July 15

He who does not attempt to evade the suffering engendered by the fear of eternal punishment, but accepts it wholeheartedly, and even adds to it as he can, will rapidly advance into the presence of the King of kings. And as soon as he has beheld the glory of God, however obscurely, his bonds will be loosed: fear, his tormentor, will leave him, and his heart’s suffering will be turned to joy.

It will become a spring from which unceasing tears will flow visibly and which will fill him spiritually with peace, gentleness and inexpressible sweetness, as well as with courage and the capacity to submit to God’s commandments freely and unreservedly.

This is impossible for those who are still beginners, for it is the characteristic of such as are in the middle of their spiritual journey. As for the perfect, this spring becomes a light within their hearts, suddenly changed and transformed as they are.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 14

Fear of punishment hereafter and the suffering it engenders are beneficial to all who are starting out on the spiritual way. Whoever imagines that he can make a start without such suffering and fear, and without someone to inflict them, is not merely basing his actions on sand but thinks that he can build in the air without any foundations at all; and this of course is utterly impossible. Indeed, the suffering is the source of nearly all our joy, while the fear breaks the grip of all our sins and passions, and the one who inflicts these things brings us not death but eternal life.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 11

Baptism does not take away our free will or freedom of choice, but gives us the freedom no longer to be tyrannized by the devil unless we choose to be. After baptism it is in our power either to persist willingly in the practice of the commandments of Christ, into whom we were baptized, and to advance in the path of His ordinances, or to deviate from this straight way and to fall again into the hands of our enemy, the devil.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 10

Vigilance and prayer should be as closely linked together as the body to the soul, for the one cannot stand without the other. Vigilance first goes on ahead like a scout and engages sin in combat. Prayer then follows afterwards, and instantly destroys and exterminates all the evil thoughts with which vigilance has already been battling, for attentiveness alone cannot exterminate them. This, then, is the gate of life and death. If by means of vigilance we keep prayer pure, we make progress; but if we leave prayer unguarded and permit it to be defiled, our efforts are null and void.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 9

We, the faithful, should look upon all the faithful as one single being, and should consider that Christ dwells in each of them. We should have such love for each of them that we are willing to lay down our lives for them. Nor should we ever think or say that anyone is evil: we should look on everyone as good, as I have already said. Even should you see someone overwhelmed by some passion, execrate, not him, but the passions that fight against him. And if he is mastered by desires and prepossessions, have even greater compassion for him; for you too may be tempted, subject as you are to the same fluctuations of beguiling materiality.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 8

Unless you have become dispassionate you cannot know what dispassion is, and will not believe that a dispassionate person exists anywhere on earth. For unless someone has first denied himself, readily giving his blood for the sake of a life that is truly blessed, how can he imagine that anyone else has done this in order to attain the state of dispassion?

It is the same with someone who thinks that he possesses the Holy Spirit while in fact he possesses nothing of the kind. When he hears about the workings of the Spirit in those who do possess Him, he refuses to believe that there is anyone in our generation who is energized and motivated by the Holy Spirit, or who consciously and experientially enjoys the vision of Him, in the same way as Christ’s apostles and the saints from the beginning of the world. For each judges whether his neighbor’s condition is virtuous or vicious according to his own state.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 7

The person who has attained purity of heart has triumphed over cowardice. The person still in the process of being purified sometimes overcomes it and sometimes is overcome by it. The person not even engaged in spiritual warfare is either completely unaware that he is the ally of his own passions and of the demons and that he is sick with pride and presumption, thinking he is something when he is not; or else he is the slave and servant of cowardice, trembling like a baby and fearing fear where, for those who fear the Lord, there is no fear (Psalm 14:5 LXX) nor any occasion for cowardice.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 4

Bodily listlessness and torpor, which affect the soul as a result of our laziness and negligence, not only make us abandon our normal rule of prayer, but also darken the mind and fill it with despondency. Then blasphemous and cowardly thoughts arise in the heart. Indeed, the person tempted by the demon of listlessness cannot even enter his usual place of prayer; he grows sluggish, and absurd thoughts directed against the Creator of all things arise in his mind. Aware of the cause of all this and why it has happened to you, resolutely enter your normal place of prayer and, falling down before the God of love, ask with a compunctive and aching heart, full of tears, to be freed from the weight of listlessness and from your pernicious thoughts. If you knock hard and insistently, this release will soon be given to you.

~St Symeon the New Theologian

July 3

For someone who loves the body, mortal life, sensual pleasure, and the material world, separation from them is death; but for someone who loves holiness, God, the immaterial world and virtue, true death is for the mind to be separated from them even briefly. If the eyes of a person who can see sensible light are closed for an instant or covered by someone else, he suffers and is distressed and cannot bear it, especially if he was looking at something important or unusual. But is someone is illumined by the Holy Spirit and, whether asleep or awake, sees spiritually those blessings that ‘the eye has not seen, and the ear has not heard, and man’s heart has not grasped’ (1 Corinthians 2:9), and ‘that angels long to glimpse’ (1 Peter 1:12), how much more will he suffer and be tormented if he is torn away from the vision of these things? For this will seem to him like death, a veritable exclusion from eternal life.

~St Symeon the New Theologian