Tag Archives: Despair

Orthodox Church quotes about despair (depression).

St. John of Karpathos: . . . How much more, then, will a Christian be heard when he prays to be delivered from spiritual death?

Jesus Gadarene DemonPharaoh entreated, saying: ‘May God take away from me this death’ (Exod.10:17), and he was heard. Similarly, when the demons asked the Lord not to cast them into the abyss, their request was granted (cf. Luke 8:31). How much more, then, will a Christian be heard when he prays to be delivered from spiritual death?

+ St. John of Karpathos, For the Encouragement of the Monks in India who had Written to Him: One Hundred Texts (69)

St. John Chrysostom: Let us not then make ourselves unworthy of entrance into the bride-chamber . . .

Icon of St. John ChrysostomLet us not then make ourselves unworthy of entrance into the bride-chamber: for as long as we are in this world, even if we commit countless sins it is possible to wash them all away by manifesting repentance for our offenses: but when once we have departed to the other world, even if we display the most earnest repentance it will be of no avail, not even if we gnash our teeth, beat our breasts, and utter innumerable calls for succor, no one with the tip of his finger will apply a drop to our burning bodies, but we shall only hear those words which the rich man heard in the parable ‘Between us and you a great gulf has been fixed.’ [Luke xvi. 26]

Let us then, I beseech you, recover our senses here and let us recognize our Master as He ought to be recognized. For only when we are in Hades should we abandon the hope derived from repentance: for there only is this remedy weak and unprofitable: but while we are here even if it is applied in old age itself it exhibits much strength. Wherefore also the devil sets everything in motion in order to root in us the reasoning which comes of despair: for he knows that if we repent even a little we shall not do this without some reward. But just as he who gives a cup of cold water has his recompense reserved for him, so also the man who has repented of the evils which he has done, even if he cannot exhibit the repentance which his offenses deserve, will have a commensurate reward. For not a single item of good, however small it may be, will be overlooked by the righteous judge. For if He makes such an exact scrutiny of our sins, as to require punishment for both our words and thoughts, much more will our good deeds, whether they be great or small, be reckoned to our credit at that day.

Wherefore, even if thou art not able to return again to the most exact state of discipline, yet if thou withdraw thyself in a slight degree at least from thy present disorder and excess, even this will not be impossible: only set thyself to the task at once, and open the entrance into the place of contest; but as long as thou tarriest outside this naturally seems difficult and impracticable to thee. [Matt. xxv. 34; 249 Luke xvi. 26]. For before making the trial even if things are easy and manageable they are wont to present an appearance of much difficulty to us: but when we are actually engaged in the trial, and making the venture the greater part of our distress is removed, and confidence taking the place of tremor and despair lessens the fear and increases the facility of operation, and makes our good hopes stronger.

For this reason also the wicked one dragged Judas out of this world lest he should make a fair beginning, and so return by means of repentance to the point from which he fell. For although it may seem a strange thing to say, I will not admit even that sin to be too great for the succor which is brought to us from repentance. Wherefore I pray and beseech you to banish all this Satanic mode of thinking from your soul, and to return to this state of salvation.

+ St. John Chrysostom, An Exhortation to Theodore After His Fall, Letter 1

 

Canon of St. Andrew: When the Lord had fasted for forty days in the wilderness . . .

Jesus 5When the Lord had fasted for forty days in the wilderness, He at last became hungry, showing His human nature. Do not be despondent, my soul, if the enemy attacks you, but let him be beaten off by prayer and fasting. [Matthew 4:1-11; 17:21; Mark 9:29]

+ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Mon 9.8
Text of the Canon

St. John of Kronstadt: . . . Do not help the Devil to spread his kingdom. . . .

Icon of St. John of KronstadtYou see very clearly that it is extremely difficult, and without God’s grace and your own fervent prayer and abstinence, impossible, for you to change for the better.  You feel within yourself the action of a multitude of passions: of pride, malice, envy, greediness, the love of money, despondency, slothfulness, fornication, impatience, and disobedience; and yet you remain in them, are often bound by them, whilst the long-suffering Lord bears with you, awaiting your return and amendment; and still bestows upon you all the gifts of His mercy.

Be then indulgent, patient, and loving to those who live with you, and who also suffer from many passions; conquer every evil by good, and, above all, pray to God for them, that He may correct them—that He may turn their hearts to Himself, the source of holiness.

Do not help the Devil to spread his kingdom. Hallow the name of your Heavenly Father by your actions; help Him to spread His Kingdom on earth. ‘For we are laborers together with God.’

Be zealous of the fulfillment of His will on earth, as it is in heaven. Forgive them that trespass against you with joy, as a good son rejoices when he has a chance of fulfilling the will of his beloved father.

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

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St. Theophan the Recluse: Why is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book . . .

