Category Archives: Early Christian Writings

At the Fragrance of Humility

“My children, desire to purify your hearts from envy and from anger with each other, lest death should overcome you, and you will be counted among the murderers. For whosoever hates his brother, kills a soul.”
-Abba Anthony the Great.

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“One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not be disturbed by offenses from others; for this one must in every way strive to restrain anger and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings. And therefore we must bear offenses from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offenses seem to concern not us, but others. Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it as a dwelling for God Himself.”
-St. Seraphim of Sarov

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As with the appearance of light, darkness retreats; so, at the fragrance of humility, all anger and bitterness vanishes.
-St. John Climacus

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Tradition and the Future

Compelling series of posts on the Fathers and Tradition over at Fr. Ted’s Blog. A couple quotes that stood out:

“In the light of eschatology, even the tradition of the Church itself acquires a new meaning and a different dimension — an optimistic and hopeful perspective. In this perspective, Tradition is not identified with habits, customs, traditions or ideas or in general with historical inertia and stagnation, but with a person, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory who is coming. As Saint Cyprian of Carthage reminds us, “The Lord said: I am the Truth. He did not say: I am the custom.” Tradition, in other words, does not refer chiefly to the past; or to put it differently, it is not bound by the patterns of the past, by events that have already happened. Strange as it may sound, in the authentic ecclesial perspective, tradition is orientated toward the future. It comes principally and primarily from the future Kingdom of God, from the One who is coming, from what has yet to be fully revealed and made manifest, from God’s love and the plan He is preparing for us, for the salvation of the world and man. So the eschatological understanding of tradition appears as the counterpart to the Pauline definition of faith: ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen’ (Heb. 11:1. cf. Heb. ch. 11; Rom. 8:24)

And:

“The future is not merely something exacted or awaited – it is something created … And genuine historical synthesis lies not in interpreting the past, but in creatively fulfilling the future.” -Fr. George Florovosky

Read it all.

Ripened on the Field of Life

“…O Lord, inasmuch as Thou containest a sea of longsuffering and an abyss of kindness, do not allow me to be felled as a fruitless fig tree; and do not let me be burned without having ripened on the field of life. Snatch me not away unprepared; seize not me who have not yet lit my lamp; take not away me who have no wedding garment; but, because Thou art good and the lover of mankind, have mercy on me. Give me time to repent, and place not my soul stripped naked before Thy terrible and unwavering throne as a pitiful spectacle of infamy.”

-St. Ephraim the Syrian

Read more on Seth’s blog.

The Treasure House within You

Be at peace with your own soul
then heaven and earth will be at peace with you.

Enter eagerly into the treasure
house that is within you,

And you will see the things that are in heaven,
for there is but one single entry to them both.

The ladder that leads to the Kingdom
is hidden within your soul…

Dive into yourself and in your soul
and you will discover the stairs
by which to ascend.

-St. Isaac of Syria

Lessening the Serpent’s Hold

symeonthenewtheologian“A person who suffers bitterly when slighted or insulted should recognize from this that he still harbors the ancient serpent in his breast. If he quietly endures the insult or responds with great humility, he weakens the serpent and lessens its hold. But if he replies acrimoniously or brazenly, he gives it strength to pour its venom into his heart and to feed mercilessly on his guts. In this way the serpent becomes increasingly powerful; it destroys his soul’s strength and his attempts to set himself right, compelling him to live for sin and to be completely dead to righteousness.”
-St. Symeon the New Theologian

And Judge Not My Brother

st_ephraim_the_syrianO Lord and Master of my life,
Grant not unto me a spirit of idleness,
of discouragement,
of lust for power,
and of vain speaking.

But bestow upon me, Thy servant,
the spirit of chastity,
of meekness,
of patience,
and of love.

Yea, O Lord and King,
grant that I may perceive
my own transgressions,
and judge not my brother,
for blessed art Thou
unto ages of ages.
Amen.

-St. Ephrem the Syrian

God Touches Everyone

Creation

“Every free creature lives in God. God is everyone’s salvation. God loves believers and unbelievers, the just and the unjust, the pious and the impious, those free of passions and those subject to passions, monks and those living worldly lives, the educated and the illiterate, the healthy and the sick, the young and the old. God is like an outpouring of light, a glimpse of the sun, or changes in the weather. God touches everyone, without exception, through these things.” -St. John Climacus

(via Glory to God for All Things)