What is the Science of Salvation?

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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Help Others

"No right action can be wholly great unless the profit of it is passed on to others. For should you fast, or sleep on the ground, or eat ashes, should you mourn continually, and yet help no one, you have done nothing great.






St. John Chrysostom
'On Prayer'"

Prayer Complete

"...We are not to think that we complete our prayer by murmuring a number of syllables, but rather, O Brethren, by the purpose of our soul, and in deeds of virtue extending into every action and moment of our life.




St. Basil the Great
'On Prayer'"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

For Judgment

"And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.



John 9:39 - 41"

Friday, May 27, 2011

Patience

"...We must endure, and we must persevere, Dearly Beloved, so that while possessing the hope of truth and of freedom, we may attain to the reality of truth and of freedom, and in that we are Christians lies the ground of our faith and of our hope. But that our faith and our hope may bear fruit, we have need of patience.




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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Prayer

Prayer is a great good if offered up from a thankful soul; if we are steadfast in it, so that whether we receive what we pray for we at all times give thanks to God. For since He will sometimes grant what we ask and sometimes will not, in both cases it is to our gain: for whether you receive or do not receive the answer to your prayer, you have received in not receiving, and whether you succeed or do not succeed, you succeeded by not succeeding in that which you sought. For many times it is more profitable for you not to obtain what you have prayed for. For unless what we ask is expedient for us, it will certainly not be granted to us: so that it is equally a gain to obtain our request and not to obtain it.





St. John Chrysostom

"On Prayer"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gifts of Grace

...That's it, my son. That is how you must spiritually trade in virtue. Distribute the Holy Spirit's gifts of grace to those in need of them, just as a lighted candle burning with earthly fire shines itself and lights other candles for the illuminating of all in other places, without diminishing its own light. And if it is so with regard to earthly fire, what shall we say about the fire of the grace of the All-holy spirit of God? Because earthly riches, for example, diminish when they are distributed, whereas the more God's heavenly riches of grace are distributed, the more they multiply in him who distributes them. Thus the Lord Himself was pleased to say to the Samaritan woman: Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him will never thirst: but the water that I shall give him will be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:13-14).




St. Seraphim of Sarov

"A Wonderful Revelation to the World"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Heavenly Home

"...For this present life is but a way by which we travel towards our heavenly home. And because of this we are, in the inscrutable wisdom of God, wearied by frequent disquiet, so that we may not come to love the way more than our home.





St. Gregory the Great
'Man is Delivered by Trials: Mystical Joy'"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sin

If we do not learn what we were created by God, we shall not know what we have become through sin.





St. Gregory of Sinai

"Texts on Commandments and Dogmas"

(The Philokalia)

The Christian Heart


The Christian heart, when it has received something Divine, does not demand anything else in order to convince it that this is precisely from the Lord; but by that very effect it is convinced that this is heavenly, for it senses within itself spiritual fruits: love, joy, peace, and the rest (Gal. 5:22).



St. Seraphim of Sarov

"The Spiritual Instructions to Laymen and Monks"

(Little Russian Philokalia)

Friday, May 20, 2011

True Humility

It is not possible for a man to control his anger when abused, or to overcome trials with patience when afflicted, if he is not willing to take the last and the lowest place among other men. But a man who has attained to true humility will not be troubled by offensive or ignominious words, since he is already aware of his own great unworthiness even before he is insulted. And should he be called a beggar, he already knows he is poor, and in want of everything, and that he has need each day of God's help. If he is spoken of as insignificant and of no importance he is already aware of this in his own heart: that he was made from clay. In a word, let me say that he is great in heaven who humbly submits to his neighbor, and, without any cause for shame, bears patiently accusations made against him, even though they are false, if by this he may be at peace with his brother.




St. Basil the Great

"Meditation on Humility and on Vainglory"

(The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reliance on God

Our present day disasters are terrible for us because they befall us not as a result of the strength of our faith but because we do not endure them for Christ. Hence we do not set our hopes on being crowned for them.


