Anastasius of Sinai: The Church of God is a Surgery Thursday, Feb 6 2014 

Anastasios-of-SinaiDo you not know that the Church of God is a surgery and a harbor?

Now, if you remain in a surgery ailing and unhealed, when, henceforth, will you be cured?

And if you are tempest-tossed in a harbor, where, hereafter, will you find rest?

Stand with reverence, I implore you.

Stand with awe at the fearful hour of the Anaphora; for with whatever attitude and thoughts each of you attends at that hour, such also is the frame of mind in which he offers worship to the Master.

The oblation is called the Anaphora because it is offered up to God. Therefore, stand before God in silence and compunction.

Confess your sins to God through the Priests. Condemn your actions and do not be ashamed; for, there is a shame that bringeth sin, and there is a shame which is glory and grace (Ecclesiasticus 4:2 1).

Condemn yourself before men, so that the Judge may justify you before Angels and the whole world.

Seek mercy, seek forgiveness, seek remission of past sins and deliverance from future sins, so that you may approach the Mysteries worthily, so that you may partake of the Body and Blood with a pure conscience, and so that it may be for you unto purification and not unto condemnation.

Hear what the Divine Paul says: Let each man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (I Corinthians 11:27-30).

Do you notice that illness and death result, for the most part, from approaching the Divine Mysteries unworthily? But perhaps you will say: And who is worthy? I, too, am aware of this.

However, you will become worthy, if only you desire it. Recognize that you are a sinner. Cut yourself off from sin. Desist from sin, wickedness, and anger. Display the works of repentance; endue yourself with prudence, meekness, and forbearance.

Show compassion from the fruits of righteousness for those in need, and you will have become worthy. Beseech God with a contrite heart, and He will fulfill your petitions; for, if you do not do this, you will be wasting the time that you spend in church.

[…] And why, someone will object, because I have evil deeds, should I not pray? Why should I not spend time in the Church of God?

This is not what I am saying, nor do I even countenance it. But I beseech you to pray as you ought, so that when we draw near to God in our prayers, we may stand before Him in a way that befits Him

Anastasius of Sinai (7th Century): A Homily on the Holy Eucharist and on Not Judging Others or Remembering Wrongs, PG 89, 825A-849C, also attributed to Anastasios II of Antioch @ OCIC.

Francis de Sales: Remedies for Sadness and Melancholy Tuesday, Nov 19 2013 

Franz_von_SalesThe Evil One delights in sadness and melancholy, because they are his own characteristics.

He will be in sadness and sorrow through all Eternity, and he would fain have all others the same.

The “sorrow of the world” disturbs the heart, plunges it into anxiety, stirs up unreasonable fears, disgusts it with prayer, overwhelms and stupefies the brain, deprives the soul of wisdom, judgment, resolution and courage, weakening all its powers.

In a word, it is like a hard winter, blasting all the earth’s beauty, and numbing all animal life; for it deprives the soul of sweetness and power in every faculty.

Should you, my daughter, ever be attacked by this evil spirit of sadness, make use of the following remedies.

[…] Prayer is a sovereign remedy, it lifts the mind to God, Who is our only Joy and Consolation.

But when you pray let your words and affections, whether interior or exterior, all tend to love and trust in God.

“O God of Mercy, most Loving Lord, Sweet Saviour, Lord of my heart, my Joy, my Hope, my Beloved, my Bridegroom.”

Vigorously resist all tendencies to melancholy, and although all you do may seem to be done coldly, wearily and indifferently, do not give in.

The Enemy strives to make us languid in doing good by depression, but when he sees that we do not cease our efforts to work, and that those efforts become all the more earnest by reason of their being made in resistance to him, he leaves off troubling us.

Make use of hymns and spiritual songs; they have often frustrated the Evil One in his operations, as was the case when the evil spirit which possessed Saul was driven forth by music and psalmody.

It is well also to occupy yourself in external works, and that with as much variety as may lead us to divert the mind from the subject which oppresses it, and to cheer and kindle it, for depression generally makes us dry and cold.

[…] Moderate bodily discipline is useful in resisting depression, because it rouses the mind from dwelling on itself; and frequent Communion is specially valuable; the Bread of Life strengthens the heart and gladdens the spirits.

Lay bare all the feelings, thoughts and longings which are the result of your depression to your confessor or director, in all humility and faithfulness; seek the society of spiritually-minded people, and frequent such as far as possible while you are suffering.

And, finally, resign yourself into God’s Hands, endeavouring to bear this harassing depression patiently, as a just punishment for past idle mirth. Above all, never doubt but that, after He has tried you sufficiently, God will deliver you from the trial.

