St. Nektarios: Christians, have we understood the great responsibility that we have taken . . .

Icon of St. Nektarios“Christians, have we understood the great responsibility that we have taken on before God through baptism? Have we come to know that we must conduct ourselves as children of God, that we must align our will with the will of God, that we must remain free from sin, that we must love God with all our hearts and always patiently await union with Him? Have we thought about the fact that our heart should be so filled with love that it should overflow to our neighbor? Do we have the feeling that we must become holy and perfect, children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven? We must struggle for this, so that we may not be shown unworthy and rejected. Let none of us lose our boldness, nor neglect our duties, nor be afraid of the difficulties of spiritual struggle. For we have God as a helper, who strengthens us in the difficult path of virtue.”

+ St. Nektarius of Aegina, The Path to Happiness, 2

 

St. Mark the Ascetic: God tested Abraham. . . .

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic“God tested Abraham. That is, he sent him afflictions for his benefit, not so that he could find out what sort of man he was, for God knows everything, but so that He give him the means to perfect his faith.”

+ St. Mark the Ascetic, Homilies, 2.203

St. Sergius of Radonezh: If you want to serve God . . .

Icon of St. Sergius of Radonezh“If you want to serve God, prepare your heart not for food, not for drink, not for rest, not for ease, but for suffering, so that you may endure all temptations, trouble and sorrow. Prepare for severities, fasts, spiritual struggles and many afflictions, for “by many afflictions is it appointed to us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Acts 14,22); ‘The Heavenly Kingdom is taken by force, and the who use force seize it.’ (Matt 11:12)

+ St. Sergius of Radonezh, Life, 10

St. Silouan: When bad thoughts are planted in you . . .

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“When bad thoughts are planted in you, then cry to God: ‘Lord, my Maker and Creator. You see that my soul is in agony from bad thoughts. Have mercy on me.’ Teach yourself to root out thoughts immediately. But when you forget and don’t root them out immediately, then offer repentance. Work on this, so that you get a habit.”

+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XVII. 4,6

St. Nikon of Optina: We must consider all evil things, even the passions which war . . .

Icon of St. Nikon of Optina“We must consider all evil things, even the passions which war against us, to be not our own, but of our enemy the devil. This is very important. You can only conquer a passion when you do not consider it as part of you.”

+ St. Nikon of Optina

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: Bless My Enemies O Lord

Icon of St. Nikolai VelimirovichEnemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.

They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord, Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

so that my fleeing to You may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.

For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.

Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prayers By the Lake (A Treasury of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality, Volume 5)