What is the Science of Salvation?

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

Friday, June 22, 2012

Acquiring Virtues

 In order to acquire virtues a man's soul should be great and courageous; his will, not weak and indolent, but resolute and strong; he must have a sure foresight of the numerous obstacles and hard struggles and must be ready to undertake and endure them all. At the basis of such disposition should lie a strong love for each virtue and for all virtuous life and a burning zeal for them. This constitutes the force which moves a man on the laborious path of virtue, and it should therefore be constantly kept warm lest it be so weakened and exhausted, that all movement will inevitably stop. So do not neglect to keep warm your zeal for virtue. Make your heart share in reflections about how pleasing to God virtuous life is, and how high and beautiful is virtue in itself and how necessary and beneficial it is for us: for it is the beginning and end of our true perfection, as well as our progress in it.
                                                                    Lorenzo Scupoli (edited by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and
                                                                    revised by Theophan the Recluse)
                                                                    "Unseen Warfare"

Prayer and Rest

 Prayer does not tire one but gives rest, the way a child feels in his mother's arms.
                                                                 An Athonite Gerontikon

Blessed is the Man

  Blessed is the man who knows his own weakness, because this knowledge becomes to him the foundation, root, and beginning of all goodness. For whenever a man learns and truly perceives his own weakness, at that moment he contracts his soul on every side from the laxity that dims knowledge, and he treasures up watchfulness in himself. But no one can perceive his own infirmity if he is not allowed to be tempted a little, either by things that oppress his body, or his soul. For then, comparing his own weakness with God's help, he will straightway understand the greatness of the latter.
                                                                 St. Isaac the Syrian
                                                                 "Ascetical Homilies" (Homily 8)

Living with Reverence

 God, who yearns for the salvation of all men and hungers after their deification, withers their self-conceit like the unfruitful fig tree (cf. Matt. 21:19-21). He does this so that they may prefer to be righteous in reality rather than in appearance, discarding the cloak of hypocritical moral display and genuinely pursuing a virtuous life in the way that the divine Logos wishes them to. They will then live with reverence, revealing the state of their soul to God rather than displaying the external appearance of a moral life to their fellow-men.
                                                                           St. Maximos the Confessor
                                                                           "Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice"
                                                                           (The Philokalia)


  Do not fear the conflict, do not flee it. Where there is no struggle, there is no virtue; where faith and love are not tempted, it is not possible to be sure whether they are really present. They are proved and revealed in adversity, that is, in difficult and grievous circumstances, both outward and inward - during sickness, sorrow, or privations.
                                                                   St. John of Kronstadt
                                                                   "My Life in Christ"

True Servants

    True servants of the true God! Study and learn the real situation appointed to you by the Providence of God during your earthly pilgrimage. Do not allow fallen spirits to deceive and seduce you when they set before you earthly prosperity in an attractive, false picture, and suggest that you should desire and strive for it, so as to steal and rob you of your eternal treasure.
                                                                 Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov
                                                                 "The Arena"


   When you say, "Everyone else is happy. Why are we the only ones sad?" - this shows that your life is pleasing to God. For the Lord sends afflictions only when a person does the will of God. For afflictions are a grace and gift from the Lord. So you are inadvertently confessing that you are elect children of God. "For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourges every son whom He receiveth" (Heb. 12:6). So take courage, or rather rejoice, because the Lord loves you very much. Don't be sad anymore.
                                                                              Elder Joseph the Hesychast
                                                                              "Monastic Wisdom" (Sixty-seventh Letter)

Death of Prayers

   Uninterrupted prayer is born of love, but fault-finding, idle talk and self-indulgence are the death of prayer.
                                                                Staretz Silouan
                                                                "Wisdom from Mount Athos"

The Eucharist

 ...And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread or common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise we have been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.
                                                                                      Justin Martyr  (100-165 AD)
                                                                                       "The First Apology of Justin"

The Final Reward

    Through the Holy Spirit comes our return to paradise, our ascent to the kingdom of heaven, our adoption again as sons and daughters of God, our freedom to call God Father, our sharing in the grace of Christ, our being born children of light, our part in eternal glory; in a word, our coming into the fullness of the blessing, in this world and in the world to come, of those good things stored up for us in promises, which, beholding their grace as in a mirror, we anxiously await through faith as though they were already present. If this is the pledge, then how great is the final reward? If these are the first fruits, then how great is the fullness?
                                                                      St. Basil the Great
                                                                       "Gateway to Paradise"

Longing for Sacred Gifts

    ...Following scripture, I say that the prayers of the saints in this life are extremely valuable for the one who has a longing for the Sacred Gifts, who has made a holy preparation to receive them, and who, knowing his own weakness, has sought out some holy man to beg him to be his helper and to join him in his prayers. Such help can only be of the greatest possible assistance to him, since it will gain for him the most divine gifts which he desires. The Divine Goodness will accept him because of his well-shaped disposition, because of the respect he shows the saints, because of the praiseworthy eagerness with which he begs for those longed-for Gifts, and because of the life he lives in harmony with this and in conformity with God.
                                                                      St. Dionysius the Areopagite
                                                                      "The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy"
                                                                      (Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works)


  To the world belong our desires and impulses. St. Isaac the Syrian enumerates them: Weakness for wealth and for collecting and owning things of different kinds; the urge for physical (sensuous) enjoyment; the longing for honour, which is the root of envy; pride in the glory of power; the urge to adorn oneself and to be liked; the craving for praise; concern and anxiety for physical well-being. All these are of the world; they combine deceitfuly to hold us in heavy bonds.
    If you wish to free yourself, scrutinize yourself with the help of that list and see clearly what you have to struggle against in order to approach God. For friendship with the world is enmity with God, and whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4). Broad vistas are attained only by leaving the narrow valley and the occupations and pleasures characteristic of the valley. No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24); to sojourn at the same time in the valley and on the heights is impossible.
                                                          Tito Colliander
                                                          "Way of the Ascetics"

Watering the Soul

 This blood makes the image of our King bloom in us; it produces an inconceivable beauty; it does not permit the nobility of the soul to fade, since it waters and nourishes it without ceasing. The blood which we form from food is not blood immediately, but it goes through some other stage first. It is not so with this blood, for it at once waters the soul and creates a certain power in it. This blood, when worthily received, drives away demons and puts them far from us, and summons to us the angels and the Lord of the Angels. Where they see the blood of the Lord, demons flee, but angels gather. This blood, poured out, has cleansed the whole world.
                                                                    St. John Chrysostom
                                                                    "This Blood Has Made Heaven Accessible"
                                                                    (Daily Readings...)


 After the Lord's Baptism, when the Spirit had descended upon Him in the form of a dove, He was led into the wilderness to be tempted. Such is the path common to all. St. Isaac the Syrian notes in one place that as soon as you taste grace-filled consolation or receive some gift from the Lord, expect temptations. Temptations conceal the brightness of grace from one's own eyes, and they usually corrode every good through self-opinion and self-exultation. These temptations are sometimes outward, such as sorrows and humiliation, and sometimes inward, such as passionate thoughts, which are purposely set loose like unchained beasts. Therefore, we must pay heed to ourselves and strictly sort out what occurs with us and in us, to see why it is happening, and what it obliges us to do.
                                                                  St. Theophan the Recluse
                                                                  "Thoughts for Each Day of the Year"


   Our faith is entirely the faith of the Resurrection.
                                              Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
                                              "Missionary Letters"


In ancient times, our forefathers sowed the seeds of the wheat of faith in that field which is the Church. It would be quite unjust and improper if we, their descendents, gathered, instead of the genuine truth of wheat, the false tares of error. On the contrary, it is logically correct that the beginning and the end be in agreement, that we reap from the planting of the wheat of doctrine the harvest of the wheat of dogma. In this way, none of the characteristics of the seed is changed, although something evolved in the course of time from those first seeds and has now expanded under careful cultivation. What may be added is merely appearance, beauty, and distinction, but the proper nature of each kind remains.

