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O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again, but our imitation was but a figure, while our salvation is in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things have been vouchsafed to us, that we, by imitation communicating in His sufferings, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received the nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and endured anguish; while to me without suffering or toil, by the fellowship of His pain He vouchsafed salvation.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Christian Sacraments

Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is theinflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness. - St. John Climacus

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   Those who seek humility should bear in mind the three following
   things: that they are the worst of sinners, that they are the most
   despicable of all creatures since their state is an unnatural one,
   and that they are even more pitiable than the demons, since they
   are slaves to the demons. You will also profit if you say this to
   yourself: how do I know what or how many other people's sins are,
   or whether they are greater than or equal to my own? In our
   ignorance you and I , my soul, are worse than all men, we are dust
   and ashes under their feet. How can I not regard myself as more
   despicable than all other creatures, for they act in accordance
   with the nature they have been given, while I, owing to my
   innumerable sins, am in a state contrary to nature.
    
   St. Gregory of Sinai, Philokalia, Vol. IV.
    
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   He, therefore, who sets himself to act evilly and yet wishes
   others to be silent, is a witness against himself, for he wishes
   himself to be loved more than the truth, which he does not wish to
   be defended against himself. There is, of course, no man who so
   lives as not sometimes to sin, but he wishes truth to be loved
   more than himself, who wills to be spared by no one against the
   truth. Wherefore, Peter willingly accepted the rebuke of Paul;
   David willingly hearkened to the reproof of a subject. For good
   rulers who pay no regard to self-love, , take as a homage to their
   humility the free and sincere words of subjects. But in this
   regard the office of ruling must be tempered with such great art
   of moderation, that the minds of subjects, when demonstrating
   themselves capable of taking right views in some matters, are
   given freedom of expression, but freedom that does not issue into
   pride, otherwise, when liberty of speech is granted too
   generously, the humility of their own lives will be lost.
    
   St. Gregory The Great, Pastoral Care
    
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   The Lord of all gave to His apostles the power of the gospel, and
   by them we also have learned the truth, that is, the teaching of
   the Son of God - as the Lord said to them, `He who hears you hears
   Me, and he who despises you despises Me, and Him Who sent Me'
   [Lk.10:16]. For we learned the plan of our salvation from no other
   than from those through whom the gospel came to us. The first
   preached it abroad, and then later by the will of God handed it
   down to us in Scriptures, to be the foundation and pillar of our
   faith. For it is not right to say that they preached before they
   had come to perfect knowledge, as some dare to say, boasting that
   they are the correctors of the apostles. For after our Lord had
   risen from the dead, and they were clothed with the power from on
   high when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were filled with
   all things and had perfect knowledge. They went out to the ends of
   the earth, preaching the good things that come to us from God, and
   proclaiming peace from heaven to all men, all and each of them
   equally being in possession of the gospel of God.
    
   St. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, III
    
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   The Lord's Day is a mystery of the knowledge of the truth that is
   not received by flesh and blood, and it transcends speculations.
   In this age there is no eighth day, nor is there a true Sabbath.
   For he who said that `God rested on the seventh day,' signified
   the rest [of our nature] from the course of this life, since the
   grave is also of a bodily nature and belongs to this world. Six
   days are accomplished in the husbandry of life by means of keeping
   the commandments; the seventh is spent entirely in the grave; and
   the eighth is the departure from it.
    
   St. Isaac of Syria, The Ascetical Homilies.I
    
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   When a man walks in the fear of God he knows no fear, even if he
   were to be surrounded by wicked men. He has the fear of God within
   him and wears the invincible armor of faith. This makes him strong
   and able to take on anything, even things which seem difficult or
   impossible to most people. Such a man is like a giant surrounded
   by monkeys, or a roaring lion among dogs and foxes. He goes
   forward trusting in the Lord and the constancy of his will to
   strike and paralyze his foes. He wields the blazing club of the
   Word in wisdom.
    
   St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological
   Chapters
    
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   When we lay bare the hidden meaning of the history, scripture is
   seen to teach that the birth which distresses the tyrant is the
   beginning of the virtuous life. I am speaking of the kind of birth
   in which free will serves as the midwife, delivering the child
   amid great pain. For no one causes grief to his antagonist unless
   he exhibits in himself those marks which give proof of his victory
   over the other.
    
   St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses.
    
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   The wicked one, on the watch, carried me off as booty as I lazily slept.
   He led my mind into error; he plundered my spirit and snatched away
   The wealth of Thy grace, this arch robber.
   So raise me up, as I am fallen, and summon me, Saviour,
   Thou who dost will that all men be saved.
    
   Kontakia of St. Romanos, A Prayer.
    
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   The roof of any house stands upon the foundations and the rest of
   the structure. The foundations themselves are laid in order to
   carry the roof. This is both useful and necessary, for the roof
   cannot stand without the foundations and the foundations are
   absolutely useless without the roof - no help to any living
   creature. In the same way the grace of God is preserved by the
   practice of the commandments, and the observance of these
   commandments is laid down like foundations through the gift of
   God. The grace of the Spirit cannot remain with us without the
   practice of the commandments, but the practice of the commandments
   is of no help or advantage to us without the grace of God.
    
   St. Symeon the New Theologian
    
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   I shall speak first about control of the stomach, the opposite to
   gluttony, and about how to fast and what and how much to eat. I
   shall say nothing on my own account, but only what I have received
   from the Holy Fathers. They have not given us only a single rule
   for fasting or a single standard and measure for eating, because
   not everyone has the same strength; age, illness or delicacy of
   body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal:
   to avoid over-eating and the filling of our bellies... A clear
   rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop
   eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are
   satisfied.
    
   St. John Cassian
    
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   In Christianity truth is not a philosophical concept nor is it a
   theory, a teaching, or a system, but rather, it is the living
   theanthropic hypostasis - the historical Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
   Before Christ men could only conjecture about the Truth since they
   did not possess it. With Christ as the incarnate divine Logos the
   eternally complete divine Truth enters into the world. For this
   reason the Gospel says: "Truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
    
   St. Justin Popovich
    
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   Let us charge into the good fight with joy and love without being
   afraid of our enemies. Though unseen themselves, they can look at
   the face of our soul, and if they see it altered by fear, they
   take up arms against us all the more fiercely. For the cunning
   creatures have observed that we are scared. So let us take up arms
   against them courageously. No one will fight with a resolute
   fighter.
    
   St. John Climacus
    
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   God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts.
   Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold which comes from the
   devil - for the devil is cold - let us call on the Lord. He will
   come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but
   also for our neighbor, and the cold of him who hates the good will
   flee before the heat of His countenance.
    
   St. Seraphim of Sarov
    
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   In the matter of piety, poverty serves us better than wealth, and
   work better than idleness, especially since wealth becomes an
   obstacle even for those who do not devote themselves to it. Yet,
   when we must put aside our wrath, quench our envy, soften our
   anger, offer our prayers, and show a disposition which is
   reasonable, mild, kindly, and loving, how could poverty stand in
   our way? For we accomplish these things not by spending money but
   by making the correct choice. Almsgiving above all else requires
   money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms
   are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites
   was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all.
    
   St. John Chrysostom
    
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   Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from
   failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily
   nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your
   spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is
   going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going
   to die.
    
   St. Gregory the Great
    
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   I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I
   said groaning, "What can get through from such snares?" Then I
   heard a voice saying to me, "Humility."
    
   St. Anthony the Great
    
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   "Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your
   Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the
   sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are
   terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers
   ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in
   laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off,
   my beloved soul, holy repentence, contrition of heart and penance
   for your sins."
    
   St. Paisius Velichkovsky
    
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   This is the mark of Christianity--however much a man toils, and
   however many righteousnesses he performs, to feel that he has done
   nothing, and in fasting to say, "This is not fasting," and in
   praying, "This is not prayer," and in perseverance at prayer, "I
   have shown no perseverance; I am only just beginning to practice
   and to take pains"; and even if he is righteous before God, he
   should say, "I am not righteous, not I; I do not take pains, but
   only make a beginning every day."
    
