Orthodox quotations file

This is an unsorted file of quotations from saints and other Orthodox Christian sources.

— Jim Forest

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As Christians we are here to affirm the supreme value of direct sharing, of immediate encounter — not machine to machine, but person to person, face to face.

— Bishop Kallistos [Ware] “The Mystery of the Human Person”

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“Most men are like shaving of wood curled around their central emptiness.”

— St. Theophan the Recluse

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“There is your brother, naked and crying! And you stand confused over choice of floor covering.”

— St. Ambrose

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“The liturgical unity of the faithful, under whatever conditions and in whatever institutions, networks and structures, is the starting point for the transformation of mass coexistence into a communion of persons, a society; for the achievement of social justice and not merely a program for it; and for liberating work from slavery to mechanized necessity and transforming it into a personal relationship, an event of communion. Only the life of the eucharistic body of the parish can give flesh to the formal idea of the ‘priestly’ character of politics, the prophetic character of science, the philanthropic character of economics and the mystical character of the family. Without the parish, all this is theory, naive idealism and a romantic utopia. Within the parish it becomes a historical reality, an immediate possibility and a concrete experience.”

— from “The Freedom of Morality ” by Christos Yannaras (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984), from a chapter on the value and importance of parish life

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“You are a hopeless lot. You know the names of all the charioteers but not even the names of the evangelists.”

— St John Chrysostom

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“The desire to rule is the mother of heresies.”

— St. John Chrysostom

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“God is not a God of war and fighting. Make war and fighting to cease, both that which is against him, and that which is against your neighbor. Be at peace with all people, consider with what character God saves you.”

— St. John Chrysostom

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“Ever let mercy outweigh all else in you. Let our compassion be a mirror where we may see in ourselves that likeness and that true image which belong to the Divine nature and Divine essence. A heart hard and unmerciful will never be pure.”

— St. Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training (Test 85. B #8)

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“Let us be satisfied simply with what sustains our present life, not with what pampers it. Let us pray to God for this, as we have been taught, so that we may keep our souls unenslaved and absolutely free from domination by any of the visible things loved for the sake of the body. Let us show that we eat for the sake of living, and not be guilty of living for the sake of eating. The first is a sign of intelligence, the second proof of its absence.”

— St. Maximos the Confessor (On the Lord’s Prayer, The Philokalia Vol. 2, pg 300)

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Christ said, ‘I came not to send peace, but a sword’ and ‘division’. Christ summoned us to war on the plane of the spirit, and our weapon is ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ Our battle is waged in extraordinarily unequal conditions. We are tied hand and foot. We dare not strike with fire or sword: our sole armament is love, even for enemies. This unique war in which we are engaged is indeed a holy war. We wrestle with the last and only enemy of mankind — death. Our fight is the fight for universal resurrection.

— Archimandrite Sophrony, “His Life is Mine”

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“Tradition is the living faith of the dead, while traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

— Jaroslav Pelikan

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“Don’t trust yourself this side of the grave”

— Russian proverb

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“Has some good thought come to you? Have you felt some good impulse or inclination in your heart? Stop! Check it with the Gospel.”

— Blessed Vladyka Ignatij (Brianchaninov)

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God is invisible because he is immeasurably manifest.

— St. Dionysius the Areopagite

[Writings from the Philokalia on the Prayer of the Heart , translated by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, first published in hardcover in 1951, but later in a paperback version issued published by Faber and Faber in 1992. See page 243. This is in Part 1, Chapter 6, Callistus and Ignatius of Xanthopoulos: Directions to Hesychasts, taken from Volume V of the Philokalia.]

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St. John Chrysostom on “Honors”

I once used to deride secular rulers because they distributed honors, not on grounds of inherent merit, but of wealth or seniority or worldly rank. But when I heard that this stupidity had swaggered into our own affairs [within the Church] too, I no longer reckoned their actions so strange. For why should we be surprised that worldly people, who love the praise of the mob and do everything for money, should make this mistake, when those who claim to have renounced all these desires are no better? For although they are contending for heavenly rewards, they act as though they had to decide merely about acres of land or something else of the kind. They simply take common place men and put them in charge of those things for which the only begotten Son of God did not disdain to empty Himself of His own glory and to be made man and to receive the form of a servant and to be spitted upon and buffeted and to die the most shameful death. And they do not stop at this, but go on to other actions stranger still. . . Christians damage Christ’s cause more than His enemies and foes.

St. John Chrysostom On the Priesthood, A.D. 386

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Teachings of Saint Kosmas Aitolos:

“If you want to cure your soul, you need four things. The first is to forgive your enemies. The second is to confess thoroughly. The third is to blame yourself. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more. If we wish to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong acts to others. And God, who is most compassionate, will forgive us.”

“If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye, as a Christian it is my duty to forgive him. We who are pious Christians ought to love our enemies and forgive them. We ought to offer them food and drink, and entreat God for their souls. And then we should say: “My God, I beseech Thee to forgive me, as I have forgiven my enemies.” “God created woman equal with man, not inferior. My Christian, you must love your wife as your companion, and not consider her as your slave, for she is a creature of God, just as you are. God was crucified for her as much as you. You call God ‘Father,’ she calls Him ‘Father’ too. Both of you have the same Faith, the same Baptism, the same Book of the Gospels, the same Holy Communion, the same Paradise to enjoy. God does not regard her as inferior to you.”

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“He who loves God cannot but love every man as himself, although the passions of those who are not yet purified find no favor with him. Therefore, when he sees them converted and reformed, he rejoices with great and ineffable joy.”

— St Maximos the Confessor

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I have need of one hundred grams of bread a day, and God blesses it. He blesses those hundred grams, but not one gram more. So if I take 110 grams, I have stolen 10 grams from the poor.

— St Cosmas Aitilos, a great martyr and preacher in Asia Minor

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Do you wish to honor the Body of the Savior? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. He who said, “This is my body,” and made it so by his word, is the same who said, “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.” Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.

St. John Chrysostom “On the Gospel of St. Matthew”, 50, iii (PG 58, 508)

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He who honors the priest, will honor God also; and he who has learned to despise the priest, will in process of time insult God. ‘He who receives you,’ He says, ‘receives Me’ (Matt. 10:40).

