johnkarpathosThe King of all reigns for ever, and there is neither beginning nor end to His kingdom.

To those, then, who choose to serve Him and who for His sake strive to attain holiness, He grants a reward infinitely greater than that given by any earthly ruler.

The honours of this present life, however splendid, come to an end when we die — but the honours bestowed by God on those whom He regards as worthy are incorruptible and so endure for ever.

David in one of his Psalms describes the praise offered to God by the whole of creation (cf. Ps. 104).

He speaks of the angels and all the invisible powers, but he also descends to the earth and includes wild animals, cattle, birds and reptiles.

All of them, he believes, worship the Creator and sing His praise; for it is God’s will that everything He has made should offer Him glory.

How, then, can the monk, who may be compared to the gold of Ophir (cf. 1Kgs. 10:11), allow himself to be sluggish or apathetic when singing God’s praise?

Just as the bush burned with fire but was not consumed (cf. Exod. 3:2), so those who have received the gift of dispassion are not troubled or harmed, either physically or in their intellect (Greek: ὁ νοῦς)** [see footnote], by the heat of their body, however ponderous or fevered it may be.

For the voice of the Lord holds back the flames of nature (cf. Ps.29:7): God’s will and His word separate what by nature is united.

The moon as it waxes and wanes illustrates the condition of man: sometimes he does what is right, sometimes he sins and then through repentance returns to a holy life.

The intellect of one who sins is not destroyed (as some of you think), just as the physical size of the moon does not diminish, but only its light.

Through repentance a man regains his true splendour, just as the moon after the period of waning clothes itself once more in its full light.

If a man believes in Christ, ‘even though he dies, he shall live’ (John 11:25); he shall know that ‘I the Lord have spoken, and will do it’ (Ezek.17:24 LXX).

[…] The demons in their malice revive and rekindle the unclean passions within us, causing them to increase and multiply. But the visitation of the divine Logos [Word], especially when accompanied by our tears, dissolves and kills the passions, even those that are inveterate.

It gradually reduces to nothing the destructive and sinful impulses of soul and body, provided we do not grow listless but cling to the Lord with prayer and with hope that is unremitting and unashamed.

John of Karpathos (7th century): For the Encouragement of the Monks in India, 1-4, 6, trans. G.E.H. Palmer, P. Sherrard, and K. Ware, The Philokalia, vol. 1 (Faber and Faber, London & Boston: 1979 @ J B Burnett.

**The translators of the Philokalia say the following about the word “intellect” as used in this passage from John and by other Greek authors: INTELLECT (nous): the highest faculty in man, through which – provided it is purified – he knows God or the inner essences or principles of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. Unlike the dianoia or reason, from which it must be carefully distinguished, the intellect does not function by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition or ‘simple cognition’ (the term used by St Isaac the Syrian). The intellect dwells in the ‘depths of the soul’; it constitutes the innermost aspect of the heart (St Diadochos). The intellect is the organ of contemplation, the ‘eye of the heart’ (Macarian Homilies).

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