Pre-Modern Church Fathers (8th to 18th Centuries)

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To dispel sleep and indolence while practicing mental prayer you may occupy your hands with some quiet task, for this, too, contributes to the ascetic struggle. All such tasks when accompanied by prayer quicken the intellect, banish listlessness, give youthful vigor to the soul, and render the intellect more prompt and eager to devote itself to mental work.

-- St. Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia (d. 1322), On Inner Work in Christ And the Monastic Profession (Philokalia, Volume 4, p. 185)
 

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The most important task for an ascetic is to enter into his heart, to wage war against Satan, to hate him, and to battle with him by wrestling against the thoughts he provokes. If you keep your body outwardly chaste and pure, but inwardly are adulterous where God is concerned and profligate in your thoughts, then you gain nothing from keeping your body chaste. For it is written, 'Whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart' (Matt. 5:28). In other words, you can fornicate through the body, and you also fornicate when your soul communes with Satan.

-- Nikiphoros the Monk (d. 13th century), On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart (Philokalia, v. 4, p. 201)
 

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The words, commands, and sayings of the Lord are not bound to time, and thus the intellect must properly interpret obscure phrases. It was on account of their impiety that He described their shamelessness. After saying, 'I am going to the Father' (John 14:28), He said, 'But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. But the truth I speak to you. It benefits you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.' (John 16:6) 'I still have many things to say to you, but you are not now able to understand them. But whenever that One comes, the Spirit of truth, that One will guide you into all truth; for that One shall not speak from Himself, but whatever that One hears will that One speak, and the things coming that One will announce to you. That One will glorify Me, for that One shall receive of Mine and shall announce it to you. All things which the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that One shall receive of Mine and shall announce it to you.' (John 16:12-14) Are these words not sacred, since they are delivered from God?

-- St. Photius the Great (d. 893), Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit, 24
 

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If someone is rightly offended with you, but you repent before he calls on you to do so, you lose nothing; but if you repent only after you have been asked to, you forfeit half the harvest. If you never cause estrangement by giving offence to others, you recover all the seed that you sowed; but if you always put the blame on yourself, you gain in addition more than you originally laid out.

-- Ilias the Presbyter (d. c. early 12th century), A Gnomic Anthology, 36
 

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First there is provocation; then a coupling with the provocation; then assent to it; then captivity to it; then passion, grown habitual and continuous. This is how the holy fathers describe the stages through which the devil gets the better of us.

-- St. Philotheos of Sinai (d. 10th century), Forty Texts on Watchfulness, 34
 

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The first step is that of purest prayer.
From this there comes a warmth of heart,
And then a strange, a holy energy,
Then tears wrung from the heart, God-given.
Then peace from thoughts of every kind.
From this arises purging of the intellect,
And next the vision of heavenly mysteries,
Unheard-of light is born from this ineffably,
And thence, beyond all telling, the heart's illumination.
Last comes--a step that has no limit
Though compassed in a single line--
Perfection that is endless.

-- Theophanis the Monk (8th century?), The Ladder of Divine Graces
 

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Just as lightning presages thunder, so divine forgiveness is followed by the calming of the passions. This in its turn is accompanied by a foretaste of the blessedness held in store for us. There is no divine mercy or hope of dispassion for the soul that loves this world more than its Creator, and is attached to visible things and clings wholly to the pleasures and enjoyments of the flesh.

-- St. Theognostos, On the Practice of the Virtues, Contemplation and the Priesthood, 8
 

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Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding Him in your ignorance as powerless? Is He, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? And if you say that this fact, as well as His incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and He will receive your repentance, as He accepted that of the prodigal son (Luke 6) and the prostitute (Luke 7). But if repentance is too much for you, and you sin out of habit even when you do not want to, show humility like the publican (Luke 18): this is enough to ensure your salvation.

-- St. Peter of Damascus (12th century), The Philokalia, Volume 3, p. 160
 

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Thou wilt say: I will shew thee the contrary, for the Scripture saith: 'I will kill and I will make alive; I will smite, and again I will heal.' (Deut. 32:39) And these are contraries; therefore there are contraries with God.