‘Hold your priests in honor’ (Ecclus. 7:31), He says. For when a man is piously disposed towards the priest, he is much more so towards God. And even if the priest is wicked, God seeing that you respect him, though unworthy of honor, through reverence to Him, will Himself reward you. For if ‘he who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward’ (Matt. 10:41), then he who honors and submits and gives way to the priest will certainly be rewarded. Do you know what the priest is? He is an angel of the Lord. If you despise him, you despise not him, but God who ordained him. But how does it appear, you ask, that he is ordained of God? If God works nothing through his means, you have neither laver, nor are a partaker of the Mysteries, nor of the benefits of blessings; you are therefore not a Christian. What then, you say, does God ordain all, even the unworthy? God indeed does not ordain all, but He works through all, though they be themselves unworthy, so the people may be saved. For if He spoke, for the sake of the people, by an ass, and by Balaam, a most wicked man (Num. 22,23,31), much more will He speak by the mouth of the priest. What indeed will not God do or say for our salvation? By whom does He not act? For if He wrought through Judas and those others who ‘prophesied’ … will He not much more work through the priests? If we may not judge our brother, much less our teacher, let each attend to his own department. For if he teaches perverted doctrine, though he be an angel, do not obey him; but if he teaches the truth, take heed not to his life, but to his words. You are a sheep, do not be curious concerning the shepherd, lest you have to give account of your accusations against him. It is not he who speaks to you. It is Christ who thus admonishes you. But you say, ‘He ought to be better than I.’ Why? ‘Because he is a priest’. If he is not better, ought you therefore to destroy yourself? These are the words of arrogance. Hear what Christ says, ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment’ (Matt. 12:36). Let us reverence that day on which he enlightened us. He who has a father, whatever faults he has, conceals them all. For it is said, ‘Do not glory in the dishonor of your father, for your father’s dishonor is no glory to you. And if his understanding fails, have patience with him’ (Ecclus. 3:10-12). And if this is said of our natural fathers, much more of our spiritual fathers. Approach him with pious respect. Do not say he is wicked. What of that? Does one who is wicked of himself bestow great benefits on you? By no means. Everything works according to your faith. The priest performs a symbol. The Offering is the same, whether a common man, or Paul or Peter offer it. It is the same which Christ gave to His disciples, and which the priests now minister. This is in no way inferior to that, because it is not men who sanctify even this, but the Same who sanctified the one also sanctifies the other. So the world is of one faith. The Spirit immediately fell upon Cornelius, because he had fulfilled his part, and contributed his faith.

St. John Chrysostom. Homily II on II Timothy I.

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“I have spent twenty years fighting to see all human beings as one.”

“Sayings of Those Who Grew Old in Ascesis,” quoted by Olivier Clement in “The Roots of

Christians Mysticism, p 273

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“Orthodoxy is Christianity understood as supreme Beauty.”

— Fr. Alexander Elchaninov

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“Our walls of division do not rise all the way to heaven.”

— Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

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Come, let us wonder at the virgin most pure, wondrous in herself, unique in creation, she gave birth, yet knew no man; her pure soul with wonder was filled, daily her mind gave praise in joy at the twofold wonder: her virginity preserved, her child most dear. Blessed is He who shone forth from her!

The Harp of the Spirit: eighteen poems of St. Ephraim the Syrian. [Mother of God / Mary]

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The following anecdote is related of the venerable Elder Leonid of Optina about a century and a half ago: One day he was busy giving instructions to a group of novices when a tall, distinguished-looking man with military epaulets came walking up to him. “What can I do for you?” inquired the elder. “Well,” the man replied, I’ve heard so much about you that I just had to have a good look at you.” By way of response, the elder straightened up, squared his shoulders, brushed down long beard. After standing that way for a moment, he then turned in profile for a few seconds. “Seen enough?” he asked. The visitor, who had come to the monastery in a great spiritual turmoil, took Elder Leonid as his Father Confessor and spent the next month being counseled by him.

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On the Power and Influence of Good Deeds

It is difficult, my brethren, to dispute with an atheist; it is difficult to converse with a stupid man; it is difficult to change an embittered man. It is only with the greatest difficulty that you will convince an atheist, a stupid man or an embittered man with words. Firstly, you must sway them by your deeds. They will come, “by your good works, which they shall behold, to glorify God” (I Pet. 2:12). Do good to him who would quarrel with you, and you will win the argument. A single act of compassion will penetrate to a stupid man and soften a bitter man more quickly than hours of discussion. If atheism and stupidity and bitterness proceed from ignorance, that ignorance is like a fury that is most easily bridled by the influence of good deeds. If you argue with an atheist on his own diabolical terms, you simply strengthen the demon of atheism. If you converse with a stupid man in a spirit of derision, the darkness of stupidity will be made the greater. If you think to change a bitter man by anger, you will merely add more fuel to the fire of bitterness. But a meek and well-intentioned act is like throwing water on the flames.

Always remember the holy apostles and their behavior towards men. If an atheist challenges you, then it is not the man that challenges you but the devil, for man is by nature devout and tends Godwards. If a stupid man scoffs at you, then it is not the man who scoffs but the devil, for man is by nature intelligent. If a bitter man persecutes you, it is not the man that is doing this but the devil, for man is by nature good and well-disposed. It is the devil that challenges us in lengthy debates and fruitless discussions, but he flees from the power of good deeds. Do good in the name of Christ, and the devil will flee. You will be working with men, men who are devout and intelligent and good. Everything, therefore, that you do, be sure that you do it in the name of Christ.

The Prologue from Ochrid: Lives of the Saints and Homilies for Every Day in the Year by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic from the entry for June 30 (vol. 2, p 380)

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“When the soul betrays itself and loses the blessed and longed-for fervor, let it carefully investigate the reason for losing it. And let it arm itself with all its longing and zeal against whatever caused this. For the former fervor can return only through the same door through which it was lost.”

— “The Ladder of Divine Ascent”, Step 1, Passage 12 St. John Climacus

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God belongs to all free beings. He is the life of all, the salvation of all — faithful and unfaithful, just and unjust, pious and impious, passionate and dispassionate, monks and laymen, wise and simple, healthy and sick, young and old — just as the effusion of light, the sight of the sun, and the changes of the seasons are for all alike; ‘for there is no respect of persons with God.’