Francis de Sales (1567-1622): Introduction to the Devout Life, 4, 12.

Bede the Venerable: Such a Light Shone in Cuthbert’s Angelic Face that None Dared to Conceal from Him the Secrets of His Heart Wednesday, Sep 4 2013 

icon_bede-September 4th is the feast of St Cuthbert in England and Wales and the feast of the translation of St Cuthbert’s relics in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle

Cuthbert adopted the name and habit of a monk when he was quite a young man. He first entered the monastery of Mailros, which is on the bank of the river Tweed.

[…] Cuthbert became provost of that monastery, where he instructed many in the rule of monastic life, both by the authority of a master, and the example of his own behaviour.

Nor did he bestow his teaching and his example in the monastic life on his monastery alone, but laboured far and wide to convert the people dwelling round about from the life of foolish custom, to the love of heavenly joy.

For many profaned the faith which they held by their wicked actions. And some also, in the time of a pestilence, neglecting the mysteries of the faith which they had received, had recourse to the false remedies of idolatry, as if they could have put a stop to the plague sent from God, by incantations, amulets, or any other secrets of the devil’s art.

In order to correct the error of both sorts, he often went forth from the monastery, sometimes on horseback, but oftener on foot, and went to the neighbouring townships, where he preached the way of truth to such as had gone astray.

[…] It was then the custom of the English people, that when a clerk or priest came to a township, they all, at his summons, flocked together to hear the Word, willingly heard what was said, and still more willingly practised those things that they could hear and understand.

And such was Cuthbert’s skill in speaking, so keen his desire to persuade men of what he taught, such a light shone in his angelic face, that no man present dared to conceal from him the secrets of his heart, but all openly revealed in confession what they had done, thinking doubtless that their guilt could in nowise be hidden from him. And having confessed their sins, they wiped them out by fruits worthy of repentance, as he bade them.

He was wont chiefly to resort to those places and preach in those villages which were situated afar off amid steep and wild mountains, so that others dreaded to go thither, and whereof the poverty and barbarity rendered them inaccessible to other teachers.

But he, devoting himself entirely to that pious labour, so industriously ministered to them with his wise teaching, that when he went forth from the monastery, he would often stay a whole week, sometimes two or three, or even sometimes a full month, before he returned home, continuing among the hill folk to call that simple people by his preaching and good works to the things of Heaven.

The Venerable Bede (672/4-735): Ecclesiastical History of England, 4, 27.

Symeon the New Theologian: The commandments of the Master were given as guardians of God’s ineffable graces and gifts Friday, Aug 23 2013 

SYMEON-iconConfession is nothing other than the admission of our debts and, therefore, a deep awareness of our falls, that is, a decrial of our poverty and foolishness.

[…] Listen now to what it is that we have received from Him…:

deliverance from condemnation, sanctification from defilement, advancement from darkness to His ineffable light,

the possibility of becoming His children and sons and inheritors through divine baptism and to be clothed with God Himself, and to become His members and to receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us.

[…] He makes us like Himself and crafts us into His brethren and co-inheritors.

To those who are being baptized, all these things are given directly by baptism, which are called by the divine Apostle “divine riches and inheritance” (Col. 1:12; Eph. 3:8; 2 Cor. 4:7).

The commandments of the Master were given as guardians of these ineffable graces and gifts and they encircle the believer all about like a wall, creating a safe haven for the treasure hidden in his soul.

And they sustain it and make it inaccessible to all enemies and thieves.

However, we think that it is we ourselves who labour under the burden of keeping the commandments of a man-loving God; but we are unaware of the fact that it is we, rather, who are guarded by them.

For he who keeps the commandments of God does not sustain and guard them but guards himself from visible and invisible enemies, the innumerable entities which the Apostle Paul spoke of: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spirits of wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12), in other words, which are found in the air and are always invisibly arrayed against us.

Therefore, he who keeps the commandments is himself protected by them and cannot lose the riches, which God has entrusted in him. But he who disdains the commandments stands exposed before the enemies and is easily defeated by them.

And having lost all these riches, he is in debt to the King and Master for all the things we spoke of which are impossible for man to pay back or even to find. For these are heavenly and He came from heaven. And He comes every day and brings them and distributes them to the faithful.

Where could those who had once received them but also lost them possibly find them again? Truly nowhere.

Just as neither Adam, nor any of his sons, was able to restore himself or remake his relatives, it would have been impossible had not God, Who is above all being, become Adam’s son according to the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, and come and raised up both him and us from our fall by His divine power.

Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022 AD): Epistle on Confession, full translation and introduction @ Discerning Thoughts, from Saint Symeon the New Theologian: The Mystical Life, volume III (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Popular Patristics Series).