What is the Science of Salvation?

A collection of quotes and sayings about Truth from the great traditions of the world.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who You Really Are

"If you wish to know who you are, do not look at what you have been, but at what you were originally created.





Abba Evagrius the Monk
'The Philokalia'"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Soul and the Holy Spirit

"A lamp, even if it is filled with oil and has a wick, remains completely dark if it is not lit. So the soul, with regard to its adornment with all the virtues; if it has not the light and grace of the Holy Spirit, it is quenched and dark.





St. Simeon the New Theologian
(Homily 59)"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Your Personal Cross

"According to the Gospel, it should be said that undoubtedly each person is given his own saving cross. This cross has grown on the soil of our heart, and it is only through this cross that we can be saved. From this it follows that if we refuse to carry our cross of obedience for no legitimate reason, we refuse to go by the way of Christ, by the saving way, and we want to invent for ourselves another way, free of labor, for attaining the Kingdom of Heaven. But this cannot be. The Kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Cf. Matt. 11:12).




St. Anatoly of Optina
'A Collection of Letters to Nuns'"

Non-Possessiveness

"A man who has dedicated himself once and for all to God goes through life with a restful mind. Without non-possessiveness the soul cannot be freed from the turmoil of thoughts; and without stillness of the senses she will not perceive peace of mind. Without entering into temptations, no man will ever gain the wisdom of the Spirit; and without assiduous reading, he will know no refinement of thoughts. Without tranquillity of thoughts the intellect will not be moved in hidden mysteries; and without the confidence that comes through faith, the soul cannot dare to withstand temptations with boldness. Moreover, without actual experience of God's protection, the heart cannot hope in Him; and if the soul does not taste Christ sufferings consciously, she will never have communion with Him.





St. Isaac the Syrian
'Ascetical Homilies' (Homily Five)"

Greatest Commandment?

When he asked, "Which is the greatest of the commandments?" the Master said, "Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your strength." (Matt 22:36-38) He said that no commandment is greater than this, and He said so with good reason. For this is a command about our behaviour toward the first and the greatest - God himself. He is our Father. He is the one who has brought all things into being, and everything exists through Him. Therefore, it is irreverent for us to regard anything else as being older or more excellent than Him.


We are required to deliver only this small tribute of gratitude [our love] for the great benefits God gives us. In fact, I cannot imagine any other way to repay God, who needs nothing and is perfect. Yet we gain immortality by the very fact of our loving the Father to the fullest extent of our might and power. Because the more we love God, the more we enter within God.


St. Clement of Alexandria

"The One who Knows God"

Humility and Stife

God's grace always assists a struggler, but this does not mean that a struggler is always in the position of a victor; sometimes the beasts did not touch the righteous ones, but by no means did they not touch them always. What is important is not victory or the position of a victor, but rather the labor of striving towards God and devotion to Him. Great is the Apostle Paul, but he asks the Lord many times ('thrice" means not once, but many times) that the messenger of Satan depart from him, for he "buffets" him, making some sort of attacks that are difficult and averse to his spirit. But the Lord leaves him in such a position: "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Cor. 12:7-9) - enough assistance of grace and gifts are provided for him. The Lord wants from the apostle the striving which cleanses his soul.


What is important is the state of the soul, the striving towards God, and not the stature of a victor. "Strength is made perfect in weakness"(2 Cor. 12:9). Though a man may be found in a weak state, that does not at all mean that he has been abandoned by God. The Lord Jesus Christ, according to the worldly view, was in trouble, but when the sinful world considered Him to be completely destroyed, in actuality He was victorious over death and hades. The Lord did not promise us positions as victors as a reward for righteousness, but told us, "In the world we shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33). The power of God is effective when a person asks for the help of God, acknowledging the weakness and sinfulness of his nature. This is why humility and the striving towards God are the fundamental virtues of a Christian.



St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco

"Humility and Struggle: The Fundemental Virtues"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gifts of God

"Everything that is good in us is the free gift of God; nothing is our own. And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. And how can we take pride in a goodness that is not ours, and make ourselves equal to those whom God has placed higher than us?





St. John of Kronstadt
'My Life in Christ'"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Christ - Body and Soul

Having a soul and body like ours, which He assumed from us for our sake, by means of this body He underwent the passion, death and burial for us, and showed forth the resurrection from the tomb that this same body might become immortal. He taught us to accomplish the bloodless sacrifice in remembrance of these events, that through it we might reap salvation. With His soul He went down to Hades and returned, making us all partakers in eternal light and life, and in token of this He handed on to us the practice of holy baptism, that through it we might harvest salvation; and indeed that through each of these two mysteries and through both elements, soul and body, we might be initiated into and receive seeds of incorruptible life. For our whole salvation depends on these two sacraments, as the entire dispensation whereby God became man is summed up in them.



