Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NB - FFT: Food from the Parents in the Faith

"...cold obedience to the rules of the Church, legalistic action based on calculated reason, even punctuality, sobriety, and honest behavior, are not in themselves absolute evidence that our life has a truly Christian quality... All of these things are good, but as long as they are not informed by the spirit of life in Christ, they have no value in the eyes of God." --- St. Theophan the Recluse

 "Indeed every person of sense knows well that most of the charisms of the Spirit are granted to those worthy of them at the time of prayer. 'Ask and it shall be given,' the Lord says. This applies not only to being ravished 'even to the third heaven,' but to all the gifts of the Spirit." --- St. Gregory Palamas

"With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." --- Ephesians 4:2-3

"A bound person cannot run. Nor can the mind, which works like a slave for a certain passion, be able to offer a true prayer, because it is dragged around and wanders here and there on account of impassioned thoughts and cannot remain undisturbed." --- St Nilus

'Blessed the one who has become a good spiritual net and caught many for the good Lord, such a one will greatly praised by the Lord.' --- St. Ephrem of Syria

"Let us too imitate these men [Prophet David, Apostles Paul & Silas], building a wall around our life with the habit of prayer and letting nothing ever prove an obstacle to us. There is, in fact, nothing that can be an obstacle to us provided we are on the alert. Listen, after all, once more the words of the world's teacher: 'In every place raising pure hands in prayer, without anger or conflict' (1 Tim. 2:8). If you keep your mind purified of improper passions you can, whether you are in the market place, at home, on a journey, appearing in court, at sea, at the hotel or in the workplace - wherever you are, you can call on God and obtain your request." --- St. John Chrysostom

"Emmanuel is interpreted `God is with us.' And so, test yourselves, whether in truth God be with us. If we have removed ourselves from evils and become strangers to their inventor, the devil, then in truth God is with us. And if the sweetness of evil deeds has become bitter to us, and we take sweet enjoyment of the desire for good deeds and of having forever a dwelling in the heavens, then in truth God is with us. If we look on all Human beings alike, and if all days (sorrowful and successful) are equal for us, then in truth God is with us. If we love those who hate us, who insult, reproach, despise, oppress us, and cause us detriment just like those who love us, praise us, furnish us gain, and give us repose - then in truth God is with us." --- St. Barsanuphius the Great

"The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge." --- Psalms 46:6-11

"The lever which controls all our activities is the heart. Here are formed the convictions and sympathies which determine the will and give it strength." --- St. Theophan the Recluse, *The Art of Prayer*

"Every created nature is far removed from and completely foreign to the divine nature. For if God is nature, other things are not nature; but if every other thing is nature, He is not a nature, just as He is not a being if all other things are beings. And if He is a being, then all other things are not beings. And if you accept this as true also for wisdom, goodness, and in general all things that pertain to God or are ascribed to Him, then your theology will be correct and in accordance with the saints." --- St. Gregory Palamas 

"Happy is the person who finds wisdom, and the one who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold." --- Proverbs 3:13-14

"It is evident, therefore, that He called human beings gods because they were deified by His grace, and not because they were born of His substance. For He justifies, being just of Himself and not from another; and He deifies, being God of Himself and not by participation in another. But He that justifies does also deify, because by justifying He makes children of God. For, “He has given them the power to become children of God.” If we are made children of God, we are also made gods; but this is by grace adopting, and not by nature begetting." --- St. Augustine  

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth." --- I John 3:18

"Since love grows within you, so does beauty grow. For love is the beauty of the soul." --- St. Augustine

"For the person who is perfect in love and has reached the summit of dispassion there is no difference between one's own or another's, or between Christians and unbelievers, or between slave and free, or even between male and female. But because that person has risen above the tyranny of the passions and has fixed one's attention on the single nature of humanity, that one looks on all in the same way and shows the same disposition to all. For in that person there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, bond nor free, but Christ who 'is all, and in all' (Col. 3:11; cf. Gal. 3:28)." --- St. Maximos the Confessor 

"Keep the Feast of the Resurrection. Be a Peter or a John; hasten to the Sepulchre, running together, running against one another, vying in the noble race (cf. Jn. 20:3-4). And even if you be beaten in speed, win the victory of zeal; not looking into the tomb, but going in." --- St. Gregory the Theologian 

"Justifications for us to not do charity are an easy cause for greed." --- Saint Basil the Great

"...God in His wisdom, power and compassion knows how to change for the better the lapses we suffer as a result of our freely-willed perversion." --- St. Gregory Palamas

"Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; Look down from heaven and see, And visit this vine And the vineyard which Your right hand has planted." --- Psalms 80:14-15 

"The Goodness of God is so rich in graces, that it seeks a cause to have mercy on a person."  --- St. Anthimos of Chios 

"O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again; but our imitation was in a figure, and our salvation in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again. And all these things He has freely bestowed upon us, that we, sharing His sufferings by imitation, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and suffered anguish; while on me without pain or toil by the fellowship of His suffering He freely bestows salvation!" --- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

"Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone." --- James 1:13  

"And then at last He for His part lays His hand upon them, saying, 'According to your faith be it unto you.' And this He does to confirm their faith, and to show that they are participators in the good work, and to witness that their words were not words of flattery. For neither did He say, 'Let your eyes be opened,' but, 'According to your faith be it unto you;' which He says to many of them that came unto Him; before the healing of their bodies, hastening to proclaim the faith in their soul; so as both to make them more approved, and to render others more serious. (Mt. 9:30)" --- St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Gospel of St. Matthew 

"Let mercy outweigh all else in you. Let our compassion be a mirror where we may see in ourselves that likeness and that true image, which belong to the divine nature and divine essence. A hard and unmerciful heart will never be pure." ---St. Isaac the Syrian

“Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the Lord, Who delivers us from sorrow and sin.” --- Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica  

"Grace is not merely faith, but also active prayer. For the latter shows in practice true faith, made living by Jesus, for it comes from the Spirit through love. And so faith is dead and lifeless in one who does not see it active in oneself. More than that - a person has no right to be called faithful, if that one's faith is a bare word and if the person has not in the self a faith made active by love or the Spirit. Thus faith must be made evident by progress in works, or it must act in the light and shine in works, as the divine Apostle says: 'Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18).'" --- St. Gregory of Sinai 

"'For He made us, and not we ourselves. The Lord Himself,' I say, 'made us' (Ps. 98:3). And He also renews us, for in all that He has done and said through His saints from the beginning, He has strained to achieve the mystery of our salvation, which is the renewal of humanity." --- St. Paulinus of Nola 

"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" --- Matthew 25:40

"A person is perfect in this life when as a pledge of what is to come that one receives the grace to assimilate the self to the various stages of Christ's life. In the life to come perfection is made manifest through the power of deification." --- St. Gregory of Sinai 

"Save Your people, And bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, And bear them up forever." --- Psalms 28:9 

"The Cross of the Lord is the monument to His Victory. O marvel of the love of the Word of God for humanity, for it is on our account that He is dishonored so that we may be brought to honor." --- St. Athanasius the Great 

"Through mindfulness of God, you will always reflect on 'whatever is true, whatever is modest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good report, whatever is holy and deserving praise' (Phil. 4:8); and in this way you will banish from yourself the pernicious evil of forgetfulness." --- St. Mark the Ascetic 

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." --- Jeremiah 29:11

"In her belly came and dwelt He Who is uncontainable. And by her breasts was nourished God Who sustains the whole creation. On her hand she carried God Who is carried by the Seraphim. And her knees became His throne." --- St. John of Damascus  

"In order to receive the Lord, one must have a well-ordered way of thinking that is capable of it; in order to receive the Lord, one must have a heartfelt will towards it, one must have humble feelings. This did the Archangel Gabriel explain to righteous Zachary, the father of the Forerunner, the Forerunner's service, when he announced his conception and birth. 'Many of the children of Israel,' said the Archangel, 'shall he turn to the Lord their God' (cf. Lk. 1:16-17)" --- St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

"What is desired in a man is kindness." --- Proverbs 19:2 

"It is love that shows who is the true shepherd, for by reason of love the Great Shepherd was crucified." --- St. John Climacus, ad Pastorem 5


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Animals, yet More than Animals

"As the most dominant and influential animals on earth, humans have a responsibility to all other animals."

Human beings are indeed animals and yet more at the same time, having been fashioned into the image of God, to grow into God's likeness. Doesn't make the statement above any less true. Growing into that likeness involves precisely our understanding and living the responsibility we have towards others, our fellow human beings and also our fellow animals with whom we have genetic and material commonality.