Skip Navigation Links
Home
TV
Αρθρα
Κ. Διαθηκη
«Αλήθεια, αλήθεια σου λέω, αν κάποιος δε γεννηθεί από νερό και Πνεύμα, δε δύναται να εισέλθει στη βασιλεία του Θεού.» Κατα Ιωάννη John 3:5 ΄
ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛΩ "LIKE" / "SHARE" !


Skip Navigation Links
Stasinos.orgHome
GREEK TV TV
Καινη Διαθήκη
Χριστιανικά
About
 
@@@


Home
Philokalia-St Gregory of Sinai 2
On Delusion and Other Subjects

7. I wish you to be fully informed about delusion, so that you can guard yourself against it and not do great harm  to yourself through  






[V4] 282

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

ignorance, and lose your soul. For our free will easily veers towards keeping company with the demons,  especially when we are inexperienced and still under their sway. Around beginners and those who rely on their own  counsel the demons spread the nets of destructive thoughts and images, and open pits into which such people fall;  for their city is still in the hands of the workers of iniquity, and in their impetuosity they are easily slain by them. It  is not surprising that they are deceived, or lose their wits, or have been and still are deluded, or heed what is contrary  to truth, or from inexperience and ignorance say things that should not be said. Often some witless person will speak  about truth and will hold forth at length without being aware of what he is saying or in a position to give a correct  account of things. In this way he troubles many who hear him and by his inept behavior he brings abuse and ridicule  on the heads of hesychasts. It is not in the least strange that beginners should be deceived even after making great  efforts, for this has happened to many who have sought God, both now and in the past.

Mindfulness of God, or noetic prayer, is superior to all other activities. Indeed, being love for God, it is the chief  virtue. But a person who is brazen and shameless in his approach to God, and who is over-zealous in his efforts to  converse with Him in purity and to possess Him inwardly, is easily destroyed by the demons if they are given  license to attack him; for in rashly and presumptuously striving prematurely to attain what is beyond his present  capacity, he becomes a victim of his own arrogance. The Lord in His compassion often prevents us from  succumbing to temptation when He sees us aspiring over-confidently to attain what is still beyond our powers, for in  this way He gives each of us the opportunity of discovering his own presumption and so of repenting of his own  accord before making himself the butt of demons as well as of other people's ridicule or pity. Especially is this the  case when we try to accomplish this task with patience and contrition; for we stand in need of much sorrow and  lamentation, of solitude, deprivation of all things, hardship and humility, and - most important of all for its  marvelous effects - of guidance and obedience; for otherwise we might unknowingly reap thorns instead of wheat,  gall instead of sweetness, ruin instead of salvation. Only the strong and the perfect can continuously fight alone with  the demons, wielding against them the sword of the Spirit, which is the teaching of God (cf Eph. 6:17). The weak  and beginners

[V4] 283



St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

escape death by taking refuge in flight, reverently and with fear withdrawing from the battle rather than risking  their life prematurely.

For your part, if you are rightly cultivating stillness and aspiring to be with God, and you see something either  sensory or noetic, within or without, be it even an image of Christ or of an angel or of some saint, or you imagine  you see a light in your intellect and give it a specific form, you should never entertain it. For the intellect itself  naturally possesses an imaginative power and in those who do not keep a strict watch over it it can easily produce, to  its own hurt, whatever forms and images it wants to. In this way the recollection of things good or evil can suddenly  imprint images on the intellect's perceptive faculty and so induce it to entertain fantasies, thus making whoever this  happens to a daydreamer rather than a hesychast.

Be careful, therefore, not to entertain and readily give assent to anything even if it be good, before questioning  those with spiritual experience and investigating it thoroughly, so as not to come to any harm. Always be suspicious  of it and keep your intellect free from colors, forms and images. For it has often happened that things sent by God to  test our free will, to see which way it inclines and to act as a spur to our efforts, have in fact had bad consequences.  For when we see something, whether with mind or senses - even if this thing be from God - and then readily  entertain it without consulting those experienced in such matters, we are easily deceived, or will be in the future,  because of our gullibility. A novice should pay close attention solely to the activity of his heart, because this is not  led astray. Everything else he must reject until the passions are quietened. For God does not censure those who out  of fear of being deluded pay strict attention to themselves, even though this means that they refuse to entertain what  He sends them until they have questioned others and made careful enquiry. Indeed, He is more likely to praise their  prudence, even though in some cases He is grieved.

Yet you should not question everyone. You should go only to one, to someone who has been entrusted with the  guidance of others as well, who is radiant alike in his life and in his words, and who although poor makes many rich  (cf. 2 Cor. 6:10). For people lacking spiritual experience have often done harm to foolish questioners, and for this  they will be judged after death. Not everyone is qualified to guide others: only those can do so who have been  granted divine discrimination - what St Paul calls the 'discrimination of spirits'

[V4] 284

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

  (1 Cor. 12:10) - enabling them to distinguish between bad and good with the sword of God's teaching (cf. Eph.  6:17). Everyone possesses his own private knowledge and discrimination, whether inborn, pragmatic or scientific,  but not all possess spiritual knowledge and discrimination. That is why Sirach said, 'Be at peace with many, but let  your counselors be one in a thousand' (Eccles. 6:6). It is hard to find a guide who in all he does, says or thinks is free  from delusion. You can tell that a person is undeluded when his actions and judgment are founded on the testimony  of divine Scripture, and when he is humble in whatever he has to give his mind to. No little effort is needed to attain  a clear understanding of the truth and to be cleansed from whatever is contrary to grace, for the devil - especially in  the case of beginners - is liable to present his delusions in the forms of truth, thus giving his deceit a spiritual guise.

If, then, you are striving in stillness to attain a state of pure prayer, you must journey with great trepidation and  inward grief, questioning those with spiritual experience, accepting their guidance, always lamenting your sins, and  full of distress and fear lest you should be chastised or should fall away from God and be divorced from Him in this  life or the next. For when the devil sees someone leading a penitent life, he retreats, frightened of the humility that  such inward grief engenders. But if, with a longing that is satanic rather than authentic, you are presumptuous  enough to imagine that you have attained a lofty state, the devil will easily trap you in his nets and make you his  slave. Thus the surest guard against falling from the joy of prayer into a state of conceit is to persevere in prayer and  inward grief, for by embracing a solace-filled grief you keep yourself safe from harm. Authentic prayer - the warmth  that accompanies the Jesus Prayer, for it is Jesus who enkindles fire on the earth of our hearts (cf. Luke 12:49) -  consumes the passions like thorns and fills the soul with delight and joyfulness. Such prayer comes neither from  right or left, nor from above, but wells up in the heart like a spring of water from the life-quickening Spirit. It is this  prayer alone that you should aspire to realize and possess in your heart, always keeping your intellect free from  images, concepts and thoughts. And do not be afraid, for He who says, "Take heart; it is I; be not afraid' (Matt.  14:27), is with us - He whom we seek and who protects us always. When we invoke God we must be neither timid  nor hesitant.

If some have gone astray and lost their mental balance, this is

[V4] 285

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

because they have in arrogance followed their own counsels. For when you seek God in obedience and humility,  and with the guidance of a spiritual master, you will never come to any harm, by the grace of Christ who desires all  to be saved (cf 1 Tim. 2:4). Should temptation arise, its purpose is to test you and to spur you on; and God, who has  permitted this testing, will speedily come to your help in whatever way He sees fit. As the holy fathers assure us, a  person who lives an upright and blameless life, avoiding arrogance and spuming popularity, will come to no harm  even if a whole host of demons provoke him with countless temptations. But if you are presumptuous and follow  your own counsel you will readily fall victim to delusion. That is why a hesychast must always keep to the royal  road. For excess in anything easily leads to conceit, and conceit induces self-delusion. Keep the intellect at rest by  gently pressing your lips together when you pray, but do not impede your nasal breathing, as the ignorant do, in case  you harm yourself by building up inward pressure.

There are three virtues connected with stillness which we must guard scrupulously, examining ourselves every  hour to make sure that we possess them, in case through unmmdfulness we are robbed of them and wander far away  from them. These virtues are self-control, silence and self-reproach, which is the same thing as humility. They are  all-embracing and support one another; and from them prayer is bom and through them it burgeons.

Grace begins to operate in people during prayer in different ways, for, as the apostle says, the Spirit distributes  Himself as He wills in a variety of modes, and is perceived and known correspondingly (cf. Heb. 2:4). Elijah the  Tishbite serves here as an example for us (cf. 1 Kgs. 19:11-12). In some the Spirit appears as a whirlwind of awe.

dissolving the mountains of the passions and shattering the rocks of our hardened hearts, so that our worldly self is  transpierced and mortified. In others the Spirit appears as an earthquake, that is to say as a sense of inward jubilation  or what the fathers more clearly define as a sense of exultation. In others He is manifested inwardly as a fire that is  non-material yet real; for what is unreal and imaginary is also non-existent. Finally, in others - particularly in those  well advanced in prayer - God produces a gentle and serene flow of light. This is when Christ comes to dwell in the  heart, as St Paul says (cf. Eph. 3:17), mystically disclosing Himself through the Holy Spirit. That is why God said to  Elijah on Mount Horeb that the Lord was not in this or in that -

[V4] 286

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

not in the particular actions He manifests Himself in to beginners - but in the gentle flow of light; for it is in this  that He attests the perfection of our prayer.

Question: What should we do when the devil transforms himself into an angel of light (cf 2 Cor. 11:14) and tries  to seduce us?

Answer: You need great discrimination in order to distinguish between good and evil. So do not readily or lightly  put your trust in appearances, but weigh things well, and after testing everything carefully cleave to what is good  and reject what is evil (cf. 1 Thess. 5:21-2). You must test and discriminate before you give credence to anything.  You must also be aware that the effects of grace are self-evident, and that even if the devil does transform himself he  cannot produce these effects: he cannot induce you to be gentle, or forbearing, or humble, or joyful, or serene, or  stable in your thoughts; he cannot make you hate what is worldly, or cut off sensual indulgence and the working of  the passions, as grace does. He produces vanity, haughtiness, cowardice and every kind of evil. Thus you can tell  from its effects whether the light shining in your soul is from God or from Satan. The lettuce is similar in  appearance to the endive, and vinegar, to wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and recognizes the  differences between each. In the same way the soul, if it possesses the power of discrimination, can distinguish with  its noetic sense between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the illusions of Satan.  

[V4] 207

St Gregory of Sinai

  (c. 1265-1346)

(Volume 4, pp. 207-286)

Contents

On Commandments and Doctrines,

Warnings and Promises; on Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and also

On Stillness and Prayer- 137 Texts VOLUME 4: Page 212

Further Texts 253

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos - Ten Texts 257

On Stillness - Fifteen Texts 263

On Prayer - Seven Texts 275



[V4] 212

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty-Seven Texts

1 . You cannot be or become spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to man in his pre -fallen state unless  you first attain purity and freedom from corruption. For our purity has been overlaid by a state of sense-dominated  mindlessness, and our original mcorruption by the corruption of the flesh.

2. Only those who through their purity have become saints are spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to  man in his pre-fallen state. Mere skill in reasoning does not make a person's intelligence pure, for since the fall our  intelligence has been corrupted by evil thoughts. The materialistic and wordy spirit of the wisdom of this world may  lead us to speak about ever wider spheres of knowledge, but it renders our thoughts increasingly crude and uncouth.  

This combination of well-infonned talk and crude thought faUs far short of real wisdom and contemplation, as well  as of undivided and unified knowledge.

3. By knowledge of truth understand above all apprehension of truth through grace. Other kinds of knowledge  should be regarded as images of mtellections or the rational demonstration of facts.

4. If you fail to receive grace it is because of your lack of faith and your negligence; if you find it again it is  because of your faith and your diligence. For faith and diligence always conduce to progress, while their opposites  do the reverse.

5. To be utterly senseless is like being dead, and to be blind in intellect is like not seeing physically. To be utterly  senseless is to be deprived of life-giving energizmg power; to be blind in intellect is to be

[V4]213

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

deprived of the divine light by which a man can see and be seen by God.

6. Few men receive both power and wisdom from God. Through power we partake of divine blessings; through  wisdom we manifest them. This participation and this communication to others is a truly divine gift, beyond man's  unaided capacity.

7. A true sanctuary, even before the life to come, is a heart free from distractive thoughts and energized by the  Spirit, for all is done and said there spiritually. If we do not attain such a state in this life, we may because of our  other virtues be a stone fit for building into the temple of God; but we will not ourselves be a temple or a celebrant  of the Spirit.

8. Man is created incorruptible, without bodily humors, and thus he will be when resurrected. Yet he is not created  either immutable or mutable, since he possesses the power to choose at will whether to be subject to change or not  But the will cannot confer total immutability of nature upon him. Such immutability is bestowed only when he has  attained the state of changeless deification.

9. Corruption is generated by the flesh. To feed, to excrete, to stride about and to sleep are the natural  characteristics of beasts and wild animals; acquiring these characteristics through the fall, we have become beast-  like, losing the natural blessings bestowed on us by God. We have become brutal instead of spiritually intelligent,  ferine instead of godlike.

10. Paradise is twofold - sensible and spiritual: there is the paradise of Eden and the paradise of grace. The  paradise of Eden is so exalted that it is said to extend to the third heaven. It has been planted by God with every kind  of sweet-scented plant. It is neither entirely free from comiption nor altogether subject to it. Created between  corruption and mcorruption, it is always rich in fruits, ripe and unripe, and continually full of flowers. When trees  and ripe fruit rot and fall to the ground they turn into sweet-scented soil, free from the smell of decay exuded by the  vegetable-matter of this world. That is because of the great richness and holiness of the grace ever abounding there.  The river Ocean, appointed always to irrigate paradise with its waters, flows through the middle of it. On leaving  paradise, it divides into four other rivers, and flowing down to the Indians and Ethiopians brings them soil and fallen

leaves. Their fields are flooded by the united rivers of Pison and Gihon until these

[V4] 214

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

divide again, the one watering Libya and the other the land of Egypt (rf. Gen. 2:8-14).

11. It is said that when the world was first created it was not subject to flux and corruption. According to Scripture  it was only later corrupted and 'made subject to vanity' - that is, to man - not by its own choice but by the will of  Him to whom it is subject, the expectation being that Adam, who had fallen into corruption, would be restored to his  original state (cf Rom. 8:20-21). For by renewing man and sanctifying him, even though in this transient life he  bears a corruptible body. God also renewed creation, although creation is not yet freed from the process of  corruption. This deliverance from corruption is said by some to be a translation to a better state, by others to require  a complete transmutation of everything sensory. Scripture generally makes simple and straightforward statements  about matters that are still obscure.

