June 10

…everything may be understood in terms of its purpose….Now the purpose of our life is blessedness or, what is the same thing, the kingdom of heaven or of God. This is not only to behold the Trinity, supreme in Kingship, but also to receive an influx of the divine and, as it were, to suffer deification; for by this influx, what is lacking and imperfect in us is supplied and perfected. And the provision of such influx, of what is needed, is the food of spiritual beings….Such then is our purpose, in so far as we can understand it. We must now see how we can attain it….

Love of praise and love of material wealth are the progeny of ignorance. Having no experience of true blessings and no knowledge of noetic realities, the soul has adopted such bastard offspring, thinking that riches can supply its needs….Love of praise does not derive from any lack on the part of the body, for it satisfies no physical need. Inexperience and ignorance of primal goodness and true glory give rise to it. Indeed, ignorance is the root of all evils. For no one who has once grasped as he should the true nature of things–from where each thing comes and how it is perverted–can then totally disregard his own purpose and be dragged down to worldly things. The soul does not want a good that is only apparent.

                                                                          ~St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

June 9

We have been commanded not to revile or abuse in return those who revile and insult us, but rather to speak well of them and to bless them (Matthew 5:44). For in so far as we are at peace with men, we fight again the demons; but when we feel rancor towards our brothers and fight against them, we are at peace with the demons, whom we have been taught to hate ‘with perfect hatred’ (Psalm 139:22), fighting against them without mercy.

                                                                              ~St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

June 8

He who has completely uprooted self-love from his heart will, with God’s help, easily conquer all the other passions. For a man dominated by self-love is under the power of other passions as well, since from it arise anger, irritation, rancour, love of pleasure, licentiousness. By self-love we mean an impassioned disposition towards and love for the body, and the fulfillment of carnal desires.

What Christ our God called the ‘narrow way’ (Matthew 7:14), He also called an ‘easy yoke’ and ‘light burden’ (Matthew 11:30). How could He equate these things when they seem to be contraries? For our nature, certainly this path is harsh and steep, but to those who pursue it wholeheartedly and with good hope, and who aspire after holiness, find it attractive and full of delight, for it brings them pleasure not affliction. Hence they eagerly follow the narrow and painful way, greatly preferring it to that which is broad and spacious. Listen to St Luke, who tells us how the apostles after being beaten, departed from the presence of the council rejoicing (Acts 5:41), even though this is not the natural effect of a beating. For scourges normally cause not pleasure and joy, but pain and suffering. Yet if, because of Christ, they resulted in joy, what wonder is it if other forms of bodily hardship and ill-treatment have, because of Him, the same effect?

-St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

June 7

While we are oppressed and imprisoned by the passions, we are often at a loss to know why we suffer from them. We must, therefore, realize that it is because we allow ourselves to be diverted from contemplation of God that we are taken captive in this way. But if (one) fixes (their) intellect without distraction on our Master and God, then the Savior of all can Himself be trusted to deliver such a soul from its impassioned servitude. It is of this that the prophet speaks when he says: ‘I have set the Lord always before me; for He is at my right hand, so that I shall not be moved’ (Psalm 16:8). What is sweeter or safer than always to have the Lord at our right hand, protecting and guarding us and not letting us be moved? And to attain this is within our power.

~St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

June 6

The fragrance of a costly aromatic oil, even though kept in a vessel, pervades the atmosphere of the whole house, and gives pleasure not only to those near it but also to others in the vicinity; similarly the fragrance of a holy soul, beloved of God, when given out through all the senses of the body, conveys to those who perceive it the holiness that lies within. When in the presence of one whose tongue utters nothing harsh and discordant, but only what is a blessing and benefit for those who listen, whose eyes are humble, whose ears do not listen to improper songs or words, who moves discreetly and whose face is not dissolute with laughter but rather disposed to tears and mourning, which of us will not feel that such a soul is filled with the fragrance of holiness? Thus the Savior says: ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).

~St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

June 5

Especially important is pure prayer–prayer which is unceasing and uninterrupted. Such prayer is a safe fortress, a sheltered harbor, a protector of virtues, a destroyer of passions. It brings vigor to the soul, purifies the intellect, gives rest to those who suffer, consoles those who mourn. Prayer is converse with God, contemplation of the invisible, the angelic mode of life, a stimulus towards the divine, the assurance of things longed for, ‘making real the things for which we hope’ (Hebrews 11:1)…Pray day and night. Pray at times of dejection and at times of exhilaration. Pray with fear and trembling, with a watchful and vigilant mind, so that your prayer may be accepted by the Lord. For, as the psalmist says: ‘The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer’ (Psalm 34:15).

…always keep before your eyes the last hour before your death. Recall the vanity of the world, how deceptive it is, how sickly and worthless; reflect on the dreadful reckoning that is to come…recall that great and fearful day, the day of the general resurrection, when we are brought before God and the final sentence of the infallible Judge…But think also of the blessings which await the righteous…the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom, the gift which is beyond the intellect’s grasp, that sweet light, the endless joy….let these thoughts dwell within you, sleep with you, arise with you. See that you never forget them but, wherever you are, keep them in mind, so that evil thoughts may depart and you may be filled with divine solace.

~St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

June 4

In every trial and in all (spiritual) warfare use prayer as your invincible weapon, and by the grace of Christ you will be victorious. Let your prayer be pure, as our wise teacher counsels. For he says: “I would have men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without anger and without quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8). But the person who neglects such prayer will be delivered over to trials and passions.

                                                                                -St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

June 2

If you love Christ you must keep the passion of rancour far from your soul. You should on no account yield to feelings of hostility: rancour lurking in the heart is like fire hidden in stalks of dry flax. Rather you should pray fervently for anyone who has grieved you, and you should help them if you have the means. By this action your soul will be delivered from death (Tobit 4:10) and nothing will hinder your communication with God when you pray.

The Lord dwells in the souls of the humble; but shameful passions fill the hearts of the proud. Nothing so strengthens these passions against us as arrogant thoughts, and nothing uproots the evil herbs of the soul so effectively as blessed humility. Hence humility is rightly called the executioner of passions.

-St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

June 1

When the body’s perception is sound, one is aware of what sickness afflicts it, while if one is not aware one is a victim of obtuseness. Similarly the intellect, as long as it preserves its own proper energy, is conscious of its powers and knows from where the tyrannizing passions enter it; and it makes a determined stand against them. But it is terrible to pass ones days in a state of oblivion, like one who fights by night, not being able to see the evil thoughts against which one is battling.

                                                                                         -St Theodoros the Great Ascetic

May 27

The Fathers define prayer as a spiritual weapon. Unless we are armed with it we cannot engage in warfare, but are carried off as prisoners to the enemy’s country. Nor can we acquire pure prayer unless we cleave to God with an upright heart. For it is God who gives prayer to him who prays and who teaches man spiritual knowledge.

                                 ~St Theodoros the Great Ascetic