   St. Macarius the Great
    
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   Be strong in Me; and you, too, Andrew; just as you were the first
   to find Me, you were found by me; so find the one who has
   wandered;
   Do not forget your first skill; from it I shall educate you for
   this new art.
   Formerly, naked into the deep sea, now naked into life;
   Formerly, hunting with a fishing-rod, now taught to fish with the
   cross;
   Formerly, you used a worm as bait; now I order you to hunt with My
   flesh.
   I alone know what is in the heart.
    
   Kontakia of St. Romanos, On the Mission of the Apostles.
    
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   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
    
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   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 mos blessed are those who depart from the world and
   its desires.
    
   Elder Nazarius
    
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   Faith and love which are gifts of the Holy Spirit are such great
   and powerful means that a person who has them can easily, and with
   joy and consolation, go the way Jesus Christ went. Besides this,
   the Holy Spirit gives man the power to resist the delusions of the
   world so that although he makes use of earthly good, yet he uses
   them as a temporary visitor, without attaching his heart to them.
   But a man who has not got the Holy Spirit, despite all his
   learning and prudence, is always more or less a slave and
   worshipper of the world.
    
   St. Innocent of Irkutsk, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of
   Heaven.
    
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   The demons are sleepless and immaterial, death is at hand, and I
   am weak. Lord, help me; do not let Thy creature perish, for Thou
   carest for me in my misery.
    
   St. Peter of Damascus
    
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   You cannot destroy the passions on your own, but ask God, and He
   will destroy them, if this is profitable for you.
    
   St. Anatoly of Optina
    
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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. Macarius the Great
    
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   Souls that love truth and God, that long with much hope and faith
   to put on Christ completely, do not need so much to be put in re
   membrance by others, nor do they endure, even for a while, to be
   deprived of the heavenly desire and of passionate affection to the
   Lord; but being wholly and entirely nailed to the cross of Christ,
   they perceive in themselves day by day a sense of spiritual
   advance towards the spiritual Bridegroom.
    
   St. Macarius the Great
    
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   An old man was asked, 'How can I find God?' He said, 'In fasting,
   in watching, in labours, in devotion, and, above all, in
   discernment. I tell you, many have injured their bodies without
   discernment and have gone away from us having achieved nothing.
   Our mouths smell bad through fasting, we know the Scriptures by
   heart, we recite all the Psalms of David, but we have not that
   which God seeks: charity and humility.'
    
   Apophthegmata Patrum
    
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   The hour of death will come upon us, it will come, and we shall
   not escape it. May the prince of this world and of the air (cf.
   John 14:30; Eph. 2:2) find our misdeeds few and petty when he
   comes, so that he will not have good grounds for convicting us.
   Otherwise we shall weep in vain. 'For that servant who knew his
   lord's will and did not do it as a servant, shall be beaten with
   many stripes' (cf. Luke 12:47).
    
   St. Hesychius the Priest
    
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   Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues, for it is
   not found perfect in them. Its perfection is hidden in the Cross
   of Christ.
    
   St. Mark the Ascetic
    
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   Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but
   stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who
   guards you will honour your patience.
    
   St. John of the Ladder
    
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   Behold, this is the true and the Christian humility. In this you
   will be able to achieve victory over every vice, by attributing to
   God rather than to yourself the fact that you have won.
    
   St. Martin of Braga
    
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   We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that "the
   eyes of the Lord are looking on the good and the evil in every
   place." But we should believe this especially without any doubt
   when we are assisting at the Work of God. To that end let us be
   mindful always of the Prophet's words, "Serve the Lord in fear"
   and again, "Sing praises wisely" and "In the sight of the Angels I
   will sing praise to Thee." Let us therefore consider how we ought
   to conduct ourselves in the sight of the Godhead and of His
   Angels, and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way that
   our mind may be in harmony with our voice.
    
   St. Benedict
    
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   Humility is the only thing we need; one can still fall having
   virtues other than humility -- but with humility one does not
   fall.
    
   Elder Herman of Mt. Athos
    
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   When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you
   are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as
   always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter
   than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and
   all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God,
   and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither
   also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means.
    
   St. John of Kronstadt
    
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   God descends to the humble as waters flow down from the hills into
   the valleys.
    
