November 29

The key to the kingdom of heaven is prayer. He who uses this key as he should sees what blessings the kingdom holds in store for those who love it. He who has no communion with the kingdom gives his attention merely to worldly matters.

To beginners the law of prayer is burdensome, like a despotic master; but to the more advanced it is like an erotic force, impelling those smitten by it as a hungry man is impelled towards a rich banquet.

~Ilias the Presbyter


November 28

If the intellect has become so closely attached to worldly thoughts through its inveterate involvement with them, how intimate would it become with prayer if it prayed unceasingly? For, it is said, the intellect will flourish in whatever it makes its constant occupation.

Prayer deserts you if you give attention to thoughts within and to conversations without. But if you largely ignore both in order to concentrate on it, it will return to you.

~Ilias the Presbyter




November 27

In those in whom mercy and truth prevail, everything is godlike; for truth judges no one without mercy, while mercy never manifests compassion apart from truth.

Let prayer inhere in the intellect as a ray in the sun. If the intellect lacks prayer, then worldly cares, like ‘clouds driven about by the wind and bringing no rain’ (Jude verse 12), deprive it of its native luminosity.

Because of long absence from its true home, the intellect has forgotten the luminosity it enjoyed there; hence it must once more become oblivious to things in this world and hasten back to its true home through prayer.

~Ilias the Presbyter

November 26

Truth without humility is blind. That is why it becomes contentious: it tries to support itself on something, and finds nothing except rancour.

It is best not to go astray at all. Second best is not to hide your error through shame, or be shameless about it, but to humble yourself and, when reproved, to reprove yourself likewise, gladly accepting the punishment. If you do not do this, everything you offer to God is valueless.

In addition to voluntary suffering, you must also accept that which comes against your will–I mean slander, material losses and sickness. For if you do not accept these but rebel against them, you are like someone who wants to eat his bread only with honey, never with salt. Such a man does not always have pleasure as his companion, but always has nausea as his neighbor.

~Ilias the Presbyter

November 24

Not all those who are discreet in their words are also circumspect in their thoughts. Nor are all those who are circumspect in their thought also discreet where their external senses are concerned. For although all men are subject to the senses, not all pay them the same amount of tribute. In their artlessness, most men do not know the price the senses demand for what they supply.

A truly merciful person is not one that deliberately gives away superfluous things, but one that forgives those who deprive him of what he needs.

As regards his good qualities, the proud man does not want to be compared with his equals; but as regards his failings, he is quite content to be compared with those worse than himself.

~Ilias the Presbyter

November 23

Demons wage war against the soul primarily through thoughts, not through things; for things fight against us in their own right. Hearing and sight are responsible for the warfare waged through things, habit and demons for that waged through thoughts.

The body cannot be purified without fasting and vigil, the soul without mercy and truth, and the intellect without contemplation of God and communion with Him. These pairs constitute the principal virtues in these three aspects of the human person.

When the soul moves in obedience to these virtues, her citadel–patient endurance–is not disturbed by temptations. ‘You will gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance’ (Luke 21:19), says the Logos. Otherwise the soul will be shaken by fits of cowardice, as an unwalled city is by a distant uproar.

~Ilias the Presbyter

November 22

Trials and temptations subject to our volition are chiefly caused by health, wealth and reputation, and those beyond our control by sickness, material losses and slander. Some people are helped by these things, others are destroyed by them.

Let your words combine insight and self-awareness, so that the peaceable divine Logos may not be ashamed to enshrine Himself in them because of their brashness and lack of restraint.

You will not be able to perceive the face of virtue so long as you still look on vice with a feeling of pleasure. But vice will appear hateful to you when you hunger for the taste of virtue and avert your gaze from every form of evil.

~Ilias the Presbyter