What is the Science of Salvation?

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

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Holy Martyrs

    O wonderful and glorious army of new martyrs! Who can worthily proclaim your glory? Truly, "blessed is the land which has been watered with your blood, and holy are the places which have received your bodies".
                                                          St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
                                                           "950-Year Anniversary of the Baptism of Rus"

God - The Source

    Love that has its cause in [created] things is like a small lamp fed by olive oil, whereby its light is sustained; or it is like a torrent that surges with rain-water, whose flow ceases when there is no water to maintain it. But love whose cause is God is a deep welling spring; its flow is never checked, for God alone is the Source of love whose waters are unfailing.
                                                                            St. Isaac the Syrian
                                                                            "Ascetical Homilies" (Homily 54)

Gifts of God

Jesus Christ, being meek and humble of heart, never strove for adulation but directed all toward the glory of His Father. We also must not parade ourselves or seek recognition. For instance, do you help your neighbors, do you give alms, do you live more piously than those around you, are you wiser than your friends, or are you in some way above others? Do not brag about it. Remember that all your praiseworthy attributes are not yours but gifts of GodYours are the weaknesses, mistakes and sins.


                                                                St. Innocent of Alaska
                                                                “Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven”

The Art of Humility

 Consider everyone to be better than yourself. Without this thought even a worker of miracles is far from God.
                                                              St. Theophan the Recluse
                                                              "The Art of Prayer"

Prayer Requests

   All who ask and do not obtain their requests from God, are denied for one of the following reasons: because they ask at the wrong time, or because they ask unworthily and vaingloriously, or because if they received they would become conceited, or finally because they would become negligent after obtaining their request.
                                                                            St. John Climacus
                                                                            "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" (Step 26)

Strengthening Our Faith

    By strengthening our faith, we overcome more and more the estrangement between ourselves and Christ the Lord, for firm faith draws us to Christ.
                                                                         Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic
                                                                         "The Prologue from Ochrid"

Existence of Evil

   I want to tell you that evil in itself is nothing, for it has neither essence nor substance. For God's sake, do not let us think it has. However, if the soul digresses from the virtues it becomes a subject of passions and in this way evil is given existence.
                                                                    Abba Dorotheos
                                                                    "Practical Teaching on the Christian Life"

Soul's Love of God

   The Lord loves man and reveals Himself to man. And when the soul beholds the Lord she humbly rejoices in the Master's compassion, and from that hour her love for her Creator is greater than her any other love: though she may see all things and love all men, yet will she love the Lord above all.
                                                                  Staretz Silouan
                                                                  "Wisdom from Mount Athos"

Cleansing by Suffering

    Do you remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said at one time about His Father, the Heavenly Lover of mankind: every branch which beareth fruit, He pruneth it, in order that it may bear more fruit (John 15:2)? And the pruning is nothing else but suffering and the cross. As valuable as the threshing is to grain, the hammer to the iron, fire to gold, so is suffering for the righteous: for he is not being crushed by it, but cleansed.
                                                                St. John Maximovitch of Chernigov
                                                                "The Royal Way of the Cross of our Lord
                                                                           Leading to Eternal Life"

Prayer of Jesus

    The gracious power of the prayer of Jesus is contained in the divine name itself of the God-man, our Lord Jesus Christ. Although there is abundant evidence in Holy Scripture proving the greatness of the name of God, yet the importance of this name was explained with special precision by the holy Apostle Peter before the Jewish sanhedrin, when the council asked the Apostle by what power or by what name he had given healing to a man lame from birth. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: Rulers of the people and elders of Israel, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom you crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under the heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4: 8-12). This witness is the testimony of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle's mouth, tongue, and voice were merely the Spirit's instruments.
                                                                          Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov
                                                                          "On the Prayer of Jesus"

The Right Spiritual Path

    A mind that dwells on everyday matters of life and vain things disperses the soul. One should turn inwardly, looking at the soul's uncultivated vineyard, weeding it of all evil thorns and planting virtues there instead. But be wary, for this type of work is not easy at all. It requires perseverance and much patience. One will be confronted with a multitude of difficulties. Various writings of the Fathers are very helpful, and in our days are available by the dozens. In them one can find anything his heart desires, and anything he needs. The Fathers will lead you on the right spiritual path, if only you read them with humility and prayer.
                                                                          An Athonite Gerontikon

