Gregory of Sinai: Calling on the Name of Jesus Friday, Aug 30 2013 

Gregory of SinaiNo one can master the intellect [nous]** unless he himself is mastered by the Spirit.

For the intellect is uncontrollable, not because it is by nature ever-active, but because through our continual remissness it has been given over to distraction and has become used to that.

When we violated the commandments of Him who in baptism regenerates us we separated ourselves from God and lost our conscious awareness of Him and our union with Him.

Sundered from that union and estranged from God, the intellect is led captive everywhere; and it cannot regain its stability unless it submits to God and is stilled by Him, joyfully uniting with Him through unceasing and diligent prayer and through noetically confessing all our lapses to Him each day.

God immediately forgives everything to those who ask forgiveness in a spirit of humility and contrition and who ceaselessly invoke His holy name. As the Psalmist says, “Confess to the Lord and call upon His holy name” (Psalms 105:1).

Holding the breath also helps to stabilize the intellect, but only temporarily, for after a little it lapses into distraction again. But when prayer is activated, then it really does keep the intellect in its presence, and it gladdens it and frees it from captivity.

But it may sometimes happen that the intellect, rooted in the heart, is praying, yet the mind wanders and gives its attention to other things; for the mind is brought under control only in those who have been made perfect by the Holy Spirit and who have attained a state of total concentration upon Christ Jesus.

In the case of a beginner in the art of spiritual warfare, God alone can expel thoughts, for it is only those strong in such warfare who are in a position to wrestle with them and banish them. Yet even they do not achieve this by themselves, but they fight against them with God’s assistance, clothed in the armor of His grace.

So when thoughts invade you, in place of weapons call on the Lord Jesus frequently and persistently and then they will retreat; for they cannot bear the warmth produced in the heart by prayer and they flee as if scorched by fire.

St. John Climacus tells us, “Lash your enemies with the name of Jesus,” because God is a fire that cauterizes wickedness (Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29). The Lord is prompt to help, and will speedily come to the defense of those who wholeheartedly call on Him day and night (Luke 18:7).

Gregory of Sinai (1260s–1346): On Prayer, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 4 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979ff), pp. 276-278.

**The translators of the Philokalia say the following about the word “intellect” as used in this passage from Gregory 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).

Maximus the Confessor: Faith, Hope, Love Tuesday, Aug 13 2013 

Maximus_ConfessorAugust 13th is the feast of St Maximus the Confessor

Love is a holy state of the soul, disposing it to value knowledge of God above all created things.

We cannot attain lasting possession of such love while we are still attached to anything worldly.

Dispassion engenders love, hope in God engenders dispassion, and patience and forbearance engender hope in God.

These in turn are the product of complete self-control, which itself springs from fear of God. Fear of God is the result of faith in God.

If you have faith in the Lord you will fear punishment, and this fear will lead you to control the passions.

Once you control the passions you will accept affliction patiently, and through such acceptance you will acquire hope in God.

Hope in God separates the intellect** from every worldly attachment, and when the intellect is detached in this way it will acquire love for God.

The person who loves God values knowledge of God more than anything created by God, and pursues such knowledge ardently and ceaselessly.

If everything that exists was made by God and for God, and God is superior to the things made by Him, he who abandons what is superior and devotes himself to what is inferior shows that he values things made by God more than God Himself.

When your intellect is concentrated on the love of God you will pay little attention to visible things and will regard even your own body as something alien.

Since the soul is more noble than the body and God incom­parably more noble than the world created by Him, he who values the body more than the soul and the world created by God more than the Creator Himself is simply a worshipper of idols.

If you distract your intellect from its love for God and concentrate it, not on God, but on some sensible object, you thereby show that you value the body more than the soul and the things made by God more than God Himself.

Since the light of spiritual knowledge is the intellect’s life, and since this light is engendered by love for God, it is rightly said that nothing is greater than divine love (cf. 1 Cor. 13:13).

When in the intensity of its love for God the intellect goes out of itself, then it has no sense of itself or of any created thing.

For when it is illumined by the infinite light of God, it becomes insensible to everything made by Him, just as the eye becomes insensible to the stars when the sun rises.

Maximus the Confessor (580-662): Four Hundred Texts on Love 1-10, Text  from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 2 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979), pp.53-54.

**The translators of the Philokalia say the following about the word “intellect” as used in this passage from Maximus 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).

