Tag Archives: Self-Control

St. John Damascene: These eight passions should be destroyed as follows . . .

Icon of St. John of Damascus“These eight passions should be destroyed as follows: gluttony by self-control; unchastity by desire for God and longing for the blessings held in store; avarice by compassion for the poor; anger by goodwill and love for all men; worldly dejection by spiritual joy; listlessness by patience, perseverance and offering thanks to God; self-esteem by doing good in secret and by praying constantly with a contrite heart; and pride by not judging or despising anyone in the manner of the boastful Pharisee (cf. Luke 18 : 11–12), and by considering oneself the least of all men. When the intellect has been freed in this way from the passions we have described and been raised up to God, it will henceforth live the life of blessedness, receiving the pledge of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 1 : 22). And when it departs this life, dispassionate and full of true knowledge, it will stand before the light of the Holy Trinity and with the divine angels will shine in glory through all eternity.”

+ St. John Damascene, “On the Virtues and the Vices” from The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Cyril of Alexandra: If the poison of pride is swelling up in you, turn to the Eucharist . . .

Icon of St. Cyril of Alexandria“If the poison of pride is swelling up in you, turn to the Eucharist; and that Bread, Which is your God humbling and disguising Himself, will teach you humility. If the fever of selfish greed rages in you, feed on this Bread; and you will learn generosity. If the cold wind of coveting withers you, hasten to the Bread of Angels; and charity will come to blossom in your heart. If you feel the itch of intemperance, nourish yourself with the Flesh and Blood of Christ, Who practiced heroic self-control during His earthly life; and you will become temperate. If you are lazy and sluggish about spiritual things, strengthen yourself with this heavenly Food; and you will grow fervent. Lastly, if you feel scorched by the fever of impurity, go to the banquet of the Angels; and the spotless Flesh of Christ will make you pure and chaste.”

+ St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Isaac the Syrian: A Prayer of Repentance

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“At the door of Your compassion do I knock, Lord; send aid to my scattered impulses which are intoxicated with the multitude of the passions and the power of darkness. You can see my sores hidden within me: stir up contrition—though not corresponding to the weight of my sins, for if I receive full awareness of the extent of my sins, Lord, my soul would be consumed by the bitter pain from them. Assist my feeble stirrings on the path to true repentance, and may I find alleviation from the vehemence of sins through the contrition that comes of Your gift, for without the power of Your grace I am quite unable to enter within myself, become aware of my stains, and so, at the sight of them be able to be still from great distraction.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, from The Prayers of St. Isaac the Syrian

St. Maximos the Confessor: There are three things which produce love of material wealth . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“It is not so much because of need that gold has become an object of desire among men, as because of the power it gives most people to indulge in sensual pleasure. There are three things which produce love of material wealth: self-indulgence, self-esteem and lack of faith.  Lack of faith is more dangerous than the other two.

The self-indulgent person loves wealth because it enables him to live comfortably; the person full of self-esteem loves it because through it he can gain the esteem of others; the person who lacks faith loves it because, fearful of starvation, old age, disease, or exile, he can save it and hoard it.  He puts his trust in wealth rather than in God, the Creator who provides for all creation, down to the least of living things.

There are four kinds of men who hoard wealth: the three already mentioned and the treasurer or bursar.  Clearly, it is only the last who conserves it for a good purpose–namely, so as always to have the means of supplying each person’s basic needs.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 3.16-19, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Thalassios the Libyan: If you wish to be in control of your soul and body . . .

Icon of St. Thalassios the Libyan“If you wish to be in control of your soul and body, forestall the passions by rooting out their causes.”

“On Love, Self-Control and Life in Accordance with the Intellect,” 1.64, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Mark the Ascetic: Praise from others engenders sinful desire . . .

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic“Praise from others engenders sinful desire, while their condemnation of vice, if not only heard but accepted, engenders self-restraint.”

— St. Mark the Ascetic