Tag Archives: Evil

St. Theophan the Recluse: Every Christian is chosen . . .

Icon of St. Theophon the RecluseThe Lord chose the apostles, that they should be with Him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils.

Every Christian is chosen—chosen for similar deeds, namely: to be with the Lord, through unceasing remembrance of Him and awareness of His omnipresence, through the preaching and fulfillment of His commandments, and through a readiness to confess one’s faith in Him. In those circles where such a confession is made, it is a loud sermon for all to hear.

Every Christian has the power to heal infirmities—not of others, but his own, and not of the body, but of the soul—that is, sins and sinful habits—and to cast out devils, rejecting evil thoughts sown by them, and extinguishing the excitement of passions enflamed by them.

Do this and you will be an apostle, a fulfiller of what the Lord chose you for, an accomplisher of your calling as messenger. When at first you succeed in all this, then perhaps the Lord will appoint you as a special ambassador—to save others after you have saved yourself; and to help those who are tempted, after you yourself pass through all temptations, and through all experiences in good and evil.

But your job is to work upon yourself: for this you are chosen; the rest is in the hands of God. He who humbles himself shall be exalted.Book Thoughts for Each Day of the Year

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God

St. John Cassian: We must take care not to refer all the merits of the saints to the Lord in such a way as to . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“We must take care not to refer all the merits of the saints to the Lord in such a way as to ascribe nothing but what is evil and perverse to human nature, in doing which we are confuted by the evidence of the most wise Solomon, or rather of the Lord himself, whose words these are; for when the building of the temple was finished and he was praying, he spoke as follows: ‘and David my father would have built a house to the name of the Lord God of Israel: and the Lord said to David my father: Whereas thou hast thought in thine heart to build a house to my name, thou hast done well in having this same thing in thy mind.’ This thought and purpose of King David, are we to call it good and from God or bad and from man? For if the thought was good and from God, why did He by whom it was inspired refuse that it should be carried into effect? But if it is bad and from man, why is it praised by the Lord?”

+ St. John Cassian, Third Conference of the Abbot Chaeremon

Fr. Seraphim Rose: Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? . . .

Photo of Fr. Seraphim Rose“Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world. I am at this moment in some pain, and I call on the Name of Jesus—not necessarily to relieve the pain, but that Jesus, in Whom alone we may transcend this world, may be with me during it, and His will be done in me. But in pleasure I do not call on Him; I am content then with what I have, and I think I need no more. And why is a philosophy of pleasure untenable?—because pleasure is impermanent and unreliable, and pain is inevitable. In pain and suffering Christ speaks to us, and thus God is kind to give them to us, yes, and evil too—for in all of these we glimpse something of what must lie beyond, if there really exists what our hearts most deeply desire.”

+ Fr. Seraphim Rose, quoted in Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works

St. John Chrysostom: Wherefore, if you desire to become equal to the apostles, there is nothing to hinder you. . . .

Icon ApostlesWherefore, if you desire to become equal to the apostles, there is nothing to hinder you. For to have arrived at this virtue only suffices for your not at all falling short of them. Let no one therefore wait for miracles. For though the evil spirit is grieved, when he is driven out of a body, yet much more so, when he sees a soul delivered from sin. For indeed this is his great power. [Acts 8:10] This power caused Christ to die, that He might put an end to it. Yea, for this brought in death; by reason of this all things have been turned upside down. If then thou remove this, you have cut out the nerves of the devil, you have bruised his head, you have put an end to all his might, you have scattered his host, you have exhibited a sign greater than all signs.

The saying is not mine, but the blessed Paul’s. For when he had said, Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet show I unto you a more excellent way; [1 Corinthians 12:31] he did not speak next of a sign, but of charity, the root of all our good things. If then we practice this, and all the self-denial that flows from it, we shall have no need of signs; even as on the other hand, if we do not practice it, we shall gain nothing by the signs.

Bearing in mind then all this, let us imitate those things whereby the apostles became great. And whereby did they become great? Hear Peter, saying, Behold we have forsaken all, and followed You; what shall we have therefore? [Matthew 19:27] Hear also Christ saying to them, ‘You shall sit upon twelve thrones, and, every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or father, or mother, shall receive an hundredfold in this world, and shall inherit everlasting life.’ From all worldly things, therefore, let us withdraw ourselves, and dedicate ourselves to Christ, that we may both be made equal to the apostles according to His declaration, and may enjoy eternal life; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.

Book Complete Church Father Series+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 46, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew

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St. Silouan the Athonite: . . . the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“Filled with love, the holy Apostles went into the world, preaching salvation to mankind and fearing nothing, for the Spirit of God was their strength. When St. Andrew was threatened with death upon the cross if he did not stay his preaching he answered: ‘If I feared the cross I should not be preaching the Cross.” In this manner all the other Apostles, and after them the martyrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering. For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.”

+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Wisdom from Mount Athos: The Writings of Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938

St. John of Kronstadt: You are angry with your neighbor, you despise him, do not like to speak peaceably . . .

ArguingYou are angry with your neighbor, you despise him, do not like to speak peaceably and lovingly to him, because there is something harsh, abrupt, careless, unpleasant to you in his character, in his speech, in his manners—because he is more conscious of his dignity than perhaps is necessary; or because he may be somewhat proud and disrespectful; but you yourself, your neighbor’s physician and teacher, are more guilty than him.

“Physician, heal thyself.” Teacher, teach yourself.

Your own malice is the bitterest of all evils. Is it then possible to correct malice by means of evil? Having a beam in your own eye, can you pull out the mote from the eye of another?

Evil and faults are corrected by good, by love, kindness, meekness, humility, and patience.

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

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St. John of Kronstadt: All possible sins and passions are ready to break into the soul . . .

Repentance“All possible sins and passions are ready to break into the soul, and strive to do so at every moment.

But fight against them valiantly and vigilantly unto your last breath, looking upon them as dreams of your imagination, as illusions of the spirits of evil.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Metropolitan Philaret of New York: Sermon on the Sunday of the Blind Man II

Icon of Jesus Healing the Blind ManToday we heard at the Divine Liturgy the account of the Holy Evangelist John the Theologian about the healing by Jesus Christ of the man born blind, that is, who had never seen anything before. It is characteristic that, when this Gospel account ends, the Lord said: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind” (Jn 9:39). And His spiteful enemies, the scribes and Pharisees, probably with irony and mockery, asked Him: “Are we blind also?” (Jn 9:40). And they received an answer, as the Lord told them: “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin” (Jn 9:41), because if a person does not know and does not see, he cannot transgress consciously and does not sin so greatly. Even if he makes a mistake, the Lord Himself does not find it a sin, if the person did not know he was sinning. So the Lord spoke, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin, but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth” (Jn 9:41).
Remember, this is a frightful sentence, because it was pronounced by the One who alone can justify or condemn, and He said their sin remained. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave the former blind man not only physical, but also spiritual vision. At the same time, the Gospel illustrates how, by their determination, Christ’s enemies are blinding themselves all the more, persisting in their delusions.
When the Lord healed the blind man, he was asked how it had happened. He said that he could not answer this question: he had been blind when the Lord approached Him. Probably he had heard what the Savior’s name was, which is why he answered: “A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight” (Jn 9:11). They asked him who Jesus was, and he said “I know not” (Jn 9:12). He was led to the Pharisees, and they examined him. He said shortly: “He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see” (Jn 9:15). Now there was a dispute between the Pharisees and Christ’s enemies, “a division among them,” as is said in the Gospel (Jn 9:16). Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day” (Jn 9:16), which means he did not obey the law. Others argued saying, “How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?” (Jn 9:16). The former blind man hears this dispute and the truth becomes clearer and clearer to him. So the words of one of the group of Pharisees (how can a man that is a sinner do such miracles) becomes the guiding line for his further actions. He was asked again and again, and cross-examined, and as they kept asking the same questions, he finally told them: “I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be His disciples?” (Jn 9: 27). For them, rabid enemies of Christ, to be His disciples?! The man had no idea, of course, what a blow his words were to them. So they told him with spite and anger: “Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence He is” (Jn 9:28-29).
The Church, telling us today about this miracle of the Savior, at the same time chants in the person of each of us: “Blind with my spiritual eyes, I come to you, O Christ, like one born blind.” Not long ago we prayed to our Lord intensively: “Grant that I may see my own sins.” If we ask to see, to be able to see our sins it means we cannot see them as well as is needed. This is because our “spiritual eyes” are blind. This is why this church prayer is full of sense and meaning for each of us. The Holy Fathers also always say that people cannot see their sins as clearly as they should.
Photo of Philaret of New YorkA long time ago we already gave this example from one ascetic’s life, who asked God to let him see to what extent human nature was corrupted by sin. And when the Lord, in a certain mysterious vision, revealed to him the degree to which man is corrupted by sin, the ascetic felt that he could lose his mind from fear, and he was begging God to hide this vision from him forever. This is the extent to which people are corrupted by sin. St. Macarius of Egypt said a person can be good, but deep in his soul the roots can be poisonous. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to heal us of this brokenness, because no other force in the world can heal us of this frightful corruption by sin. This is what current reformers of life forget and tend not to see when proposing their ideas. They forget, or do not know, that a person is a sinful creature. Therefore, as the Blessed Augustine said, people differ only in the extent to which each of them is evil. We should always realize how sinful and corrupt we are, and beg God to heal our soul’s eyes the way he gave physical and spiritual recovery to this former blind man about whom we heard. Amen.

+ Metropolitan Philaret of New York and Eastern America, Sermon on the Sunday of the Blind Man II, translated by Felix Culpa and Olga Lissenkova

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: My child, just read!

A monk complained to St. Arsenius that while reading Holy Scripture he does not feel, neither the power of the words read nor gentleness in his heart.

To that the great saint will reply to him: “My child, just read! I heard that the sorcerers of serpents, when they cast a spell upon the serpents, the sorcerers are uttering the words, which they themselves do not understand, but the serpents hearing the spoken words sense their power and become tamed.

An so, with us, when we continually hold in our mouths the words of Holy Scripture, but even though we do not feel the power of the words, evil spirits tremble and flee for they are unable to endure the words of the Holy Spirit.”

My child, just read!

The Holy Spirit Who, through inspired men, wrote these divine words, will hear, will understand and will hasten to your assistance; and the demons will understand will sense and will flee from you.

That is: He Whom you invoke for assistance will understand, and those whom you wish to drive away from yourself will understand. And both goals will be achieved.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue of Ochrid (May 8)

St. Innocent of Alaska: To deny oneself means . . .

Icon of St. Innocent of AlaskaTo deny oneself means to give up one’s bad habits; to root out of the heart all that ties us to the world; not to cherish bad thoughts or desires; to suppress every evil thought; not to desire to do anything out of self love, but to do everything out of love for God.

+ St. Innocent of Alaska