March 31

How can anything be accomplished without moral judgment? It is born of the intelligence and constitutes the mean between craftiness–that is, excessive astuteness–and thoughtlessness. Craftiness pulls moral judgment towards cunning and guile, and injures the soul of the possessor and as many other people as it can; lack of thought makes one obtuse and trivial, and does not allow the intellect to concentrate on divine matters or on something of profit to one’s soul or to one’s neighbor….

The man of moral judgment…neither climbs arrogantly upward seeking to harm others, nor descends foolishly only to be harmed by someone else. Choosing the middle way, he keeps to this with the help of Christ our Lord; to whom be glory and dominion throughout the ages, Amen.

~St Peter of Damaskos

March 29

To speak of love is to dare to speak of God; for, according to St John the Theologian, ‘God is love; and he who dwells in love dwells in God’ (1 John 4:16)….’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might’ (Deuteronomy 6:5)….’with all your soul’ means with the intelligent, incensive and desiring powers of the soul, because it is of these three powers that the soul is composed. Thus the intellect should think at all times about divine matters, while the desire should long constantly and entirely, as the Law says, for God alone and never for anything else; and the incensive power should actively oppose only what obstructs this longing, and nothing else….

~St Peter of Damaskos

March 28

The Lord Himself said that the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of the kingdom of heaven (Luke 16:8). And He was quite right: for the children of this world long to make good and to grow rich, to be clever and to win praise, to gain power and so on; and even though they are likely to fail in their aspirations and their effort will prove vain, they still exert more than human strength to attain these things.

But the children of the kingdom aspire to things that are completely different, and because of this they often receive in this world a foretaste of the blessings held in store. Like the children of this world they exert themselves, but they do this so that by grace their intellect may be liberated and may thereby become unforgettingly mindful of God. In this way it comes to know the divine thoughts to which the Holy Scriptures and those with experience in spiritual knowledge bear witness; or else in its perplexity it realizes that in spite of its great knowledge it is still ignorant of them.

~St Peter of Damaskos


March 27

St John Chrysostom says that it is a great blessing from God that some parts of the Scriptures are clear while others are not. By means of the first we acquire faith and ardor and do not fall into disbelief and laziness because of our utter inability to grasp what is said. By means of the second we are roused to inquiry and effort, thus both strengthening our understanding and learning humility from the fact that everything is not intelligible to us.

Hence, if we take stock of the gifts conferred on us, we will reap humility and longing for God from both what we understand and what we do not.

~St Peter of Damaskos

March 25

Prayer acts murderously on our ‘old man’, the unregenerate self or nature. As long as it is alive in us, it opposes prayer like death. Fallen spirits, knowing the power of prayer and its beneficial effect, endeavor by all possible means to divert us from it, prompting us to use the time assigned to prayer for other occupations; or else they try to annul it and profane it with mundane distractions and sinful inattention, by producing at the time of prayer a countless swarm of earthly thoughts, sinful daydreams and reveries, imaginings and fantasies.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

March 24

Prayer is all-powerful on account of the all-powerful God Who acts in it. It is ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’  Prayer by its nature is communion and union of man with God; by its action it is the reconciliation of man with God, the mother and daughter of tears, a bridge for crossing temptations, a wall of protection from afflictions, a crushing of conflicts, boundless activity, the spring of virtues, the source of spiritual gifts, invisible progress, food of the soul, the enlightening of the mind, an axe for despair, a demonstration of hope, release from sorrow…

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

March 23

Ascetic practice is a good thing, but only when done with the right goal in mind. We ought to think of it not as the real task, but as a preparation for the real task; not as the fruit, but as the earth that can, with time, labor, and the help of God, bear trees from which the fruit will come–the fruit that is purity of intellect [the innermost depth of the heart] and union with God. To Him be glory throughout the ages. Amen.

~St Peter of Damaskos

Prayer requires the inseparable presence and cooperation of the attention. With attention, prayer becomes the inalienable property of the person praying; in the absence of attention, it is extraneous to the person praying. With attention, it bears abundant fruit; without attention, it produces thorns and thistles [thorns and thistles represent conceit and hypocrisy, self-delusion and formality].

The fruit of prayer consists in illumination of mind and compunction of heart, in the quickening of the soul with the life of the Spirit.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

March 22

Prayer is the daughter of the fulfillment of the Gospel commandments, and is at the same time the mother of all the virtues…it is impossible for a person to turn with all his thought, with all his strength, and with all his being toward God, except by the action of prayer…regularity, progress, and proficiency in prayer are opposed by our corrupt nature and by the fallen angels who strive their utmost to keep us in their slavery, in the fallen state of aversion from God which is common to men and fallen angels.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

March 21

[Solomon] himself describes how God has sent subtle temptations to the sons of men, so that they might be distracted by vain things (Ecclesiastes 1:13) and thus prevented from turning towards what is even worse. All this is clear from the very nature of things. For if, when there are thousands of distractions, some still find opportunity to commit sins, how much more would this be the case if our lives were without distractions?

In such circumstances, it is better for us to be superficially distracted, and so prevented from devoting ourselves to holy things and holy thoughts, rather than for us to do many other things which are in fact worse.

~St Peter of Damaskos

March 20

Through humility in your dealings with your neighbor, and through love for your neighbor, hardness and callousness is expelled from the heart. It is rolled away like a heavy rock from the entrance to a tomb, and the heart revives for spiritual relations with God for which it has been hitherto dead.

A new vista opens to the gaze of the mind: the multitudinous wounds of sin with which the whole of fallen nature is riddled. It begins to confess its wretched state to God and implore Him for mercy. The heart assists the mind with mourning and compunction. This is the beginning of true prayer.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov