March 16

Direct all your attention to the acquisition of love for your neighbor as the basis of your life…love your neighbor according to the dictates of the commandments of the Gospel, not at all according to the dictates and impulses of your heart….

Love your neighbor in the following way: do not get angry with him and do not bear resentment or a grudge against him. Do not allow yourself to say to your neighbor any reproachful, abusive, sarcastic, or caustic words.  Maintain peace with him as far as possible. Humble yourself in his presence….get out of the habit of arguing and quarreling, and reject it as a sign of pride and self-love….

Pray for those who cause you various offenses, wrongs, temptations, persecutions. Whatever you do, on no account condemn anyone; do not even try to judge whether a person is good or bad, but keep your eyes on that one evil person for whom you must give an account before God–yourself.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

March 14

It is essential to convince oneself that God rules the destiny of the world and the destiny of every individual. The experiences and trials of life will not be slow to confirm and establish this teaching of the Gospel. A consequence of the acceptance by faith of this teaching is a humble submission to God, the flight of troubles and worries, peace of soul, the power of fortitude. He who thus accepts the teaching of the Gospel takes ‘the shield of faith with which [he] will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one’ (Ephesians 6:16)….

Why is our spirit troubled by the judgments and providences of God? Because we do not honor God as God; because we do not surrender ourselves to God as God; because we do not give ourselves our proper place before God; because of our pride, our blindness, our fallen, spoilt, perverse will is not mortified and renounced by us.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov


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 12

If you deny yourself and constantly renounce your own opinions, your own will, your own righteousness–or what amounts to the same thing: the knowledge, understanding, will and righteousness of fallen nature–in order to plant within you the knowledge of God, the will of God, and the righteousness of God taught us in the holy Gospel by God Himself, then fallen nature will open fire within you and declare a savage war against the Gospel and against God. Fallen spirits will come to the help of fallen nature.

Do not fall into despondency on this account. By your firmness in the struggle, show the tenacity of your purpose and the stability of your free will. When thrown down, get up. When duped and disarmed, rearm yourself afresh. When defeated, again rush to the fight. It is extremely good for you to see within yourself both your own fall and the fall of the whole of mankind.

It is essential for you to recognize and study this fall in your own experience, in your heart and mind. It is essential for you to see the infirmity of your knowledge and intellect, and the weakness of your will.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov

March 11

A Hymn of St Ambrose

The eternal gifts of Christ the King, the Martyr’s glorious deeds we sing: and while due hymns of praise we pay, our thankful hearts cast grief away.

The Church in these her princes boasts, these victor chiefs of warrior hosts: the soldiers of the heavenly hall, the lights that rose on earth for all.

The terrors of the world despised, the body’s torments lightly prized, by one the brief space of death and pain, life everlasting they obtain.

To flames the martyr saints are haled: by teeth of savage beasts assail’d; against them, armed with ruthless brand and hooks of steel, the torturers stand.

The mangled frame is tortured sore; the holy life-drops freshly pour: they stand unmoved amidst the strife, by grace of everlasting life.

‘Twas thus the yearning faith of Saints, the unconquered hope that never faints, the love of Christ that knows not shame, the prince of this world overcame.

In these the Father’s glory shone, in these the will of God the Son: in these exults the Holy Ghost, through these rejoice the heavenly host.

Redeemer, hear us of thy love, that with this glorious band above, hereafter, of thine endless grace, thy servants also may have place.  Amen.

~St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (374-397 A.D.)

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 9

The man who practices human righteousness is full of self-opinion, arrogance, self-deception. He preaches and blows his own trumpet about his good deeds without paying the least attention to what our Lord forbids. He repays with hatred and revenge those who dare to open their mouths for the most reasonable and well-meaning contradiction of his righteousness….

On the other hand, one who practices the commandments of the Gospel is always immersed in humility. Comparing the loftiness and purity of the holy commandments with his own fulfillment of them, he constantly admits that his efforts are extremely unsatisfactory and unworthy of God….

Whenever trouble or suffering comes his way by the ordering of divine providence, he submissively bows his head, knowing that by means of suffering God trains and educates His servants during their earthly pilgrimage. He is kind and merciful to his enemies and prays for them as brothers who have been lured away by demons, as members of one body who are spiritually sick, as his benefactors, and as instruments of the providence of God.

~Ignatius Brianchaninov