John Climacus: You will heal yourself and your neighbour with one plaster Thursday, Feb 11 2016 

ClimacusSome girls do wrong without shame, and there are others who secretly and with apparently great modesty behave still worse than the former; and it is the same with shameful passions.

There are many insincere maidens, such as: hypocrisy, vice, melancholy, the remembrance of injuries, disparagement of others in one’s heart.

They appear to propose one thing, but they have something else in view.

I have heard people slandering, and I have rebuked them. And these doers of evil replied in self-defence that they were doing so out of love and care for the person whom they were slandering.

I said to them: ‘Stop that kind of love, otherwise you will be condemning as a liar him who said: “Him who secretly slanders his neighbour, him I drove away” (Palm 100:5).

If you say you love, then pray secretly, and do not mock the man. For this is the kind of love that is acceptable to the Lord.

But I will not hide this from you (and of course think about it, and do not judge the offender): Judas was in the company of Christ’s disciples, and the Robber was in the company of murderers. And what a reversal when the crisis came!’

He who wants to overcome the spirit of slander, should not ascribe the blame to the person who falls, but to the demon who suggests it. For no one really wants to sin against God, even though we do all sin without being forced to do so.

I have known a man who sinned openly and repented secretly. I condemned him as a profligate, but he was chaste before God, having propitiated Him by a genuine conversion.

Do not regard the feelings of a person who speaks to you about his neighbour disparagingly, but rather say to him: ‘Stop, brother! I fall into graver sins every day, so how can I criticize him?’

In this way you will achieve two things: you will heal yourself and your neighbour with one plaster. This is one of the shortest ways to the forgiveness of sins; I mean, not to judge. ‘Judge not, that you be not judged’ (Luke 6:37).

Fire and water are incompatible; and so is judging others in one who wants to repent. If you see someone falling into sin at the very moment of his death, even then do not judge him, because the Divine judgment is hidden from men.

Some have fallen openly into great sins, but they have done greater good deeds in secret; so their critics were tricked, getting smoke instead of the sun.

John Climacus (c.575-c.650): The Ladder of Divine Ascent, step 10 “on slander or calumny”, 3-8, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Harper & Brothers, 1959) @ Prudence True.

Dorotheus of Gaza: Preservation of conscience Friday, Apr 4 2014 

Dorotheos2Continued from here….

Let us strive to preserve our conscience while we are in this world, let us not allow it to refuse us in any matter.

Let us not trample upon it in any way, even in the smallest thing.

Know that from disdaining this small thing which is in essence nothing, we go on to disdain also a great thing.

[…] One may begin to say, “What does it matter if I say this word? What does it matter if I eat this thing? What does it matter if I look at this or that thing?”

From this “what does it matter about this or that?” one falls into a bad habit and begins to disdain what is great and important and to trample down one’s conscience, and thus becoming hardened in evil, one is in danger of coming to complete lack of feeling.

Wherefore guard yourselves, O brethren, from disdaining what is small, guard yourself from trampling upon it, looking down upon it as something small and unimportant.

It is not small, for through it a bad habit is formed. Let us pay heed to ourselves and be concerned for what is light while it is still light, so that it will not become heavy: for both virtues and sins begin from the small and go on to become great good and evil.

Therefore the Lord commands us to preserve our conscience and, as it were, He especially exhorts each of us, saying: “Look what you are doing, unfortunate one! Come to yourself, be reconciled with your adversary [i.e. your conscience] while you are in the way with him.”

[…] In relation to God, a man preserves his conscience if he does not disdain God through His commandments; and even in what people do not see, and in what no one demands of us, he preserves his conscience towards God in secret.

For example, one may have grown lazy in prayer, or a passionate thought has entered his heart, and he did not oppose this and did not restrain himself, but accepted it; or when one has seen his neighbor doing or saying something and, as it often the case, he judged him.

In short, everything that happens in secret, which no one knows except God and our conscience, we must preserve; and this is preservation of the conscience in relation to God.

And the preservation of the conscience in relation to one’s neighbor demands that we do nothing at all which, as far as we know, offends or tempts our neighbor by deed, word, appearance, or a glance.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 3 – On the Conscience @ Pravoslavie.

Theodore the Studite: We shall be a Holy Temple to God, Beautified with Gifts upon Gifts Friday, Mar 14 2014 

Theodore_the_StuditeContinued from here….

