Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Abba Moses gave the following seven precepts to Abba Poemenius, which if followed will lead to salvation by anybody whether they be in the cenobium, or in solitude or in the world:
1. In the first place, as it is written, love God with all your heart and with all your mind.
2. Love your neighbour as yourself.
3. Bring to death all evil in you.
4. Do not judge your brother in any dispute.
5. Do no evil to another person.
6. Before departing this life cleanse yourself of every fault of mind or body.
7. Always be of a humble and contrite heart.
These things can be achieved by anyone who thinks of his own sins and not his neighbour's, and trusts in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns world without end. Amen
From The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Father Seraphim was born into a typical white middle class Protestant family in San Diego in 1934. While growing up, he was the proverbial dutiful child and academic achiever. After high school, however, he began to passionately seek the answer to the question "Why?"--and, not finding it in the society in which he had been raised, he began to rebel. He refused to accept the accepted answers. This was at the very beginning of the modern counterculture, the early 1950's. Father Seraphim became a student of one of the counterculture's first pioneers, Alan Watts (whom he realized later was totally pseudo) and became a Buddhist Bohemian in San Francisco. He learned ancient Chinese in order to study the Tao Teh Ching and other ancient Eastern texts in their original language, hoping thereby to tap into the heart of their wisdom. By this time he had wholly rejected the Protestant Christianity of his formative years, which he regarded as worldly, weak, and fake; he mocked its concept of God and that that it "put God in a box." He Read Nietzsche until the Prophets words began to resonate in his soul with an electric, infernal power.
All this time, he had been seeking the Truth with his mind, but the Truth had eluded him. He fell into a state of despair which he described years later as a living hell. He felt he did not fit in the modern world, even his family, who did not understand him. It was as if he had somehow been born out of place, out of time. He loved to roam under the stars, but he felt that there was nothing our there to take him in--no God, nothing. The Buddhist "nothingness" left him empty, just as it did the founder of the Beat movement, Jack Kerouac; and, like Kerouac, Father Seraphim turned to drink. He would drink wine voraciously and then would pound on the floor, screaming to God to leave him alone. Once while drunk, he raised his fist to heaven from a mountaintop and cursed God, daring Him to damn him to Hell. In his despair, it seemed worth being damned forever by God's wrath, if only he could empirically know that God exists--rather than remain in a stagnant state of indifference. If God did damn him to hell, at lest then he would, for that blissful instant, feel God's touch and know for sure He was reachable
"Atheism," Father Seraphim wrote in later years, "true 'existential' atheism, burning with hatred of a seemingly unjust or unmerciful God is a spiritual state; it is a real attempt to grapple with the true God Whose ways are so inexplicable even to the most believing of men, and it has more than once been known to end in a blinding vision of Him Whom the real atheist truly seeks. It is Christ Who works in these souls. The Antichrist is not to be found in the deniers, but in the small affirmers, whose Christ is only on the lips. Nietzsche, in calling himself Antichrist, proved thereby his intense hunger for Christ..."
In searching through various ancient religions and traditions, Father Seraphim once went to visit a Russian Orthodox Church. Later he wrote of his experience.
"For years in my studies I was satisfied with being 'above all traditions' but somehow faithful to them... When I visited an Orthodox Church, it was only in order to view another 'tradition'. However, when I entered an Orthodox Church for the first time (a Russian Church in San Francisco) something happened to me that I had not experienced in any Buddhist or other Eastern temple; something in my heart said this was 'home,' that all my search was over. I didn't really know what this meant, because the service was quite strange to me and in a foreign language. I began to attend Orthodox services more frequently, gradually learning its language and customs... With my exposure to orthodoxy and Orthodox people, a new idea began to enter my awareness: that Truth was not just an abstract idea, sought and known by the mind, but was something personal--even a Person--sought and loved by the heart. And that is how I met Christ."
On becoming Orthodox Father Seraphim continued to despise modern world and hoped for nothing from it; he wanted only to escape it. He felt no less, if not more, estranged from the Christianity he had been raised in, for while that Christianity was at home in the world, his was radically otherworldly. He had finally found the designation of man's existence, and it was this: man is meant for another world.
Father Seraphim's was an ascetic Faith. He wanted a Christianity that emphasized not earthly consolation and beliefs, but rather heavenly redemption through suffering on this earth. No other kind rang true to him who had suffered much. Only a God Who allowed His children to be perfected for heaven through suffering, and Who Himself set the example by coming to a life of suffering--only such a God was capable of drawing the afflicted world to Himself and was worthy to be worshiped by the highest spiritual faculties of man.
In his journal, Father Seraphim wrote: "Let us not, who would be Christians, expect anything else from it than to be crucified. For to be a Christian is to be crucified, in this time and in any time since Christ came for the first time. His life is the example--and warning--to us all. We must be crucified personally, mystically; for through crucifixion is the only path to resurrection. If we would rise with Christ, we must first be humbled with Him--even to the ultimate humiliation, being devoured and spit forth by the uncomprehending world.
"And we must be crucified outwardly, in the eyes of the world; for Christ's Kingdom is not of this world, and the world cannot bear it, even in a single representation of it, even for a single moment. The world can only accept Antichrist, now or at anytime.
"No wonder, then, that it is so hard to be Christian--it is not hard it is impossible. No one can knowingly accept a way of life which, the more truly it is lived, leads more surely to one's own destruction. And that is way we constantly rebel, try to make life easier, try to be half-Christian, try to make the best of both worlds. We must ultimately choose--our felicity lies in one world or the other, not in both.
"God give is the strength to pursue the path of crucifixion; there is not other way to be Christian."
Before he had found the truth, Father Seraphim had suffered for the lack of it. Now, having found it, he suffered for the sake of it. He devoted the rest of his life to living that truth, and killing himself to give it to others. Together with a young Russian man, named Gleb Podmosphnesky, he formed a Brotherhood which practiced the "Do it yourself" philosophy. They opened a bookstore in San Francisco and began printing a small magazine called the Orthodox Word by hand on a small letterpress, translating Ancient Christian texts and bringing Orthodox Literature to America. Later, to avoid the emptiness of the city, they moved their printing operation to the wilderness of Northern California, where they began to live like the ancient desert dwellers, of ancient times. There was not running water on their forested mountain, no telephone, no electric lines. They built their buildings themselves out of old lumber taken from pioneer dwellings and hauled water on their backs up the mountain. They lived with deer, rabbits, bear, foxes, squirrels, bats, mountain lions, scorpions, and rattlesnakes.
In 1970 the became monks, thus dying forever to the world. In the wilderness Father Seraphim's spirit began to soar "The city," he once said, "is for those who are empty, and it pushes away those who are filled and allows them to thrive."
