Prayer

St. Joseph of Optina: Prayer is food for the soul. Do not starve the soul, it is better to . . .

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“Prayer is food for the soul. Do not starve the soul, it is better to let the body go hungry. Do not judge anyone, forgive everyone. Consider yourself worse than everyone in the world and you will be saved. As much as possible, be more quiet.”

+ St. Joseph of Optina: Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. Barsanuphius of Optina: Prayer in church is important. The best thoughts and feelings come in church, yes, and the enemy attacks more violently . . .

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“Prayer in church is important. The best thoughts and feelings come in church, yes, and the enemy attacks more violently in church, but with the sign of the Cross and the Jesus Prayer, you drive him away. It is good to stand in some dark corner in church and to pray to God. “Let us lift up our hearts!” the priest exclaims, but our mind often creeps along the ground, thinking about indecent things. Fight against this.”

+ St. Barsanuphius of Optina, Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. Macarius of Optina: Concerning prayer in church, know that it is higher than . . .

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“Concerning prayer in church, know that it is higher than prayers at home, for it is raised by a whole group of people, among which many are most pure prayers, offering to God from humble hearts, which He accepts as fragrant incense. Along with these our prayers are also accepted, even though they are feeble and worthless.”

+ St. Macarius of Optina, Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

Fr. Seraphim Rose: Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? . . .

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“Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world. I am at this moment in some pain, and I call on the Name of Jesus—not necessarily to relieve the pain, but that Jesus, in Whom alone we may transcend this world, may be with me during it, and His will be done in me. But in pleasure I do not call on Him; I am content then with what I have, and I think I need no more. And why is a philosophy of pleasure untenable?—because pleasure is impermanent and unreliable, and pain is inevitable. In pain and suffering Christ speaks to us, and thus God is kind to give them to us, yes, and evil too—for in all of these we glimpse something of what must lie beyond, if there really exists what our hearts most deeply desire.”

+ Fr. Seraphim Rose, quoted in Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works

St. John of Kronstadt: We ought to have the most lively spiritual union with the heavenly inhabitants . . .

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“We ought to have the most lively spiritual union with the heavenly inhabitants, with all the saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, prelates, venerable and righteous men, as they are all members of one single body, The Church of Christ, to which we sinners also belong, and the living Head of which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is why we call upon them in prayer, converse with them, thank and praise them, It is urgently necessary for all Christians to be in union with them, if they desire to make Christian progress; for the saints are our friends, our guides to salvation, who pray and intercede for us.”

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

St. John of Kronstadt: The candles lit before icons of saints reflect their ardent love for God for Whose sake . . .

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“The candles lit before icons of saints reflect their ardent love for God for Whose sake they gave up everything that man prizes in life, including their very lives, as did the holy apostles, martyrs and others. These candles also mean that these saints are lamps burning for us and providing light for us by their own saintly living, their virtues and their ardent intercession for us before God through their constant prayers by day and night. The burning candles also stand for our ardent zeal and the sincere sacrifice we make out of reverence and gratitude to them for their solicitude on our behalf before God.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt

St. John of Kronstadt: Firmly purpose in your soul to hate every sin of thought, word, and deed, and when you are tempted to sin . . .

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“Firmly purpose in your soul to hate every sin of thought, word, and deed, and when you are tempted to sin resist it valiantly and with a feeling of hatred for it; only beware lest your hatred should turn against the person of your brother who gave occasion for the sin.  Hate the sin with all your heart, but pity your brother; instruct him, and pray for him to the Almighty, Who sees all of us and tries our hearts and innermost parts. ‘Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.’ (Hebrews 12:4)  It is impossible not to often fall into sin unless you have a hatred of it implanted in your heart.  Self-love must be eradicated.  Every sin comes from the love of self.  Sin always appears, or feigns to be, to wish us well, promising us plenteousness and ease.  ‘The tree was good for food, and it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise.’ (Genesis 3:6)  This is how sin always appears to us.”

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

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St. John Climacus: The memory of insults is the residue of anger. . . .

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Remembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sins, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind, shame of prayer, stopping of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul, pleasureless feeling beloved in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice.

This dark and hateful passion, I mean remembrance of wrongs, is one of those that are produced but have no offspring. That is why we do not intend to say much about it.

He who has put a stop to anger has also destroyed remembrance of wrongs; because childbirth continues only while the father is alive.

+ St. John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 9.2-4

St. John of Damascus: . . . Nor are the saints whom we glorify fictitious. . . .

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“Possibly a contentious unbeliever will maintain that we worshiping images in our churches are convicted of praying to lifeless idols. Far be it from us to do this. Faith makes Christians, and God, who cannot deceive, works miracles. We do not rest contented with mere colouring. With the material picture before our eyes we see the invisible God through the visible representation, and glorify Him as if present, not as a God without reality, but as a God who is the essence of being. Nor are the saints whom we glorify fictitious. They are in being, and are living with God; and their spirits being holy, the help, by the power of God, those who deserve and need their assistance.”

+ St. John of Damascus, Treatise on Images

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