And since we should become yet more humble and obedient by the study of the inspired Scriptures, let us beware lest we be puffed up in the vanity of our mind, so as to make our knowledge an occasion of evil, and like-wise also our power in speech and argument, our experience, our skill, our correctness in framing and uttering our words; our good reading, or maybe our subtlety, our skill of hand, our psalmody, our learning, our skill in music, our culture, and the like.

But let the gift of these things be to us rather a cause of fear and of self-abasement before God who has given them. For thus we shall find God merciful, — or rather bountiful, and ready to give us yet more, that we may be filled with good things. And we shall be a holy temple to God, beautified with gifts upon gifts.

But if we shall become presumptuous towards God, and seek to lord it over our brethren, stretching up, as it were, the neck of our souls, and raising our eyebrows and hoisting our shoulders and walking boastfully, seeking this or that, judging others in our pride and foolishness: — asking ever “why are not things otherwise?” or “why have not I the charge of this matter?” or “why should this man have the management of that business?” if we act thus, we are indeed vain and foolish, and are like those in the proverb who pour water into leaky vessels.

Not so, my brethren, not so. Let us not make our opportunities a cause of destruction or the day of work a day of loss; nor, when we may mount the walls of virtue, slip down into vice. Our opportunity is great, our days are delightful. For they are spent in following the commandments of God, in attaining everlasting wealth, in purchasing the kingdom of Heaven. Let us run, let us hasten.

I exhort you, I beseech you. I would kneel before you and implore you as my inmost life and all my joy, my boasting and my crown, my glory and praise. Those who have affirmed and those who have denied; those who have followed the way for long and those who are new to it; those from distant folds and those bred among us; all now of one herd and one flock, of one fold and one charge, nurslings of one shepherd ! Let us think no more of evil that might come. May you live thus and strive thus and be perfected thus in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be the glory and the power with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and for ever. Amen.

Theodore the Studite (759-826): Great Catechesis, Discourse 61 in Alice Gardner, Theodore of Studium: His Life and Times (1905), pp. 90-91.

Maximus the Confessor: “If Someone Hits You on the Right Cheek, Turn to Him the Other Cheek…” Monday, Feb 24 2014 

Maximus_ConfessorIf you wish not to fall away from the love of God, do not let your brother go to bed feeling irritated with you, and do not go to bed yourself feeling irritated with him.

Reconcile yourself with your brother, and then come to Christ with a clear conscience and offer Him your gift of love in earnest prayer (cf. Matt. 5:24).

[…] If ‘love prevents us from harming our neighbour’ (Rom. 13:10), he who is jealous of his brother or irritated by his reputation, and damages his good name with cheap jibes or in any way spitefully plots against him, is surely alienating himself from love and is guilty in the face of eternal judgment.

If ‘love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Rom. 13:10), he who is full of rancour towards his neighbour and lays traps for him and curses him, exulting in his fall, must surely be a transgressor de­serving eternal punishment.

If ‘he who speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law’ (Jas. 4:11), and the law of Christ is love, surely he who speaks evil of Christ’s love falls away from it and is the cause of his own perdition.

Do not listen gleefully to gossip at your neighbour’s expense or chatter to a person who likes finding fault. Otherwise you will fall away from divine love and find yourself cut off from eternal life.

[…] ‘But I say to you,’ says the Lord, ‘love your enemies. . . do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you’ (Matt. 5: 44.). Why did He command this? To free you from hatred, irritation, anger and rancour, and to make you worthy of the supreme gift of perfect love.

And you cannot attain such love if you do not imitate God and love all men equally. For God loves all men equally and wishes them ‘to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2:4).

‘But I say to you, do not resist evil; but if someone hits you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek as well. And if anyone sues you in the courts, and takes away your coat, let him have your cloak also. And if anyone forces you to go a mile, go with him for two miles’ (Matt. 5:39-41).

Why did He say this? Both to keep you free from anger and irritation, and to correct the other person by means of your forbearance, so that like a good Father He might bring the two of you under the yoke of love.

Maximus the Confessor (580-662): Four Hundred Texts on Love 53, 55-58, 61-62, 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.58-60.

Theophylact of Ohrid: The Prayer of the Pharisee Thursday, Feb 13 2014 

Theophylact_the_Bulgarian (1)On Luke 18:9-14 (the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee).

