Pearls from the Holy Fathers
Fasting made Moses a seer of God, and Elias of old, a fiery charioteer, and Paul, an awesome traveller unto the Heavens.Therefore, let us fast from evils, and let us take hold of the height of compassion.
Triodion, Monday of the Second Week
Why do you trouble yourself in a house that is not your own? Let the sight of a dead man be a teacher for you concerning your departure from hence.
· St. Isaac the Syrian
Beguiling and deceptive is the life of the world, fruitless its labor, perilous its delight, poor its riches, delusive its honors, inconstant, insignificant; and woe to those who hope in its seeming goods: because of this many die without repentance. Blessed and most blessed are those who depart from the world and its desires.
· Elder Nazarius
Who am I . . . What shall I call myself? For Abraham says that he is 'but dust and ashes' (Gen. 18:27); David calls himself 'a dead dog' (2 Sam. 9:8) and 'a flea' (1 Sam. 24:14) in Israel; Solomon calls himself 'a little child, not knowing left from right' (cf. 1 Kings 3:7); the three holy children say, 'We have become a shame and a reproach' (Song of the Three Children, verse 10); Isaiah the prophet says, 'Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips' (Is. 6:5); the prophet Abbacum says, 'I am a child' (Jer. 1:6); St. Paul calls himself the chief of sinners (cf. I Tim. 1:15); and all the rest said that they were nothing. What then should I do?
· St. Peter of Damascus
To the Angels who are spiritual Abraham brought food for the body, and they ate. The new miracle is that our might Lord has given to bodily man Fire and Spirit to eat and drink.
· St. Ephraim the Syrian
When you go to pray, go with greater joy and warmth towards our Christ, let it be as if you were embracing Christ and weep before Him, so that He will watch over you.
· Elder Ieronymus of Aegina
your thoughts be ever in the Kingdom of Heaven and soon you will possess it as
· Abba Hyperechius
you have spoken evil of your brother, and you are stricken with remorse, go and
kneel down before him and say: "I have spoken badly of you; let this be my
surety that I will not spread this slander any
further." For detraction is death to the soul.
· Abba Or
Believe me, children, if I possessed any candour before God, I would first of all pray that none of you should pass one single day of your entire lifetime in corporeal health. For I know, I know very well that when the body is ill, the soul will benefit greatly, especially for such as offer thanks for this to God, the Guardian of our souls.
· St. Irene Chrysovalantou
If you yourself do not repulse His help, He will not give you over into slavery to your former passions.
· Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky
Stand in the temple as though you were in the company of angels in Heaven, with trembling because you regard yourself unworthy even to stand there with your brethren. As you stand pay heed to yourself so that you do not look around you with curiosity at the brethren, how each of them stands or how he sings, but pay attention to yourself alone, to the psalmody, and to your sins.
· St. Symeon the New Theologian
To be patient for the sake of Christ is a virtue higher than all ascetic feats and pious works.
· Abbot Eustratius of Glinsk
What can those empty worldly goods of ours and riches benefit us in the day of Judgment? Rather they will harm us. Again, neither will youthfulness and comeliness of our bodies remain to the end unfading, but either by old age or untimely death it will be lost and extinguished.
· St. Symeon the Fool for Christ
A swimmer dives naked into the sea until he finds a pearl; and a wise monk, stripped of everything, journeys through life until he finds in himself the Pearl, Jesus Christ; and when he finds Him, he does not seek to acquire anything else besides Him.
· St. Isaac the Syrian
Let us shun loose speech like deadly poison.
· St. Hesychius the Priest
One must always remember that success in any aspect of the spiritual life is the fruit of the grace of God. Spiritual life comes entirely from His most holy Spirit. We have our own spirit but it is void of power. It begins to gain strength only when the grace of God flows into it.
· Bishop Theophan the Recluse
Let us surrender ourselves, dearly beloved, to the will of God.
· Elder Melchizedek
This is the part of man, that whether he fasts, or keeps watch, or prays, or does some fine thing, he should ascribe all to the Lord, and say, "If God had not enabled me, I could not have fasted, or prayed, or gone out of the world." In this way, God, seeing your intention, that you ascribe to God the things that are yours, which you do of your own nature, bestows upon you in return the things that are His — the spiritual things, the divine and heavenly things. And
what are they? The fruits of the Spirit, joy and gladness.
· St. Macarius of Egypt
Away with arguments, where faith is required; now let dialectic hold her peace, even in the midst of her schools. I ask not what it is that philosophers say, but I would know what they do. They sit desolate in their schools. See the victory of faith over argument.
