November 14

Unless a man hates all the activity of this world, he cannot worship God. What then is meant by the worship of God? It means that we have nothing extraneous in our intellect* when we are praying to Him: neither sensual pleasure as we bless Him, nor malice as we sing His praise, nor hatred as we exalt Him, nor jealousy to hinder us as we speak to Him and call Him to mind. For all these things are full of darkness; they are a wall imprisoning our wretched soul, and if the soul has them in itself it cannot worship God with purity. They obstruct its ascent and prevent it from meeting God; they hinder it from blessing Him inwardly and praying to Him with the sweetness of heart, and so receiving His illumination. As a result the intellect is always shrouded in darkness and cannot advance in holiness, because it does not make the effort to uproot these thoughts by means of spiritual knowledge*.

~St Isaiah The Solitary (Philokalia, vol. 1, p. 24-25.)

 

*Intellect-the nous, the highest faculty in man, the organ of contemplation, the innermost aspect of the heart, through which, when purified, man can know God by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. Not to be confused with reason.

 

*Spiritual Knowledge-knowledge of the intellect, inspired by God, linked with contemplation and immediate spiritual perception.

 

To hate the world is to reclaim our mind, our heart, our soul and our strength for Christ. We become one-pointed, unified and healed of that which causes dissipation, and distracts us from our true calling to worship God. We should strive to worship God in purity, living virtuously and removing whatever obstructs and hinders us from worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.

To this point also consider: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5: 23-24).

And, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

November 8

Let us stand firm in the fear of God, rigorously practicing the virtues and not giving our conscience cause to stumble. In the fear of God let us keep our attention fixed within ourselves, until our conscience achieves its freedom. Then there will be a union between it and us, and thereafter it will be our guardian, showing us each thing that we must uproot. But if we do not obey our conscience, it will abandon us and we shall fall into the hands of our enemies, who will never let us go. This is what our Lord taught us when He said: ‘Come to an agreement with your adversary quickly while you are with him in the road, lest he hand you over to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer and you are cast into prison’ (Matthew 5:25). The conscience is called an ‘adversary’ because it opposes us when we wish to carry out the desires of our flesh; and if we do not listen to our conscience, it delivers us into the hands of our enemies.

~St Isaiah The Solitary (Philokalia, vol. 1, p. 22-23.)

 

Let us keep our attention fixed within ourselves, as opposed to being focused on what others are doing. God gave each of us our own conscience to assist us on the path to spiritual freedom in Him. Through cooperation with Him, and by this gift of the Spirit, we can achieve greater and greater freedom. Like a flashlight shining upon the darkness within, we can use it to uncover deeper and deeper shadows of vice, or passions, by listening and being obedient to this great helper. Let us likewise be diligent in applying our conscience, not giving ourselves license, excuse, or even the time to dally with sin, but rather make haste, and act quickly to flee what our conscience is exposing to us as the enemies of our soul. Let us transform our conscience from an adversary into a beloved companion through its constant attention and use.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.