Gregory Palamas: The Trinity and the Life of the Soul Wednesday, Jan 30 2013 

Gregory_PalamasThe Spirit of the supreme Word is a kind of ineffable yet intense longing or eros experienced by the Begetter for the Word born ineffably from Him, a longing experienced also by the beloved Word and Son of the Father for His Begetter.

But the Word possesses this love by virtue of the fact that it comes from the Father in the very act through which He comes from the Father, and it resides co-naturally in Him.

[…] Our intellect, because created in God’s image, possesses likewise the image of this sublime Eros or intense longing – an image expressed in the love experienced by the intellect for the spiritual knowledge that originates from it and continually abides in it.

This love is of the intellect and in the intellect and issues forth from it together with its innermost intelligence or Word.

[…] This intense longing is – and is called – the Holy Spirit and the other Comforter (cf John 14:16), since He accompanies the Word.

Thus we know Him to be perfect in a perfect and individual hypostasis, in no way inferior to the Father’s essence, but indistinguishably identical with the Son and the Father, although not according to hypostasis; for His distinction as hypostasis is manifest in the fact that He proceeds from God in a divinely fitting manner.

[…] The most sublime Goodness is a holy, awe-inspiring and venerable Trinity flowing forth out of Itself into Itself without change and divinely established in Itself before the ages.

The Trinity is without limits and is limited only by Itself; It limits all things, transcends all and permits no beings to be outside Itself.

[…] After our forefather’s transgression in paradise through the tree, we suffered the death of  our soul – which is the separation of the soul from God – prior to our bodily death; yet although we cast away our divine likeness, we did not lose our divine image.

Thus when the soul renounces its attachment to inferior things and cleaves through love to God and submits itself to Him through acts and modes of virtue, it is illuminated and made  beautiful by God and is raised to a higher level, obeying His counsels and exhortations; and by these means it regains the truly eternal life.

Through this life it makes the body conjoined to it immortal, so that in due time the body attains the promised resurrection and participates in eternal glory.

But if the soul does not repudiate its attachment and submission to inferior things whereby it shamefully dishonours God’s image, it alienates itself from God and is estranged from the true and truly blessed life of God; for as it has first abandoned God, it is justly abandoned by Him.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): One Hundred and Fifty Texts chs 36-39, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 4 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979ff), pp. 361-363.

Gregory of Sinai: The Kingdom of Heaven as the Liturgy of the Deified Thursday, Dec 20 2012 

Gregory of SinaiThe kingdom of heaven is like the tabernacle which was built by God, and which He disclosed to Moses as a pattern (cf. Exodus 25:40); for it too has an outer and an inner sanctuary.

Into the first will enter all who are priests of grace. But into the second – which is noetic [of the illuminated intellect] – will enter only those who in this life have attained the divine darkness of theological wisdom and there as true hierarchs have celebrated the triadic liturgy, entering into the tabernacle that Jesus Himself has set up, where He acts as their consecrator and chief Hierarch before the Trinity, and illumines them ever more richly with His own splendour.

By “many dwelling-places” (John 14:2) the Saviour meant the differing stages of spiritual ascent and states of development in the other world; for although the kingdom of heaven is one, there are many different levels within it.

That is to say, there is place for both heavenly and earthy men (cf. 1 Cor. 15:48) according to their virtue, their knowledge and the degree of deification that they have attained. “For there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:41); and yet all of them shine in a single divine firmament.

You partake of angelic life and attain an incorruptible and hence almost bodiless state when you have cleansed your intellect through tears, have through the power of the Spirit resurrected your soul even in this life, and with the help of the Logos [i.e. Christ the Word] have made your flesh – your natural human form of clay – a resplendent and fiery image of divine beauty.

[…] The land of the gentle (Ps. 37: 11) is the kingdom of heaven. Or else it is the theandric [fully divine and fully human] state of the Son, which we have attained or are in the process of attaining, having through grace been reborn as sons of God into the new life of the resurrection.

Or again, the holy land is our human nature when it has been divinized or…the land granted as an inheritance (cf. Numbers 34:13) to those who are truly saints, the untroubled and divine serenity and the peace that transcends the intellect (cf. Phil. 4:7) – the land wherein the righteous dwell quietly and unmolested.

The promised land is dispassion, from which spiritual joy flows like milk and honey (cf. Exod. 13:5). The saints in heaven hold inner converse together, communicating mystically through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Gregory of Sinai (1260s–1346): On Commandments and Doctrines, chs 43-45, 47-49, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 4 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979ff), pp. 220-221.