Answer: What is contrary may be of two kinds—of choice or disposition, or of action. That of action only hindereth nothing, nor argueth defect. For he that purposeth to restore a house, first pulleth down, and then rebuildeth; but these are contraries of action only, but not of defect; and this is true of God in His building. But those of disposition are when any one thinketh or purposeth one thing today, and another tomorrow; such is a defect, but is not found with God. For if He killeth and maketh alive, it is not that He desireth death, which He made not. For He is the maker and fashioner, but far be it that He should desire the death of what He Himself hath formed. But we see man subjected to death. Is God, therefore, unwillingly impelled to such destruction? Far be it; for the counsel of God is good always.

-- Cyril Lucaris (d. 1638), Homily [for the Lord's day] after the Exaltation [of the Cross] (as quoted at the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672)
 

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Justin Kissel said:
-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1783), Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian, pp. 141-142
One year later...


We note five causes of sin:

1. The corruption of human nature.  Man is conceived in iniquity and born in sins, as the Psalmist says, 'For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me' (Ps. 50:7). The sinful passions with which he is born incline and draw him to sin. 'O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' (Rom. 7:24).  Corruption and accursedness have entered into man from the fall of Adam.  This inclines a man to every sin.  'That which is born of the flesh is flesh' (Jn. 3:6). But Christians must stand against inclinations and passions and struggle according to the power of holy Baptism and the vows made then, and not allow them to progress into deed. 

2. The devil leads man to sin.  Of this the Apostle says, exhorting Christians to be on guard against him, 'Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Oppose him firm with faith' (I Pet. 5:8-9). The Apostle says the same in another place, 'Be strong, in the Lord, and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places' (Eph. 6:10-12). These unseen enemies are always eager for our destruction, O Christian! Be vigilant, and make haste to guard against every sin.  We must not, therefore, slumber.

3. The seductions of the world also lead toward sin.  We see that evil grows; one does such and such a thing.  Another either sees it or hears of it, and recklessly imitates it.  Temptation is like a pestilence that begins in one man and infects many living near him.  'Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!' (Mt. 18:7).

4. A cause of sin is often the bad upbringing of children.  Such children, when they come of age hasten toward every manner of evil.  This comes about from the carelessness of parents.  Give heed to this, fathers and mothers!

5. Habit strongly attracts a man toward sin.  We see this evil; we see that drunkards are always drawn toward drunkenness, thieves toward theft, fornicators and adulterers toward impurity, slanderers toward slander, and so on.  For their habit draws them like a leash toward sin, and they are drawn toward the sin to which they have become accustomed just as a hungry man is drawn toward bread and a thirsty man toward water.

-- St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1783), Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian, pp. 67-69
 

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We must not be surprised if we do not find among the ancients any clear and defined distinction between the essence of God and His energies. If, in our time, after the solemn confirmation of this truth, the partisans of profane wisdom have created so much trouble in the Church over this question - and have accused Her of polytheism - what mischief would not have been perpetrated in earlier times against this truth by those puffed up with vain learning. This is why our theologians always insisted in the simplicity of God more than the distinctions which exist in Him. It would have been inopportune to exhibit the teaching concerning the essence and energies before those who had enough trouble admitting the distinction of hypostases. Thus, by a wise economy this sacred teaching has become clarified in the course of time, God using for this purpose the foolish attacks of heretics.

-- St. Mark of Ephesus (d. 1444), Source
 

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Unbelievers, those who believe with difficulty, or believe in part, are those who do not show their faith through works. Apart from works the demons also believe and confess Christ to be God and Master. 'We know who you are' (Mk. 1:24), they say, 'you are the son of God' (Mt. 8:29), and elsewhere, 'These men are the servants of the Most High God' (Acts 16:17). Yet such faith will not benefit demons, nor even humans. This faith is of no use, for it is dead, as says the divine apostle, 'Faith apart from works is dead' (James 2:26), just like works without faith. How is it dead? Because it has not in itself God who gives life. It has not laid hold of Him who said, 'He who loves Me will keep My commandments, and I and the Father will come and make Our home with him' (Jn. 14:21, 23), so that by His coming He may raise from the dead him who has attained faith and give him life, and grant him to see Who has risen in him and who has raised him up.

For this reason such faith is dead, or, rather, they are dead who have faith apart from works. Faith in God is always alive, and since it is living it gives life to those who come with a good intention and receive it. Even before they have practiced the commandments it has brought many out of death into life and has shown them Christ our God. Had they persevered in His commandments and kept them until death, they too would have been preserved by them--that is, in the state to which faith alone had brought them. But since they 'turned aside like a bent bow' (Ps. 78:57) and speared themselves on their former actions, they inevitably at once made shipwreck of their faith and miserably deprived themselves of the true riches, who is Christ our God. So I urge you, let us keep God's commandments with all our might, so that we may not share in their fate, but enjoy both present and future blessings, that is, the very vision of Christ.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), The Discourses, 13.5
 

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The soul's death sentence, brought into effect by man's transgression, was in accord with the Creator's justice; for when our forefathers forsook God and chose to do their own will, He abandoned them, not subjecting them to constraint. And, for the reasons we have stated above. God in His compassion had already forewarned them of this sentence (cf. Gen. 2:17). But in the abyss of His wisdom and the superabundance of His compassion he forbore and delayed in executing the sentence of death upon the body; and when He did pronounce it He relegated its execution to the future. He did not say to Adam, 'Return whence you were taken', but 'You are earth, and to earth you will return' (Gen. 3:19). Those who listen to these words with intelligence can gather from them that God did not make death (cf. Wisd. 1:13), neither that of the soul nor that of the body. He did not originally give the command, 'Die on the day you eat of it'; on the contrary, He said simply, 'You will die on the day you eat of it' (Gen. 2:17). Nor did He say, 'Return now to earth', but 'You will return' (Gen. 3:19). This He said as a forewarning, but He then delayed its just execution, without prejudicing the eventual outcome.

Death was thus to become the lot of our forefathers, just as it lies in store for us who are now living, and our body was rendered mortal. Death is thus a kind of protracted process or, rather, there are myriads of deaths, one death succeeding the next until we reach the one final and long-enduring death. For we are born into corruption, and having once come into existence we are in a state of transiency until we cease from this constant passing away and coming to be. We are never truly the same, although we may appear to be so to those who do not observe us closely. Just as a flame that catches one end of a slender reed changes continually, and its existence is measured by the length of the reed, so we likewise are ever changing, and our measure is the length of life appointed to each of us.

-- St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), Topics of Natural and Theological Science and on the Moral and Ascetic Life: One Hundred and Fifty Texts, 51-52 (Philokalia, v. 4, pp. 370-371)
 

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Some praise life in the desert, others life in monasteries, still others a place of authority among people, to instruct and teach them and organize churches where many may find food for body and soul. I would not give preference to any of these, nor would I say that one is worthy of praise and another of censure. In all ways of life, blessed is the life lived for God and according to God in all actions and works.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), Practical and Theological Precepts, 100 (Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart, p. 120)

 

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What is the aim of the incarnate dispensation of God's Word, preached in all the Holy Scriptures but which we, who read them, do not know? The only aim is that, having entered into what is our own, we should participate in what is His. The Son of God has become Son of Man in order to make us, men, sons of God, raising our race by grace to what He is Himself by nature, granting us the kingdom of heaven, or rather, granting us this kingdom of heaven within us (Luke xvii. 21), in order that we should not merely be fed by hope of entering it, but entering into full possession thereof should cry: our 'life is hid with Christ in God' (Col. iii. 3).

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), Practical and Theological Precepts, 120 (Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart, p. 126)
 

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Nothing is better for rendering the heart penitent and the soul humble than wise solitude and complete silence. Nothing has a greater power of disturbing the state of silence, and of depriving it of God's help, than the following principal passions: presumptuousness, gluttony, talkativeness and vain cares, arrogance and the mistress of all passions - self regard. Whoever readily permits himself to acquire the habit of these passions will become, in the course of time, more and more shrouded in darkness, until finally he is completely deadened. If, however, he comes to himself and begins to practice the necessary observances with faith and zeal, he will once more obtain what he seeks, especially if he seeks it with humility. But if, through negligence, even one of the passions mentioned begins to rule in him, then the whole host of evils, with pernicious unbelief at its head, attacks and overpowers him and completely devastates his soul. The soul is then filled with diabolical confusion and turmoil and become another Babel, so that 'the last state of the man is worse than the first' (Matt. xii. 45). Then the man turns into a violent enemy and defamer of those who practice silence, always sharpening his tongue against them, like a razor or a double-edged sword.

--St. Gregory of Sinai (d. 1360), Texts on Commandments and Dogmas, 104 (Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart, p. 59)
 

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If a man constantly looks at the physical sun, he involuntarily suffers a change in his vision, for he can no longer see anything else of the visible, and sees nothing but the sun in everything. It is the same with the man who is always looking at the sun of truth with mind and heart; involuntarily he will suffer a change in his mental vision, for he will be unable to imagine anything earthly and will see only God in all things.

--St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), Practical and Theological Precepts, 182 (Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart, p. 141)
 

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104. He who is distracted during prayer stands outside the first veil. He who undistractedly offers the singlephrased
Jesus Prayer is within the veil. But he alone has glimpsed the holy of holies who, with his natural thoughts
at rest, contemplates that which transcends every intellect, and who has in this way been granted to some extent a
vision of the divine light.

105. Whenever the soul, paying no attention to external things, is concentrated in prayer, then a kind of flame
surrounds it, as fire surrounds iron, and makes it wholly incandescent. The soul remains the same, but can no longer be touched, just as red-hot iron cannot be touched by the hand.

-- Ilias the Presbyter (d.c. early 12th century), A Gnomic Anthology, 2.104-105
 

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"...thrice radiant, thrice bright, thrice brilliant; Light is the Father, Light the Son, Light the Holy Ghost; Wisdom the Father, Wisdom the Son, Wisdom the Holy Ghost..."

-- St. John of Damascus (d. 749), The Fount of Knowledge: Part 2, On Heresies, 103
 

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My dearest brother, we do not deny to the Roman Church the primacy amongst the five sister Patriarchates; and we recognize her right to the most honorable seat at an Ecumenical Council. But she has seperated herself from us by her own deeds, when through pride she assumed a monarchy which does not belong to her office... How shall we accept decrees from her that have been issued without consulting us and even without our knowledge? If the Roman Pontiff, seated on the lofty throne of his glory, wishes to thunder at us and, so to speak, hurl his mandates at us from on high, and if he wishes to judge us and even to rule us and our Churches, not by taking counsel with us but at his own arbitrary pleasure, what kind of brotherhood, or even what kind of parenthood can this be? We should be the slaves, not the sons, of such a Church, and the Roman See would not be the pious mother of sons but a hard and imperious mistress of slaves.

-- Archbishop Nicetas of Nicomedia (12th century). Quoted taken from: Met. Kallistos, The Orthodox Church (1993), p. 50
 

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Letters cannot be written on air; they have to be inscribed on some material if they are to have any permanence. Similarly, we should weld our hard-won watchfulness to the Jesus Prayer, so that this watchfulness may always be attached to Him and may through Him remain with us forever.

