What is the Science of Salvation?

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

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Afflictions as Grace

    If you have no works, do not speak on virtues. Afflictions suffered for the Lord's sake are more precious to Him than every vow and sacrifice; and the odor of their sweat surpasses every fragrance.
                                                                     St. Isaac the Syrian
                                                                     "Ascetical Homilies" (Homily Six)

Unfading Pastures

    Let us, Brethren, enkindle our soul as a light. Let faith grow fervent in what it has believed. Let our desires grow eager for the things of heaven; and thus to love is already to go there. Let no adversity turn us away from the joy of this inward fulfillment; for when any one has resolved to go to a determined place, whatever the roughness of the way, it does not alter his desire. Let no smiling good fortune entice us away; for he is a foolish traveler who, beholding on his way a pleasant meadow, forgets to go on in the way he was going.
    Let the soul therefore long with desire for its heavenly home. Let us grasp at nothing in this world; for well we know that it will quickly let go. So, if we are truly sheep of the Heavenly Shepherd, if we do not linger attached to the delights of the way, we shall be filled to satiety when we arrive at the eternal pastures; by the help of Our Lord Jesus Christ Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth the world without end.
                                                                           St. Gregory the Great
                                                                           "The Unfading Pastures: The Christian Hope"
                                                                           (The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers)

Belief in God and Believing God

    Believing in God is different from believing God. To believe God is to regard His promises to us as sure and true, but to believe in Him is to have a right understanding of Him. Both are necessary for us and we must speak correctly in both respects, in such a way that people with correct understanding can be confident that we are faithful before God to whom our faith is directed and that, being faithful, we shall be justified by Him.
                                                                                 St. Gregory Palamas
                                                                                 "Homily Eight: On Faith" 


Prayer is an all-encompassing obligation, as well as an all-effective means.
                                                             St. Theophan the Recluse
                                                             "The Path to Salvation"

Include God in Every Action

 We must observe this general rule in our life: to be about the work of God perpetually, and in every undertaking, in body and soul, in word, thought, and action, according to the measure of our strength.
                                                                St. Nilus of Sora
                                                                "A Treasury of Russian Spirituality"

Thirst for Salvation

 A deep feeling of spiritual poverty, a lamentation at the existence of evil, a thirst after salvation, are to be found in every straightforward and humble soul.
                                                                          St. John of Kronstadt
                                                                          "My Life in Christ"

Spiritual Direction

   Whenever we set out firmly to tread the inner path, a storm of temptations and persecutions always assails us. It is because of this dark host that spiritual direction is profitable, nay necessary, to us whether we retire to a monastery or continue to live in the world.
    But those who blissfully ignore the deeper issues and implications of Christianity, and are quite happy without bothering much about anything, know nothing of the peace we seek and of which we drink now a drop, now a draught, all along our stormy, harsh, and bitter way.
                                                                           Staretz Macarius of Optina
                                                                           "Spiritual Direction"

Love of the Mother of God

   We cannot fathom the depth of the love of the Mother of God, but this we know:
    The greater the love, the greater the sufferings of the soul.
    The fuller the love, the fuller the knowledge of God.
    The more ardent the love, the more fervent the prayer.
    The more perfect the love, the holier the life.
                                                             Staretz Silouan
                                                              "Wisdom from Mount Athos"


  Attachment to worldly things is a grave obstacle to those who are striving after holiness, and often brings ruin to both soul and body.
                                                                    St. Neilos the Ascetic
                                                                    "Ascetic Discourse"
                                                                    (The Philokalia)


    Grumbling is like the autumn hoarfrost which, when it falls, destroys all labors of the gardeners. Few people realize how bad grumbling is for the soul. Almost everyone considers it to be a small sin, but even though it seems so, it has very grievous consequences. In the autumn before the hoarfrost falls, the experienced gardeners notice the signs of the coming cold weather and urge their young helpers to gather the peppers and the tomatoes. The young ones laugh: "Why should we gather them? The weather is still so nice!" Then the next morning they see that the first frost has come over the gardens. They pick up a pepper and take a bite to taste it, but it is as bitter as poison and cannot be eaten. Thus their small carelessness has destroyed all their labors. In the same way grumbling withers all the virtues of the soul and makes bitter and useless the fruits of suffering.
                                                                            Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev
                                                                            "The Meaning of Suffering"


 A man can be harmed by another only through the causes of the passions which lie within himself.
                                                                   St. John Cassian
                                                                   "On the Eight Vices"
                                                                   (The Philokalia)

Lessons in Virtue and Piety

    Dearly Beloved, each word and deed of Our Saviour Jesus Christ is for us a lesson in virtue and piety. For this end also did He assume our nature, so that every man and every woman, contemplating as in a picture the practice of all virtue and piety, might strive with all their hearts to imitate His example. For this He bore our body, so that as far as we could we might repeat within us the manner of His life. And so therefore, when you hear mention of some word or deed of His, take care not to receive it simply as something that incidentally happened, but raise your mind upwards towards the sublimity of what He is teaching, and strive to see what has been mystically handed down to us.
                                                                    St. Basil the Great
                                                                    "That Prayer is to be placed Before all Things"
                                                                    (The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers)

