June 8

He who has completely uprooted self-love from his heart will, with God’s help, easily conquer all the other passions. For a man dominated by self-love is under the power of other passions as well, since from it arise anger, irritation, rancour, love of pleasure, licentiousness. By self-love we mean an impassioned disposition towards and love for the body, and the fulfillment of carnal desires.

What Christ our God called the ‘narrow way’ (Matthew 7:14), He also called an ‘easy yoke’ and ‘light burden’ (Matthew 11:30). How could He equate these things when they seem to be contraries? For our nature, certainly this path is harsh and steep, but to those who pursue it wholeheartedly and with good hope, and who aspire after holiness, find it attractive and full of delight, for it brings them pleasure not affliction. Hence they eagerly follow the narrow and painful way, greatly preferring it to that which is broad and spacious. Listen to St Luke, who tells us how the apostles after being beaten, departed from the presence of the council rejoicing (Acts 5:41), even though this is not the natural effect of a beating. For scourges normally cause not pleasure and joy, but pain and suffering. Yet if, because of Christ, they resulted in joy, what wonder is it if other forms of bodily hardship and ill-treatment have, because of Him, the same effect?

-St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

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