A Healthy Soul

 You are bitter against slanderers. You say that you have sued 44 slanderers so far! They offended your honor. They broadcast untruths about you, about your character, your companies, even about your family. You spent a great portion of your property on lawsuits against the slanderers. You say that life would be nice if there were no "wicked evil-talkers" in the world. But you are fed up with them. And you struggle and spend your money to defend your honor from every slanderer.
    Indeed, they attack you in a non-Christian manner, but you also fight against them in a non-Christian manner. Remember how the Head of our faith acted in similar cases where He was slandered, "like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth" (Acts 8:32). But here is also an example of a worldly king. A few flatterers once came before the Emperor Constantine the Great and started telling him about some wicked people who slandered and spoke evil against their Emperor. But these slanderers supposedly did not just stop with ugly words and lies, but also resorted to a terrible evil deed. Namely, they went to a marble statue of the Emperor where it stood in the city, and they beat it with rocks and iron bars until they defaced the Emperor's image, broke off the nose and pierced holes in the forehead. Emperor Constantine heard the accusation in silence. Then, he put his hand over his face, nose and forehead, and said, "My face is clean, my forehead is in good health and my nose is in its place!" The flatterers were ashamed and ran away from before the Emperor's face.
   Other than the Son of God, who was more slandered in this world than the Holy Apostles? And now dust covers the mouths of the slanderers and the Apostles have churches built in honor of their name all around the world. If your soul is healthy and pure before God, human or demonic lies can do it no harm. Because lies are like dust in the wind which comes and passes, but the truth stands. This has been confirmed by the experience of all wise people from antiquity until today. The most wise king also relates this experience with the following words, "The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment" (Prov. 12:19).
    So do not torment yourself anymore. Do not waste your resources. Do not defend your honor from the dishonorable, for they are but a passing sound. Defend God's honor and He will defend yours. God's honor is defended by keeping and spreading the truth of Christ.
                                                                         Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
                                                                         "Missionary Letters" (Letter 136)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Breath of God

  Remember, my son, that although you were formed out of clay, you are the breath of God. Do not disregard your worth and do not be engrossed in material things. You are the breath of God; force yourself to become worthy of God's gift.
                                                              Elder Joseph the Hesychast
                                                              "Monastic Wisdom" (48th Letter)

Endureth All

    He that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matt. 10:22). Do we have anything to endure? In this no one is lacking. Everyone's arena of endurance is vast, and therefore our salvation is at hand. Endure everything to the end and you will be saved. However, you must endure skillfully - otherwise, you may not gain anything by your endurance. First of all, keep the holy Faith and lead an irreproachable life according to the Faith. Immediately cleanse with repentance every sin that occurs. Second, accept everything that you must endure as from the hands of God, remembering firmly that nothing happens without God's will. Third, give sincere thanks to God for everything, believing that everything which proceeds from the Lord is sent by Him for the good of our souls. Thank Him for sorrows and for consolations. Fourth, love sorrow for the sake of its great salvific power and cultivate within yourself a thirst for it as for a drink which, although bitter, is healing. Fifth, keep in your thoughts that when misfortune comes, you cannot throw it off like a tight-fitting garment; you must bear it. Whether in a Christian way or in a non-Christian way, you cannot avoid bearing it; so it is better to bear it in a Christian way. Complaining will not deliver you from misfortune, but only make it heavier; whereas humble submission to God's Providence and a good attitude relieve the burden of misfortunes. Sixth, realize that you deserve even greater misfortune. Recognize that if the Lord wanted to deal with you as you rightly deserve, would He have sent you such a small misfortune? Seventh, above all, pray, and the merciful Lord will give you strength of spirit. With such strength, when others marvel at your misfortunes, they will seem like nothing to you.
                                                                                         St. Theophan the Recluse
                                                                                         "Thoughts for Each Day of the Year"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Yearn for Life Eternal

     "Live as though you were not of this world and you will have peace." Thus spoke St. Anthony to his disciples. An amazing lesson but truthful. We bring about greater misfortunes and uneasiness upon ourselves when we desire to associate and identify ourselves, as much as possible, to remain in this world. Whenever a person retreats, as much as possible, from this world and as often as he contemplates this world as existing without him and the deeper he immerses himself in reflecting about his unworthiness in this world, he will stand closer to God and will have deeper spiritual peace. "Everyday I face death", says St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:31), that is, everyday I feel that I am not in this world. That is why he daily felt like a heavenly citizen in the spirit. When the torturer Faustinus asked St. Theodulus: "Is not life better than a violent death?" St. Theodulus replied: "Indeed, even I think that life is better than death. Because of this, I decided to abhor this mortal and temporal life, barely existing on earth, so that I may be a partaker of life eternal."

