Spiritual Counsels

As we enter the second week of Great Lent…

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.  But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.  Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen. Lenten prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

departure-of-the-soul

How much we trouble about our health…

It is remarkable that, however much we trouble about our health, however much care we take of ourselves, whatever wholesome and pleasant food and drink we take, however much we walk in the fresh air, still, notwithstanding all this, in the end we sicken and corrupt; whilst the saints, who despise the flesh, and mortify it by continual abstinence and fasting, by lying on the bare earth, by watchfulness, labours, unceasing prayer, make both their souls and bodies immortal. [...]

A manger for the newborn Lord

So make your heart into a manger for the newborn Lord, and surround it with holy dispositions-a will for salvation, active assimilation of the whole economy of our salvation, peace in the Lord and a grateful doxology to Him. This will be the highest occupation of your spirit in these days; it will sanctify your feast days, and at the same time will allow you to fulfill strictly the words of the song: Christ comes down from Heaven, meet [...]

True freedom

The Lord wants us to love one another. Here is freedom: in love for God and neighbor. In this freedom, there is equality. In earthly orders, there may not be equality, but this is not important for the soul. Not everyone can be a king, not everyone a patriarch or a boss. But in any position it is possible to love God and to please Him, and only this is important. And whoever loves God more on earth will [...]

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

On trials and temptations

Sacred Scripture connects the idea of trial (temptation) with the idea of reproof (exposure)! My son, do not despise the discipline of the Lord, nor despond when you are reproved by Him (Heb. 12:5). This is also evident from those previously quoted words of the Lord: Those whom I love I reprove and discipline (Rev. 3:19). Why is reproof connected with trial? It is because every affliction discloses the passions hidden in the heart and puts them in motion. Till trouble comes, [...]

St. John of Shanghai

St John Maximovitch and That Most Awkward Halloween

St John (Maximovitch) Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco is best remembered for his gentleness, but when a certain incident aroused his sternness, he was up for the challenge. "At the end of October, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of All Saints. There is a tradition that during the preceding night the dark spirits celebrated their own festival of disorder. In America, this "celebration" called Halloween has become an occasion on which children make mischief dressed in costumes [...]

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

On Warfare with the Demons

My child, always be careful, both when you are happy and when you are sad. When you are happy you should not lose control through vivacity and laughter, nor when you are sad should you be so gloomy that it shows. The reason is that Satan shoots thoughts at us like arrows, but he cannot tell if our heart is receptive to them. But since he is an expert, once he shoots an arrow—that is, once he assaults us with [...]