Working by candlelight in his tiny cabin, Father Seraphim created a great number of original writings and translations of ancient ascetic texts. In America his writings have so far reached only select circles but in countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain they have had and incalculable impact on human lives. During the communist era, Father Seraphim's writings were secretly translated into Russian and distributed in the underground press (samizdat) in the form of typewritten manuscripts. By the time the fall of Communist power in 1991, Father Seraphim was known all over Russia. Today his books are on sale everywhere in Russia, including book tables in the Metro (subway) and on the street. The reason that he has made a much greater mark on Russia that on his homeland is because in Russia people knew how to suffer. Father Seraphim's message of underground Christianity, of suffering and persecution in this world for the sake of truth, touches a responsive chord in people who have already been crucified. In America people would rather hear the "nice" messages of preachers like Rev. Robert Schuler (who, by the way, broadcasts his show in Russia, where people can hardly believe how stupid it is). I met Father Seraphim a year and a half before his death in 1982. Like him, I had been seeking reality through Eastern religions, etc., by seeking to escape pseudo-reality through a Zen-like breakdown of logical thought processes. Finally, reduced to despair, I listened to Sid Barrett's two schizophrenic-withdrawal, childhood-regression solo albums over and over, until I had memorized all his word salads. One day Father Seraphim came to the campus where I was going to school. He drove up in an old beat up pick-up truck and emerged in his worn out black robe, his long hair, and his exceedingly long grey beard which had become matted. I was the image of absolute poverty. Next thing I remember I was walking with Father Seraphim through the college. Dinner had just ended and students were milling and hanging around the outside cafeteria. Everyone was staring at Father Seraphim, but he walked through them as naturally as if he had been at home. I the middle of a progressive American college, he seemed like someone who had just stepped out of the 4th century Egyptian desert.
Father Seraphim went to a lecture room and delivered a talk called "Signs of the Coming of the End of the World." He had happened to be sick at the same time and sniffled throughout his lecture. Obviously exhausted, he yet remained clear-headed, cheerful, and ready to answer questions at length. I could see that he was at least as learned and far more wise than any of my professors, and yet he was clearly a man of the wilderness, more at home in the forest than in a classroom.
What struck me most about Father Seraphim was that here was a man who was totally sacrificing himself for God, for the truth. He was not a university Professor receiving a comfortable salary for being a disseminator of knowledge, nor was he a religious leader who hankered after power, influence, or even a bowl of fruit to be placed at his feet, as did the "spiritual masters" who had followings in that area. He was not "into religion" for what could he get out of it; he was not looking for a crutch to "enjoy spiritual life." He was just a simple monk who sought the Truth above all else. And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would die for that Truth, for I could see he was dying for it already.
The entire world is God's creation and therefore it is by nature good; evil does not have an ontological existence. Natural evil is the result of discord which was created after man's fall; even death is a means of educating man in order to lead him back to communion with God. Moral evil, sin, does not have its cause in man's nature, but in man's disposition.
Through man's fall, all of nature was dragged into servitude to corruption. God, however, in the person of His Incarnate Word or Logos entered into the reality of the world and renewed it. By His death, Resurrection and Ascension, He led man, whom He had assumed, to the life of incorruption and immortality; and He exalted him to the height of the glory of God the Father.
This glory, which during the second coming of oui Lord shall become our possession, is prefigured in the life of the Church, and especially in the life of the saints. The bodies of the saints, the sacred relics, are surrounded by the sanctifying grace of God and become a source of divine blessings and miracles (IV Kings 13,21. Wisdom of Sirach 18,14). The grace, honor and glory which God grants to the relics of the saints constitute a foretaste and predepiction of man's transfiguration and that of all creation. This same grace surrounds the saints even during this life and can be discerned in some as warmth, in others as light, or through various miraculous energies, which are blessings for man. Even material objects in the life of the Church bear God's grace.
The presence of God's grace and glory in man and in material creation prefigures the liberation of all of creation from servitude to corruption and guarantees the certainty of our hope in life and incorruption. The world's sanctification was also wrought in the Jordan River during our Lord's Baptism. The hymns of our Church on the day of Epiphany and the prayers of the Great Sanctification of the Waters reveal the new reality of the world: "Today the earth and the sea share in the world's joy and the world is filled with gladness", states the prayer of St. Sophronios of Jerusalem.
Christ hallowed the waters of the Jordan, the banks of the river and all of creation: " You, Ο Lord, being baptized in the Jordan did sanctify its waters"; "having hallowed the waters of the Jordan You did crush the power of sin"; " Today creation is enlightened; today all things rejoice, the heavenly together with the earthly", states the hymnology of our Church.
Through the participation of the material creation in the divine worship of the Church and in the praise and doxology of God the hope of incorruption is expressed. In the Divine Liturgy all of creation is taken on and becomes a new creation in Christ. It is the bread and wine that becomes the Body and Blood of Christ, the candles, the icons, the Holy Cross; and all the material objects participate in some way in the Divine Liturgy. The water, the oil, the incense, the palms, the flowers, and even the new harvest of the crops of the earth are blessed, and the whole world regains that which it lost through man's fall: internal unity, the correct relationship with God, which is an eucharistic relationship, a relationship of offering in which all things are referred up and offered to God, Who becomes once again the centre of the world.
The unity of the entire creation which offers up "with one mouth" doxology to the Triune God is expressed at the end of the prayer for the Great Blessing of the Waters: "...that with the elements, and men, and Angels and with all things visible and invisible they may magnify Thy most holy Name, together with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." Man thus forsakes his autonomy and his egoistic use of God's creation; he once again finds his correct place in the world and his "royal" and "priestly" ministry (Gen. 1, 28. 2, 15).
The Christian does not reject this world, nor does he consider it to be something negative. He is not called to abandon the world, but to serve or liturgize in it. Christ wants his faithful to be in the world; to be "the salt oi the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matth. 5, 13-14). If our world is "tasteless and unsalted" and in darkness, if it follows a process of disintegration, then this means that Christians do not serve "as the salt of the earth" and the "light of the world". We must not then look for the cause of the world's misfortune in others.
This place that the Christians hold in the world implies responsibility for the preservation and the sanctification of God's creation, a task which stems from the service which God intrusted to man in Paradise ("...to cultivate and preserve", Gen. 2, 15). A Christian cannot be indifferent to the world's problems; he must labor to bring the world once again back to its doxological relationship with God. This means that the use of the world cannot have as its centre the satisfaction of man's ego and the "needs" which man constantly creates.
The true believer does not attribute absolute and exclusive value to the needs of this life nor to man's abilities. He does not intervene in God's creation in an autonomous way, independent of God's will, and egocentrically; he feels that he is responsible for creation. He does not seek knowledge and use of God's creation "unconditionally". The faithful does not use the powers of the world in a manner not blessed by God and contrary to the balance and harmony in creation and to the unity of God's world.
The Orthodox believer knows that man after the fall ceased to offer creation up to God as a doxology, i.e. to practise his priestly duties vis-a-vis creation; it was he who led creation into servitude to corruption. Within the Church however, he acquires the experience of freedom from this servitude. With this experience he is now called to return to the world with the assurity of the transfiguration and salvation of the entire creation. Having once again acquired within the liturgical place his correct relationship with creation and his correct place within it, he is called to practise his service as priest of the world.
This transfiguration of man and creation in the Church is still not yet the "new heavens" and the "new earth". These will become a reality during Christ's Second Coming. Thus it is that the Christian hope is "not of this world". Every chiliastic-messianic concept which looks to an establishment of an earthly kingdom and the creation of Paradise on earth, is foreign to the spirit of Christ.