Hesychios the Priest: The Name of Jesus, repeated over and over in the heart as flashes of lightning… Tuesday, Nov 13 2012 

When in fear, trembling and unworthiness we are yet permitted to receive the divine, undefiled Mysteries of Christ, our King and our God, we should then display even greater watchfulness, strictness and guard over our hearts, so that the divine fire, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, may consume our sins and stains, great and small.

For when that fire enters into us, it at once drives the evil spirits from our heart and remits the sins we have previously committed, leaving the intellect free from the turbulence of wicked thoughts.

And if after this, standing at the entrance to our heart, we keep strict watch over the intellect, when we ace again permitted to receive those Mysteries the divine body will illumine our intellect still more and make it shine like a star.

Forgetfulness can extinguish our guard over our intellect as water extinguishes fire; but the continuous repetition of the Jesus Prayer combined with strict watchfulness uproots it from our heart.

The Jesus Prayer requires watchfulness as a lantern requires a candle.

We should strive to preserve the precious gifts which preserve us from all evil, whether on the plane of the senses or on that of the intellect.

These gifts are the guarding of the intellect with the invocation of Jesus Christ, continuous insight into the heart’s depths, stillness of mind unbroken even by thoughts which appear to be good, and the capacity to be empty of all thought.

In this way the demons will not steal in undetected; and if we suffer pain through remaining centered in the heart, consolation is at hand.

The heart which is constantly guarded, and is not allowed to receive the forms, images and fantasies of the dark and evil spirits, is conditioned by nature to give birth from within itself to thoughts filled with light.

For just as coal engenders a flame, or a flame lights a candle, so will God, who from our baptism dwells in our heart, kindle our mind to contemplation when He finds it free from the winds of evil and protected by the guarding of the intellect.

The name of Jesus should be repeated over and over in the heart as flashes of lightning are repeated over and over in the sky before rain.

Hesychios the Priest (?6th-9th century): On Watchfulness and Holiness chs 101-105, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979), pp. 179-180.

Diadochus of Photiké: Theology Embraces Our Intellect with the Light of a Transforming Fire Saturday, Aug 25 2012 

diadochus-of-photikeAll God’s gifts of grace are flawless and the source of everything good.

But the gift which inflames our heart and moves it to the love of His goodness more than any other is theology.

It is the early offspring of God’s grace and bestows on the soul the greatest gifts.

First of all, it leads us gladly to disregard all love of this life, since in the place of perishable desires we possess inexpressible riches, the oracles of God.

Then it embraces our intellect with the light of a transforming fire, and so makes it a partner of the angels in their liturgy.

Therefore, when we have been made ready, we begin to long sincerely for this gift of contemplative vision, for it is full of beauty, frees us from every worldly care, and nourishes the intellect with divine truth in the radiance of inexpressible light.

In brief, it is the gift which, through the help of the holy prophets, unites the deiform soul with God in unbreakable communion.

So, among men as among angels, divine theology – like one who conducts the wedding feast – brings into harmony the voices of those who praise God’s majesty.

Our intellect often finds it hard to endure praying because of the straightness and concentration which this involves. But it joyfully turns to theology because of the broad and unhampered scope of divine speculation.

Therefore, so as to keep the intellect from expressing itself too much in words or exalting itself unduly in its joy, we should spend most of our time in prayer, in singing psalms and reading the Holy Scriptures, yet without neglecting the speculations of wise men whose faith has been revealed in their writings.

In this way we shall prevent the intellect from confusing its own utterances with the utterances of grace, and stop it from being led astray by self-esteem and dispersed through over-elation and loquacity.

In the time of contemplation we must keep the intellect free of all fantasy and image, and so ensure that with almost all our thoughts we shed tears.

When it is at peace in times of stillness, and above all when it is gladdened by the sweetness of prayer, not only does it escape the faults we have mentioned, but it is more and more renewed in its swift and effortless understanding of divine truth, and with great humility it advances in its knowledge of discrimination.

There is, moreover, a prayer which is above even the broadest scope of speculation: but this prayer is granted only to those who fully and consciously perceive the plenitude of God’s grace within them.

Diadochus of Photiké (c.400-before 486): On Spiritual Perfection chs 67-68, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979).

Isaiah the Solitary: The Remembrance of God and Praying with Sweetness of Heart Friday, Aug 24 2012 

Our teacher Jesus Christ, out of pity for mankind and knowing the utter mercilessness of the demons, severely commands us: ‘Be ready at every hour, for you do not know when the thief will come; do not let him come and find you asleep’ (cf Matt. 24:42-43).

