Icons teach us not to look on reality as what we see but perceive its deeper reality. Asceticism in turn trains our spiritual perceptions to perceive reality properly in order to lead us to God.
"Do not set your will on having your affairs turn out as it seems best to you, but rather as it pleases God. Then you will be untroubled and thankful in your prayer." Evagrius of Pontus, On Prayer, 89
Prayer is a communion of the mind with God. What sort of state does the mind need so that it can reach out to its Lord without turning back and commune with him without intermediary?If Moses, when he tried to approach the earthly burning bush, was held back until he removed the sandals from his... Continue Reading →
"Vainglory involves fantasizing about social encounters, a pretence of industriousness, the contrary of the truth, author of heresies, desire for privilege, the ultimate title, slavery to praises, a spirit with many forms, a beast with many teeth; the mean of vainglory is entwined with pride and jealousy, which are found within one another and which... Continue Reading →
"Both the virtues and the vices render the mind blind—the former, so that it cannot see the vices, and the latter, so that it does not see the virtues." Evagrius, Praktikos chapter 62
For those of us who are now under the advisory to quarantine or isolate or practice social distancing, we are now finding ourselves in entirely novel territory. Where once we thought nothing of bouncing around from place to place and store to store we are now to practice some discipline about our comings and goings.... Continue Reading →
"The virtues acquired are the flesh of Christ and whoever eats it will find inner freedom.
The contemplation of creatures is the blood of Christ and whoever drinks it will be enlightened by Him.
The knowledge of God is the breast of Christ and whoever rests on it will be a theologian."
In the age of the cell phone, instant information, constant updates and never-ending distraction, we would do well to heed the words of our forebears regarding the noon-day demon. We hate the present moment and yearn for the next one, only to hate that moment in turn. Soon we grow agitated, anxious, and dejected that life holds no meaning for me anymore. God instructs Adam and Eve that the way to combat this particularly dangerous thought is by persisting in our work and through the remembrance of death-that we live for more than the next moment we yearn for. We should become free to live here and now, towards the Kingdom.
The demon of acedia [despondency], also called the noonday demon, is the most oppressive of all the demons. He attacks the monk from about the fourth hour [10am] and besieges his soul until the eighth hour [2 pm]. First of all, he makes it appear that the sun moves slowly or not at all, and... Continue Reading →
"Let him who has chosen to practice the ascesis of renunciation make for himself a wall of faith, a fortification of hope, and a secure grounding in love. For faith is not the abandonment but the substance of superior goods in the hope of perseverance and the love of life (cf. Heb. 11.1)." Evagrius of... Continue Reading →
"A prisoner of barbarians is bound in irons; a prisoner of the passions is bound with sadness." Evagrius Pontus, On The 8 Thoughts, Chapter 5, Tract 8. Let us see that slavery of the passions for what it truly is, slavery causing sadness.