Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Saint John Climacus

The following is from The Ladder of Divine Ascent, by Saint John Climacus:
Obedience is absolute renunciation of our own life, clearly expressed in our bodily actions. Or, conversely, obedience is the mortification of the limbs while the mind remains alive. Obedience is unquestioning movement, voluntary death, a life free of curiosity, carefree danger, unprepared defence before God, fearlessness of death, a safe voyage, a sleeper's progress. Obedience is the tomb of the will and the resurrection of humility. A corpse does not argue or reason as to what is good or what seems to be bad. For he who has devoutly put the soul of the novice to death will answer for everything. Obedience is an abandonment of discernment in a wealth of discernment.
When motives of humility and real longing for salvation incite us to bend our neck and entrust ourselves to another in the Lord, before entering upon this life, if there is any cleverness and prudence in us, we ought first to question and examine, and even, so to speak, test our helmsman, so as not to mistake the sailor for the pilot, a sick man for a doctor, a passionate for a dispassionate man, the sea for a harbour, and so bring about the speedy shipwreck of our soul. But when once we have entered the arena of piety and obedience, we must no longer judge our good manager in any way at all, even though we may perhaps see in him some slight failings, since he is only human. Otherwise, by sitting in judgment we shall get no profit from our subjection.
It is the property of angels,' he continued, 'not to fall, and even, as some say, it is quite impossible for them to fall. It is the property of men to fall, and to rise again as often as this may happen. But it is the property to devils, and devils alone, not to rise once they have fallen.
He whose will and desire in conversation is to establish his own opinion, even though what he says is true, should recognize that he is sick with the devil's disease. And if he behaves like this only in conversation with his equals, then perhaps the rebuke of his superiors may heal him. But if he acts in this way even with those who are greater and wiser than he, then his malady is humanly incurable.
He who is not submissive in speech, clearly will not be so in act either. For he who is unfaithful in little is also unfaithful in much, and is intractable. He labours in vain, and he will get nothing from holy obedience but his own doom.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saint John of Kronstadt

I haven't completed any books recently, so here's a quote from My Life in Christ, by Saint John of Kronstadt:
Everything that constitutes me man (the soul), lives solely by God, and only in union with Him, whilst when the soul separates itself from God, then it experiences extreme distress. But the life of my soul consistes in the peace of my spiritual powers, and this peace proceeds exclusively from God. There is, it is true, a carnal peace also, but it is a delusive one -- the forerunner of spiritual storm -- of which the Lord says: "When they shall say (to men), Peace and safety, then suddenly destruction cometh upon them"; but spiritual peace, which proceeds from the Spirit of God differs, as heaven from earth, from such carnal peace. It is heavenly blissgiving, "Peace I give you," often said the Lord to His disciples, giving them His peace, and the Apostles also gave "peace to believers," and wished them God's peace as the highest blessing, because God's peace constitutes the life of our soul, and witnesses to the union of our soul with God. The absence of peace in the soul -- disturbance, by which all the passionate conditions of our soul are distinguished -- is spiritual death and the sign of the action of the enemey of our salvation in our hearts.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Prodigal Son

Today, while listening to some Orthodox chant, I encountered a lovely hymn that hearkens back to Great Lent and the Sunday of the Prodigal son:
Make haste to open unto me Thy fatherly embrace, for as the Prodigal I have wasted my life. In the unfailing wealth of Thy mercy, O Saviour, reject not my heart in its poverty. For with compunction I cry to Thee, O Lord: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee.
The Valaam, Russian rendition of this hymn can be found here. Click on the icon to read more about the Sunday of the Prodigal Son.

Some new additions to my library: