Tag Archives: Remembering God

St. Neilos the Ascetic: . . .Rivalry over material possessions has made us forget . . .

BiltmoreSo we no longer pursue plainness and simplicity of life. We no longer value stillness, which helps to free us from past defilement, but prefer a whole host of things which distract us uselessly from our true goal. Rivalry over material possessions has made us forget the counsel of the Lord, who urged us to take no thought for earthly things, but to seek only the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 6:33). Deliberately doing the opposite, we have disregarded the Lord’s commandment, trusting in ourselves and not in His protection. For He says: ‘Behold the fowls of the air: for they do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them’ (Matt. 6:26); and again: ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil or spin’ (Matt. 6:28). When He sent the apostles out to declare the good news to their fellow men. He even forbade them to carry wallet, purse or staff, and told them to be content with His promise: ‘The workman is worthy of his food’ (Matt. 10:10). This promise is to be trusted far more than our own resources.

Despite all this we go on accumulating as much land as we can, and we buy up flocks of sheep, fine oxen and fat donkeys – the sheep to supply us with wool, the oxen to plough and provide food for us and fodder for themselves and for the other animals, the donkeys to transport from foreign lands the goods and luxuries which our own country lacks. We also select the crafts which give the highest return, even though they absorb all our attention and leave no time for the remembrance of God. It is as if we accused God of being incapable of providing for us, or ourselves of being unable to fulfill the commitments of our calling. Even if we do not admit this. openly, our actions condemn us; for we show approval of the ways of worldly men by engaging in the same pursuits, and perhaps working at them even harder than they do.

+ St. Neilos the Ascetic, “Ascetic Discourse,” The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

Unseen Warfare: . . . it is inconceivable how the great Lord of hosts could grant such favours to our nothingness and worthlessness.

Jesus Good ShepherdIn order that you may move your will more easily to this one desire, in everything—to please (God and to work for His glory alone—remind yourself’ often, that He has granted you many favours in the past and has shown you His love. He has created you out of nothing in His own likeness and image, and has made all other creatures your servants; He has delivered you from your slavery to the devil, sending down not one of the angels but His Only-begotten Son to redeem you, not at the price of corruptible gold and silver, but by His priceless blood and His most painful and degrading death. Having done all this He protects you, every hour and every moment, from your enemies; He fights your battles by His divine grace; in His immaculate Mysteries He prepares the Body and Blood of His beloved Son for your food and protection. All this is a sign of God’s great favour and love for you; a favour so great that it is inconceivable how the great Lord of hosts could grant such favours to our nothingness and worthlessness.

+ From Unseen Warfare, St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

 

St. Mark the Ascetic: Let all involuntary suffering teach you to . . .

Icon of St. Mark the AsceticLet all involuntary suffering teach you to remember God, and you will not lack occasion for repentance.

+ St. Mark the Ascetic, “On the Spiritual Law: Two Hundred Texts” No. 57, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

St. John Cassian: When we have attained some degree of holiness we should always repeat . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“When we have attained some degree of holiness we should always repeat to ourselves the words of the Apostle: “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me’ (1 Cor. 15:10), as well as what was said by the Lord: ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). We should also bear in mind what the prophet said: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it’ (Ps. 127:1), and finally: ‘It does not depend on-man’s will or effort, but on God’s mercy’ (Rom. 9:16). Even if someone is sedulous, serious and resolute, he cannot, so long as he is bound to flesh and blood, approach perfection except through the mercy and grace of Christ. James himself says that ‘every good gift is from above’ Jas. 1:17), while the Apostle Paul asks: ‘What do you have which you did not receive? Now if you received it, why do you boast, as if you had not received it?’ (1 Cor. 4:7). What right, then, has man to be proud as though he could achieve perfection through his own efforts?”

+ St. John Cassian,  The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1), “On the Eight Vices: On Pride”

Archbishop Averky: Excerpt from “Wherein Lies Life Greatest Evil” about the Healing of the Paralytic

Icon of the Healing of the ParalyticWith His one word alone, the Lord healed an invalid who had lain for 38 years near a healing pool, hoping to be made well, but vainly. And raising him up from his sick bed, He cautioned him respecting the future: “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (St. John 5:14).