12. People who have received grace are as if impregnated and with child by the Holy Spirit; but they may abort  the divine seed through sinning, or divorce themselves from God through intercourse with the enemy lurking within  them. It is the turbulence of the passions that aborts grace, while the act of sinning deprives us of it altogether. A  passion- and sin-loving soul, shorn of grace and divorced from God, is the haunt of passions - not to say of demons -  in this world and the next.

13. Nothing so converts anger into joy and gentleness as courage and mercy. Like a siege-engine, courage shatters  enemies attacking the soul from without, mercy those attacking it from within.

14. Many who practice the commandments think they are following the spiritual path. But they have not yet  reached the city, and in fact remain outside it. For they travel foolishly, deviating unawares from the straight  highway into side-roads, not realizing how close the vices are to the path of virtue. For the trae fulfillment of the  commandments demands that we do neither too little nor too much but simply pursue a course acceptable to God  and in accordance with His will. Otherwise we labor in vain and do not make straight the paths of the Lord (cf. Isa.  40:3). For in everything we do we must be clear about the goal we are pursuing.

15. To be on the spiritual path means seeking the Lord in your heart through fulfilling the commandments. For  when you listen to John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord,

[V4]215

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

make His paths straight' (Matt. 3:3), you must understand that he is referring to the commandments and their  fulfillment both in the heart and in actions. It is impossible to 'make straight' the path of the commandments and to  act rightly unless your heart too is straight and upright.

16. When Scripture speaks of rod and staff (cf. Ps. 23:4), you should take these to signify in the prophetic sense  judgment and providence, and in the moral sense psalmody and prayer. For when we are chastened by the Lord with  me rod of correction (cf 1 Cor. 1 1 :32), this is so that we may learn how to mend our ways. And when we chasten  our assailants with the rod of dauntless psalmody, we become established in prayer. Since we thus wield the rod and  the staff of spiritual action, let us not cease to chasten and be chastened until we are wholly in the hands of  providence and escape judgment both now and hereafter.

17. The essence of the commandments is always to give precedence to the one that embraces them all:  mindfulness of God, as stipulated in the phrase, 'Always be mindful of the Lord your God' (cf. Deut. 8:18). Our  failure or success in keeping the commandments depends on such mindfulness, for it is this that forgetfulness first  destroys when it shrouds the commandments in darkness and strips us of every blessing.

18. Those engaged in spiritual warfare regain their original state by practicing two commandments - obedience  and fasting; for evil has infiltrated our human condition by means of their opposites. Those who keep the  commandments out of obedience return to God more quickly. Others who keep them by means of fasting and prayer  return more slowly. Obedience befits beginners, fasting those in the middle way, who have attained a state of  spiritual enlightenment and self-mastery. To observe genuine obedience to God when practicing the commandments  is something only very few can do, and proves difficult even for those who have attained a state of self -mastery.

19. According to St Paul, it is characteristic of the Spirit of life to act and speak in the heart, while a literal,  outwardly correct observance of things characterizes the Men unregenerate person (cf Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:6). The  Spirit of life frees the intellect from sin and death, whereas a literal, outwardly correct observance imperceptibly  turns us into Pharisees, since we then act only in an external bodily

[V4] 216

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

sense and practice the commandments merely in order to be seen doing so (cf Matt. 23:5).

20. The whole complex of the commandments united and knit together m the Spirit (cf. Eph. 4:16) has its  analogue in man, whether his state is perfect or imperfect. The commandments are the body. The virtues -  established inner qualities - are the bones. Grace is the soul that lives and vivifies, energizing me vital power of the  commandments just as the soul animates the body. The degree of negligence or diligence with which a man tries to  attain to Christ's stature reveals what stage he has reached. Alike in this world and in the next, it indicates whether  he is in his spiritual infancy or has achieved maturity.

21. If you want the body of me commandments to nourish, you must zealously desire the pure spiritual milk of  maternal grace (cf. 1 Pet. 2:2); for it is on this milk of grace that you must suckle yourself if you wish to increase  your stature in Christ. Wisdom yields fervor from her breasts as milk that helps you to grow; but to nourish the  perfect she gives them the honey other purifying joy. 'Honey and milk are under your tongue' (Song of Songs 4:11):  by 'milk' Solomon means the Spirit's nurturing and maturing power, while by 'honey' he means the Spirit's  purificatory power. St Paul likewise refers to the differing functions of these powers when he says, 'I have fed you as  little children with milk, and not with meat' (cf. 1 Cor. 3:2).

22. To try to discover the meaning of the commandments through study and reading without actually living in  accordance with them is like mistaking the shadow of something for its reality. It is only by participating in the tmth  that you can share in the meaning of truth. If you search for the meaning without participating in the truth and  without having been initiated into it, you will find only a besotted kind of wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 1:20). You will be  among those whom St Jude categorized as 'psychic' or worldly because they lack the Spirit (cf Jude 1 9), boast as  they may of their knowledge of the truth.

23. The physical eye perceives the outward or literal sense of things and from it derives sensory images. The  intellect, once purified and reestablished in its pristine state, perceives God and from Him derives divine images.  Instead of a book the intellect has the Spirit; instead of a pen, mind and tongue - 'my tongue is a pen', says me  Psalmist (cf. Ps. 45:1); and instead of ink, light. So plunging the mind into the light that it becomes light, the  intellect, guided by the Spirit, inscribes the

[V4] 217

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

inner meaning of things in the pure hearts of those who listen. Then it grasps the significance of the statement that  the faithful 'shall be taught by God' (cf. Isa. 54:13; John 6:45), and that through the Spirit God 'teaches man  knowledge' (Ps. 94:10).

24. The efficacy of the commandments depends on faith working directly in the heart. Through faith each  commandment kindles and activates the soul's illumination. The fruits of a true and effective faith are self-control  and love, its consummation God-given humility, the source and support of love.

25. A right view of created things depends upon a truly spiritual knowledge of visible and invisible realities.  Visible realities are objects perceived by the senses, while invisible realities are noetic, intelligent, intelligible and  divine.

25. Orthodoxy may be defined as the clear perception and grasp of the two dogmas of the faith, namely, the  Trinity and the Duality. It is to know and contemplate the three Persons of the Trinity as distinctively and mdivisibly  constituting the one God, and the divine and human natures of Christ as united in His single Person - that is to say,  to know and profess that the single Son, both prior and subsequent to the Incarnation, is to be glorified in two  natures, divine and human, and in two wills, divme and human, the one distinct from the other.

27. Three unaltering and changeless properties typify the Holy Trinity: unbegottenness, begottenness and  procession. The Father is unbegotten and unonginate; the Son is begotten and also unoriginate; the Holy Spirit  proceeds from the Father through the Son, as St John of Damaskos says, and is equaUy coetemal.

28. Grace-imbued faith energized by the Spirit through our keeping of the commandments, alone suffices for  salvation, provided we sustain it and do not opt for a dead and ineffectual faith rather than for a living effective faith  in Christ. To embody and give life to an effective faith in Christ all we need to do as believers. But nowadays we  who call ourselves orthodox believers have in our ignorance imbibed not the faith imbued with grace but a faith that  is merely a matter of words, dead and unfeeling.

29. The Trinity is simple unity, unqualified and uncompounded. It is three-in-one, for God is three-personed, each  person wholly

[V4]218

St Gregory of Sinai

  On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

interpenetrating the others without any loss of distinct personal identity.

30. God reveals and manifests Himself in all things in a threefold manner. In Himself He is undetermined; but  through the Son in the Holy Spirit He sustains and watches over all things. And wherever He expresses Himself,  none of the three Persons is manifest or to be perceived apart from or without the other two.

31. In man there is intellect, consciousness and spirit. There is neither intellect without consciousness nor  consciousness without spirit: each subsists in the others and in itself. Intellect expresses itself through consciousness  and consciousness is manifested through the spirit In this way man is a dim image of the ineffable and archetypal  Trinity, disclosing even now the divine image in which he is created.

32. When the divine fathers expound the doctrine of the supra-essential, holy and supernatural Trinity, they  illustrate it by saying that the Father truly corresponds to the intellect, the Son to consciousness and the Holy Spirit  to the spirit. Thus they bequeath to us the dogma of one God in three Persons as the hallmark of the true faith and  the anchor of hope. For, according to Scripture, to apprehend the one God is the root of immortality, and to know the  majesty of the three-personed Monad is complete righteousness (cf Wisd. 15:3). Again, we should read what is said  in the Gospel in the same way: eternal life is to know Thee the only true God in three Persons, and Him whom Thou  hast sent, Jesus Christ, in two natures and two wills (cf John 17:3).

33. Chastisements differ, as do the rewards of the righteous. Chastisements are inflicted in hell, in what Scripture  describes as 'a dark and gloomy land, a land of eternal darkness' (Job 10:21-22. LXX), where sinners dwell before  the judgment and whither they return after judgment is given. For can the phrases, 'Let sinners be returned to hell'  (Ps. 9:17. LXX), and 'death will rule over them' (Ps. 49:14. LXX), refer to anything other than the final judgment  visited upon sinners, and their eternal condemnation?

34. Fire, darkness, the worm and the nether world correspond to ubiquitous self-indulgence, total tenebrific  ignorance, all-pervasive, lecherous titivation, and the tearfulness and foul stench of sin. Already even now they can  be seen to be active, as foretastes and first fruits of hell's torments, in sinners in whose soul they have taken root.  

35. Passion-embroiled states are foretastes of hell's torments, just

[V4]219

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

as the activity of the virtues is a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven. We must realize that the commandments are  activities producing effects, and that virtues are states, just as vices that have taken root are also states.

36. Requitals correspond to our deserts, even if many people think they do not. To some, divine justice gives  eternal life; to others, eternal chastisement. Each will be requited according to his actions -according to whether he  has passed through this present life in a virtuous or in a sinful manner. The degree or quality of the requital will  accord with the state induced in each by either the passions or the virtues, and the differing effects these have had.

37. Lakes of fire (cf. Rev. 19:20) signify self-indulgent souls. In these lakes the stench of the passions, like fetid  bogs, nourishes the sleepless worm of dissipation - the unbridled lusts of the flesh - as it also nourishes the snakes,  frogs and leeches of evil desire, the loathsome and poisonous thoughts and demons. A soul in such a state already in  this life receives a foretaste of the chastisement to come.

38. As the firsttruits of future chastisement are secretly present in the souls of sinners, so the foretaste of future  blessings is present and experienced in the hearts of the righteous through the activity of the Spirit. For a life lived  virtuously is the kingdom of heaven, just as a passion-embroiled state is hell.

39. The coming night of which Christ speaks (cf John 9:4) is the complete inertia of hell's darkness. Or,  interpreted differently, it is antichrist, who is, and is called, both night and darkness. Or alternatively, according to  the moral sense, it is our daily negligence which, like a dark night, deadens the soul in insensate sleep. For just as  the night makes all men sleep and is the image of the lifelessness of death, so the night of hell's darkness deadens  and stupefies sinners with the sottishness of pain.

40. Judgment upon this world (cf. John 12:31) is synonymous with ungodly lack of faith; for 'he who lacks faith is  already judged' (John 3:18). It is also a providential visitation restraining us or turning us back from sm, and  likewise a way of testing whether by inner disposition we incline towards good or evil actions; for according to the  Psalmist, 'The wicked are estranged from the womb' (Ps. 58:3). Thus God manifests His judgment either because of  our lack of faith, or to discipline us. or to test which way our actions gravitate. Some He chastens, to others He is  merciful; on some He bestows

[V4] 220

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

crowns of glory, others He visits with the torments of hell. Those whom He chastens are the utterly godless.

  Those to whom He shows mercy possess faith, but at the same time they are negligent, and it is for this reason that  they are compassionately chastised. Those consummate either in virtue or in wickedness receive their rewards  accordingly.

41 . If our human nature is not kept pure or else restored to its original purity by the Holy Spirit, it cannot become  one body and one spirit in Christ, either in this life or in the harmonious order of the life to come. For the all-  embracing and unifying power of the Spirit does not complete the new garment of grace by sewing on to it a patch  taken from the old garment of the passions (cf. Matt. 9:16).

42. Every person who has been renewed in the Spirit and has preserved this gift will be transformed and embodied  in Christ, experiencing ineffably the supernatural state of deification. But he will not hereafter be one with Christ or  be engrafted into His body unless in this life he has come to share in divine grace and has embodied spiritual  knowledge and truth.

43. The kingdom of heaven is like the tabernacle which was built by God, and which He disclosed to Moses as a  pattern (cf. Exod. 25:40); for it too has an outer and an inner sanctuary. Into the first will enter all who are priests of  grace. But into the second - which is noetic - will enter only those who in this life have attained the divine darkness  of theological wisdom and there as true hierarchs have celebrated the triadic liturgy, entering into the tabernacle that  Jesus Himself has set up, where He acts as their consecrator and chief Hierarch before the Trinity, and illumines  them ever more richly with His own splendor.

44. By 'many dwelling-places' (John 14:2) the Savior meant the differing stages of spiritual ascent and states of  development in the other world; for although the kingdom of heaven is one, there are many different levels within it.  That is to say, there is place for both heavenly and earthy men (cf. 1 Cor. 15:48) according to their virtue, their  knowledge and the degree of deification that they have attained. 'For there is one glory of the sun, and another glory  of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in

[V4] 221

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

glory' (1 Cor. 15:41); and yet all of them shine in a single divine firmament.

45. You partake of angelic life and attain an incorruptible and hence almost bodiless state when you have cleansed  your intellect through tears, have through the power of the Spirit resurrected your soul even in this life, and with the  help of the Logos have made your flesh - your natural human form of clay - a resplendent and fiery image of divine  beauty. For bodies become incorruptible when rid of their natural humors and their material density.

46. The body in its incorruptible state will be earthy, but it will be without humors or material density,  indescribably transmuted from an unspintual body into a spiritual body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:44), so that it will be in its  godlike refinement and subtleness both earthy and heavenly. Its state when it is resurrected will be the same as that  in which it was originally created - one in which it conforms to the image of the Son of Man (cf. Rom. 8:29; Phil.

3:21) through fuU participation in His divinity.

47. The land of the gentle (of. Ps. 37: 1 1) is the kingdom of heaven. Or else it is the theandnc state of the Son,  which we have attained or are in the process of attaining, having through grace been reborn as sons of God into the  new life of the resurrection. Or again, the holy land is our human nature when it has been divinized or, it may be, the  land purified according to the measure of those dwelling in it. Or, according to another interpretation, it is the land  granted as an inheritance (cf. Numb. 34:13) to those who are truly saints, the untroubled and divine serenity and the  peace that transcends the intellect (cf. Phil. 4:7) - the land wherein the righteous dwell quietly and unmolested.