                                                                                       Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic
                                                                                       “The Prologue from Ochrid”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saints Peter and Paul

    The feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul indicates the lot of the Holy Apostles here on earth and reveals the glory that followed it. The earthly lot of the Apostles was to go around the earth preaching of the Heavenly Kingdom, in this emulating Christ by their poverty, endurance of dishonor and sufferings, by their love for the children of the Heavenly Father, their inward torments of childbirth over those who heeded their preaching and their grief over those who paid no heed to their words and finally, by offering themselves as a sacrifice. However, the culmination of their earthly life is the beginning of their heavenly glory. Their end is for them a dissolving of earthly ties and an ascent to Christ, Whom they loved, in order to remain eternally with Him (Phil. 1:23).
                                                                                   St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
                                                                                   "On St. Peter and St. Paul"

Help from the Saints

  ...During their earthly lives, all the saints are an incentive to virtue for those who hear and see them with understanding, for they are human icons of excellence, animated pillars of goodness, and living books, which teach us the way to better things. By commemorating their noble deeds, we offer them that praise which, on the one hand, we owe them for the good they did our ancestors, but which, on the other, is also fitting for us at the present, on account of the help they give us now.
                                                             St. Gregory Palamas
                                                             "Homily 28: Delivered on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul
                                                                                           Leaders of the Apostles"

Holy Spirit

 To doubt in the Divinity of the Holy Spirit means to doubt in your own life, for the Holy Spirit gives life, and spiritually feeds all - serves as a spiritual sun, as air, food, and drink to our souls; it means to reject prayer, for we pray through the Holy Spirit; to reject truth and holiness, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth and all holiness; to reject every spiritual consolation and comfort in sorrows and sicknesses, for the Holy Spirit is the true and only Comforter, together with the Father and the Son; to reject faith, for faith is given by the Holy Spirit; to reject hope and love, for hope and love are likewise bestowed upon our hearts by the Holy Spirit: "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5); to reject spiritual and bodily power, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of power and strength; to reject wisdom and understanding , the fear of God, our own breathing, for He is the breathing, the air of the soul; in a word, it means to doom ourselves to moral nothingness and destruction. Do not pay attention to doubts in the truth, for they are the breathing of the evil spirit, of the spirit of falsehood - the destroyer; "Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matt.: 7:16). Doubt in the truth is always destructive to the soul. Every truth is the breathing of the Holy Spirit: the Word of God, the writings of the Holy Fathers and of the teachers of the Church, the words and the works of every pious person who loves the truth.
                                                                                              St. John of Kronstadt
                                                                                              "My Life in Christ"

Heaven and Earth

    It is impossible to look to heaven with one eye and to the earth with another. Likewise, it is impossible for our soul to cling at once to earthly and to heavenly things. We must select one or the other and cling to it... Why can man never be satisfied? Because his soul is not created for this world. The spirit engenders spirit. To the soul which comes from the divine source by the breath of God, everything temporal is alien. Therefore it can find nothing congenial to it on this earth. It cannot be quieted. Whatever earthly thing you give to the soul, it is unsatisfied. It wants more. God alone can satisfy the soul fully.
                                                                   Staretz Zosima of Optina
                                                                   "Russian Mystics"

Desire Good

    Blessed is he who has truly realised that God accomplishes in us, as in instruments, every action and contemplation, virtue and knowledge, victory and wisdom, goodness and truth, so that we bring absolutely nothing into it from ourselves except a disposition of desiring the good.
                                                                            St. Maximus the Confessor
                                                                            "Contemplative and Active Texts"
                                                                            (The Philokalia)

Humility, Glory and Virtues

    Do you see the humility of the saints? How their hearts are moved? Even when God sent them to help other people, they did not agree to this easily out of humility and to avoid glory. Like a man wearing an all-silk garment, if someone throws a dirty rag at him he leaves so as not to ruin his expensive clothes, it is with the saints, who are dressed in virtues, and avoid human glory in order not to be defiled. However, those who seek glory are like a naked man trying to find a small rag or anything else to cover his indecency. The person who is naked of virtues, seeks the glory of people.
                                                                      Abba Dorotheos
                                                                      "Practical Teaching on the Christian Life"

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Guarding Your Soul

   As St. Seraphim of Sarov says, in order for us to have inner peace and save our souls, we must often look deep into ourselves and ask, "Where am I?" While doing so we must be careful to guard our senses, especially our eyes, so that they may be to our spiritual benefit. Gifts of Grace are given only to those who work for them by constantly guarding their souls.
                                                                 Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
                                                                 "Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives"