Christians respect the authorities of the world and submit themselves to human laws which do not go against their Christian hope (Rom. 13, 1-8. Acts 3, 30). They do not preach a "gospel" conforming to the aspirations and the aims of this world. This is the saving message of the Church to a world which has an exclusively intersecular character and can discern no other vertical dimension in its life. It is for this reason that Orthodox Monasticism with its ascetical character and heavenly orientation offers to our society a great service. It shows to contemporary man, who is exclusively orientated towards the horizontal dimension, the vertical dimension which is at the centre of monastic life.
The monks thus constitute the indicators of the reality of heaven, which man who lives in the world cannot easily grasp. Monasticism opens the way to the absolute experience of life in Christ: a way of asceticism and obedience which is followed throughout one's life without ending; a way which is at the same time dangerous for those who fail to remain humble and steadfast in love that "seeks not its own". This life of the monastics constitutes a continuous vocation to contemporary man's disposition and an excellent prefiguration of the future life.
This anticipation of a new life creates in the Christians the conviction that here on earth they are strangers and sojourners, and that in traversing this life they walk towards their true homeland (Hebrews 11, 13-16). The believer has his eyes always fixed upon heaven and considers death to be the last stop in his journey, his "passing on" or birth into the next life.
We believe that after their separation from the body the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God (Wisdom of Solomon, 3,1) and they await the resurrection of the bodies, so that they may "totally" become partakers in God's love and glory. On the contrary, the souls of the unrighteous who in their lives rejected God's love and communion with Him and with the brethren, and who had as the only centre of reference their "ego", are deprived of this love, for their egoism does not allow them to accept it.
Christ's Second Coming will signal the general resurrection; our bodies will be clothed with incorruption and immortality. The righteous shall be raised unto life, the unrighteous unto condemnation. This will be the general judgment of the world; God's love will judge man in accordance with the position he assumes towards it, i.e. whether he accepts it or rejects it.
The Lord desires the salvation of all men, and their return to their true homeland: to the love and communion with the Triune God. This we call Paradise. By this word we do not mean a material but a spiritual reality. Holy Scripture compares this communion to the relationship between the Bridegroom and the Bride, and their union is compared to marriage (Rev. 19,7).
The sons of the Kingdom shall be eternally united with Christ and shall henceforth absolutely live the condition of being "one in Christ"; then shall we be in Him participators by grace of His unity with the Father ("I in my Father and you in me" Jn 14,20). All who live in this life closed up within themselves, all those who do not rejoice in seeing the face of their brother shall be deprived of this joy. They of their own accord have chosen their eternal torment.
Christ's Second Coming is for the faithful the fulfilment of their hope, just as is the arrival of the Bridegroom for the Bride. This is why the preparation for the reception of the coming Christ constitutes the chief concern of this life.
But when shall the Lord come? Christians do not concern themselves in pinpointing a specific date. They are vigilant and take care to be ready at every moment, for the Lord shall come suddenly, when we do not expect Him (Matth. 24, 13. 33. Acts 1, 7). The Lord Himself warns us to protect ourselves from false prophets who will be workers of guile and treachery. Outwardly they shall appear in the guise of Christ or in the form of an angel (Matth. 24, 4-5. 23-27. II Cor. 11, 13-15). Their teaching shall not be identical with that oi Christ; thus the knowledge of the only real truth oi Christ is necessary in order to avoid error and deceit.
Calling on Name "Jesus" is NOT some kind of Magical Act
“Calling on the name of Jesus does not mean simply pronouncing the name “Jesus” in prayer or directing a prayer explicitly to Jesus. “It means that one adores Christ as he adores God…” It is not some kind of magical act whereby we call out the name “Jesus” and we are saved.
Saint Basil writes
But if someone claims that it is written: “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Jl 2:32 & Acts 2:21), and that therefore a Christian need only invoke the name of God to be saved, let him read what the Apostle has said: “How can they call upon him if the do not believe in him” (Rom 10:14). And besides this there are the words of the Lord himself: “Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mat 7:21). Moreover, if someone is doing the will of the Lord and does not do it exactly in the way ordained or does not do it out of the proper motive of love for God, then all the effort he puts into the action is useless, and Jesus Christ himself has said in his gospel: “Hypocrites do these things as to be seen by men: I tell you truthfully, they have already received their reward” (Mt 6:16). It was in this divine school that Saint Paul learned the lesson which he taught when he said: “If I give away all my possessions to feed the poor and give my body to be burned, but lack charity it profits me nothing” (Cor 13:3).
It is not the name itself that is important, but the intention and goal of the one who pronounces it.
When Joseph's brothers threw him into the well(desiring his demise), they did not comprehend what a great sin they had committed. However, when God later allowed them to be overcome by hardship, they confessed and admitted that they were rightly suffering everything on account of theirsin against their brother:
“And they said to one another, ‘We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us”(Gen. 42:21).
Do you see how much benefit issues from adversity? Do you see how hardship gives light to the blind and wisdom to the unlearned?
The Apostle Peter did not want to allow Christ to wash his feet because he was unaware his Teacher’s sensible and judicious intent. As Christ Himself attested: "What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know thereafter"(Jn. 13:7).
But when Jesus warned Peter that he would not have any part with Him if He does not wash his feet, the disciple stood motionless in fear and allowed Christ to wash his feet. Similarly, at present you are uncertain of the Lord’s objectives as He washes you with the cleansing waters of suffering and hardship;
however, one day, when you witness the radiance and glory that your soul has been adorned with,after being immersed in the bath of sorrows, you will thank your all-wise Lord. For if He had not given you a bath, you would have no part with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom. Up until the prodigal son possessed his paternal inheritance and wealth, he splurged in luxury, he entertained himself with food and drink, he carried out all his sinful desires, and never even once thought of repenting (cf. Lk. 15:11-20).
However, when the wise physician cauterized him with the flame of hunger, famine, and poverty, he aband
oned the pleasures of the flesh and quickly returned to his paternal home, much wiser and more mature.
What the mill stone does to wheat, what the grinding wheel does to steel, and what the furnace does to silver,
this is precisely what life’svarious trials and sorrows do to man: they purge him of all unsightly imperfections and polish him to a brilliant shine.
Since difficulties and sorrows are so advantageous and are the cause of such benefit for us, why should we foolishly detest them? Why shouldn't we instead thank and glorify the unerring heavenly Physician Who sends them to us in order that we may acquire the health of our soul, just as we thank and gladly pay the physicians who heal our body?
Blessed is the person who realizes that life's difficulties are sent to us by the Lord for our salvation, and who gratefully embraces them withpleasure.
Ἰστέον οὖν ὅτι διπλοῦς ὢν ὁ ἄνθρωπος,
ἤγουν ἐκ ψυχῆς καὶ σώματος,
διπλᾶς ἔχει καὶ τὰς αἰσθήσεις, καὶ τὰς τούτων ἀρετάς·
καὶ πέντε μέν εἰσι τῆς ψυχῆς, καὶ πέντε τοῦ σώματος.