48. The promised land is dispassion, from which spiritual joy flows like milk and honey (cf. Exod. 13:5).

49. The saints in heaven hold inner converse together, communicating mystically through the power of the Holy  Spirit.

50. If we do not know what we are like when God makes us, we shall not realize what sin has turned us into.

5 1 . All who have received the fullness of the perfection of Christ in this life are of equal spiritual stature.

52. Rewards correspond to labors. But their quantity or quality -that is to say, their measure - will be shown by the  position and state in heaven of those who receive them.

[V4] 222

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

53. According to Scripture the saints, the sons of Christ's resurrection, through incorruption and deification will  become intellects, that is to say, equal to the angels (cf Luke 20:36).

54. It is said that in the life to come the angels and saints ever increase in gifts of grace and never abate their  longing for further blessings. No lapse or veering from virtue to vice takes place in that life.

55. A person is perfect in this life when as a pledge of what is to come he receives the grace to assimilate himself  to the various stages of Christ's life. In the life to come perfection is made manifest through the power of deification.

56. If by passing through the different stages of spiritual growth you become perfect in virtue during this life, you  will attain a state of deification in the life hereafter equal to that of your peers.

57. It is said that true belief is knowledge or contemplation of the Holy Spirit. It is also said that scrupulous  discernment in matters of dogma constitutes full knowledge of the true faith.

58. Rapture means the total elevation of the soul's powers towards the majesty of divine glory, disclosed as an  undivided unity. Or again rapture is a pure and all-embracing ascent towards the limitless power that dwells in light.  Ecstasy is not only the heavenward ravishing of the soul's powers; it is also complete transcendence of the sense-  world itself. Intense longing for God - there are two forms of it - is a spiritual intoxication that arouses our desire.
59. As just remarked, there are two main forms of ecstatic longing for God: one within the heart and the other an  enravishment taking one beyond oneself. The first pertains to those who are still in the process of achieving  illumination, the second to those perfected in love. Both, acting on the intellect, transport it beyond the sense-world.  Such longing for the divine is truly a spiritual intoxication, impelling natural thoughts towards higher states and  detaching the senses from their involvement with visible things.

60. The source and ground of our distractive thoughts is the fragmented state of our memory. The memory was  originally simple and one-pointed, but as a result of the fall its natural powers have been perverted: it has lost its  recollectedness in God and has become compound instead of simple, diversified instead of one-pointed.

6 1 . We recover the original state of our memory by restoring it to

[V4] 223

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

  One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

its primal simplicity, when it will no longer act as a source of evil and destructive thoughts. For Adam's  disobedience has not only deformed into a weapon of evil the soul's simple memory of what is good; it has also  corrupted all its powers and quenched its natural appetite for virtue. The memory is restored above all by constant  mindfulness of God consolidated through prayer, for this spiritually elevates the memory from a natural to a  supernatural state.

62. Sinful acts provoke passions, the passions provoke distractive thoughts, and distractive thoughts provoke  fantasies. The fragmented memory begets a multiplicity of ideas, forgetfulness causes the fragmentation of the  memory, ignorance leads to forgetfulness, and laziness to ignorance. Laziness is spawned by lustful appetites,  appetites are aroused by misdirected emotions, and misdirected emotions by committing sinful acts. A sinful act is  provoked by a mindless desire for evil and a strong attachment to the senses and to sensory things.

63. Distractive thoughts arise and are activated in the soul's intelligent faculty, violent passions in the incensive  faculty, the memory of bestial appetites in the desiring faculty, imaginary forms in the mind, and ideas in the  conceptualizing faculty.

64. The irruption of evil thoughts is like the current of a river. We are provoked to sin by such thoughts, and when  as a result of this we give our assent to sin our heart is overwhelmed as though by a turbulent flood.

65. By the 'deep mire' (Ps. 69:2) understand slimy sensual pleasure, or the sludge of lechery, or the burden of  material things. Weighed down by all this the impassioned intellect casts itself into the depths of despair.

66. Scripture often calls thoughts motives for actions, just as it also calls these motives mental images and,  conversely, calls mental images motives. This is because the point of departure for such actions, although in itself  immaterial, is embodied through them and changed into a particular visible form. Thus the sin that is provoked is  identified and named according to its external manifestation.

67. Distractive thoughts are the promptings of the demons and precursors of the passions, just as such promptings  and mental images are also the precursors of particular actions. There can be no action, either for good or evil, that is  not initially provoked by the particular thought of that action; for thought is the impulse.  

[V4] 224

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

non-visible in form, that provokes us to act at all, whatever the action may be.

68. The raw material of actions generates neutral thoughts, while demonic provocation begets evil thoughts. Thus  when they are compared it is clear that there is a difference between motives and thoughts that accord with nature  and those which are either Contrary to nature or supernatural.

69. Thoughts in different classes of people are equally prone to change, thoughts that accord with nature  becoming either thoughts contrary to nature or, alternatively, becoming thoughts that transcend nature. Occasions  for these changes are provided, in the case of evil-minded people, by thoughts suggested by material things; whereas  in the case of those who are materially -minded they are provided by demonic provocation. Similarly, in the case of  saints, it is thoughts that accord with nature that provide the occasion for this change, such thoughts generating  thoughts that transcend nature. For the motivating occasions and grounds for these changes of the various types of  thought into their congenerate types are fourfold: material, demonic, natural and supernatural.

70. Occasions give rise to distractive thoughts, thoughts to fantasies, fantasies to the passions, and the passions  give entry to the demons. It is as if there were a certain cunningly devised sequence and order among the disordered  spirits, one thing following and derived from another. But no one thing in the sequence is self-operative: each is  prompted and activated by the demons. Fantasy is not wrought into an image, passion is not energized, without  unperceived hidden demonic impulsion. For even though Satan has fallen and is shattered, he is still stronger than  we are and exults over us because of our sloth.

71. The demons fill our minds with images; or, rather, they clothe themselves in images that correspond to the  character of the most dominant and active passion in our soul, and in this way they provoke us to give our assent to  that passion. For the demons use the state of passion as an occasion for stirring up images. Thus, whether we are  awake or asleep, they visit us with varied and diverse imaginings. The demons of desire turn themselves sometimes  into pigs, sometimes into donkeys, sometimes into fiery stallions avid for copulation, and sometimes - particularly  the demons of licentiousness - into Israelites. The demons of wrath turn themselves sometimes into gentiles and  sometimes into lions. The demons of cowardice take on the form

[V4] 225

St Gregory of Sinai

  On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

of Ishmaelites, those of licentiousness the form of Idumaeans, and those of drunkenness and dissipation the form  of Hagarenes. The demons of greed appear sometimes as wolves and sometimes as leopards, those of malice assume  the form sometimes of snakes, sometimes of vipers, and sometimes of foxes, those of shamelessness the form of  dogs and those of listlessness the form of cats. FinaUy there are the demons of lechery, that turn sometimes into  snakes and sometimes into crows and jackdaws. Carnal-minded demons, particularly those dwelling in the air,  transform themselves into birds. Our fantasy transmutes the images of the demons in a threefold manner  corresponding to the tripartite nature of the soul: into birds, wild animals and domestic animals, that correspond  respectively to the desiring, mcensive and intelligent aspect of the soul. For the three princes of the passions are  always ready to wage war on these three powers of the soul. Whatever the passion that dominates the soul, they  assume a form that corresponds to it and thus they insinuate themselves into us.

72. The demons of sensual pleasure often attack us in the form of fire and coals. For the spirits of self-indulgence  kindle the soul's desiring faculty, while they also confuse the intelligence and plunge it into darkness. The chief  cause of lustful burning and mental confusion and beclouding lies in the sensuality of the passions.

73. The night of the passions is the darkness of ignorance. Or alternatively the night is the state which begets the  passions, where the prince of darkness rules, and where the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the creeping  things of the earth have their dwelling, these being allegorical terms for the roving spirits that seek to lay hold of us  in order to devour us (cf Ps. 104:20).

74. Some distractive thoughts precede the activity of the passions and others follow it. Such thoughts precede  fantasies, while passions are sequent to fantasies. The passions precede demons, while demons follow the passions.

75. The cause and origin of the passions is the misuse of things. Such misuse results from perversion of our  character. Perversion expresses the bias of the will, and the state of our will is tested by demonic provocation. The  demons thus are permitted by divine providence to demonstrate to us the specific state of our will.

76. The lethal poison of the sting of sin is the soul's passion-charged state. For if by your own free choice you  allow yourself to be

[V4] 226

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

dominated by the passions you will develop a firm and unchanging propensity to sin.

77. The passions are variously named. They are divided into those pertaining to the body and those pertaining to  the soul. The bodily passions are subdivided into those that involve suffering and those that are sinful. The passions  that induce suffering are further subdivided into those connected with disease and those connected with corrective  discipline. The passions pertaining to the soul are divided according to whether they affect the incensive, appetitive  or intelligent aspect of the soul. Those connected with the intelligence are subdivided into those affecting the  imagination and those affecting the understanding. Of these some are the result of the deliberate misuse of things;  others we suffer against our will, out of necessity, and for these we are not culpable. The fathers have also called  them concomitants and natural idiosyncrasies.

78. The passions that pertain to the body differ from those that pertain to the soul; those affecting the appetitive  faculty differ from those affecting the incensive faculty; and those of the intelligence differ from those of the  intellect and the reason. But all intercommunicate, and all collaborate, the bodily passions with those of the  appetitive faculty, passions of the soul with those of the incensive faculty, passions of the intelligence with those of  the intellect, and passions of the intellect with those of the reason and of the memory.

79. The passions of the incensive faculty are anger, animosity, shouting, bad temper, self-assertion, conceit,  boastfulness, and so on. The passions of the appetitive faculty are greed, licentiousness, dissipation, insatiateness,  self-indulgence, avarice and self-love, which is the worst of all. The passions of the flesh are unchastity, adultery,  uncleanliness, profligacy, injustice, gluttony, listlessness, ostentation, self-adornment, cowardice and so on. The  passions of the intelligence are lack of faith, blasphemy, malice, cunning, mquisitiveness, duplicity, abuse,  backbiting, censonousness, vilification, frivolous talk, hypocrisy, lying, foul talk, foolish chatter, deceitfulness,  sarcasm, self-display, love of popularity, day-dreaming, perjury, gossiping and so on. The passions of the intellect  are self-conceit, pomposity, arrogance, quarrelsomeness, envy, self-satisfaction, contentiousness, inattentiveness,  fantasy, fabrication, swaggering, vainglory and pride, the beginning and end of all the vices. The passions of the  reason are dithering, distraction, captivation, obfuscation, blindness, abduction,

[V4] 227

  St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

provocation, connivance in sin, bias, perversion, instability of mind and similar things. In short, all the unnatural  vices commingle with the three faculties of the soul, just as all the virtues naturally coexist within them.

80. How eloquent is David when he speaks to God in ecstasy, saying, 'Thy knowledge is too wonderful for me; I  cannot attain to it' (cf. Ps. 139:6), for it exceeds my feeble knowledge and my powers. How incomprehensible,  indeed, is even this flesh in the way it has been constituted: it too is triadic in every detail, and yet a single harmony  embraces its limbs and parts; in addition it is graced by the numbers seven and two which, according to  mathematicians, signify time and creation. Thus it, too, when perceived according to the laws at work in creation, is  to be seen as an organ of God's glory manifesting His triadic magnificence.

8 1 . The laws of creation are the qualities inventing wholes compounded of energized parts - qualities also known  as generic differences, since they invest many different composites constituted from identical properties. Or again  the natural law is the potential power to energize inherent in each species and in each part. As God does with respect  to the whole of creation, so does the soul with respect to the body: it energizes and impels each member of the body  in accordance with the energy intrinsic to that member. At this point it must be asked why the holy fathers  sometimes say that anger and desire are powers pertaining to the body and sometimes that they are powers  pertaining to the soul. Assuredly, the words of the saints never disagree if they are carefully examined. In this case,  both statements are true, if correctly understood in context. For indescribably body and soul are brought into being  in such a way that they coexist. The soul is in a state of perfection from the start, but the body is imperfect since it  has to grow through taking nourishment. The soul by virtue of its creation as a deifonn and intellective entity  possesses an intrinsic power of desire and an intrinsic mcensive power, and these lead it to manifest both courage  and divine love. For senseless anger and mindless desire were not created along with the soul. Nor originally did  they pertain to the body. On the contrary, when the body was created it was free from corruption and without the  humors from which such desire and uncontrollable rage arise. But after the fall anger and desire were necessarily  generated within it, for then it became subject to the corruption and gross materiality of the instinct-driven

[V4] 228

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

animals. That is why when the body has the upper hand it opposes the will of the soul through anger and desire.  But when what is mortal is made subject to the intelligence it assists the soul in doing what is good. For when  characteristics that do not originally pertain to the body but have subsequently infiltrated into it become entangled  with the soul, man becomes like an animal (cf Ps. 49:20), since he is now necessarily subject to the law of sin. He  ceases to be an intelligent human being and becomes beast-like.

82. When God through His life-giving breath created the soul deiform and intellective. He did not implant in it  anger and desire that are animal-like. But He did endow it with a power of longing and aspiration, as well as with a  courage responsive to divine love. Similarly when God formed the body He did not originally implant in it  instinctual anger and desire. It was only afterwards, through the fall, that it was invested with these characteristics  that have rendered it mortal, corruptible and animal-like. For the body, even though susceptive of corruption, was  created, as theologians will tell us, free from corruption, and that is how it will be resurrected. In the same way the  soul when originally created was dispassionate. But soul and body have both been denied, commingled as they are  through the natural law of mutual mterpenetration and exchange. The soul has acquired the qualities of the passions  or, rather, of the demons; and the body, passing under the sway of corruption because of its fallen state, has become  akin to instinct-driven animals. The powers of body and soul have merged together and have produced a single  animal, driven impulsively and mindlessly by anger and desire. That is how man has sunk to the level of animals, as  Scripture testifies, and has become like them in every respect (cf. Ps. 49:20).

83. The principle and source of the virtues is a good disposition of the will, that is to say, an aspiration for  goodness and beauty. God is the source and ground of all supernal goodness. Thus the principle of goodness and  beauty is faith or, rather, it is Christ, the rock of faith, who is principle and foundation of all the virtues. On this rock  we stand and on this foundation we build every good thing (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11). Christ is the capstone (cf Eph. 2:20)  uniting us with Himself. He is the pearl of great price (c£ Matt. 13:46): it is this for which the monk seeks when he  plunges into the depths of stillness and it is this for which he sells all his own desires through obedience to the  commandments, so that he may acquire it even in this life.

