If the kingdom of God is within us and that is a kingdom of justice, of peace, and of joy then whoever remains with these virtues is certainly in the kingdom of God. By contrast, all who deal in unrighteousness, in discord, and in death-bearing gloom have taken their stand in the kingdom of the devil, in hell and in lifelessness. It is by these tokens that the kingdom of God or of the devil is recognized.
Actually, all gifts have been given for reasons of temporal use and need and they will surely pass away at the end of the present dispensation. Love, however, will never be cut off. It works in us and for us, and not simply in this life. For when the burden of physical need has been laid aside in the time to come it will endure, more effectively, more excellently, forever unfailing, clinging to God with more fire and zeal through all the length of incorruption.
... a Christian is quite certain to fall into the same sins which he condemns in another with merciless and inhuman severity, for 'a stern king will fall into misfortunes,' and 'one who stops his ears so as not to hear the weak, shall himself cry, and there shall be none to hear him' (Prov. 13:17; 21:13).
No just man suffices unto himself for the winning of justification. The divine mercy must always hold out a hand to his footsteps as they falter and almost stumble, and this is so because the weakness of his free will may cause him to lose balance, and if he falls he may perish forever.
...we must first scrutinize thoroughly anything appearing in our hearts or any saying suggested to us. Has it come purified from the divine and heavenly fire of the Holy Spirit? Or does it lean toward Jewish superstition? Is its surface piety something which has come down from bloated worldly philosophy? We must examine this most carefully, doing as the apostle bids us: 'Do not believe in every spirit, but make sure to find out if spirits are from God' (I Jn. 4:1).
... there is clearly expressed for us? what it is we must attribute either to free will or to the decision and daily assistance of the Lord. We are characterized by whether we respond zealously or lackadaisically to the kindly dispensations of God. This perspective is plainly expressed in the healing of the two blind men. Jesus was passing by, a fact made possible by God's provident grace. And the achievement of their own faith and belief was to cry out 'Lord, son of David, have mercy on us' (Mt. 20:31). The restored sight of their eyes is the gift... Read more »
... when death has been brought upon a saint, we ought not to think that an evil has happened to him but a thing indifferent; which is an evil to a wicked man, while to the good it is rest and freedom from evils. 'For death is rest to a man whose way is hidden' (Job 3:23 LXX). And so a good man does not suffer any loss from it.
Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything worldly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; theyare its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow men. Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God.
God is not only to be known in His blessed and incomprehensible being, for this is something which is reserved for His saints in the age to come. He is also known from the grandeur and beauty of His creatures, from His providence which governs the world day by day, from His righteousness and from wonders which He shows to His saints in each generation.
It is not our free will but 'it is the Lord who sets the captive free' (Ps. 145:7). It is not our own virtue but 'it is the Lord who lifts up those who were laid low' (Ps. 145:8). It is not application to reading but 'it is the Lord who gives light to the blind' (Ps. 145:8). It is not our cautiousness but 'it is the Lord who protects the stranger' (Ps. 145:9). It is not our endurance but 'it is the Lord who raises or gives support to the fallen' (Ps. 144:14).
Let everybody know this. He shall be assigned to the place and to the service to which he gave and devoted himself in this life and he can be sure that in eternity he will have as his lot the service and the companionship which he preferred in this life. This is what the Lord means when He says, 'If anyone is my servant let him follow Me and where I am he will be there as my servant' (Jn. 12:26).
Perfection... is clearly not achieved simply by being naked, by the lack of wealth or by the rejection of honors, unless there is also that love whose ingredients the apostle described (cf. I Cor. 13) and which is to be found solely in purity of heart. Not to be jealous, not to be puffed up, not to act heedlessly, not to seek what does not belong to one, not to rejoice over some injustice, not to plan evil - what is this and its like if not the continuous offering to God of the heart that is perfect and truly... Read more »
...works of piety and charity... are necessary in this present life for as long as inequality prevails. Their workings here would not be required were it not for the superabundant numbers of the poor, the needy, and the sick... As long as this inequity rages in the world, these good works will be necessary and valuable to anyone practicing them and they shall yield the reward of an everlasting inheritance to the man of good heart and concerned will.
...just as the edifice of all the virtues strives upward toward perfect prayer so will all these virtues be neither sturdy nor enduring unless they are drawn firmly together by the crown of prayer. This endless, unstirring calm of prayer... can neither be achieved nor consummated without these virtues. And likewise virtues are the prerequisite foundation of prayer and cannot be effected without it.
Wherefore a monk's whole attention should thus be fixed on one point, and the rise and circle of all his thoughts be vigorously restricted to it; viz., to the recollection of God, as when a man, who is anxious to raise on high a vault of a round arch, must constantly draw a line round from its exact centre, and in accordance with the sure standard it gives discover by the laws of building all the evenness and roundness required....