[…] Stand guard, then, over your heart and keep a watch on your senses; and if the remembrance of God dwells peaceably within you, you will catch the thieves when they try to deprive you of it.

When a man has an exact knowledge about the nature of thoughts, he recognizes those which are about to enter and defile him, troubling the intellect with distractions and making it lazy.

Those who recognize these evil thoughts for what they are remain undisturbed and continue in prayer to God.

[…] What…is meant by the worship of God?

It means that we have nothing extraneous in our intellect when we are praying to Him: neither sensual pleasure as we bless Him, nor malice as we sing His praise, nor hatred as we exalt Him, nor jealousy to hinder us as we speak to Him and call Him to mind.

For all these things are full of darkness; they are a wall imprisoning our wretched soul, and if the soul has them in itself it cannot worship God with purity.

They obstruct its ascent and prevent it from meeting God: they hinder it from blessing Him inwardly and praying to Him with sweetness of heart, and so receiving His illumination.

As a result the intellect is always shrouded in darkness and cannot advance in holiness, because it does not make the effort to uproot these thoughts by means of spiritual knowledge.

When the intellect rescues the soul’s senses from the desires of the flesh and imbues them with dispassion, the passions shamelessly attack the soul, trying to hold its senses fast in sin; but if the intellect then continually calls upon God in secret.

He, seeing all this, will send His help and destroy all the passions at once.

I entreat you not to leave your heart unguarded, so long as you are in the body.

[…] Up to his last breath [a man] cannot know what passion will attack him; so long as he breathes, therefore, he must not leave his heart unguarded, but should at every moment pray to God for His help and mercy.

Isaiah the Solitary (d. 489/491): On Guarding the Intellect, 12-15, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979). 

Note: The word intellect in the Philokalia translates the Greek nous, which the translators define as follows:

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’ (Makarian Homilies).

Symeon the Metaphrast: Devoted to Remembrance of God, Engrossed in His Love and in Unutterable and Boundless Longing for Him Monday, Jul 9 2012 

As has been said, love for God can be attained through the intellect’s great struggles and labors in holy meditation and in unremitting attention to all that is good.

The devil, on the contrary, impedes our intellect, not letting it devote itself to divine love through the remembrance of what is good, but enticing the senses with earthly desires.

For the intellect that dwells undistractedly in the love and remembrance of God is the devil’s death and, so to say, his noose.

Hence it is only through the first commandment, love for God, that genuine love for one’s brother can be established, and that true simplicity, gentleness, humility, integrity, goodness, prayer and the whole beautiful crown of the virtues can be perfected.

Much struggle is needed, therefore, and much inward and unseen travail, much scrutiny of our thoughts and training of our soul’s enfeebled organs of perception, before we can discriminate between good and evil, and strengthen and give fresh life to the afflicted powers of our soul through the diligent striving of our intellect towards God.

For by always cleaving to God in this way our intellect will become one spirit with the Lord, as St Paul puts it (cf 1 Cor. 6:17).

Those aspiring to the state of virtue must strive to fulfill the commandments by sustaining this inward struggle, travail and meditation unceasingly night and day, whether praying or serving, eating or drinking, or doing anything else.

In this way, if any good comes about it will be to God’s glory and not to their own.

The fulfillment of the commandments presents no difficulty or trouble to us when it is facilitated by the love of God and when this love relieves it of all that is burdensome.

As has been said, the whole effort of the enemy is directed towards distracting the intellect from the remembrance, fear and love of God, and to turning it by means of earthly forms and seductions away from what is truly good towards what appears to be good.

[…] The first and highest elements of our constitution – the intellect, the conscience, the loving power of the soul – must initially be offered to God as a holy sacrifice.

The firstfruits and the highest of our true thoughts must be continually devoted to remembrance of Him, engrossed in His love and in unutterable and boundless longing for Him.

In this way we can grow and move forward day by day, assisted by divine grace.

Then the burden of fulfilling the commandments will appear light to us, and we will carry them out faultlessly and irreproachably, helped by the Lord Himself on account of our faith in Him.

Symeon the Metaphrast (10th century?): Paraphrase of the Homilies St Makarios of Egypt, 1,13-15. Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 3 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979). 

Isaiah the Solitary: Have No Fear for I have Delivered You; I have Called You by My Name Friday, Jun 22 2012 

If God sees that the intellect has entirely submitted to Him and puts its hope in Him alone.