[V4] 229

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

84. The virtues are all equal and together reduce themselves to one, thus constituting a single principle and form  of virtue. But some virtues - such as divine love, humility and divine patience - are greater than others, embracing  and comprising as they do a large number or even all of the rest. With regard to patience the Lord says, 'You will  gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance' (Luke 21:19). He did not say 'through your fasting' or  'through your vigils'. I refer to the patience bestowed by God, which is the queen of virtues, the foundation of  courageous actions. It is patience that is peace amid strife, serenity amid distress, and a steadfast base for those who  acquire it. Once you have attained it with the help of Christ Jesus, no swords and spears, no attacking armies, not  even the ranks of demons, the dark phalanx of hostile powers, will be able to do you any harm.

85. The virtues, though they beget each other, yet have their origin in the three powers of the soul - all except  those virtues that are divine. For the ground and principle of the four cardinal virtues, both natural and divine -  sound understanding, courage, self-restraint and justice, the progenitors of all the other virtues - is the divine  Wisdom that inspires those who have attained a state of mystical prayer. This Wisdom operates in a fourfold manner  in the intellect. It activates not all the four virtues simultaneously, but each one individually, as is appropriate and as  it determines. It activates sound understanding in the form of light, courage as clear-sighted power and ever-moving  inspiration, self-restraint as a power of sanctification and purification, and justice as the dew of purity, joy-inducing  and cooling the arid heat of the passions. In every one who has attained the state of perfection it activates each virtue  fully, in the appropriate form.

86. The pursuit of the virtues through one's own efforts does not confer complete strength on the soul unless grace  transforms them into an essential inner disposition. Each virtue is endowed with its own specific gift of grace, its  own particular energy, and thus possesses the capacity to produce such a disposition and blessed state in those who  attain it even when they have not consciously sought for any such state. Once a virtue has been bestowed on us it  remains unchanged and unfailing. For just as a living soul activates the body's members, so the grace of the Holy  Spirit activates the virtues. Without such grace the whole bevy of the virtues is moribund; and m those who appear  to have attained them, or to be in the way of attaining them, solely through

[V4] 230

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

their own efforts they are but shadows and prefigurations of beauty, not the reality itself.

87. The cardinal virtues are four: courage, sound understanding, self-restraint and justice. There are eight other  moral qualities, that either go beyond or fall short of these virtues. These we regard as vices, and so we call them;  but non-spiritual people regard them as virtues and that is what they call them. Exceeding or falling short of courage  are audacity and cowardice, of sound understanding are cunning and ignorance; of self-restraint are licentiousness  and obtuseness; of justice are excess and injustice, or taking less than one's due. In between, and superior to, what  goes beyond or what falls short of them, lie not only the cardinal and natural virtues, but also the practical virtues.  These are consolidated by resolution combined with probity of character; the others by perversion and self-conceit.  That the virtues lie along the midpoint or axis of rectitude is testified to by the proverb, 'You will attain every well-  founded axis' (Prov. 2:9. LXX). Thus when they are all established in the soul's three faculties in which they are  begotten and built up, they have as their foundation the four cardinal virtues or, rather, Christ Himself. In this way  the natural virtues are purified through the practical virtues, while the divine and supra-natural virtues are conferred  through the bounty of the Holy Spirit.

88. Among the virtues some are practical, others are natural, and others are divine and conferred by the Holy  Spirit. The practical virtues are the products of our resolution, the natural virtues are built into us when we are  created, the divine virtues are the fruits of grace.

89. Just as the virtues are begotten in the soul, so are the passions. But the virtues are begotten in accordance with  nature, the passions in a mode contrary to nature. For what produces good or evil in the soul is the will's bias: it is  like the joint of a pair of compasses or the pivot of a pair of scales: whichever way it inclines, so it will determine  the consequences. For our inner disposition is capable of operating in one way or another, since it bears within itself  both virtue and vice, the first as its natural birthright, the second as the result of the self-incurred proclivity of our  moral will.

90. Scripture calls the virtues 'maidens' (cf Song of Songs 1:3) because through their close union with the soul  they become one with it in spirit and body. In the same way as a girl's beauty is emblematic of her love, the presence  of these holy virtues expresses our inner purity and saintliness. Grace habitually gives to divine things an outward  form

[V4]231

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

that accords with their inner nature, at the same time unerringly molding those receptive to it in a way that  corresponds to this nature.

91. There are eight ruling passions: gluttony, avarice and self-esteem - the three principal passions; and  unchastity, anger, dejection, listlessness and arrogance - the five subordinate passions. In the same way, among the  virtues opposed to these there are three that are all-embracing, namely, total shedding of possessions, self-control  and humility, and five deriving from them, namely, purity, gentleness, joy, courage, and self-belittlement - and then  come all the other virtues. To study and recognize the power, action and special flavor of each virtue and vice is not  within the competence of everyone who wishes to do so; it is the prerogative of those who practice and experience  the virtues actively and consciously and who receive from the Holy Spirit the gifts of cognitive insight and  discrimination.

92. Virtues either energize in us or are energized by us. They energize in us by being present in us when it is  appropriate, when they will, for as long as they will and in whatever manner they will. We energize them ourselves  according to our resolve and the moral state of our capabilities. But they energize in us by virtue of their own  essence, whereas we energize them merely in an imitative way, by modeling our moral conduct upon them. For all  our actions are but typifications of the divine archetypes; and few indeed are those who participate concretely in  noetic realities before they enjoy the eternal blessings of the life to come. In this life we mainly activate and make  our own not the virtues themselves but their reflections and the ascetic toil they require.

93. According to St Paul (cf Rom. 15:16), you 'minister' the Gospel only when, having yourself participated in  the light of Christ, you can pass it on actively to others. Then you sow the Logos like a divine seed in the fields of  your listeners' souls. 'Let your speech be always filled with grace', says St Paul (Col. 4:6), 'seasoned' with divine  goodness. Then it will impart grace to those who listen to you with faith. Elsewhere St Paul, calling the teachers  tillers and their pupils the fields they till (cf 2 Tim. 2:6), wisely presents the former as plowers and sowers of the  divine Logos and the latter as the fertile soil, yielding a rich crop of virtues. True ministry is not simply a celebration  of sacred rites; it also involves participation in divine blessings and the communication of these blessings to others.

94. Oral teaching for the guidance of others has many forms,

[V4] 232

  St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

varying in accordance with the diverse ways in which it is put together from different sources. These sources are  four in number: instruction, reading, ascetic practice, and grace. For just as water, while essentially the same,  changes and acquires a distinctive quality according to the composition of the soil under it, so that it tastes bitter, or  sweet, or brackish, or acidic, so oral teaching, colored as it is by the moral state of the teacher, varies accordingly in  the way it operates and in the benefits it confers.

95. Oral teaching is something to be enjoyed by all intelligent beings. But just as there are many different kinds of  food, so the recipient of this teaching experiences its pleasure in a variety of ways. Instruction moulds the moral  character; teaching by reading is like 'still waters' that nourish and restore the soul (cf Ps. 23:2); teaching through  ascetic practice is like 'green pastures', strengthening it (cf. Ps. 23:2); while teaching imparted through grace is like a  cup that intoxicates it (cf. Ps. 23:5. LXX), filling it with unspeakable joy, or else it is like oil that exhilarates the face  and makes it radiant (cf. Ps. 104: 15).

96. Strictly speaking the soul possesses these various forms of teachings within itself as part of its own life; but  when it learns about them through listening to others it becomes conscious of them, provided it listens with faith and  provided the teacher teaches with love, speaking of the virtues without vanity or self-esteem. Then the soul is  disciplined by instruction, nourished by reading, graciously escorted to her wedding by the deeply -rooted teaching  that derives from ascetic practice, and receives the illuminative teaching of the Holy Spirit as a bridegroom who  unites her to Himself and fills her with delight. 'Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God' (Matt. 4:4)  denotes the words that, inspired by the Holy Spirit, issue from the mouths of the saints - an inspiration granted not to  all but only to those who are worthy. For although all intelligent beings take pleasure in knowledge, very few are  those in this world who are consciously filled with joy by the wisdom of the Spirit; most of us only know and  participate through the power of memory in die images and reflections of spiritual wisdom, for we do not yet with  full awareness partake of the Logos of God, the true celestial bread. But in the life to come this bread is the sole food  of me saints, proffered in such abundance that it is never exhausted, depleted, or immolated anew.

97. Without spiritual perception you cannot consciously

[V4] 233

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

experience the delight of divine things. If you dull your physical senses you make them insensible to sensory  things, and you neither see, hear nor smell, but are paralyzed or, rather, half-dead; similarly, if through the passions  you deaden the natural powers of your soul you make them insensible to the activity of the mysteries of the Spirit  and you cannot participate in them. If you are spiritually blind, deaf and insensible you are as dead: Christ does not  live in you, and you do not live and act in Christ.

98. The physical senses and the soul's powers have an equal and similar, not to say identical, mode of operation,  especially when they are in a healthy state: far then the soul's powers live and act through the senses, and the life-  giving Spirit sustains them both. A man is truly ill when he succumbs to the generic malady of the passions and  spends his whole time in the sickroom of inertia. When there is no satanic battle between them, making them reject  the rule of the intellect and of the Spirit, the senses clearly perceive sensory things, the soul's powers mtelligible  things; for when they are united through the Spirit and constitute a single whole, they know directly and essentially  the nature of divine and human things. They contemplate with clarity the logoi, or inward essences of these things,  and distinctly perceive, so far as is possible, the single source of all things, the Holy Trinity.

99. He who practices hesychasm must acquire the following five virtues, as a foundation on which to build:  silence, self-control, vigilance, humility and patience. Then there are three practices blessed by God: psalmody,  prayer and reading - and handiwork for those weak in body. These virtues which we have listed not only embrace all  the rest but also consolidate each other. From early morning the hesychast must devote himself to the remembrance  of God through prayer and stillness of heart, praying diligently in the first hour, reading in the second, chanting  psalms in the third, praying in the fourth, reading in the fifth, chanting psalms in the sixth, praying in the seventh,  reading in the eighth, chanting psalms in the ninth, eating in the tenth, sleeping in the eleventh, if need be, and  reciting vespers in the twelfth hour. Thus fruitfully spending the course of the day he gains God's blessings.

100. Like a bee one should extract from each of the virtues what is most profitable. In this way, by taking a small  amount from all of them, one builds up from the practice of the virtues a great honeycomb overflowing with the  soul-delighting honey of wisdom.

101. Now hear, if you will, how it is best to spend the night. For the  

[V4] 234

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

  One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

night vigil there are three programs: for beginners, for those midway on the path, and for the perfect. The first  program is as follows: to sleep half the night and to keep vigil for the other half, either from evening till midnight or  from midnight till dawn. The second is to keep vigil after nightfall for one or two hours, then to sleep for four hours,  then to rise for matins and to chant psalms and pray for six hours until daybreak, then to chant the first hour, and  after that to sit down and practice stillness, in the way already described. Then one can either follow the program of  spiritual work given for the daylight hours, or else continue in unbroken prayer, which gives a greater inner stability.  The third program is to stand and keep vigil uninterruptedly throughout the night.

102. Now let us say something about food. A pound of bread is sufficient for anyone aspiring to attain the state of  inner stillness. You may drink two cups of undiluted wine and three of water. Your food should consist of whatever  is at hand - not whatever your natural craving seeks, but what providence provides, to be eaten sparingly. The best  and shortest guiding rule for those who wish to live as they should is to maintain the threefold all-embracing  practices of fasting, vigilance and prayer, for these provide a most powerful support for all the other virtues.

103. Stillness requires above all faith, patience, love with all one's heart and strength and might (cf. Deut. 6:5),  and hope. For if you have faith, even though because of negligence or some other fault you fail to attain what you  seek in this life, you will on leaving this life most certainly be vouchsafed the fruit of faith and spiritual struggle and  will behold your liberation, which is Jesus Christ, the redemption and salvation of souls, the Logos who is both God  and man. But if you lack faith, you will certainly be condemned on leaving this world. In fact, as the Lord says, you  are condemned already (cf . John 3:18). For if you are a slave to sensual pleasure, and want to be honored by other  people rather than by God (cf. John 5:44.), you lack faith, even though you may profess faith verbally; and you  deceive yourself without realizing it. And you will incur the rebuke: 'Because you did not receive Me in your heart  but cast Me out behind your back, I too will reject you' (ef Ezek. 5: 1 1). If you possess faith you should have hope,  and believe in God's truth to which the whole of Scripture bears witness, and confess your own weakness; otherwise  you will inescapably receive double condemnation.

[V4] 235

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

104. Nothing so fills the heart with contrition and humbles the soul as solitude embraced with self-awareness, and  utter silence. And nothing so destroys the state of inner stillness and takes away the divine power that comes from it  as the following six universal passions: insolence, gluttony, talkativeness, distraction, pretentiousness and the  mistress of the passions, self-conceit. Whoever commits himself to these passions plunges himself progressively into  darkness until he becomes completely insensate. But if he comes to himself again and with faith and ardor makes a  fresh start, he will once more attain what he seeks, especially if he seeks it with humility. Yet if through his  negligence even one of the passions that we have mentioned gets a hold on him once more, then the whole host of  evils, including pernicious lack of faith, moves in and attacks him, devastating his soul till it becomes like another  city of Babylon, full of diabolical turmoil and confusion (cf. Isa. 13:21). Then the last state of the person to whom  this happens is worse than his first (cf. Matt. 12:45), and he turns into a violent enemy and defamer of those  pursuing the path of hesy chasm, always whetting his tongue against them like a sharp double-edged sword.

105. Once the waters of the passions, like a turbid and chaotic sea, have flooded the soul's state of stillness, there  is no way of crossing over them except in the light swift- winged barque of self-control and total poverty. For when  because of our dissipation and enslavement to materiality the torrents of the passions inundate the soil of the heart,  they deposit there all the filth and sludge of evil thoughts, befouling the intellect, muddying the reason, clogging the  body, and slackening, darkening and deadening soul and heart, depriving them of their natural stability and  responsiveness.

106. Nothing so makes the soul of those striving to advance on the spiritual path sluggish, apathetic and mindless  as self-love, that pimp of the passions. For whenever it induces us to choose bodily ease rather than virtue-  promoting hardship, or to regard it as positive good sense not willingly to burden ourselves with ascetic labor,  especially with respect to the light exertions involved in practicing the commandments, then it causes the soul to  relax its efforts to attain a state of stillness, and produces in it a strong, irresistible sense of indolence and slackness.

107. If you are feeble in practicing the commandments yet want to expel your inner murkiness, the best and most  efficient physic is

[V4] 236

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

trustful unhesitating obedience in all things. This remedy, distilled 'from many virtues, restores vitality and acts as a  knife which at a single stroke cuts away festering sores. If, then, in total trust and simplicity you choose this remedy  out of all alternatives you excise every passion at once. Not only will you reach the state of stillness but also through  your obedience you will fully enter into it, having found Christ and become His imitator and servitor in name and  act.