The Lord ceaselessly purges the passion of pride in many ways.

This passion, more than any other, disturbs our thoughts, and for this reason the Lord always and everywhere teaches on this subject.

Here He is purging the worst form of pride.

For there are many offshoots of self-love. Presumption, arrogance, and vainglory all stem from this root.

But the most destructive of all these kinds of self-love is pride, for pride is contempt of God.

When a man ascribes his accomplishments to himself, and not to God, this is nothing less than denial of God and opposition to Him.

Therefore, like enemy to enemy, the Lord opposes this passion which is opposed to Him, and through this parable He promises to heal it.

He directs this parable towards those who trust in themselves and who do not attribute everything to God, and who, as a result, despise others.

He shows that when righteousness—which is marvelous in every other respect and sets a man close to God—takes pride as its companion, it casts that man into the lowest depths and makes demonic what was God-like just a short time before.

The words of the Pharisee at first resemble the words of a grateful man. For he says, God, I thank Thee. But the words that follow are full of foolishness.

He does not say, “that Thou hast made me to depart from extortion and iniquities,” but Instead, “I thank Thee that I am not an extortioner or worker of iniquity.”

He attributes this accomplishment to himself, as something done by his own strength. How can a man who knows that what he has, he has received from God, compare other men to himself unfavorably and judge them?

Certainly, if a man believed that he had received as a gift good things that in truth belong to God, he would not despise other men.

He would instead consider himself just as naked as his fellow men in regards to virtue, except that by the mercy of God his nakedness has been covered with a donated garment.

The Pharisee is proud, ascribing his deeds to his own strength, and that is why he proceeds to condemn others.

By saying that the Pharisee stood, the Lord indicates his haughtiness and lack of humility. In the same way that a humble-minded man is likewise humble in his demeanor, this Pharisee by his bearing displays his pride.

Although it is also said of the publican that he stood, note what follows: he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, so that he was stooped in posture.

But the eyes of the Pharisee, together with his heart, were lifted up to heaven in boastful exaltation.

Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107): Explanation of the Gospel of St Luke, on Luke 18:10-14 (Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee) @ Chrysostom Press.

John Cassian: An incomprehensible and all-devouring flame… Thursday, Nov 7 2013 

Sf-IoanCasianSupplication is an imploring or petition concerning sins, in which one who is sorry for his present or past deeds asks for pardon….

Prayers are those by which we offer or vow something to God….

Intercessions we offer up for others….

Thanksgivings the mind in ineffable transports offers up to God.

[…] Supplication seems to belong more especially to beginners, who are still troubled by the stings and recollection of their sins.

Prayers belong to those who have already attained some loftiness of mind in their spiritual progress and the quest of virtue.

Intercessions belong to those who fulfil the completion of their vows by their works, and are so stimulated to intercede for others also through the consideration of their weakness, and the earnestness of their love.

Thanksgivings belong to those who have already torn from their hearts the guilty thorns of conscience.

Being now free from care, they can contemplate with a pure mind the beneficence of God and His compassions, which He has either granted in the past, or is giving in the present, or preparing for the future.

Thus they are borne onward with fervent hearts to that ardent prayer which cannot be embraced or expressed by the mouth of men.

Sometimes however the mind which is advancing to that perfect state of purity and which is already beginning to be established in it, will take in all these at one and the same time.

Like some incomprehensible and all-devouring flame, it will dart through them all and offer up to God inexpressible prayers of the purest force.

The Spirit Itself, intervening with groanings that cannot be uttered, while we ourselves understand not, pours forth these prayers to God, grasping at that hour and ineffably pouring forth in its supplications things so great that they cannot be uttered with the mouth nor even at any other time be recollected by the mind.

And thence it comes that in whatever degree any one stands, he is found sometimes to offer up pure and devout prayers.

Even in that first and lowly station which has to do with the recollection of future judgment, he who still remains under the punishment of terror and the fear of judgment is so smitten with sorrow for the time being that he is filled with no less keenness of spirit from the richness of his supplications than he who through the purity of his heart gazes on and considers the blessings of God and is overcome with ineffable joy and delight.

For, as the Lord Himself says, he begins to love the more, who knows that he has been forgiven the more.

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 9, 11-15.