   St. Tikhon of Voronezh
    
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   Our holy fathers have renounced all other spiritual work and
   concentrated wholly on this one doing, that is, on guarding the
   heart, convinced that, through this practice, they would easily
   attain every other virtue, whereas without it not a single virtue
   can be firmly established.
    
   St. Symeon the New Theologian
    
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   If you are praised, be silent. If you are scolded, be silent. If
   you incur losses, be silent. If you receive profit, be silent. If
   you are satiated, be silent. If you are hungry, also be silent.
   And do not be afraid that there will be no fruit when all dies
   down; there will be! Not everything will die down. Energy will
   appear; and what energy!
    
   St. Feofil, the Fool for Christ
    
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   When anyone is disturbed or saddened under the pretext of a good
   and soul-profiting matter, and is angered against his neighbour,
   it is evident that this is not according to God: for everything
   that is of God is peaceful and useful and leads a man to humility
   and to judging himself.
    
   St. Barsanuphius the Great
    
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   What, then, are the things which are being prepared for those who
   wait for Him? The Creator and Father of the ages, the All-holy
   One, Himself knows their greatness and beauty. Let us then strive
   to be found among the number of those that wait, that we may
   receive a share of the promised gifts.
    
   St. Clement of Rome
    
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   Even if an angel should indeed appear to you, do not receive him
   but humiliate yourself, saying, 'I am not worthy to see an angel,
   for I am a sinner.'
    
   Apophthegmata Patrum
    
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   We should zealously cultivate watchfulness, my brethren; and when,
   our mind purified in Christ Jesus, we are exalted by the vision it
   confers, we should review our sins and our former life, so that
   shattered and humbled at the thought of them we may never lose the
   help of Jesus Christ our God in the invisible battle.
    
   St. Hesychius the Presbyter
    
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   Let us consider, then, brethren, of what matter we were formed,
   who we are, and with what nature we came into the world, and how
   He Who formed and created us brought us into His world from the
   darkness of a grave, and prepared his benefits for us before we
   were born. Since, therefore, we have everything from Him, we ought
   in everything to give Him thanks, to Whom be glory for ever and
   ever. Amen.
    
   St. Clement of Rome
    
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   Prove your love and zeal for wisdom in actual deeds.
    
   St. Callistus Xanthopoulos
    
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   What purposelessness, oh the deceit of life; truly in vain does
   each man vex himself, and truly blessed and thrice-blessed are
   those who have left everything for the Lord, that they may attain
   the good things announced in the Gospels. For what profit will it
   be for a man to enjoy the whole world, but lose his soul, to which
   the whole universe is not equivalent? All the splendor of man is
   like the blossom of grass. For the grass departs and the blossom
   dies, but the word of the Lord abideth for ever.
    
   St. Nicon "Repent Ye"
    
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   It depends on us whether we wish to be saved.
    
   Apophthegmata Patrum
    
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   When the blessed Eulogius saw an angel distributing gifts to the
   monks who toiled at all-night vigils, to one he gave a gold piece
   with the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to another a silver piece
   with a cross, to another a copper piece, to another a bronze
   piece, and to another nothing. The others who had remained in the
   church, left the church empty-handed. It was revealed to him that
   the ones who had obtained the gifts are those who toil at vigils
   and are diligent in prayers, supplications, psalms, chants, and
   readings. Those who received nothing or who left the church
   empty-handed are those who are heedless of their salvation, are
   enslaved to vainglory and the clamors of life, and stand feebly
   and lazily at vigils and whisper and jest.
    
   St. Joseph of Volokalamsk
    
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   Chastise your soul with the thought of death, and through
   remembrance of Jesus Christ concentrate your scattered intellect.
    
   St. Philotheus of Sinai
    
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   Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us
   in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to
   forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us.
   The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence
   also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man.
   For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see
   for yourself how terrible it is.
    
   St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.
    
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   What toil we must endure, what fatigue, while we are attempting to
   climb hills and the summits of mountains! What, that we may ascend
   to heaven! If you consider the promised reward, what you endure is
   less. Immortality is given to the one who perseveres; everlasting
   life is offered; the Lord promises His Kingdom.
    