St. Gregory Palamas

"Homily Sixty: On the Feast of Theophany"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tranquility

"If you wish to be at peace, do not part with anyone on bad terms. Try by every means to forgive all from your heart and even to appease them as far as possible, so that you part from one another in a peaceful spirit. Then you yourself will enjoy tranquility of soul.




Elder Moses of Optina"

Faith

"Faith is the door to mysteries. What the bodily eyes are to sensory objects, the same is faith to the eyes of the intellect that gaze at hidden treasures.





St. Isaac the Syrian
'Ascetical Homilies' (Homily Forty-Six)"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Unity

Have you noticed, brothers and sisters, how the Holy Church continually connects our life with events from the life of Christ? During the days of Christmas, while worshipping at the manger of Christ, we received the "spirit of adoption". On the day of the Lord’s Circumcision, we gave our heart to Christ and began our spiritual New Year. And here, for these past days, the Holy Church has been calling us to the shores of the Jordan, and today, on the day of the Baptism of the Lord, she reveals to us a great mystery — the Manifestation of God. Placed before us is the purpose of our whole life, and this is Communion with God. And we are given Grace, divine help for this kind of life. This help, this Grace comes to us from the One God worshipped in Trinity, Who is revealed to us in today’s Gospel reading. And as material proof, as a symbol of this Grace, we are given this Baptismal water, the blessing of which we will now perform. It is tangible. So often, through something tangible the Holy Church unites us with the intangible, with the Grace of God.



Archbishop Andrew of Novo Diveyevo

"The One Thing Needful"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Will and the Holy Spirit

"Today the Holy Spirit, descending up on the waters when the Cross of Christ is immersed into them, descends up on all of nature. Only in man He cannot enter without his will. Let us open our hearts and souls to receive Him and with faith cry from the depths of our souls: “Great art Thou, O Lord, and marvelous are Thy works, and there is no word which sufficeth to hymn Thy wonders.”





St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
'Sermon on Theophany'"

Hope in Christ

Fragile is earthly happiness, and it's good for a man who does not chase after it, but places all hope in Christ the Saviour - he shall not be put to shame... Rely upon God's will in everything. He who thirsts for salvation and cries out to the Lord, "Save me, O Lord, as Thou Thyself knowest," will be saved by the Lord.




Elder Barsanupius of Optina

"Talks with Spiritual Children"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Divine Will in Prayer

"...You must approach prayer with an attitude such that you desire only the Divine Will, and not your own, alike in asking and in receiving what you have asked for. In other words, you should be moved to prayer because God wishes it, and you should wish to be heard, again as He desires it. In a word, let it be in your mind and heart completely to unite your will to the will of God, to obey it in everything, and in no way to desire to incline God's will towards your own.



Lorenzo Scupoli
'Unseen Warfare'
(Edited by Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain)"

Bear in Silence

"We must always bear something for God's sake with gratitude. . . . Bear in silence when the enemy disparages, and open thy heart to the Lord.





St. Seraphim of Sarov
'A Treasury of Russian Spirituality'"

The Truth

...Before Christ men could only conjecture about the Truth since they did not possess it. With Christ as the Incarnate Divine Logos, the eternally complete Truth enters into the world. For this reason the Gospel says: "Truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1: 17).



Fr. Justin Popovich

"Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ"

The Holy Church

"According to God's intent, the holy Church is the first and most lawful educator of Christian souls. There is no more important work than that of Christian education. Judge and understand for yourselves how dear are these rational, immortal souls unto God, which were redeemed by the Blood of the Son of God Himself, which were called out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of the knowledge of God by the Lord Himself, which were betrothed and united to the Lord as pure virgins to a most pure Bridegroom!
(cf. 2 Cor. 11:2).





St. John of Kronstadt
'The Church - The Treasury of Salvation'"

Invocation

"For as the more the rain pours down upon the earth, the more it softens the earth; so too the holy Name of Christ, when it is invoked by us without thoughts, the more constantly we call upon it, the more it softens the earth of our heart, and fills it with joy and delight.




