St Symeon the New Theologian: Have You Bowed Before the Cross?

Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Symeon_New_Square_5.jpgINASMUCH, therefore, as the Cross has become as it were the altar of this fearful sacrifice—for on the Cross the Son of God died for the fall of man—therefore the Cross is justly revered and worshipped and depicted as the sign of the common resurrection of all men, so that those who bow down before the wood of the Cross might be delivered... Continue Reading

St Maximus the Confessor: Are You a Chaste Lover of Wisdom and Beauty?

Feast of St Autonomous the Martyr

Maximus_Square.jpgTO THE SANCTIFIED servant of God, spiritual father and teacher, lord Thomas, from the humble and sinful Maximus, his unworthy servant and disciple.

From your concerted zeal in the pursuit of divine things, you have acquired, dearly beloved of God, a habit of undeviating contemplation, and have become a most chaste lover, not simply of wisdom, but of her beauty. Now the beauty of... Continue Reading

St John Cassian: Do Your Souls Shine and Bear Christ the King?

Feast of St Euphrosynos the Cook

Cassian_Square.jpgTHE HISTORY of the Old Testament relates that the most wise Solomon—after he had received from God “exceedingly great wisdom and prudence and a breadth of heart like the countless sands of the sea” (1 Kgs. 5.9), such that by the Lord’s testimony it is said that no one was like him in times past and that no one like him would ever arise... Continue Reading

St John of Damascus: Are You Shrinking Back?

Feast of Sts Menodora, Metrodora & Nymphodora the Martyrs

John_Damascene_Square.jpegIT IS NECESSARY for us, always conscious of our unworthiness, to keep silence and confess our sins before God, but since all things are good in their season, and I see the Church, which God built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Christ His Son being the head cornerstone, battered as by the surging sea overwhelming it with... Continue Reading

St Basil the Great: Have You Placed Your Confidence in God through Christ?

Feast of the Holy & Righteous Ancestors of God, Joachim and Anna

Basil_Square.jpgWHEN, BY THE grace of God, I learned of your piety’s command, whereby you sought from us a written profession of our holy faith, I hesitated at first as to my answer, sensible as I am of my own lowliness and weakness. But when I recalled the words of the Apostle, “supporting one another in charity” (Eph. 4.2),... Continue Reading

St Gregory the Dialogist: Are You Raising the Eyes of Your Mind to the Giver of Gifts?

Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos

gregory_the_great_square.jpgTHE BROTHERS begged me to give an exposition of the book of Holy Job, revealing the mystery of the riches insofar as the Truth should teach me. Moreover, to this burden that they asked me to assume, they added as well that I should not only search the literal words for the allegorical sense but that I should then bend the allegorical sense... Continue Reading

St John of Damascus: Are You Exposing the Truth?

Feast of the Holy Prophet Zacharias, Father of the Venerable Forerunner

John_of_Damascus_Square_5.jpegI SHALL SET forth the best contributions of the philosophers of the Greeks, because whatever there is of good has been given to men from above by God, since “every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Js. 1.17). If, however, there is anything that is contrary to the truth,... Continue Reading

Lactantius: Have You Devoted All Your Effort to the Search for Truth?

Feast of St Babylas the Holy Martyr

Lactantius_Square.jpegIN THE DAYS when men of outstanding ability made a serious commitment to learning, they dropped every activity both public and private and devoted all the effort they could spend on it to the search for truth. They thought it far more glorious to investigate and understand the essence of things human and divine than to concentrate on piling up wealth and accumulating... Continue Reading

St Gregory of Nyssa: Have You Separated Yourself from the Nourishment of the Church's Milk?

Feast of St Anthimus, Bishop of Nicomedea

Gregory_of_Nyssa_Square_5.jpegSINCE THE daughter of the Egyptian king, being childless and barren (I think she is rightly perceived as profane philosophy), arranged to be called his mother by adopting the youngster, Scripture concedes that his relationship with her who was falsely called his mother should not be rejected until he had recognized his own immaturity. But he who has already attained maturity, as we... Continue Reading

St Justin Martyr: Have You Applied Yourself to Philosophy?

Feast of St John the Abstainer, Patriarch of Constantinople

Justin_Martyr_square_2.jpgEARLY ONE morning as I was walking along the colonnades of the gymnasium, a man, accompanied by some friends, came up to me and said, “Good morning, Philosopher.” Whereupon, he and his friends walked along beside me.

After returning his greeting, I asked, “What is the matter? Is there anything special you wish of me?”

