November 21

Many (monks) are not aware how the demons deceive the intellect. Being naive and undeveloped, they tend to give all their attention to the practice of the virtues and do not bother about the intellect. They move through life, I fear, without having tasted purity of heart, and are totally ignorant of the darkness of the passions within. Such people, unaware of the battle about which Paul speaks (Ephesians 6:12) and not imbued with personal experience of true goodness, regard as lapses only those sins which are actually put into effect. They do not take into account the defeats and the victories that occur on the plane of thought, for these, being internal, cannot be seen by natural sight and are known only to God our judge, and to the conscience of the spiritual contestant. I take it that the scriptural words, ‘They said, “Peace”, but there was no peace’ (Ezekiel 13:10), apply to such people. The other brethren pray for them in their simplicity, and as best they can teach them to avoid the actual commission of sin. But for those who have a divine desire to cleanse the vision of the soul there is another form of activity in Christ and another mystery.

~St Philotheos of Sinai

November 20

None of the painful things that happen to us every day will injure or distress us once we perceive and continually meditate on their purpose. It is on account of this that St Paul says: “I take delight in weakness, insults and hardships’ (2 Corinthians 12:10); and: ‘All who seek to live a holy life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution’ (2 Timothy 3:12). To Him be glory through all the ages. Amen.

~St Philotheos of Sinai

November 12

He who has tasted this light will understand what I am talking about. The soul is never sated with it, but the more it feeds on it, the more hungry it grows. It is a light that attracts the intellect as the sun the eye. Inexplicable, it yet becomes explicable through experience. This experience I have known or, more precisely, I have been wounded by it; but it commands me to be silent, even though my intellect would delight in speaking of it. ‘Pursue peace with all men and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). Do this in order to acquire love and purity, for these are peace and holiness.

~St Philotheos of Sinai

November 10

Watchfulness cleanses the conscience and makes it lucid. Thus cleansed, it immediately shines out like a light that has been uncovered, banishing much darkness. Once this darkness has been banished through constant and genuine watchfulness, the conscience then reveals things hidden from us. Through the intellect it teaches us how to fight the unseen war and the mental battle by means of watchfulness, how we must throw spears when engaged in single combat and strike with well-aimed lances of thought, and how the intellect must escape being hit and avoid the noxious darkness by hiding itself in Christ, the light for which it longs.

~St Philotheos of Sinai

November 9

At every hour and moment let us guard the heart with all diligence from thoughts that obscure the soul’s mirror; for in that mirror Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God the Father (1 Corinthians 1:24), is typified and luminously reflected. And let us unceasingly seek the kingdom of heaven inside our heart (Luke 17:21), the seed (Luke 13:19), the pearl (Matthew 13:45) and the leaven (Matthew 13:33). Indeed, if we cleanse the eye of the intellect we will find all things hidden within us. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said that the kingdom of heaven is within us, indicating that the Divinity dwells in our hearts.

~St Philotheos of Sinai

November 8

You must direct you wrath only against the demons, for they wage war upon us through our thoughts and are full of anger against us. As regards the manner of the hourly warfare within us, listen and act accordingly. Combine prayer with inner watchfulness, for watchfulness purifies prayer, while prayer purifies watchfulness. It is through unceasing watchfulness that we can perceive what is entering into us and can to some extent close the door against it, calling upon our Lord Jesus Christ to repel our malevolent adversaries. Attentiveness obstructs the demons by rebutting them; and Jesus, when invoked, disperses them together with all their fantasies.

The blessed remembrance of God–which is the very presence of Jesus–with a heart full of wrath and a saving animosity against the demons, dissolves all trickeries of thought, plots, argumentation, fantasies, obscure conjectures and, in short, everything with which the destroyer arms himself and which he insolently deploys in his attempt to swallow our souls. When Jesus is invoked, He promptly burns up everything. For our salvation lies in Christ Jesus alone. The Savior Himself made this clear when He said; ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).

~St Philotheos of Sinai

November 7

Nothing is more unsettling than talkativeness and more pernicious than an unbridled tongue, disruptive as it is of the soul’s proper state. For the soul’s chatter destroys what we build each day and scatters what we have laboriously gathered together. What is more disastrous than this ‘uncontrollable evil’ (James 3:8)? The tongue has to be restrained, checked by force and muzzled, so to speak, and made to serve only what is needful. Who can describe all the damage that the tongue does to the soul?

Where humility is combined with the remembrance of God that is established through watchfulness and attention, and also with recurrent prayer inflexible in its resistance to the enemy, there is the place of God, the heaven of the heart in which because of God’s presence no demonic army dares to make a stand.

~St Philotheos of Sinai

November 6

It is very rare to find people whose intelligence is in a state of stillness. Indeed, such a state is only to be found in those who through their whole manner of life strive to attract divine grace and blessing to themselves. If, then, we seek–by guarding our intellect and by inner watchfulness–to engage in the noetic work that is the true philosophy in Christ, we must begin by exercising self-control with regard to our food, eating and drinking as little as possible.

Watchfulness may fittingly be called a path leading both to the kingdom within us and to that which is to be; while noetic work, which trains and purifies the intellect and changes it from an impassioned state to a state of dispassion, is like a window full of light through which God looks, revealing Himself to the intellect.

~St Philotheos of Sinai