St. Macarius, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina
Many are the pains of the hard heart; and when the sick one resists the physician, his torments will be augmented.
+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence”, Mystical Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh
Only the foolish think that suffering is evil. A sensible man knows that suffering is not evil but only the manifestation of evil and healing from evil. Only sin in a man is a real evil, and there is no evil outside sin. Everything else that men generally call evil is not, but is a bitter medicine to heal from evil. The sicker the man, the more bitter the medicine that the doctor prescribes for him. At times, even, it seems to a sick man that the medicine is worse and more bitter than the sickness itself! And so it seems at times to the sinner: the suffering is harder and more bitter than the sin committed. But this is only an illusion – a very strong self-delusion. There is no suffering in the world that could be anywhere near as hard and destructive as sin is. All the suffering borne by men and nations is none other than the abundant healing that eternal Mercy offers to men and nations to save them from eternal death. Every sin, however small, would inevitably bring death if Mercy were not to allow suffering in order to sober men up from the inebriation of sin; for the healing that comes through suffering is brought about by the gracefilled power of the Holy and Life-giving Spirit.
+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “23. The Third Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Miracle at Bethesda John 5:1-16,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year
“A continuously happy life produces extremely unhappy consequences. In nature we see that there are not always pleasant springs and fruitful summers, and sometimes autumn is rainy and winter cold and snowy, and there is flooding and wind and storms, and moreover the crops fail and there are famine, troubles, sicknesses and many other misfortunes. All of this is beneficial so that man might learn through prudence, patience and humility. For the most part, in times of plenty he forgets himself, but in times of various sorrows he becomes more attentive to his salvation.”
+ St. Ambrose of Optina, Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina
“The Most Holy Mother of God prays for us ceaselessly. She is always visiting us. Whenever we turn to her in our heart, she is there. After the Lord, she is the greatest protection for mankind. How many churches there are in the world that are dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God! How many healing springs where people are cured of their ailments have sprung up in places where the Most Holy Theotokos appeared and blessed those springs to heal both the sick and the healthy! She is constantly, by our side, and all too often we forget her.”
+ Elder Thaddeus, Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos delivered Auguest 15/28
Quoted from Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives
“You should be afraid not of cholera, but of serious sins, for the scythe of death mows a person down like grass even without cholera. Therefore, place all your hope in the Lord God, without Whose will even the birds do not die, much less a person.”
+ St. Anthony of Optina, Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina
When your faith in the Lord, either during your life and prosperity, or in the time of sickness and at the moment of quitting this life, grows weak, grows dim from worldly vanity or through illness, and from the terrors and darkness of death, then look with the mental eyes of your heart upon the companies of our forefathers, the patriarchs, prophets, and righteous ones:
St. Simeon, who took the Lord up in his arms, Job, Anna the Prophetess, and others; the Apostles, prelates, venerable Fathers, martyrs, the disinterested, the righteous, and all the saints.
See how, both during their earthly life and at the time of their departure from this life, they unceasingly looked to God and died in the hope of the resurrection and of the life eternal, and strive to imitate them.
These living examples, which are so numerous, are capable to strengthen the wavering faith of every Christian in the Lord and in the future life.
Those Christian communions who do not venerate the saints and do not call upon them in prayer lose much in piety and in Christian hope. They deprive themselves of the great strengthening of their faith by the examples of men like unto themselves.
“There will come a time when not the persecutions but money and the goods of this world will take people far from God. Then many more souls will be lost than in the time of the persecutions. On the one hand, they will be putting gold on the domes and will put the crosses on them and, on the other hand, everywhere evil and falsehood will reign. The true Church will always be persecuted. They who want to be saved will be saved with illnesses and afflictions. The way in which the persecutions will occur will be very sly and it will be very difficult for one to foresee the persecutions. Dreadful will be that time; I pity those who will be living then.”
+ St. Seraphim of Viritsa, Life-Miracles-Prophecies of Saint Seraphim of Viritsa: The New Saint of Orthodox Russian Church 1866-1949
With 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”
O God great and supreme, Who art adored by all created beings, Fountain of Wisdom, Abyss of Goodness in very truth unfathomable, and Sea illimitable of loving-kindness: do Thou, the same Master who lovest mankind, the God of things eternal and of wonders, to the understanding of Whom none among men by taking thought can attain, look down and hear us, Thine unworthy servants, and wheresoever in Thy great Name we shall bring this Oil, send Thou down the gift of thy healing, and remission of sins: and heal him (her) , in the multitude of Thy mercies. Yea, O Lord Who art easy to be entreated; Who alone art merciful and lovest mankind; Who repentest Thee of our evil deeds; Who knowest how that the mind of man is applied unto wickedness, even from his youth up; Who desirest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn again and live; Who for the salvation of sinners didst become incarnate, yet still remain in God, and didst Thyself become a created being for the sake of thy creatures; Thou hast said: I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; Thou didst seek the wandering sheep; Thou didst diligently seek out the lost piece of silver, and having found it, Thou didst say: He that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out; Thou didst not abhor the sinful woman who washed Thy precious feet with her tears; Thou didst say: As often as thou fallest arise, and thou shalt be saved; Thou art He who didst say: There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repenteth. Do Thou, O tender-hearted Master, look down from the height of Thy sanctuary, overshadowing us sinners, Who are also Thine unworthy servants, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, at this hour, and take up Thine abode in thy servant, N., who acknowledgeth his (her) iniquities, and draweth near unto Thee in faith; and accepting him (her), cleanse him (her) make him (her) pure from every sin; and abiding ever present with him (her), preserve him (her) all the remaining years of his (her) life; that, walking ever in Thy statues, he (she) may in no wise again become an object of malignant joy to the Devil; and Thy Holy Name may be glorified in him (her).
For Thy property it is to show mercy and to save us, O Christ-God; and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, together with they Father who is from every lasting, and Thine all-holy, and good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
+ Second Priest’s Prayer in the Office of Holy Unction