Three-Hundred Sayings of the Ascetics of the Orthodox Church - Part 4

July 14, 2018

Periodically in the coming months I will be utilizing a little book translated from Russian titled simply Three-Hundred Sayings of the Ascetics of the Orthodox Church. The purpose of the book is simple: to give short sayings from Orthodox saints on a variety of topics important to all of us. I have found this little collection helpful and I hope you do, too.
-Fr John

 

The Saints

The humble soul is blessed. The Lord loves her. The Mother of God is higher than all in humility, and therefore all races bless her on earth, while the heavenly powers serve her. And the Lord has given us this blessed Mother of His as a defender and helper. (St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings III.14)


"I love them that love me and glorify them that glorify me." (Proverbs 8:17, I Kings 2:30,) says the Lord of His saints. The lord gave the Holy Spirit to the saints, and they love us in the Holy Spirit. The saints hear our prayers and have the power from God to help us. The entire Christian race knows this. (St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XII.1,8)


Many think that the saints are far from us. But they are far from those who distance themselves from them, and very close to those keep the commandments of Christ and have the grace of the Holy Spirit. In the heavens, all things are moved by the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is on earth too. He lives in our Church. He lives in the Mysteries. He is in the Holy Scriptures. He is in the souls of the faithful. The Holy Spirit unites all things, and therefore the saints are close to us. And when we pray to them, then the Holy Spirit hears our prayers, and our souls feel that they are praying for us. (St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XII.3)

 

The saints are like the Lord, but so are all people who keep the commandments of Christ; but those who live according to their own passions and do not repent are like the devil. I think that if this mystery were revealed to the world, then they would stop serving the devil, and every one would strive to serve the Lord with all his strength, and to be like Him. (St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XII.9)

 

When the soul by the Holy Spirit comes to know the Mother of God; when in the Holy Spirit the soul becomes kin to the Apostles, the Prophets, and all the Saints and Righteous Ones, then she is irresistibly drawn to that world, and cannot remain, but is bothered, and thirsts, and cannot cease from prayer, and although the body becomes exhausted and wants to lie down on a bed, even while lying in bed the soul longs for the Lord and the Kingdom of the Saints. (St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, I.28)

 

The Holy Scriptures

The Holy Scriptures lead us to God and open the path to the knowledge of God. (St. John Chrysostom, Conversations on the Gospel of John, 59:2)


Of all the afflictions that burden the human race, there is not one, whether spiritual or bodily, that cannot be healed by the Holy Scriptures. (St. John Chrysostom, Conversations on the Book of Genesis, 29.1)

 

Just as those who are deprived of light cannot walk straight, so also those who do not behold the ray of the Holy Scriptures must necessarily sin, since they walk in the deepest darkness. (St. John Chrysostom, Conversations on the Epistle to the Romans, 0.1)

 

A humble man who lives a spiritual life, when he reads the Holy Scriptures, while relate all things to himself and not to others. (St. Mark the Ascetic, Sermon, 1.6)

 

In all things that you find in the Holy Scriptures, seek out the purpose of the words, that you may enter into the depth of the thoughts of the saints and understand them with greater exactness. Do not approach the reading of the Divine Scriptures without prayer and asking the help of God. Consider prayer to be the key to the true understanding of that which is said in the Holy Scriptures. (St. Isaac the Syrian, Sermon 1.85)

 

When you begin to read or listen to the Holy Scriptures, pray to God thus: "Lord Jesus Christ, open the ears and eyes of my heart so that I may hear Thy words and understand them, and may fulfill Thy will." Always pray to God like this, that He might illumine your mind and open to you the power of His words. Many, having trusted in their own reason, have turned away into deception. (St. Ephraim the Syrian)

 

The proud sin greatly who, after studying secular literature and having turned to the Holy Scriptures, consider all that they say to be the Law of God, and do not endeavor to come to know the thoughts of the prophets and apostles, but seek out from the scriptures inappropriate texts for their own thoughts, as if this were a good work, and not the most defiled kind of study: to distort the thoughts of Scripture and submit them to their own intentions, in spite of obvious contradictions... It is proper to children and charlatans to try to teach that which they do not know. (St. Jerome)

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