Theodoros the Great Ascetic
Our father among the saints Theodoros the Great Ascetic was a monk of the monastery of St. Savvas near Jerusalem who became Bishop of Edessa in Syria. His feast day is celebrated on July 19. His Life was written by Basil of Emesa. The work A Century of Spiritual Texts is included in the Philokalia and is believed to have been written by St. Theodoros.
In the middle of the 9th century, St. Theodore of Edessa converted the "Saracen king", Muawid, one of the three sons of the Umayyad caliph Mutawakkil (847-861), to Orthodoxy, baptizing him with the name John together with his three confidants.
Excerpts from A Century of Spiritual Texts:
- Since by God's grace we have renounced Satan and his works and have sworn allegiance to Christ, both at our baptism and now again through our profession as monks, let us keep His commandments. Not only does our double profesion demand this of us, but it is also our natural duty, for since we were originally created by God as 'very good' (Gen 1:31), we owe it to God to be such. Although sin entered us through our negligence and introduced into us what is contrary to nature, we have been reclaimed through God's great mercy, and renewed by the passion of Him who is dispassionate. We have been 'bought with a price' (1 Cor 6:20), namely by the blood of Christ, and liberated from the ancient ancestral sin. If, then, we become righteous, this is nothing great; but to fall from righteousness is pitiable and deserves condemnation.
- Just as a good act performed without genuine faith is quite dead and ineffective, so too faith alone without works of righteousness does not save us from eternal fire; for 'he who loves Me', says the Lord, 'will keep My commandments' (cf. John 14:15, 23). If then, we love the Lord and believe in Him, we shall exert ourselves to fulfil His commandments, so as to be granted eternal life. But how can we call ourselves faithful if we neglect to keep His ordinances, which all creation obeys, and if, althought we have been honoured above all creation, we are the only creatures who disobey the Creator and show ourselves ungrateful to our Benefactor?
- When we keep Christ's commandments we do not benefit Him in any way, since He is in need of nothing and is the bestower of every blessing. It is ourselvese that was benefit, since we win for ourselves eternal life and the enjoyment of ineffable blessings.
- If anyone whatsoever opposes us in the fulfilment of God's commandments, even if it is our father or mother, we ought to regard him with hatred and loathing, least we be told :'He who loves father or mother or anyone else whatsoever more than Me is not worthy of Me' (cf Matt. 10:37)
- Let us bind ourselves with all our strength to fulfil the Lord's commandments, lest we ourselves shoud be held by unbreakable cords of our evil desires and soul-corrupting pleasures (cf. should be passed on us as well : 'Cut it down, so that it does not clutter up the ground' (Luke 13:7). For, as Christ says, whatever 'does not produce good fruits is hewn down, and cast into the fire' (Matt. 3:10).
- He who gives himself to desire and sensual pleasures and lives according to the world's way will quickly be caught in the nets of sin. And sin, when once committed, is like fire put to straw, a stone rolling downhill or a torrent eating away its bank. Such pleasures, then, bring complete perdition on him who embraces them.
- So long as the sould is an state contrary to nature, running wild with the weeds and thorns of sensual pleasures, it is a dwelling place of grotesque beasts. Isaiah's word apply to it : ass-centaurs shall rest there, and hedgehogs make their lair in it, and there demons will consoft with ass-centaurs (cf. Isa. 34:11, 14. LXX) - for all theses animals signify the various shameful passions. But the soul, so long as it is joined to the flesh, can recall itself to its natural state at any time it wishes; and whatever it does so and disciplines itself with diligent effort, living in accordance with God's lwa, the wild beasts that were lurking inside it will take to flight, while the angels who guard our life will come to its aid, making the soul's return a day of rejoicing (cf. Luke 15:7). And the grace of the Holy Spirit will be present in it what is good and rise to higher levels.
- The Father define prayer as a spiritual weapon. Unless we are armed with it we cannot engage in warfare, but are carried off as prisoners to the enemy's country. Nor can we acquire pure prayer unless we cleave to God with an upright heart. For it is God who gives prayer to him who prays and who teaches man spiritual knowledge.
- The Philokalia, v. 2.