Attacks On Us

    ...For the greater the gift, so much greater will be the assault against us.
                                        St. John Chrysostom
                                        "The Fruits of Christ's Resurrection"

Corruption of Nature

    Our every endeavor is powerless without the grace and help of God. A man can easily become debauched and so destroy himself, but he cannot correct himself and be saved without God. He can easily live according to the flesh as a boat floats down a river, but of himself he cannot stand against the flesh and live spiritually, as a vessel cannot of itself sail against the rush of the current. It must move either with rowers or with sails in the wind.
    So a man must be helped in the spiritual life and in the work of salvation by a supernatural and all-powerful force. He must be victorious over his own self; but how can this be without the power of God present, which is able to do all things? So great is the corruption of our nature.
                                                             St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
                                                             "Journey to Heaven"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thought, Word and Deed

    We sin in thought, word and deed. In order to become pure images of the most Holy Trinity we must strive that we be holy in thought, word and deed.
                                                              St. John of Kronstadt
                                                              "My Life in Christ"

Many Different Gifts

   ...Therefore, O man, do not show ingratitude to the providence which God manifests on your account. If it is obvious that you are not the victor but merely an instrument, as it were, and that it is the Lord Who is victorious in you, and that you receive the title of victor as a free gift, then what can hinder you from asking at all times for that same strength, what can hinder you from winning the same victories while you give thanks to God for this? Have you not heard, O man, how many champions from the foundation of the world and the beginnings of time have fallen from the height of their struggle because they did not give thanks for this grace? As the gifts of God to the race of men are many and diverse, so there are many differences in the gifts received, corresponding to those who receive them.
                                                                    St. Isaac the Syrian
                                                                    "The Ascetical Homilies"  (Homily Thirty-Seven)

In Remembrance of Him

 From the very beginning human nature has stupidly glided away from those good things bestowed on it by God. It turned to the life of the most varied desires and came at the end to the catastrophe of death. There followed the destructive rejection of what was really good, a trampling over the sacred Law laid down in paradise for man. Having evaded the yolk which gave him life, man rebelled against the blessings of God and was left to his own devices, to the temptation and the evil assaults of the devil. And in exchange for eternity he pitiably opted for mortality. Born of corruption it was only right that he should leave the world as he entered it. He freely turned away from the divine and uplifting life and was dragged instead as far as possible in the opposite direction and was plunged into the utter mess of passion. Wandering far from the right path, ensnared by destructive and evil crowds, the human race turned away from the true God and witlessly served neither gods nor friends but its enemies who, out of their innate lack of pity, took the cruelest advantage of its weakness and dragged it down to the deplorable peril of destruction and dissolution of being.
    Yet the goodness of the Deity has endless love for humanity and never ceased from benignly pouring out on us its providential gifts. It took upon itself in a most authentic way all the characteristics of our nature, except sin. It became one with us in our lowliness, losing nothing of its own real condition, suffering no change or loss. It allowed us, as those of equal birth, to enter into communion with it and to acquire a share of its own true beauty. Thus, as our hidden tradition teaches, it made it possible for us to escape from the domain of the rebellious, and it did this not through overwhelming force, but, as scripture mysteriously tells us, by an act of judgment and also in all righteousness. Beneficently it wrought a complete change in our nature. It filled our shadowed and unshaped minds with a kindly, divine light and adorned them with a loveliness suitable to their divinized state. It saved our nature from almost complete wreckage and delivered the dwelling place of our soul from the most accursed passion and from destructive defilement. Finally, it showed us a supramundane uplifting and an inspired way of life in shaping our self to it as fully as lay in our power.
    This imitation of God, how else are we to achieve it if not by endlessly reminding ourselves of God's sacred works and doing so by way of sacred hymns and the sacred acts established by the hierarchy? We do this, as the scriptures say, in remembrance of Him.
                                                                St. Dionysius the Areopagite
                                                                "The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy"
                                                                (Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works)


    Patience is an unbroken labor of the soul which is never shaken by deserved or undeserved blows.
                                                               St. John Climacus
                                                               "The Ladder of Divine Ascent" (Step 27)

Mercy to the Laborer

    God sends mercy to the laborer and consolation to him who loves.
                                                     St. Ambrose of Optina

To Be Chosen as a Vessel

  Blessed is God, who from every generation chooses those who please Him, who distinguishes the choice vessels and uses them for the service of the holy things.
                                                                           St. Basil the Great
                                                                           "The Fathers Speak"
                                                                           (Letter to Amphilochios)

Uselessness of Prayer Alone

 Bear in mind that prayer alone, unaccompanied by moral improvement, is useless.
                                                            Staretz Macarius of Optina
                                                            "Spiritual Direction"

