Virtue

St. Anthony the Great: One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life . . .

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“One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life; but one should say that it is not easy. Nor do those who have reached it find it easy to maintain. Those who are devout and whose intellect enjoys the love of God participate in the life of virtue; the ordinary intellect, however, is worldly and wavering, producing both good and evil thoughts, because it is changeful by nature and directed towards material things. But the intellect that enjoys the love of God punishes the evil which arises spontaneously because of man’s laziness.”

+ St. Anthony The Great

St. Justin Popovich: If you wish, the Lives of the Saints are a sort of Orthodox Encyclopedia. . . .

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“If you wish, the Lives of the Saints are a sort of Orthodox Encyclopedia. In them can be found everything which is necessary for the soul which hungers and thirsts for eternal righteousness and eternal truth in this life, and which hungers and thirsts for Divine immortality and eternal life. If faith is what you need, there you will find it in abundance: and you will feed your soul with food which will never make it hungry. If you need love, truth, righteousness, hope, meekness, humility, repentance, prayer, or whatever virtue or podvig, in them, the Lives of the Saints, you will find a countless number of holy teachers for every podvig and will obtain grace-filled help for every virtue.”

— St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith & Life in Christ“Introduction to the Lives of the Saints”

St. Gregory the Great: . . . We too, who believe in Him Who died, approach His sepulcher with spices . . .

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“You have heard, dearly beloved, that holy women who had followed the Lord came to the sepulcher with spices. They had loved Him when He was alive, and they showed Him their eager tenderheartedness even when He was dead. Their deed points to something that must be done in our holy Church. Thus as we hear of what they did, we must also think of our responsibility to imitate them. We too, who believe in Him Who died, approach His sepulcher with spices if we are strengthened with the sweet smell of the virtues, and if we seek the Lord with a reputation for good works. And the women who came with spices saw angels, since those who advance toward God through their holy desires, accompanied by the sweet smell of the virtues, behold the citizens from on high.”

— St. Gregory the Great, Forty Gospel Homilies

St. John of Kronstadt: How will it be with us in the future life . . .

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“How will it be with us in the future life, when everything that has gratified us in this world: riches, honors, food and drink, dress, beautifully furnished dwellings, and all attractive objects—how will it be, I say, when all these things leave us—when they will all seem to us a dream, and when works of faith and virtue, of abstinence, purity, meekness, humility, mercy, patience, obedience, and others will be required of us?”

— St. John of Kronstadt

St. Mark the Ascetic: You should continually an unceasingly call to mind all the blessings which God . . .

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“You should continually and unceasingly call to mind all the blessings which God in His love has bestowed on you in the past, and still bestows for the salvation of your soul. You must not let forgetfulness of evil or laziness make you grow unmindful of these many and great blessings, and so pass the rest of your life uselessly and ungratefully.

For this kind of continual recollection, pricking the heart like a spur, moves it constantly to confession and humility, to thanksgiving with a contrite soul, and to all forms of sincere effort, repaying God through its virtue and holiness. In this way the heart meditates constantly and conscientiously on the words from the Psalms: ‘What shall I give to the Lord in return for all His benefits towards me?’ (Psalm 116:12).”

— St. Mark the Ascetic, Letter to Nicolas the Solitary, The Philokalia Vol. 1

St. Nektarios: A Prayer to the Immaculate Virgin

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A Prayer To the Immaculate Virgin

Take away from me, O Virgin, the fetters of sin,
of my lusts and other transgressions:
the terrible carelessness and the overcaring,
the evil curiosity and the talkativeness,
the useless incontinence and the haughtiness,
the negligence, the drunkenness and the lack of mercy,
the bad desires, the terrible impurity,
the extravagance, the darkness,
the great insensitivity.

Take away the tendency to say jokes,
the enjoyment, the prodigality.

The laughter of immorality and every evil.

Give me, O maiden, fasting,
carefulness, vigilance and perfect obedience.

Give me carefulness in all
and acute discernment,
silence, order and holy patience.

Grant to me, O Lady, eagerness to work
and to attain my perfection,
and zeal for virtues and exercise.

Keep, O most-holy One,
my soul, my heart and my mind
in holiness and guard it in virginity.

— St. Nektarios
Translated by Nikolaos S. Hatzinikolaou

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