Category Archives: Monasticism

To Whom Much Is Given

“If we as Orthodox Christians cannot have unity of heart, soul and mind, how can we be surprised at or judge others who do not have the spiritual riches given to us for our salvation in the Church? The Lord said: “But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire” (Mt 5:22). I would submit that it is a far greater sin for Orthodox to engage in party spirit, whether it be on the level of party politics or ethnic-jurisdictional differences or within jurisdictions, which seminary or monastery is “more truly orthodox,” than it is for Jewish Israelis and Moslem Arabs to be killing one another with external weapons of violence. “He who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48).
-Mother Raphaela (via In Communion)

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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

Brothers

Photo by Cornell Capa

I came across this great black and white of Orthodox monks at work in Zagorsk, Russia, 1958. It’s interesting to look at the range of facial expressions here. I wonder–what has most of them smiling?

via The New York Times

What Matters

“It cannot be assumed that a man will constantly see or feel the light or warmth of God. Yet both are constant and active, both in the light of this life as well as in its darkness, its coldness as well as its warmth, its happiness as well as its grief. The way of the spirit is not to be measured exclusively by periods of light, warmth, joy, or fruitful activity. Periods of impasse, of darkness engulfing the soul, of grief which oppresses the heart, periods of coldness paralyzing all spiritual emotion are inseparable parts of the narrow spiritual way. Such conditions seem adverse, painful, and deadly. What matters is how we face them. This is what determines our worthiness to proceed further, completing the blessed struggle until we receive our crowns.” -Matthew the Poor

In the Hour of Prayer

“In the hour of prayer, when our mind wanders to thoughts of bad things–or if these thoughts come without our wanting them–we shouldn’t wage an offensive war against the enemy, because even if all the lawyers in the world joined together, they wouldn’t make any headway with a little demon. Only through ignoring them can one chase these thoughts away. The same is true for blasphemous thoughts.” -Elder Paisios

The Goal of Reading

“The goal of reading is the application, in our lives, of what we read. Not to learn it by heart, but to take it to heart. Not to practice using our tongues, but to be able to receive the tongues of fire and to live the mysteries of God. If one studies a great deal in order to acquire knowledge and to teach others, without living the things he teaches, he does no more than fill his head with hot air. At most he will manage to ascend to the moon using machines. The goal of the Christian is to rise to God without machines.”
-Elder Paisios

(h/t Oh Taste and See).

Make Yourself Subject to All

An old man was asked, “What is humility?” and he said in reply, “Humility is a great work, and a work of God. The way of humility is to undertake bodily labor and believe yourself a sinner and make yourself subject to all.” Then a brother said, “What does it mean, to be subject to all?” The old man answered, “To be subject to all is not to give your attention to the sins of others but always to give your attention to your own sins and to pray without ceasing to God.”
-The Desert Fathers

(via Orthodox.net)