Monday, July 20, 2009

St. Hesychios -- On Sobriety

103 It is necessary to toil over the guard of the things which are honourable. Honourable, of a truth, are the things which guard us from every vice both sensible and intelligible. These things, then, are the guard of the mind (nous) together with the invocation of Jesus Christ; and ever to look into the depth of the heart and everlastingly to keep stillness in the intellect (dianoia), even, if I may put it thus, from thoughts (logismoi) which appear to be good; and to be diligent that [the heart] be found empty of thoughts (logismoi), so that the thieves do not hide. And even if we toil staying beside the heart, yet consolation is near.

108 Just as it is impossible for him who gazes at the sun not to have his face richly shone upon, thus it is not possible for him who ever stoops down and peeps into the air of his heart not to be illumined.

112 The image of the outer and sensible bodily asceticism is the Old Testament. The Holy Gospel, which is the New, is the image of attention, that is to say, of purity of heart. And just as the Old Testament did not perfect [anything], neither did it give the inner man spiritual assurance in the service of God. For the Apostle says: ‘The Law made nothing perfect.’ [Heb. 7, 19.] It only forbade the gross acts of sin. For to cut off thoughts (logismoi) from the heart, which is the command of the Gospel, and wicked remembrances, is greater as regards purity of soul than to prevent one from putting out the eye and tooth of his neighbour [cf. Lev. 24, 17–22; etc.]. Thus also concerning bodily justice and asceticism—fasting, I say, and continence, sleeping on the ground, standing, keeping vigil and the rest, which by nature concern the body and make the part of the body which is subject to feeling to be still from sin in act—these things also being good, as I said regarding the Old Testament. They are a training of our outer man and a sentinel over the passions in act—but not sentinels over acts of sin in the intellect (dianoia), that is to say, they do not prevent them so as to be able to free us, with the help of God, of envy, wrath and the rest.

113 Purity of heart, however, that is to say, the keeping and the guard of the mind (nous), of which the model is the New Testament, if, indeed, the mind (nous) is guarded by us as it should be, uproots and cuts out of the heart all the passions and all the evils, and introduces instead joy, good hopes, contrition, mourning, tears, deep knowledge of ourselves and of our acts of sin, the memory of death, true humility, limitless charity towards God and men, and divine Eros (eros) in the heart.

Fr Theophanes (
103, 108 (commentary)
112, 113 (commentary)

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