Notice the way in which Zacchaeus confessed his sin. He did not say: “Lord, I am a sinful man!”, or “Avarice is my sickness!” No; but, showing the fruits of repentance, he thus confessed his sin and his sickness: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.” is not this a clear confession that riches are his passion? “And if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” Is not this a clear confession that his riches were acquired in a sinful manner? He did not, before this, say to the Lord: “I am a sinner, and I repent.” He confessed this silently to the Lord in his heart, and the Lord silently received his confession and repentance.
It is of more importance to the Lord that a man acknowledge and confess his sickness and cry for help in his heart than with this tongue, for the tongue is capable of deception, but the heart is not.
“We hear it frequently remarked that it matters not what one believes if he does right. But if one does not believe right, he does not do the right thing—that is, if his belief is sincere and carried out in practice. If one believes that which is wrong, and still acts otherwise from force of circumstance, he is wrong in heart. A man may believe in polygamy, but the law and common custom may forbid its practice. He would be in outward life aright, but in heart would be a virtual polygamist. And if circumstances were favorable, his life would bear its legitimate fruit. And this is just as true of every other moral evil. It is all-important to believe right. Every false religion which has cursed mankind has started in a wrong belief. It might not have affected practical duties for a time, but the fruit finally developed. Thus belief in that first lie of Satan’s (Gen. iii: 4) has borne its legitimate fruit in—first, the deification of the beautiful, and unnatural curiosity; second, self-love, delusion, and idol-worship; third, free-thinking, protesting, infidelity, and anarchy.”
Abba Poemen said that Abba John said that the saints are like a group of trees, each bearing different fruit, but watered from the same source. The practices of one saint differ from those of another, but it is the same Spirit that works in all of them.
Source: Sr. Benedicta Ward, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 89-95
“When a man receives something Divine, in his heart he rejoices; but when he receives something diabolic, he is disturbed. The Christian heart, when it has received something Divine, does not demand anything else in order to convince it that this is precisely from the Lord; but by that very effect it is convinced that this is heavenly, for it senses within itself spiritual fruits: love, joy, peace, and the rest (cf. Gal. 5:22).”
— St. Seraphim of Sarov, Little Russian Philokalia: Vol. I
“But now your children will utter songs and dances of Satan, like cooks, and caterers, and musicians; no one knows any psalm but it seems a thing to be ashamed of even, a mockery and a joke. There is the treasury house of all these evils. For whatsoever soil the plant stands in, such is the fruit it bears; if in a sandy and salty soil, of like nature is its fruit; if in a sweet and rich one, it is again similar. So the matter of instruction is a sort of fountain. Teach him to sing those psalms which are so full of the love of wisdom. When in these you have led him on from childhood, by little and little you will lead him forward even to the higher things.”