Ambrose of Milan: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil Saturday, Oct 5 2013 

ambrose_of_milanI shall not despoil Adam of all the virtues, so that he would appear to have attained no virtue in Paradise and would seem to have eaten nothing from the other trees, but had fallen into sin before he had obtained any fruit.

I shall…not despoil Adam lest I may despoil the whole human race, which is innocent before it acquires the capacity to know good and evil.

Not without reason was it said: ‘Unless you turn and become like this child, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt.18:3).

The child, when he is scolded, does not retaliate. When he is struck, he does not strike back. He is not conscious of the allurements of ambition and self-seeking.

The truth seems to be, then, that He commanded the tree not to be eaten, not even along with the fruit of the other trees.

Knowledge of good, in fact, although of no use to a perfect man, is, on the other hand, of no value to a man who is imperfect.

Paul speaks of himself as imperfect: ‘Not that I have already obtained this or already have been made perfect, but I press on hoping that I may lay hold of it already’ (Phil. 3:12).

Hence the Lord says to the imperfect: ‘Do not judge that you may not be judged’ (Matt. 7:1). Knowledge is, therefore, of no use to the imperfect. Hence we read: ‘I did not know sin unless the Law had said, thou shalt not lust’. And further on we read: ‘For without the Law sin is dead’ (Rom. 7:7-8).

What advantage is it to me to know what I cannot avoid? What avails it for me to know that the law of my flesh assails me? Paul is assailed and sees ‘the law of his flesh warring against that of his mind and making him prisoner to the law of sin.

He does not rely on himself, but by the grace of Christ is confident of his ‘deliverance from the body of death (Rom. 7:23-24). Do you think that anyone with knowledge of sin can avoid it?

Paul says: ‘For I do not the good that I wish, but the evil that I do not wish’ (Rom. 7:19). Do you consider that this knowledge which adds to the reproach of sin can be of help to man?

Granted, however, that the perfect man is unable to sin. God foresaw all men in the person of Adam. Hence it was not fitting that the human race in general should have a knowledge of good and evil – a knowledge which he could not utilize because of the weakness of the flesh.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): On Paradise, 12, 59-60 from Saint Ambrose: Hexameron, Paradise, Cain and Abel, translated by John J. Savage, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 42), pp. 340-342.

Dorotheus of Gaza: True love covers all sins Tuesday, Jun 4 2013 

Dorotheos2As I said, if we have true love, that very love would cover all sins, as did the saints when they saw the shortcomings of men.

Were they blind and did not see sins? And who hated sin more than the saints?

But they did not hate the sinners all the same time, nor condemn them, nor turn away from them, but they suffered with them, admonished them, comforted them, gave them remedies as sickly members, and did all they could to save them.

Take a fisherman: when he casts his hook into the sea and a large fish takes the bait, he perceives first that the fish struggles violently and is full of fight, so he does not try to pull it in immediately by main force for the line would break and the catch would be lost in the end.

No, he rather plays out the line and, as he says, allows the fish to run freely, but when he feels the line slacken and the first struggles have calmed down, he takes up the slack line and begins, little by little, to draw him in.

So the holy fathers, by patience and love, draw the brother and do not spurn him nor become disgusted with him.

As a mother who has an unruly son does not hate him or turn away from him but adorns him with love, and everything she does, she does for his consolation; so do the saints always cover, adorn and help the sinner, so that with time he will correct himself, and not harm anyone else, and in doing so they themselves greatly advance towards the love of Christ.

What did the blessed Ammon do when those brothers, greatly disturbed, came to him and said, “Come and see, Father, There is a young woman in Brother X’s cell.”

What great love there was in that great soul. Knowing that the brother had hidden the woman in a large barrel, he went in sat down on it, and told the others to search the whole place.

And when they found nothing he said to them, “May God forgive you!” And thus did he put them to shame, edify them and bring them great benefit by teaching them not to readily believe accusations against their neighbor.

By his consideration for his brother he not only covered him after God but corrected him when the right moment came.

Having thrown the others out, he took his hand and said, “Take a thought for you soul, brother.” Immediately the brother was ashamed and came to compunction, so swiftly did the love and compassion of the elder work upon his soul.

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 6 – That We Should Not Judge Our Neighbour @ Pravoslavie.

