Wisdom of the Saints

Fortunate is the man who has these two loves in his heart, that for God and that for his brethren.
–Saint Kosmas Aitolos

In the hearts of the proud, blasphemous words will find birth; but in the souls of the humble, Heavenly visions.
–Saint John Climacus

Nor should you be unjustifiably vexed on account of submission to the Church and its teaching, for these things are a sure proof of men of good will.
–Saint Gregory Palamas

Many obtain a variety of virtues on their own, thinking that they can be saved by these without frequent Communion, which is however fundamentally impossible.
–Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite

Suicide is a mortal sin and an act of defiance against the Holy Spirit, Who gives life. Suicide is a much greater sin than murder, since for the sin of murder a man can still repent.
–Saint Nikolai Velimirovic

Oh, I myself feel that, when I am completely healthy and when I do not exhaust myself by labor, then I am dying in the spirit; then the Kingdom of God is not within me; then my body controls me, and with my body, the devil.
–Saint John of Kronstadt

To try to discover the meaning of the commandments through study and reading without actually living in accordance with them is like mistaking the shadow of something for its reality.
–Saint Gregory of Sinai

For our love for God is demonstrated above all by the way we endure trials and temptations.
–Saint Gregory Palamas

But what gives the most power to church services is a prayerful spirit. Prayer is an all-encompassing obligation, as well as an all-effective means.
–Saint Theophan the Recluse

If an infant is unable to grow into a man without bodily food, how much more must the soul be unable to arrive at perfection without spiritual food?
–Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite

When an unexpected misfortune happens to us who are innocent, we should not immediately grieve, but rather we should try to see God’s providence in the situation.
–Saint Nikolai Velimirovic

The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of soul; and the end is an imperturbable calm under the breath of unclean winds.
–Saint John Climacus

He who does his spiritual work correctly finds excuses for everyone else in order to justify their shortcomings, but never justifies himself, even when he is in the right.
–Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

His Resurrection is the proof of eternal life and the announcement of eternal life to all of mankind. His Resurrection drives away from us all confusion, gloom and sadness. His Resurrection instills serenity, courage and goodwill into the souls of men.
–Saint Nikolai Velimirovic

Whoso disbelieves not the Resurrection will take care to live with all heed so as to obtain eternal happiness, of which may we all be counted worthy, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
–Saint John Chrysostom

The Lord is called light and life and resurrection and truth. He is light as the brightness of souls and as the One Who drives away the darkness of ignorance, as the One Who enlightens the mind to understand unutterable things, and as the One Who reveals mysteries which can be perceived only by the pure.
–Saint Maximos the Confessor

With You, Lord, I will flee, that I may gain in You life in every place. The prison with You is no prison, for in You man goes up into Heaven: the grave with You is no grave, for You are the Resurrection (cf. Jn. 11:25)!
–Saint Ephraim the Syrian

I fear not a temporal death, because I desire to reign with my Christ eternally. Furthermore, if you should come to the Christian belief, joy shall be yours. For you shall inherit every enjoyment and pleasure; and thereupon, you shall rejoice with the saints in Paradise.
–Saint Christopher the Great Martyr

If we keep remembering the wrongs which men have done us, we destroy the power of the remembrance of God. But if we remind ourselves of the evil deeds of the demons, we shall be invulnerable.
–Abba Macarius

It is better to be a simpleton and approach God with love than to be a learned man and at the same time an enemy of God.
–Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

The goal of all who pursue the spiritual path is to do the will of Christ, their God, to be reconciled with the Father through communion in the Spirit, and so to achieve their salvation. For only in this way is the soul’s salvation attained.
–Saint Symeon the New Theologian

The true Christian is a warrior making his way through the regiments of the invisible enemy to his heavenly homeland.
–Saint Herman of Alaska

The merciful person is he who gives to others what he himself received from God, whether it be money, or food, or strength, a helpful word, a prayer or anything else that he has through which he can express his compassion for those in need.
–Saint Peter of Damascus

Prayer is the seed of gentleness and the absence of anger… Prayer is a remedy against grief and depression… Whatever you have endured out of love of wisdom will bear fruit for you at the time of prayer… If you want to pray properly, do not let yourself be upset or you will run in vain.
–Abba Nilus

You should always say your prayers with tireless diligence, as the Apostle directs, saying: ‘Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving’ (Col. 4:2). For humble patience, tirelessness and persistence in prayer conquer the unconquerable God and incline Him to mercy.
–Saint John Climacus

Hasten to church with the faith that it is a place where God dwells, where He Himself promised to quickly hear prayers. Standing in church, be as if you are standing before God in fear and reverence, which you express through patient standing, prostrations, and attention to the services without wandering thoughts, relaxation or crudeness.
–Saint Theophan the Recluse