Καὶ αἱ μὲν ψυχικαὶ αἰσθήσεις,
ἃς καὶ δυνάμεις αὐτὰς οἱ σοφοὶ λέγουσιν, εἰσὶν αὗται·
νοῦς, διάνοια, δόξα, φαντασία, καὶ αἴσθησις.
Αἱ δὲ σωματικαὶ, ὅρασις, ὄσφρησις, ἀκοὴ, γεῦσις, καὶ ἁφή·
ὅθεν τοι διπλαῖ τούτων αἱ ἀρεταὶ, διπλαῖ καὶ αἱ κακίαι·
ὥστε ἀναγκαῖον εἰδέναι σαφῶς πάντα ἄνθρωπον,
πόσα μέν εἰσι τὰ ψυχικὰ πάθη, ποῖα δὲ τὰ σωματικά·
καὶ ψυχικὰς μὲν ἀρετὰς λέγομεν εἶναι προηγουμένως γενικωτάτας τέσσαρας ταύτας, αἵτινές εἰσιν αὗται,
ἀνδρεία, φρόνησις, σωφροσύνη, καὶ δικαιοσύνη·
καὶ ἐκ τούτων ἀποτίκτονται ψυχικαὶ ἀρεταί·
πίστις, ἐλπὶς, ἀγάπη, προσευχὴ, ταπείνωσις, πραότης, μακροθυμία, ἀνεξικακία, χρηστότης, ἀοργησία, γνῶσις θεία, τὸ ἄθυμον, τὸ ἁπλοῦν, τὸ ἀτάραχον, τὸ ἀνυπόκριτον, τὸ ἄτυφον, τὸ ἀνυπερήφανον, τὸ ἄφθονον, τὸ ἄδολον, τὸ ἀφιλάργυρον, τὸ συμπαθὲς, τὸ ἐλεημονητικὸν, τὸ μεταδοτικὸν, τὸ ἄφοβον, τὸ ἄλυπον, τὸ κατανυκτικὸν, τὸ αἰδεστικὸν, ἡ εὐλάβεια, ἡ τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν ἔφεσις, ἡ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ ὄρεξις, ἡ τῆς υἱοθεσίας ἐπιθυμία.
Ἀρεταὶ δὲ σωματικαὶ αὗται, μᾶλλον δὲ ἐργαλεῖα ἀρετῶν,
ἐν γνώσει καὶ κατὰ Θεὸν γινόμεναι, ἔξω τε πάσης ὑποκρίσεως καὶ ἀνθρωπαρεσκείας, εἰς προκοπὴν ταπεινώσεως, καὶ ἀπαθείας φέρουσαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον·
στάσις παννύχιος, κάμψις γονάτων ἐγκράτεια, νηστεία, δίψα, ἀγρυπνία, συνεχὴς, ἀλουσία, μονοχιτωνία, ξηροφαγία, βραδυφαγία, βραχυφαγία, ὑδροποσία, χαμευνία, πτωχεία, ἀκτημοσύνη τὸ αὐχμηρὸν, τὸ ἀκαλλώπιστον, τὸ ἀφίλαυτον, μεμονωμένον, τὸ ἥσυχον, τὸ ἀπρόϊτον, τὸ ἐνδεὲς, τὸ αὐταρκὲς, τὸ σιωπηλὸν, τὸ ταῖς οἰκείαις χερσὶν ἐργόχειρον μετέρχεσθαι, καὶ πᾶσα κακοπάθεια, καὶ ἄσκησις σωματική·
ἅπερ ἅπαντα, τοῦ σώματος ῥωστοῦντος,
καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν σαρκικῶν παθῶν ὀχλουμένου,
ἀναγκαιότατα καὶ ὠφελιμώτατα·
ἀσθενοῦντος δὲ, καὶ Θεοῦ βοηθείᾳ τούτων περιγενομένου,
οὐ τοσοῦτον ἀναγκαῖά εἰσιν, ὡς τῆς ἁγίας ταπεινώσεως,
καὶ εὐχῆς τὰ πάντα ἀναπληρούσης.
Ὀφείλομεν οὖν εἰπεῖν,
καὶ περὶ τῶν ψυχικῶν καὶ σωματικῶν, ἤγουν παθῶν·
καὶ ψυχικὰ μέν εἰσι πάθη ταῦτα, λήθη, ῥᾳθυμία, καὶ ἄγνοια·
ὑφ' ὧν δηλαδὴ τῶν παθῶν τούτων ὁ ὀφθαλμὸς τῆς ψυχῆς, ἤτοι ὁ νοῦς, σκοτιζόμενος, κυριεύεται ὑπὸ πάντων τῶν παθῶν, ἅτινά εἰσι ταῦτα, ἀσέβεια, κακοδοξία, ἤγουν πᾶσα αἵρεσις, βλασφημία, θυμὸς, ὀργὴ, πικρία, ὀξυχολία, μισανθρωπία, μνησικακία, καταλαλία, κατάκρισις, λύπη ἄλογος, φόβος, δειλία, ἔρις, ζῆλος, φθόνος, κενοδοξία, ὑπερηφανία, ὑπόκρισις, ψεῦδος, ἀπιστία, πλεονεξία, φιλοϋλία, προσπάθεια, σχέσις γηΐνων, ἀκηδία, μικροψυχία, ἀχαριστία, γογγυσμὸς, τύφος, οἴησις, σοβαρότης, ἀλαζονεία, φιλαρχία, ἀνθρωπαρέσκεια, δολιότης, ἀναίδεια, ἀναισθησία, κολακεία, ὑπουλότης, εἰρωνεία, διψυχία, αἱ συγκαταθέσεις τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων ἐκ τοῦ παθητικοῦ μέρους, καὶ ἡ συνεχὴς τούτων μελέτη, πλάνη λογισμῶν, φιλαυτία ἡ τῶν κακῶν γεννήτρια, καὶ ἡ ῥίζα πάντων τῶν κακῶν φιλαργυρία, κακοήθειά τε καὶ πονηρία.
Σωματικὰ δὲ πάθη·
γαστριμαργία, λαιμαργία, τρυφὴ, μέθη, λαθροφαγία, φιληδονία ποικίλη, πορνεία, μοιχεία, ἀσέλγεια, ἀκαθαρσία, αἱμομιξία, παιδοφθορία, κτηνοβατία, ἐπιθυμίαι κακαὶ, καὶ πάντα τὰ παρὰ φύσιν καὶ αἰσχρὰ πάθη, κλεψία, ἱεροσυλία, λῃστεία, φόνος, σωματικὴ ἄνεσις καὶ ἀπόλαυσις τῶν θελημάτων τῆς σαρκὸς, ὑγιαίνοντος μᾶλλον τοῦ σώματος, μαντεῖαι, μαγεῖαι, γοητεῖαι, οἰωνισμοὶ, κληδονισμοὶ, φιλοκοσμίαι, περπερεῖαι, βλακεῖαι, καλλωπισμοὶ, ἐπιτρίμματα προσώπων, ἡ κατάκριτος ἀργεία, μετεωρισμοὶ, κυβεῖαι, ἡ ἐμπαθὴς τῶν τοῦ κόσμου ἡδέων παράχρησις, ἡ φιλοσώματος ζωὴ, ἥ τις παχύνουσα τὸν νοῦν, γεώδη καὶ κτηνώδη τοῦτον ἀποτελεῖ, καὶ οὐδέποτε πρὸς Θεὸν, καὶ τὴν τῶν ἀρετῶν ἐργασίαν ἀνανεοῦσθαι ἐᾷ.
