+ From Unseen Warfare, St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain
I think upon that day and hour when we shall all stand naked, like men condemned, before the Judge who accepts no man’s person. Then shall the trumpet sound aloud and the foundations of the earth shall quake, the dead shall rise from the tombs and all shall be gathered together from every generation. Then each man’s secrets will be manifest before thee: and those that have never repented shall weep and lament, departing to the outer fire; but with gladness and rejoicing the company of the righteous shall enter into the heavenly bridal chamber.
How shall it be in that hour and fearful day, when the Judge shall sit on his dread throne! The books shall be opened and men’s actions shall be examined, and the secrets of darkness shall be made public. Angels shall hasten to and fro, gathering all the nations. Come ye and hearken, kings and princes, slaves and free, sinners and righteous, rich and poor: for the Judge comes to pass sentence on the whole inhabited earth. And who shall bear to stand before his face in the presence of the angels, as they call us to account for our actions and our thoughts, whether by night or by day? How shall it be then in that hour! But before the end is here, make haste, my soul, and cry: O God who only art compassionate, turn me back and save me.
Daniel the prophet, a man greatly beloved, when he saw the power of God, cried out: “The court sat for judgment, and the books were opened.” Consider well, my soul: dost thou fast? Then despise not thy neighbor. Dost thou abstain from food? Condemn not thy brother, lest thou be sent away into the fire, there to burn as wax. But may Christ lead thee without stumbling into his kingdom.
Let us cleanse ourselves, brethren, with the queen of the virtues: for behold, she is come, bringing us a wealth of blessings. She quells the uprising of the passions, and reconciled sinners to the Master. Therefore let us welcome her with gladness, and cry aloud to Christ our God: O risen from the dead, who alone art free from sin, guard us uncondemned as we give thee glory.
— Four Stichera at the Praises, Matins, Meatfare Sunday, Lenten Triodion, pp. 164-165
The sensible man, taking into account the remedial effect of the divine prescriptions, gladly bears the sufferings which they bring upon him, since he is aware that they have no cause other than his own sin. But when the fool, ignorant of the supreme wisdom of God’s providence, sins and is corrected, he regards either God or men as responsible for the hardships he suffers.
+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 2.46, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)
In them [the Lives of the Saints] it is clearly and obviously demonstrated: There is no spiritual death from which one cannot be resurrected by the Divine power of the risen and ascended Lord Christ; there is no torment, there is no misfortune, there is no misery, there is no suffering which the Lord will not change either gradually or all at once into quite, compunctionate joy because of faith in Him. And again there are countless soul-stirring examples of how a sinner becomes a righteous man in the lives of the Saints: how a thief, a fornicator, a drunkard, a sensualist, a murderer, and adulterer becomes a holy man─there are many, many example of this in the Lives of the Saints; how a selfish egoistical, unbelieving, atheistic, proud, avaricious, lustful, evil, wicked, depraved, angry, spiteful, quarrelsome, malicious, envious, malevolent, boastful, vainglorious, unmerciful, gluttonous man becomes a man of God─there are many, many example of this in the Lives of the Saints
By the same token in the Lives of the Saints there are very many marvelous examples of how a youth becomes a holy youth, a maiden becomes a holy maiden, an old man becomes a holy old man, how an old woman becomes a holy old woman, how a child becomes a holy child, how parents become holy parents, how a son becomes a holy son, how a daughter becomes a holy daughter, how a family becomes a holy family, how a community becomes a holy community, how a priest becomes a holy priest, how a bishop becomes a holy bishop, how a shepherd becomes a holy shepherd, how a peasant becomes a holy peasant, how an emperor becomes a holy emperor, how a cowherd becomes a holy cowherd, how a worker becomes a holy worker, how a judge becomes a holy judge, how a teacher becomes a holy teacher, how an instructor becomes a holy instructor, how a soldier becomes holy soldier, how an officer becomes a holy officer, how a ruler becomes a holy ruler, how a scribe becomes a holy scribe, how a merchant becomes a holy merchant, how a monk becomes a holy monk, how an architect becomes a holy architect, how a doctor becomes a holy doctor, how a tax collector becomes a holy tax collector, how a pupil becomes a holy pupil, how an artisan becomes holy artisan, how a philosopher becomes a holy philosopher, how a scientist becomes a holy scientist, how a statesman becomes a holy statesman, how a minister becomes a holy minister, how a poor man becomes a holy poor man, how a rich man becomes a holy rich man, how a slave becomes a holy slave, how a master becomes a holy master, how a married couple becomes a holy married couple, how an author becomes a holy author, how an artist becomes a holy artist. . .
