May 12

…St Isaac says, “Do not hate the sinner; we are all sinners and deserve condemnation. If you are moved for God’s sake, weep over him. Why should you hate him? Hate his sins and pray for him and you will resemble Christ Who was not angry with sinners but prayed for them. Do you not see how He wept over Jerusalem? But in many cases we become a laughingstock for the devil. Why should we hate those who are mocked like ourselves by the very devil who mocks us? Why, O man, do you hate the sinner? Because he is not so righteous as you are. But where is your righteousness when you have no love? And if you have love, why do you not weep for him instead of persecuting him? Some people, thinking that they have sound judgment in regard to the deeds of sinners, get angry with them; they act like this out of ignorance.”

Self-opinion, presumption, or conceit is a great calamity. Refusal of humility is a great calamity.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

April 30

Bodily discipline is essential in order to make the ground of the heart fit to receive the spiritual seeds and bear spiritual fruit. To abandon or neglect it is to render the ground unfit for sowing and bearing fruit. Excess in this direction and putting one’s trust in it is just as harmful, or even more so, than neglect of it. Neglect of bodily discipline makes men like animals who give free rein and scope to their bodily passions; but excess makes men like devils and fosters the tendency to pride and the recurrence of other passions of the soul.

Those who relinquish bodily discipline become subject to gluttony, lust and anger in its cruder forms. Those who practice immoderate bodily discipline, use it indiscreetly, or put all their trust in it, seeing in it their merit and worth in God’s sight, fall into vainglory, self-opinion, presumption, pride, hardness and obduracy, contempt of their neighbors, detraction and condemnation of others, rancor, resentment, hate, blasphemy, schism, heresy, self-deception, and diabolic delusion.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

April 21

Our sufferings for the most part are extremely trifling, so that at first sight it seems impossible to regard them as sufferings at all. But that is only the cunning of our enemy who has acquired in the struggle with feeble man uncommon skill and experience, thanks to long practice. The fallen spirit saw that cruel, coarse, obvious temptations (sufferings) provoke in people flaming zeal and courage to bear them. He saw this, and changed his tactics. He changed his coarse temptations to weak but subtle ones which act very powerfully. They do not evoke zeal from our heart, they do not cause it to struggle, but they keep it in a kind of irresolute state and fill the mind with doubt.

They weary and gradually exhaust the powers of a man’s soul, they throw him into despondency and inaction, and they ruin him by making him an abode of passions on account of his weakness, despondency, and inertia….

We must not give way to listlessness, despondency, and inertia. On the contrary, let us direct all our attention and all our energy to carrying out the commandments of the Gospel. This obedience will reveal to us the countless snares of the enemy, and that cunning forethought with which his traps are planned and set. We shall see that the outwardly slight troubles and trials of today are directed, like the grim troubles and trials of old, to draw men away from Christ and to destroy true Christianity on earth, only leaving the shell to deceive people more easily. We shall see that temptations that are slight but are planned and carried out with hellish wickedness act much more successfully in the eyes of Satan than grave but obvious and direct attacks.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

April 20

Life according to the will of God is becoming very difficult. That is because, when you live in the midst of temptations and have them constantly before your eyes, it is impossible not to be influenced by them. Just as ice in the presence of warmth loses its firmness and is converted into the softest water, so even a heart overflowing with goodwill, if exposed to the constant influence of temptations, is weakened and changed. Life according to the laws of God is becoming very difficult on account of the widespread, general apostasy.

The increasing apostates, by calling themselves and appearing outwardly to be Christians, will all the more easily be able to persecute the true followers of Christ. The increasing apostates surround true Christians with countless snares, and put countless obstacles in the way of their salvation and their good intention to serve God…the Savior of the world could scarcely find refuge in insignificant and remote Nazareth in order to hide from Herod and from…[those] who so hated Him. So too, in the last times a true [Christian] will hardly be able to find some remote and unknown refuge in which to serve God with some degree of freedom, and not be drawn by the violence of apostasy and the apostates into the service of Satan.

O disastrous time!…O moral disaster, unnoticeable for people who live only the life of the senses, yet incomparably greater than all material, glaring disasters! O disaster that begins in time and does not end in time, but passes into eternity! O disaster of disasters, realized only by certain true Christians and true monks, but unknown to those whom it seizes and destroys!

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

April 16

The Prophet David says in the person of the ascetic whose carnal mind is still shaking: “I was envious of the wicked, seeing the peace of sinners, for there is no fear in their death;” that is, no affliction rouses them from their spiritual torpor, from their deadly sleep, from spiritual death. “They are not in the labor of other folk, neither are they plagued like other men.”

By men here is meant servants of the true God who have preserved their human dignity. They exercise themselves in pious voluntary labors and are subjected to the Lord’s involuntary discipline. Rejected sinners, living in carelessness, share neither labors nor sufferings. And what is the result? “Therefore hath their pride mastered them utterly; they have clothed themselves in their unrighteousness and impiety.”

All consciousness of their sinfulness is destroyed in them. An immense, incurable conceit makes its appearance. A sinful life becomes their inseparable property, just as if it were their constant garment or clothing, which in turn becomes their disgrace and consists in ignorance of God, in false conceptions of God and of every doctrine revealed by God.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

April 10

The acknowledgment of oneself as deserving of temporal and eternal punishments precedes the knowledge of the Savior and leads to the knowledge of the Savior, as we see from the example of the robber who inherited Paradise. Perhaps you will say that the robber was a flagrant criminal, and therefore confession was easy for him, but how is a person who has committed no crime to make a confession of that sort?

We reply that the other robber who was crucified beside the Lord was also a flagrant criminal, but he did not acknowledge his sinfulness, because awareness of sin is a result of love and humility, while unawareness is a result of pride and hardness of heart.

God’s saints were constantly aware that they were sinners, in spite of the obvious spiritual gifts with which they were so lavishly endowed. On the other hand, the greatest evildoers and criminals have always justified themselves. While drowning in crime, they never stopped proclaiming their virtue.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

April 7

Remind and remind yourself: ‘I shall die, I shall die for certain! My fathers and forefathers died; no human being has remained forever on earth. And the fate that has overtaken everyone awaits me too!’ Do not fritter away the time given you for repentance. Do not rivet your eyes to the earth on which you are a momentary actor, on which you are an exile, on which by the mercy of God you are given a chance to change your mind and offer repentance for the avoidance of hell’s eternal prisons and the eternal torment in them.

Use the short spell of your pilgrimage on earth to acquire a haven of peace, a blessed refuge in eternity.

~Ignatius Brainchaninov