Dorotheus of Gaza: “Love thinks no evil” Tuesday, May 28 2013 

Dorotheos2A man can know nothing about the judgments of God. He alone is all-seeing and can judge the sins of all as He alone knows.

Truly it happens that a man may do some sin out of simplicity, but he may have something good about him which is more pleasing to God than his whole life; and you sit in judgment and burden your own soul?

And should it happen that he has fallen away, how do you know how much and how well he fought, how much blood he sweated before he did it?

Perhaps so little fault can be found in him that God can look on his action as if it were just, for God looks on his labor and all the struggle he had before he did it, and has pity on him.

And you know only his sin, then how God spared him; are you going to condemn him for it, and destroy your own soul?

And how do you know what tears he has shed about it before God? You may well know about the sin, but you do not know about the repentance.

[…] Those who want to be saved scrutinize not the shortcomings of their neighbor but always their own, and they make progress.

Such was the man who saw his brother doing wrong and sighed, saying, “Woe is me; him today—me tomorrow!” Do you see his caution?

[…] When he said “me tomorrow” he aroused fear of sinning, and by this he increased his caution about avoiding those sins which he was likely to commit….

He cast himself under his brother’s feet, saying, “He has repented for his sin but I do not always repent as I should, nor do I attain to repentance, for I have not the strength to repent.”

[…] And we wretches judge rashly, we loathe and despise if we see something, or hear something, or even only suspect something!

[…] We do the devil’s work and are not one bit concerned about it. What else has the devil to do but disturb and harm us? We are found to work with him for our own destruction and that of our neighbor, for a man who harms his own soul is working with, and helping, the demons.

The man who seeks to profit his soul is co-operating with the angels. How is it that we fall into this state unless it is because we have no true love?

If we had true love, then we would view our neighbor’s shortcomings with co-suffering and compassion, as it is said, Love shall cover the multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Love thinketh no evil; covers everything and the rest (1 Cor. 13:5).

Dorotheos of Gaza (505-565 or 620): Conference 6 – That We Should Not Judge Our Neighbour @ Pravoslavie.

Cyril of Alexandria: The Publican and the Pharisee (1) – The Pharisee Friday, Mar 1 2013 

Cyril_of_AlexandriaOur virtue therefore must not be contaminated with fault, but must be single-minded and blameless, and free from all that can bring reproach.

For what profit is there in fasting twice in the week, if your so doing serve only as a pretext for ignorance and vanity, and make you supercilious and haughty, and selfish?

You tithe your possessions, and make a boast thereof: but you in another way provoke God’s anger, by condemning men generally on this account, and accusing others; and you are yourself puffed up, though not crowned by the divine decree for righteousness, but heap, on the contrary, praises upon yourself.

“For I am not, he says, as the rest of mankind.” Moderate yourself, O Pharisee: “put a door to your tongue, and a lock.” You speak to God Who knows all things. Await the decree of the Judge.

None of those skilled in the practice of wrestling ever crowns himself: nor does any man receive the crown of himself, but awaits the summons of the arbiter.

Lower your pride: for arrogance is both accursed and hated by God. Although therefore you fast with puffed up mind, your so doing will not avail you: your labour will be unrewarded; for you have mingled dung with your perfume.

Even according to the law of Moses a sacrifice that had a blemish was not capable of being offered to God: for it was said unto him, “Of sheep, and ox, that is offered for sacrifice, there must be no blemish therein.”

Since therefore your fasting is accompanied by pride, you must expect to hear God saying, “This is not the fast that I have chosen, says the Lord.”

You offer tithes: but you wrong in another way Him Who is honoured by you, in that you condemn men generally.

This is an act foreign to the mind that fears God: for Christ even said, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.”

And one also of His disciples said, “There is one Lawgiver, and Judge: why then do you judge your neighbour?”

No man because he is in health ridicules one who is sick for being laid up and bedridden: rather he is afraid, lest perchance he become himself the victim of similar sufferings.

Nor does any man in battle, because another has fallen, praise himself for having escaped from misfortune.

For the infirmity of others is not a fit subject for praise for those who are in health: nay, even if anyone be found of more than usually vigorous health, even then scarcely does he gain glory thereby. Such then was the state of the self-loving Pharisee.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Homilies on the Gospel of St. Luke, 120 @ Pravoslavie.

Next Page »