek, humble, good, and simple human souls, dwelling in them, vivifying and strengthening them. He becomes one spirit with them and everything to them – light, strength, peace, joy, success in their undertakings, especially in a pious life, and everything good – “going through all understanding, pure and most subtle spirits” (Wisdom of Solomon vii, 23). “We have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. xii.13). All pious people are filled with the Spirit of God similarly as a sponge is filled with water.”

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

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St. Paisius Velichkovsky: . . . One must clean the royal house from every impurity and adorn it with every beauty . . .

Icon of St. Paisius Velichkovsky“. . .One must clean the royal house from every impurity and adorn it with every beauty, then the king may enter into it. In a similar way one must first cleanse the earth of the heart and uproot the weeds of sin and the passionate deeds and soften it with sorrows and the narrow way of life, sow in it the seed of virtue, water it with lamentation and tears, and only then does the fruit of dispassion and eternal life grow. For the Holy Spirit does not dwell in a man until he has been cleansed from passions of the soul and body.”

+ St. Paisius Velichkovsky, “Field Flowers”

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: . . . A fiery sword barred of old the gates of Paradise: a fiery tongue which brought salvation restored the gift.

Icon of Pentecost“‘And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:3-4). They partook of fire, not of burning but of saving fire; of fire which consumes the thorns of sins, but gives luster to the soul. This is now coming upon you also, and that to strip away and consume your sins which are like thorns, and to brighten yet more that precious possession of your souls, and to give you grace; for He gave it then to the Apostles. And He sat upon them in the form of fiery tongues, that they might crown themselves with new and spiritual diadems by fiery tongues upon their heads. A fiery sword barred of old the gates of Paradise; a fiery tongue which brought salvation restored the gift.”

+ St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 17 no. 15)

St. Euthymius the Great: . . . I have recounted this to make us at all times ready for combat and prepared for the departure of the soul from the body . . .

Icon of St. Euthymius the GreatListen to an edifying and true story that some Egyptian elders I met told me about a man thought holy by all but who in secret stirrings of his heart angered God because, I think, of assent to impure thoughts. Their story went as follows. A man with second sight, on entering this man’s city, found him gravely ill and all the citizens affirming with tears, “If the saint dies, we have no further hope of salvation; for we are all protected through his intercession.” On hearing this, the man with second sight hurried off to get a blessing from the supposed saint. When he drew near, he saw many candles all ready and great crowds of clerics and laymen, including the bishop himself, waiting to conduct the funeral. Going in to him, he found him still breathing, and saw with the eye of his mind the devil of hell with a fiery fork inserting the fork into his heart and with many tortures pulling at his soul; and he heard a voice from heaven saying, “Just as his soul did not give me rest for a single day, so you too are not to stop pulling at his soul and torturing it.” I have recounted this to make us at all times ready for combat and prepared for the departure of the soul from the body, lest, seduced by love of pleasure, we be unbearably tormented at the time of departure…let us entreat God, Who has applied corrective not capital punishment, to free His creature from the plot of the impure and pleasure loving spirit.

+ St. Euthymius the Great, Cyril of Scythopolis: The Lives of the Monks of Palestine. Life of Euthymius pp. 33-34)