Tag Archives: Spiritual

Elder Sampson: One must always remember the difference between the emotional, the spiritual, and the physical . . .

Photo of Elder Sampson “One must always remember the difference between the emotional, the spiritual, and the physical: the life of the spirit, the life of the soul (that is, the senses and emotions,  and the life of the body. This is exactly where there is so much confusion. By the way, the Western [Christan] denominations . . . all have precisely this confusion between the spirit and the soul. The mother can transmit to the child many wonderful qualities of character, of the soul, right? But not the qualities of the spirit: faith and love towards people which are given by the Holy Spirit.

“Therefore [because Orthodoxy discerns the difference between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and mere emotions] satan has risen up against us … against Orthodox people. We are always openly infringing upon his sphere of spiritual influence, his evil powers, evil influence.”

+ Elder Sampson, Orthodox Word #177, “Discussions & Teachings of Elder Sampson”

St. Theophan the Recluse: Why is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book . . .

Icon of St. Theophon the RecluseWhy is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book, and still not have prayer in his heart? I think the reason is that people only spend a little time lifting themselves up to God when they complete their prayer rule, and in other times, they do not remember God. For example, they finish their morning prayers, and think that their relation to God is fulfilled by them; then the whole day passes in work, and such a person does not attend to God. Then in the evening, the thought returns to him that he must quickly stand at prayer and complete his evening rule. In this case, it happens that even if the Lord grants a person spiritual feelings at the time of the morning prayer, the bustle and business of the day drowns them out. As a result, it happens that one does not often feel like praying, and cannot get control of himself even to soften his heart a little bit. In such an atmosphere, prayer develops and ripens poorly. This problem (is it not ubiquitous?) needs to be corrected, that is, one must ensure that the soul does not only make petition to God when standing in prayer, but during the whole day, as much as possible, one must unceasingly ascend to Him and remain with Him.

In order to begin this task, one must first, during the course of the day, cry out to God more often, even if only with a few words, according to need and the work of the day. Beginning anything, for example, say ‘Bless, O Lord!’ When you finish something, say, ‘Glory to Thee, O Lord’, and not only with your lips, but with feeling in your heart. If passions arise, say, ‘Save me, O Lord, I am perishing.’ If the darkness of disturbing thoughts comes up, cry out: ‘Lead my soul out of prison.’ If dishonest deeds present themselves and sin leads you to them, pray, ‘Set me, O Lord, in the way’, or ‘do not give up my feet to stumbling.’ If sin takes hold of you and leads you to despair, cry out with the voice of the publican, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ Do this in every circumstance, or simply say often, ‘Lord, have mercy’, ‘Most Holy Theotokos save us”, ‘Holy Angel, my guardian, protect me’, or other such words. Say such prayers as often as possible, always making the effort for them come from your heart, as if squeezed out of it. When we do this, we will frequently ascend to God in our hearts, making frequent petitions and prayers. Such increased frequency will bring about the habit of mental conversation with God.

— St. Theophan the Recluse, On prayer, Homily 2
Delivered 22 November, 1864

 

St. John Chrysostom: . . . the vile state of a house is not in vessels lying in disorder, nor in an untidy bed, nor in walls covered with smoke, but in the wickedness of them that dwell therein. . . .

But oh! foolish men; who do even curse the poor, and say that both houses and living are disgraced by poverty, confounding all things. For what is a disgrace to a house? I pray thee. It hath no couch of ivory, nor silver vessels, but all of earthenware and wood. Nay, this is the greatest glory and distinction to a house. For to be indifferent about worldly things, often occasions all a man’s leisure to be spent in the care of his soul.

When therefore thou seest great care about outward things, then be ashamed at the great unseemliness. For the houses of them that are rich most of all want seemliness. For when thou seest tables covered with hangings, and couches inlaid with silver, much as in the theatre, much as in the display of the stage, what can be equal to this unseemliness? For what kind of house is most like the stage, and the things on the stage? The rich man’s or the poor man’s? Is it not quite plain that it is the rich man’s? This therefore is full of unseemliness.

zacchaeus_callingWhat kind of house is most like Paul’s, or Abraham’s? It is quite evident that it is the poor man’s. This therefore is most adorned, and to be approved. And that thou mayest learn that this is, above all, a house’s adorning, enter into the house of Zacchaeus, and learn, when Christ was on the point of entering therein, how Zacchaeus adorned it. For he did not run to his neighbors begging curtains, and seats, and chairs made of ivory, neither did he bring forth from his closets Laconian hangings; but he adorned it with an adorning suitable to Christ. What was this? “The half of my goods I will give,” he saith, “to the poor; and whomsoever I have robbed, I will restore fourfold” (Luke xix. 8). On this wise let us too adorn our houses, that Christ may enter in unto us also. These are the fair curtains, these are wrought in Heaven, they are woven there. Where these are, there is also the King of Heaven. But if thou adorn it in another way, thou art inviting the devil and his company.

He came also into the house of the publican Matthew. What then did this man also do? He first adorned himself by his readiness, and by his leaving all, and following Christ.

St. Cornelius and Jesus ChristSo also Cornelius adorned his house with prayers and alms; wherefore even unto this day it shines above the very palace. For the vile state of a house is not in vessels lying in disorder, nor in an untidy bed, nor in walls covered with smoke, but in the wickedness of them that dwell therein. And Christ showeth it, for into such a house, if the inhabitant be virtuous, He is not ashamed to enter; but into that other, though it have a golden roof, He will never enter. So that while this one is more gorgeous than the palace, receiving the Lord of all, that with its golden roof and columns is like filthy drains and sewers, for it contains the vessels of the devil.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily LXXXIII, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew

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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