— St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 1, Passage 3

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“A zealous man never achieves peace of mind. And he who is a stranger to peace is a stranger to joy. If, as it is said, peace of mind is perfect health, and zeal is opposed to peace, then the man who has a wrong zeal is ill with a grievous disease. Though you presume, O man, to send forth your zeal against the infirmities of other men, you have expelled the health of your own soul. Be assiduous, therefore, in laboring for your own soul’s health. If you wish to heal the infirm, know that the sick are in greater need of loving care than of rebuke. Therefore, although you do not help others, you expend labor to bring grievous illness upon yourself. “Zeal is not reckoned among men to be a form of wisdom, but one of the illnesses of the soul, namely narrow-mindedness and deep ignorance. The beginning of divine wisdom is clemency and gentleness, which arise from greatness of soul and the bearing of infirmities of men. For, he [the Apostle Paul] says, “let the strong bear the infirmities of the weak’, and ‘Restore him that has fallen in the spirit of meekness.’ The Apostle numbers peace and patience among the fruits of the Spirit.”

— “On the Harm of Foolish Zeal that Has the Guise of Being Divine”, St. Isaac of Ninevah

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This is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God, and to expect temptation to his last breath.

— St. Anthony the Great

A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, “You are mad; you are not like us.”

— St. Anthony the Great

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St. Cosmas of Aetolia, who toured occupied Greece around 1750 establishing schools all over, gave us the price of the ticket of love. Starting from the most expensive, Perfect Love, he says “If you want perfect love, go sell all your belongings, give them as charity and go where you find a master and sell yourself as a slave. Can you do this and be perfect? Seems heavy…”

“You cannot do this? Do something else. Don’t sell yourself as slave. Just sell your belongings. Give them all as charity. Can you do it? Still it looks heavy…”

“Let’s go further on. You cannot give all your belongings. Give half. Give one of the three. Give one of five. Even this looks heavy.”

“Do something else. Give one out of ten. Can you do it? It still looks heavy.”

“Do something else. Don’t give charity. Don’t sell yourself as slave. Let’s move further on; don’t take your brother’s coat, don’t take his bread. Don’t persecute him; don’t eat him with your tongue. Can you not do this either?”

“Let us go even further: You found your brother in the mud and do not want to get him out. OK, you don’t want to do him good. DON’T HARM HIM. Leave him there.”

“How do we want to be saved, brothers, if one looks heavy and the other looks heavy. Where shall we go further down? We have no place even to descend. God is merciful. Yes, but he is also fair. And he has an iron rod.”

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Every birth, every entrance of a new human being into the world, every life, is a miracle of miracles, a miracle that explodes all routine, for it marks the start of something unending, the start of a unique, unrepeatable human life, the beginning of a new person. And with each birth, the world is itself in some sense created anew and given as a gift to this new human being to be his life, his path, his creation.

— Fr. Alexander Schmemann, “On the Nativity of the Mother of God” Celebration of Faith: The Virgin Mary, vol. 3 of the Sermons of Fr Alexander Schmemann translation by Fr. John Jillions, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995, p 24

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Today many people are hesitantly beginning to acknowledge that genuine answers are impossible without faith, without breaking through to what is transcendent and eternal. But even faith in God takes different shapes and can be merely some other way out, an escape, its own brand of psychological drunkenness. In other words it can be pseudo-faith, counterfeit faith. sadly, it is possible even in the name of faith and of God to hate and do evil, to pull down and not to build up. Christ himself said that “many will come in my name . . . and lead many astray” (Mt 24:5), and “not everyone who says to me ‘Lord’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 7:21). Therefore, from its very earliest days Christianity never simply asked, “Do you believe?” for it knew that even Christ’s betrayers and crucifiers also had believed in something, in some way. No, Christianity’s question was this: How do you believe? And in what?

It is right here, in attempting to answer this question so fundamental to genuine faith, that the image of the Virgin Mary almost unconsciously and involuntarily begins to grow before our spiritual eyes. Oh, this doesn’t mean that her image somehow eclipses the image of Christ, or that she is presented to Christianity as an additional object of faith set apart from Christ. Not at all, for it is from Christ and from Him alone that we receive this image as a gift, the unfolding of all that His teaching and calling means. And so we ask ourselves, what is the strength of this image, what help does it give us?

My answer may surprise many people. What the Mother of God’s image gives us first of all is the image of a woman. Christ’s first gift to us, the first and most profound revelation of his teaching and call, is given to us in the image of a woman. Why is this so important, so comforting and so redeeming? Precisely because our world has become so completely and hopelessly male, governed by pride and aggression, where all has been reduced to power and weapons of power, to production and weapons of production, to violence, to the refusal to willingly back down or make peace in anything or to keep one’s mouth shut and plunge into the silent depth of life. The image of the Virgin Mary, the Virgin Mother, stand against all this and indicts it by her presence alone: the image of infinite humility and purity, yet filled with beauty and strength; the image of love and the victory of love.

The Virgin Mary, the All-Pure Mother, demands nothing and receives everything. She pursues nothing, and possesses all. In the image of the Virgin Mary we find what has almost completely been lost in our proud, aggressive, male world: compassion, tender-heartedness, care, trust, humility. We call her our Lady and the Queen of heaven and earth, and yet she calls herself “the handmaid of the Lord.”

Fr. Alexander Schmemann, “On the Image of Woman” Celebration of Faith: The Virgin Mary, vol. 3 of the Sermons of Fr Alexander Schmemann translation by Fr. John Jillions, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995, pp 19-22

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“Above all things: Forget not the poor, but support them to the extent of you means. Give to the orphan, Protect the widow, and permit the mighty to destroy no man. Take not the life of the just or the unjust, nor permit him to be killed. Destroy no Christian soul, even though he be guilty of murder.” (The Primary Chronicle, A.D. 1096.)

— Vladimir Monomakh in his Testament to his children

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Never confuse the person, formed in the image of God, with the evil that is in him, because evil is but a chance misfortune, illness, a devilish reverie. But the very essence of the person is the image of God, and this remains in him despite every disfigurement.