Faithfulness and Love

  ...Let us remember what it means to be faithful and devoted and what it means to have a clean conscience. The holy women myrrhbearers did everything to be attentive to their Teacher. Not fearing any dangers, they go to Golgotha accompanying Him, stand at the cross of Golgotha, observing, reverently watching how their Teacher is buried and for that they receive the joy of witnessing His glory, resurrected from the dead.
    Remember man how important it is to be faithful to God. Faithfulness and devotion to Him enlightens human conscience and enlightens human reason. And conversely, when man continuously performs acts of faithlessness and betrayal to his Lord and to the Truth, then his soul becomes calloused, coarsens and darkens his conscience. Then it is not easy for him to admit the truth, it is not easy to worship it. Everyone should remember this and should always pray that the Lord teaches us to be always faithful to Him in everything as the holy, glorious women myrrhbearers. They remained faithful to Him to the end and received unspeakable joy. They saw their Teacher resurrected and immediately worshipped Him. Their example of faithfulness and love is an instructive example for every Christian soul, so that following it, man will himself manifest his faithfulness to the Lord to the very end and will receive the joy of seeing Him.
                                                                St. Philaret, New Confessor of New York
                                                                "Sermon on the Sunday of the Woman Myrrhbearers"  (5/18, May, 1975)


  Be humble and heaven and earth will be subject to you...
                                   Staretz Zosima of Optina
                                   "Russian Mystics"

Angelic Hosts

   We who are fallen, like the fallen spirits, allow ourselves to become enslaved by things or people. Not so the angelic hosts. And those among us who unite themselves to the Lord in their hearts and minds never become slaves to any created thing. They are with the Lord and together with Him they love all of creation. It is quite unbelievable - in such a state one feels that all men, good or bad, are one's kin. The only thing which makes us sad is that their thoughts oppose love and goodness.
                                                                 Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
                                                                 "Our Thoughts Determine our Lives"

Struggle for Virtue

    Patient endurance is the soul's struggle for virtue; where there is struggle for virtue, self-indulgence is banished.
                                                                        St. Thalassios
                                                                        (The Philokalia)


  In order to live in the monastery, one must not have merely one wagonload of patience but a caravan of it.....
                                               Staretz Ambrose of Optina
                                               "Russian Mystics"

The Weight of Adversity

    Do not think that even here any one of us constantly enjoys consolation. No: here, as everywhere, flesh and mind are at war; here as everywhere, there is falling into pride and purification through humbling: here, as everywhere, we long for consolation but must learn to carry a weighty cross. This cross tests our love. Can we, do we love God even under the weight of the most bitter adversities?
                                                                Staretz Macarius of Optina
                                                                "Spiritual Direction"  (from his letters)

Doubt and Sickness

    Man's doubt in Christ is the ultimate revelation of man's sickness in the great hospital of the world. The world has no medicine for this sickness, for the risen Christ is the only medicine, and if a man will not take it, how can he be healed?
                                                                      Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic
                                                                      "Homilies: The Gospel of the Apostle Thomas' Doubt and Faith"

The Spiritual Eye

The heart is the eye of the human being; the purer it is, the quicker, farther and clearer it can see. But with God's saints this spiritual eye is refined, even in this life, to the highest degree of purity possible for man, and after their death, when they are united to God, it becomes, through God's grace, able to see yet more clearly and widely.. Thus the saints see our spiritual needs, they see and hear all who call upon them with a whole heart, those who fix the eyes of their mind straight upon them, undarkened and undimmed by unbelief or doubt.
                                                                                St. John of Kronstadt
                                                                                "My Life in Christ"


    A manifest sign of love for God is a heartfelt gladness in God, for we rejoice in what we love. Likewise love of God cannot exist without joy, and whenever a man feels the sweetness of the love of God within his heart, he rejoices in God. For so sweet a virtue as love cannot be felt without joy. As honey sweetens our throat when we taste it, so the love of God makes our heart glad when we taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 33:9). Such joy in God is found in many places in Holy Scripture, and is portrayed most of all in the holy Psalms. This joy is spiritual and heavenly, and is a foretaste of the sweetness of eternal life.
                                                                St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
                                                                "Journey to Heaven"

Be Faithful and Truthful

  May this joy of our Resurrected God and Saviour abide with us forever. And it will indeed remain with us if we will be true to Him in our sorrowful age, in the years of our exile, in this era of dreadful apostasy with its horrors and distortions. Who can enumerate the many sorrows, trials and sufferings which must be endured by an Orthodox Christian, a faithful son of the Church, in the midst of the general apostasy, the kingdom of lies and falsifications, when Faith is impoverished and morals are deteriorating? "But in all those things we are more than conquerors through Him that loveth us," exclaimed victoriously that great preacher of the Gospel and chief-apostle Paul.
    Therefore, oh Christian, always be true in everything, for then you will overcome all sorrows and trials - you will vanquish them by the power of Him Who loves us, Who has saved us and Who gives us the eternal joy of the Resurrection.
                                                                   St. Philaret, New Confessor of New York
                                                                   (Sermon for Pascha, 1971)