108. Unless your life and actions are accompanied by a sense of inner grief you cannot endure the incandescence  of stillness. If with this sense of grief you meditate - before they come to pass - on the many terrors that await us  prior to and after death you will achieve both patience and humility, the twin foundations of stillness. Without them  your efforts to attain stillness will always be accompanied by apathy and self-conceit. From these will arise a host of  distractions and day-dreams, all inducing sluggishness. In their wake comes dissipation, daughter of indolence,  making the body sluggish and slack and the intellect benighted and callous. Then Jesus is hidden, concealed by the  throng of thoughts and images that crowd the mind (cf. John 5:13).  

109. The torments of conscience in this life or the life to come are experienced with full awareness not by  everyone but only by those who in this world or the next are deprived of divine glory and love. Such torment is like  a fearful torturer punishing the guilty in various ways, or like a sharp sword striking with pitiless indignation and  reproach. Once our conscience is active, what some call righteous indignation and others natural wrath is roused in  three ways - against the demons, against our nature and against our own soul; for such indignation or wrath impels  us to sharpen our conscience like a keen-bladed sword against our enemies. If this righteous indignation triumphs  and subjects sin and our unregenerate self to the soul, then it is transmuted into the loftiest courage and leads us to  God. But if the soul enslaves itself to sin and our unregenerate self, then this righteous indignation turns against it  and torments it mercilessly, for it has enslaved itself to its enemies by its own free will. Thus enslaved, the soul  commits terrible crimes, for its state of virtue is lost and it has alienated itself from God.

110. Of all the passions, lechery and listlessness are especially harsh and burdensome, for they oppress and  debilitate the unhappy soul. And as they are inter-related and intertwined they are difficult to fight against and to  overcome - in fact by our own efforts alone we cannot

[V4] 237

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

defeat them. Lechery burgeons in the soul's appetitive aspect and by nature embraces indiscriminately both soul  and body, since the total pleasure it generates spreads through all our members. Listlessness, once it has laid hold of  our intellect and like bindweed has enlaced our soul and body, makes us slothful, enfeebled and indolent. Even  before we have attained the blessed state of dispassion these two passions are expelled, though not finally defeated,  whenever through prayer our soul receives from the Holy Spirit a power that releases it from tension, producing  strength and profound peace in the heart, and solacing us with stillness. Lechery is the pleasure that includes all  other forms of sensual indulgence, their source, mistress and queen; and its crony, sloth, is the invincible chariot  bearing Pharaoh's captains (cf. Exod. 14:7). Through these two - lechery and sloth - the seeds of the passions are  sown in our unhappy lives.

111. Noetic prayer is an activity initiated by the cleansing power of the Spirit and the mystical rites celebrated by  the intellect. Similarly, stillness is initiated by attentive waiting upon God, its intermediate stage is characterized by  illuminative power and contemplation, and its final goal is ecstasy and the enraptured flight of the intellect towards  God.

1 12. Prior to the enjoyment of the blessings that transcend the intellect, and as a foretaste of that enjoyment, the  noetic activity of the intellect mystically offers up the Lamb of God upon the altar of the soul and partakes of Him in  communion. To eat the Lamb of God upon the soul's noetic altar is not simply to apprehend Him spiritually or to  participate in Him; it is also to become an image of the Lamb as He is in the age to come. Now we experience the  manifest expression of the mysteries; hereafter we hope to enjoy their very substance.

113. For beginners prayer is like a joyous fire kindled in the heart; for the perfect it is like a vigorous sweet-  scented light. Or again, prayer is the preaching of the Apostles, an action of faith or, rather, faith itself, 'that makes  real for us the things for which we hope' (Heb. 11:1), active love, angelic impulse, the power of the bodiless spirits,  their work and delight, the Gospel of God, the heart's assurance, hope of salvation, a sign of purity, a token of  holiness, knowledge of God, baptism made manifest, purification in the water of regeneration, a pledge of the Holy  Spirit, the exultation of Jesus, the soul's delight, God's mercy, a sign of reconciliation, the seal of Christ, a ray of the  noetic sun, the heart's dawn-star, the confirmation of the Christian

[V4] 238

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

faith, the disclosure of reconciliation with God, God's grace, God's wisdom or, rather, the origin of true and  absolute Wisdom; the revelation of God, the work of monks, the life of hesychasts, the source of stillness, and  expression of the angelic state. Why say more? Prayer is God, who accomplishes everything in everyone (cf 1 Cor.  12:6), for there is a single action of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, activating all things through Christ Jesus.

114. Had Moses not received the rod of power from God, he would not have become a god to Pharaoh (cf. Exod.

7:1) and a scourge both to him and to Egypt. Correspondingly the intellect, if it fails to grasp the power of prayer,  will not be able to shatter sin and the hostile forces ranged against it.

115. Those who say or do anything without humility are like people who build in winter or without bricks and  mortar. Very few acquire humility and know it through experience; and those who try to talk about it are like people  measuring a bottomless pit. And I who in my blindness have formed a faint image of this great light am rash enough  to say this about it: tme humility does not consist in speaking humbly, or in looking humble. The humble person  does not have to force himself to think humbly, nor does he keep finding fault with himself. Such conduct may  provide us with an occasion for humility or constitute its outward form, but humility itself is a grace and a divine  gift. The holy fathers teach that there are two kinds of humility: to regard oneself as lower than everyone else, and to  ascribe all one's achievement to God. The first is the beginning, the second the consummation.

Those who seek humility should bear in mind the three following things: that they are the worst of sinners, that  they are the most despicable of all creatures since their state is an unnatural one, and that they are even more pitiable  than the demons, since they are slaves to the demons. You will also profit if you say this to yourself: how do I know  what or how many other people's sins are, or whether they are greater than or equal to my own? In our ignorance  you and I, my soul, are worse than all men, we are dust and ashes under their feet. How can I not regard myself as  more despicable than all other creatures, for they act in accordance with the nature they have been given, while I,  owing to my innumerable sins, am in a state contrary to nature. Truly animals are more pure than I, sinner that I am;  on account of this I am the lowest of all, since even before my death I have made my bed in

[V4] 239

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

hell. Who is not fully aware that the person who sins is worse than the demons, since he is their thrall and their  slave, even in this life sharing their murk-mantled prison? If I am mastered by the demons I must be inferior to them.  Therefore my lot will be with them in the abyss of hell, pitiful that I am. You on earth who even before your death  dwell in that abyss, how do you dare delude yourself, calling yourself righteous, when through the evil you have  done you have defiled yourself and made yourself a sinner and a demon? Woe to your self-deception and your  delusion, squalid cur that you are, consigned to fire and darkness for these offences.

1 16. According to theologians, noetic, pure, angelic prayer is in its power wisdom inspired by the Holy Spirit. A  sign that you have attained such prayer is that the intellect's vision when praying is completely free from form and  that the intellect sees neither itself nor anything else in a material way. On the contrary, it is often drawn away even  from its own senses by the light acting within it; for it now grows immaterial and filled with spiritual radiance,  becoming through ineffable union a single spirit with God (cf. 1 Cor. 6: 17).

1 17. We are led and guided towards God-given humility by seven different qualities, each of which generates and  complements the others: silence, humbleness in thought, in speech, in appearance, self-reproach, contrition and  looking on oneself as the least of men. Silence consciously espoused gives birth to humbleness in thought. Humble-  ness in thought produces three further modes of humility, namely, humbleness in speech, bearing oneself in a simple  and humble way, and constant self-belittlement. These three modes give birth to contrition; this arises within us  when God allows us to suffer temptations - when, that is, we are disciplined by providence and humbled by the  demons. Contrition readily induces the soul to feel the lowest and least of all, and the servant of all. Contrition and  looking on oneself as the least of all bring about the perfect humility that is the gift of God, a power rightly regarded  as the perfection of all the virtues. It is a state in which one ascribes all one's achievements to God. Thus the first  factor leading to humility is silence, from which humbleness of thought is bom. This gives birth to the three further  modes of humility. These three generate the single quality of contrition. The quality of contrition gives birth to the  seventh mode, the primal humility of regarding oneself as the least of men, which is also' called providential  humility. Providential humility confers the true and God-given humility that is

[V4] 240

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

perfect and indescribable. Primal humility comes thus: when you are abandoned, overcome, enslaved and  dominated by every passion, distractive thought and evil spirit, and can find no help in doing good works, or in God,  or in anything at all, so that you are ready to fall into despair, then you are humbled in everything, are filled with  contrition and regard yourself as the lowest and least of all things, the slave of all, and worse even than the demons,  since you are dominated and vanquished by them. This is providential humility. Once acquired, through it God  bestows the ultimate humility. This is a divine power that activates and accomplishes all things. With its aid a man  always sees himself as an instrument of divine power, and through it he accomplishes the miraculous works of God.

1 18. Because we are now mastered by the passions and succumb to a host of temptations we cannot in our age  attain those states that characterize sanctity - 1 mean real spiritual contemplation of the divine light, an intellect free  from fantasy and distraction, the true energy of prayer ceaselessly flowing from the depths of the heart, the soul's  resurrection and ascension, divine rapture, the soaring beyond the limits of this world, the mind's ecstasy in spirit  above all things sensory, the ravishment of the intellect above even its own powers, the angelic flight of the soul  impelled by God towards what is infinite and utterly sublime. The intellect - especially in the more superficial  among us - tends to picture these states prematurely to itself, and in this way it loses even the slight stability God has  given it and becomes altogether moribund. Hence we must exercise great discrimination and not try to pre-empt  things that come in their own good time, or reject what we already possess and dream of something else. For by  nature the intellect readily invents fantasies and illusions about the high spiritual states it has not yet attained, and  thus there is no small danger that we may lose what has already been given to us and destroy our mind through  repeated self-deception, becoming a day-dreamer and not a hesychast.

119. Faith, like active prayer, is a grace. For prayer, when activated by love through the power of the Spirit,  renders true faith manifest - the faith that reveals the life of Jesus. If, then, you are aware that such faith is not at  work within you, that means your faith is dead and lifeless. In fact you should not even speak of yourself as one of  the 'faithful' if your faith is merely theoretical and is not actualized by the practice of the commandments or by the  Spirit. Thus faith must be

[V4] 241

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

evidenced by progress in keeping the commandments, or it must be actualized and translucent in what we do.  This is confirmed by St James when he says, 'Show me your faith through your works and I will show you the works  that I do through my faith' (cf Jas. 2:18). In saying this he makes it clear that grace-inspired faith is evidenced by  the keeping of the commandments, just as the commandments are actualized and made translucent by grace-inspired  faith. Faith is the root of the commandments or, rather, it is the spring that feeds their growth. It has two aspects -  that of confession and that of grace - though it is essentially one and indivisible.

120. The short ladder of spiritual progress - which is at the same time both small and great - has five rangs leading  to perfection. The first is renunciation, the second submission to a religious way of life, the third obedience to  spiritual direction, the fourth humility, and the fifth God-imbued love. Renunciation raises the prisoner from hell and  sets him free from enslavement to material things. Submission is the discovery of Christ and the decision to serve  Him. As Christ Himself said, 'He who serves Me, follows Me; and where I am he who serves Me will also be' (cf.  John 12:26). And where is Christ? In heaven, enthroned at the right hand of the Father. Thus he who serves Christ  must be in heaven as well, his foot placed ready to climb up; indeed, before he even begins to ascend by his own  efforts he is already raised up and ascending with Christ. Obedience, put into action through the practice of the  commandments, builds a ladder out of various virtues and places them in the soul as rungs by which to ascend (cf.  

Ps. 84:5. LXX). Thence the spiritual aspirant is embraced by humihty, the great exaher, and is borne heavenwards  and dehvered over to love, the queen of the virtues. By love he is led to Christ and brought into His presence. Thus  by this short ladder he who is truly obedient swiftly ascends to heaven.

121. The quickest way to ascend to the kingdom of heaven by the short ladder of the virtues is through effacing  the five passions hostile to obedience, namely, disobedience, contentiousness, self-gratification, self -justification  and pernicious self-conceit. For these are the limbs and organs of the recalcitrant demon that devours those who  offer false obedience and consigns them to the dragon of the abyss. Disobedience is the mouth of hell;

contentiousness its tongue, whetted like a sword; self-gratification its sharp teeth; self-justification its gullet; and  self-conceit, that sends one to hell, is the vent that evacuates its

[V4] 242

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

all-devouring belly. If through obedience you overcome the first of these - disobedience - you cut off all the rest  at a stroke, and with a single swift stride attain heaven. This is the truly ineffable and inconceivable miracle wrought  by our compassionate Lord: that through a single virtue or, rather, a single commandment, we can ascend  straightway to heaven, just as through a single act of disobedience we have descended and continue to descend into  hell.

122. Man is like another or second world - a new world, as he is called by St Paul when he states, 'Whoever is in  Christ is a new creation' (2 Cor. 5:17). For through virtue man becomes a heaven and an earth and everything that a  world is. Every quality and mystery exists for man's sake, as St Gregory of Nazianzos says. Moreover, if, as St Paul  affirms, our struggle is not against creatures of flesh and blood, but against the potentates and rulers of the darkness  of this world, against the spirits of evil in the celestial realms of the prince of the air (cf. Eph. 2:2; 6: 12), it follows  that those who secretly fight against us inhabit the world of our psychic powers, which is like another great world of  nature. For the three princes that oppose us in our struggle attack the three powers of the soul; and it is precisely  where we have made progress, and in areas that we have labored to develop, that they launch their assault.

Thus the dragon, the prince of the abyss, whose strength is manifest in the loins and the belly - organs of our  soul's appetitive power - sallies forth against those who strive to keep their attention in their hearts; and through the  lust-loving giant of forgetfulness he hurls at them the whole battery of his fiery darts (cf. Eph. 6:16). Desire being  for him like another sea and abyss, he plunges into it, coils his way through it, and stirs it up, making it foam and  boil. In this way he inflames it with sexual longing and inundates it with sensual pleasure; but this does not slake it,  for it is insatiable.

The prince of this world (cf. John 12:31), who campaigns against the soul's incensive power, attacks those striving  to attain practical virtue. With the help of the giant of sloth, he continually ranges his forces against us and engages  us in a spiritual contest with every trick of passion he can devise. As though in the theatre or stadium of some other  world, he wrestles with all who stand up against him with

[V4] 243

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

courage and endurance; sometimes he wins, sometimes he is defeated, and so he either disgraces us or gains us  crowns of glory in the sight of the angels.