— St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith & Life in Christ, “Introduction to the Lives of the Saints”
“When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil’s provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour’s mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord’s fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour’s own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out’; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden’ – with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil – and I will give you rest.'”
+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ
“Very few have come here today. Whatever is the reason? We celebrated the Feast of the Martyrs, and nobody comes? The length of the road makes them reluctant; or rather it is not the length of the road that prevents them from coming, but their own laziness. For just as nothing stops an earnest man, one whose soul is upright and awake, so anything at all will stand in the way of the half-hearted and the lazy.
The Martyrs gave their blood for the truth, and you are not able to think little of a brief stretch of road? They gave their life for Christ, and you are reluctant to make a small journey for Him? The Martyrs’ Commemoration, and you sit in sloth and indifference! It is but right that you should be present; to see the devil overcome, the Martyrs triumphant, God glorified, and the Church crowned with honour.
But, you will say to me, I am a sinner. I cannot come. Then if you are a sinner, come, that you may cease to be one! Tell me, who is there among men without sin? Do you not know that even those close to the altar are wrapped in sins? For they are clothed with flesh, enfolded in a body: as we also who are sitting and teaching upon this throne are entangled in sin. But not because of this do we despair of the kindness of God; and neither do we look on Him as inhuman. And for this reason has the Lord disposed that those who serve the altar shall also be subject to these afflictions: so that from what they too suffer they may learn to have a fellow feeling for others.”
— St. John Chrysostom, On the Respect Due to the Church of God and to the Sacred Mysteries
“Who hated sin more than the saints? But they did not hate the sinners at the same time, nor condemn them, nor turn away from them. But they suffered with them, admonished them, comforted them. gave them remedies as sickly members, and did all they could to heal them.”
— St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings
“After the end of the General Judgment, the Righteous Judge (God) will declare the decision both to the righteous and to the sinners. To the righteous He will say: ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;’ while to the sinners He will say: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” And these will go away to enternal hades, while the righteous will go to enternal life. This retribution after the General Judgment will be complete, final, and definitive. It will complete, because it is not the soul alone, as the Partial Judgment of man after death, but the soul together with the body, that will receive what is deserved. It will be final, because it will be enduring and not temporary like that at Partial Judgment. And it will be definitive, because both for the righteous and for the sinners it will be unalterable and eternal.”
— St. Nektarios
“If you cannot be merciful, at least speak as though you are a sinner. If you are not a peacemaker, at least do not be a troublemaker. If you cannot be assiduous, at least in your thought be like a sluggard. If you are not victorious, do not exalt yourself over the vanquished. If you cannot close the mouth of a man who disparages his companion, at least refrain from joining him in this.”
— St. Isaac the Syrian
“One needs to distinguish a sinner from a penitent. If you have taken upon yourself the role to rebuke the sinner, guard yourself well, that you do not rebuke the penitent also. How dear the
repentant sinner is to God, call to mind the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Therefore, let it be very dear for you, he who has become dear to God. At one time it happened that a monk succumbed to sin for which he was banished from the monastery. This monk went to St. Anthony, confessed his sin, repented and remained with Anthony for a period of time. Then Anthony sent him back again to the monastery but they did not receive him and, again, they banished him. Again, the penitent came to Anthony. Again, Anthony sent him back to the monastery with a message to the fathers of the monastery: ‘One boat experienced shipwreck and lost its cargo; with great difficulty did that boat arrive in the harbor and you wish to drown even that which was saved from drowning!’ Hearing this wise message, the fathers received with joy the penitent brother into the monastery.”
— St. Nikolai Velimirovich