Hesychius of Jerusalem
'Texts on Sobriety and Prayer'
(The Philokalia)"

The Visit

When you go to visit any of your relations or friends, do not go to their house in order to eat and drink well, but go there in order to take part in friendly and sincere conversation with them, to refresh your soul from worldly vanities by friendly and loving intercourse, to be mutually comforted by your common faith. For "I seek not yours, but you," (2 Cor.12:14) says the Apostle.




St. John of Kronstadt

"My Life in Christ"

Contemplation

"A man standing on the seashore sees the immense expanse of water, but his eyes can embrace only a small part and cannot reach its limit. In the same way a man who, through contemplation, is given to see the limitless ocean of Divine glory and to see God himself with the eyes of his mind, sees God and the infinite vastness of His glory, though not the whole as it really is, but only as much as is possible for him.




St. Symeon the New Theologian
'Practical and Theological Precepts'
(The Philokalia)"

The Measure of a Christian

...For a Christian there exists no yardstick of any kind, beyond which he has no need to grow spiritually. His yardstick is infinite perfection, together with infinitely increasing blessedness, because we affirm that virtue and blessedness are one. "The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," (Eph. 4:13) - that is the measure of a Christian.



New-Martyr Archbishop Hilarion Troitsky

"The Unity of Christ's Ideal"

Christ and Humanity

"Pure is the present night, in which the Pure One appeared, Who came to purify us! Let our hearing be pure, and the sight of our eyes chaste, and the feeling of the heart holy, and the speech of the mouth sincere!
The present night is the night of reconciliation; therefore, let no one be wroth against his brother and offend him!
This night gave peace to the whole world, and so, let no one threaten. This is the night of the Most Meek One; let no one be cruel!
This is the night of the Humble One; let no one be proud!
Now is the day of joy; let us not take revenge for offences! Now is the day of good will; let us not be harsh. On this day of tranquility, let us not become agitated by anger!
Today God came unto sinners; let not the righteous exalt himself over sinners!
Today the Most Rich One became poor for our sake; let the rich man invite the poor to his table!
Today we received a gift which we did not ask for; let us bestow alms to those who cry out to us and beg!
The present day has opened the door of heaven to our prayers; let us also open our door to those who ask of us forgiveness!
Today the Godhead placed upon Himself the seal of humanity, and humanity has been adorned with the seal of the Godhead!

St. Ephraim the Syrian"

The Glory of the Son

"I behold a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherds' song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.



St. John Chrysostom"

To Attain Grace

"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
'The Word Became Flesh'"

Death and the Christian Life

"We may drink from the Lord’s cup until our passing, though this will not slow its coming, and if we think it may, then all the more reason for us to ponder our passing and prepare for it with prayer and to struggle with our passions.

If we were all to pay heed to such virtuous wisdom, bequeathed to us from the Holy Fathers of the Church and Holy Scripture before that, then our lives would be much easier and we would always remember the words of the Paschal teaching, “No one shall fear death, as the Savior’s death freed us all.” Furthermore, if we approached the inevitable trial awaiting us all with prayer, then it would be appropriate for us to recall also the words of St. John Chrysostom which are read every Holy Pascha, “Let no one weep for his iniquities, for forgiveness shines forth from the grave.”

Alas, few take these admonitions to heart and instead spend their life in frivolity, idle pursuits and sinful diversions without knowing true happiness and only consoling themselves temporarily with a dissolute un-Christian life.



Metroplitan Anthony Khrapovitsky
1935 Nativity Epistle"

Ashes

It's a remarkable phenomenon: the bodies of righteous ones and ascetics are incorrupt. Of the bodies of the kings and rulers of this world there remains a handful of ashes and nothing more. Not long ago it was written that during excavations of the catacombs there were found the tombs of Diocletian, Nero, and other rulers, before whom the whole world once trembled. And what was the fate of their dust? When they asked a menial worker what was in the urns, he replied indifferently, "Ashes."


"And where are the ashes?"

"I gave them to my wife to wash laundry with - they were good ashes."

My God! Could these kings and rulers ever have supposed that their dust would wind up in a tank for washing dirty laundry? How much care these people took for their bodies, and look what their fate was. But the saints and all our Optina Elders mortified their bodies and they remained incorrupt.


Elder Barsanuphius of Optina

"Talks with Spiritual Children"

Sin

"...A man who falls into sin is different from the way he was created. He is different, because he changes by his own actions the way he was meant to be. Man renounces himself when he becomes a different person through repentance. He leaves a corrupted man, which he had become through sin, and becomes such as he once was created, through mercy.





St. John Maximovitch of Chernigov
'The Royal Way of the Cross of our Lord
Leading to Eternal Life'"

Noetic Prayer

"An elder said,
The true knowledge of noetic prayer for a person begins first with a true understanding of his ailing self and his weaknesses. God does not let anyone down. The one who possesses noetic prayer asks to be cured, wants to understand, and is seeking guidance. He who is clean in heart wants a spiritual guide, has the fear of God in him, and humbles himself. This fear protects him from misapprehensions. Catechism also starts when there is that fear. One is helped by forcing himself, and his good works increase. That person finally reaches theoria, and understands the meaning of the final judgement and hell and the heavenly kingdom.

When one walks in truth he does not fall into traps. He understands everything. The one who is misled walks in the air.




An Athonite Gerontikon"

Rely on God

We are made helpless in the struggle with adversities because we are not strengthened by the power of Christ, and rely not on God, but on human power and means.




St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco

"Nothing is Fearful to Him Who Relies on God"

(To his Orthodox flock in Shanghai, 1937)

Frequent Prayers

"Fire makes iron impossible to touch, and likewise frequent prayer renders the intellect more forceful in its warfare against the enemy. That is why the demons strive with all their strength to make us slothful in attentiveness in prayer, for they know that prayer is the intellect's invincible weapon against them.






St. John of Karpathos
'The Philokalia'"

God's Grace

"No one, however fervent, however desirous, can have a will so disciplined, a course so ordered, that in spite of the flesh warring against the spirit he can still attain to so great a prize of perfection and to such a reward of sinless purity, unless he be protected by the divine mercy to enable him to have the merit to arrive at last at that which he so greatly desires and runs to reach.




St. John Cassian
'On the Need for God's Grace'
(Selected Writings)"

The Right and Just Way

"For both to prophesy and to drive out demons, and to perform great miracles on earth is certainly a sublime and admirable thing, yet whoever is found in all this does not attain the kingdom of heaven unless he walk in observance of the right and just way.






St. Cyprian of Carthage
'The Unity of the Church'"

The Heart

"When a valve of the heart closes to the receptivity of worldly enjoyments, another valve opens for the reception of spiritual joys.





Elder Barsanuphius of Optina
'Talks with Spiritual Children'"

Worldly Things

"When the heart is occupied with worldly things, especially superfluous ones, it forsakes the Lord - the Source of life and peace - and is therefore deprived of life and tranquility, of light and strength; but when it repents of its care for vain things, and wholly turns from corruptible things to the incorruptible God, then the fountain of living water again begins to flow in it, and peace, tranquility, light, strength, and boldness before God and man once more dwell within it. We must live wisely.






St. John of Kronstadt
'My Life in Christ'"

Christ the Saviour

"No, Christ is not only a great teacher; He is the Saviour of the world, Who gave mankind new strength, Who renewed mankind. It is not a teaching only that we have received from our Christ the Saviour, but life.





Holy New-Martyr Archbishop Ilarion
'Christianity or The Church?'"

The Shield of Faith

"A true Christian is made by faith and love toward Christ. Our sins do not in the least hinder our Christianity, according to the word of the Saviour Himself. He deigned to say: not the righteous have I come to call, but sinners to salvation; there is more joy in heaven over one who repents then over ninety righteous ones. Likewise concerning the sinful woman who touched His feet, He deigned to say to the the Pharisee Simon: to one who has love, a great debt is forgiven, but from one who has no love, even a small debt will be demanded. From these judgements a Christian should bring himself to hope and joy, and not in the least accept an inflicted despair. Here one needs the shield of faith.




St. Herman of Alaska"

Sin

"'Adam...where art thou?' (Gen. 3:9). This is the voice of God which resounded in Adam’s conscience after the Fall and tormented him. As long as Adam was in obedience to God — cultivated and kept Paradise, receiving strength for this by eating the fruits of the Tree of Life — he was in ceaseless communion with God. In his heart there was continuous quiet and joy. But after tasting of the forbidden fruits of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the thread of communion with God was broken in Adam’s heart. Sin stood as a wall between God and man.


Archbishop Andrew of Novo Diveyevo
'The One Thing Needful'"

Praying and Patience

"The Lord wants patience. He wants you to show your faith. You cannot just pray like a parrot. It is necessary also to work towards whatever one prays for, and then to learn to wait...





Elder Joseph the Hesychast
'Monastic Wisdom' (Fortieth Letter)"

Fasting

"Sensual pleasure causes ungodliness as well as sin, but fasting and self-control result in the fear of God as well as virtue.