                                                                                          St. Vincent of Lerins

Enduring Temptations and Trials

 God does not allow us to be burdened with anything beyond our power of endurance, and therefore, when difficulties come upon us we do not sin unless we are unwilling to endure a little tribulation or to suffer anything unforeseen. As the Apostle says, 'God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure.' But we are men who have no patience and no desire for a little labor and no desire to brace ourselves to accept anything with humility. Therefore we are crushed by our difficulties. The more we run away from temptations, the more they weigh us down and the less are we able to drive them away. Suppose a man for some reason dives into the sea: if he knows the art of swimming, what does he do when a great wave comes along? He ducks under it until it goes past and then he goes on swimming unharmed. But if he is determined to set himself against it, it pushes him away and hurls him back a great distance, and when again he begins to swim forward another wave comes upon him, and if again he tries to swim against it, again it forces him back, and he only tires himself out and makes no headway. But if he ducks his head and lowers himself under the wave, as I said, no harm comes to him and he continues to swim along as he likes. Those who go on doing their work in this way when they are in trouble, putting up with their temptations with patience and humility, come through unharmed. But if they get distressed and downcast, seeking reasons for everything, tormenting themselves and being annoyed with themselves instead of helping themselves, they do themselves harm.
                                                                               Abba Dorotheos of Gaza
                                                                               "On Enduring Temptation Calmly and Thankfully"
                                                                               (Discourses and Sayings)

Love Thy Neighbor

  Whoever is pained by love for his neighbor does not notice their stupidity. Rather, he beseeches the Lord with fear that he be shown what to say for his neighbor's profit, and he fulfills the task of giving counsel reverently as the work of God.
                                                              Elder Leonid of Optina
                                                              (from his life)


  In the church is accomplished the mystery of cleansing from sins. Reverence, therefore, the place where your soul is cleansed from all impurity, where you are reconciled to God, and are endowed with the true life of the Spirit.
                                                                       St. John of Kronstadt
                                                                       "My Life in Christ"

The Holy Spirit - the Comforter

  He is not just everywhere, but also above all, not just in every age and time, but before them all. And, according to the promise, the Holy Spirit will not just be with us until the end of the age, but rather will stay with those who are worthy in the age to come, making them immortal and filling their bodies as well with eternal glory, as the Lord indicated by telling His disciples, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:16).
                                                                        St. Gregory Palamas
                                                                        "Homily Twenty-Four: 
                                                                         On How the Holy Spirit was Manifested
                                                                         and Shared Out at Pentecost"


   In the beginning, indeed, the onrush of the grace of the Spirit, so rich and abundant, came from the goodness of God, but later the retaining of the gift came from their own virtue. They manifested an exemplary life, and abundant wisdom, and great toils, and scorned the present life, and thought nothing of human things, but were above all. Flying high like a kind of light-winged eagle, they reached to heaven itself by their deeds, and by these obtained possession of the ineffable grace of the Spirit.
    Well, then, let us imitate them, and let us not extinguish our lamps, but keep them bright by almsgiving. It is by this means that the brightness of this fire is preserved. Let us, then, put oil in our vessels as long as we are here. It is not possible to buy it when we have taken our departure hence, or to receive it from any source other than the hands of the poor. Let us, therefore, collect it from there in great abundance, that is, if we wish to enter in with the bridegroom; if we do not do this, we must remain outside the bridal chamber. It is impossible, I repeat, even if we perform countless good works, to enter the portals of the kingdom without almsgiving.
                                                                         St. John Chrysostom
                                                                         "Keep the Lamps Bright by Almsgiving"
                                                                         (Daily Readings from the Writings of St. John Chrysostom)