   St. Cyprian
    
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   A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning
   others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who
   talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is,
   he says nothing that is not profitable.
    
   Abba Pimen
    
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   The way of humility is this: self-control, prayer, and thinking
   yourself inferior to all creatures.
    
   Abba Tithoes
    
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   The body is a slave, the soul a sovereign, and therefore it is due
   to Divine mercy when the body is worn out by illness: for thereby
   the passions are weakened, and a man comes to himself; indeed,
   bodily illness itself is sometimes caused by the passions.
    
   St. Seraphim of Sarov, Spiritual Instructions
    
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   Make glad, O Jerusalem, and all ye who love Sion, keep feast.
   Today the ancient bond of the condemnation of Adam is loosed.
   Paradise is opened to us: the serpent is laid low; for of old he
   deceived the woman in Paradise, but now he seeth a woman become
   the Mother of the Creator. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom
   and knowledge of God! The instrument of sin that brought death
   upon all flesh hath become the first fruits of salvation for the
   whole world through the Theotokos. For God the All-perfect is born
   a babe of her, and by His birth He doth set a seal upon her
   virginity. By His swaddling bands he doth loose the bands of sin,
   and by becoming a child He doth heal Eve's pangs in travail.
   Wherefore, let all creation sing and dance for joy, for Christ
   hath come to restore it and to save our souls.
    
   Glory of the Aposticha of the Feast
    
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   Christ is Risen!
   O the marvel! the forbearance! the immeasurable meekness!
   The Untouched is felt; the Master is held by a servant,
   And He reveals His wounds to one of His inner circle.
   Seeing these wounds, the whole Creation was shaken at the time.
   Thomas, when he was considered worthy of such gifts,
   Lifted up a prayer to the One Who deemed him worthy,
   Saying, "Bear my rashness with patience,
   Have pity on my unworthiness and lighten the burden
   Of my lack of faith, so that I may sing and cry,
   `Thou art our Lord and God.'"
    
   Kontakia of Romanos, V. 1, On Doubting Thomas
    
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   There is nothing impossible unto those who believe; lively and
   unshaken faith can accomplish great miracles in the twinkling of
   an eye. Besides, even without our sincere and firm faith, miracles
   are accomplished, such as the miracles of the sacraments; for
   God's Mystery is always accomplished, even though we were
   incredulous or unbelieving at the time of its celebration. "Shall
   their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (Rom. 3:3).
   Our wickedness shall not overpower the unspeakable goodness and
   mercy of God; our dullness shall not overpower God's wisdom, nor
   our infirmity God's omnipotence.
    
   St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ
    
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   It was said about John the Little that one day he said to his
   older brother: I want to be free from care and not to work but to
   worship God without interruption. And he took his robe off, and
   went into the desert. After staying there one week, he returned to
   his brother. And when he knocked at the door, his brother asked
   without opening it: Who is it? He replied: It's John, your
   brother. The brother said: John has become an angel and is not
   among people anymore. Then he begged and said: It's me! But his
   brother did not open the door and left him there in distress until
   the next morning. And he finally opened the door and said: If you
   are a human being, you have to work again in order to live. Then
   John repented, saying: Forgive me, brother, for I was wrong.
    
   Sayings of the Desert Fathers
    
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   Long ago, the wily one cast his weapon and wounded Adam and killed
   him;
   Indeed, he completely destroyed the weak man.
   But now, even if he struck the bodies of the noble men,
   he did not destroy their spirits.
   He persuaded the first-created man to fall by words,
   but not even by deeds, the noble ones.
   Bewitching the former, he made promises; he made offers to the
   latter:
   For Adam, the making of a god; for the martyrs, honor.
   He offers what he does not have; he suggests bestowing things not
   in his authority.
   Therefore, saints, having shattered his scheme,
   You gained crowns.
    
   Kontakia of Romanos, On the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia I.
    
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   First of all it must be understood that it is the duty of all
   Christians - especially of those whose calling dedicates them to
   the spiritual life - to strive always and in every way to be
   united with God, their creator, lover, benefactor, and their
   supreme good, by Whom and for Whom they were created. This is
   because the center and the final purpose of the soul, which God
   created, must be God Himself alone, and nothing else - God whom
   Whom the soul has received its life and its nature, and for Whom
   it must eternally live.
    
