October 13

When you see yourself, therefore, growing sluggish in prayer, take up a book and by paying careful attention to what you read absorb its meaning. Do not read through the words in a cursory fashion, but examine them with depth of understanding and treasure their meaning. Then meditate on what you have read, so that your mind in comprehending it is mellowed and it remains unforgotten.

Thus will your ardor for reflection on things divine be kindled, for ‘a fire shall be kindled during my meditation’ (Psalm 39: 3 LXX). Just as you have to chew food before you can savor its taste, so you have to ruminate in your soul on holy texts before they enrich and gladden the mind: as the Psalmist says, ‘How sweet Thy words are in my throat’ (Psalm 119:103). Learn by heart the words of the Gospels and the sayings of the blessed fathers, and study their lives diligently, so that you may meditate on these things during the night. In this way when your mind grows listless in prayer you can refresh it by reading and meditating on sacred texts and rekindle its appetite for prayer.

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

October 12

Just as variety in food stimulates the appetite, so the varied forms of virtue awaken the activity of the intellect. Thus while you travel the path of the mind, repeat again and again the words of the prayer, hold converse with the Lord, cry out ceaselessly, and do not give up, praying frequently and imitating the boldness of the widow who managed to prevail upon the inexorable judge (cf. Luke 18:1-5).

Then you will walk in the path of the Spirit, impervious to sensual desires, the flow of your prayer unbroken by worldly thoughts, and you will become a temple of God, praising Him undistractedly. If you pray in the mind in this way you will be granted the privilege of attaining mindfulness of God and will penetrate the innermost sanctuary of the intellect, mystically contemplating the Invisible and alone celebrating in solitude with God alone in the unity of divine knowledge and in outpourings of love.

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

October 11

Believe me; I tell the truth. If in all your activity you cleave inseparably to the mother of blessings, prayer, then prayer itself will not rest until it has shown you the bridal chamber and has led you within, filling you with ineffable glory and joy. By removing every impediment, prayer smooths the path of virtue and renders it easy for those who pursue it.

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

October 10

…be mindful of God, raising your intellect above all things and prostrating it wordlessly before Him, exposing your heart’s state to Him, and cleaving to Him in love. For mindfulness of God is the contemplation of God, who draws to Himself the intellect’s vision and aspiration, and illumines the intellect with His own light. When the intellect turns toward God and stills all representational images of created things, it perceives in an imageless way, and through an ignorance surpassing all knowledge its vision is illumined by God’s unapproachable glory.

Although not knowing, because what it perceives is beyond all knowledge, nevertheless the intellect does know through the truth of Him who truly is and who alone transcends all being. Nourishing its love on the wealth of goodness that pours forth from God, and fulfilling thereby its own nature, it is granted blessed and eternal repose.

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

October 9

To give free rein to the senses is to shackle the soul, to shackle the senses is to liberate it. When the sun sets, night comes; when Christ leaves the soul, the darkness of the passions envelops it and incorporeal predators tear it asunder. When the visible sun rises, animals retreat into their lairs; when Christ rises in the heaven of the praying mind, worldly preoccupations and proclivities abscond, and the intellect goes forth to its labors–that is, to meditate on the divine–until the evening (cf. Psalm 104:19-23). Not that the intellect limits its fulfillment of the spiritual law to any period of time or performs it according to some measure; on the contrary, it continues to fulfill it until it reaches the term of this present life and the soul departs from the body. That is what is meant in the Psalms when it is said, ‘How I have loved Thy law, O Lord; it is my meditation all the day long’ (Psalm 119:97)–where ‘day’ means the whole course of one’s present life.

Suspend then, your gossip with the outer world and fight against the thoughts within until you find the abode of pure prayer and Christ’s dwelling-place. Thus you will be illumined and mellowed by His knowledge and His presence, enabled to experience tribulation for His sake as joy and to shun worldly pleasure as you would bitter poison.

~Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia

October 8

Man’s renewal is an extremely intricate process by reason of the fall, and its deathly consequences. The very nature of man was undermined: it was divided into parts and this loss of integrity destroyed the harmony of its unity with its hypostatic principle. When the believer struggles to fulfill the commandments, he notices his disorder. He sees that he is not in full possession of his true nature. He has one thing in his mind, desires something else with his heart, and is drawn to yet another thing by his senses. There is no unity in his nature as would allow the fulfillment of the first and great commandment: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength’ (Mark 12:30). Neither does he reflect the ontological truth of the second commandment, which is similar to the first: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ (Mark 12:31).

~Archimandrite Zacharias

October 7

Prayer is salutary because it establishes the harmonious co-operation of man’s will with God’s will. Man’s created energy surrenders to God’s uncreated energy, and his merely human existence is totally transformed by prayer, inasmuch as prayer is the expression of his repentance. In the world around us, nothing helps us in the work of prayer and repentance. Inspiration can only spring from man’s consciousness of sin and the sense of his spiritual poverty; both are perceived in the light of his relationship with God, which is founded on man’s faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

~Archimandrite Zacharias