Do Not Sin

    Let us not sin, by losing our patience. Unto this end was illness given by God, that you may be saved. Do not despair, lift up your mind to the invisible and behold the everlasting life, its happiness. Believe in all that our mother the Church teaches us, let us not fall short. Let us have a little patience, the Lord from above beholds, it suffices that all things will pass; you have suffered many things.
                                                   Elder Ieronymos of Aegina
                                                   (Letter to Eupraxia, nun)

True Freedom

  True freedom is the freedom of Christians - internal freedom and not external - moral and spiritual, and not physical - always doing good and never rebelling - which can dwell in a hut as comfortably as in a mansion or a palace - through which those under authority, without ceasing to be under authority, can have all the advantages of the person in authority - which even in bonds and in prison remains indestructible, as can be observed in the Christian martyrs.
                                                                          Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow
                                                                          "Orthodox Life" (Vol. 24, No. 1, 1974)


   Christianity fully satisfies our striving for precedence - but how? Through a method totally opposed to the one used in the world. Do you want to be first? Be a servant to someone, that is, be the last among them. This is just as essential as it is to attune your life and your disposition to the example of Christ the Lord. The Lord says: The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). The Lord ministers, and even washes the feet of His disciples. There is no need, therefore, to be ashamed of ministering to someone. Minister in any way possible, and with whatever means you can. There are opportunities every step of the way: feed someone who is hungry, clothe someone who is naked, bring a stranger into your home, visit someone who is sick and even take care of him, and do not refuse all other help to those who ask it. Serve not only the body, but also the soul: give understanding and advice, point out a good book, console, and support. A word is a powerful means to help; through such a word one's soul extends itself and, joining another soul, gives him strength.
                                                                           St. Theophan the Recluse
                                                                           "Thoughts for Each Day of the Year"

Look Into Your Heart

    Just as someone in the midst of a crowd, holding a mirror and looking at it, sees not only his own face but also the faces of those looking in the mirror with him, so someone who looks into his own heart sees in it not only his own state, but also the black faces of the demons.
                                                          St. Hesychios the Priest
                                                          "On Watchfulness and Holiness"
                                                          (The Philokalia)

The Will of God

  Moreover, the will of God is what Christ both did and taught. Humility in conversation, steadfastness in faith, modesty in words, justice in deeds, mercy in works, discipline in morals, not to know how to do an injury and to be able to bear one done, to keep peace with the brethren, to love the Lord with a whole heart, to love Him in that He is Father, to fear Him in that He is God, to place nothing at all before Christ, because He placed nothing before us, to cling inseparably to His love, to stand bravely and faithfully at His cross...
                                                                  St.. Cyprian of Carthage
                                                                  "The Lord's Prayer"

Slothfulness and Leisure!

 No man is more easily approached by the Devil than one who lives in slothfulness and leisure; this is a house well swept and adorned for the Evil One.
                                                                      St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
                                                                      (A Treasury of Russian Spirituality)

Do Not Fear Conflict

    Do not fear the conflict, do not flee it. Where there is no struggle, there is no virtue; where faith and love are not tempted, it is not possible to be sure whether they are really present. They are proved and revealed in adversity, that is, in difficult and grievous circumstances, both outward and inward  -  during sickness, sorrow, or privations.
                                                                            St. John of Kronstadt
                                                                            "My Life in Christ"

First Fruits

    Neither an angel nor a man, but the Incarnate Lord Himself came and saved us, being made like us for our sake while remaining unchanged as God. In the same way as He came down, without changing place but condescending to us, so He returns once more, without moving as God, but enthroning on high our human nature which He had assumed. It was truly right that the first begotten human nature from the dead (Rev. 1:5) should be presented there to God, as first fruits from the first crop offered for the whole race of men.
                                                                                 St. Gregory Palamas
                                                                                 "Homily Twenty-One: On the Ascension"