Category Archives: Wisdom of the Church Fathers

On the great desire of God

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

~ On the great desire of God

‘God will have all men to be saved’ (I Tim; 2:4).

God desires that all men be saved; for this the Lord Jesus descended into hell, to save those also who had lived on earth before His coming. For, if He had not descended into hell, an enormous number of righteous souls would have perished for ever. And further: if He had not descended into hell, it, the greatest abode of evil against God and the human race, would have remained undestroyed. These two reasons, therefore, woke Christ the life-Giver and sent Him down in spirit into hell: firstly, to destroy the nest of the powers of hell; and secondly, to lead forth from hell to Paradise the souls of our forefathers and the prophets and righteous men and women, who had fulfilled the ancient Law of God and had thus been pleasing to Him. Before Satan had done exulting in Christ’s humiliation and death on the Cross, Christ appeared, living and almighty, in the midst of hell, the chief abode of Satan. What unexpected and devastating tidings for Satan! For three years he had plaited a noose for Christ on earth, and in three days Christ destroyed his kingdom and led out the most precious booty in the form of a swarm of righteous souls.

Thou desirest that all men be saved, O Lord. We pray Thee: save us also, for there is neither salvation nor a Saviour apart from Thee. In Thee only do we hope, and Thee alone do we worship, Thee and the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

~ On Thomas’s proof by experience

My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28).
When the Apostle Thomas touched the wounds of the Lord Jesus, he cried: ‘My Lord and my God!’

When Mary Magdalene heard the voice of the Risen One in the garden, she exclaimed in her soul: ‘My Lord and my God!’
When Saul saw the light and heard the words of the Risen One, he acknowledged: ‘My Lord and my God!’
When the pagans beheld how innumerable martyrs endured their sufferings with joy, and asked them who was this Christ, they each answered: ‘My Lord and my God’.

When mockers ridiculed the army of ascetic monks, and asked them who it was for whom they laid on themselves such strict asceticism, they all had only one reply: ‘My Lord and my God’.

When mockers ridiculed maidens who had vowed virginity and asked them who it was for whom they scorned marriage, they all had only one reply: ‘My Lord and my God’.

When lovers of money asked rich men, in disbelief, for whose sake they had given away their riches and become poor, they answered one and the same thing: ‘My Lord and my God’.

Some saw Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some only heard Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some touched Him, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some perceived Him in the tissue of events and the destinies of peoples, and said: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Some came to know Him by some sign, either to themselves or to others, and cried out: ‘My Lord and my God!’ And some only came to hear of Him from others, and believed, and cried: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Indeed, these last are the most blessed.

Let us also cry with all our hearts, however we have come to the discovery and knowledge of Him: ‘My Lord and my God!’

To Thee be glory and praise for ever. Amen.

~ The Prologue from Ochrid, St Nikolai Velimirović

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Coincidental Wrong

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

Whatever’s wrong with people is coincidental. Don’t look down on anybody even if you see how immoral, prone to drink or blasphemous they are. The image of God is in them, somewhere, too, although, of course, they aren’t aware of it.

It’s natural for the enemy to come and besmirch that image. It’s not easy to see the image of God in those who mock you and behave like brutes towards you. You should feel even more sorry for them because their souls have been distorted, to the extent that perhaps they’re beyond correction, which will condemn them to eternal torment.

How difficult is this: Love your enemies!

~ Blessed Gabriel the New Confessor and Fool for Christ, from Georgia

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The one who knows God…

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

The one who knows God will follow the Lord’s footsteps, bearing the cross of the Saviour.
It is said, “The world is crucified to him and he to the world.”
The Lord says, “He who loses his life will save it.”
We can “lose our lives” in one of two ways. First, we can risk our lives just as the Lord did for us. Secondly, we can separate our lives from the customary things of this world.
Bearing the cross means to separate our souls from the delights and pleasures of this life.
If you do this, you will find your life again – resting in the hope of what is to come.
Dying to ourselves means being content with the necessities of life.
When we want more that these necessities it is easy to sin.