With these portentous words, the Lord indicated that the cause of the unfortunate man’s fearful infirmities lay in the sins who had previously committed. In addition, he warned that sin inevitable brings with it not only such dire disease as paralysis, but even more dreadful ills.

“Sin no more!” — it is the words of Christ’s warning that should be the principle, founding motto, of our human existence. He who forgets this great God-given truth will have vainly wasted his efforts in making his own life as well as the lives of other people peaceful, joyous, prosperous, and happy. He who loves sinning will inevitable sooner or later fall prey to the oppressive affliction of the spiritual and physical feebleness. The sufferings of body and of soul will be his lot, and in the life hereafter — everlasting, unremitting torment.

Is it not in this position of the inform man, lying helplessly by the Sheep’s Gate pool, that all mankind finds itself today, madly rejecting Christ the Savior, refusing to acknowledge the existence of sin as such, and seeking various paths of life and salvation other than those which Christ, Our Lord, point out to us?

Sin reigns ruthlessly among the people of today, smiting both the body and soul with its death-wielding venom. And for so long as sin maintains its dominion, there can be no liberation or deliverance from the world from all the evils that best it, and it is even meaningless to talk of its prosperity and preservation.

It would seem that experience in life should long since have made this clear and comprehensible to everyone, but Alas! engulfed in the depths of sinful life, led about by diabolical pride and culpable self-love, self-confident people, who put their trust in themselves alone, easily forget the lessons which life itself teaches them, and no matter how many blows they receive in the course of their existence, whereby the Lord Himself instructs them, nevertheless it is frequent among them that, as God’s Word instructs us, “according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:22).

According to Church tradition, that is exactly what happened to the invalid upon whom the Lord had shed His bounty. He did not heed the warning, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” The lesson for the fourth week after Pascha, the week of the invalid, says that this infirm man, so wondrously healed by the Lord, was the very man who struck Our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cheek during the trial before the High Priest (St. John 18:22), for which he obtained “a trial worse than the weakening of limbs”– that eternal fire, not for eight and thirty years alone, but unto time everlasting, should torment him.”

You see to what extreme can come to those who do not remember the mercy and generosity of God. Pride and sinful self-esteem can lead the person who is unmindful of himself to the state of a madman, acting rashly, and doom him forever! The desire to ingratiate someone, to gain someone’s favor, attention, and thereby some personal reward, frequently drives those who become infatuated with their sinful selves to such truly insane deeds that trail in their wake the most frightening and incorrigible consequences!

+ Archbishop Averky, “Wherein Lies Life Greatest Evil”

St. Peter of Damaskos: We should give thanks to God . . .

Icon of St. Peter of Damascus“We should give thanks to Him, as it is said: ‘In everything give thanks’ (I Thess. 5:18). Closely linked to this phrase is another of St. Paul’s injunctions: ‘Pray without ceasing’ (I Thess. 5:17), that is, be mindful of God at all times, in all places, and in every circumstance. For no matter what you do, you should keep in mind the Creator of all things. When you see the light, do not forget Him who gave it to you; when you see the sky, the earth, the sea and all that is in them, marvel at these things and glorify their Creator; when you put on clothing, acknowledge whose gift it is and praise Him who in His providence has given you life. In short, if everything you do becomes for you an occasion for glorifying God, you will be praying unceasingly. And in this way your soul will always rejoice, as St. Paul commends (cf. I Thess. 5:16).”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Book I: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge,” The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

St. Herman of Alasaka: And I, a sinner, have been trying to love God for more than forty years . . .

Icon of St. Herman of Alaska“And I, a sinner, have been trying to love God for more than forty years, and cannot say that I perfectly love Him. If we love someone we always remember him and try to please him; day and night our heart is occupied with that object.

Is that how you, gentlemen, love God? Do you often turn to Him, do you always remember Him, do you always pray to Him and fulfill His holy commandments? ‘For our good, for our happiness at least let us make a vow that from this day, from this hour, from this minute we shall strive to love God above all else and to fulfill His holy will.'”

+ St. Herman of Alaska