The prince of the air (cf. Eph. 2:2) attacks those whose minds are absorbed in contemplation, deluding them with  fantasies; for supported by the evil spirits of the air he attacks the soul's intellectual and spiritual power. Through the  giant of ignorance he clouds the aspiring mind as though it were an intellectual heaven, disrupting its composure,  craftily insinuating into it vague fantastic images of evil spirits and their metamorphoses, and producing fear-  inspiring similitudes of thunder and lightning, tempests and alarums. These three princes, assisted by the three  giants, attack the three powers of our soul, each waging war against the particular power that corresponds to him.

123. These demons were once celestial intelligences; but, having fallen from their original state of immateriality  and refinement, each of them has acquired a certain material grossness, assuming a bodily form corresponding to the  kind of action allotted to it. For like human beings they have lost the delights of the angels and have been deprived  of divine bliss, and so they too, like us, now find pleasure in earthly things, becoming to a certain extent material  because of the disposition to material passions which they have acquired. We should not be surprised at this, for our  own soul, created intellectual and spiritual in the image of God, has become bestial, insensate and virtually mindless  through losing the knowledge of God and finding pleasure in material things. Inner disposition changes outward  nature, and acts of moral choice alter the way that nature functions. Some evil spirits are material, gross,  uncontrollable, passionate and vindictive. They hunger for material pleasure and indulgence as carnivores for flesh.  Like savage dogs and like those possessed they devour and relish rotten food; and their delight and habitation are  coarse, fleshy bodies. Others are licentious and slimy. They creep about in the pool of desire like leeches, frogs and  snakes. Sometimes they assume the form of fish, delighting in their brackish lubricity. Slippery and flaccid, they  swim in the sea of drunkenness, rejoicing in the humectation of mindless pleasures. In this manner they constantly  stir up waves of impure thoughts, and storms and tempests in the soul. Others are light and subtle, since they are  aerial spirits, and agitate the soul's contemplative power, provoking strong winds and fantasies. They deceive the  soul by

[V4] 244



St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

appearing sometimes in the form of birds or angels. They fill one's memory with the forms of people one knows.

They pervert and deform the contemplative vision of those pursuing the path of hohness who have not yet attained  the state of purity and inner discrimination; for there is nothing spiritual but that they can secretly transform  themselves into it in the imagination. They too arm themselves according to our spiritual state and degree of  progress, and substituting illusion for truth and fantasy for contemplation they take up their abode within us. It is to  these evil spirits that Scripture refers when it speaks of beasts of the field, birds of the air and things that creep on  the ground (cf. Hos. 2:18).

124. There are five ways in which the passions may be aroused in us and our fallen self may wage war against our  soul. Sometimes our fallen self misuses things. Sometimes it seeks to do what is unnatural as though it were natural.  Sometimes it forms warm friendship with the demons and they provide it with arms against the soul. Sometimes  under the influence of the passions it falls into a state of civil war, divided against itself. Finally, if the demons have  failed to achieve their purpose in any of the ways just mentioned. God may permit them in their malice to wage war  against us in order to teach us greater humility.

125. The main causes of warfare - arising in us through every kind of object or situation - are three: our inner  disposition, the misuse of created things and, by God's leave, the malice and onslaught of the demons. As the fallen  self rises in protest against the soul, and the soul against the fallen self (cf Gal. 5:17), so in the same way our inner  disposition and our mode of acting make the passions of the fallen self war against the soul, and the valiant powers  of the soul wage war against the fallen self. And sometimes our enemy, shameless as he is, has the audacity to fight  against us in his own person, without cause or warning. Thus, my friend, do not let this blood-loving leech bleed  your arteries, and then spit out the blood he has sucked from you. Do not glut the snake and the dragon, and then  you will easily trample on the insolence of the lion and the dragon (cf Ps. 91:13). Lament until you have stripped  off the passions and clothed yourself in your heavenly dwelling-place (cf. 2 Cor. 5:2), and are refashioned according  to the likeness of Jesus Christ, who made you in His image (cf. Col. 3:10).

126. Those completely given over to the pursuits of the flesh and

  [V4] 245

St Gregory of Sinai

  On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

full of self-love are always slaves to sensual pleasure and to vanity. Envy, too, is rooted in them. Consumed by  malice and embittered by their neighbor's blessings, they calumniate good as bad, calling it the fruit of deceit. They  do not accept things of the Spirit or believe in them; and because of their lack of faith they cannot see or know God.  Such people, due to this same blindness and lack of faith, on the last day will justly hear spoken to them the words, T  know you not' (Matt. 25: 12). For the questing believer must either believe when he hears what he does not know, or  come to know what he believes; and he must teach to others what he has come to know and abundantly multiply the  talent entrusted to him. But if he disbelieves what he does not know, and vilifies what he does not understand, and  teaches what he has not learnt, envying those who teach things from practical experience, his lot will surely be to  suffer punishment with those consumed by 'the gall of bitterness' (Acts 8:23).

127. According to the wise, a true teacher is he who through his all-embracing cognitive insight comprehends  created things concisely, as if they constituted a single body, establishing distinctions and connections between them  according to their generic difference and identity, so as to indicate which possess similar qualities. Or he may be  described as one who can truly demonstrate things apodictically. Or again, a true spiritual teacher is he who  distinguishes and relates the general and universal qualities of created things - classified as five in number, but  compounded in the incarnate Logos - in accordance with a particular formulation that embraces everything. But his  apodictic skill is not a matter of mere verbal dexterity, like that of profane philosophers, for he is able to enlighten  others through the contemplative vision of created things manifested to him by the Holy Spirit.

A true philosopher is one who perceives in created things their spiritual Cause, or who knows created things  through knowing their Cause, having attained a union with God that transcends the intellect and a direct, unmediated  faith: He does not simply learn about divine things, but actually experiences them. Or again, a true philosopher is  one whose intellect is conversant equally with ascetic practice and contemplative wisdom. Thus the perfect  philosopher or lover of wisdom is one whose intellect has attained - alike on the moral, natural and theological  levels - love of wisdom or, rather, love of God. That is to say, he has learnt from God the principles of ascetic  practice (moral philosophy), an insight into the spiritual causes of created things

[V4] 246

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

(natural philosophy), and a precise contemplative understanding of doctrinal principles (theology).

Or again, a teacher initiated into things divine is one who distinguishes principial beings from participative beings  or beings that have no autonomous self-subsistent reality; he adduces the essences of principial beings from beings  that exist through participating in them, and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he perceives the essences of principial  beings embodied in participative beings. In other words, he interprets what is intelligible and invisible in terms of  what is sensible and visible, and the visible sense -world in terms of the invisible and supersensory world, conscious  that what is visible is an image of what is invisible, and that what is invisible is the archetype of what is visible. He  knows that things possessing form and figure are brought into being by what is formless and without figure, and that  each manifests the other spiritually; and he clearly perceives each in the other and conveys this perception in his  teaching of the truth. His knowledge of the truth, with all its sun-like radiance, is not expressed in anagogical or  allegorical form; on the contrary, he elucidates the true underlying principles of both worlds with spiritual insight  and power, and expounds them forcibly and vividly. In this way the visible world becomes our teacher and the  invisible world is shown to be an eternal divine dwelling-place manifestly brought into being for our sake.

A divine philosopher is he who through ascetic purification and noetic contemplation has achieved a direct union  with God, and is a true friend of God, in that he esteems and loves the supreme, creative and true wisdom above  every other love, wisdom and knowledge. A student of spiritual knowledge, though not properly speaking a  philosopher (even though reflected wisdom has unnoticed appropriated the name of philosophy, as St Gregory of  Nazianzos points out) is he who esteems and studies God's wisdom mirrored in His creation, down to the least  vestige of it; but he does this without any self-display or any hankering after human praise and glory, for he wishes  to be a lover of God's wisdom in creation and not a lover of materialism.

An interpreter of sacred texts adept in the mysteries of the kingdom of God is everyone who after practicing the  ascetic life devotes himself to the contemplation of God and cleaves to stillness. Out of the treasury of his heart he  brings forth things new and old (cf. Matt. 13:52), that is, things from the Gospel of Christ and the Prophets, or from  the New and Old Testaments, or doctrinal teachings and rules of

[V4] 247

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

  One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

ascetic practice, or themes from the Apostles and from the Law. These are the mysteries new and old that the  skilled interpreter brings forth when he has been schooled in the life of holiness.

An interpreter is one proficient in the practice of the ascetic life and still actively engaged in scriptural exegesis.  A divine teacher is one who mediates, in accordance with the laws governing the natural world, the spiritual  knowledge and inner meanings of created things and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, elucidates all things with the  analytic power of his intelligence. A true philosopher is one who has attained, consciously and directly, a  supernatural union with God.

128. Those who write and speak and who wish to build up the Church, while lacking the inspiration of the Holy  Spirit, are 'psychic' or worldly people void of the Spirit, as St Jude observes (cf . Jude 1 9). Such people come under  the curse which says, 'Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and esteem themselves as possessors of  knowledge' (Isa. 5:21); for they speak from themselves and it is not the Spirit of God that speaks in them (cf Matt.  10:20). For those who speak what are simply their own thoughts before they have attained purity are deluded by the  spirit of self-conceit. It is to them that Solomon refers when he says, 'I knew a man who regarded himself as wise;  there is more hope for a fool than for him' (Prov. 26: 12. LXX); and again, 'Do not be wise in your own sight' (Prov.  3:7). St Paul himself, filled with the Spirit, endorses this when he says, 'We are not qualified to form any judgment  on our own account; our qualification comes from God' (2 Cor. 3:5), and, 'As men sent from God, we speak before  God in the grace of Christ' (2 Cor. 2:17). What people say when they speak on their own account is repellent and  murksome, for their words do not come from the living spring of the Spirit, but are spawned from the morass of their  own heart, a bog infested with the leeches, snakes and frogs of desire, delusion and dissipation; the water of their  knowledge is evil-smelling, turbid and torpid, sickening to those who drink it and filling them with nausea and  disgust.

129. 'We are the body of Christ', says St Paul, 'and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27). And  elsewhere he says, 'You are one body and one spirit, even as you have been called' (Eph. 4:4). For 'as the body  without the spirit is dead' (Jas. 2:26) and insensate, so if you have been deadened by the passions through neglecting  the commandments after your baptism the Holy Spirit and the grace of  

[V4] 248

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

Christ cease to operate in you and to enlighten you; for though you possess the Spirit, since you have faith and  have been regenerated through baptism, yet the Spirit is quiescent and inactive within you because of the deadness  of your soul.

Although the soul is one and the members of the body are many, the soul sustains them all, giving life and  movement to those that can be animated. Should some of them have withered because of some disease and become  as if dead and inert, yet they are still sustained by the soul, even in their lifeless and insensate state. Similarly, the  Spirit of Christ is present with integral wholeness in all who are members of Christ, activating and generating life in  all capable of participating in it; and in His compassion He still sustains even those who through some weakness do  not actively participate in the life of the Spirit. In this way each of the faithful participates, by virtue of his faith, in  adoption to sonship through the Spirit; but should he grow negligent and fail to sustain his faith he will become inert  and benighted, deprived of Christ's life and light. Such is the state of each of the faithful who, though a member of  Christ and possessing the Spirit of Christ, fails to activate this Spirit within himself and so is stagnant, incapable of  participating positively in the life of grace.

130. The principal forms of contemplation are eight in number. The first is contemplation of the formless,  unongmate and uncreated God, source of all things - that is, contemplation of the one Triadic Deity that transcends  all being. The second is contemplation of the hierarchy and order of the spiritual powers. The third is contemplation  of the structure of created beings. The fourth is contemplation of God's descent through the incarnation of the Logos.  The fifth is contemplation of the universal resurrection. The sixth is contemplation of the dread second coming of  Christ. The seventh is contemplation of age-long punishment. The eighth is contemplation of the kingdom of  heaven. The first four pertain to what has already been manifested and realized. The second four pertain to what is in  store and has not yet been manifested; but they are clearly contemplated by and disclosed to those who through  grace have attained great purity of intellect. Whoever without such grace attempts to descry them should realize that  far from attaining spiritual vision he will merely become the prey of fantasies, deceived by and forming illusions in  obedience to the spirit of delusion.

131. Here something must be said about delusion, so far as this is

[V4] 249

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

possible; for, because of its deviousness and the number of ways in which it can ensnare us, few recognize it  clearly and for most it is almost inscrutable. Delusion manifests itself or, rather, attacks and invades us in two ways -  in the form of mental images and fantasies or in the form of diabohc influence - though its sole cause and origin is  always arrogance. The first form is the origin of the second and the second is the origin of a third form - mental  derangement. The first form, illusory visions, is caused by self-conceit; for this leads us to invest the divine with  some illusory shape, thus deceiving us through mental images and fantasies. This deception in its turn produces  blasphemy as well as the fear induced by monstrous apparitions, occurring both when awake and when asleep - a  state described as the terror and perturbation of the soul. Thus arrogance is followed by delusion, delusion by  blasphemy, blasphemy by fear, fear by terror, and terror by a derangement of the natural state of the mind. This is  the first form of delusion, that induced by mental images and fantasies.

The second form, induced by diabolic influence, is as follows. It has its origin in self-indulgence, which in its turn  results from so-called natural desire. Self-indulgence begets licentiousness in all its forms of indescribable impurity.  By inflaming man's whole nature and clouding his intelligence as a result of its intercourse with spurious images,  licentiousness deranges the intellect, searing it into a state of delirium and impelling its victim to utter false  prophecies, interpreting the visions and discourses of certain supposed saints, which he claims arc revealed to him  when he is intoxicated and befuddled with passion, his whole character perverted and corrupted by demons. Those  ignorant of spiritual matters, beguiled by delusion, call such men 'little souls'. These 'little souls' are to be found  sitting near the shrines of saints, by whose spirit they claim to be inspired and tested, and whose purported message  they proclaim to others. But in truth they should be called possessed by the demons, deceived and enslaved by  delusion, and not prophets foretelling what is to happen now and in the future. For the demon of licentiousness  himself darkens and deranges their minds, inflaming them with the fire of spiritual lust, conjuring up before them  the illusory appearance of saints, and making them hear conversations and see visions. Sometimes the demons  themselves appear to them and convulse them with fear. For having harnessed them to the yoke of Belial, the demon  of licentiousness drives them on

[V4] 250

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

to practice their deceits, so that he may keep them captive and enslaved until death, when he will consign them to  hell.

132. Delusion arises in us from three principal sources: arrogance, the envy of demons, and the divine will that  allows us to be tried and corrected. Arrogance arises from superficiality, demonic envy is provoked by our spiritual  progress, and the need for correction is the consequence of our sinful way of life. The delusion arising solely from  envy and self-conceit is swiftly healed, especially when we humble ourselves. On the other hand, the delusion  allowed by God for our correction, when we are handed over to Satan because of our smfulness, God often permits  to continue until our death, if this is needed to efface our sins. Sometimes God hands over even the guiltless to the  torment of demons for the sake of their salvation. One should also know that the demon of self-conceit himself  prophesies in those who are not scrupulously attentive to their hearts.