— St. John of Kronstadt

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“Of course, it would be easier to get to paradise with a full stomach, all snuggled up in a soft feather-bed, but what is required is to carry one’s cross along the way, for the kingdom of God is not attained by enduring one or two troubles, but many!”

— Elder Anthony of Optina

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The child Jesus born within us advances by different ways in those who receive Him in wisdom, in age, and in grace. He is not the same in every person, but is present according to the measure of the person receiving Him. He comes either as an infant, or a child advancing in age, or as one fully grown after the example of the cluster. Christ is never seen with the same form upon the vine, but He changes His form with time — now budding, now blossoming, now mature, now ripe and finally as wine. Thus the vine holds out a promise with its fruit. It is not yet ripe for wine, but it awaits maturity. Meanwhile it does not lack any delight, for it gladdens our sense of smell instead of our taste with its expectation of the future; by its fragrance of hope it sweetens the soul’s senses. A faith firm in a grace we hope for becomes a delight for us who wait in patience.

St. Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Song of Songs.

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Holy Scripture says of the midwives who kept alive the Israelites’ male children, that through the God-fearing midwives they made themselves houses. Does it mean they made visible houses? How can they say they acquired houses through the fear of God when we do the opposite, and learn in time, through fear of God to give up the houses we have? Evidently this does not refer to visible houses but to the houses of the soul which each one builds by for himself by keeping God’s commandments. Through this Holy Scripture teaches us that the fear of God prepares the soul to keep the commandments, and through the commandments the house of the soul is built up. Let us take hold of them, brothers, and let us fear God, and we shall build houses for ourselves where we shall find shelter in winter weather, in the season of storm-cloud, lightning, and rain; for not to have a home in winter-time is a great hardship.

St. Dorotheos of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

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The beginning of repentance proceeds from fear of God and heedfulness, as the holy martyr Boniface says (Lives of Saints, Dec. 19): The fear of God is the father of heedfulness, and heedfulness is the mother of inner peace, and the latter gives birth to conscience, which causes the soul to behold its own ugliness as in a certain pure and undisturbed water; and thus are both the beginnings and roots of repentance.

Spiritual Instructions of St. Seraphim of Sarov

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It is not enough to give. We must have a heart that gives. In order to give, we must have a compassion deep enough for our gift to be forgiven, because if we give dutifully, if we are charitable only in our actions, the recipient receives humiliation and sorrow and pain together with our gift.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

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When the Prophetic Spirit speaks and foretells the future, he says, “‘The Law shall come out of Zion and the Lord’s word from Jerusalem. And he will judge the Gentiles and reproach many people, and they will beat their swords into plows and their spears into pruning hooks. And nation will not raise its sword against nation, and they will no longer learn the arts of war.”

You can believe that this prophecy, too, was fulfilled. For twelve men, ignorant and unskilled in speaking as they were, went out from Jerusalem to the world, and with the help of God announced to every race of men that they had been sent by Christ to teach the word of God to everyone. And we who formerly killed one another not only refuse to make war on our enemies but in order to avoid lying to our interrogators or deceiving them, we freely go to our deaths confessing Christ.

— St. Justin Martyr First Apology 39.2-3

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The Jews residing in the entire island of Crete have reported to us in a loud cry and with many tears that some Christians there mistreat them. Sometimes [the Christians] unjustly and slanderously deliver them to the most honorable rulers of the island. At times the Christians unjustly plot against the Jews, as well as unreasonably injure and bother them. At times [the Christians] vehemently attack them. Furthermore, the Christians unreasonably hasten to mistreat the Jews, thinking that they [the Christians] will receive a reward from the God of all. For this reason we write this letter in the name of the Holy Spirit to declare to all those Christians who commit these unjust acts and cast false accusations against the Jews and bring unjust and unreasonable harm and destruction to them . . . . those Christians who commit these insolent acts against the Jews are excommunicated from God Almighty and are cursed and are unforgiven and remain bound even after death. Injustice and slander, regardless of whomever acted upon or performed against, is still injustice. The unjust person is never relieved of responsibility for these acts under the pretext that the injustice is done against a heterodox person and not a believer. As Our Lord Jesus Christ says in the Gospels, do not oppress or accuse anyone falsely…

from an encyclical letter of Metrophanes III, Patriarch of Constantinople, dated 1568 from chapter 5 of Essays on Orthodox Christian-Jewish Relations by Fr. George C. Papademetriou

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“It is the Christian duty, to look reality in the face and to keep ourselves fully conscious of it. Nothing is more unchristian than the ‘idealization’ of reality; it is precisely the Christian more than anybody else who must put aside fear whenever the exposure and condemnation of a horrible and wicked reality is called for . . . . The human body must be seen naked to know its beauty, and in the same way Christianity demands that realities be stripped of their artificial adornments.” [Christianity and Class War, Nicholas Berdyaev; Sheed & Ward, London]

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“Christians are and always have been the most serious obstacle to the spread of Christianity.”

— Fr. John Garvey (Commonweal column, 20 Dec 96)

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Here is a tale about two Novgorodian saints, both holy fools, who threw cabbages at each other either on the bridge or (not bothering with the bridge) while standing on the water adjacent to the bridge. This was back in the 14th century so I have no wire photo of the event to pass along. The tale follows:

“The Fools Theodore and Nicholas lived in Novgorod. A great bridge joined two sections of the city, Torgova and Sofia. On this bridge many horrible fights broke out between the Capuletokovs and Montaguskys (sic). Bishops often had to rush to the bridge and put a stop to the violence.

“Well, then the Fools began to fight on the bridge, to demonstrate, as only Fools can, the stupidity of violence. Theodore would not let Nicholas cross over, and vice versa. “But then a nobleman invited Theodore to cross over and visit him. And Theodore, after much begging, agreed. He crossed over, and suddenly Nicholas appeared. Nick chased Ted along the bank of the Volkhov River, then Ted ran right ONTO the river. Nick rushed into a nearby garden and grabbed a head of cabbage, and then he too ran ONTO the river. And Nick hurled the cabbage at Ted.

“Many people witnessed this event. And Blessed Nicholas was given the name ‘Kochanov’ meaning ‘head of cabbage’.”

This comes from “God’s Fools,” published by Synaxis Press (Dewdney, British Columbia).

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The birth of Elena Men’s son Alexander [later in life to become a well-known priest who died a martyr’s death in 1990] made it possible for her to come to a rapid decision. On September 3, 1935, her sister Vera took her to Father Seraphim’s house in Zagorsk [the name the Soviet government gave to Sergiev Posod, the town adjacent to the St. Sergius-Holy Trinity Lavra north of Moscow]. Here both mother and son were baptized, and Vera not long after.

Afterward Elena and Vera regularly made the trip from Moscow to Zagorsk to visit Fr. Seraphim. With some of Fr. Seraphim’s other spiritual children, the two women participated in the services he celebrated as often as they could. Vera once related the story of her first Easter night liturgy:

“Before beginning the service, the priest sent someone out into the street to make sure that the singing could not be heard. Than the paschal vigil began, and the little house was transformed into a temple of light. Everyone was united by the same incomparable feeling: the joy of the Resurrection. The procession was held outside the izba, in the vestibule and the hallway. … Is not this the way the first Christians held their services during the time of the Roman persecutions?”

from Alexander Men: A Witness for Contemporary Russia by Yves Hamant; Oakwood Publications, Torrance, California 90505-6359 USA; 1995; pp 35-36

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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 authority 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, “Six Books on the Priesthood”

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For nothing is more grievous than wrath and fierce anger. This renders men both puffed up and servile, by the former making them ridiculous, by the other hateful; and bringing in opposite vices, pride and flattery, at the same time. But if we will cut off the greediness of this passion, we shall be both lowly with exactness, and exalted with safety. For in our bodies too all distempers arise from excess; and when the elements thereof leave their proper limits, and go on beyond moderation, then all these countless diseases are generated, and grievous kinds of death. Somewhat of the same kind one may see take place with respect to the soul likewise.

— St. John Chrysostom (Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew)

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It is a fearful thing to hate whom God has loved. To look upon another – his weaknesses, his sins, his faults, his defects – is to look upon one who is suffering. He is suffering from negative passions, from the same sinful human corruption from which you yourself suffer. This is very important: do not look upon him with the judgmental eyes of comparison, noting the sins you assume you’d never commit. Rather, see him as a fellow sufferer, a fellow human being who is in need of the very healing of which you are in need. Help him, love him, pray for him, do unto him as you would have him do unto you.

— St Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724-1783)

St Tikhon was one of the two saints who inspired the creation of the monk Zosima in Dostoevsky’s novel, “The Brothers Karamazov.”

* * *

“For love does not seek its own, it labors, sweats, watches to build up the brother: nothing is inconvenient to love, and by the help of God it turns the impossible into the possible …. Love believes and hopes …. It is ashamed of nothing. Without it, what is the use of prayer? What use are hymns and singing? What is the use of building and adorning churches? What is mortification of the flesh if the neighbor is not loved? Indeed, all are of no consequence …. As an animal cannot exist without bodily warmth, So no good deed can be alive without true love; it is only the pretence of a good deed.

— St Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724–1783)

* * *

 

Sometimes a word of reproof must be spoken to all in general, and sometimes to some particular person. When reproof is given in general, then one may speak strictly and sharply, that sinners listening might feel the lash of fear in their hearts, and so be wakened as from the sleep of sin. We see this in the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures…When people whomever they may be, commit iniquity and you know it openly, take extreme care not to be silent, but everywhere reprove their iniquity in your speech, lest you be like a dumb dog that does not bark when thieves break into a house and loot it, and wolves fall upon the flock and devour it. Stand firm, beloved, and show your pastoral work even though you must necessarily suffer. In this work, you have as your examples the prophets, apostles and luminaries of Christ who lived in times of old.

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk “On the Duties of Pastors,” Journey to Heaven, Counsels on the Particular Duties of Every Christian,

* * *

This grass is an icon; this stone is an icon; and I can kiss it, venerate it, because it is filled with God’s grace. The world is not for us to take things from, but a place where we cast off our passions and desires.

— Father Paissios, Mt Athos

* * *

“All of us who are human beings are in the image of God. But to be in his likeness belongs only to those who by great love have attached their freedom to God.” — St. Diadochus of Photike (cited in Olivier Clement’s book, “The Roots of Christian Mysticism”)

* * *

God is fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. And so, if we feel in our hearts coldness, which is from the devil — for the devil is cold — then let us call upon the Lord and He will come and warm our hearts with perfect love not only for Him but for our neighbor as well.

— Saint Seraphim of Sarov from the preface to his Spiritual Instructions for Laymen and Monks

* * *

“Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” — St. Seraphim of Sarov

* * *

You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.

— St Seraphim of Sarov

* * *

The only prominent public figure to condemn the [anti-Semitic] pogroms [during the civil war that followed the Bolshevik revolution] openly and unequivocally was the head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Tikhon.

Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime (Harville Press, 1994)

* * *

We condemn in the most categorical way every type of fanaticism, illegitimacy and violence, no matter who perpetrates them. We firmly insist upon the need for free and peaceful communication between peoples, for mutual respect and peaceful coexistence.

Patriarch Bartholomeos I of Constantinople, speech to the European Parliament, April 19, 1994

* * *

“The Russian Startzi . . . told me that it was wise before undertaking any serious work that was intended for the glory of God to find out whether it corresponded to the will of God and not merely to our own imagination and will. According to them, if a good work is commenced in the name of God one must from the very beginning observe its progress. If after the initial setbacks which come to test our will, everything goes smoothly and our soul is in peace, then the work is agreeable to God. On the other hand, if we meet more and more difficulties and lose our peace of mind, and become depressed and uncertain, it is better to give up the enterprise. However good our purpose may be this work is not for us but must be for others better equipped than we are for this work. I saw the value of this advice many times in the course of my life.”

–from a letter of Serge Bolshakoff to Father Basil Pennington, March 23, 1987

* * *

Better a straw peace than an iron fight.