Ῥίζαι δὲ πάντων τῶν παθῶν, καὶ, ὡς ἂν εἴποι τις προπέτειαι, φιληδονία, φιλοδοξία, φιλαργυρία, ἀφ' ὧν ἀποτίκτεται πᾶν κακόν.
Οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει δὲ ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὐδεμίαν ἁμαρτίαν, εἰ μὴ πρότερον οἱ κραταιοὶ οὗτοι γίγαντες, καθώς φησιν ὁ ἐν ἀσκηταῖς σοφώτατος, Μάρκος περιγένωνται καὶ κατακυριεύσωσιν αὐτοῦ·
ἤτοι λήθη, ῥᾳθυμία, καὶ ἄγνοια·
ταύτας δὲ ἀποτίκτει ἡδονὴ καὶ ἄνεσις, τὸ ἀγαπᾷν τὴν δόξαν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ τὸν περισπασμόν·
πρωταίτιος δὲ τούτων ἁπάντων, καὶ οἷα μήτηρ κακίστη,
ὡς προείρηται, ἡ φιλαυτία,
ἤγουν ἄλογος φιλία τοῦ σώματος καὶ ἐμπαθὴς προσπάθεια·
διάχυσις γὰρ καὶ ἔκλυσις νοὸς μετὰ εὐτραπελίας καὶ αἰσχρολογίας, πολλῶν κακῶν καὶ πτωμάτων πρόξενοι,
ὡς ἡ παῤῥησία, καὶ ὁ γέλως.
Πρὸς τούτοις δὲ πᾶσι χρὴ γινώσκειν,
ὡς ποικίλη τίς ἐστι καὶ πολύτροπος ἡ ἐμπαθὴς φιληδονία,
καὶ πολλαὶ αἱ ἀπατῶσαι τὴν ψυχὴν ἡδοναὶ,
ὅταν μὴ νήφουσα πρὸς Θεὸν, αἴρεται τῷ θείῳ φόβῳ,
καὶ τῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἀγάπῃ,
τῆς τῶν ἀρετῶν ἐργασίας ἐπιμελουμένη.
Μυρίαι γὰρ φέρονται ἡδοναὶ πρὸς ἑαυτὰς ἕλκουσαι τοὺς τῆς ψυχῆς ὀφθαλμούς·
αἱ τῶν σωμάτων, αἱ τῶν χρημάτων, αἱ τῆς τρυφῆς, αἱ τῆς δόξης, αἱ τῆς ῥᾳθυμίας, αἱ τῆς ὀργῆς, αἱ τῆς δυναστείας, αἱ τῆς φιλαργυρίας, αἱ τῆς πλεονεξίας·
καὶ φαίνονται ἐν ἀπάτῃ λαμπρὰς ἔχουσαι τὰς ὄψεις,
ἱκαναὶ ἐπισπάσασθαι τοὺς περὶ ταῦτα ἐπτοημένους,
καὶ μὴ σφόδρα τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐρῶντας, καὶ τὴν ταύτης ὑπομένοντας σκληρότητα.
Καὶ πᾶσα γὰρ σχέσις γηΐνη, καὶ ἡ πρός τι τῶν ὑλικῶν προσπάθεια, ἡδονὴν καὶ τέρψιν ποιεῖ τῷ προσπαθητικῷ, καὶ ἀνόνητον καὶ βλαβεράν.
Τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ἐπιθυμητικὸν ἐμπαθὲς ἐν τούτῳ δεικνύει, ὡς τούτου ἕνεκεν, θυμῷ καὶ ὀργῇ, λύπῃ τε καὶ μνησικακίᾳ, τῇ τοῦ ποθουμένου ἀποστερήσει τὸν ἡττώμενον καθυποβάλλεσθαι.
Εἰ δὲ μετὰ τῆς προσπαθείας καὶ μικρὰ ἐπικρατήσει συνήθεια, ἀναισθήτως φάναι, καὶ ἀνιάτως ἄχρι τέλους τῆς ἀλόγου προσπαθείας ἔχεσθαι, διὰ τῆς ἐνταῦθα κεκρυμμένης ἡδονῆς τὸν ἁλόντα παρασκευάζει.
Πολυσχεδὴς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας ἡδονὴ, ὡς προείρηται·
καὶ οὐ μόνον τῇ πορνείᾳ, καὶ τῇ ἄλλῃ σωματικῇ ἀπολαύσει ἀποπληροῦται, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πάθεσιν.
Ἐπεὶ τὸ σωφρονεῖν οὐ τοῦτο μόνον ἐστὶ, τὸ πορνείας ἀπέχεσθαι, καὶ τῶν ὑπογαστρίων ἡδονῶν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν λοιπῶν ἡδονῶν ἐκτὸς εἶναι.
Ἔνθεν καὶ ὁ φιλοχρηματίας καὶ ὁ φιλαργυρίας, καὶ ὁ πλεονεξίας ἐρῶν, ἀκόλαστος·
ὥσπερ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος σώματος ἐρᾷ, οὕτω καὶ οὗτος χρημάτων.
Μᾶλλον δὲ οὗτος ἀκολαστότερος, ὅσῳ οὐδὲ τοσαύτην ἔχει βίαν ἐκ τῆς φύσεως συνωθοῦσαν αὐτόν.
Καὶ γὰρ ἀμαθὴς ἡνίοχος ἐκεῖνος ἂν, ὡς ἀληθῶς καὶ μάλιστα λέγοιτο, οὐχ ὁ τὸν σκληρὸν καὶ δυσήνιον μὴ κατέχων ἵππον, ἀλλ' ὁ τὸν ἥμερον καὶ ἐπιεικέστερον, μὴ δυνάμενος ὑποτάξαι.
Καὶ δῆλόν ἐστι πανταχόθεν, ὡς περιττὴ καὶ οὐ κατὰ φύσιν ἐστὶν ἡ τῶν χρημάτων ἐπιθυμία, ἅτε μὴ ἐκ φύσεως τὴν βίαν ἔχουσα, ἀλλ' ἐκ τῆς μοχθηρᾶς προαιρέσεως.
∆ιὸ καὶ ἀσύγγνωστα ἁμαρτάνει ὁ ταύτῃ ἑκὼν ἡττώμενος·
ὥστε χρὴ σαφῶς ἐπιγινώσκειν ἡμᾶς, οὐκ εἰς τρυφὴν μόνον, καὶ τὴν τῶν σωμάτων ἀπόλαυσιν ἡ φιληδονία ὁρίζεται, ἀλλ' ἐν παντὶ τρόπῳ καὶ πράγματι προαιρέσει ψυχῆς ἀγαπωμένῳ καὶ προσπαθείᾳ.
Ἵνα δὲ σαφέστερον ἔτι τὰ πάθη κατὰ τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς τριμερὲς διαγινώσκηται, καὶ τάδε ἐν ἐπιτόμῳ προσθῆναι διεκρίναμεν.