133. All the faithful are truly anointed priests and kings in the spiritual renewal brought about through baptism.  just as priests and kings were anointed figuratively in former times. For those anointings were prefigurations of the  truth of our anointing: prefigurations in relation not merely to some of us but to all of us. For our kingship and  priesthood is not of the same form or character as theirs, even though the symbolic actions are the same. Nor does  our anointing recognize any distinction in nature, grace or calling, in such a way that those anointed essentially  differ one from the other: we have but one and the same calling, faith and ritual. The true significance of this is that  he who is anointed is pure, dispassionate and wholly consecrated to God now and for ever.  134. If your speech is full of wisdom and you meditate on understanding in your heart (cf Ps. 49:3), you will  disclose in created things the presence of the divine Logos, the substantive Wisdom of God the Father (cf. 1 Cor.  1:24); for in created things you will perceive the outward expression of the archetypes that characterize them, and  thus through your active living intelligence you will speak wisdom that derives from the divine Wisdom. And  because your heart will be illuminated by the power of the transfiguring understanding on which you meditate in  your spirit, you will be able through this understanding to instruct and illuminate those who listen with faith.

135. Today's great enemy of truth, drawing men to perdition, is

  [V4]251

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

delusion. As a result of this delusion, tenebrous ignorance rules the souls of all those sunk in lethargy and  alienates them from God. Such people are as if unaware that there exists a God who gives us rebirth and  illumination, or they assume that we can believe in Him and know Him only in a theoretical way and not through  our actions, or else they imagine that He has revealed Himself only to the people of former times and not to us also;  and they pretend that the scriptural texts about God are applicable only to the original authors, or to others, but not to  themselves. Thus they blaspheme the teaching about God, since they repudiate true knowledge inspired by devotion  to God, and read the Scriptures only in a literal, not to say Judaic, manner; denying the possibility that man even in  this life can be resurrected through the resurrection of his soul, they choose to remain in the grave of ignorance.  Delusion consists of three passions: lack of faith, guile and sloth. These generate and support each other: lack of  faith sharpens the wits of guile, and guile goes hand in hand with sloth, which expresses itself outwardly in laziness.  Or conversely, sloth may beget guile - did not the Lord say, 'You cunning and lazy servant' (Matt. 25:26)? - and  guile mothers lack of faith. For if you are full of guile you lack faith, and if you lack faith you stand in no awe of  God. From such lack of faith comes sloth, which begets contempt; and when you are full of contempt you scorn all  goodness and practice every kind of wickedness.

136. Complete dogmatic orthodoxy consists in a true doctrine about God and an unerring spiritual knowledge of  created things. If you are orthodox in this way you should glorify God thus: Glory to Thee, Christ our God, glory to  Thee, because for our sake Thou, the divine Logos who transcends all things, becamest man. Great is the mystery  of Thine incarnation. Savior: glory to Thee.

137. According to St Maximos the Confessor there are three motives for writing which are above reproach and  censure: to assist one's memory, to help others, or as an act of obedience. It is for the last reason that most spiritual  writings have been composed, at the humble request of those who have need of them. If you write about spiritual  matters simply for pleasure, fame or self-display, you will get your deserts, as Scripture says (cf Matt. 6:5, 16), and  will not profit

[V4] 252

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

from it in this life or gain any reward in the life to come. On the contrary, you will be condemned for courting  popularity and for fraudulently trafficking in God's wisdom.  

[V4] 253

St Gregory of Sinai

Further Texts

1. Everyone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ's own life, for in  baptism he receives the power so to progress, and through the commandments he can discover and leam how to  accomplish such progression. To Christ's conception corresponds the foretaste of the gift of the Holy Spirit, to His  nativity the actual experience of joyousness, to His baptism the cleansing force of the fire of the Spirit, to His  transfiguration the contemplation of divine light, to His crucifixion the dying to all things, to His burial the  indwelling of divine love in the heart, to His resurrection the soul's life-quickening resurrection, and to His  ascension divine ecstasy and I the transport of the intellect into God. He who fails to pass consciously through these  stages is still callow in body and spirit, even though he may be regarded by all as mature and accomplished in the  practice of virtue.

2. Christ's Passion is a life-quickening death to those who have experienced all its phases, for by experiencing  what He experienced we are glorified as He is (cf Rom. 8:17). But indulgence in sensual passions induces a truly  lethal death. Willingly to experience what Christ experienced is to crucify cracifixion and to put death to death.  3. To suffer for Christ's sake is patiently to endure whatever happens to us. For the envy which the innocent  provoke is for their benefit, while the Lord's schooling tests us so as to bring about our conversion, since it opens  our ears when we are guilty. That is why the Lord has promised an eternal crown to those who endure in this manner  (cf. Jas. 1:12). Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee, Holy Trinity; glory to Thee for all things.

[V4] 254

St Gregory of Sinai

Further Texts

On Passion-Imbued Change

4. Listlessness - a most difficult passion to overcome - makes the body sluggish. And when the body is sluggish,  the soul also grows sluggish. When both have become thoroughly lax, self-indulgence induces a change in the  body's temperament. Self-indulgence incites the appetite, appetite gives rise to pernicious desire, desire to the spirit  of revolt, revolt to dormant recollections, recollection to imaginings, imagining to mental provocation, provocation  to coupling with the thought provoked, and coupling to assent. Such assent to a diabolic provocation leads to actual  sinning, either through the body or in various other ways. Thus we are defeated and thus we lapse.  

On Beneficent Change

5. In whatever work we engage patience gives birth to courage, courage to commitment, commitment to  perseverance, and perseverance to an increase in the work done. Such additional labor quells the body's dissolute  impulses and checks the desire for sensual indulgence. Thus checked, desire gives rise to spiritual longing, longing  to love, love to aspiration, aspiration to ardor, ardor to self-galvanizing, self-galvanizing to assiduousness,  assiduousness to prayer, and prayer to stillness. Stillness gives birth to contemplation, contemplation to spiritual  knowledge, and knowledge to the apprehension of the mysteries. The consummation of the mysteries is theology,  the fruit of theology is perfect love, of love humility, of humility dispassion, and of dispassion foresight, prophecy  and foreknowledge. No one possesses the virtues perfectly in this life, nor does he cut off evil all at once. On the  contrary, by small increases of virtue evil gradually ceases to exist.  

On Morbid Defluxions

Question: In how many ways do morbid defluxions take place, whether sinful or sinless?  [V4] 255

St Gregory of Sinai

Further Texts

On Morbid Defluxions

6. Answer: Sinful defluxions take place in three ways: through fornication, through self-abuse, and through  consent to pernicious thoughts. Sinless defluxions take place in seven ways: through the urine, through eating solid  or stimulating foods, through drinking too much chill water, through the sluggishness of the body, through excessive  tiredness, and through all kinds of demonic fantasy. In veterans in the ascetic life they generally take place through  the first five of the ways we have just mentioned. In those who have attained the state of dispassion, the fluid only  issues mixed with urine, because on account of their ascetic labors their inner ducts have in some way become  porous and they have been given the grace of a divine energy, purificatory and sanctifying - the grace of continence.  The last form of defluxion - that prompted by demonic fantasy during sleep - pertains both to those still under the  domination of the passions and to those suffering from weakness. But since this is involuntary it is free from sin, as  the holy fathers tell us.

By divine dispensation the person who has attained the state of dispassion experiences from time to time a sinless  propulsion, while the remaining fluid is consumed by divine fire. The person still engaged in the ascetic life and so  under various forms of constraint experiences a discharge that is innocuous. The person still under the sway of the  passions experiences a natural discharge and an unnatural discharge, the first prompted by diabolic fantasy during  sleep and the second by diabolic fantasy to which assent has been given while he is awake. The first is innocuous,  the second is sinful and liable to penance.

In those who have attained the state of dispassion the propulsion and the bodily discharge constitute a single  action through which by divine dispensation surplus fluid is expelled through the urine while the rest is consumed  by divine fire, as already stated. In those midway along the ascetic path there are said to be six general ways of  innocuous defluxion through which the body is cleansed and freed from the corruptive fluid formed naturally and  unavoidably in it. These are prompted by solid or stimulating foods, by drinking cold water, by sluggishness of the  body, by torpor resulting from excessive labor, and finally by the malice of demons. In the weak and those newly  engaged in the ascetic life there are similarly six ways, all embroiled with the passions. They are prompted by  gluttony, by back-biting, by censoriousness, by self-esteem, by demonic fantasy during sleep and

[V4] 256

St Gregory of Sinai

Further Texts

On Morbid Defluxions

assent to it while awake, and finally by the aggressive malice of demons. Yet even these have in God's providence  a double purpose: first, they cleanse human nature from corruption, from the surplus matter it has absorbed, and  from impulse-driven appetites; and, second, they train the person engaged in the spiritual struggle to be humble and  attentive, and to restrain himself in all things and from all things.

7. He who dwells in solitude and depends on charity for his food must accept alms in seven ways. First, he must  ask only for what is needful. Secondly, he must take only what is needful. Thirdly, he must receive whatever is  offered to him as if from God. Fourthly, he must trust in God and believe that He will recompense the giver. Fifthly,  he must apply himself to keeping the commandments. Sixthly, he must not misuse what is given to him. Seventhly,  he must not be stingy but must give to others and be compassionate. He who conducts himself thus in these matters  experiences the joy of having his needs supplied not by man but by God.

[V4] 257

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

  Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

1 . As the great teacher St John Chrysostom states, we should be in a position to say that we need no help from the  Scriptures, no assistance from other people, but are instructed by God; for 'all will be taught by God' (Isa. 54:13;  John 6:45), in such a way that we learn from Him and through Him what we ought to know. And this applies not  only to those of us who are monks but to each and every one of the faithful: we are all of us called to carry the law  of the Spirit written on the tablets of our hearts (cf. 2 Cor. 3:3), and to attain like the Cherubim the supreme privilege  of conversing through pure prayer in the heart directly with Jesus. But because we are infants at the time of our  renewal through baptism we do not understand the grace and the new life conferred upon us. Unaware of the  surpassing grandeur of the honor and glory in which we share, we fail to realize that we ought to grow in soul and  spirit through the keeping of the commandments and so perceive noetically what we have received. On account of  this most of us fall through indifference and servitude to the passions into a state of benighted obduracy. We do not  know whether God exists, or who we are, or what we have become, although through baptism we have been made  sons of God, sons of light, and children and members of Christ. If we are baptized when grown up, we feel that we  have been baptized only in water and not by the Spirit. And even though we have been renewed in the Spirit, we  believe only in a formal, lifeless and ineffectual sense, and we say we are full of doubts.

Hence because we are in fact non-spiritual we live and behave in a non-spiritual manner. Should we repent, we  understand and practice

[V4] 258

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

the commandments only in a bodily way and not spiritually. And if after many labors a revelation of grace is in  God's compassion granted to us, we take it for a delusion. Or if we hear from others how grace acts, we are  persuaded by our envy to regard that also as a delusion. Thus we remain corpses until death, failing to live in Christ  and to be inspired by Him. According to Scripture, even that which we possess will be taken away from us at the  time of our death or our judgment because of our lack of faith and our despair (cf. Matt. 25:29). We do not  understand that the children must be like the father, that is to say, we are to be made gods by God and spiritual by  the Holy Spirit; for 'that which is bom of the Spirit is spirit' (John 3:6). But we are unregenerate, even though we  have become members of the faith and heavenly, and so the Spirit of God does not dwell within us (cf Gen. 6:3).  Because of this the Lord has handed us over to strange afflictions and captivity, and slaughter flourishes, perhaps  because He wishes to correct evil, or cut it off, or heal it by more powerful remedies.

2. With the help of God, then, who inspires those who declare good tidings (cf. Ps. 68:11. LXX), we must first  examine how one finds Christ or, rather, how one is found by Him, since we already possess and have received Him  through baptism in the Spirit: as St Paul says, 'Do you not realize that Jesus Christ dwells within you?' (2 Cor. 13:5).  Then we must ask how to advance or, simply, how to retain what we have discovered. The best and shortest course  is for us to give a brief summary of the whole spiritual journey from start to finish, long though it is. Many, indeed,  have been so exhausted by their efforts to discover what they were looking for that, on finding the starting-point,  they have remained content with this, and have not tried to advance farther. Encountering obstacles and turning  aside unawares from the true path, they think that they are on the right track when actually they are veering  profitlessly off course. Others, on reaching the halfway point of illumination, have then grown slack, wilting before  reaching the end; or they have reverted through their slipshod way of life, and have become beginners again. Yet  others, on the point of attaining perfection, have grown inattentive and self-conceited, relapsing to the state of those  in the middle way or even of beginners. Beginners, those in the middle way and the perfect have each their  distinctive characteristic: for the first it is activity, for the second illumination, for the third purification and  resurrection of the soul.

[V4] 259

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

  3. The energy of the Holy Spirit, which we have already mystically received in baptism, is realized in two ways.  First - to generalize - this gift is revealed, as St Mark tells us, through arduous and protracted practice of the  commandments: to the degree to which we effectively practice the commandments its radiance is increasingly  manifested in us. Secondly, it is manifested to those under spiritual guidance through the continuous invocation of  the Lord Jesus, repeated with conscious awareness, that is, through mindfulness of God. In the first way, it is  revealed more slowly, in the second more rapidly, if one diligently and persistently learns how to dig the ground and  locate the gold. Thus if we want to realize and know the truth and not to be led astray, let us seek to possess only the  heart-engrafted energy in a way that is totally without shape or form, not trying to contemplate in our imagination  what we take to be the figure or similitude of things holy or to see any colors or lights. For in the nature of things the  spirit of delusion deceives the intellect through such spurious fantasies, especially at the early stages, in those who  are still inexperienced. On the contrary, let our aim be to make the energy of prayer alone active in our hearts, for it  brings warmth and joy to the intellect, and sets the heart alight with an ineffable love for God and man. It is on  account of this that humility and contrition flow richly from prayer. For prayer in beginners is the unceasing noetic  activity of the Holy Spirit. To start with it rises like a fire of joy from the heart; in the end it is like light made  fragrant by divine energy.