A full stomach dries up one’s weeping, whereas the shriveled stomach produces these tears. And the man who looks after his belly and at the same time hopes to control the spirit of fornication is like someone trying to put out a fire with oil.
–Saint John Climacus

My children, desire to purify your hearts from envy and from anger with each other, lest death should overcome you, and you will be counted among the murderers. For whosoever hates his brother, kills a soul.
–Saint Anthony the Great

The first and most essential means of making peace with those who offend and persecute us is to pray for them, according to the commandment of Christ.
–Saint Leo of Optina

We advance toward humility by means of trials. He who rests on his virtue without suffering tribulation has the door of pride open before him.
–Saint Isaac the Syrian

Do not grow faint in spirit, and do not despond during times of trouble; but turn to the Lord with humble prayers, and believe that help will come to you.
–Saint Moses of Optina

It is pointless for someone to say that he has faith in God if he does not have the works which go with faith. What benefit were their lamps to the foolish virgins who had no oil (Mt. 25:1-13), namely, deeds of love and compassion?
–Saint Gregory Palamas

God immediately forgives everything to those who ask forgiveness in a spirit of humility and contrition and who ceaselessly invoke His holy name. As the Psalmist says, ‘Confess to the Lord and call upon His holy name’ (Ps. 105:1).
–Saint Gregory of Sinai

He who dwells continually within his own heart is detached from the attractions of this world, for he lives in the Spirit and cannot know the desires of the flesh. Such a man henceforward patrols the fortress of the virtues, posting them as watchmen at all the gates.
–Saint Diadochos

The soul must be constantly ready and alert and always in contact with the spiritual headquarters, that is, God. Only then it will feel secure, full of hope and joy.
–Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds.
–Saint Maximos the Confessor

Do everything for the glory of God, and in no thing – either outwardly nor inwardly – intend anything other than this glory. It should be the measuring stick of every endeavor and place its seal on each one.
–Saint Theophan the Recluse

Our effort and struggle against sin is powerless without the help of God. For this reason we must make an effort and pray, that the Lord help us in this so important an endeavor. The Lord helps those that take care and labor. He strengthens those that struggle and crowns the victorious.
–Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk

If a man builds a house and leaves it without a roof, this house can’t be used at all. In the same way, if a man acquires all the virtues but not love, the house remains roofless and is of no benefit at all.
–Elder Philotheos of Paros

Nothing in this world but God can fill our heart or fully satisfy our desires … the desires of the human heart cannot be satisfied with the goods of this world, because only the grace of God can quench the thirst of our desires.
–Saint Innocent of Alaska

If we will be with Christ and in Christ, then no kind of sorrow will confuse us; but joy will fill our hearts, so that – even in times of sorrow and temptations – we will rejoice.
–Saint Nikon of Optina

One should enter the Church in a spirit of humility, for prayer is not accepted if we have something against someone; or if someone has been grieved by us.
–Saint Macarius of Optina

Do not hold aloof from the Church, for nothing is stronger than the Church. The Church is your hope, your salvation, your refuge. It is higher than the heavens, it is wider than the earth. It never waxes old, but is always in full vigor.
–Saint John Chrysostom

Man wants to progress spiritually and asks God to give him love, prayer, obedience and all virtues. We should be aware that God will not give us what we are asking for, no matter how hard we try, unless we humble ourselves. If our only aim is humility, then God will give us everything for free.
–Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain

What we gain by fasting is not so great as the damage done by anger; nor is the profit from spiritual reading as great as the harm done when we scorn or grieve a brother.
–Saint John Cassian

When the soul becomes totally radiant and covered with the ineffable beauty of the glory of the light of Christ, it comes to share in the very life of the divine Spirit to such perfection that it is changed into the very chamber and throne of God.
–Saint Makarios the Great

Vice is so attractive and ready at hand, and nothing is so easy as to become evil – even without anyone to lead us on to it; while the attainment of virtue is rare and difficult, even where there is much to attract and encourage us.
–Saint Gregory the Theologian

Cheerfulness consists in not regarding things as our own, but as entrusted to us by God for the benefit of our fellow servants. It consists in scattering them abroad generously with joy and magnanimity, not reluctantly or under compulsion.
–Saint Symeon the New Theologian

The Bible is a scented garden, delightful, beautiful, it enchants our ears with birdsong in a sweet, divine, and spiritual harmony, it touches our heart, comforts us in sorrow, soothes us in a moment of anger, and fills us with eternal joy.
–Saint John of Damascus

If you cultivate prayer, be ready for the attacks of demons and endure them resolutely; for they will come at you like wild beasts and maltreat your whole body.
–Saint Evagrios the Solitary

Our life and our death is with our neighbour. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalise our brother, we have sinned against Christ.
–Anthony the Great

Do not be always wanting everything to turn out as you think it should, but rather as God pleases, then you will be undisturbed and thankful in your prayer.
–Abba Nilus

