When temptation comes, our best weapons are sackcloth and ashes, all-night vigils standing up, hunger, the mearest touch of water when we are thirsty, time passed among the burial places of the dead, and the most important of all, humility of the heart; and if possible a spiritual director or helpful brother, old in wisdom rather than years, should also support us. Indeed it would come as a great surprise if anyone could, by his efforts alone, save his ship from the sea.
When I prayed with my heart, everything around me seemed delightful and marvelous. The trees, the grass, the birds, the earth, the air, the light seemed to be telling me that they existed for man’s sake, that they witnessed to the love of God for man, that everything proved the love of God for man, that all things prayed to God and sang his praise.
Sometimes my understanding, which had been so stupid before, was given so much light that I could easily grasp and dwell upon matters of which up to now I had not been able even to think at all. Sometimes that sense of a warm gladness in my heart spread throughout my whole being and I was deeply moved as the fact of the presence of God everywhere was brought home to me. Sometimes by calling upon the name of Jesus I was overwhelmed with bliss, and now I knew the meaning of the words “The kingdom of God is within you.”
The Prayer of my heart gave me such consolation that I felt there was no happier person on earth than I, and I doubted if there could be greater and fuller happiness in the kingdom of Heaven. Not only did I feel this in my own soul, but the whole outside world also seemed to me full of charm and delight. Everything drew me to love and thank God: people, trees, plants, animals. I saw them all as my kinsfolk, I found in all of them the magic of the Name of Jesus.
‘If you want to defeat anger and rage’, he said, ‘do not rebuke anyone or hate anyone or denigrate anyone. If you guard yourself against doing these, you will not get angry’
Know this, that among all the duties of perfection none are higher and loftier than humility and obedience to God and to the holy fathers. This is what makes the soul shine with the Lord’s light.
…to veer for even a moment from beholding Christ is to be guilty of impurity. When our gaze has wandered even a little from Christ, let us immediately turn the eyes of our heart back to Him and let our vision be directed to Him as though along the straightest line.
Chastity is a weapon against lust; it isn’t only for virgins. Chastity is purity of heart, mind, and body. This means being mindful of what we watch, read, listen to, and say. We don’t want to hide our heads in the sand or make some alternate reality for our children, but we do want them to understand the world around them in a loving and godly context. How can we expect our children to control their passions if we aren’t guarding our own eyes, mouths, and ears?
It follows from this that prayer is your first and incomparably most important means of fighting. Learn to pray, and you vanquish all the evil powers that could imaginably assail you. Prayer is one wing, faith the other, that lifts us heavenward. With only one wing no one can fly: prayer without faith is as meaningless as faith without prayer. But if your faith is very weak, you can profitably cry: Lord, give me faith! Such a prayer seldom goes unheard. The grain of mustard seed, says the Lord, grows into a great tree. The person who wants sunshine and air opens the window. It would be folly to sit behind drawn curtains and say: There is no light; there isn’t a breath of air! Let this picture show you clearly how prayer works. God’s power, or grace, is always and everywhere accessibly to all, but one cannot get one’s share of it without wanting it and acting accordingly.
For this reason while you approach, do not think that you partake of the Divine Body from a man; rather, believe that you partake of the Divine Body from the very Seraphim with the fiery spoon that Isaiah saw; and when we partake of the Saving Blood, let us believe that our lips touch the very Divine and Immaculate Side. Therefore, for this reason my brethren, let us not be absent from the churches, and inside them let us no longer occupy our time in conversations. Let us stand with fear and trembling, with our eyes lowered and the soul elevated, with silent sighs and loud shouts of the heart.
But perhaps you will allege weakness of nature as the excuse, and inability to bear the yoke. And what kind of defense is this, that you do not have strength to bear the easy yoke, that you are unable to carry the light burden? Is recovery from fatigue a grievous and oppressive thing? For it is to this that Christ calls us, saying, “Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” For what can be lighter, I ask, than to be released from anxieties, and business, and fears, and labors, and to stand outside the rough billows of life, and dwell in a tranquil heaven?