Sayings from Saints, Elders, and Fathers

St. Peter of Damascus: Should we fall, we should not despair . . .

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“For to sin, even in the case of those who are most righteous, is easy, while repentance is not easy for everyone because death is near; and even before death comes there is despair. It is good, then, not to fall; or, if we fall, to rise again. And should we fall, we should not despair and so estrange ourselves from the Lord’s love. For if He so chooses, He can deal mercifully with our weakness. Only we should not cut ourselves off from Him or feel oppressed when constrained by His commandments, nor should we lose heart when we fall short of our goal. Rather, let us learn that a thousand years in the sight of the Lord are but a single day, and a single day is as a thousand years (cf. Ps. 90:4). Let us be neither hasty nor tardy, and let us be always ready to make a new start. If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again. Only do not abandon your Physician, lest you be condemned as worse than a suicide because of your despair. Wait
on Him, and He will be merciful, either reforming you, or sending you trials, or through some other provision of which you are ignorant.”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Twenty-Four Discourses,” VIII Mortification of the Passions, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

St. Philaret of Moscow: Every Christian should find for himself . . .

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“Every Christian should find for himself the imperative and incentive to become holy. If you live without struggle and without hope of becoming holy, then you are Christians only in name and not in essence. But without holiness, no one shall see the Lord, that is to say they will not attain eternal blessedness. It is a trustworthy saying that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). But we deceive ourselves if we think that we are saved while remaining sinners. Christ saves those sinners by giving them the means to become saints.”

— St. Philaret of Moscow, Sermon of September 23, 1847

St. Symeon the New Theologian: To have faith in Christ . . .

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“To have faith in Christ means more than simply despising the delights of this life. It means we should bear all our daily trials that may bring us sorrow, distress, or unhappiness, and bear them patiently for as long as God wishes and until He comes to visit us. For it is said, ‘I waited on the Lord and He came to me.’”

— St. Symeon the New Theologian

Unseen Warfare: Since the enemy watches you constantly . . .

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Since the enemy watches you constantly, waiting for an opportunity to sow evil in you, be doubly watchful over yourself, lest you fall in the nets spread for you. As soon as he shows you some fault in your neighbor, hasten to repel this thought, lest it take root in you and grow. Cast it out, so that no trace is left in you, and replace it by the thought of the good qualities you know your neighbor to possess, or of those people generally should have. If you still feel the impulse to pass judgment, add to this the truth that you are given no authority for this and that the moment you assume this authority you thereby make yourself worthy of judgment and condemnation, not before powerless men, but before God, the all-powerful Judge of all. This reversal of thoughts is the strongest means, not only for repelling accidental critical thoughts, but also for completely freeing yourself of this vice.

— From Unseen Warfare, St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

St. John of Kronstadt: The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who fills the whole universe, passes through all believing, meek, humble, good, and simple human souls, dwelling in them, vivifying and strengthening them. . . .

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“The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who fills the whole universe, passes through all believing, meek, humble, good, and simple human souls, dwelling in them, vivifying and strengthening them. He becomes one spirit with them and everything to them – light, strength, peace, joy, success in their undertakings, especially in a pious life, and everything good – “going through all understanding, pure and most subtle spirits” (Wisdom of Solomon vii, 23). “We have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Cor. xii.13). All pious people are filled with the Spirit of God similarly as a sponge is filled with water.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

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