Περὶ τοῦ τριμεροῦς τῆς ψυχῆς.
Ἡ ψυχὴ διαιρεῖται εἰς τρία·
λογιστικὸν, θυμικὸν, καὶ ἐπιθυμητικόν.
Ἐκ τοῦ μὲν λογικοῦ τὰ ἁμαρτήματά εἰσι ταῦτα·
ἀπιστία, αἵρεσις, ἀφροσύνη, βλασφημία, ἀχαριστία, καὶ αἱ συγκαταθέσεις σωματικῶν ἁμαρτημάτων, αἳ γίνονται ἐκ τοῦ παθητικοῦ μέρους.
Ἡ δὲ τούτων τῶν κακῶν ἴασις καὶ θεραπεία ἡ ἀδίστακτός ἐστι πίστις πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν, τὰ ἀληθινὰ καὶ ἀπλανῆ καὶ ὀρθόδοξα δόγματα τῆς εὐσεβείας, ἡ συνεχὴς μελέτη τῶν λογίων τοῦ πνεύματος, ἡ καθαρὰ προσευχὴ καὶ ἀδιάλειπτος, καὶ ἡ πρὸς Θεὸν εὐχαριστία.
Περὶ τοῦ θυμικοῦ.
Τοῦ δὲ θυμικοῦ τὰ ἁμαρτήματά εἰσι ταῦτα·
ἡ ἀσπλαγχνία, τὸ μῖσος, τὸ ἀσυμπαθὲς, τὸ μνησίκακον, ὁ φθόνος, καὶ ὁ φόνος, καὶ ἡ συνεχὴς πρὸς τὰ τοιαῦτα μελέτη.
Ἡ δὲ τούτων ἴασις καὶ θεραπεία, ἡ φιλανθρωπία, ἡ ἀγάπη, καὶ ἡ χρηστότης.
Περὶ τοῦ ἐπιθυμητικοῦ.
Τοῦ δὲ ἐπιθυμητικοῦ τὰ ἁμαρτήματά εἰσι ταῦτα·
ἡ γαστριμαργία, ἡ λαιμαργία, ἡ οἰνοφλυγία ἡ πορνεία, ἡ μοιχεία, ἡ ἀκαθαρσία, ἡ ἀσέλγεια, ἡ φιλοχρηματία, ἡ τῆς κενῆς δόξης ἐπιθυμία, χρυσοῦ τε καὶ πλούτου, καὶ τῶν σαρκικῶν ἡδονῶν.
Ἡ δὲ τούτων ἴασις καὶ θεραπεία, ἡ νηστεία, ἡ ἐγκράτεια, ἡ κακοπάθεια, ἡ ἀκτημοσύνη, ὁ τῶν χρημάτων πρὸς πένητας σκορπισμὸς, ἡ τῶν μελλόντων ἐκείνων ἀθανάτων ἀγαθῶν ἔφεσις, ἡ τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ ὄρεξις, καὶ ἡ τῆς υἱοθεσίας ἐπιθυμία.
∆έον οὖν ἐνθῆναι ἡμᾶς καὶ τὴν διάγνωσιν τῶν ἐμπαθῶν λογισμῶν, δι' ὧν πᾶσα ἁμαρτία τελεῖται.
Ὀκτώ εἰσι πάντες οἱ περιεκτικοὶ τῆς κακίας λογισμοί·
ὁ τῆς γαστριμαργίας, ὁ τῆς πορνείας, ὁ τῆς φιλαργυρίας, ὁ τῆς ὀργῆς, ὁ τῆς λύπης, ὁ τῆς ἀκηδίας, ὁ τῆς κενοδοξίας, καὶ ὁ τῆς ὑπερηφανίας.
Τούτους ὀκτὼ λογισμοὺς παρενοχλεῖν μὲν, καὶ μὴ παρενοχλεῖν, οὐκ ἐφ' ἡμῖν ἐστι·
ἐμμένειν δὲ, ἢ πάθος κινεῖν, ἣ μὴ κινεῖν, τῶν ἐφ' ἡμῖν ἐστιν.
Ἄλλο δέ ἐστι προσβολὴ, καὶ ἄλλο συνδοιασμὸς, καὶ ἄλλο πάλη, καὶ ἄλλο πάθος, καὶ ἄλλο συγκατάθεσις, ἡ ἐγγίζουσα καὶ παρομοιοῦσα τῇ πράξει, καὶ ἄλλο ἐνέργεια, καὶ ἄλλο αἰχμαλωσία.
Καὶ προσβολὴ μέν ἐστιν ἡ ἁπλῶς γινομένη παρὰ τοῦ ἐχθροῦ ὑπόμνησις·
οἷον, ποίησον τόδε ἢ τόδε.
Ὡς ἐπὶ τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν·
«Εἰπὲ ἵνα οἱ λίθοι οὗτοι ἄρτος γένωνται·»
τοῦτο ὡς εἴρηται, οὐκ ἐφ' ἡμῖν ἐστι.
Συνδοιασμὸς δέ ἐστιν ἡ παραδοχὴ τοῦ ὑποβαλλομένου λογισμοῦ παρὰ τοῦ ἐχθροῦ, καὶ οἷον μετ' αὐτοῦ μελέτη καὶ ἐνήδονος ὁμιλία ἡ παρὰ τῆς προαιρέσεως ἡμῶν.
Πάθος δὲ, ἡ ἀπὸ τοῦ συνδοιασμοῦ ἕξις γινομένη παρὰ τοῦ ἐχθροῦ ὑποβαλλομένου πάθους, καὶ οἱονεὶ συνεχὴς μελέτη καὶ φαντασία.
Πάλη δὲ, ἡ ἀντίστασις τοῦ λογισμοῦ, ἡ πρὸς ἀναίρεσιν τοῦ ἐν τῷ λογισμῷ πάθους, ἤτοι τοῦ ἐμπαθοῦς λογισμοῦ, ἢ πρὸς συγκατάθεσιν, καθώς φησιν ὁ Ἀπόστολος·
«Ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός.
Ταῦτα δὲ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκεινται.»
Αἰχμαλωσία δέ ἐστι βιαία καὶ ἀκούσιος τῆς καρδίας ἀπαγωγὴ, ἀπὸ προλήψεως καὶ μακρᾶς συνηθείας τυραννουμένης·
συγκατάθεσις δὲ, ἡ κατάνευσις πρὸς τὸ πάθος τοῦ λογισμοῦ.
Ἐνέργεια δὲ, αὐτὴ ἡ πρᾶξις τοῦ ἐν συγκαταθέσει ἐμπαθοῦς λογισμοῦ·
ὁ τοίνυν τὸ πρῶτον ἀπαθῶς λογιζόμενος, ἢ ἀντιῤῥήσει καὶ ἐμβριθείᾳ ἐκ πρώτης ἀποπεμπόμενος, ἤγουν τὴν προσβολὴν, πάντα τὰ ἔσχατα ὑφ' ἓν περιέκοψε.