If you fast regularly, do not be inflated with pride, but if you think highly of yourself because of it, then you had better eat meat. It is better for a man to eat meat than to be inflated with pride and to glorify himself.
–Isidore the Priest

Obedience responds to obedience. When someone obeys God, God obeys his request.
–Abba Mius of Belos

We do not need words only, for, at the present time, there are many words among men, but we need works, for this is what is required, not words which do not bear fruit.
–Abba James

Wickedness does not do away with wickedness; but if someone does you wrong, do good to him, so that by your action you destroy his wickedness.
–Abba Poemen (called the Shepherd)

The Church is an enclosure. If you are within, the wolf does not enter; but if you leave, the beasts will seize you. Do not distance yourself from the Church; there is nothing mightier than the Church. The Church is your hope. The Church is your salvation. The Church is higher than the heavens. The Church is harder than stone. The Church is wider than the world. The Church never grows old but always renews itself.
–Saint John Chrysostom

The greatest gift of God, which we mostly need and which we very often obtain from God, through our prayers, is peace or rest of heart. As the Lord Himself says: ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Therefore, having obtained this rest, rejoice, and consider yourself as rich and possessing all things.
–Saint John of Kronstadt

Think nothing and do nothing without a purpose directed to God. For to journey without direction is wasted effort.
–Saint Mark the Ascetic

God judges our intention, but in that which is within our power He, in man- befriendingwise, also requires us to act. Great is he who leaves undone nothing that is within his power; but greater is he who humbly attempts what is beyond his power.
–Saint John Climacus

The mathematics of God is completely different from the mathematics of humans. For us two and two equal four. For God two and two can make five or fifteen or anything else.
–Elder Epiphanios of Athens

Abba Moses asked Abba Silvanus, ‘Can a man lay a new foundation every day?’ The old man said, ‘If he works hard, he can lay a new foundation at every moment.’
–Abba Silvanus

Let us seek to discover the things of heaven through the sweat of our efforts, rather than by mere talk, for at the hour of death it is deeds, not words, that must be displayed.
–Saint John Climacus

Our profit comes not from the quantity of the words, but from the quality. Sometimes, much is said but nothing is heard; and, at another time, you hear only one word and it remains in your memory for your whole life.
–Saint Anthony of Optina

If you are an ardent reader, seek not brilliant and erudite texts; otherwise the demon of haughtiness will strike your heart. But like a wise bee that gathers honey from flowers, so also through your reading obtain healing for your soul.
–Saint Ephraim the Syrian

Completely have trust in God, leave everything in His hands, and believe that His love will act for your own benefit. Then God will take care of everything, because there is nothing He cannot do; everything is easy for Him. The difficult thing is for man to decide to humble himself and leave everything to God’s providence and love.
–Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

If you do good to one person, you may be wronged by another and so feel injured, and say or do something stupid, thus dissipating by your bad action what you gained by your good action. This is just what the demons want; so always be attentive.
–Saint Evagrios the Solitary

The mouth, which is continuously giving thanks, receives blessing from God. In the heart that always shows gratitude, grace abides.
–Saint Isaac the Syrian

Whatever you may be seeking, seek it with all your strength, but do not expect your own search and efforts to bear fruit of themselves. Put your trust in the Lord, ascribing nothing to yourself, and He will give you your heart’s desire.
–Saint Theophan the Recluse

Faith requires obedience, and not curiosity; and when God commands, one ought to be obedient, not curious.
–Saint John Chrysostom

Nothing equals the mercy of God or surpasses it. To despair is therefore to inflict death on oneself.
–Saint John Climacus

The aim of prayer is that we should acquire from it love of God, for in prayer are to be found all sorts of reasons for loving God.
–Saint Isaac the Syrian

No virtues are worthier or more excellent than merciful loving-kindness and unblemished chastity, let us more especially equip ourselves with these weapons, so that, raised from the earth, as it were on the two wings of active charity and shining purity, we may win a place in heaven.
–Saint Leo the Great

Death is, properly speaking, separation from God, and ‘the sting of death is sin.’ In taking it on, Adam was banished at once from the Tree of Life, from Paradise, and from God, whereupon there followed, of necessity, the death of the body. On the other hand, life is, properly speaking, the One who says ‘I am the life.’ By His death He brought back to life again the one who had died.
–Saint Maximos the Confessor

From humility it is known that a man is a true disciple of Jesus, meek and humble of heart. If we wish to show evidence that we are true Christians, let us learn from Christ to be humble as He Himself enjoins us, Learn of Me; for I am meek, and lowly in heart (Mt. 11:29).
–Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk

Repentance is a bath that cleanses one of his own sins. It is a return from a state contrary to nature to a state in accordance with nature, from the devil to God, through spiritual striving and painful efforts. It is a voluntary return from offences to the good that is opposed to them.
–Saint Nectarios of Aegina

The love of God is not taught. No one has taught us to enjoy the light or to be attached to life more than anything else. And no one has taught us to love the two people who brought us into the world and educated us. Which is all the more reason to believe that we did not learn to love God as a result of outside instruction.
–Saint Basil the Great

Take courage and do not fear; have firm faith in our Christ. He is omnipotent. No matter how wild Satan becomes, before our Christ, before His power, all his machinations are destroyed. Just say the prayer and be at peace. Trust in Divine Providence. All your afflictions will turn out to be for your own good.
–Elder Ephraim of the Holy Mountain

The Word of God is exactly the same as God Himself. For this reason believe without question in each word of the Lord; the word of God is – deed; and your word must be deed; consequently, having given your word, carry it out without fail; consequently, in prayer, too, our words must be deed and truth, and not falsehood, not simulation, not flattery. So also throughout life.
–Saint John of Kronstadt

You should wish for your affairs to turn out, not as you think best, but according to God’s will. Then you will be undisturbed and thankful in your prayer.
–Saint Evagrios the Solitary

The demons very much fear six virtues: 1) hunger, 2) thirst, 3) the Prayer of Jesus, 4) the sign of the Cross, that is, he who makes the sign of the Cross correctly upon himself, 5) frequent Communion of the Most Pure Mysteries of Christ, if one worthily communes, and 6) undoubting hope in God. There is nothing more frightful than this weapon against the demons.
–Saint Paisius Velichkovsky

Your few works, done with all your infirmity, if offered with repentance and self-approach, will be received by God more favorably than great feats and labors performed with arrogance and a high opinion of oneself.
–Saint Macarius of Optina

Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything worldly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; they are its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow men. Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God.
–Saint John Cassian

You should be ready each day to receive all kinds of afflictions, regarding them as your release from many sins; and you should thank God for them. Through them you may acquire a close and unimpeachable communion with God, in accordance with St. Paul’s words: ‘Afflictions produce patient endurance; patient endurance, strength of character; and strength of character, hope; and hope does not disappoint’ (Rom. 5:3-5).
–Saint Symeon the New Theologian

It is well known that obedience is the chief among the initiatory virtues, for first it displaces presumption and then it engenders humility within us. Thus it becomes, for those who willingly embrace it, a door leading to the love of God… Thus humility should be the first concern of those who are fighting against the presumption of the devil, for as we advance it will be a sure guide to all the paths of virtue.
–Saint Diadochos of Photiki

God reveals and manifests Himself in all things in a threefold manner. In Himself He is undetermined; but through the Son in the Holy Spirit He sustains and watches over all things. And wherever He expresses Himself, none of the three Persons is manifest or to be perceived apart from or without the other two.
–Saint Gregory of Sinai

Prayer, together with almsgiving, can furnish us with countless good things from above. They can quench the fire of sin in our souls and can give us great freedom. Cornelius had recourse to these two virtues and sent his prayers up to heaven. Because of these two virtues he heard the angel say: “Thy prayers and thy alms have gone up and been remembered in the sight of God” (Acts 10:4).
–Saint John Chrysostom

It is not necessary to roam heaven and earth after God or to send our mind to seek Him in different places. Purify your soul, O son of man, remove from yourself the thought of memories outside of nature; hang the veil of chastity and humility before your impulses. By means of these you will be able to find Him who is within you.
–Saint Isaac the Syrian

Do not desire to hear about the misfortunes of your enemies. For those who like listening to such things will themselves suffer what they wish for others.
–Saint Mark the Ascetic

For our faith, brethren, is not of men nor by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ, which the divine Apostles preached, the holy Ecumenical Councils confirmed, the greatest and wisest teachers of the world handed down in succession, and the shed blood of the holy martyrs ratified.
–Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848

Each hour of the day we should note and weigh our actions and in the evening we should do what we can to free ourselves from the burden of them by means of repentance – if, that is, we wish, with Christ’s help, to overcome wickedness.
–Saint Hesychios the Priest

We receive salvation by grace and as a divine gift of the Spirit. But to attain the full measure of virtue we need also to possess faith and love, and to struggle to exercise our free will with integrity.
–Saint Makarios of Egypt

Accustom the mind to living in the presence of God. Let him force himself to ceaselessly behold God, for He is near; and let him ascend to the feeling that he is seen by God. This practice is the doorway to God, the opening of heaven to the mind.
–Saint Theophan the Recluse

Only the good deed done for Christ’s sake brings us the fruits of the Holy Spirit. All that is not done for Christ’s sake, even though it be good, brings neither reward in the future life nor the grace of God in this life. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ said: ‘He who gathers not with Me scatters’ (Luke 11:23).
–Saint Seraphim of Sarov

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