August 31

When you know yourself you cease from all outward tasks undertaken with a view to serving God and enter into the very sanctuary of God, into the noetic liturgy of the Spirit, the divine haven of dispassion and humility. But until you come to know yourself through humility and spiritual knowledge your life is one of toil and sweat. It was of this that David cryptically spoke when he said, ‘Toil lies before me until I enter the sanctuary of God’ (Psalm 73: 12-17 LXX).

~Nikitas Stithatos

August 30

‘Know thyself’: this is true humility, the humility that teaches us to be inwardly humble and makes our heart contrite. Such humility you must cultivate and guard. For if you do not yet know yourself you cannot know what humility is, and have not yet embarked truly on the task of cultivating and guarding. To know oneself is the goal of the practice of the virtues.

~ Nikitas Stithatos

August 29

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, goodness, long-suffering, kindness, faith, gentleness, self-control (cf. Galatians 5:22-23). The fruits of the spirit of evil are hatred, worldly despondency, restlessness of soul, a troubled heart, guile, inquisitiveness, negligence, anger, lack of faith, envy, gluttony, drunkenness, abusiveness, censoriousness, the lust of the eyes (cf. 1 John 2:16), vanity and pretentiousness of soul. By these fruits you may know the tree (cf. Matthew 12:33), and in this way you will certainly recognize what kind of spirit you have to deal with. An even clearer indication of these things is given by the Lord Himself when He says, ‘A good man out of the good treasury of his heart brings forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasury of his heart brings forth evil things’ (Matthew 12:35). For as the tree, so is the fruit.

~Nikitas Stithatos

The Other Side of Loneliness

On the other side of loneliness,

there is a place.

Listen.

I’m telling you.

 

I’ve been there

and it’s not so bad.

There’s nothing to be afraid of,

because it isn’t nothing—

this loneliness.

 

You aren’t alone,

though it may feel that way,

for a time.

 

Yes, I’ve seen you running

trying to get away.

Away from that fearful silence.

I understand.

I’ve been running too.

 

Let me tell you though—

on the other side of loneliness,

is the place where you’ll encounter you.

I know because it’s where

I encountered me.

 

You may have felt it in a forest,

or heard it whispering at the beach—

stillness calling you to silence.

 

Have courage—

endure the boredom,

face the tears—

the twin veils which mask

your entry into you.

 

Else, live a life of constant fleeing—

never finding rest.

 

~FS

 

August 28

To speak humbly is one thing, to act humbly is another, and to be inwardly humble is something else again. Through all manner of hardship and through the outward labors of virtue those engaged in spiritual warfare can attain the qualities of speaking and acting humbly, for these qualities require no more than bodily effort and discipline. But because the soul of such people often lacks inner stability, when temptation confronts them they are easily shaken. Inward humility, on the other hand, is something exalted and divine, bestowed through the indwelling of the Paraclete only on those who have passed the midpoint of the spiritual way–who have, that is to say, through acting in all humility traversed the rigorous path of virtue.

~Nikitas Stithatos

August 27

The vehemence of our trials and temptations depends upon the degree to which we are debilitated by the passions and infected by sin; and the bitter cup of God’s judgment varies accordingly. If the nature of the sin within us is such that it is easily treated and cured–if, that is to say, it consists of thoughts that are self-indulgent or worldly–then the Healer of our souls in His compassion adds but a mild dose of wormwood to the cup of trial and temptation He administers, since these are merely human ailments by which we are afflicted. But if the sin is deep-seated and hard to cure–a lethal infection of pretentious arrogant thoughts–then in keenness of His wrath He gives us the cup undiluted, so that, dissolved and refined in the fire of successive trials and the humility they induce, the sickness may be removed from our soul and we may wash away our brackish thoughts with tears, thus presenting ourselves pure in the light of humility to our Healer.

~Nikitas Stithatos

August 17

‘Devote yourselves to stillness and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10). This is the voice of the divine Logos and is experienced as such by those who put the words into practice. Thus once you have renounced the turmoil and frightening vanity of life you should in stillness scrutinize yourself and the inner reality of things with the utmost attentiveness and should seek to know more fully the God within yourself, for His kingdom is within us (Luke 17:21). Yet even if you do this over a long period of time it will be difficult for you to erase the imprint of evil from your soul and to restore it wholly to its Creator in all its primal beauty.

~Nikitas Stithatos