October 25

After the devil and his demons had brought about man’s exile from paradise and from God by making him transgress, they found they could inwardly derange–to a greater or lesser extent–anyone’s reason whenever they wanted to. The only defense against this is the ceaseless mindfulness of God, for if such mindfulness is stamped on the heart through the power of the cross it will render our thought steadfast and unshakeable.

This is a state to which the spiritual contest of every Christian who enters the arena of Christ’s faith should lead, if he is not to struggle in vain. For it is to achieve this state that God’s athlete embraces all the various forms of ascetic practice.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 26

When we build a house we do not put on the roof before laying the foundation–this is impossible. We first lay the foundations, then build the house, and finally put on the roof. We must do the same in relation to spiritual matters. First we must lay the spiritual foundations of the house, that is to say, we must watch over the heart and curtail the passions arising from it. Then we must build the walls of the spiritual house, that is to say, through the second form of attentiveness we must repulse the turbulence of the evil spirits that fight us by means of the external senses, and must free ourselves as quickly as possible from their attacks.

Then we must put on the roof, that is to say, detach ourselves entirely from all things and give ourselves wholly to God. In this way we complete our spiritual house in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory throughout all the ages. Amen.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 25

Christ takes on the appearance of each of the poor and assimilates Himself to all of them so that no one who believes in Him will be arrogant towards his fellow being. On the contrary, he will look on his fellow being and his neighbor as his God, regarding himself as least of all in comparison just as much with his neighbor as with his Creator, honoring his neighbor as if he were his Creator, and exhausting his all in his service, just as Christ our God poured out his blood for our salvation.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 24

What is the purpose of the Incarnation of the Divine Logos which is proclaimed throughout the Scriptures, about which we read and which yet we do not recognize? Surely it is that He has shared in what is ours so as to make us participants of what is His. For the Son of God became the Son of man in order to make us human beings sons of God, raising us up by grace to what He is by nature, giving us a new birth in the Holy Spirit and leading us directly into the kingdom of heaven.

Or rather, He gives us the grace to possess this kingdom within ourselves (Luke 17:21), so that not merely do we hope to enter it but, being in full possession of it, we can affirm: ‘Our life is hid with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3).

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 23

Those taught by God will be regarded as fools by the disciples of such as are wise in the wisdom of this world. But in fact it is the worldly-wise that are fools, spouting an inane secular wisdom, the stupidity of which God has demonstrated (1 Corinthians 1:20) and which Scripture condemns as material, unspiritual, devilish, filled with strife and malice (James 3:15).

Since these people are blind to the divine light, they cannot see the marvels it contains; they regard as deluded those who dwell in that light and see and teach others about what is within it. On the contrary, it is they themselves that are deluded, not having tasted the ineffable blessings of God.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 22

Anyone who thinks himself intelligent because of his scholarly or scientific learning will never be granted insight into divine mysteries unless he first humbles himself and becomes a fool (1 Corinthians 3:18), discarding both his presumption and the knowledge that he has acquired.

But if he does this and with unhesitating faith allows himself to be led by those wise in divine matters, he will enter with them into the city of the living God. Guided and illumined by the divine Spirit, he will see and learn what others cannot ever see or learn. He will then be taught by God (John 6:45).

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 21

A soul not consciously and completely free from ties and attachments to the visible world is not able to endure serenely the calamities and ravages with which both men and demons assail it. Bound by its attachment to human concerns, it is lacerated by the loss of material things, suffers when deprived of possessions, and is full of distress when its body is afflicted.

A person who has delivered his soul from its ties with and desires for sensible things, and has bound it to God, will not only scorn property and possessions, accepting their loss painlessly, as if they belonged to others and were not his own; he will also endure bodily distress with joy and gratitude.

In the words of St Paul, he sees the outward self perishing, but the inward self being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). Otherwise it is impossible joyfully to bear the afflictions permitted by God, for this requires perfect knowledge and spiritual wisdom. He who lacks these things walks at all times in the darkness of ignorance and hopelessness, totally incapable of beholding the light of patience and benediction.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 20

If you have received the remission of all your sins, either through confession or through putting on the holy and angelic habit, this will be a great source of love, thanksgiving and humility for you. For not only have you been spared the countless punishments that you deserved, but you have been granted sonship, glory and the kingdom of heaven. Bear this in mind and continually meditate on it, taking care never to dishonor Him who honored you and has forgiven you ten thousand sins; glorify and honor Him in all you do, so that in return He will glorify you even more–you whom He has honored above all visible creation and has called His true friend.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 19

It is right for us to place the yoke of Christ’s commandments on our shoulders from the start; and we should not resist or hang back. On the contrary, we should walk straight ahead wholeheartedly obedient to them, making ourselves in truth the new paradise of God, until the Son comes to dwell in us with the Father through the Holy Spirit.

Then, when He totally indwells us and is our master, whomever of us He commands and whatever ministry He entrusts us with, we will take it in hand and carry it out sedulously, as seems best to Him. But we must not seek this ministry prematurely, or consent to accept it when given by men; but we must persevere in the commandments of our Lord and God and await His orders.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 18

‘Blessed are the pure in heart,’ says God, ‘for they shall see God’ (Matthew 5:8). But purity of heart cannot be realized through one virtue alone, or through two, or ten; it can only be realized through all of them together, as if they formed but a single virtue brought to perfection.

Even so the virtues cannot by themselves purify the heart without the presence and working of the Spirit. For just as the bronzesmith demonstrates his skill through his tools, but cannot make anything without the activity of fire, so a man using virtues as tools can do everything given the presence of the fire of the Spirit; but without this presence these tools remain useless and ineffective, not removing the stain that befouls the soul.

~St Symeon the New Theologian