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. We forget of the Holy Scripture: Trust ye not in princes, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation... Blessed is he of whom the God of Jacob is his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God (Ps. 145:3,5), and: Except the Lord build the house, in vain do they labour that build (Ps. 126:1).



St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco

"Nothing is Fearful to Him Who Relies on God"

Undoubting

"Undoubting faith, undoubting hope, undoubting love. Implant these words into your heart, and show them in your life.






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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Good Works - Without the Praise

A good work is perfected when it is done out of sheer love for men, to the glory of God. All who desire to do good works, let them not do them out of vanity and the desire of praise of men. For whoever deliberately brings his good works to public view will be like a man who put his sheep among wolves. We must, then, keep careful watch over our good works, to avoid provoking either praise or jealousy from others. Anyone who deliberately courts praise and jealousy will, along with his one good work, do two evil ones: praise will harm him personally, and jealousy will harm others.




Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic

Homily: The Gospel on the Miracle at Bethesda

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Free Will

"We have no life of our own; our life has been given to us as a gift.... As individuals, however, we have been given free will to choose. If we had no free will, we would be like animals and we would not have to answer for our actions. We must live the way God intended us to, having given us the gift of free will. We use our rational minds to discern right from wrong. We have God's judgment in us - our conscience. Every judge in the world can be bribed, but the judgment of God, our conscience, cannot be bribed. It can only be renewed through repentance.





Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
'Our Thoughts Determine our Lives'"

Poverty and the Road to Heaven

"Do not lament your poverty. Christ the Master loves you. He is generous and has mercy on the first just like the last. Shed two drops of tears with pain of soul, and all the filth is washed away. Give whatever you can to charity, for Liturgies, for Supplicatory Canons, whatever you can, to open the road to the heavens, where you will receive a hundredfold and eternal life. My joy will be to learn that you have made a start before death comes, because then it is too late.
Keep in mind that I love your soul more than your loving parents and children do. So don't let me leave this life sad.





Elder Joseph the Hesychast
'Monastic Wisdom' (Seventy-fifth Letter)"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Devil

"We have one dedicated enemy - the devil. Is he not enough (for us), but we make enemies out of our brothers in the faith, too? When the devil seduces us to be hostile, he makes us even worse than himself, because a demon never opposes another demon. Yet under the pressure of satan's malice, human turns against human, Christian against Christian, and brother against brother.





Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev
'Strife'"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Communion and Salvation

"Our communion with the Saviour Christ establishes the salvation; communion with Him, as Sanctifier, is the sanctification; communion with Him, as God, is the divination; communion with Him, as Immortal, is the immortality; communion with Him, as Risen, is the Resurrection; communion with Him, as Ascended, is the Ascension and in the right place of God the Father (cf. 1 Cor. 1:9).




Fr. Justin Popovich
'Man and God-man, Studies about Orthodox Theology'"

Self-Knowledge

"True self-knowledge is to see one's own defects and weaknesses so clearly that they fill our whole view.




St. Theophan the Recluse
'The Art of Prayer'"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Consolation

"Christ is Risen! See, now you have understood how the Lord is always mighty to console us. But continual consolation would harm us: just as if the sun were to blaze continually, or the rain to pour down continually, everything would burn up or rot. But when they alternate, that is good.




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

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Myrrhbearer - Mary Magdalene

Imagine what the holy myrrhbearer Maria Magdelene suffered when she comfortlessly wept over the Tomb of Him, Who had freed her from the enemy's impure spirit, having banished seven demons from her. After this occurred, she was the constant follower of her beloved Teacher. She now comfortlessly wept over His Tomb and suddenly from Someone appearing to her, heard that same voice, "Maria", that dear and unforgettable voice because of which, once seven demons left her. If Maria's heart did not burst here from rapture and joy, it was only because the Source of Life, the Lord Himself spoke to her. The change from comfortless grief to full rapture and joy!



St. Philaret of New York

"Sermon: The Sunday of the Women Myrrhbearers" (May, 1975)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Church and its Light

"Take away a ray of light from the body of the sun, its unity does not take any division of its light; break a branch from a tree, the branch thus broken will not be able to bud; cut off a stream from its source, the stream thus cut off dries up. Thus too the Church bathed in the light of the Lord projects its rays over the whole world, yet there is one light which is diffused everywhere, and the unity of the body is not separated. She extends her branches over the whole earth in fruitful abundance; she extends her richly flowing streams far and wide; yet her head is one, and her source is one, and she is the one mother copious in the results of her fruitfulness. By her womb we are born; by her milk we are nourished; by her spirit we are animated.





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

Meek Hearts

"He who hates those who grieve him hates meekness, and he who flees from those who grieve him flees from the repose which is Christ - in the words of Abba Dorotheus. God reposes in meek hearts, but an agitated soul is the dwelling place of the devil: a meek soul is the throne of simplicity of heart, but an angry mind is the slave of malice.






Elder Hilarion of Sarov and Valaam
'A Short Spiritual Ladder'"

The Church

A Church pure and untouched by the harshness of our times is not easily found and from now on rarely seen - a Church that has preserved the apostolic doctrine unadulterated and inviolate!





St. Basil the Great

"Letter to Evaisenians"

(The Fathers Speak)

Prayer Requests

"When we make specific requests in our prayers, this is not so as to inform God, for He already knows our hearts; we make them so that we may be brought to contrition. We also do it because we desire to remain longer in His presence, attentively addressing yet more words to Him, giving thanks to Him, acknowledging the many blessings we have received from Him, for as long as we can, as St. John Chysostom says of the Prophet David. For to repeat the same or similar things again and again is not to talk garrulously or haphazardly, since, as in the case of the prophet, it is done out of longing and so that the word of Divine Scripture should be imprinted in the intellect of whoever is reading or praying. For God knows all things before they occur and does not need to be told about them. We, however, have need of hearing things, so that we may know what we ask for and why we are praying, and may be filled with gratitude and cleave to God through our entreaties. It is through such repetition that we avoid being overcome by our enemies when we are troubled in thought, for then they will not find us unmindful of Him; and it is also through it that, helped by prayer and the study of Divine Scripture, we may come to acquire the virtues about which the holy fathers have written in their various works, through the grace of the Holy Spirit.





St. Peter of Damaskos
'A Treasury of Divine Knowledge'
(The Philokalia)"

Fear Sin

"A man who fears sins will traverse a terrible passage without stumbling, and at a time of darkness he will find light before him and within himself. The Lord carefully watches the steps of the man who fears sins, and God's mercy forestalls him when he slips. A man who considers his transgressions to be slight, falls into worse sins than he formerly committed and he will pay his penalty sevenfold. Sow your alms in humility, and you will reap mercy at the judgement.





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

Pride

"Keep a strict watch against every appearance of pride; it appears imperceptibly, particularly when you are vexed or irritable with others for unimportant reasons.





St. John of Kronstadt
'My Life in Christ"

Doubting Thomas


...The firmness of faith depends on God's grace. Who can comprehend the mysterious depths of God's providence? Who can say that God, in His providence, did not wish here to make use of Thomas' unbelief for the belief of many? In any case, two things have here been clearly shown: the terrible sickness of human nature, revealed in the stubborn unbelief of one of the apostles (who had innumerable reasons to believe), and God's most abundant wisdom and love. In His purity and holiness, God does not use evil that good may come, nor make use of evil means to achieve good ends, but, in His wisdom and His love for mankind, He corrects our evil ways and turns them to good.




Bishop Nikolai Vekimirovic

Homily: "The Gospel on the Apostle Thomas' Doubt and Faith"

Victory over Death


We ask ourselves now: whom has the risen Lord freed by His victory over sin and death? People of only one nation, or one race? People of one class or social position? No; in no way. Such a freeing would, in its essentials, be the malicious victory of earthly conquerors. The Lord is not called "Lover of the Jews", or "Lover of the Greeks", or "Lover of the poor", or "Lover of aristocrats", but "Lover of mankind". He intended His victory to be for all men, with no consideration of the differences that men make among themselves. He won His victory for the good and the help of all created men, and has offered it to them all. To those who accept this victory and make it their own, He has promised eternal life and co-inheritance in the heavenly Kingdom. He imposes this victory on no-one, even though it cost so dearly, but leaves men free to make it their own or not. As man in Paradise freely chose to fall, death and sin in the hands of Satan, so he is now free to choose life and salvation at the hands of God the Victor. Christ's victory is a balm, a life-giving balm. for all men, all having become leprous from sin and death.

Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic

Homily: "The Gospel on the Victory over Death"

Overcoming the World


In the Gospel lection which we listened to on Pascha night at the divine liturgy, are the words: "the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness overcame it not" (Jn. 1:5). The divine Light shineth amid the darkness, and the darkness cannot encompass it, cannot extinguish it. Thus also the light of Christ's Resurrection shines; it shines forth amid the world, and the darkness of man's errors cannot dim or extinguish it. The Lord Jesus Christ, when conversing with His apostles at the Mystical Supper, said to them: "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (Jn. 16:33). He was then only just preparing to go forth to His task of redemptive and saving sufferings; but in His divine omniscience. He saw that labor as something already accomplished, and as a victor He spoke to His disciples, encouraging them. And in accordance with His infinite loving-kindness and goodness, He makes all who believe in Him participants in this victory; this is why the Apostle says: "Thanks be to God, Who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57). And in the sacred book of the Apocalypse we read: "He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son" (Rev. 21:7).





St. Philaret, New Confessor of New York

"Paschal Epistle, 1982"

Holy Saturday

"...But let us descend with Him, but let us rejoice together, but let us hasten, but let us skip, but let us escort Him, but let us praise Him, but let us run quickly, seeing God's reconciliation with men and the release of the condemned by the good Master! The Friend of man by nature goes with great gallantry and might to lead forth them that are there held captive from ages past, them that dwell in the grave, whom bitter, insatiate death has tyrannically swallowed, oppressed, stolen from God and amassed; He goes to free them and number them with the denizens on high.




St. Epinaphanius
'On Holy and Great Saturday'"

The Passion of Christ


The sons of perdition and the children of darkness


went out in the darkness

to arrest the sun

who had the power to consume them in an instant.



But the Master, knowing their effrontery

and the force of their anger,

with gentleness, by his own authority,

gave himself up into the hands of the ungodly.

And lawless men, having bound the most pure Master,

mocked the one who had bound the strong one with unbreakable bonds,

and set us free from the bonds of sins.

They plaited a crown of their own thorns,

the fruit borne by the vine of the Jews.

In mockery they called him ‘King’.

The lawless spat in the face of the most pure,

at whose glance all the Powers of heaven

and the ranks of Angels quake with fear.

See, once again grief and tears grip hold of my heart,

as I contemplate the Master enduring outrage and insults,

scourgings, spitting from slaves, and blows...



Let us fear, my brethren

and not simply listen.

The Saviour endured all these things for us...



You that are longed for and loved by Christ,

draw near, with compunction and longing for the Saviour.

Come, let us learn what took place today in Sion, David’s city.

The longed-for and chosen offspring of Abraham, what did they do today?

They gave up to death the most pure Master on this day.

Christ our Saviour was unjustly hanged on the tree of the Cross

through lawless hands.

Come, let us all wash our bodies with tears and groans,

because our Lord, the King of glory, for us ungodly people

was given up to death...

Let us always be fearful,

keeping before our eyes

the Saviour’s sufferings.

Let us always keep in mind his sufferings,

because it was for us he suffered, the dispassionate Master;

for us he was crucified, the only sinless One.

What return can we make for all this, brethren?

Let us be attentive to ourselves and not despise his sufferings.

Draw near all of you, children of the Church,

bought with the precious and holy blood of the most pure Master.

Come, let us meditate on his sufferings with tears,

thinking on fear, meditating with trembling,

saying to ourselves,

‘Christ our Saviour for us the impious was given over to death’.

Learn well, brother, what it is you hear:

God who is without sin, Son of the Most High,

for you was given up.



Open your heart, learn in details His sufferings and say to yourself:

God who is without sin

today was given up,

today was mocked,

today was abused,

today was struck,

today was scourged,

today wore a crown of thorns,

today was crucified,

he, the heavenly Lamb.



Your heart will tremble, your soul will shudder.

Shed tears everyday by this meditation on the Master's sufferings.

Tears become sweet (for) the soul is enlightened that always meditates on Christ's sufferings.



Always meditating thus, shedding tears every day,

giving thanks to the Master for the sufferings that he suffered for you,

so that in the day of his Coming your tears may become your boast and exaltation before the judgment seat.

Endure as you meditate on the loving Master’s sufferings,

endure temptations, give thanks from your soul.

Blessed is the one who has before his eyes

the heavenly Master and his sufferings,

and has crucified himself from all the passions

and earthly deeds,

who has become an imitator

of his own Master.

This is understanding,

this is the attitude

of servants who love God,

when they become ever

imitators of their Master

by good works.

Shameless man, do you watch

the most pure Master

hanging on the Cross,

while you pass the time

that you have to live on earth

in pleasure and laughter?

Don’t you know, miserable wretch,

that the crucified Lord

will demand an account

of all your disdainful deeds,

for which, when you hear of them, you show no concern,

and as you take your pleasure

you laugh

and enjoy yourself with indifference?

The day will come,

that fearful day,

for you to weep unceasingly

and cry out in the fire

from your pains,

and there will be no one at all

to answer

and have mercy on your soul.



St. Ephraim the Syrian

"On the Passion"




Judas

"While the sinful woman was offering myrrh, then was the disciple making terms with the lawless ones. She rejoiced in emptying out that which was precious, and he hastened to sell the Priceless One. She recognized the Master; he severed himself from the Master. She was set free, and Judas became a slave of the enemy. Fearful is heedlessness! Great is repentance! This do Thou grant unto me, O Saviour, Who didst suffer for us, and do Thou save us.





Stichera of Vespers
Holy and Great Wednesday"

The Patience of Christ

Recall to mind, Dearest Brethren, the patience of God. He had come to forgive sin, and He said: Which of you shall convince me of sin? He did not disdain to make clear to us that He was not Himself a sinner: He Who had come to justify sinners by the power of His divinity. But truly fearful is that which follows. He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God. If he who is of God can hear the words of God, and he who is not of God cannot hear them, then let each one ask himself whether or not he hears the word of God in the ears of his heart, and he will then know to whom he belongs.





St. Gregory the Great
The Patience of Christ"

Crucifixion

"What was inflicted through cruelty was suffered by majesty: so that in the permitting of the evil deed, the purpose of the eternal will might be accomplished.






St. Leo the Great
'On the Passion of our Lord'"

Passion of the Lord

"...And among all the works of God, before which the mind grows faint with awe, which so rejoices yet overwhelms the soul as the Passion of our Saviour? For as often as we dwell, as best we can, upon His Omnipotence, which He shares with the Father in one and the same nature, more wondrous does His lowliness seem to us than His power; and with more difficulty do we grasp His emptying Himself of the divine Majesty, than His sublime uplifting of the form of a servant. Yet it helps us greatly to understand, that while One is the Creator, one the created - One the inviolable Divinity, one the suffering flesh - what belongs to either nature meets in the single Person; so that whether in might or in suffering His the humiliation Whose also the glory.





St. Leo the Great
'On the Passion of the Lord'"

Palm Sunday

Before His saving passion, when the Lord entered the earthly Jerusalem, not just the people, but also the true rulers of the Gentiles, the Lord's apostles, spread their garments in His way. In the same manner, let us all, rulers as well as subjects, lay down our natural garments before Him, by making our flesh and its impulses subject to the spirit, that we may be made worthy not only to see and worship Christ's saving passion and resurrection, but to enjoy communion with Him. "For if," says the apostle, "we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6:5).