He answered, “In Argos I was... Continue Reading

Origen: Are You Employing the Full Power of Your Pursuit for Christianity?

Feast of Sts Joshua Son of Nun and Symeon the Stylite

Origen_square_2.jpgGREETINGS IN GOD, my most devoted and venerable son Gregory, from Origen. As you know, the pursuit of understanding, since it calls for asceticism, can involve exertion, which leads as much as possible (if I may put it that way) toward the goal of that for which a person wishes to train. Thus your pursuit can have made you... Continue Reading

St Clement of Alexandria: Are You Working for Food which Lasts to Eternal Life?

Feast of St Cyprian the Hieromartyr & Bishop of Carthage

Clement_of_Alexandria_Square_3.jpegIF “THE HARVEST is plentiful, the laborers are few” (Matt. 9.37; Lk. 10.2), then it really is appropriate to pray that we may have as many workers as possible. The farming is of two kinds: one uses writing, the other does not. But whichever method the Lord’s worker uses to sow the good grain, to help the stalks to grow,... Continue Reading

St Gregory Palamas: Are You Imitating the Forerunner's Way of Life?

Feast of the Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

Gregory_Palamas_Square_5.jpegTHE FATHERS imitated the Forerunner of grace, bade farewell to the world, and fled the company of those devoted to it. Some inhabited the desert and attracted to it many of those born later. Others led ascetic lives within sacred enclosures and organized spiritual communities, and we associate ourselves with various ones of these in emulation... Continue Reading

St John Chrysostom: On Whose Account Do You Adorn Yourself?

Feast of St Moses the Black of Skete

Chrysostom_Square_4.jpegDO YOU WISH to adorn your face? Do not do so with gems but with piety and modesty; thus adorned, a man will find your appearance more pleasing to behold. For that other kind of adornment generally arouses suspicions which give rise to jealousy, enmity, strife, and quarrels. For there is nothing more disgusting than a suspiciously beautiful face. But the adornment... Continue Reading

St John Cassian: Is the Point of Your Clothing Decent Simplicity?

Feast of St Pimen the Great

Cassian_Square_4.jpegTHE EGYPTIAN monks refuse shoes as being forbidden by gospel precept (cf. Matt. 10.10), even when bodily infirmity or a winter morning’s chill or the intense midday heat demands them, and they only put sandals on their feet. They understand that this use of them, with the Lord’s permission, means that if, once having been placed in this world, we cannot be utterly removed... Continue Reading

St John Cassian: Do You Observe Simplicity and Innocence in the Character of Your Clothing?

Feast of the Holy Martyrs Adrian & Natalie

Cassian_Square.jpgTHERE ARE some other things in the garb of the Egyptians that pertain not so much to the well-being of the body as to the regulation of behavior, so that the observance of simplicity and innocence may be maintained even in the very character of their clothing. Thus, day and night they always wear small hoods that extend to the neck and... Continue Reading

St Benedict: Is Your Wardrobe Superfluous?

Feast of St Titus the Apostle of the 70

Benedict_Square.jpgCLOTHING IS to be given to the brothers according to the nature of the place where they live and according to its climate; for in cold regions more is required and in warm regions less. This therefore is for the abbot to consider. We believe, however, that in temperate places a cowl and a tunic will suffice for each monk, the... Continue Reading

St John Cassian: Does Your Clothing Nurture the Seeds of Vanity or Pride?

Feast of St Eutyches the Hieromartyr & Disciple of St John the Theologian

Cassian_square_3.jpegAS WE START to speak of the institutes and rules of monasteries, where could we better begin, with God’s help, than with the very garb of the monks? After having exposed their outward appearance to view we shall then be able to discuss, in logical sequence, their inner worship. And so, it is proper for a monk... Continue Reading

St Gregory Palamas: Do You Have God Working with You?

Feast of the Holy Martyr Agathonicus

Gregory_Palamas_Square_2.jpgIF WE DO not call upon God every time we undertake something, and do not have Him working with us, we may offer the evil one a way in. And letting him enter like this not only makes us useless but brings us to a disastrous end. He stirs up people to such a frenzy of rage one against the other about trivial matters... Continue Reading

Evagrius of Pontus: Are You Preoccupied with God's Company?

Feast of the Holy Apostle Thaddaeus

Evagrius_Square_2.jpgAT TIMES just as soon as you rise to pray you pray well. At other times, work as you may, you achieve nothing. But this happens so that by seeking still more intently, and then finally reaching the mark, you may possess your prize without fear of loss.

When an angel makes his presence felt by us, all disturbing thoughts immediately disappear. The spirit... Continue Reading