Category Archives: Wisdom of the Church Fathers

St John Chrysostom – ‘Do not despair’

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

Since it is likely that, being men, they would sin every day, St Paul consoles his hearers by saying “renew yourselves” from day to day.

This is what we do with houses: we keep constantly repairing them as they wear old. You should do the same thing to yourself.

Have you sinned today? Have you made your soul old? Do not despair, do not despond, but renew your soul by repentance, and tears, and Confession, and by doing good things. And never cease doing this.

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St John Maximovitch: God saves His fallen creature

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

St John Maximovitch: . . . God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary. Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of Paradise, returning to him his original state of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself.

This is accomplished by the action of Divine grace grated through the Church, but man’s effort is also required. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man’s love for his Creator is also necessary; without it he cannot by saved. Striving towards God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to complete victory over sin.

St John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, “The Church as the Body of Christ,” Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco

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The embrace of the Church is always open to us…

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

Brothers and Sisters! The all-merciful God desires happiness for us both in this life and in the life to come.

To this end He established His Holy Church, so that she might cleanse us from sin, sanctify us, reconcile us with Him and give us a heavenly blessing.

The embrace of the Church is always open to us. Let us all hasten there more quickly, we whose consciences are burdened. Let us hasten, and the Church will lift the weight of our burdens, give us boldness before God, and fill our hearts with happiness and blessedness.

St Nectarios of Aegina, The Path to Happiness, 1


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Having God, fear nothing…

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

As God illumines all people equally with the light of the sun, so do those who desire to imitate God let shine an equal ray of love on all people. For wherever love disappears, hatred immediately appears in its place. And if God is love, then hatred is the devil. Therefore as one who has love has God within himself, so he who has hatred within himself nurtures the devil within himself.
St. Basil the Great, Homily on Asceticism, 3

Having God, fear nothing, but cast all of your care upon Him, and He will take care of you. Believe undoubtingly, and God will help you according to His mercy.
St. Barsanuphius the Great, Instructions, 166

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St Porphyrios – ‘Turn your mind towards Him continually’

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

Man seeks joy and happiness in heaven. He seeks what is eternal far from everyone and everything. He seeks to find joy in God. God is a mystery. He is silence. He is infinite. He is everything. Everyone possesses this inclination of the soul for heaven. All people seek something heavenly. All beings turn towards Him, albeit unconsciously.

Turn your mind towards Him continually. Learn to love prayer, familiar converse with the Lord. What counts above all is love, passionate love for the Lord, for Christ the Bridegroom. Become worthy of Christ’s love. In order not to live in darkness, turn on the switch of prayer so that divine light may flood your soul. Christ will appear in the depths of your being. There, in the deepest and most inward part, is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21)….He who has my commandments and keeps them, he is the one who loves me; and he who loves me shall be loved by my Father and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:31).

Effort is required. For we have to wrestle against the rulers of the darkness of this age (Eph. 6:12). We have to wrestle with the roaring lion [1 Pet. 5:8]. We cannot allow the devious enemy to prevail in the struggle.

St Porphyrios

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St John of Damascus – On Worshiping Images

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

Possibly a contentious unbeliever will maintain that we worshiping images in our churches are convicted of praying to lifeless idols. Far be it from us to do this. Faith makes Christians, and God, who cannot deceive, works miracles. We do not rest contented with mere colouring.

With the material picture before our eyes we see the invisible God through the visible representation, and glorify Him as if present, not as a God without reality, but as a God who is the essence of being. Nor are the saints whom we glorify fictitious. They are in being, and are living with God; and their spirits being holy, the help, by the power of God, those who deserve and need their assistance.

St. John of Damascus, Treatise on Images

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On Fasting – St Seraphim of Sarov

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

Fasting, prayer, alms, and every other good Christian deed is good in itself, but the purpose of the Christian life consists not only in the fulfilment of one or another of them. The true purpose of our Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. But fasting, prayer, alms and every good deed done for the sake of Christ is a means to the attainment of the Holy Spirit. Note that only good deeds done for the sake of Christ bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Everything else that is not done for the sake of Christ, even if it is good, does not bring us a reward in the life to come, not does it bring the grace of God in this life. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said, “He who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” (Matt. 12:30).

St Seraphim of Sarov, Conversation on the Goal of the Christian Life

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