+ St. Isaac the Syrian, from The Prayers of St. Isaac the Syrian
It is worth noticing that, after acquiring spiritual understanding, the defects and faults of one’s neighbor begin to seem very slight and insignificant, as redeemed by the Savior and easily cured by repentance—those very faults and defects which seemed to the carnal understanding so big and serious. Evidently the carnal mind, being itself a plank, gives them this huge significance. The carnal mind sees in others sins that are not there at all.
+ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Arena
Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love?
I mean that those who have become conscious that they have sinned against love suffer greater torment from this than from any fear of punishment.
For the sorrow caused in the heart by sin against love is more poignant than any torment.
It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God.
Love is the offspring of knowledge of the truth which, as is commonly confessed, is given to all.
The power of love works in two ways. It torments sinners, even as happens here when a friend suffers from a friend.
But it becomes a source of joy for those who have observed its duties.
Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret.
+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Homily 72: On the Vision of the Nature of Incorporeal Beings, in Questions and Answers,” Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian
+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 1.4, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)
As man I deliberately transgressed the divine commandment, when the devil, enticing me with the hope of divinity (cf. Gen. 3:5), dragged me down from my natural stability into the realm of sensual pleasure; and he was proud to have thus brought death into existence, for he delights in the corruption of human nature. Because of this, God became perfect man, taking on everything that belongs to human nature except sin (cf. Heb. 4:15); and indeed sin is not part of human nature, In this way, by enticing the insatiable serpent with the bait of the flesh. He provoked him to open his mouth and swallow it. This flesh proved poison to him, destroying him utterly by the power of the Divinity within it; but to human nature it proved a remedy restoring it to its original grace by that same power of the Divinity within it. For just as the devil poured out his venom of sin on the tree of knowledge and corrupted human nature once it had tasted it, so when he wished to devour the flesh of the Master he was himself destroyed by the power of the Divinity within it.
+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice 1.11, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)
+ St. Seraphim of Sarov, “The Spiritual Instructions to Laymen and Monks”, printed in Little Russian Philokalia: St. Seraphim of Sarov
Our life is child’s play, only not innocent, but sinful, because, with a strong mind, and with the knowledge of the purpose of our life, we neglect this purpose and occupy ourselves with frivolous, purposeless matters. And thus our life is childish, unpardonable play.
We amuse ourselves with food and drink, gratifying ourselves by them, instead of only using them for the necessary nourishment of our body and the support of our bodily life.
We amuse ourselves with dress, instead of only decently covering our body and protecting it from the injurious action of the elements.
We amuse ourselves with silver and gold, admiring them in treasuries, or using them for objects of luxury and pleasure, instead of using them only for our real needs, and sharing our superfluity with those in want.
We amuse ourselves with our houses and the variety of furniture in them, decorating them richly and exquisitely, instead of merely having a secure and decent roof to protect us from the injurious action of the elements, and things necessary and suitable for domestic use.
We amuse ourselves with our mental gifts, with our intellect , imagination, using them only to serve sin and the vanity of this world–that is, only to serve earthly and corruptible things–instead of using them before all and above all to serve God, to learn to know Him, the all-wise Creator of every creature, for prayer, supplication, petitions, thanksgiving and praise to Him, and to show mutual love and respect, and only partly to serve this world, which will some day entirely pass away.
We amuse ourselves with our knowledge of worldly vanity, and to acquire this knowledge we waste most precious time, which was given to us for our preparation for eternity.
We amuse ourselves with beautiful human faces, or the fair, weaker sex, and often use them for the sport of our passions.
We amuse ourselves with time, which ought to be wisely utilized for redeeming eternity, and not for games and various pleasures.
Finally, we amuse ourselves with our own selves, making idols out of ourselves, before which we bow down, and before which we expect other to bow down.
What answer shall we give to our immortal King, Christ our God, Who shall come again in the glory of His Father to judge both the quick and the dead, to declare the secret thoughts of all hearts, and receive from us our answer for every word and deed. O, woe, woe, woe to us who bear the name of Christ, but have none of the spirit of Christ in us; who bear the name of Christ, but do not follow the teaching of the Gospel! Woe to us who ‘neglect so great salvation’! Woe to us who love the present fleeting, deceptive life, and neglect the inheritance of the life that follows after the death of our corruptible body beyond this carnal veil!
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.
“If the Lord has left us ignorant of the ordering of many things in this world, then it means it is not necessary for us to know: we cannot compass all creation with our minds. But the Creator Himself of heaven and earth and every created thing gives us to know Him in the Holy Spirit.
+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Wisdom from Mount Athos: The Writings of Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938
“Having read Holy Scripture very carefully, you should also read the holy Fathers who interpret the Scriptures. You will receive no less delight from reading the Fathers than you do from the Scriptures. The Fathers develop the hidden meanings in Scripture and with their own writings help us to understand what we did not before. Because of that philosophic axiom that all men by nature seek knowledge, we must say that great delight follows naturally when we learn about hidden and unknown matters. This is why there will be ineffable joy and gladness that will come to your soul from the interpretations and the words of the holy Fathers. You too will be shouting, as did David, those enthusiastic words in the Psalms.”
+ St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel