They asked Abba Sisoes, ‘If a brother sins, surely he must do penance for a year?’ He replied, ‘That is a hard saying.’ The visitors said, ‘For six months?’ He replied, ‘That is a great deal.’ They said, ‘For forty days? ‘He said, ‘That is a great deal, too. ‘They said to him, ‘What then? If a brother falls, and the agape is about to be offered, should he simply come to the agape, too? ‘The old man said to them, ‘No, he needs to do penance for a few days. But I trust in God that if such a man does penance with his whole heart, God will receive him, even in three days.’
You must never be afraid, if you are troubled by a flood of thoughts, that the enemy is too strong against you, that his attacks are never ending, that the war will last for your lifetime, and that you cannot avoid incessant downfalls of all kinds. Know that our enemies, with all their wiles, are in the hands of our divine Commander, our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whose honour and glory you are waging war. Since He himself leads you into battle, He will certainly not suffer your enemies to use violence against you and overcome you, if you do not yourself cross over to their side with your will. He will Himself fight for you and will deliver your enemies into your hands, when He wills and as He wills, as it is written: ‘The Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee’ (Deut. xxii, 14).
+ From Unseen Warfare, St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain
Until a man’s earthly life finishes its course, up to the very departure of the soul from the body, the struggle between sin and righteousness continues within him. However, high a spiritual and moral state one might achieve, a gradual or even headlong and deep fall into the abyss of sin is always possible. Therefore, communion of the holy Body and Blood of Christ, which strengthens our contact with Him and refreshes us with the living streams of the grace of the Holy Spirit flowing through the Body of the Church, is necessary for everyone.
+ St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco
Grumbling is caused by misery and it can be put aside by doxology (giving praise). Grumbling begets grumbling and doxology begets doxology. when someone doesn’t grumble over a problem troubling him, but rather praises God, then the devil gets frustrated and goes off to someone else who grumbles, in order to cause everything to go even worse for him. You see, the more one grumbles, the more one falls into ruin.
Sometimes the devil deceives us and makes us unable to be pleased with anything; however, one can celebrate all things in a spiritual manner, with doxology, and secure God’s constant blessing.
+ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Councils IV: Family Life
“But nothing causes such exceeding grief as when anyone, lying under the captivity of sin, calls to mind from where he has fallen, because he turned aside to carnal and earthly things, instead of directing his mind in the beautiful ways of the knowledge of God. So you find Adam concealing himself, when he knew that God was present and wishing to be hidden when called by God with that voice which wounded the soul of him yourself? Why are you concealed? Why do you avoid Him Whom you once longed to see? A guilty conscience is so burdensome that it punishes itself without a judge, and wishes for covering, and yet is bare before God.”
+ St. Ambrose Milan, Concerning Repentance, Book II
“Recollect the fall of the strong, that thou mayest remain humble under thy virtues. And think of the heavy sins of those who fell and repented; and of the praise and honour they received afterwards, so that thou mayest acquire courage during repentance.”
+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence”, Mystical Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh
“Do not fall into despair because of stumbling. I do not mean that you should not feel contrition for them, but that you should not think them incurable. For it is more expedient to be bruised than dead. There is, indeed, a Healer for the man who has stumbled, even He Who on the Cross asked that mercy be shown to His crucifiers, He Who pardoned His murders while He hung on the Cross. ‘All manner of sin,’ He said, ‘and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,’ that is, through repentance.”
+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 64, “On Prayer, Prostrations, Tears, Reading, Silence, and Hymnody”
The Apostles wavered in their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, because they anticipated and desired to see in Him an earthly king, in whose kingdom they could sit at the right and the left hand of the Lord.
The thief understood that the Kingdom of Jesus of Nazareth, despised and given over to a shameful death, was not of this world. And it was precisely this Kingdom that the thief now sought: the gates of earthly life were closing after him; opening before him was eternity. He had settled his accounts with life on earth, and now he thought of life eternal. And here, at the threshold of eternity, he began to understand the vanity of earthly glory and earthly kingdoms. He recognized that greatness consists in righteousness, and in the righteous, blamelessly tortured Jesus he saw the King of Righteousness. The thief did not ask Him for glory in an earthly kingdom but for the salvation of his soul.
The faith of the thief, born of his esteem for Christ’s moral greatness, proved stronger than the faith of the Apostles, who although captivated by the loftiness of Christ’s teaching, based their faith to a still greater extent on the signs and wonders He wrought.
Now there was no miraculous deliverance of Christ from His enemies — and the Apostles’ faith was shaken.
But the patience He exhibited, His absolute forgiveness, and the faith that His Heavenly Father heard Him so clearly, indicated Jesus’ righteousness, His moral superiority, that one seeking spiritual and moral rebirth could not be shaken.
And this is precisely what the thief, aware of the depth of his fall, craved. He did not ask to sit at the right or the left hand of Christ in His Kingdom, but, conscious of his unworthiness, he asked in humility simply that he be remembered in His Kingdom, that he he be given even the lowest place.
+ St. John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Franscisco, From Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco, “Why the Wise Thief Was Pardoned”
“Discouragement does not allow the one who falls to get back up, and laziness throws down the one who is upright. The latter deprives us constantly of the goods that we gain; it does not allow us to escape from the evils that are to come. Laziness throws us down even from heaven, while discouragement hurls us down even to the very abyss of wickedness. Indeed, we can quickly return from there if we do not become discouraged.”
+ St. John Chrysostom, “Homily 1: When He Returned from the Countryside” from On Repentance and Almsgiving (Fathers of the Church)
A lofty and sound soul does not despair over misfortunes, of whatever sort they may be. Our life is as it were a house of temptations and trials; but we will not renounce the Lord for as long as He allows the tempter to remain with us and for as long as we must wait to be revived through patience and secure passionless!
Judas the betrayer was fainthearted and unskilled in battle, and so the enemy, seeing his despair, attacked him and forced him to hang himself, but Peter, a firm rock, when he fell into great sin, like one skilled in battle did not despair nor lose heart, but shed bitter tears from a burning heart, and the enemy, seeing these tears, his eyes scorched as by fire, fled far form him wailing in pain.
And so brothers, St. Antioch teaches, when despair attacks us let us not yield to it, but being strengthened and protected by the light of faith, with great courage let us say to the evil spirit: “What are you to us, estranged from God, a fugitive from heaven and evil servant? You dare do nothing to us. Christ, the Son of God, has authority both over us and over everything. It is against Him that we have sinned, and before Him that we will be justified. And you, destroyer, leave us. Strengthen by His venerable Cross, we trample under foot your serpent’s head” (St. Antioch, Discourse 27).
+ St. Seraphim of Sarov, “The Spiritual Instructions to Laymen and Monks”, printed in Little Russian Philokalia: St. Seraphim of Sarov