-- St. Hesychios the Priest (c. 9th century), On Watchfulness and Holiness (Written for Theodoulos), 183
 

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In particular he founded a hospital for the poor at Bremen, to which he assigned the tithes from certain hamlets so that those who were poor and sick might be daily sustained and refreshed. Throughout the whole of his episcopacy he gave away for the support of the poor a tenth of the animals and of all his revenues and a tenth of the tithes which belonged to him, and whatever money or property of any kind came to him he gave a tenth for the benefit of the poor. In addition every fifth year he tithed again all his animals although they had been already tithed in order to give alms. Of the money that came to the churches in the monasteries he gave a fourth part for this purpose. He was ever most careful of scholars and of widows and wherever he knew that there were hermits, whether men or women, he endeavoured to visit them frequently and to strengthen them in God's service by gifts, and minister to their wants. He always carried in his girdle a little bag containing coins, so that, if anyone who was in need came and the dispenser of charity was not there, he might himself be able to give at once. For in all things he strove to fulfil the saying of the blessed Job, that he would not even cause the eyes of the widow to wait. (Job 31:16) Thus did he endeavour to be an eye to the blind, and a foot to the lame and the father of the poor.

-- Life of St. Ansgar (d. 865)
 

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Our story wishes to make known another work dear to God, so that He may be further glorified by His true servants, and that those who fear Him may become more eager to do good things. Once, the holy man came into our refectory so that we could eat bread together. For each of us ate and chanted alone and by himself except on certain days, as is the custom for those living in solitude. And an unknown monk came and began cutting wood near our cell. I came out and very severely said to him, "Who are you, brother, that dare to cut wood near our dwelling?" He, speaking as a stranger and in a gentle voice, said, "Forgive me, father, for I am a stranger, and did not know there was a cell here." And the holy man, hearing this, said to me, "Tell him to come in." When he had come, the holy man told me, "Give him something to eat." And I did this. Then he said to the stranger, "Where are you from, brother?" "I am from Trebizond, father," he said, "I have just arrived at the Holy Mountain." When he had learned from him, after close inquiry, everything about him, and that he was hardly able to find his daily bread, he said to me at once, "Gregory, divide what you have in your cell into two, and give half to this poor man." I replied to him, "We are many, father, and we clearly need more than he." He gave me a stern look and said, "Did I not say to you that if you have faith, then you will never lack the necessary things?"

-- The Life of St. Romylos (d. late-14th century)
 

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However great your zeal and many the efforts of your asceticism, they are all in vain and without useful result unless they attain to love in a broken spirit (Ps. 51:19). By no other virtue, by no other fulfillment of the Lord's commandment, can anyone be known as a disciple of Christ...

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), Discourses, 1.5
 

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The immersion into water, and specifically a triple immersion, and also a triple coming out of the water was not instituted arbitrarily or accidentally, but as the image of the Resurrection of Christ on the third day. "The water," says blessed Basil, "has the symbolic meaning of death, and accepts the body as into a coffin." How then, do we liken ourselves to the One Who descended into hell, imitating His burial through baptism? The bodies of those who are baptized in water are buried, in a certain sense. Consequently, baptism mystically represents the laying aside of bodily cares, by the word of the apostle: "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2: 11).

-- Archbp. Nikephoros of Slaviansk and Kherson (d. 1800), Against Baptism By Pouring
 

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Have the word of God preached to the people coming to the church on holidays; and wherever you go, let clerics completely fulfill the service of God; let those with you be soberly adorned and not given over to hilarity; let the respectability of their lives be a lesson of salvation to others; and everywhere you should have the greatest care for the poor, widows and orphans, that together with others doing charitable works, you might hear from the Lord Christ on that frightful day: "Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me" (Matt. 15:40). Be like a father to the poor, and carefully discuss the complaints brought to you, and spare those sinning against you, that God may spare your sins. Be fair in judgments, and merciful in debts. [Be] a teacher of virtue, blameless in manners, pleasant in word, praiseworthy in your way of life, devout in all the works of God. Also urge the brothers that they should read the holy scriptures most conscientiously. They should not believe in word of mouth, but in the knowledge of truth, that they might be able to resist those speaking aginst the truth. These are dangerous times, as the Apostles predicted, because many false teachers are springing up, introducing novel doctrines, conspicuous in staining the purity of the Catholic faith with wicked assertions (2 Tim. 3:1; 2 Pet. 2:1). Therefore it is necessary for the Church to have many guardians who, not only by holiness of life but also by the doctrine of truth, may be able to defend bravely the fortress of God.

-- St. Alcuin of York (d. 804), Source
 

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We cannot both sate ourselves with food and spiritually enjoy divine and noumenal blessings; the more we pander to the stomach the less can we experience such enjoyment. But to the degree that we discipline the body we are filled with spiritual nourishment and grace.

-- St. Symeon the New Theologian (d. 1022), One Hundred and Fifty-Three Practical and Theological Texts, 26
 

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It is as St John Chrysostom says about Gehenna: it is almost of greater benefit to us than the kingdom of heaven, since because of it many enter into the kingdom of heaven, while few enter for the sake of the kingdom itself; and if they do enter it, it is by virtue of God’s compassion. Gehenna pursues us with fear, the kingdom embraces us with love, and through them both we are saved by Christ’s grace.

-- St. Peter of Damascus (d. c. 12th century), Philokalia, v. 3, p. 160
 

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The human mind also, and not only the angelic, transcends itself, and by victory over the passions acquires an angelic form. It, too, will attain to that light and will become worthy of a supernatural vision of God, not seeing the divine essence, but seeing God by a revelation appropriate and analogous to Him. One sees, not in a negative way--for one does see something--but in a manner superior to negation. For God is not only beyond knowledge, but also beyond unknowing; His revelation itself is also truly a mystery of a most divine and extraordinary kind, since the divine manifestations, even if symbolic, remain unknowable by reason of their transcendence.

-- St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359), The Triads, 1.3.4
 

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Read an extended work, voluminous even, in fifteen books and five volumes. In this work, testimonies and quotations of entire books not only by Greek authors but  also by Persian, Thracian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Chaldaean and Roman authors considered notable in each one of these countries are thrown pell-mell together. The author tries to show that there is in them a supplement in favour of pure, supernatural and divine Christian religion, that these texts proclaim and announce the  supernatural Trinity, one in its substance, the arrival of the Word in a body of flesh, the signs of his divinity, the Cross, the Passion, the placing in the tomb, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the grace of the Holy Spirit manifested miraculously on the Apostles by tongues of fire, the terrifying  second coming of Christ our God, the resurrection of the dead, the judgement, the reward for what everyone did in life. Moreover, the creation of the universe, Providence, Paradise and other subjects of the same order, the virtue which is practised among Christians and all that touches on this subject. He tries to show that, on all these ideas, the Greeks, the Egyptians, Chaldaeans and those enumerated above reflected and proclaimed them strongly in their own writings.

And it is not only from those listed that he gathers and groups testimonies, but he has not failed in taking even some from the alchemical writings of Zosimus (the latter was a Theban from Panopolis) to demonstrate the same propositions; to this end, he explains the meaning of Hebrew words and the places where each Apostle preached the doctrine of salvation and ended his human labours. At the end of his book, he develops his own exhortation in which he mixes, to reinforce it, pagan sentences and sentences borrowed from Scripture; it is there especially that one can recognize the love of this man for virtue and his irreproachable piety. As for the form of his writings, little need be said; because, in many passages, his construction and vocabulary are so neglected that sometimes he does not even escape clichés. And often the sense of his writings is no better.

As for the method which the author used to reach his goal, no man of goodwill could blame him, but the same does not go for his work. Because there are not only many words which are often inappropriate to our divine dogmas which he forces into agreement with them, but there are also fables and dreams whose inventors must have laughed if they had any sense and which our author does not hesitate to say are in harmony with our divine wisdom; he goes as far as trying to put the completely foreign significance of the fables and the dreams in agreement with the true, divine, unquestionable and pure ideas of the divine dogma. No advantage for religion results from this; but the author could without unreason avoid procuring materials for amateurs to launch quarrels on critical matters if they can show that some relate to ours, just to confirm our religion. Our religion does not need it and is the only one which is pure and true; this is an attempt to twist into agreement the interpretation of texts which have nothing to do with it, are for the most part strangers to it, and the ideas which come from them differ more from ours than night from day.

