March 17

[Patient] endurance is like an unshakeable rock in the winds and waves of life. However the tempest batters him, the patient man remains steadfast and does not turn back; and when he finds relief and joy, he is not carried away by self-glory: he is always the same, whether things are hard or easy, and for this reason he is proof against the snares of the enemy.

When storms beset him, he endures them with joy, awaiting their end; and when the heavens smile on him, he expects temptation–until his last breath, as St Antony has said.

Such a person knows that nothing in life is unchangeable, and that all things pass. Thus he is not troubled or anxious about any of them, but leaves all things in the hands of God, for He has us in His care (1 Peter 5:7); and to Him belong all glory, honor and dominion throughout the ages. Amen.

~St Peter of Damaskos

March 13

The man seized by spiritual joy is astounded by the many blessings that God in his grace has bestowed on him, and he loves his Benefactor. But he who stubbornly indulges in luxury and splendor, like the rich man (Luke 16:19), thinks that those consumed by fear and facing trials and temptations suffer in this way because of their sins, and in his comfort and complacency he despises them. He imagines that he deserves his easy life, although in fact he does not deserve it at all; for, blinded by his inane love for the ephemeral, he has made himself unworthy of the life held in store.

~St Peter of Damaskos

March 10

…even the doing of what is good requires discrimination….for the good is not good unless its purpose is conformed to God’s will. On many occasions in divine Scripture God is grieved with someone who is doing something that appears to all to be good, and He looks favourably on someone who appears to be doing evil. A case in point is that of the prophet who asked someone to strike him; when the man refused he was eaten by a wild beast, although he had acted in a way that was ostensibly good (1 Kings 20:35-36).

St Peter, too, thought he was acting rightly when he refused to have his feet washed, but he was rebuked for this (John 13:8). Hence we should do all we can to discern the will of God and to do it, whether it corresponds to what we think good or not….in short, all that God arranges is admirable, beyond the grasp of intellect and thought.

~St Peter of Damaskos

March 8

When we make specific requests in our prayers, this is not so as to inform God, for He already knows our hearts; we make them so that we may be brought to contrition. We also do it because we desire to remain longer in His presence, attentively addressing yet more words to Him, giving thanks to Him, acknowledging the many blessings we have received from Him, for as long as we can, as St John Chrysostom says of the Prophet David….[it] is done out of longing and so that the word of divine Scripture should be imprinted in the intellect of whoever is reading or praying.

For God knows all things…we, however, have need of hearing things, so that we may know what we ask for and why we are praying, and may be filled with gratitude and cleave to God through our entreaties. It is through such repetition that we avoid being overcome by our enemies when we are troubled in thought, for then they will not find us unmindful of Him; and it is also through it that, helped by prayer and the study of divine Scripture, we may come to acquire the virtues about which the holy fathers have written in their various works, through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

~St Peter of Damaskos

February 26

We ought to learn the virtues through practicing them, not merely through talking about them, so that by acquiring the habit of them we do no forget what is of benefit to us. ‘The kingdom of God’, as St Paul says, ‘resides not in words but in power’ (1 Corinthians 4:20).

For he who tries to discover things through actual practice will come to understand what gain or loss lies in any activity that he pursues, as St Isaac says; and he can also give advice to others, for he has often suffered and has thereby gained experience.

For some things, St Isaac tells us, appear good, but conceal no small harm; while others appear bad, but contain within themselves the greatest profit.

~St Peter of Damaskos

February 17

I marvel at God’s wisdom, at how the most indispensable things–air, fire, water, earth–are readily available to all. And not simply this, but things conducive to the soul’s salvation are more accessible than other things, while soul-destroying things are harder to come by.  For example, poverty, which anyone can experience, is conducive to the soul’s salvation; while riches, which are not simply at our command, are generally a hindrance.

It is the same with dishonor, humiliation, patience, obedience, submission, self-control, fasting, vigils, the cutting off of one’s will, bodily enfeeblement, thankfulness for all things, trials, injuries, the lack of life’s necessities, abstinence from sensual pleasure, destitution, forbearance–in short, all the things conducive to the spiritual life are freely available. No one fights over them.

On the contrary, everyone leaves them to those who choose to accept them, whether they have been sought for or have come against our will. Soul-destroying things, on the other hand, are not so readily within our grasp–things like wealth, glory, pride, intolerance, power, authority, dissipation, gluttony….people struggle greatly for these things, but only a few attain them, and in any case the benefit they confer is fleeting….they bring….all manner of distress.

None the less, it is not the thing itself, but its misuse, that is evil.

~St Peter of Damaskos

February 16

For it is not food, but gluttony, that is bad; not money, but attachment to it; not speech, but idle talk; not the world’s delights, but dissipation; not love of one’s family, but the neglect of God that such love may produce; not the clothes worn only for covering and protection from cold and heat, but those that are excessive and costly; not the houses that also protect us from heat and cold, as well as from anything human or animal that might harm us, but houses with two or three floors, large and expensive; not owning something, but owning it when it has no vital use for us; not the possession of books on the part of those who have embraced total poverty, but the possession of books for some purpose other than spiritual reading; not friendship, but the having of friends who are of no benefit to one’s soul; not women, but unchastity; not wealth, but avarice; not wine, but drunkenness; not anger used in accordance with nature for the chastisement of sin, but its use against one’s fellow men.

~St Peter of Damaskos

February 12

And if for God’s sake we amputate our own will, God will enable us to reach, with inexpressible joy, a perfection that we have never known; and when we experience this we will be filled with wonder at seeing how joy and spiritual knowledge begin to pour forth from everywhere. We will derive some profit from everything and God will reign in us, since we have no will of our own, but have submitted ourselves to the holy will of God. We become like kings, so that whatever we desire we receive effortlessly and speedily from God, who has us in His care.

~St Peter of Damaskos