St. Gregory Palamas

"Homily Fifteen: Delivered on Palm Sunday"

Conqueror of Sin and Death


...But what shall we do if sin completely enslaves our soul, as if covering it with a tombstone; and so day after day goes by and passions start to exude their sinful stench, just as with Lazarus? What should we do then? Well, then we need confession, the sacrament which Christ established after His Resurrection, when He said to His disciples, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit: Whose so ever sins ye forgive, they are forgiven" (Jn. 20:22-23). See how all this is reflected in the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus, on his own, could not go out from the tomb because it was blocked by a stone. He couldn’t even walk, because he was bound hand and foot with funeral bandages. And here Christ said to His disciples, "Loose him." In application to us, this means that the Lord orders our clergy, who have received in the Sacrament of the Priesthood the gift of the Holy Spirit, to loose our sins. What joy!

And more: death is not the cause but only the result, the consequence of sin. And Christ is, first of all, the Conqueror of sin, and then along with it, the Conqueror of death. So let us triumph: "Hosanna in the highest!"

Archbishop Andrew of Novo Diveyevo

"One Thing Needful" (Sermon on Lazarus Saturday)

Illness

"A sorrowless earthly life is a true sign that the Lord has turned His face from a man, and that he is displeasing to God, even though outwardly he may seem reverent and virtuous.




Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov
'The Teaching of the Holy Fathers On Illness'"

Illness

"A sorrowless earthly life is a true sign that the Lord has turned His face from a man, and that he is displeasing to God, even though outwardly he may seem reverent and virtuous.




Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov
'The Teaching of the Holy Fathers On Illness'"

Meekness

Meekness consists in praying calmly and sincerely for a neighbour when he causes many turmoils.





St. John Climacus

"The Ladder of Divine Ascent" (Step 23

Free Will/Fate

"We are directed by free will and not, as some say, subjected to the compulsion of inescapable fate. That is why God has given us the promise of His kingdom but also threatened us with punishment. He would not have done that to people in the toils of necessity. He would not have laid down laws, He would not have given us exhortations if we had been prisoners of destiny.
We are free and the masters of our fate. Just because we can grow evil from lack of effort or virtuous by striving, He uses the medicine of the fear of punishment to correct our course and the attraction of the hope of heaven to steer us towards wisdom.




St. John Chrysostom
'Homily on Divine Love'"

Your Conscience

"Do not treat your conscience with contempt, for it always advises you to do what is best. It sets before you the will of God and the angels; it frees you from the secret defilements of the heart; and when you depart this life it grants you the gift of intimacy with God.




St. Maximus the Confessor
'The Philokalia: Third Century on Love'"

Humility

"The humility of our Lord Jesus Christ is a matter for as great wonder as are His miracles, together with His Resurrection - that Wonder of wonders. Clothing Himself in the cramped body of a slave, He became the Servant of His servants.
Why do men try to appear greater and better than they are? The grass is the field does not attempt this, and neither do fish in the water or birds in the air. Why, then, do men do this? Because they were, in reality, at one time greater and better than they are now, and the shadow of this memory urges them to exaggerate their greatness and goodness - on a string pulled taut and let go by the demons.
Of all things that there are for a man to learn, humility is the hardest. The Lord Jesus therefore expressed His teaching in the clearest possible terms, both in word and deed, so that no-one could possibly doubt the incalculable and inescapable importance of humility in the act of man's salvation.





Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic
'Homily: Fifth Sunday of Great Lent'"

Prayer to the Mother of God

...And only then with great difficulty it began to dawn on me, and I began to understand the reason why I was prevented from being admitted to see the life-giving Cross. The word of salvation gently touched the eyes of my heart and revealed to me that it was my unclean life which barred the entrance to me. I began to weep and lament and beat my breast, and to sigh from the depths of my heart. And so I stood weeping when I saw above me the ikon of the most holy Mother of God. And turning to her my bodily and spiritual eyes I said:


`O Lady, Mother of God, who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word, I know, O how well I know, that it is no honour or praise to thee when one so impure and depraved as I look up to thy ikon, O ever-virgin, who didst keep thy body and soul in purity. Rightly do I inspire hatred and disgust before thy virginal purity. But I have heard that God Who was born of thee became man on purpose to call sinners to repentance. Then help me, for I have no other help. Order the entrance of the church to be opened to me. Allow me to see the venerable Tree on which He Who was born of thee suffered in the flesh and on which He shed His holy Blood for the redemption of sinners and for me, unworthy as I am. Be my faithful witness before thy son that I will never again defile my body by the impurity of fornication, but as soon as I have seen the Tree of the Cross I will renounce the world and its temptations and will go wherever thou wilt lead me.'