And the author has taken upon himself this very arduous task, as he frequently says himself, in order to show that the Christian dogma was announced and proclaimed in advance among all peoples by the remarkable men in each and to thus remove any excuse for those of the gentiles who did not come to the divine message. The goal is creditable, but it is not right to try to carry it out by difficult and not very convincing means, but by those which are easy to reach and that the faith suggests. As for the name of the author, I have at present been unable to obtain knowledge, because the volumes which we saw did not carry it. It is known only that he lived in Constantinople, was married with a wife and children and that he lived after the time of [Emperor] Heraclius (d. 641).

-- St. Photius the Great (d. c. 893), Bibliotheca, 170
 

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What meditates thy thoughtful gaze, my father?
To tell me some new truth?  Thou canst not so!
For all that mortal hands are weak to gather,
Thy blessed books unfolded long ago.

-- Met. John Mauropous (d. c. 1075), Ikons: Gregory of Nazianzen
 

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Those who would refuse to reject and to correct this error [of the filioque] would be unworthy of pardon even if they spoke from the height of the throne which they professed to be the highest of all and even if they should put forth the confession of Peter and the blessing which he received from Christ for it, even if they should shake before our eyes the keys of the kingdom. For in proportion that they pretend to honor Peter by these keys, they dishonor him if they destroy what he established, if they root up the foundations of the Church which he is supposed to support.

-- St. Theophylact of Bulgaria (d. c. 1107), Source
 

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The right to judge [worldly affairs] rests with the emperor and the secular tribunal. But here [in our discussion] it is a question of divine and heavenly decisions and those are reserved only to him to whom the Word of God has said: "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). And who are the men to whom this order was given? The apostles and their successors. And who are their successors? He who occupies the throne of rome and is the first; the one who sits upon the throne of Constantinople and is the second; after them, those of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. That is the pentarchic authority in the church. It is to them who all decisions belong in divine dogmas. The emperor and the secular authority have the duty to aid them and to confirm what they have decided.

-- St. Theodore the Studite (d. 826), Eastern Orthodox Christianity: The Essential Texts, pp. 228, 230
 

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"Our God is refuge and power." (Ps. 45:2) Christ in whom we have believed is refuge when we are fleeing and power when we are resisting, for he commanded to flee trials, but on falling into them to resist through patient endurance so as not to be defeated by them. "A helper very greatly in afflictions that beset us." (Ps. 45:2) Chrysostomos relates the ‘very greatly’ to the ‘helper’. Note that afflictions beset those who live in a godly way, pursuing them by God’s consent so that having been exercised they may become stronger, for as is written, "Affliction produces endurance, and endurance strength of character" (Rom. 5:3). God does not prevent trials for the reason mentioned, but when they supervene he stands by as a helper.

-- Euthymius Zigabenus (d. 12th century), Commentary on the Psalms
 

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Try reading a contemporary book of modern times, .. Not 8th century.
 

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WPM said:
Try reading a contemporary book of modern times, .. Not 8th century.
What's wrong with the 8th century? Sure it doesn't have cool saints like the 20th or the 21st, but it's still alright...
 

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Those who pursue the carnal mode of life and in whom the will of the flesh is imperious--who are, quite simply, carnal--are not able to conform to God's will (cf. Rom. 8:8). Their judgment is eclipsed and they are totally impervious to the rays of divine light: the engulfing clouds of the passions are like high walls that shut out the resplendence of the Spirit and leave them without illumination. Their soul's senses maimed, they cannot aspire to God's spiritual beauty and see the light of the true life and so transcend the lowliness of visible things. It is as if they had become beasts conscious only of this world, with the dignity of their intelligence fettered to things sensory and human. They strive only for what is visible and corruptible, on this account fighting among themselves and even sacrificing their lives for such things, avid for wealth, glory and the pleasures of the flesh, and regarding the lack of any of these things as a disaster. To such people applies the prophetic statement that comes from God's own mouth: 'My Spirit shall not remain in these men, for they are flesh' (Gen. 6:3 LXX)

-- St. Nikitas Stithatos (d. c. 1090), On the Inner Nature of Things and on the Purification of the Intellect: One Hundred Texts, 5
 

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Question 64. Do not some die, so as to be in a medium between the Blessed and the Damned?
Answer. Of these there be not any; nevertheless, it is certain that many Sinners are freed from the Chains of Hades; not by their own Eepentance or Confession, as the Scripture saith {Ps. 6:5), "In the Pit who shall give Thanks unto thee?" And elsewhere (Ps. 115:17), "The Dead praise not thee, Lord; neither all them that go down into the Pit"; but for the good Works and Alms of the Living, and for the Prayers of the Church, made in their Behalf; but chiefly for the sake of the unbloody Sacrifice (the Liturgy) which the Church daily offers up for the Living and the Dead; in like manner as Christ also died for both. But the Souls of such are by no means to be delivered by their own Works; as Theaphylact, treating on these Words of Christ, in the sixth Chapter of Luke, "To whom Power is given offorgiving Sins on earth;" saying, "Observe, it is said on Earth; For so long as we continue on Earth we can wipe out our Sins, but after we leave this Earth we are no more able of ourselves to cancel our Sins by our Confessions. The 'Doors then are shut.'" And again, on the Words of Matthew (22:13), "Bind him Hand and Foot," by which the active faculties of the soul are meant, he says, "In this Life we may labour and endeavour, but afterwards the active Faculties of the soul are bound, nor can we any more do ought atonement for our offences." And farther, on the 25th chapter of the same Gospel, he says, "There is no more time for repentance and good Works after this life." From all which it is clear, that after its separation the Soul can no more perform penance, nor do any other work whereby it might be freed from the chains of hades. Therefore, only the sacrifices, the prayers and alms, which are performed by the Living, for their sakes, do comfort and greatly benefit the Souls, and free them from the Bonds of Hades.

Question 66. What are we to think of the Fire of Purgatory ?
Answer. It is nowhere taught in the holy Scriptures that there is any temporary Punishment, whereby the soul, after death, may be purged. On the contrary, the Church, in the second Council of Constantinople, did condemn Origen for this very opinion. Moreover, it is evident that the soul, when once departed, cannot again become a partaker of the sacraments of the Church. Could this be, that the soul could satisfy there for sins committed in this life, then, by like reason, it might partake of the Sacraments of Penance there; which being contrary to orthodox doctrine, the Church rightly and wisely offers the unbloody sacrifice for those souls, together with her prayers, that they may be forgiven those things wherein they had offended, whilst they continued in this Life: And not that they might be delivered from any punishment that they were then suffering for a time only. Our Church doth not admit or approve of such fables as some Men have fancied concerning the state of souls after death; as that they are tormented in pits and waters, and with sharp prongs, when they are snatched away by death before they can have done sufiicient Penance for their Faults.

-- St. Peter Mogila (d. 1647), The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church
 

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The energy of delusion is the passion for sin, inflaming the soul with thoughts of sensual pleasure and arousing phrenetic desire in the body for intercourse with other bodies. According to St. Diadochos it is entirely amorphous and disordered, inducing a mindless joy, presumption and confusion, accompanied by a mood of ill-defined sterile levity, and fomenting above all the soul's appetitive power with its sensuality. It nourishes itself on pleasure, aided and abetted by the insatiable belly; for through the belly it not only impregnates and enkindles our whole bodily temperament but also acts upon and inflames the soul, drawing it to itself so that little by little the disposition to self-indulgence expels all grace from the person thus possessed. 

-- St. Gregory of Sinai (d. 1346), On the Signs of Grace and Delusion, Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts, 10
 
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