St. Gregory Palamas
Homily Six: 'To Encourage Fasting'"

Christ is All Things

"Christ Himself is our mouth through which we speak to the Father, our eye through which we see the Father, our right hand through which we offer to the Father. Without His intercession neither we nor all the saints have anything with God.


St. Ambrose of Milan"

Christianity

"Christianity must remain eternally unchanging, in no way being dependent or guided by the spirit of each age.






St. Theophan the Recluse
'Why Christianity Should Not Change with the Times'"

To Keep the Devil Out

"The devil is unable to enter wherever there is the blessing of obedience and the bond of love.





Elder Joseph the Hesychast
'Monastic Wisdom' (Fifteenth Letter)"

A Gentle Soul

"A gentle soul retains the words of wisdom...




St. John Climacus
'The Ladder of Divine Ascent' (Step 24)"

Goodness

"The man of Christ embarks upon the path of divine perfection by overcoming, with the aid of evangelical virtues, the sin and evil within him and in the world around him. He constantly marches on from one good to another, from smaller to greater, from greater to greatest. In this progress he never pauses, for any delay would bring spiritual stagnation, numbness, death. Through every pure thought, every holy sentiment, every good desire and kindly word, he progresses toward resurrection, immortality, eternal life.





Archimandrite Justin Popovich
'Humanistic and Theanthropic Progress'"

Rejoicing

According to the assurance of Palladius of Helenopolis in the Lausiac History, there were 500 brethren at the monastery of Abba Apollos, and they all continually rejoiced, despite the great deprivations of desert living; and they rejoiced with a joy and gladness such as no one here on earth of a corporeal nature could manifest. In their midst there was no one bored or sorrowful, and the apostolic Abba often said, "On the way of salvation, darkness must not grieve any of those to whom it belongs to inherit the Heavenly Kingdom. Let the heathen groan, let the Jews mourn, let sinners grieve; but those who walk the way of righteousness must rejoice."


Archpriest Gregory Diachenko

"On Maintaining Spiritual Joy"

(Athos- St. Elias Leaflet, No. 112, 1901)

Patience

"Patience makes men humble in prosperity, courageous in adversity, mild in the face of injuries and contempt. It teaches us how to forgive promptly those who offend us; and should we offend teaches us to plead long and earnestly for pardon. It withstands temptation, it endures persecution, it brings sufferings as well as martyrdoms to their perfect fulfilment. It is patience which makes firm the foundations of our faith. It is patience which subtly brings about the increase in our hope. It is patience which directs the mind to an awareness of what we are doing so that as we walk forward we may keep to the way of Christ. As long as we imitate the patience of our Father, this will enable us to continue to be Children of God.





St. Cyprian of Carthage
'On the Advantages of Patience'"

Divine Determination?

What is the relationship between Divine provision and our free will? Answer: The fact that the Kingdom of God is "taken by force" presupposes a personal effort. When the Apostle Paul says, "it is not of him that willeth," this means that one's efforts do not produce what is sought. It is necessary to combine them: to strive and to expect all things from grace, It is not one's own efforts that will lead to the goal, because without grace, efforts produce little; nor does grace without effort bring what is sought, because grace acts in us and for us through our efforts. Both combine in a person to bring progress and carry him to the goal. (God's) foreknowledge is unfathomable. It is enough for us with our whole heart to believe that it never opposes God's grace and truth, and that it does not infringe man's freedom. Usually this resolves as follows: God foresees how a man will freely act and makes dispositions accordingly; Divine determination depends on the life of a man, and not his life upon the determination.




St. Theophan the Recluse
"Explanation on Romans 9:11-16, 18"

Those Who Pray

"God sees into the hearts of those who pray.





St. Basil the Great"

To Be Holy

"From the holy no man takes joy away...




St. Cyril of Alexandria
'Christian Hope: the Promised Joy'"

Unity

"The Church is unity in Christ, the closest union with Christ of all who rightly believe on Him and love Him, and their union is through Christ.
Now 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 him to his original state of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him to Himself.
This is accomplished by the action of Divine grace granted 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 be saved. Striving toward 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.
The body also partakes in that struggle; now it is a receptacle and instrument of sin, but it is foreordained to be an instrument of righteousness and a vessel of holiness.




St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
'The Church as the Body of Christ'"

Be Still...

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. (Ps. 45:11). ...during prayerful converse with God you must "be still" with regard to worldly affairs.




St. Seraphim of Sarov

"A Wonderful Revelation to the World"