Ἀναιρεῖται μὲν ὑπὸ ἐγκρατείας ἡ γαστριμαργία·
ὑπὸ δὲ θείου πόθου καὶ τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν ἐφέσεως, ἡ πορνεία·
ὑπὸ δὲ συμπαθείας τῆς πρὸς τοὺς πένητας, ἡ φιλαργυρία·
ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς ἀγαθότητος καὶ τῆς πρὸς πάντας ἀγάπης, ἡ ὀργή·
ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς πνευματικῆς χαρᾶς, ἡ κοσμικὴ λύπη·
ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ τῆς καρτερίας, καὶ τῆς πρὸς θεῶν εὐχαριστίας, ἡ ἀκηδία·
ὑπὸ δὲ τῆς κρυπτῆς μέντοι τῶν ἀρετῶν ἐργασίας, καὶ τῆς ἐν συντριβῇ καρδίας συνεχοῦς προσευχῆς, ἡ κενοδοξία·
ὑπὸ δὲ τοῦ μὴ κρίνειν τινὰ ἢ ἐξουθενεῖν, ὡς ὁ μεγάλαυχος Φαρισαῖος, ἀλλ' ἡγεῖσθαι ἑαυτὸν ἔσχατον πάντων, ἡ ὑπερηφανία.
Οὕτως οὖν τῶν εἰρημένων παθῶν ὁ νοῦς ἐλευθερωθεὶς, καὶ πρὸς Θεὸν ἀνυψωθεὶς, ἀπεντεῦθεν ζῇ τὴν μακαρίαν ζωὴν, τὴν ἀῤῥαβῶνα δεχόμενος τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος·
καὶ τῶν ἐντεῦθεν ἀποδημήσας, μετὰ ἀπαθείας καὶ γνώσεως ἀληθοῦς, παρίσταται τῷ φωτὶ τῆς ἁγίας Τριάδος, μετὰ τῶν θείων ἀγγέλων, εἰς αἰῶνας ἀπεράντους καταλαμπόμενος.
Τριμερὴς τοίνυν οὖσα, ὡς προδεδήλωται, ἡ ψυχή·
τρία γὰρ, ὡς εἴρηται, τὰ μέρη ταύτης εἰσὶ, λογισμὸς, θυμὸς καὶ ἐπιθυμία·
ἐάν ἐστιν ἐν τῷ θυμικῷ ἀγάπη, καὶ φιλανθρωπία, καὶ ἐν τῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ καθαρότης καὶ σωφροσύνη, ὁ λογισμός ἐστι πεφωτισμένος.
Ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ θυμικῷ ᾖ μισανθρωπία, καὶ ἐν τῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ ἀκολασία, ὁ λογισμός ἐστιν ἐσκοτισμένος·
ὁ μὲν οὖν λογισμὸς τότε ὑγιαίνει καὶ σωφρονεῖ καὶ φωτίζεται, ὅτε τὰ πάθη ἔχει ὑποτεταγμένα, καὶ τοὺς λόγους τῶν κτισμάτων ἁγνικῶς θεωρεῖ, καὶ πρὸς τὴν μακαρίαν καὶ ἁγίαν Τριάδα ἀνάγεται.
Ὁ δὲ θυμὸς τότε πάλιν κινεῖ τὸ κατὰ φύσιν, ὅτε πάντας ἀνθρώπους ἀγαπᾷ, καὶ πρὸς οὐδένα αὐτῶν ἢ λύπην, ἢ μνησικακίαν κέκτηται.
Ἡ δὲ ἐπιθυμία, ὅταν ὑπὸ ταπεινοφροσύνης καὶ ἐγκρατείας καὶ ἀκτημοσύνης νεκρώσῃ τὰ πάθη, τουτέστιν ἡδονὴν σαρκὸς, καὶ χρημάτων καὶ δόξης παρερχομένης ἔφεσιν, καὶ τραπῇ πρὸς τὸ θεῖον καὶ ἀθάνατον ἔρωτα·
καὶ γὰρ ἡ ἐπιθυμία πρὸς τὰ τρία τὴν κίνησιν ἔχει, ἢ πρὸς ἡδονὴν σαρκὸς, ἢ πρὸς δόξαν κενὴν, ἢ καὶ πρὸς ἀπάτην χρημάτων, καὶ διὰ τὴν παράλογον ταύτην ἔφεσιν καταφρονεῖ τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ τῶν θείων αὐτοῦ ἐντολῶν, καὶ τῆς θείας εὐγενείας ἐπιλανθάνεται, καὶ πρὸς τὸν πλησίον ἐκθηριοῦται, καὶ τὸν λογισμὸν σκοτίζει, καὶ οὐκ ἐᾷ ἀναβλέψαι πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν·
ὧν ὁ ἀνώτερον κτησάμενος φρόνημα, ἀπεντεῦθεν, ὡς προείρηται, ἀπολαμβάνει τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ ζῇ μακαρίαν ζωὴν, προσδοκίᾳ τῆς ἀποκειμένης μακαριότητος, τοῖς ἀγαπῶσι τὸν Θεόν·
ἧς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀξιωθείημεν διὰ τῆς χάριτος τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ἀμήν.
Ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν οὕτως, ὡς εἴχομεν ἀμαθίας, ἀφελῶς ἐξεθέμεθα, εὐσύνοπτον καὶ σαφῆ σχεδιάσαντες τὸν περὶ ἀρετῶν καὶ παθῶν λόγον, ἵν' εὐχερῶς ἔχῃ τις διακρίνειν τε καὶ διαγινώσκειν τὴν τούτων διαίρεσίν τε καὶ διαφορὰν, τῇ μὲν τούτων λεπτομερίᾳ καὶ σαφηνείᾳ.
∆ι' αὐτὸ γὰρ τοῦτο, καὶ ποικίλον ἑκάστου καὶ πολυειδὲς ἐξεθέμεθα, ὡς μηδεμίαν, εἰ δυνατὸν, ἰδέαν ἀρετῆς καὶ κακίαν ἀγνοεῖσθαι·
καὶ οὕτως τὰς μὲν εὐθύμως πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς ἐπισπασώμεθα, τὰς ἀρετὰς δηλονότι καὶ μᾶλλον ψυχικὰς, δι' ὧν καὶ τῷ Θεῷ ἐγγίζομεν, τὰς δέ γε κακίας καὶ σφόδρα ἐκκλίναντες διαδιδράσκομεν·
μακάριος γὰρ, ὡς ἀληθῶς, ὁ ἀρετὴν ζητῶν, καὶ ταύτην μετιών·
καὶ ὅτι τί ἐστιν ἀρετὴ ἐπιμελῶς ἐρευνῶν, ὡς δι' αὐτῆς ἐγγίζων τῷ Θεῷ, καὶ τούτῳ νοερῶς συγγινόμενος.
Τοῦτο γὰρ κυρίως, φρόνησις ....
σοφία τε καὶ γνῶσις ἀψευδὴς, καὶ πλοῦτος ἀναφαίρετος, τὸ διὰ πρακτικῆς ἀρετῆς πρὸς θεωρίαν ἀνάγεσθαι τοῦ ποιήσαντος.
