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

May 24

One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life; but one should say that it is not easy. Nor do those who have reached it find it easy to maintain. Those who are devout and whose intellect enjoys the love of God participate in the life of virtue; the ordinary intellect however, is worldly and vacillating, producing both good and evil thoughts because it is changeful by nature and directed towards material things. But the intellect that enjoys the love of God punishes the evil which arises spontaneously because of man’s [laziness].

                                          ~St Antony the Great

May 23

Pharaoh entreated saying, ‘May God take away from me this death’ (Exodus 10:17), and he was heard. Similarly when the demons asked the Lord not to cast them into the abyss, their request was granted (Luke 8:31). How much more then will a Christian be heard when he prays to be delivered from spiritual death?

When recalling your sins, do not hesitate to beat your breast. With these blows you will dig into your hardened heart and discover within it the gold mine of the publican (Luke 18:13); and this hidden wealth will bring you great joy.
                                                                           -St John of Karpathos

May 22

A single good word made the thief pure and holy, despite all his previous crimes, and brought him into paradise (Luke 23:42-43). A single ill-advised word prevented Moses from entering the promised land (Numbers 20:12). We should not suppose then, that garrulity is only a minor disease. Lovers of slander and gossip shut themselves out from the kingdom of heaven. A chatterbox may meet with success in this world but he will not do so in the next. There he will trip and fall; ‘evil will hunt him down and destroy him’ (Psalm 140:11 LLX). It has been well said: ‘Better to slip on the ground than to slip with your tongue’ (Ecclus.20:18). We should believe James the apostle when he writes: ‘Let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak.’ (James 1:19).

-St John of Karpathos

May 19

If the base of a felled tree that has grown old in earth and rock ‘will bud at the scent of water…like a young plant’ (Job 14:9), it is also possible for us to be awakened by the power of the Holy Spirit and to flower with the incorruptibility that is ours by nature, bearing fruit like a young plant, even though we have fallen into sin.

             ~St John of Karpathos

May 16

One who is enslaved to greed may perhaps object: “I eat a great deal, and since this involves me in heavy expenses I am inevitably tied up with all kinds of worldly business.” Such a person should think of the huge whales that feed in the Atlantic Ocean: God gives them plenty to eat and they never starve, although each of them swallows daily more fish than a highly populated city would consume. “All things wait upon Thee, to give them their food at the proper time”. (Psalm 104:27). It is God who provides food both for those who eat much and for those who eat little. Bearing this in mind, anyone among you who has a capacious appetite should in future set his faith entirely in God, freeing his intellect from all worldly distractions and anxieties. “Be no longer faithless, but have faith”. (John 20:27)

-St John of Karpathos

May 13

The enemy knows that prayer is our invincible weapon against him, and so he tries to keep us from praying. He fills us with a desire for secular learning, and encourages us to spend our time in studies that we have already renounced. Let us resist his suggestions; otherwise if we neglect our own fields and go wandering elsewhere, we shall harvest thorns and thistles instead of figs and grapes. ‘For the wisdom of this world is folly in God’s sight’. 1 Cor. 3:19

-St John of Karpathos

May 12

Those who desire to free themselves from [sin] ought to pray not merely from time to time but at all times; they should give themselves always to prayer, keeping watch over their intellect even when outside places of prayer.

When someone is trying to purify gold, and allows the fire of the furnace to die down even for a moment, the material which he is purifying will harden again. So too, a man who merely practices the remembrance of God from time to time, loses through lack of continuity what he hopes to gain through his prayer. It is a mark of one who truly loves holiness that he continually burns up what is worldly in his heart through practicing the remembrance of God, so that little by little evil is consumed in the fire of this remembrance and his soul completely recovers its natural brilliance with still greater glory.

                                       -St Diadochos of Photiki