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THE ORTHODOX FAITH:
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Path of spiritual life


23. Approach, sinner, the good physician and be cured without any effort. Shed your burden of sins, proffer your prayers and wet the infected ulcers with your tears — because this Heavenly Physician heals ulcers with tears and lamentations. Approach and bring your tears — they are the best medicine. Because it is agreeable to the Heavenly Physician that every person treat themselves with their own tears and thereby be saved. (Ephraim of Syria)

6. Do you want to pray without distraction? Try to pray in such a way that your prayer comes from the depth of your soul. Just like a tree that has sunk deep roots does not break during great winds, so does a prayer, coming from the very depths of the soul, rises towards Heaven and no outside thoughts will divert it. That’s why the Prophet states: "Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord" (Psalms 130:1). (Ephraim of Syria)

6. Do not neglect church services under the guise of some important business. Just like rain nourishes and cultivates seeds, so does a Church Service strengthens the soul in its virtue. (Ephraim of Syria)

11. Just as a child does not permanently remain a child, but grows daily according to nature’s laws until he reaches adulthood, so does a Christian, born from above through water and Spirit, should not remain in spiritual infancy. However, consigned to a spiritual life of ordeal, labors and much patience, he must continually progress and grow to the full spiritual stature, like the Apostle teaches: "...to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). (Ephraim of Syria)

11. If you want to inherit the future Kingdom, then find the King’s favor here in this world. And it is according to the measure of your honoring Him that He will elevate you; how much you serve Him here is how much He will honor you there, according to the Scripture: "…them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed" (1 Samuel 2:30). Revere Him with all your soul so that He will deem you worthy of a Saint’s esteem. To the question: "How do you acquire His benevolence?" — I will answer: Bring Him gold and silver through the needy. If you have nothing to give, bring Him faith, love, temperance, patience, magnanimity, humility... Restrain yourself from judging, protect your eyes so as not to observe vanity, constrain your hands from doing wrong deeds, avert your feet from the wrong path; comfort the faint hearted, be compassionate to the infirm, provide a cup of water to the thirsty, feed the hungry. In other words, everything that you have and were endowed with by God, bring it to Him because Christ did not scorn the widow’s two coins. (Ephraim of Syria)

31. One of the Saints declared: "Think of goodness so as not to think of evil, because the mind cannot remain idle." Therefore, let us engage our mind in studying the word of God, prayers and performing good deeds. Just as restless thoughts create restless acts, good reflections — good deeds. (Ephraim of Syria)

31. Do not reveal your thoughts to anybody, but only to those that you know are spiritually inclined, because the devil has many snares. Do not hide anything from those that are devout, so that the enemy having located a weak spot does not nest in you. Do not seek counsel from the fleshly-minded. (Ephraim of Syria)

40. Every good deed, undertaken by us for the glory of God, will then lead us toward our own glory. Fulfilling the commandments is holy and virtuous only when it is performed with our Lord in mind, with the fear of God and with love for Him. The enemy of the human race (devil) tries in every way to distract us from this state with various earthly enticements, so that instead of a true blessing — love of God — we will bind our hearts to the purported earthly benefits. Generally, whatever good deed a person undertakes to do, the evil one attempts to obscure and defile, adding to the fulfillment of the commandments seeds of vainglory, or doubt, or complaints, or something of the sort so that our good feat ceases to be righteous. A good deed becomes truly good only when it is accomplished for God with humility and earnestness. In this frame of mind, all the dictates of the commandments become easy, because our love of God deflects all difficulties in carrying them out. (Ephraim of Syria)

42. Let us be magnanimous and carry burdens for one another, endeavoring to raise the fallen and free those who have been imprisoned by the enemy. Seeing one of his friends taken prisoner, what warrior would not engage the enemy in battle in order to free him? If he finds himself not powerful enough to free him, his thoughts of his friend will make him sad and cry. Shouldn’t we give more of our souls for one another? Because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said: "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for his friend" (John 15:13). (Ephraim of Syria)

42. In relation to one another — being members of the one spiritual body — we are obliged to help one another. Just as bodily parts, directed by the soul, make one another complete, so must we, directed by the Spirit of God, serve one another without envy. Under this disposition, the surpluses of all those carrying out prayers will supply the lack in prayers of those carrying out obediences and conversely, the abundance of labors performed by those doing obediences will compensate for the lack of those abiding in prayer, so that in the words of the Apostle, there may be equality in everything. May only simplicity, love, humility and absence of envy grow among the brothers. To what extent a person believes, loves and labors, is measured by his daily accomplishments that make him worthy of the Heavenly Kingdom. This is the true Angelic life: when we unite with one another without envy, with simplicity and love, with peace and joy, when we regard a neighbor’s achievement as a personal gain, while his weaknesses and sorrows as personal detriment. After all, it is said: "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philip. 2:4). (Ephraim of Syria)

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