Ἀρετὴ δὲ καλεῖται, διὰ τὸ αἱρεῖσθαι·
αἱρετὴ γὰρ καὶ θελητὴ, διὰ τὸ αἱρετῶς καὶ αὐτεξουσίως τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποιεῖν ἡμᾶς, οὐχὶ ἀβουλήτως καὶ ἀναγκαστῶς·
φρόνησις δὲ λέγεται, τὸ παρὰ τῷ νοῒ φέρειν τὰ ὠφέλιμα.
Εἰ βούλει δὲ, προσθήσωμεν τῷ ἀφελεῖ τούτῳ λόγῳ, ὡς χρυσοῦν ἐπισφράγισμα, καὶ περὶ τοῦ κατ' εἰκόνα, καὶ καθ' ὁμοίωσιν, μικρὸν τοῦ τιμιωτάτου πάντων τῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ κτισμάτων, τὸ νοερὸν καὶ λογικὸν ζῶον ὁ ἄνθρωπος, μόνος ἐκ πάντων κατ' εἰκόνα ἐστὶ, καὶ καθ' ὁμοίωσιν Θεοῦ.
Κατ' εἰκόνα μὲν λέγεται πᾶς ἄνθρωπος, κατὰ τὸ τοῦ νοὸς ἀξίωμα, καὶ τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς, ἤτοι τὸ ἀκατάληπτον, τὸ ἀθεώρητον, τὸ ἀθάνατον, τὸ αὐτεξούσιον, ναὶ μὴν καὶ τὸ ἀρχηγὸν, καὶ τεκνογονικὸν, καὶ οἰκοδομικόν·
καθ' ὁμοίωσιν δὲ, κατὰ τὸν τῆς ἀρετῆς λόγον, καὶ τὰς θεωνύμους ταύτας καὶ θεομιμήτους πράξεις, ἤγουν κατὰ τὸ φιλανθρώπως πρὸς τὸ ὁμογενὲς διακεῖσθαι·
οἰκτείρειν τε καὶ ἐλεεῖν, καὶ ἀγαπᾷν τὸ ὁμόδουλον, εὐσπλαγχνίαν τε πᾶσαν καὶ συμπάθειαν ἐνδείκνυσθαι.
«Γίνεσθε γὰρ, φησὶ Χριστὸς ὁ Θεὸς, οἰκτίρμονες, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν οὐρανοῖς οἰκτίρμων ἐστί.»
Καὶ τὸ μὲν κατ' εἰκόνα, πᾶς ἄνθρωπος κέκτηται·
ἀμεταμέλητα γὰρ τὰ χαρίσματα τοῦ Θεοῦ·
τὸ δὲ καθ' ὁμοίωσιν, σπάνιοι, καὶ μόνοι οἱ ἐνάρετοι καὶ ἅγιοι, καὶ τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀγαθότητα κατὰ τὸ δυνατὸν ἀνθρώποις μιμούμενοι·
οὕτως ὑπεραγάθου φιλανθρωπίας ἀξιωθείημεν καὶ ἡμεῖς, εὐαρεστήσαντες αὐτῷ δι' ἀγαθοεργίας, καὶ μιμηταὶ γενόμενοι τῶν ἀπ' αἰῶνος εὐαρεστησάντων Χριστῷ·
ὅτι αὐτῷ ἐστιν ἔλεος, καὶ αὐτῷ πρέπει πᾶσα δόξα, τιμὴ, καὶ προσκύνησις, καὶ τῷ ἀνάρχῳ Πατρὶ, καὶ τῷ παναγίῳ καὶ ἀγαθῷ καὶ ζωοποιῷ αὐτοῦ Πνεύματι, νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ, καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων.
Αγιος Ιωαννης ∆αμασκηνος
Πολλές φορές στην προσευχή μου ζήτησα να γίνει αυτό, που εγώ νόμιζα καλό.
Και επέμεινα στο αίτημα εκβιάζοντας ασυλλόγιστα το θέλημα του Θεού μη αναθέτοντας σ' Αυτόν να οικονομήσει ό,τι Εκείνος ξέρει για συμφέρον μου.
Και όμως, όταν έλαβα ό,τι ζητούσα δυσανασχέτησα πολύ, επειδή δε ζήτησα να γίνει μάλλον το θέλημα του Θεού. Δεν ανταποκρίθηκε δηλαδή στις προσδοκίες μου ό,τι του ζήτησα.
Νείλος ο ασκητής
Ένας άγιος Γέροντας έμενε με τον υποτακτικό του σε μια καλύβη, όχι μακριά από ένα κεφαλοχώρι. Κάποτε έπεσε στον τόπο μεγάλη δυστυχία κι ο φτωχός κόσμος πέθαινε σχεδόν από την πείνα. Πολλοί στην απελπισία τους πήγαιναν και κτυπούσαν στην καλύβη του ερημίτη. Εκείνος πάλι, που ήταν πολύ ελεήμων, έδινε με την καρδιά του απ’ ό,τι τύχαινε να έχει. Ο υποτακτικός όμως που έβλεπε με τρόπο το ψωμί τους να λιγοστεύει, είπε μια μέρα στενοχωρημένος στο Γέροντα:
-Αββά, δε μου ξεχωρίζεις τα ψωμιά που μου αναλογούν, κι από δω και πέρα μοίραζε από τα δικά σου ελεημοσύνη. Έτσι όπως πάμε τώρα, γρήγορα θα πεινάσουμε κι οι δυο.
Ο αγαθός Γέροντας χώρισε τα ψωμιά του υποτακτικού του, χωρίς να πει τίποτα κι εξακολούθησε να δίνει από τα δικά του στους φτωχούς. Μα κι ο Θεός που είδε την καλή του προαίρεση τα ευλόγησε, κι όσο εκείνος έδινε, τόσο αυτά επληθύνονταν.
Ο υποτακτικός στο μεταξύ έφαγε τα δικά του. Όταν πια δεν του έμειναν παρά λίγα ψίχουλα, πήγε στον Γέροντα του και τον παρακαλούσε να τρώνε πάλι μαζί. Εκείνος τον δέχτηκε χωρίς να φέρει αντίρρηση. Τώρα όμως είχαν αυξηθεί και οι ζητιάνοι, κι ο υποτακτικός άρχισε πάλι να δυσανασχετεί. Ο υποτακτικός κατσούφιασε.
-Δώσε του ένα καρβέλι, πρόσταξε ο Γέροντας, που έκανε πως δεν είδε το μορφασμό του.
-Μου φαίνεται πως δεν έχουμε πια να φάμε ούτε εμείς. Είπε φωναχτά ο υποτακτικός, για να τον ακούσει κι ο ζητιάνος.
-Πήγαινε και ψάξε καλά, πρόσταξε ο Γέροντας.
Σηκώθηκε εκείνος απρόθυμα να πάει στο κελλαρικό. Μα τρόμαξε ν’ ανοίξει την πόρτα. Το βρήκε γεμάτο ως επάνω από καλοψημένα φρέσκα καρβέλια!
Από την ημέρα εκείνη απόκτησε μεγάλη εμπιστοσύνη στον άγιο Γέροντά του κι έγινε πρόθυμος στο ν’ ανακουφίζει τους φτωχούς.