   St. Dimitry of Rostov
    
   + + +
    
   Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice
   the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ,
   mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me,
   a sinner.
    
   St. Seraphim of Sarov
    
   + + +
    
   Let us go forward with the heart completely attentive and the soul
   fully conscious. For if attentiveness and prayer are daily joined
   together, they become like Elias' fire-bearing chariot, raising us
   to heaven. What do I mean? A spiritual heaven, with sun, moon and
   stars, is formed in the blessed heart of one who has reach a state
   of watchfulness, or who strives to attain it.
    
   St. Philotheus of Sinai
    
   + + +
    
   My poor soul! Sigh, pray and strive to take upon you the blessed
   yoke of Christ, and you will live on earth in a heavenly manner.
   Lord, grant that I may carry the light and goodly yoke, and I
   shall be always at rest, peaceful, glad and joyous; and I shall
   taste on earth of crumbs which fall from the celestial feast, like
   a dog that feeds upon the crumbs which fall from the master's
   table.
    
   St. Tikhon of Voronezh
    
   + + +
    
   When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather,
   fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great
   courage say to the spirit of evil: "What are you to us, you who
   are cut off from God, a fugitive for Heaven, and a slave of evil?
   You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has
   dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are
   made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we
   trample on your head."
    
   St. Seraphim of Sarov
    
   + + +
    
   Even a pious person is not immune to spiritual sickness if he does
   not have a wise guide -- either a living person or a spiritual
   writer. This sickness is called _prelest_, or spiritual delusion,
   imagining oneself to be near to God and to the realm of the divine
   and supernatural. Even zealous ascetics in monasteries are
   sometimes subject to this delusion, but of course, laymen who are
   zealous in external struggles (podvigi) undergo it much more
   frequently. Surpassing their acquaintances in struggles of prayer
   and fasting, they imagine that they are seers of divine visions,
   or at least of dreams inspired by grace. In every event of their
   lives, they see special intentional directions from God or their
   guardian angel. And then they start imagining that they are God's
   elect, and often try to foretell the future. The Holy Fathers
   armed themselves against nothing so fiercely as against this
   sickness -- prelest.
    
   Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky
    
   + + +
    
   Go and have pity on all, for through pity, one finds freedom of
   speech before God.
    
   Abba Pambo
    
   + + +
    
   We see the water of a river flowing uninterruptedly and passing
   away, and all that floats on its surface, rubbish or beams of
   trees, all pass by. Christian! So does our life. . . I was an
   infant, and that time has gone. I was an adolescent, and that too
   has passed. I was a young man, and that too is far behind me. The
   strong and mature man that I was is no more. My hair turns white,
   I succumb to age, but that too passes; I approach the end and will
   go the way of all flesh. I was born in order to die. I die that I
   may live. Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom!
    
   St. Tikhon of Voronezh
    
   + + +
    
   It is better to eat meat and drink wine and not to eat the flesh
   of one's brethren through slander.
    
   Abba Hyperechius
    
   + + +
    
   Wine makes glad the heart of man' (Ps. 104:15). But you who have
   professed sorrow and grief should turn away from such gladness and
   rejoice in spiritual gifts. If you rejoice in wine, you will live
   with shameful thoughts and distress will overwhelm you.
    
   St. Theodore of Edessa
    
   + + +
    
   Acts of charity, almsgiving and all the external good works do not
   suppress the arrogance of the heart; but noetic meditation, the
   labor of repentance, contrition and humility -- these humble the
   proud mind.
    
   Elder Joseph the Hesychast
    
   + + +
    
   Oh, what great happiness and bliss, what exaltation it is to
   address oneself to the Eternal Father. Always, without fail, value
   this joy which has been accorded to you by God's infinite grace
   and do not forget it during your prayers; God, the angels and
   God's holy men listen to you.
    
   St. John of Kronstadt
    
   + + +
    
   What we need is a little labor! Let us endure this labor that we
   may obtain mercy.
    
