Virtue

St. Macarius the Great: The soul that really loves God and Christ . . .

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“The soul that really loves God and Christ, though it may do ten thousand righteousnesses, esteems itself as having wrought nothing, by reason of its insatiable aspiration after God.

Though it should exhaust the body with fastings, with watchings, its attitude towards the virtues is as if it had not yet even begun to labour for them.”

+ St. Marcarius the Great

St. John of Kronstadt: . . . Christ taught us truth; the Devil teaches us falsehood, and strives in every way to contradict every truth . . .

God came upon earth in order to raise us up to heaven.’

‘God came upon earth in order to raise us up to heaven.’

It would seem, after this, that even when living upon earth we must live as if in the heavenly kingdom, dwelling there in anticipation by hope. But in reality, for the greater part, the contrary is the case. Men cling with their whole being to the earth and everything earthly.

Wherefore is this? Because our common enemy, the Devil, endeavours with all his might to oppose the intentions of the God-man, Christ. He endeavours to do everything in opposition to what Christ did and does.

Christ wishes to raise men up to heaven, and has given them all the means to attain this; whilst the Devil, who himself for his pride was cast down from heaven into the dominions of the air, wishes by every means to attach men to earthly,- sensual, transitory things, and, in order to attain this end, he employs the most powerful, most prodigious means.

Christ taught us truth; the Devil teaches us falsehood, and strives in every way to contradict every truth; devising various calumnies against it.

The Devil endeavours by every means to keep men in error, in the enticement of the passions, in darkness of mind and heart; in pride, avarice, covetousness, envy, hatred, wicked impatience and irritation; in evil despondence, in the abominations of fornication, adultery, theft, false-witness, blasphemy, negligence, slothfulness, and sluggishness.

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

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St. John Maximovitch: God’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always . . .

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God’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always in the position of a victor. Sometimes in the arena the wild animals did not touch the righteous ones, but by no means were they all preserved untouched.

What is important is not victory or the position of a victor, but rather the labor of striving towards God and devotion to Him.

Though a man may be found in a weak state, that does not at all mean that he has been abandoned by God. On the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ was in trouble, as the world sees things. But when the sinful world considered Him to be completely destroyed, in fact He was victorious over death and hades. The Lord did not promise us positions as victors as a reward for righteousness, but told us, “In the world you will have tribulation — but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

The power of God is effective when a person asks for the help from God, acknowledging his own weakness and sinfulness. This is why humility and the striving towards God are the fundamental virtues of a Christian.

+ St. John Maximovitch

St. John Cassian: The thief who received the kingdom of heaven, though not as the reward of virtue, is a true witness to the fact that salvation . . .

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The thief who received the kingdom of heaven, though not as the reward of virtue, is a true witness to the fact that salvation is ours through the grace and mercy of God.

All of our holy fathers knew this and all with one accord teach that perfection in holiness can be achieved only through humility.

Humility, in its turn, can be achieved only through faith, fear of God, gentleness and the shedding of all possessions.

It is by means of these that we attain perfect love, through the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory through all the ages. Amen.

+ St. John Cassian,  The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1), “On the Eight Vices: On Pride”

St. John Chrysostom: Wherefore, if you desire to become equal to the apostles, there is nothing to hinder you. . . .

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Wherefore, if you desire to become equal to the apostles, there is nothing to hinder you. For to have arrived at this virtue only suffices for your not at all falling short of them. Let no one therefore wait for miracles. For though the evil spirit is grieved, when he is driven out of a body, yet much more so, when he sees a soul delivered from sin. For indeed this is his great power. [Acts 8:10] This power caused Christ to die, that He might put an end to it. Yea, for this brought in death; by reason of this all things have been turned upside down. If then thou remove this, you have cut out the nerves of the devil, you have bruised his head, you have put an end to all his might, you have scattered his host, you have exhibited a sign greater than all signs.

The saying is not mine, but the blessed Paul’s. For when he had said, Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet show I unto you a more excellent way; [1 Corinthians 12:31] he did not speak next of a sign, but of charity, the root of all our good things. If then we practice this, and all the self-denial that flows from it, we shall have no need of signs; even as on the other hand, if we do not practice it, we shall gain nothing by the signs.

Bearing in mind then all this, let us imitate those things whereby the apostles became great. And whereby did they become great? Hear Peter, saying, Behold we have forsaken all, and followed You; what shall we have therefore? [Matthew 19:27] Hear also Christ saying to them, ‘You shall sit upon twelve thrones, and, every one that has forsaken houses, or brethren, or father, or mother, shall receive an hundredfold in this world, and shall inherit everlasting life.’ From all worldly things, therefore, let us withdraw ourselves, and dedicate ourselves to Christ, that we may both be made equal to the apostles according to His declaration, and may enjoy eternal life; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.

+ St. John Chrysostom, Homily 46, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew

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The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection: 3 Series, 37 Volumes, 65 Authors, 1,000 Books, 18,000 Chapters, 16 Million Words

St. Paisius Velichkovsky: . . . One must clean the royal house from every impurity and adorn it with every beauty . . .

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“. . .One must clean the royal house from every impurity and adorn it with every beauty, then the king may enter into it. In a similar way one must first cleanse the earth of the heart and uproot the weeds of sin and the passionate deeds and soften it with sorrows and the narrow way of life, sow in it the seed of virtue, water it with lamentation and tears, and only then does the fruit of dispassion and eternal life grow. For the Holy Spirit does not dwell in a man until he has been cleansed from passions of the soul and body.”

+ St. Paisius Velichkovsky, “Field Flowers”

St. Isaac the Syrian: . . . The humble are accounted worthy of receiving in themselves this Spirit of revelations Who teaches mysteries.

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“The power to bear Mysteries, which the humble man has received, which makes him perfect in every virtue without toil, this is the very power which the blessed apostles received in the form of fire. For its sake the Saviour commanded them not to leave Jerusalem until they should receive power from on high, that is to say, the Paraclete, which, being interpreted, is the Spirit of consolation. And this is the Spirit of divine visions. Concerning this it is said in divine Scripture: ‘Mysteries are revealed to the humble’ [Ecclus 3:19]. The humble are accounted worthy of receiving in themselves this Spirit of revelations Who teaches mysteries.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homily 77

St. John of Kronstadt: You are angry with your neighbor, you despise him, do not like to speak peaceably . . .

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You are angry with your neighbor, you despise him, do not like to speak peaceably and lovingly to him, because there is something harsh, abrupt, careless, unpleasant to you in his character, in his speech, in his manners—because he is more conscious of his dignity than perhaps is necessary; or because he may be somewhat proud and disrespectful; but you yourself, your neighbor’s physician and teacher, are more guilty than him.

“Physician, heal thyself.” Teacher, teach yourself.

Your own malice is the bitterest of all evils. Is it then possible to correct malice by means of evil? Having a beam in your own eye, can you pull out the mote from the eye of another?

Evil and faults are corrected by good, by love, kindness, meekness, humility, and patience.

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

You don’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle version of this book, which is available a very reduced cost. Try Amazon’s FREE Kindle Cloud Reader app for your computer, phone, or tablet.

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. Maximos the Confessor: The demons attack the person who . . .

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The demons attack the person who has attained the summits of prayer in order to prevent his conceptual images of sensible things from being free from passion; they attack the gnostic so that he will dally with impassioned thoughts; and they attack the person who has not advanced beyond the practice of the virtues so as to persuade him to sin through his actions. They contend with all men by every possible means in order to separate them from God.

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 2.90, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

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