The apostles were very sure that everything of theirs which had to do with salvation was a gift to them from God. 'Increase our faith' (Lk. 17:5). They did not presume that the fullness of faith would come to them merely because they freely opted for it. They believed, rather, that it was a gift of God which would have to be granted to them.
When the soul is solidly rooted in... peacefulness, when it is freed of the bonds of every carnal urge, when the unshaking thrust of the heart is toward the one supreme Good, then the words of the apostle will be fulfilled. 'Pray without ceasing,' he said (I Thes. 5:17). 'In every place lift up pure hands, with no anger and no rivalry' (I Tim 2:8). Sensibility is, so to speak, absorbed by this purity. It is reshaped in the likeness of the spiritual and the angelic so that all its dealings, all its activity will be prayer, utterly pure, utterly... Read more »
When we say 'hallowed be Your name' to God what we are really saying is 'Father, make us such as deserve knowledge and understanding of how holy You are, or at least let Your holiness shine forth in the spiritual lives we lead.' And this surely happens as men see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
Men seized of the urge to have a knowledge of God and to be pure in mind devote all their gathered energies to this one task. While they still live in the corruption of the flesh they give themselves to that service in which they will persevere when the corruption has been laid aside. And already they come in sight of what the Lord and Savior held out when He said, 'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God' (Mt. 5:8).
...the souls of the dead [are] not deprived of their intellectual faculties but... they also are not lacking in feelings such as hope and sadness, joy and fear. They already have a foretaste of what is in store for them after the general judgment. Nor does it happen, as some unbelievers would hold, that upon leaving this world they are turned to nothing. Actually they live more intensely and they concentrate more on the praises of God.
We must, with God's help, eradicate the deadly poison of the demon of anger from the depths of our souls. So long as he dwells in our hearts and blinds the eyes of the heart with his somber disorders, we can neither discriminate what is for our good, nor achieve spiritual knowledge, nor fulfill our good intentions, nor participate in true life; and our intellect will remain impervious to the contemplation of the true, divine light; for it is written, 'Man's anger does not bring about the righteousness of God' (Jms. 1:20).
...we know that God arranges the opportunities for salvation in different ways. Our situation is that we respond eagerly or in a laggardly manner to these opportunities made available by God to us. God made the call come out of your homeland; Abraham by coming out was exercising obedience. There was the instruction come into the land; it was done, and that was the work of obedience. But the addition which I shall show you has to do with the grace of God, who gave a command - and a promise.
[God] arranged that the boy Samuel should be chosen but instead of teaching him directly He had him, turn once or twice to an old man. This youngster, to whom He had granted a direct encounter with Himself, had nevertheless to go for instruction to someone who had offended God, and all because that person was an old man. He decided that Samuel was most worthy of a high calling and yet He made him submit to the guidance of an old man so that once summoned to a divine ministry he might learn humility and might himself become for... Read more »
Everything we do, our every objective, must be undertaken for the sake of... purity of heart... we must practice the reading of the Scripture, together with all the other virtuous activities... to hold our hearts free of the harm of every dangerous passion and in order to rise step by step to the high point of love.
We are often indifferent to our brethren who are distressed or upset, on the grounds that they are in this state through no fault of ours. The Doctor of souls, however, wishing to root out the soul's excuses from the heart, tells us to leave our gift and to be reconciled not only if we happen to be upset by our brother, but also if he is upset by us, whether justly or unjustly; only when we have healed the breach through our apology should we offer our gift.
The second request of the very pure soul is to see the coming of the Father's kingdom (cf. Mt. 6:10). What this means first of all is that each day Christ should reign among holy men. And this happens when the devil's power has been driven out of our hearts through the expulsion of sinful foulness and when God has begun to reign within us amid the good odors of virtue. With fornication vanquished, chastity rules; with anger overcome, peace is king; with pride under foot, humility is sovereign.
It is impossible for the mind to remain undisturbed by thoughts, but anyone serious about the matter can certainly permit them entry or drive them away, and although their origin does not lie entirely under our control we can choose to approve of them and to adopt them.
If you want to correct your brother when he is doing wrong? you must keep yourself calm; otherwise you yourself may catch the sickness you are seeking to cure and you may find that the words of the Gospel now apply to you? 'Why do you look at the speck of dust in your brother's eye, and not notice the rafter in your own eye?'
...when we abandon visible riches... it is strange goods and not our own that we are leaving. And this is so even if we boast that we acquired them through our own efforts or that they were passed on to us as an inheritance. I say nothing is ours except what is in our hearts, what belongs to our souls, what cannot be taken away by anyone.
True spiritual knowledge has sometimes flourished most grandly in some who were without eloquence and almost illiterate. And this is very clearly shown by the case of the Apostles and many holy men, who did not spread themselves out with an empty show of leaves, but were bowed down by the weight of the true fruits of spiritual knowledge: of whom it is written in Acts: 'But when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were ignorant and unlearned men, they were astonished' (Acts 4:13).