April 12

If someone seeks for success and pleasure, comfort and glory in this world, then he loves the wisdom of this world. But if someone struggles for what is contrary to these things–if he suffers, practices self-control, and endures all kinds of affliction and disgrace for the sake of the kingdom of heaven–then he loves the wisdom of God. The first longs to attain material benefits, secular learning and secular power, and often suffers on this account; but the second shares the sufferings of Christ. Thus the first places all his hopes in the things of this world, desiring to possess them even though they are transitory and hard to come by; while the second is hidden from ‘the eyes of the foolish’, as Holy Scripture puts it, but is clearly revealed in the world to come, when everything hidden is disclosed.

…the intention of divine Scripture is to speak of things that can save the soul, and to reveal to us the mysteries it contains in itself, as well as the inner principles of created beings, that is, the purpose for which each thing was created. In this way it aims to illumine our intellect with the love of God, and to enable it to perceive His greatness and His inexpressible wisdom and providence, as they are revealed in His care for His creation. Such knowledge makes us afraid of breaking His commandments and conscious of our own weakness and ignorance. This in its turn makes us humble and teaches us to love God and not to despise His commandments, as do those who lack effective knowledge of Him.

…the aim of the teachers of secular wisdom is different, for each is eager to defeat the other and to appear wiser; hence they do not discover Christ, nor do those who emulate them, in spite of all their efforts. For, as St John Klimakos says, God reveals Himself, not in response to our exertions, but in response to the humility and simplicity that come through faith, that is, through the contemplation of the Scriptures and of created beings. On this account the Lord said, ‘How can you have faith when you receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?’ (John 5:44). This is that great faith which makes it possible for us to put all our cares into the hands of God. The apostle calls it the foundation (Hebrews 6:1), St John Klimakos, the mother of stillness, and St Isaac, the faith of contemplation and the gateway of the mysteries. He who possesses this faith is completely free from worry and anxiety, as were all the saints.

~St Peter of Damaskos

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