Healing with Kindness

 Everyone as he is able should try to heal [with kindness] anyone who has something against him.
                                                      St. Basil the Great
                                                      "Letter to St. Gregory Nazianzus"
                                                      (The Fathers Speak)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lives of the Saints

    If you are suffering for your faith in Christ, the lives of the Saints will console you and encourage you and make you bold and give you wings, and your torments will be changed into joy.
                                                                        Fr. Justin Popovich
                                                                        "Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ"


    When you are well satisfied, and consider yourself to be enjoying much grace, beware: the enemy never sleeps, and humility is the only weapon that shatters him.
                                                               St. Macarius of Optina
                                                               "Russian Letters of Direction"

The Church

   The Church is the union of all who confess the true faith in the true God, with the Lord Jesus Christ at her head, having as her aim the spiritual perfection of each of her members.
                                                                          St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
                                                                          "The Church's Prayer" (1944)

The Word of God

   Why is the Son of God also called "the Word"?
   Because through Him the Father expresses His will.
                                                  St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
                                                  "In the Beginning Was the Word"

Lessons for the Faithful

    Remaining for now with a few clergy in our God- preserved city of Shanghai, I am grieved in soul that you are still without a shepherd and the possibility of receiving Holy Communion and church services. I am grieved the more because it is not known how and when these might be restored to you. Events and circumstances are not within our will. One must only pray to the Lord God for the sending down of peace and the salvation of our souls, for the peace of the whole world, for the good condition of the holy churches of God, and for the union of them all in one flock.

Do not become despondent in these sorrows, and do not waver in these temptations. Be faithful children of the Orthodox Church and continue, in the absence of a priest, to gather in the temple of God on Sundays, Feast Days, and during the approaching days of Passion Week. Sing to God, and read the texts appointed for that day from the Divine Services, imitating the first desert-dwellers who were likewise deprived of a priest for long periods.

Do not seek grace in any other faith, for truth is only in the Orthodox Church, of which Christ said: "I shall establish My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her" (Matt. 16:18).

Do not allow any child to die unbaptized. In case of danger, a layman should baptize, as I have explained in a separate instruction.

Inform us concerning the newly-departed, so that a funeral may be served in absentia. Likewise, you may send us names for commemoration .

Lead a Christian life, refraining from anything which spots and defiles a man. Live in peace and harmony, not occupying yourselves in criticism of the sins and shortcomings of others. Forgive each other your offences, so that the Heavenly Father might forgive us. Raise up your children in piety.

And, most important of all, fervently pray that the Lord might direct everything for the best and might give to us what is profitable in this life and especially in the life to come.

May the blessing of the Lord be upon each and all of you.
                                                                                  St. John of Shanghai and San Franmcisco
                                                                                  Archpastoral letter written March 17, 1949


   ...He went to the Father Archimandrite and told him, "Batiushka, there is a thought that is bothering me a lot." "And what does your thought say to you, brother?" "Well, Batiushka, my thought says to me that you're not doing this right, and you're not doing that right... " and he explained everything that was on his mind. Father Archimandrite Moses listened to it silently and attentively, then quietly answered with a smile, "My brother, tell your thought that this is none of its business." And with that he dismissed the monk, who was disarmed by the Superior's meekness and went away completely at peace. Later he would laugh at himself and at how easily all his doubts had been resolved.
                                                                        from the Life of the Elder Moses of Optina

Sins of the Church

    `The same consequences of sin, not yet completely driven out from the human race, operate not only in individual people, but through them they are manifested in the earthly activity of entire parts of the Church. Heresies, schisms, and disputes arise constantly, tearing away part of the faithful. Misunderstandings between local Churches or parts of them have troubled the Church since antiquity, and prayers for their cessation are repeatedly heard in the Divine services.
    "We pray for the unity of the Churches," "unity to the Churches" (Triadic, Resurrection Canon, Tone 8), "Set aright the dissensions of the Church" (service to the Archangels, 8 November, 26 March, 13 July), and similar prayers have been offered by the Orthodox Church through the centuries. Even on Holy and Great Saturday, before the epitaphion of Christ, the Church pronounces: "O most blameless, pure Virgin, who didst bring forth the Life, stop the scandals of the Church, and grant peace as thou are good" (last verse of the second stasis of the Lamentations).
    Only when Christ appears on the clouds will the tempter be trampled down, and all scandals and temptations disappear. Then the struggle between good and evil, between life and death will cease, and the earthly Church will merge with the Church Triumphant, in which God will be all in all (I Cor. 15:28).
                                                                   St. John Maximovitch
                                                                   "The Church As the Body of Christ"