— Russian Proverb

* * *

Apostolic Tradition, 16, Rome, early 3rd century: A soldier under authority shall not kill a man. If he is ordered to, he shall not carry out the order; nor shall he take the oath. If he is unwilling, let him be rejected. He who has the power of the sword, or is a magistrate of a city who wears the purple, let him cease or be rejected. Catechumens or believers who want to become soldiers should be rejected, because they have despised God. (eds. Botte, 1963; Cuming, 1987)

Tesamentum Domini, 2.2, Asia Minor, mid-4th century: If anyone be soldier or in authority, let him be taught not to oppress or to kill or to rob, or to be angry or to rage and afflict anyone. But let those rations suffice him which are give n to him. But if they wish to be baptized in the Lord, let them cease from military service or from the [post of] authority. And if not let them not be received.

Let a catechumen or a believer of the people, if he desire to be a soldier, either cease from his intention, or if not, let him be rejected. For he hath despised God by his thought and, leaving the things of the Spirit, he hath perfected himself in the flesh, and hath treated the faith with contempt. (ed J. Cooper and J.A. Maclean, 1902)

Canons of Hippolytus, 13-14 (Egypt, mid-4th century): Of the magistrate and soldier: let them not kill anyone, even if they receive the order to do so. Let them not put crowns on. Anyone who has authority and does not do the justice of the gospel, let him be cut off and not pray with the bishop.

Anyone who has received the power to kill, or else a soldier, in no case let them kill, even if they have received the order to kill. Let them not utter an evil word. Let those who have received a distinction not put a crown on their head.

Let a Christian not become a soldier: A Christian must not become a soldier, unless he is constrained by a chief who has a sword. Let him not take on himself the sin of blood. But if he has shed blood, let him not take part in the [eucharistic] mysteries, unless he has been purified by a punishment, by tears and groans. (ed R.G. Coquin, 1966)

* * *

O heavenly Master, fervent architect of all creation, light the gaze of your servant, guard his heart and guide his hand, so that worthily and with perfection he may represent Your image, for the glory and beauty of your holy Church.

traditional prayer of the iconographer

* * *

Let us call brothers even those who hate us and forgive all by the Resurrection. –Easter verses

Always keep your mind collected in your heart. — Theofan the Recluse

He who celebrates alone in the heart of the wilderness is a great assembly. If two celebrate along the rocks, thousands and tens of thousands are present there. If three and gathered together, a fourth in among them. If there are six or seven together, twelve thousand thousand are assembled. If they range themselves in ranks, they fill the firmament with prayer. If they be crucified on the bare rock, they are marked with a cross of light. The Church is constituted when they come together. Then they come together, the Spirit hovers over their heads. When they end their prayer, the Lord rises to serve his servants.

— a hymn of St Ephraim (5th century)

* * *

St. Ephraim’s ‘Prayer of Repentance’:

O Lord and Master of my life, do not give me the spirit of laziness, meddling, self-importance, and idle talk.

Instead, grace me, Your servant, with the spirit of modesty, humility, patience and love.

Lord and King, grant that I might see my own faults, and not condemn my brothers and sisters, for You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

another translation of the same prayer:

Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust for power and idle talk.

But give to me, Thy servant, the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love.

O Lord and King, grant to me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages.

Amen

* * *

Both the Emperor’s commands and yours (person in authority) must be obeyed if they are not contrary to the God of heaven. If they are, they must not only not be obeyed; they must be resisted.

— St. Euphemia, martyr, d. July 11, 303

* * *

Forgiveness is better than revenge.

— St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

* * *

Do violence to no man.

— St. John the Baptist, from Luke 3:14, King James Version

* * *

Contrary to the rest of men enlist for yourself in an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without wrath, without stain — pious old men, orphans dear to God, widows armed with gentleness, men adorned with love. Obtain with your wealth as guardians of body and soul such as these whose commander is God.

— St. Clement of Alexandria

* * *

The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.

— Brother Lawrence

* * *

The liturgy is the church and all else is, and always has been, dross. Necessary dross, but dross.

–Fr. Robert Hovda

Where else [other than at Eucharist] in our society are all of us–not just a gnostic elite, but everyone–called to be social critics, called to extricate ourselves from the powers and principalities that claim to rule our daily lives in order to submit ourselves to the sole dominion of the God before whom all of us are equal? Where else in our society are we all addressed and sprinkled and bowed to and incensed and touched and kissed and treated like somebody-all in the very same way? Where else do economic czars and beggars get the same treatment? Where else are food and drink blessed in a common prayer of thanksgiving, broken and poured out, so that everybody, everybody shares and shares alike?

— Robert Hovda, 1920-1992

* * *

I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal. I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety. I should like flails of penance at my house. I should like the men of Heaven at my house; I should like barrels of peace at their disposal; I should like vessels of charity for distribution; I should like for them cellars of mercy. I should like cheerfulness to be in their drinking. I should like Jesus to be there among them. I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us. I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around us from all parts.

–St. Bridget

* * *

“Imagine the vanity of thinking that your enemy can do you more damage than your enmity.”

— St. Augustine

* * *

“All things belong to God. All our brothers and sisters. Among us it is best that all inherit equal portions.”

–St. Gregory of Nyssa

* * *

“May I be no one’s enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides.”

–Eusebius (260-340 AD)

* * *

“On a cold night two, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other.”

–Ecclesiastes 4:11

* * *

“‘But I say to you,’ the Lord says, ‘love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you.’ Why did he command these things? So that he might free you from hatred, sadness, anger and grudges, and might grant you the greatest possession of all, perfect love, which is impossible to possess except by the one you loves all equally in imitation of God.”

–Maximus Confessor

* * *

“As the memory of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not bring about the illumination of knowledge in the soul.”

–Maximus Confessor

It is certainly a finer and more wonderful thing to change the mind of enemies and bring them to another way of thinking than to kill them, especially when we recall that the [disciples] were only twelve and the whole world was full of wolves. . . . We ought then to be ashamed of ourselves, we who act so very differently and rush like wolves upon our foes. So long as we are sheep we have the victory; but if we are like wolves we are beaten, for then the help of the shepherd is withdrawn from us, for he feeds sheep not wolves. . . . This mystery [of the Eucharist] requires that we should be innocent not only of violence but of all enmity, however slight, for it is the mystery of peace.

