Tag Archives: Spiritual Life

St. Seraphim of Sarov: One should nourish the soul with the word of God . . .

Icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov“One should nourish the soul with the word of God: for the word of God, as St. Gregory the Theologian says, is angelic bread, by which are nourished souls who hunger for God. Most of all, one should occupy oneself with reading the New Testament and the Psalter, which one should do standing up. From this there occurs an enlightenment in the mind, which is in the mind, which is changed by a Divine change.”

— St. Seraphim of Sarov, Spiritual Instructions

St. John Chrysostom: Teach him to sing those psalms . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“Teach him to sing those psalms which are so full of love of wisdom; as at once concerning chastity or rather, before all, of not companying with the wicked, immediately with the very beginning of the book; (for therefore also it was that that prophet began on this wise, ‘Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly’; Ps. i. I, and again, ‘I have not say in the council of vanity’; Ps. xxvi. 4, Sept., and again, ‘in his sight a wicked doer is contemned, but he honoreth those that fear the Lord,’ Ps. xv. 4, Sept.,) of companying the good, (and these subjects thou wilt find there in abundance,) of restraining the belly, of restraining the hand, of refraining from excess, of not overreaching; that money is nothing nor glory, and other things such like[…]When in these thou hast led him on from childhood, by little and little thou wilt lead him forward even to the higher things. The Psalms contain things, but the Hymns again have nothing human. When he has been instructed out of the Psalms, he will then know hymns also , as a diviner thing.”

— St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Colossians, Homily 9

Fr. Seraphim: Let not us, who would be Christians, expect anything else from it than to be crucified. . . .

Photo of Fr. Seraphim Rose“Let not us, who would be Christians, expect anything else from it than to be crucified. For to be Christian is to be crucified, in this time and in any time since Christ came for the first time. His life is the example — and warning — to us all. We must be crucified personally, mystically; for through crucifixion is the only path to resurrection. If we would rise with Christ, we must first be humbled with Him — even to the ultimate humiliation, being devoured and spit forth by the uncomprehending world. And we must be crucified outwardly, in the eyes of the world; for Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world, and the world cannot bear it, even a single representative of it, even for a single moment. The world can only accept Antichrist, now or at any time. No wonder then, that it is hard to be a Christian — it is not hard, it is impossible. No one can knowingly accept a way of life which, the more truly it is lived, lead the more surely to one’s own destruction. And that is why we constantly rebel, try to make life easier, try to be half-Christian, try to make the best of both worlds We must ultimately choose — our felicity lies in one world or the other, not in both. God give us the strength to pursue the path to crucifixion; there is no other way to be Christian.”

— Eugene Rose (who later became Fr. Seraphim) from his journal as printed in the biography Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works by Hieromonk Damascene

St. John Maximovitch: Just as a basic concern is to be careful . . .

Icon of St. John the Wonderworker“Just as a basic concern is to be careful of anything that might be harmful to our physical health, so our spiritual concern should watch out for anything that might harm our spiritual life and the work of faith and salvation. Therefore, carefully and attentively assess your inner impulses: are they from God or from the spirit of evil?”

— St. John Maximovitch

St. John Chrysostom: For not eating and drinking makes friendship . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“For not eating and drinking makes friendship: such friendship even robbers have and murderers. But if we are friends, if we truly care for one another, let us in these respects help one another. This leads us to a profitable friendship: let us hinder those things which lead away to hell.”

— St. John Chrysostom, Homily 30 on Hebrews

Elder Joseph the Heychest: Letter about falling down and getting up

Photo of Elder Joseph the HesychastI received your letter, my child, and I saw your anxiety. But don’t be sad, my child. Don’t worry so much. Even though you have fallen again, get up again. You have been called to a heavenly road. It is not surprising for someone running to stumble. It just takes patience and repentance at every moment.

Therefore, always do a metanoia when you are wrong and don’t lose time, because the longer you wait to seek forgiveness, the more you allow the evil one to spread his roots within you. Don’t let him make roots to your detriment.

Therefore, don’t despair when you fall, but get up eagerly and do a metanoia saying, “Forgive me, my dear Christ. I am human and weak.” The Lord has not abandoned you. But since you still have a great deal of worldly pride, a great deal of vainglory, our Christ lets you make mistakes and fall, so that you perceive and come to know your weakness every day, so that you become patient with others who make mistakes, and so that you do not judge the brethren when they make mistakes, but rather put up with them.

So every time you fall, get up again and at once seek forgiveness. Don’t hide sorrow in your heart, because sorrow and despondency are the joy of the evil one. They fill one’s soul with bitterness and give birth to many evils. Whereas the frame of mind of someone who repents says, “I have sinned! Forgive me Father!” and he expels the sorrow. He says, “Am I not a weak human? So what do I expect?” Truly, my child this is how it is. So take courage.

Only when the grace of God comes does a person stand on his feet. Otherwise, without grace, he always changes and always falls. So be a man and don’t be afraid at all.
Do you see how that brother you wrote about endured the temptation? You, too, should do likewise. Acquire a brave spirit against the temptations that come. In any case, they will come. Forget about what your despondency and indolence tell you. Don’t be afraid of them. Just as the previous temptations passed by the grace of God, these, too, will pass once they do their job.

Temptations are medicines and healing herbs that heal our visible passions and our invisible wounds. So have patience in order to profit every day, to store up wages, rest, and joy in the heavenly kingdom. For the night of death is coming when no one will be able to work anymore. Therefore, hurry. Time is short.

You should know this too: a victorious life lasting only one day with trophies and crowns is better than a negligent life lasting many years. Because one man’s struggle, with knowledge and spiritual perception that lasts one day, has the same value as another man’s struggle, who struggles negligently without knowledge for fifty years.

Without a struggle and shedding your blood, don’t expect freedom from the passions. Our earth produces thorns and thistles after the Fall. We have been ordered to clean it, but only with much pain, bloody hands, and many sighs are the thorns and thistles uprooted. So weep, shed streams of tears, and soften the earth of your heart. Once the ground is wet, you can easily uproot the thorns.

— Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Elder Paisios of Mount Athos: Give thanks to God for everything . . .

Photo of Elder Paisus of Mount Athos“Give thanks to God for everything. Try to be manly. Pull yourself together a bit. Do you know what Christians are suffering in other countries? There are such difficulties in Russia! But here many exhibit indifference. There’s not enough disposition to kindness, love of devotion. You see, if we don’t begin to make war against evil, to expose those who tempt believers, then the evil will grow larger. If we throw aside fear then the faithful will be emboldened a bit. And those who wage war against the Church will have a harder time. In the past our nation lived spiritually, so God blessed her, and the saints helped us in miraculous fashion. And we were victorious against our enemies, who always outnumbered us. Today we continue to call ourselves Orthodox Christians, but we don’t live Orthodox lives.”

— Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

St. Mark the Ascetic: When harmed, insulted, or persecuted . . .

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic‘When harmed, insulted or persecuted by someone, do not think of the present but wait for the future, and you will find he has brought you much good, not only in this life but also in the life to come.”

— St. Mark the Ascetic

St. John Chrysostom: But now your children will utter songs . . .

Icon of St. John Chrysostom“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.”

— St. John Chrysostom, Homily IX on Colossians

St. Seraphim of Sarov: Fasting, prayer, alms, and every other good Christian deed . . .

Icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov“Fasting, prayer, alms, and every other good Christian deed is good in itself, but the purpose of the Christian life consists not only in the fulfillment of one or another of them. The true purpose of our Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. But fasting, prayer, alms and every good deed done for the sake of Christ is a means to the attainment of the Holy Spirit. Note that only good deeds done for the sake of Christ bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Everything else that is not done for the sake of Christ, even if it is good, does not bring us a reward in the life to come, not does it bring the grace of God in this life. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘Whoever gathereth not with me scattereth’ (Matt. 12:30).

— St. Seraphim of Sarov, Conversation on the Goal of the Christian Life