St. Mary of Egypt

(from her Life)

The Virgin Mother

"Surely it is obvious to anyone that the Virgin Mother is both the burning bush and the tongs. She conceived the divine fire within her and was not burnt, and an archangel ministered at the conception, and through her the Bearer of the sins of the world was united with the human race, purifying us thoroughly by means of this indescribable bond. The Virgin Mother, and she alone, is the frontier between created and uncreated nature. All who know God will recognize her as the one who contained Him who cannot be contained. All who sing hymns to God will praise her next after Him. She is the cause of the benefits which preceded her, the protectress of those which came after, and through her those good things which are eternal shall be received. She is the theme of the prophets, the first of the apostles, the support of the martyrs, the dais of the teachers. She is the glory of those on earth, the delight of those in heaven, the adornment of the whole creation. She is the beginning, fount and root of the hope stored up for us in heaven.





St. Gregory Palamas
'Homily on the Annunciation'"

Way to Sanctification

"Ascetical endeavor is the mother of sanctification.






St. Isaac the Syrian
'Ascetical Homilies' (Homily 36)"

The Annunciation


Behold: how the image of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God gleams! Yet, She is also human.... What exalted Her to such incomparable heights? What made Her so glorious and so great -- loftier than the Cherubim and more glorious than the Seraphim?

It was the three supreme virtues: humility, purity and a fiery love for God -- a love that is alien to earthly, to external, love.

She Herself confesses that the Lord has looked upon the humility of His hand-maiden (Luke 1, 48).

Do thou also, O Christian, begin to love, and implant deep within thine heart that humility which is divinely-pleasing; acquire also, through exerted labors lasting thine entire life, a purity of heart -- do this by [means of] fasting, prayer, meditation upon God, tears, and especially by a frequent and worthy communion of the holy Mysteries of Christ.

Begin, also, to love God, thy Creator and thy Saviour, with all thine heart, and prefer nothing that is in the world to His holy love.

Meditate ever upon Him and upon His wondrous works; live Him and breathe Him; nourish thy soul with Him,; attire thyself in Him; purify thyself, enlighten thyself, sanctify thyself, establish thyself, adorn thyself, praise thyself, console thyself, through Him. By means of Him, vanquish the temptations and impositions of foes, visible and invisible.

Whatsoever ye do, do all with thought of Him, and for His sake. Wheresoever ye might be, be everywhere with Him, as He is always with us, being everywhere, and filling all things (Tropar' to the Holy Spirit).




St. John of Kronstadt

Sermon on the Annunciation

Christ and the Church


...It is impossible for someone to acquire a catholic knowledge of the spirit except by being incorporated into the life of the Church. The entire significance of the perseverance of Orthodoxy through the centuries lies exactly in the numerical identity of the Church, in her uniquely catholic, universal, and continuous existence, with an uninterrupted and continuous hierarchical succession, with the performance of the mysteries, with the communion of the faith, and by the action of the One Spirit and one grace in all of these. This is none other than the unity of the body of Christ, the unity of the house of God, in which all who have fallen asleep in faith and piety presently live and dwell along with all the saints and holy fathers. Each priest, when he celebrates the divine Liturgy, not only repeats the words which St. Basil the Great or St. John Chrysostom had once offered themselves before the holy altar, but, in a real, though incomprehensible, communion he concelebrates with them before God. In every divine service the entire Church is invisibly present, as the true "one flock", offering common and unanimous prayers and thanksgivings to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father. This is not a psychological or subjective connection with the past, but the ontological unity of life. In the Church time comes to a standstill, because here there is no death, and the interruption of earthly life suspends the living relationship of the generation.


Fr. Justin Popovich

"Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ"

Peace and Salvation

"Endure everything patiently, and you will be at peace with yourself, and you will bring peace to others! But if you begin reckoning up scores, you will lose your peace, and your salvation along with it. . .





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

Abstinence

"Do not trust that because of abstinence you will not fall. One who had never eaten was cast from Heaven.





St. John Climacus
'The Ladder of Divine Ascent' (Step 15)"

Humility

"He who has humbled himself within will not be cheated by his lips; for what is not in the treasury cannot be brought out through this door.




St. John Climacus
'The Ladder of Divine Ascent' (Step 25)"

Endurance and Forgiveness

"In the spirit of Christ's teachings, the man who is wiser and more mature spiritually should forgive generously in his heart, even though the other does not want to even hear about making peace. The good Christian should endure to the end with patience the troubles which the enemy brings him. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (Matt. 24:13), the Savior teaches us, or, in short, endurance saves. Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a moving example of endurance and forgiveness when He suffered without complaining on Golgotha and prayed from the cross for His cruel enemies: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). St. Stephen the Archdeacon acted in the same way by praying for his murderers while they were stoning him: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge (Acts 7:60). All Holy Fathers, all holy martyrs, all revered and saints have acted in the very same way. All of them found the shortest way to Paradise through endurance and forgiveness. This is why they have left us the legacy to act like them.




Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev
'Strife and Reconciliation'"

Pride

A most learned elder spiritually admonished a proud brother, but he in his blindness said: 'Forgive me, father, I am not proud.' The wise elder said to him: 'What clearer proof of this passion could you have given us, son, than to say, "I am not proud"?'





St. John Climacus

"The Ladder of Divine Ascent" (Step 23)

Root of Good Works

"The root of all good works is the hope of the Resurrection.





St. Cyril of Jerusalem
'Catechetical Lectures'"

Will of God

"The will of God is revealed to mankind in the Law of God. But pre-eminently, with special clarity and detail, it is made known to us by the Incarnate Word of God. As the highest knowledge, it is received by faith.





Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov
'The Arena'"

Inner and Outer Bonds

"By throwing off the outer bonds, you throw off the inner as well. While you are freeing yourself from external concerns, your heart is freed from inner pain. It follows from this that the hard warfare you are compelled to wage with yourself is exclusively a means. As such it is neither good or bad; the saints often liken it to a prescribed cure. However painful it may be to follow out, it nevertheless remains only a means to regain health.
Always keep this in mind: you are not doing anything virtuous by your own continence. Or can it be considered a virtuous act when a man who, out of his own carelessness, has been trapped deep down in a mine shaft, takes a pick and shovel and tries to work his way out? It is not, on the contrary, quite natural to make use of the tools given him by a higher authority to make his way up out of the choking air and darkness? Would not the opposite be stupidity?
From this picture you can gain wisdom. The tools are the implements of salvation, the commands of the Gospel and the holy Sacraments of the Church, that were bestowed upon every Christian at holy baptism. Unused, they are of no profit to you. But used in the right manner they will open your way to freedom and light.




Tito Colliander
'Way of the Ascetics'
(On the Inner Warfare as a Means to an End)"

Four Steps to God

"...Anyone addicted to sensual pleasures is paralyzed in his soul, and is lying sick on the bed of voluptuousness with its deceptive bodily ease. Once, however, he has been won over by the exhortations in the Gospel, he confesses his sins and triumphs over them and the paralysis they have brought upon his soul. He is taken up and brought to the Lord by these four: self-condemnation, confession of former sins, promising to renounce evil ways from now on, and prayer to God. They cannot, however, bring him near to God without uncovering the roof, scattering the tiles, earth and other building material. Our roof is the reasoning part of the soul, which is set above everything else within us. But it has lying on top of it, like a large quantity of building material, its connection with the passions and earthly matters. Once this connection has been loosed and shaken off by means of the four things we have mentioned, then we can really be let down, that is, humbled, fall down before the Lord, draw near to Him and ask and receive His healing.





St. Gregory Palamas
'Homily Ten: On the Paralyzed Man Healed by the Lord in Capernaum"

Faith

"Hold fast, everyone, the faith we have received from the Fathers, which they who assembled at Nicaea recorded in writing, and endure not those who endeavour to innovate thereon.




St. Athanasius the Great
'To the bishops of Egypt'
(Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers"