Tag Archives: Worldliness

St. Neilos the Ascetic: . . .Rivalry over material possessions has made us forget . . .

BiltmoreSo we no longer pursue plainness and simplicity of life. We no longer value stillness, which helps to free us from past defilement, but prefer a whole host of things which distract us uselessly from our true goal. Rivalry over material possessions has made us forget the counsel of the Lord, who urged us to take no thought for earthly things, but to seek only the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 6:33). Deliberately doing the opposite, we have disregarded the Lord’s commandment, trusting in ourselves and not in His protection. For He says: ‘Behold the fowls of the air: for they do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them’ (Matt. 6:26); and again: ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil or spin’ (Matt. 6:28). When He sent the apostles out to declare the good news to their fellow men. He even forbade them to carry wallet, purse or staff, and told them to be content with His promise: ‘The workman is worthy of his food’ (Matt. 10:10). This promise is to be trusted far more than our own resources.

Despite all this we go on accumulating as much land as we can, and we buy up flocks of sheep, fine oxen and fat donkeys – the sheep to supply us with wool, the oxen to plough and provide food for us and fodder for themselves and for the other animals, the donkeys to transport from foreign lands the goods and luxuries which our own country lacks. We also select the crafts which give the highest return, even though they absorb all our attention and leave no time for the remembrance of God. It is as if we accused God of being incapable of providing for us, or ourselves of being unable to fulfill the commitments of our calling. Even if we do not admit this. openly, our actions condemn us; for we show approval of the ways of worldly men by engaging in the same pursuits, and perhaps working at them even harder than they do.

+ St. Neilos the Ascetic, “Ascetic Discourse,” The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

St. Paisios of Mt. Athos: Women usually have no sense of moderation when it comes to household chores. . . .

Women usually have no sense of moderation when it comes to household chores. They’re constantly finding things to do. While they do have a lot of heart and could do much “housecleaning” in their soul, they often waste their heart on insignificant things. Let’s say we have a delicate glass with very intricate designs. Now, if this glass didn’t have all these designs on it, it would still serve its purpose as a glass. But no, women go to the store and start: “No, I want the designs up higher, to this point; no, not this way, the other way…” And if there should be some floral details on it, well then the heart really starts leaping! But by doing this, women lay waste to all their energy and potential. You’ll hardly find a man paying so much attention to such details. For example, a man will hardly notice if a lamp shade is brown or black. But a woman wants something beautiful and she rejoices in it; she gives a port of her heart to this, a part to that, and then what is left for Christ? Only a tired yawn is spared for the time of prayer. The more a woman distances her heart from material things, the closer she comes to Christ. And when her heart is given to Christ, then she acquires great strength.

+ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Councils IV: Family Life

St. Ambrose Milan: But nothing causes such exceeding grief as when anyone, lying under the captivity of sin . . .

Icon of St. Ambrose of Milan“But nothing causes such exceeding grief as when anyone, lying under the captivity of sin, calls to mind from where he has fallen, because he turned aside to carnal and earthly things, instead of directing his mind in the beautiful ways of the knowledge of God. So you find Adam concealing himself, when he knew that God was present and wishing to be hidden when called by God with that voice which wounded the soul of him yourself? Why are you concealed? Why do you avoid Him Whom you once longed to see? A guilty conscience is so burdensome that it punishes itself without a judge, and wishes for covering, and yet is bare before God.”

+ St. Ambrose Milan, Concerning Repentance, Book II

St. Isaac the Syrian: A man can never learn what divine power is . . .

Comfortable Living Room“A man can never learn what divine power is while he abides in comfort and spacious living.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Homily 72: On Faith and Humility,” Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

St. Isaac the Syrian: Do not reckon as a truly wise man . . .

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“Do not reckon as a truly wise man that one whose mind is subject to fear on account of temporal life.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence”, Mystical Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh

St. Maximos the Confessor: The person who loves God values knowledge of God more than anything created . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“The person who loves God values knowledge of God more than anything created by God, and pursues such knowledge ardently and ceaselessly.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 1.4, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Symeon the New Theologian: . . . are you not ashamed of playing with shadows and hoarding transitory things . . .

“If you know that all visible things are a shadow and all pass away, are you not ashamed of playing with shadows and hoarding transitory things? Like a child you draw water with a bucket full of holes; do you not realize it and take it into account, my dear friend? As though there were nothing more serious than appearance and illusion, as though reality has been taken from them?”

+ St. Symeon the New Theologian, Symeon the New Theologian: The Discourses (Classics of Western Spirituality), XIX Symeon’s Spiritual Concern