“The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish.~ Sirach 1:18

“Men are often called intelligent wrongly. Intelligent men are not those who are erudite in the sayings and books of the wise men of old, but those who have an intelligent soul and can discriminate between good and evil. They avoid what is sinful and harms the soul; and with deep gratitude to God they resolutely adhere by dint of practice to what is good and benefits the soul. These men alone should truly be called intelligent.~ St. Antony the Great.

“Wisdom operates in a fourfold manner in the intellect. It activates not all the four virtues simultaneously, but each one individually, as is appropriate and as it determines. It activates sound understanding in the form of light, courage as clear-sighted power and ever-moving inspiration, self-restraint as a power of sanctification and purification, and justice as the dew of purity, joy-inducing and cooling the arid heat of the passions.” ~ St. Gregory of Sinai.

“Sin, having deprived the wretched soul of all the supernatural blessings, strips it also of the natural ones, for it takes away the keenness of the mind, the light and discrimination of reason, the tenderness and perception of the heart, the peace of thoughts and of conscience, and the purity of all the powers. It even weakens the body and defiles the senses.” ~ St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite.

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:2



“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:15

“If he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him’ (Luke 17:4). As the searcher of hearts, the Lord knows that men are liable to very frequent trespass, and that, having fallen, they often rise up again; therefore He has given us the commandment to frequently forgive trespasses, and He Himself is the first to fulfill His holy word. As soon as you say from your whole heart, ‘I repent,’ you will be immediately forgiven.” ~ St. John of Kronstadt

“…through patient endurance we may be granted forgiveness for many sins. Moreover, if we do not forgive others their debts, the Father will not forgive us our debts (cf. Matt. 6:15). Indeed, nothing leads more swiftly to the forgiveness of sins than this virtue or commandment: ‘Forgive, and you will be forgiven’ (cf. Matt. 6:14).” St. Peter of Damaskos.

“One can return evil for evil not only by deed, but also by word or expression. One man may think that he does not return evil for evil in deed, but in fact returns it by word, or expression, gesture, or look. For all this too can offend one’s brother and this too is returning evil for evil. Another may not try to take revenge by deed, word, expression or gesture, but in his heart he harbours resentment against his brother and is bitter against him. Another may have no bitterness against his brother, but if he hears someone reviling, criticising or belittling that brother, he rejoices and so returns evil for evil in his heart. Yet another nourishes no malice in his heart, does not rejoice at hearing of the humiliation of the one who had offended him, and even grieves if he suffers insult, yet does not rejoice at his success – for instance, is vexed if the other if praised or favoured. This too is an aspect of resentment, though the least serious of them all.” St. Abba Dorotheus.

“Do you not see, brethren, that we toil for nothing when we pray, if we have enmity against someone? And again the Lord says, `If you offer your gift at the altar, and there you remember that someone has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go first and be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift’. Therefore, it is clear that if you do not do this first, all that you offer will be unacceptable, but if you do the Master’s bidding, then implore the Lord with boldness, saying, `Forgive me my debts, Master, as I have forgiven my brother, so fulfilling your commandment. I, weak though I am, have forgiven’. For the Lover of mankind will answer, ‘If you have forgiven, I too will forgive. If you have pardoned, I too will pardon your sins. For I have authority on earth to forgive sins. Forgive and you will be forgiven’.” St Ephrem the Syrian

 “There is no prayer so quickly heard as the prayer whereby a man asks to be reconciled with those who are wroth with him. For when he charges himself with the offence, this prayer is immediately answered.” St. Isaac the Syrian

“The forgetting of wrongs is a sign of true repentance. But he who dwells on them and thinks that he is repenting is like a man who thinks he is running while he is really asleep.” ~ St. John Climacus

“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’ (cf. Ps. 105:1).” St. Gregory of Sinai

“Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness, then, of your sins or unforgiveness, and hence also your salvation or destruction, depend on you yourself, man. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation. You can see for yourself how terrible it is.” ~ St. Philotheos of Sinai

“If you want 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.” ~ St. Cosmas Aitolos “‘And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.’ For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and ‘if we say that we have no sin’ (I Jn. 1:8), we lie, as John says…The offenses committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed, therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against you, you shut out for yourself forgiveness from God for your very grievous sins.” ~ St. Cyril of Jerusalem

“God immediately forgives those who ask forgiveness in humility and contrition, who ceaselessly invoke His holy name, who repent to God and unite with Him by frequent and patient prayers and by confessing sins to Him each day.” ~ St. Gregory of Sinai

“There is no possession more precious than prayer in the whole of human life. Never be parted from it; never abandon it. But, as our Lord said, let us pray that out toil may not be for nothing, `When you stand in prayer, forgive if you have anything against anyone, that your heavenly Father may forgive you your faults’.” ~ St Ephrem the Syrian

“When our hearts are reluctant we often have to compel ourselves to pray for our enemies, to pour out prayer for those who are against us. Would that our hearts were filled with love! How frequently we offer a prayer for our enemies, but do it because we are commanded to, not out of love for them. We ask the gift of life for them even while we are afraid that our prayer may be heard. The Judge of our souls considers our hearts rather than our words. Those who do not pray for their enemies out of love are not asking anything for their benefit.” ~ St. Gregory the Great

“The man who stores up injuries and resentments and yet fancies that he prays might as well draw water from a well and pour it into a cask that is full of holes.” ~ Evagrius

Workings of the Holy Spirit

“The energy of the Holy Spirit, which we have already mystically received in baptism, is realized in two ways. First – to generalize – this gift is revealed… through arduous and protracted practice of the commandments: to the degree to which we effectively practice the commandments its radiance is increasingly manifested in us. Secondly, it is manifested to those under spiritual guidance through the continuous invocation of the Lord Jesus, repeated with conscious awareness, that is, through mindfulness of God.” St. Gregory of Sinai

Bloom where planted

“We must never admit evil thoughts that fill us with sorrow and hatred for the place in which we live, and suggest that we go somewhere else. If someone tries to do something good in the place where he lives but fails to complete it, he should not think that he will accomplish it elsewhere. It is not the place that produces success, but faith and a firm will. A tree which is often transplanted does not bear fruit.” ~ St. Euthymius the Great


“Obedience, is a great virtue. The Lord loves obedience more than sacrifice, but disobedience leads to death.” ~ St. Euthymius

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” ~ Romans 5:19


 “Love of God proceeds from conversing with him; this conversation of prayer comes about through stillness, and stillness comes with the stripping away of the self.” St. Isaac the Syrian

“The start of stillness is the rejection of all noisiness as something that will trouble the depths of the soul. The final point is when one has no longer a fear of noisy disturbance, when one is immune to it. He who when he goes out does not go out in his intellect is gentle and wholly a house of love, rarely move to speech and never to anger.” ~ St. John Climacus

“Brave and determined thinking is a friend of stillness. It is always on the watch at the doors of the heart, killing or driving off invading notions.” St. John Climacus.

“Stillness of the body is the accurate knowledge and management of one’s feelings and perceptions. Stillness of the soul is the accurate knowledge of one’s thoughts and is an unassailable mind.” ~ St. John Climacus.

Matthew 4:12-17, Homily: Repentance, Metropolitan Jonah

Homily spoken at St. Seraphim’s Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas on Sunday, January 11, 2009.  
Transcription of homily in pdf: Transcription of Sermon

Patient Endurance

“Patient endurance is the soul’s struggle for virtue; where there is struggle for virtue, self-indulgence is banished.” ~ St. Thalassios


“The Lord said: ‘He who endures patiently to the end will be saved’ (Mt. 10:22). Patient endurance is the consolidation of all the virtues, because without it not one of them can subsist. For whoever turns back is not ‘fit for the kingdom of heaven’ (Lk. 9:62). Indeed, even though someone thinks that he is in possession of all the virtues, he is still not fit for the kingdom until he has first endured to the end and escaped from the snares of the devil; for only thus can he attain it. Even those who have received a foretaste of the kingdom stand in need of patient endurance if they are to gain their final reward in the age to be. Indeed, in every form of learning and knowledge persistence is needed. This is natural, since even sensible things cannot be produced without it: when any such thing is born, there has to be a period of patient waiting if it is to continue to live.” ~  St. Peter of Damaskos


“…we should patiently endure all that God allows to happen to us so that we may learn and gain experience and knowledge of our weaknesses.” ~ St. Peter of Damaskos


“…we shall incur no slight injury, but rather great danger, if we rashly yield ourselves to the inclinations of men who aim at exciting strife and tumults, so as to draw us away from what is good. Let us be kind one to another after the pattern of the tender mercy and benignity of our Creator.”

~St. Clement of Rome


“Blessed is he who humbles himself in all things, for he will be exalted in all. For a man who for God’s sake humble himself, and thinks meanly of himself, is glorified by God. The man who hungers and thirsts for God’s sake, God will make drunk with His good things. And he who goes naked for God’s sake is clad by Him in a robe of incorruption and glory. And he who becomes poor for His sake is consoled with His true riches.” ~ St. Isaac the Syrian.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6

“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” ~ Galatians 5:26

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12

“Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” ~ 1Peter 5:5

“I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, ‘What can get through from such snares?’ Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.'” ~ St. Anthony the Great

“A brother at Scetis was preparing to go to the harvest and he went to see an old man and said to him, ‘Tell me what I should do when I go harvesting.’ The old man said to him, ‘If I tell you, will you believe me?’ The brother said, ‘Yes I am listening to you.’ The old man said to him, ‘If you trust me, go and give up this harvesting, come here and I will tell you what to do.’ So the brother gave up harvesting and came to live with the old man. The old man said to him, ‘Go into your cell, spend fifty days eating dry bread and salt only once a day, and come back and I will tell you what else to do.’ The brother went away, did this, then came back to the old man. The old man, seeing that he was a worker, taught him how to live in the cell. The brother went away to his cell and prostrated himself to the ground, weeping before God. After this, when his thoughts said to him, ‘You are trained, you have become a great man’, he placed his sins before his eyes, saying, ‘And where are all my omissions?’ But when his thoughts in the opposite sense said to him, ‘You have committed many sins’, he in his turn replied, ‘Yet I say my few prayers to God, and I trust that God will have mercy on me.’ Being overcome, the evil spirits appeared to him openly saying, ‘We have been disturbed by you.’ He asked them why. They said to him, ‘When we exalt you, you run to humility; but when we humiliate you, then you rise up.'” ~ From the Desert Fathers

“An old man was asked, ‘What is humility?’ He replied, ‘It is when your brother sins against you and you forgive him before he comes to ask for forgiveness.‘ ” ~ From the Desert Fathers.

“We should grow neither too bold nor fall into despair, whatever happens to us, whether good or bad.” ~ St Peter of Damaskos.

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