They who dispute subtly are forsaken daily by their fellows; they who with simplicity believe are daily increased. Not philosophers but fishermen, not masters of dialectic but tax-gatherers, now find credence. The one sort, through pleasures and luxuries, have bound the world's burden upon themselves; the other, by fasting and mortification, have cast it off, and so doth sorrow now begin to win over more followers than pleasure.
· St. Ambrose of Milan
All of our salvation consists of humility.
· Holy New Martyr Elizabeth (Feodorovna)
In all respects belittle yourself before all men, and you will be raised above the princes of this age.
· St. Isaac the Syrian
When communicating of the Holy Mysteries, say in your heart: "Come unto me, O Life-giver, to rescue me from the jaws of the serpent of hell, to cleanse me from the impurity of passions, to appease my troubled heart, to give life to my deadened soul, to rejoice my sorrowful and despondent spirit. Come to feed me, starving from sinful hunger; to clothe me, naked of every virtue; to strengthen me, the infirm; to honour me, the dishonoured; to exalt me, the base one; to ennoble me, the despised; to enlighten my darkened soul. Thou bestowest every blessing upon me. I thank Thee, O Most Merciful One!"
· Saint John of Kronstadt
The soul which is not sprinkled with the words of Christ, as with salt, should stink and breed worms, as King David cried out, openly confessing with tears: "My wounds stink and are corrupt."
· St. Methodius of Olympus
Nourish your soul daily with the words of life and with prayer and with every good work — just as we nourish the body with various kinds of food and drink by means of which our exhausted strength is renewed and our life is preserved.
· Saint Moses of Optina
Silence is a mystery of the age to come.
· St. Isaac the Syrian
My children, being a Christian is not an indifferent thing. Exert yourselves, "fight the good fight", give yourselves a little labour in order to find much comfort. "Lay hold on eternal life", run "towards the goal, towards the prize of the heavenly calling." "Learn to do good", be brave in the Lord, arm yourselves
with great strength, "for we fight not against flesh and blood, but against evil demons" and against the passions of the flesh.
· St. Hypatius
Earthly and temporal things fade away with the flesh; but those which are divine and intellectual, and that benefit the soul, are firmly established, and their possession cannot be shaken.
· St. Cyril of Alexandria
Let us not grow weary of laboring and sowing the seeds of virtue, that we may be able to harvest joy in the future.
· St. Horsiesius
As it is written, he who says that he believes in Christ ought also himself to walk even as Christ walked — that is, be both poor and humble and ever preaching truth under the persecution of mankind.
· St. Columbanus
Only he who himself has partaken of the heavenly gift and has been participant of the Holy Spirit, who has heard God's words and has felt the powers of the coming ages, is the possessor of a sound faith.
· St. John of Kronstadt
Do not become despondent over your infirmities, and do not consider them your enemies. Quite the contrary: although ugly, they are our spiritual friends, our tax-collectors.
· New Hieromartyr Archbishop Barlaam
A person who approaches a fountain marvels at the endless stream of water always gushing forth and bubbling out; never could he say that he has seen all the water. In the same way, the person looking at the divine, invisible beauty will always discover it anew, since it will be seen as something newer and more wondrous in comparison to what he had already comprehended.
· St. Gregory of Nyssa
God does not allow the same warfare and temptations to this generation as He did formerly, for men are weaker now and cannot bear so much.
· Abba Anthony
Judge no one and love especially those who tempt you. If you think deeply, you will find that it is they who lead us to achievement.
· St. Barsanuphius
Whoever loves tribulation will obtain joy and peace later on.
· Abba Elias
Man is like a tree; physical work is the leaves and guarding what lies within is the fruit. Now it says in the Gospel, "Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:10). Clearly, then, all our care should be about the fruit, that is, about guarding the mind. But we also need the protection and adornment of leaves, that is, physical work.
· Abba Agathon
To preserve heedfulness one must retire into oneself, according to the word of the Lord: "Salute no man by the way" (Luke 10:4), that is, do not speak without need, unless someone run after you to hear from you something profitable.
· St. Seraphim of Sarov
If you find yourself in a monastery, do not go to another place, for that will harm you a great deal. Just as the bird who abandons the eggs she was sitting on prevents them from hatching, so the monk or the nun grows cold and their faith dies, when they go from one place to another.
· Amma Syncletica
When you take food to nourish your body, you can scarcely be induced to leave the table before you have fully satisfied your need and, except for an urgent reason, you will not readily do so. How much more eagerly ought you to linger over spiritual nourishment and strengthen your soul with prayer; for the soul is as far superior to the body as heaven is above the earth and heavenly things above those of earth.
· St. Basil the Great
So long as we are on earth, we must learn to wage war with the enemy.
· Staretz Silouan