He strengthens it, saying: ‘Have no fear Jacob my son, my little Israel’ (Isa. 41:14. LXX), and:

‘Have no fear: for I have delivered you, I have called you by My name; you are Mine. If you pass through water, I shall be with you, and the rivers will not drown you.

‘If you go through fire, you will not be burnt, and the names will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, who saves you’ (cf . Isa. 43:1-3. LXX).

When the intellect hears these words of reassurance, it says boldly to its enemies: ‘Who would fight with me? Let him stand against me. And who would accuse me?

‘Let him draw near to me. Behold, the Lord is my helper; who will harm me? Behold, all of you are like an old moth-eaten garment’ (cf Isa. 50:8-9. LXX).

If your heart comes to feel a natural hatred for sin, it has defeated the causes of sin and freed itself from them. Keep hell’s torments in mind: but know that your Helper is at hand.

Do nothing that will grieve Him, but say to Him with tears: ‘Be merciful and deliver me, Lord, for without Thy help I cannot escape from the hands of my enemies’.

Be attentive to your heart, and He will guard you from all evil. The monk should shut all the gates of his soul, that is, the senses, so that he is not lured astray.

When the intellect sees that it is not dominated by anything, it prepares itself for immortality, gathering its senses together and forming them into one body.

If your intellect is freed from all hope in things visible, this is a sign that sin has died in you. If your intellect is freed, the breach between it and God is eliminated.

If your intellect is freed from all its enemies and attains the Sabbath rest, it lives in another age, a new age in which it contemplates things new and undecaying.

For ‘wherever the dead body is, there will the eagles be gathered together’ (Matt. 24: 28).

The demons cunningly withdraw for a time in the hope that we will cease to guard our heart, thinking we have now attained peace, then they suddenly attack our unhappy soul and seize it like a sparrow.

[…]  Let us stand, therefore, with fear of God and keep guard over our heart, practicing the virtues which check the wickedness of our enemies.

Isaiah the Solitary (d. 489/491): On Guarding the Intellect, 4-11, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979). 

Note: The word intellect in the Philokalia translates the Greek nous, which the translators define as follows:

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’ (Makarian Homilies).

 

Evagrius the Solitary: Keep Powerful Guard Over Your Memory Monday, Jun 4 2012 

If you long to pray, renounce everything at once (cf. Lk 14:33) so that you may inherit all.

Pray [1] first, for purification from the passions;

[2] and second, for deliverance from ignorance and forgetfulness;

[3] and third, for deliverance from all temptation and abandonment.

In your prayer seek only righteousness and the kingdom, namely, virtue and knowledge; and all the rest will be added unto you (Mt 6:33).

It is just to pray not only for your own purification, but also to pray for your own kindred, so as to imitate the angelic way.

[…] Whether you pray with brothers or by yourself, struggle to pray not only in the customary way, but also with perception.

Perception in prayer is concentration (sunnoia), with reverence and compunction and distress of soul, as you confess your failures with silent groans.

If the intellect (nous) is still staring around at the time of prayer, it does not yet know how to pray as a monk; it is still a secular, decorating the exterior tabernacle (cf. Mt 23:27).

When you pray, keep powerful guard over your memory: in this way, instead of placing its own passions before you, it will, instead, move you to the knowledge that you stand before God.

For the nous is easily, naturally disarmed and plundered by the memory at the time of prayer.

When you are praying the memory brings you fantasies of either: [1] ancient issues; [2] or new worries; [3] or the face of one who has distressed you.

The demon is very malignant towards any person who prays, and it employs every means to defeat his purpose.

It does not cease [1] moving thoughts (noemata) of matters through the memory and [2] stirring up all the passions through the flesh, so as to be able to impede his excellent course and his departure to God.

When, despite all his efforts, the malevolent demon is unable to hinder the prayer of one who is earnest, it lets up for a time and then takes its revenge when he finishes praying. It either:

[1] enflames him with anger, thus ruining the excellent state that, through prayer, has been welded together in him;

[2] or it entices him to some irrational pleasure and so commits an outrage on the nous.

Having prayed properly, expect what is improper; and stand courageously to keep guard over your harvest.

Indeed from the beginning you were assigned this: namely, to work and keep guard (Gen. 2:15).  So do not leave your work unguarded after your labor, otherwise you do not receive any benefit from praying.

Evagrius Ponticus (345-399): On Prayer, 37-49, translated by Luke Dysinger OSB.

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