13. A pupil once said to his "starets":
"My thoughts tell me that I am good." To which the "starets"
replied: "A person that cannot see his own sins always acknowledges
himself as being good. However, the one who sees his sins cannot think that he
is good, because he acknowledges himself as he sees himself ó a sinner. Each
one must labor a great deal in order to truly see himself. Carelessness,
ignorance and enfeeblement dim the eyes of the heart (unknown starets).
13. Destroy temptation and struggle with thoughts
ó and there wouldnít be one saint. The one who runs away from temptation is
also running away from eternal life. One of the Saints states: "Who
provided the holy martyrs with their crowns ó if not their own torturers? Who
granted the first martyr, Stephen, such great glory if not those that stoned
him to death?" With this, he also quoted pronouncements of another Saint:
"I do not blame those that denounce me but quite the opposite, I regard and
call them my benefactors; and I do not reject the Physician of souls that has
given my vain soul some medicine of piety, because I fear that He may say to it
what was said before: "We ministered to Babylon, but it would not be
cured" (Abba Zosima).
21. The more we indulged in a vice, the more its
remembrances will disturb our soul. When these recollections of our passions
are effaced from our hearts to such an extent that they cannot come near us ó
this is a sign that that our sins have been forgiven. Because while the soul
regards something sinful with passion, it is an indication that the sin still
has mastery over it (Theodore of Edessa).
24. Abba Daniel states: "The fatter the body,
the weaker the soul, while the leaner the body, the stronger it becomesÖ.The
more a body slims, the more a soul becomes lean, and the leaner it is, the more
ardent it becomes" (Abba Daniel).
24. The body seeks to enjoy sensory pleasures, and
the more it indulges, the more it thirsts for them. These pursuits are opposite
to those of the soul. That is why we should firstly take steps to curb our
feelings so as not to wallow in physical pleasures. Because as the body becomes
stronger, the more it strives for its own, and the more successful it is in
achieving this, the more uncontrollable it becomes. Therefore, the soul must
try and deaden the flesh through fasting, vigilance, standing, sleeping on bare
ground and other similar deprivations, so that having weakened its desires,
make the flesh meek and submissive to the soul. However, the easier it is to
wish for this, the harder it is to achieve it. Thatís why we are wisely offered
the medicine of prayers and tears (Theodore of Edessa).
25. A novice asked Abba Agathonos how to struggle
with carnal lust. The "starets" replied: "Go and prostrate
your strength before God (humble yourself utterly before Him) ó and you will
find appeasement (Abba Agathonos).
25. Abba Pimen has this to say about carnal
thoughts: "If a trunk packed with goods, stands for a long period without
its contents being disturbed for a long period, with time they will decay. So
it is with corrupt thoughts, which the devil inserts into our minds: if we do
not put them into action, then with time they will decay and disappear"
30. A humble person doesnít even have the tongue
to say that someone else is careless or neglectful in matters of salvation. He
doesnít have eyes to see the faults of others. He doesnít have ears to hear
detrimental conversations. He doesnít concern himself with anything temporal,
but is concerned solely about his sins (Abba Isaiah).
30. When you see a youth living according to his
will and boldly elevating himself toward the heavens, grab his legs and drag
him down to earth, because that type of ascendancy would be ruinous to him
30. To be conquered and be humble is preferable to
be victorious and be proud (unknown "starets").
30. The spiritual accomplishments of a person are
measured by his humility. How much he immerses into humility is how much he
will advance in benevolence (unknown "starets").
30. I prefer a person that sins and repents to one
who has not sinned and regards himself as righteous (unknown "starets").
31. Reject blasphemous thoughts by not paying
attention to them and they will depart from you. They disturb only those that
are afraid of them (Abba Isaiah).
Return to the first page