   St. Dorotheus of Gaza
    
   + + +
    
   For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the
   stumblings of sinners by force...it is necessary to make a man
   better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have autority
   granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we
   know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are
   kept from evil, not by force, but by choice.
    
   St. John Chrysostom
    
   + + +
    
   They went down to Egypt and provided food when famine reigned;
   they came to the obstinate sea, and taught it wisdom with a rod;
   they went out into the hostile desert and adorned it with a
   pillar;
   they entered the furnace, fiercely heated, and sprinkled it with
   their dew;
   into the pit where they had been thrown an angel entered and
   taught its wild beasts to fast.
    
   St. Ephrem
    
   + + +
    
   While the Bridegroom tarried, they slumbered and slept:
   Give ear, ye prudent, to our Lord's parable, for it is all light.
   All of them slept, both the foolish and the wise --
   Which signifies that the good and the wicked die until the
   resurrection.
   The same sleep comes upon the ten of them, which is as much as to
   say,
   That death is the same for all creation without distinction.
   One was the sleep of the wise and of the foolish,
   For one is death, both of the righteous and of sinners.
   The good die, as the wise virgins slept;
   And the bad die, as the foolish also slept.
   Behold, all creation looketh for the coming of the Bridegroom,
   Christ, Who cometh at the end with His angels.
   But since He hath tarried, all generations slumber and sleep
   With the sleep of death, while looking for when He cometh.
    
   A Homily on the Ten Virgins by Mar Jacob, Bishop of Serugh
    
   + + +
    
   Do all in your power not to fall, for the strong athlete should
   not fall. But if you do fall, get up again at once and continue
   the contest. Even if you fall a thousand times because of the
   withdrawal of God's grace, rise up again each time, and keep on
   doing this until the day of your death. For it is written, 'If a
   righteous man falls down seven times' - that is, repeatedly
   throughout his life - 'seven times shall he rise again' [Prov.
   24:16].
    
   John of Karpathos
    
   + + +
    
   No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the
   afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them
   beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because
   they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will
   of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are
   given over to God's will, and they bear all things with fortitude
   for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are
   glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this
   world but the man who is giver over to the will of God bears
   tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord,
   and so his tribulations pass.
    
   Archimandrite Sophrony
    
   + + +
    
   The evil one cannot comprehend the joy we receive from the
   spiritual life; for this reason he is jealous of us, he envies us
   and sets traps for us, and we become grieved and fall. We must
   struggle, because without struggles we do not obtain virtues.
    
   Elder Ieronymos of Aegina
    
   + + +
    
   For those who believe in Him, Christ will become all this and even
   more, beyond enumeration, not only in the age to come but first i
   this life, and then in the world to come. Thou in an obscure way
   here below and in a perfect manner in the Kingdom, those who
   believe see clearly nonetheless and receive as of now the
   first-fruits of everything they will have in the future life.
   Indeed, if they do not receive on earth everything that was
   promised to them, they do not have any part of foretaste of the
   blessings to come, their higher hope being set on the hereafter.
   However, it is through death and the resurrection that God in His
   foresight has given us the Kingdom, incorruptibility, the totality
   of life eternal. Given these conditions, we unquestionably become
   partakers of the good things to come, that is, incorruptible,
   immortal, sons of God, sons of the light and of the day,
   inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven, since we carry the Kingdom
   within.
    
   St. Symeon the New Theologian
    
   + + +
    
   Self-accusation before God is something that is very necessary for
   us; and humility of heart is extremely advantageous in our lives,
   above all at the time of prayer. For prayer requires great
   attention and needs a proper awareness, otherwise it will turn out
   to be unacceptable and rejected, and `it will be turned back
   empty' to our bosom.
    
   Martyrius of Edessa
    
   + + +
    
   The enemy of our salvation especially strives to draw our heart
   and mind away from God when we are about to serve Him, and
   endeavours to adulterously attach our heart to something
   irrelevant. Be always, every moment, with God, especially when you
   pray to Him. If you are inconstant, you will fall away from life,
   and will cast yourself into sorrow and straitness.
    
   St. John of Kronstadt
    
   + + +
    
   There was a man who at a lot and was till hungry, and another who
   ate little and was satisfied. The one who ate a lot and was still
   hungry received a greater reward than he who ate little and was
   satisfied.
    
