February 28

Accustom yourself to the labor of prayer, drawing near to the House of God….prayer is the proof of accomplishment and the means of progress. The more intensive is your prayer, the more pure is your soul. A flaming prayerful spirit is the result of its communion with God, Who is Himself fire and kindles the spirit of everyone who comes in contact with Him…..

go from praying both day and night while standing or kneeling, to staying with all your heart before God in constant prayer.

~St Theophan the Recluse


February 26

We ought to learn the virtues through practicing them, not merely through talking about them, so that by acquiring the habit of them we do no forget what is of benefit to us. ‘The kingdom of God’, as St Paul says, ‘resides not in words but in power’ (1 Corinthians 4:20).

For he who tries to discover things through actual practice will come to understand what gain or loss lies in any activity that he pursues, as St Isaac says; and he can also give advice to others, for he has often suffered and has thereby gained experience.

For some things, St Isaac tells us, appear good, but conceal no small harm; while others appear bad, but contain within themselves the greatest profit.

~St Peter of Damaskos

February 21

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:

To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;

When you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you;

The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.  Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;  you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am’.

If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.

The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

~Isaiah 58:6-11

February 19

Even if you had the wisdom of Solomon, the faith of Abraham, the patience of Job, the fiery spirit of David, it would still be little in comparison to what still must be acquired. Conscious of this, those great righteous men said of themselves: I am earth and ashes; not a man but a worm, a defamation of men and the humiliation of the people….

When you have this feeling, then you will have a feeling of need and crisis; and when you have that, you will have a need for prayer. If this need would remain permanently in your soul, it would teach you further through the very work of prayer. Necessity teaches everything.

The need for prayer teaches one to pray. Where can one get wisdom and quick understanding? Either in solitude or at common prayer, in the cell or on the road, in church, at the table or at your handiwork….

Just don’t think that the act of prayer is somehow complex and confusing. When a child wants to eat he comes to his mother and says, ‘Give me some bread.’…the same goes for prayer to God….

When you feel the need, come and tell the Lord about it with a simple heart.

~St Theophan the Recluse


February 17

I marvel at God’s wisdom, at how the most indispensable things–air, fire, water, earth–are readily available to all. And not simply this, but things conducive to the soul’s salvation are more accessible than other things, while soul-destroying things are harder to come by.  For example, poverty, which anyone can experience, is conducive to the soul’s salvation; while riches, which are not simply at our command, are generally a hindrance.

It is the same with dishonor, humiliation, patience, obedience, submission, self-control, fasting, vigils, the cutting off of one’s will, bodily enfeeblement, thankfulness for all things, trials, injuries, the lack of life’s necessities, abstinence from sensual pleasure, destitution, forbearance–in short, all the things conducive to the spiritual life are freely available. No one fights over them.

On the contrary, everyone leaves them to those who choose to accept them, whether they have been sought for or have come against our will. Soul-destroying things, on the other hand, are not so readily within our grasp–things like wealth, glory, pride, intolerance, power, authority, dissipation, gluttony….people struggle greatly for these things, but only a few attain them, and in any case the benefit they confer is fleeting….they bring….all manner of distress.

None the less, it is not the thing itself, but its misuse, that is evil.

~St Peter of Damaskos

February 16

For it is not food, but gluttony, that is bad; not money, but attachment to it; not speech, but idle talk; not the world’s delights, but dissipation; not love of one’s family, but the neglect of God that such love may produce; not the clothes worn only for covering and protection from cold and heat, but those that are excessive and costly; not the houses that also protect us from heat and cold, as well as from anything human or animal that might harm us, but houses with two or three floors, large and expensive; not owning something, but owning it when it has no vital use for us; not the possession of books on the part of those who have embraced total poverty, but the possession of books for some purpose other than spiritual reading; not friendship, but the having of friends who are of no benefit to one’s soul; not women, but unchastity; not wealth, but avarice; not wine, but drunkenness; not anger used in accordance with nature for the chastisement of sin, but its use against one’s fellow men.

~St Peter of Damaskos

February 14

You must know that peace and tranquility and fulfillment are either the crown of perfection or a state of extreme fall, in which all spiritual striving and needs are extinguished. As the first state is the fullness of life, so the last state is spiritual death. The state of those who are progressing towards perfection, however, is a state of struggle–intense, laborious and full of tribulation. This state of progressing–is the narrow path.

From these signs, judge for yourselves where you are. Of course, one would wish that all would be on the side of good, but not all have the wisdom. May the Lord make you wise unto salvation. Amen!

~St Theophan the Recluse

February 12

Do you ever notice how one word gives rise to a whole series of other words, each word to a series of thoughts; a series of thoughts turns into a series of beginnings, and deeds both good and evil? He who speaks about empty things has emptiness in his head and heart, emptiness also in his life….He who speaks about good things becomes more and more enflamed towards the good and enriches himself by it.

~St Theophan the Recluse