— St. John Chrysostom

“Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead.”

–St. John Chrysostom

* * *

Christ is risen!

If any be a devout lover of God, let him partake with gladness from this fair and radiant feast. If any be a faithful servant, let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord. If any have wearied himself with fasting, let him now enjoy his reward. If any have labored from the first hour, let him receive today his rightful due. If any have come after the third, let him celebrate the feast with thankfulness. If any have arrived after the sixth, let him not be in doubt, for he will suffer no loss. If any have delayed until the ninth, let him not hesitate but draw near. If any have arrived only at the eleventh, let him not be afraid because he comes so late. For the Master is generous and accepts the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour in the same way as to him who has labored from the first. He accepts the deed, and commends the intention. Enter then, all of you into the Joy of our Lord. First and last, receive alike your reward. Rich and poor, dance together. You who have fasted and you who have not fasted, rejoice today. The table is fully laden: let all enjoy it. The calf is fatted: let none go away hungry. Let none lament his poverty; for the universal Kingdom is revealed. Let none bewail his transgressions; for the light of forgiveness has risen from the tomb. Let none fear death; for the death of the Savior has set us free.

He has destroyed death by undergoing death. He has despoiled hell by descending into hell.

Hell was filled with bitterness when it met thee face to face below: filled with bitterness, for it was brought to nothing; filled with bitterness, for it was mocked; filled with bitterness, for it was overthrown; filled with bitterness, for it was put in chains. It received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven. O death where is thy sting?

O hell, where is thy victory? Christ is risen, and thou art cast down. Christ is risen and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns in freedom. Christ is risen, and there is none left dead in the tomb. For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of those that slept. To him be glory and dominion to the ages of ages.’

— homily of St. John Chrysostom traditionally read at the Easter All-Night Vigil in the Orthodox Church

* * *

The Responsibility of Easter

“It is Easter and I am thinking about what has inspired believers in our church during the last one thousand years. Today is exactly the day when we must ask the question, like believers before us: Why are we living on the earth? Why are we working hard? Why are we trying to have a good time? Why are we suffering? What is the meaning of life? “There are many theories, many explanations from all the philosophers, but none of them fulfill us. All of them stop at the point of death. But our soul longs to keep living. It wants to be eternal. It wants to live without end. Life has meaning only if there is eternal life. If there isn’t eternal life, no matter how beautiful your life, at the end it is just poor life. “It’s a pity sometimes to stand before a dead person who worked hard in life, did good works, suffered, was in many battles, but in the end saw no meaning, and he is dead and no one can help him. Great Solomon wisely said that the living dog is more blessed than the dead human. “So we are happy, we are blessed, because we believe in eternal life. We know that the life of people is not life only until death. The soul doesn’t disappear. It lives. It lives forever. This is so whether you believe it or not and it is true whether you want it or not, true whether you are a believer or an unbeliever. So no matter what kind of life you lived before death, you enter eternal life, and not only your soul but your body. We come into eternal life in both body and soul.

“Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and we rejoice in it. And we see in it not only his resurrection but our resurrection. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the same as our resurrection. We believe that. We believe that in Christ each one of us will stand up. “Many people do not believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ or in the Resurrection of anyone. I don’t want to give them proof or argue with them. The main thing about their conviction, the thing their unbelief is founded on, is that it’s impossible for a dead person to come back to life. How can it happen? How can something that is just dust and bones live again? And what about bodies that are now only ashes? Or were cut into many pieces? Or were eaten by beasts or fish? How can such people’s bodies be made whole and come back to life? Our brain can’t overcome this dilemma. How is it possible? “But then we can ask another question: What about everything that exists? All this beauty? There are so many things we don’t understand and can’t explain. Most things we can’t explain.

What do you think? Isn’t this huge miracle we live in as big a miracle as the resurrection? Do you think creation is easier than resurrection? If God is strong enough to create everything from nothing, to create the whole world and the whole universe, do you think it is difficult to resurrect what he has already created?

“So don’t be discouraged by anyone who says it’s impossible. God has the power to create everything.

“So, brothers and sisters, we believe in eternal life. But it isn’t an easy belief. It is a belief that gives us responsibilities. We have to realize that each person, whether or not he wants God, must answer to God for his life–what he did, what didn’t do. He must stand judgment.

“It is a weakness not to believe in eternal life. Even if you don’t believe, it is no justification

when you stand before God with sins and horrible deeds. Don’t imagine that you will be unjudgeable.

“Our people have lived by great ideals. The big ideal that has been living in our people for a thousand years is to live in God’s truth. Not human truth. God’s truth. Our ancestors mostly wanted to live according to God’s truth. They suffered greatly. Many terrible things happened. There were dreadful persons. But somehow, no matter what sorrows there were, they were still trying to live according to God’s truth.

“We need this too. God’s truth has to lead us. We have to have a spiritual life even if we are surrounded by an unspiritual life. We need to have Christian families even if we are surrounded by families that are breaking down. We need to work hard and sincerely, not for praise or money, but for the heart and soul of our neighbors. We have to work for our people.

“Let us not think about bread for ourselves. Bread is something we need, yes, but the person who thinks about bread for himself has lost the spiritual dimension of life. But if he thinks of bread for his neighbors, then he is leading a spiritual life–a life of love, a life of caring for others. This is the spiritual life.

“The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is not only a joy for us, it is a great responsibility and a great task. It leads us to prepare for the Last Judgment. Let the Resurrection fill our hearts with belief in eternal life so that truth can take root in our hearts. Let us not only think about it in our minds but feel it in our hearts.”

–Metropolitan Filaret, sermon on Easter Monday in St. Vladimir’s cathedral, Kiev, Easter 1986 (quoted from Pilgrim to the Russian Church by Jim Forest, Crossroad Books, New York City)

* * *

“However hard I try, I find it impossible to construct anything greater than these three words, ‘Love one another’ — only to the end, and without exceptions: then all is justified and life is illumined, whereas otherwise it is an abomination and a burden.”

