The incorporeal enemy enters the heart of man through satiety and drunkenness — this can be felt by anyone who is observant.
This is the reason why, with the growth of drunkenness, the inclination to drunkenness increases so terribly (because the power of the enemy over the man increases)–this is why you notice in drunkards a power involuntarily drawing them to satisfy their passion or their inward craving for wine. The enemy is in the hearts of these unhappy people.
How can the demon of drunkenness be driven out? By prayer and fasting. The enemy enters the hearts of men because they have given themselves up to a carnal mode of life–to gluttony, and because they do not pray.
It is, therefore, natural that he can be driven out from them by opposite means–that is, by prayer and fasting.
— St John of Kronstadt
When holy peace reigns in my soul, then surely the King of Peace dwells within me, the Lord Jesus Christ, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and then especially I ought to be full of feelings of gratitude to the Lord of Peace, and endeavor with all my strength to preserve this peace within me by means of fervent prayer and by abstaining from every sin, both inward and outward.
-St John of Kronstadt
“The Saints grieve to see people living on earth and not knowing that if they were to love one another the world would know freedom from sin; and where sin is absent there is joy and gladness of the Holy Spirit. The Saints in heaven though the Holy Spirit behold the glory of God and the beauty of the Lord’s countenance. But in this same Holy Spirit they see our lives too, and our deeds. They know our sorrows and hear our burning prayers. When they were living on earth they learned of the love of God from the Holy Spirit; and he who knows love on earth takes it with him into eternal life, where love grows and becomes perfect. The souls of the Saints know the Lord and His goodness toward man, wherefore their spirits burn with love for the peoples. They were chosen by the Holy Spirit to pray for the whole world.”
-St Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938), my patron saint.
A beautiful description of the invisible links which hold together heaven and earth, this world and the next, through the prayers of the faithful to the saints and the saints’ active prayer and unceasing love for us.
Poor, old, sick, to our last breath, we can love. Not sentimental nonsense so often confused with love, but the love of sacrifice – inner crucifixion of greed, envy, pride. Never confuse love with sentimentality and never confuse worship with affectation. Be humble – love even when it is difficult. And do not treat church worship as a theatrical performance!
This is an excerpt from a 2009 letter which Mother Thekla (1918-2011), abbess of the English Monastery of the Assumption, wrote to a new English convert to Orthodoxy.
BORN OF LOVE
If we find fault in others, our self-indulgent attitude keeps us from having a successful interaction with God. Prayer is born of love, while fault-finding, idle talk and self-indulgence are the death of prayer. Love and prayer are interconnected because both involve God, and if we love God we are given the power to keep our mind on Him both day and night.
Nothing keeps us from Him, and nothing hinders our communion with him. Even the distractions and temptations of the world fade away as nothing, yet as God’s love grows in us, so does love of our neighbor grow.
With love in Christ,
The Very Reverend Igumen Abbot Tryphon is the spiritual leader at All Merciful Saviour Orthodox Christian monastery located on Vashon Island in Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington State. The monastery is within the canonical jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The monastery’s widely acclaimed and popular Facebook page can be found here. Abbot Tryphon’s popular blog can be accessed here.
“When Christ promised his disciples that the Spirit of God, His Holy Spirit, would descend upon them, He called Him the Comforter. To be in the Spirit promised by Christ is to be comforted, consoled. One need not fear any kind of sorrow or surrounding evil or inner affliction when there is such consolation. But in order to come to this consolation, it is necessary to understand in the depth of one’s soul that any sorrow, any suffering, any affliction is a consequence of sin – either one’s own or another’s. And if you accept everything as your own sin, if you identify yourself with the whole of sinful humanity and understand the fall and that you deprived yourself of Paradise, the Kingdom of Heaven – first of all, you yourself – then tears of repentance will flow at once and with them, all encompassing consolation. Such a person (who has come to such repentance) becomes meek, filled with an inner calm, silence and peace. Only in such a condition is it possible to subdue surrounding evil, win people over and win over the world. ‘Acquire the spirit of peace and thousands around you will be saved’ said St. Seraphim of Sarov.”
–His Grace Bishop Basil of San Francisco (May 22, 1915- September 17, 1999).
”Knowledge of what is good for him has been given to everyone by God; but self-indulgence leads to negligence, and negligence to forgetfulness.”
-St Mark the Ascetic, fifth century AD
“The day is a symbol of the fleetness of earthly life: morning comes, then day, thereupon evening, and with the advent of night, the whole day has passed. Life will pass the same way. Just like early morning, first there is childhood, then just as full sunrise and midday, adolescence and adulthood– thereafter, God willing, just like evening, old age– and then unavoidable death.”
-St John of Kronstadt
“It is always possible to make a new start by means of repentance. ‘You fell’, it is written, ‘now arise’ (c.f. Proverbs 24:16). And if you fall again, then rise again, without despairing at all of your salvation, no matter what happens. So long as you do not surrender yourself willingly to the enemy, your patient endurance, combined with self-reproach, will suffice for your salvation.
‘For at one time we ourselves went astray in our folly and disobedience’, says St. Paul. ‘. . . Yet He saved us, not because of any good things we had done, but in His mercy.’ (Titus 3:3,5).
So do not despair in any way, ignoring God’s help, for He can do whatever He wishes. On the contrary, place your hope in Him and He will do one of these things, either through trials and temptations, or in some other way which He alone knows. He will bring about your restoration; or He will accept your patient endurance and humility in the place of works; or because of your hope He will act lovingly towards you in some other way of which you are not aware, and so He will save your shackled soul.
Only do not abandon your Physician, for otherwise you will suffer senselessly the twofold death because you do not know the hidden ways of God.”
-St Peter of Damascus
“The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility.”
-St Ambrose of Optina