Icon of St. Theophon the RecluseWhy is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book, and still not have prayer in his heart? I think the reason is that people only spend a little time lifting themselves up to God when they complete their prayer rule, and in other times, they do not remember God. For example, they finish their morning prayers, and think that their relation to God is fulfilled by them; then the whole day passes in work, and such a person does not attend to God. Then in the evening, the thought returns to him that he must quickly stand at prayer and complete his evening rule. In this case, it happens that even if the Lord grants a person spiritual feelings at the time of the morning prayer, the bustle and business of the day drowns them out. As a result, it happens that one does not often feel like praying, and cannot get control of himself even to soften his heart a little bit. In such an atmosphere, prayer develops and ripens poorly. This problem (is it not ubiquitous?) needs to be corrected, that is, one must ensure that the soul does not only make petition to God when standing in prayer, but during the whole day, as much as possible, one must unceasingly ascend to Him and remain with Him.

In order to begin this task, one must first, during the course of the day, cry out to God more often, even if only with a few words, according to need and the work of the day. Beginning anything, for example, say ‘Bless, O Lord!’ When you finish something, say, ‘Glory to Thee, O Lord’, and not only with your lips, but with feeling in your heart. If passions arise, say, ‘Save me, O Lord, I am perishing.’ If the darkness of disturbing thoughts comes up, cry out: ‘Lead my soul out of prison.’ If dishonest deeds present themselves and sin leads you to them, pray, ‘Set me, O Lord, in the way’, or ‘do not give up my feet to stumbling.’ If sin takes hold of you and leads you to despair, cry out with the voice of the publican, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ Do this in every circumstance, or simply say often, ‘Lord, have mercy’, ‘Most Holy Theotokos save us”, ‘Holy Angel, my guardian, protect me’, or other such words. Say such prayers as often as possible, always making the effort for them come from your heart, as if squeezed out of it. When we do this, we will frequently ascend to God in our hearts, making frequent petitions and prayers. Such increased frequency will bring about the habit of mental conversation with God.

— St. Theophan the Recluse, On prayer, Homily 2
Delivered 22 November, 1864

 

St. John of Kronstadt: . . . . though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. . . .

Icon of St. John of Kronstadt“When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil’s provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour’s mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord’s fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour’s own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out’; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden’ – with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil – and I will give you rest.'”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

St. John Chrysostom: Very few have come here today. Whatever is the reason? . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“Very few have come here today. Whatever is the reason? We celebrated the Feast of the Martyrs, and nobody comes? The length of the road makes them reluctant; or rather it is not the length of the road that prevents them from coming, but their own laziness. For just as nothing stops an earnest man, one whose soul is upright and awake, so anything at all will stand in the way of the half-hearted and the lazy.

The Martyrs gave their blood for the truth, and you are not able to think little of a brief stretch of road? They gave their life for Christ, and you are reluctant to make a small journey for Him? The Martyrs’ Commemoration, and you sit in sloth and indifference! It is but right that you should be present; to see the devil overcome, the Martyrs triumphant, God glorified, and the Church crowned with honour.

But, you will say to me, I am a sinner. I cannot come. Then if you are a sinner, come, that you may cease to be one! Tell me, who is there among men without sin? Do you not know that even those close to the altar are wrapped in sins? For they are clothed with flesh, enfolded in a body: as we also who are sitting and teaching upon this throne are entangled in sin. But not because of this do we despair of the kindness of God; and neither do we look on Him as inhuman. And for this reason has the Lord disposed that those who serve the altar shall also be subject to these afflictions: so that from what they too suffer they may learn to have a fellow feeling for others.”

— St. John Chrysostom, On the Respect Due to the Church of God and to the Sacred Mysteries

St. Symeon the New Theologian: You may find yourself hampered by someone who sows tares of despondency. . . .

Icon of St. Symeon the New Theologian“You may find yourself hampered by someone who sows tares of despondency. He tries to prevent you from climbing to such heights of holiness by discouraging you with various thoughts. For instance, he will tell you that it is impossible for you to be saved and to keep every single one of God’s commandments while you live in this world.

When this happens you should sit down in a solitary place by yourself, collect yourself, concentrate your thoughts and give good counsel to your soul, saying:

Why, my soul, are you dejected, and why do you trouble me? Put your hope in God, for I will give thanks to Him; for my salvation lies not in my actions but in God (cf. Ps. 42:5). Who will be vindicated by actions done according to the law (cf. Gal 2:16)? No living person will be vindicated before God (cf. Ps. 143:2). Yet by virtue of my faith in God I hope that in His ineffable mercy He will give me salvation. Get behind me, Satan (cf. Matt. 16:23). I worship the Lord my God (cf. Matt. 4:10) and serve Him from my youth; for He is able to save me simply through His mercy. Go away from me. The God who created me in His image and likeness will reduce you to impotence.”

—St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Symeon the New Theologian: It is the war of attention and prayer on which both life and death . . .

Picture of St. Symeon the New Theologian“It is this war of attention and prayer on which both life and death of the soul depend. By attention that we keep our prayer safe and therefore we progress: if we do not have attention to keep it clear and we leave it unguarded, then it is inflected by evil thoughts and we become wicked and hopeless.”

— St. Symeon the New Theologian

Elder Cleopas: In any stage you may be do not get discouraged . . .

Photo of Elder Cleopas“In any stage you may be do not get discouraged, pray even if you feel compulsion and the Lord will visit you with His mercy: ‘Let it be to you according to your faith,’ [Matt. 9:29].”

— Elder Cleopas of Romania