— St Maria Skobtsova of Paris

* * *

The bodies of fellow human beings must be treated with greater care than our own. Christian love teaches us to give our brethren not only spiritual gifts, but material gifts as well. Even our last shirt, our last piece of bread must be given to them. Personal almsgiving and the most wide-ranging social work are equally justifiable and necessary. The way to God lies through love of other people and there is no other way. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked if I was successful in my ascetic exercises or how many prostrations I made in the course of my prayers. I shall be asked, did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners: that is all I shall be asked.

— St Maria Skobtsova of Paris

* * *

It is not the constant thought of their own sins, but the vision of the holiness of God, that makes the saints aware of their own sinfulness.

–Anthony Bloom, Living Prayer (p 11)

* * *

St Jerome said…”When the Church came to the princes of the world, she grew in power and wealth but diminished in virtue.” (quoted by Thomas Merton in “Monastic Spirituality and the Early Fathers, from the Apostolic Fathers to Evagrius Ponticus,” from Monastic Origins, p 250, volume 18, of Thomas Merton’s Collected Essays, at the Thomas Merton Study Center, Bellarmine College, Louisville, Kentucky)

“A prison provides a Christian with the same advantages that a desert gives to a prophet.”

(quoted in the above essay by TM, p 252)

* * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * *

from ASPECTS OF CHURCH HISTORY by Georges Florovsky p. 200

Chapter IV The Ways of Russian Theology

“Our theology went through the principal stages of religious thought in modern Europe…Dependence and imitation, however, did not yet mean an intimate meaning. The latter is achieved only in the freedom and equality of love…Orthodox theology hall not be able to establish its independence from Western influences unless it reverts to the patristic sources and foundations. This does not mean forsaking our time, withdrawing from history, deserting the battlefield…Orthodox thought has to feel the Western difficulties…and bear with them. We must, through creative thinking, resume and transmute all this experience of the West, its pangs and its doubts; we must take upon ourselves, as Dostoevsky used to say. `the European anguish,’ accumulated through centuries of creative history. It is only through such sympathy, such active compassion, that the divided Christian world may possibly find the way to union.”

* * *

Remembrance of wrongs is the consummation of anger, the keeper of sin, hatred of righteousness, ruin of virtues, poison of the soul, worm of the mind, shame of prayer, cessation of supplication, estrangement of love, a nail stuck in the soul, pleasure-less feeling cherished in the sweetness of bitterness, continuous sin, unsleeping transgression, hourly malice. . . . You will know that you have completely freed yourself of this rot, not when you pray for he person who has offended you, not when you exchange presents with him, not when you invite him to your table, but only when, on hearing that he has fallen into bodily or spiritual misfortune, you suffer and weep for him as for yourself.

— St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

* * *

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

– My Christians, how are you doing here? Have you got love for each other? If you want to be saved, do not ask for anything else here, in the world, but love. Is there any of you who has got this kind of love towards his brothers? Let him rise and tell me so that I may wish him well and make all Christians forgive him. He will receive such forgiveness which he would have been unable to find had he given thousands of pounds of gold.

– Holy man of God, I love God and my brothers.

– Good, my child. You have got my blessing. What is your name?

– Costas.

– What do you do for a living?

– I am a shepherd.

– Do you weigh the cheese which you sell?

– I do.

– You, my child, have learnt to weigh cheese and I have learnt to weigh love. Is the scales ashamed of its master?

– No.

– Let me then weigh your love now and, if it is right and not false, then I shall wish you well and I shall make all Christians forgive you. How can I know, my child, that you love your brothers? Now that I am here and walk and teach the people, I say that I love Mr Costas like my eyes, but you do not believe me. You want to try me first and then believe me. I have bread to eat, you have not. If I give a piece of it to you, who have not, I show that I love you. But if I eat the whole loaf and you are hungry, then what do I show? I show that the love that I feel for you is false. I have got two cups of wine to drink, you have not. If I give you some of it to drink, then I show that I love you. But if I do not give you, my love is false. You are sad. Your mother or father has died. If I come to console you then my love is true. But if you are crying and weeping and I am eating, drinking and dancing, my love is false. Do you love that poor child?

– I do.

– If you loved him, you would buy him a shirt because he is naked so that he would also pray for your soul. Then your love would be true. But now it is false. Is not it so, my Christians? We cannot go to paradise with false love. Now, since you want to make your love gold, take and dress the poor children and then I shall make them forgive you. Will you do this?

– I will.

– My Christians, Costas understood that the love which he had till now was false and wants to make it gold, to dress the poor children. Because we have edified him I beg you to tell three times for Mr Costas, may God forgive and have mercy on him.

From the teachings of St. Cosmas of Aetolia

* * *

What reason would we have to commit murder when we say that women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give account of it to God? For the same person would not regard the fetus in the womb as a living thing and therefore an object of God’s care [and then kill it] …. But we are altogether consistent in our conduct. We obey reason and do not override it.

St. Athenagoras of Athens A Plea for Christians (ca AD 177)

Our fathers did not reckon as murders the murders in war, it seems to me, giving a pardon to those who defend themselves in behalf of moderation and piety. But perhaps it is well to advise that they abstain from communion only for three years, since their hands are not clean.

— St. Basil the Great First Epistle to the Amphilochios (ca AD 375)

* * *

“Human beings have accumulated in their coffers gold and silver, clothes more sumptuous than useful, diamonds and other objects that are evidence of war and tyranny; then a foolish arrogance hardens their hearts; for their brothers in distress, no pity. What utter blindness! . . . Attend not to the law of the strong but to the law of the Creator. Help nature to the best of your ability, honor the freedom of creation, protect your species from dishonor, come to its aids in sickness, rescue it from poverty …. Seek to distinguish yourself from others only in your generosity. Be like gods to the poor, imitating God’s mercy. Humanity has nothing so much in common with God as the ability to do good.”

— St. Gregory Nazianzen
On Love of the Poor, cited on pp 295-6 of Olivier Clement’s book, The Roots of Christian Mysticism

* * *

Prayer for the Pacification of Animosity

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.

We thank you, O Master, Lover of Mankind, King of the ages and Bestower of good things,

Who destroyed the dividing wall of enmity, and granted peace to the human race, and Who now has granted peace to Your servants. Instill in them the fear of You and confirm in them love one for the other. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptation to disagreement. For You are our peace and to You we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

* * *