~ St. Clement of Alexandria in ‘The One Who knows God’

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THE POWER OF THE CROSS

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

The mysterious power of the Cross, however inexplicable, is true and indisputable. St John Chrysostom speaks of the custom that obtained in his time, of placing the sign of the Cross ‘on the imperial diadem and the soldiers’ accoutrements, and of making it on parts of the body: the head, the breast and the heart, both at the table of sacrifice and on lying down in bed.’ ‘If’, he says, ‘we are striving to drive out demons, we use the Cross, and it is also of aid in healing sickness.’ St Benedict made the sign of the Cross over a glass containing poison, and the glass shattered as if struck by a stone. St Julian made the sign of the Cross over a cup of poison brought to him, and drank the poison, suffering no bodily harm from it. The holy martyr Vasilissa of Nicomedia protected herself with the sign of the Cross and stood in the midst of the flames, remaining completely untouched. The holy martyrs Audon and Senis crossed themselves when ravening wild animals were let loose on them, and the beasts became docile and meek as lambs. The sign of the Cross has been the most powerful weapon against great temptations from demons, from the early ascetics down to the present day.

The most ferocious of the devil’s devisings are dispersed into nothing, like smoke, when a man signs himself with the Cross. Thus it was the good will of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself that the erstwhile sign of wickedness and shame, the cross, should, after His crucifixion on the wood of the cross, be the vehicle of all-conquering power and might.

~ St Nikolai Velimerovic, The Prologue from Ochrid

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Bearing sufferings

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

If your entire life passed smoothly and without worry, then weep for yourself.
For the Gospel and the experience of the people, with one accord assert that no one has, without great suffering and pain, left behind any great and beneficial work on earth or was glorified in the heavens.
If, however, your earthly sojourn is completely adorned with sweat and tears to attain justice and truth, rejoice and be exceedingly glad for truly great is your reward in the heavens.
Do not ever succumb to the insane thought that God has abandoned you. God knows exactly how much one can endure and, according to that, measures the sufferings and pains of everyone.
St. Nil Sorsky says: “When even men know how much weight a horse, or a donkey or a camel can carry and, according to that they are loading them according to their strength; when a potter knows how long to leave the clay in the kiln for it to be neither shattered nor over-baked, how could God not know how much temptation a soul can bear to make it ready and fitted for the Kingdom of Heaven?”
~ St Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue from Ochrid

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Writings of Saint Nectarios of Aegina on Prayer

TRUE PRAYER is undistracted, prolonged, performed with a contrite heart an alert intellect. The vehicle of prayer is everywhere humility, and prayer is a manifestation of humility. For being conscious of our own weakness, we invoke the power of GOD.

PRAYER unites one with GOD, being a divine conversation and spiritual communion with the Being that is most beautiful and highest.

PRAYER IS FORGETTING EARTHLY THINGS, AN ASCENT TO HEAVEN.
THROUGH PRAYER WE FLEE TO GOD.

PRAYER is truly a heavenly armour, and is alone can keep safe those who have dedicated themselves to God. Prayer is the common medicine for purifying ourselves from the passions, for hindering sin and curing our faults. Prayer is an inexhaustible treasure, an unruffled harbor, the foundation of serenity, the root and mother of myriad’s of blessings.

~ From the Writings of Orthodox Saints, Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes

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Why is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book . . .

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

Why is it, you ask, that one can pray for so many years with a prayer book, and still not have prayer in his heart? I think the reason is that people only spend a little time lifting themselves up to God when they complete their prayer rule, and in other times, they do not remember God. For example, they finish their morning prayers, and think that their relation to God is fulfilled by them; then the whole day passes in work, and such a person does not attend to God. Then in the evening, the thought returns to him that he must quickly stand at prayer and complete his evening rule. In this case, it happens that even if the Lord grants a person spiritual feelings at the time of the morning prayer, the bustle and business of the day drowns them out. Continue reading

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Hold on to our faith which is eternal and definite

~ Words of the Church Fathers ~

…the spiritual world cannot be investigated using the same methods as the material world. Those methods are completely unsuitable for investigating the spiritual world… There are phenomena that science will never be able to explain because it does not use the appropriate methods… Continue reading

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Sermon on the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross (John 3: 13-17)

Today, on this Sunday before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Lord presents the central theme of the Gospel in a few words: God saves the world from the devil and sin driven by endless love alone! Continue reading

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This Was From Me

The Spiritual Testament of St Seraphim of Vyritsa (1866-1949)

“This was from me” is a famous letter written by Saint Seraphim of Vyritsa that he sent to his spiritual child, a bishop who was in a Soviet prison at that time; this homily “This was from me” is written as a consolation and counsel to the bishop to let him know that God the Creator addresses to the soul of man. Continue reading

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