   Apophthegmata Patrum
    
   + + +
    
   For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things,
   unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our
   neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with
   patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to
   give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to
   esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who
   are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to
   exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new
   creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye
   amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new
   creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are
   made new" (2 Cor. 5:17).
    
   St. Gregory the Great
    
   + + +
    
   The knowledge of the Cross is concealed in the sufferings of the
   Cross.
    
   St. Isaac the Syrian
    
   + + +
    
   The work of prayer belongs to the angels, and is, therefore, the
   special concern of the Church. Every other work, i.e., charity,
   nursing the brethren, visiting the sick, caring for prisoners,
   releasing captives, and other similar things, is done by the
   brethren in love and offered by them to God. Similarly, poverty,
   fasting, sleeping on the ground, prostrations, vigils, etc., are
   good and like a sacrifice to God, because they aim to subdue and
   humble the body so that we may be purified and approach God and
   become friends of God -- yet these things do not present us
   directly to God, whereas prayer does so and unites us with Him. A
   person praying acts towards God like a friend -- conversing,
   confiding, requesting -- and through this becomes one with our
   Maker Himself.
    
   St. Symeon of Thessalonica
    
   + + +
    
   He who really keeps account of his actions considers as lost every
   day in which he does not mourn, whatever good he may have done in
   it.
    
   St. John of the Ladder
    
   + + +
    
   We truly love God and keep His commandments if we restrain
   ourselves from our pleasures. For he who still abandons himself to
   unlawful desires certainly does not love God, since he contradicts
   Him in his own intentions. . . Therefore, he loves God truly,
   whose mind is not conquered by consent to evil delight. For the
   more one takes pleasure in lower things, the more he is separated
   from heavenly love.
    
   St. Gregory the Great
    
   + + +
    
   A greedy appetite for food is terminated by satiety and the
   pleasure of drinking ends when our thirst is quenched. And so it
   is with the other things. . . But the possession of virtue, once
   it is solidly achieved, cannot be measured by time nor limited by
   satiety. Rather, to those who are its disciples it always appears
   as something ever new and fresh.
    
   St. Gregory of Nyssa
    
   + + +
    
   Observe your thoughts, and beware of what you have in your heart
   and your spirit, knowing that the demons put ideas into you so as
   to corrupt your soul by making it think of that which is not
   right, in order to turn your spirit from the consideration of your
   sins and of God.
    
   Abba Elias
    
   + + +
    
   Have unfeigned love among yourselves, keep the tradition, and may
   the God of peace be with you and confirm you in love.
    
   St. Paul of Obnora
    
   + + +
    
   Bringing doxology to the One born of the Virgin in church hymns
   and spiritual songs, we must, outside the church as well,
   unceasingly praise Him and give Him thanks for His ineffable
   lovingkindness to us sinners, who are atoned by His honourable
   blood and who have received through this promise life eternal,
   blessed, and unceasing.
    
   St. Amvrosy of Optina
    
   + + +
    
   If we wear our heavenly robe, we shall not be found naked, but if
   we are found not wearing this garment, what shall we do, brethren?
   We, even we also, shall hear the voice that says, "Cast them into
   outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." (Matt.
   22:13) And, brethren, there will be great shame in store for us,
   if, after having worn this habit for so long, we are found in the
   hour of need not having put on the wedding garment. Oh what
   compunction will seize us! What darkness will fall upon us, in the
   presence of our fathers and our brethren, who will see us being
   tortured by the angels of punishment!
    
   Abba Dioscorus
    
   + + +
    
   When an archer desires to shoot his arrows successfully, he first
   takes great pains over his posture and aligns himself accurately
   with his mark. It should be the same for you who are about to
   shoot the head of the wicked devil. Let us be concerned first for
   the good order of sensations and then for the good posture of
   inner thoughts.
    
   St. John Chrysostom
    
   + + +
    
   Lord God, have mercy on me a sinner: I am not worthy to stand
   before Thee, seeing that I have never tried to embellish my soul
   for T ¾?Ä 2¿ µh
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