4. There are several signs that the energy of the Holy Spirit is beginning to be active in those who genuinely  aspire for this to happen and are not just putting God to the test - for, according to the Wisdom of Solomon, Tt is  found by those who do not put it to the test, and manifests itself to those who do not distrust it' (cf. Wisd. 1 :2). In  some it appears as awe arising in the heart, in others as a tremulous sense of jubilation, in others as joy, in others as  joy mingled with awe, or as tremulousness mingled with joy, and sometimes it manifests itself

[V4] 260

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

as tears and awe. For the soul is joyous at God's visitation and mercy, but at the same time is in awe and  trepidation at His presence because it is guilty of so many sins. Again, in some the soul at the outset experiences an  unutterable sense of contrition and an indescribable pain, like the woman in Scripture who labors to give birth (cf.  Rev. 12:2). For the living and active Logos - that is to say, Jesus - penetrates, as the apostle says, to the point at  which soul separates from body, joints from marrow (cf. Heb. 4: 12), so as to expel by force every trace of passion  from both soul and body. In others it is manifest as an unconquerable love and peace, shown towards all, or as a  joyousness that the fathers have often called exultation - a spiritual force and an impulsion of the living heart that is  also described as a vibration and sighing of the Spirit who makes wordless intercession for us to God (cf. Rom.  8:26). Isaiah has also called this the 'waves' of God's righteousness (cf. Isa. 48:18), while the great Ephrem calls it  'spurring'. The Lord Himself describes it as 'a spring of water welling up for eternal life' (John 4:14) - He refers to  the Spirit as water - a source that leaps up in the heart and erupts through the ebullience of its power.

5. You should know that there are two kinds of exultation or joyousness: the calm variety (called a vibration or  sighing or intercession of the Spirit), and the great exultation of the heart - a leap, bound or jump, the soaring flight  of the living heart towards the sphere of the divine. For when the soul has been raised on the wings of divine love by  the Holy Spirit and has been freed from the bonds of the passions, it strives to fly to that higher realm even before  death, seeking to separate itself from its burden. This is also known as a stirring of the spirit - that is to say, an  eruption or impulsion - as in the text, 'Jesus was stirred in spirit and, deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid  him?'" (cf. John 11:34). David the Psalmist indicates the difference between the greater and the lesser exultation  when he declares that the mountains leap like rams and the little hills like lambs (cf. Ps. 114: 6). He is referring of  course to those who are perfect and to beginners, for physical mountains and hills, lacking animal life, do not  actually leap about.

6. Divine awe has nothing to do with trepidation - by which I mean, not the tremulousness induced by joy, but the  trepidation induced by wrath or chastisement or the feeling of desertion by God. On the contrary, divine awe is  accompanied by a tremulous sense of

[V4] 261

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

jubilation arising from the prayer of fire that we offer when filled with awe. This awe is not the fear provoked by  wrath or punishment, but it is inspired by wisdom, and is also deserted as 'the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10).  Awe may be divided into three kinds, even though the fathers speak only of two: the awe of beginners, that of the  perfect, and that provoked by wrath, which should properly be called trepidation, agitation or contrition.

7. There are several kinds of trembling. That of wrath is one, that of joy is another, and that of the soul's incensive  power, when the heart's blood is over-heated, is another, that of old age is another, that of sin or delusion is another,  and that of the curse which was laid on the human race because of Cain is another (cf. Gen. 4:1 1-15). In the early  

stages of spiritual warfare, however, it sometimes but not always happens that the trembling induced by joy and that  induced by sin contend with one another. The first is the tremulous sense of jubilation, when grace refreshes the soul  with great joyfulness accompanied by tears; the second is characterized by a disordered fervor, stupor and obduracy  that consume the soul, inflame the sexual organs, and impel one to assent through the imagination to erotic physical  obscenities.

On the Different Kinds of Energy

8. In every beginner two forms of energy are at work, each affecting the heart in a distinct way. The first comes  from grace, the second from delusion. St Mark the Ascetic corroborates this when he says that there is a spiritual  energy and a satanic energy, and that the beginner cannot distinguish between them. These energies in their turn  generate three kinds of fervor, the first prompted by grace, the second by delusion or sin, and the third by an excess  of blood. This last relates to what St Thalassios the Libyan calls the body's temperament, the balance and concord of  which can be achieved by appropriate self-control.  

[V4] 262

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

  Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

On Divine Energy

9. The energy of grace is the power of spiritual fire that fills the heart with joy and gladness, stabilizes, warms and  purifies the soul, temporarily stills our provocative thoughts, and for a time suspends the body's impulsions. The  signs and fruits that testify to its authenticity are tears, contrition, humility, self-control, silence, patience, self-  effacement and similar qualities, all of which constitute undeniable evidence of its presence.  

On Delusion

10. The energy of delusion is the passion for sin, inflaming the soul with thoughts of sensual pleasure and  arousing phrenetic desire in the body for intercourse with other bodies. According to St Diadochos it is entirely  amorphous and disordered, inducing a mindless joy, presumption and confusion, accompanied by a mood of ill-  defined sterile levity, and fomenting above all the soul's appetitive power with its sensuality. It nourishes itself on  pleasure, aided and abetted by the insatiable belly; for through the belly it not only impregnates and enkindles our  whole bodily temperament but also acts upon and inflames the soul, drawing it to itself so that little by little the  disposition to self-indulgence expels all grace from the person thus possessed.  

[V4] 263

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Two Ways of Prayer

There are two modes of union or, rather, two ways of entering into the noetic prayer that the Spirit activates  in the heart. For either the intellect, cleaving to the Lord (cf 1 Cor. 6:17), is present in the heart prior to the  action of the prayer; or the prayer itself, progressively quickened in the fire of spiritual joy, draws the  intellect along with it or welds it to the invocation of the Lord Jesus and to union with Him. For since the  Spirit works in each person as He wishes (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11), one of these two ways we have mentioned will  take precedence in some people, the other in others. Sometimes, as the passions subside through the ceaseless  invocation of Jesus Christ, a divine energy wells up in the heart, and a divine warmth is kindled; for Scripture  says that our God is a fire that consumes the passions (cf. Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29). At other times the Spirit  draws the intellect to Himself, confining it to the depths of the heart and restraining it from its usual  distractions. Then it will no longer be led captive from Jerusalem to the Assyrians, but a change for the better  brings it back from Babylon to Zion, so that it says with the Psalmist, Tt is right to praise Thee, God, in  Zion, and to Thee shall our vows be rendered in Jerusalem' (Ps. 65:1. LXX), and 'When the Lord brought  back the prisoners to Zion' (Ps. 126:1), and 'Jacob will rejoice and Israel will be glad' (Ps. 53:6). The names  Jacob and Israel refer respectively to the ascetically active and to the contemplative intellect which through  ascetic labor and with God's help overcomes the passions and through contemplation sees God, so far as is  possible. Then the intellect, as if invited to a rich banquet and replete with divine joy, will sing, 'Thou hast  prepared a table before me in the face of the demons and passions that afflict me' (cf. Ps. 23:5).  

[V4] 264

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

The Beginning of Watchfulness

2. 'In the morning sow your seed', says Solomon - and by 'seed' is to be understood the seed of prayer - 'and in the  evening do not withhold your hand', so that there may be no break in the continuity of your prayer, no moment when  through lack of attention you cease to pray; 'for you do not know which will flourish, this or that' (Eccles. 1 1:6).  Sitting from dawn on a seat about nine inches high, compel your intellect to descend from your head into your heart,  and retain it there. Keeping your head forcibly bent downwards, and suffering acute pain in your chest, shoulders  and neck, persevere in repeating noetically or in your soul 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy'. Then, since that may  become constrictive and wearisome, and even galling because of the constant repetition - though this is not because  you are constantly eating the one food of the threefold name, for 'those who eat Me', says Scripture, 'will still be  hungry' (Eccles. 24:21) - let your intellect concentrate on the second half of the prayer and repeat the words 'Son of  God, have mercy'. You must say this half over and over again and not out of laziness constantly change the words.  For plants which are frequently transplanted do not put down roots. Restrain your breathing, so as not to breathe  unimpededly; for when you exhale, the air, rising from the heart, beclouds the intellect and ruffles your thinking,  keeping the intellect away from the heart. Then the intellect is either enslaved by forgetfulness or induced to give its  attention to all manner of things, insensibly becoming preoccupied with what it should ignore. If you see impure evil  thoughts rising up and assuming various forms m your intellect, do not be startled. Even if images of good things  appear to you, pay no attention to them. But restraining your breathing as much as possible and enclosing your  intellect in your heart, invoke the Lord Jesus continuously and diligently and you will swiftly consume and subdue  them, flaying them invisibly with the divine name. For St John Klimakos says, 'With the name of Jesus lash your  enemies, for there is no more powerful weapon in heaven or on earth.'

3. Isaiah the Solitary is one of many who affirm that when praying

[V4] 265

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

The Beginning of Watchfulness

you have to restrain your breath. Another author says that you have to control your uncontrollable intellect,  impelled and dispersed as it is by the satanic power which seizes hold of your lax soul because of your negligence  after baptism, bringing with it other spirits even more evil than itself and thus making your soul's state worse than it  was originally (cf Matt. 12:45). Another writer says that in a monk mindfulness of God ought to take the place of  breathing, while another declares that the love of God acts as a brake on his out-breathing. St Symeon the New  Theologian tells us, 'Restrain the drawing-m of breath through your nostrils, so as not to breathe easily': St John  Klimakos says, 'Let mindfulness of Jesus be united to your breathing, and then you will know the blessings of  stillness.' St Paul affirms that it is not he who lives but Christ in him (cf. Gal. 2:20), activating him and inspiring him  with divine life. And the Lord, taking as an example the blowing of the physical wind, says, 'The Spirit blows where  He wishes' (John 3:8). For when we were cleansed through baptism we received in seed-like form the foretaste of  the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 1:22) and what St James calls the 'implanted Logos' (Jas. 1:21), embedded and as it were  consolidated in us through an unparticipable participation; and, while keeping Himself inviolate and undimmished.  He deifies us in His superabundant bounty. But then we neglected the commandments, the guardians of grace, and  through this negligence we again fell into the clutches of the passions, filled with the afflatus of the evil spirits  instead of the breath of the Holy Spirit. That is why, as the holy fathers explain, we are subject to lassitude and  continually enervated. For had we laid hold of the Spirit and been purified by Him we would have been enkindled  by Him and inspired with divine life, and would speak and think and act in the manner that the Lord indicates when  He says, 'For it is not you that speak but the Spirit of My Father that speaks in you' (cf. Matt. 10:20). Conversely, if  we embrace the devil and are mastered by him, we speak and act in the opposite manner.

4. 'When the watchman grows weary,' says St John Klimakos, 'he stands up and prays; then he sits down again  and courageously resumes the same task.' Although St John is here referring to the intellect and

[V4] 266

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

The Beginning of Watchfulness

is saying that it should behave in this manner when it has learnt how to guard the heart, yet what he says can  apply equally to psalmody. For it is said that when the great Varsanuphios was asked about how one should  psalmodize, he replied, 'The Hours and the liturgical Odes are church traditions, rightly given so that concord is  maintained when there are many praying together. But the monks of Sketis do not recite the Hours, nor do they sing  Odes. On their own they practice manual labor, meditation and a little prayer. When you stand in prayer, you should  repeat the Trisagion and the Lord's Prayer. You should also ask God to deliver you from your fallen selfhood. Do  not grow slack in doing this; your mind should be concentrated in prayer all day long.' What St Varsanuphios  wanted to make clear is that private meditation is the prayer of the heart, and that to practice 'a little prayer' means to  stand and psalmodize. Moreover, St John Khmakos explicitly says that to attain the state of stillness entails first total  detachment, secondly resolute prayer - this means standing and psalmodizmg - and thirdly, unbroken labor of the  heart, that is to say, sitting down to pray in stillness.  

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

5. Why do some teach that we should psalmodize a lot, others a little, and others that we should not psalmodize at  all but should devote ourselves only to prayer and to physical exertion such as manual labor, prostrations or some  other strenuous activity? The explanation is as follows. Those who have found grace through long, arduous practice  of the ascetic life teach others to find it in the same way. They do not believe that there are some who through  cognitive insight and fervent faith have by the mercy of God attained the state of grace in a short time, as St Isaac,  for instance, recognizes. Led astray by ignorance and self-conceit they disparage such people, claiming that anything  different from their own experience is delusion and not the operation of grace. They do not know that 'it is easy for  God to enrich

[V4] 267

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

a poor man suddenly' (Eccles. 11:21), and that 'wisdom is the principal thing; therefore acquire wisdom', as  Proverbs says, referring to grace (4:7). Similarly St Paul is rebuking the disciples of his time who were ignorant of  grace when he says, 'Do you not realize that Jesus Christ dwells within you, unless you are worthless?' (cf 2 Cor.  13:5) - unless, that is to say, you make no progress because of your negligence. Thus in their disbelief and arrogance  they do not acknowledge the exceptional qualities of prayer activated in some people by the Spirit in a special way.

6. Objection: Tell me, if a person fasts, practices self-control, keeps vigils, stands, makes prostrations, grieves  inwardly and lives in poverty, is this not active asceticism? How then do you advocate simply the singing of psalms,  yet say that without ascetic labor it is impossible to succeed in prayer? Do not the activities I mention constitute  ascetic labor?

Answer. If you pray with your lips but your mind wanders, how do you benefit? 'When one builds and another  tears down, what do they gain but toil?' (Eccles. 34:23). As you labor with your body, so you must labor with your  intellect, lest you appear righteous in the body while your heart is filled with every form of injustice and impurity. St  Paul confirms this when he says that if he prays with his tongue - that is, with his hps - his spirit or his voice prays,  but his inteUect is unproductive: 'I will pray with my spirit, and I will also pray with my intellect' (cf. 1 Cor. 14:14-  15). And he adds, 'I would rather speak five words with my intellect than ten thousand with my tongue' (cf. 1 Cor.  14:19). St John Khmakos, too, indicates that St Paul is speaking here about prayer when he says in his chapter on  prayer, 'The great practitioner of sublime and perfect prayer says, "I would rather speak five words with my  intellect. " ' There are many other forms of spiritual work, yet not one in itself is all-sufficient; but prayer of the heart,  according to St John Klimakos, is pre-eminent and all-embracing, the source of the virtues and catalyst of all  goodness. 'There is nothing more fearful than the thought of death,' says St Maxnnos, 'or more wonderful than  mindfulness of God,' indicating

[V4] 268

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

the supremacy of this activity. But some do not even wish to know that we can attain a state of active grace in this  present life, so blinded and weak in faith are they because of their ignorance and obduracy.

7. In my opinion, those who do not psalmodize much act rightly, for it means that they esteem moderation - and  according to the sages moderation is best in all things. In this way they do not expend all the energy of their soul in  ascetic labour, thus making the intellect negligent and slack where prayer is concerned. On the contrary, by devoting  but little time to psalmodizmg, they can give most of their time to prayer. On the other hand, when the intellect is  exhausted by continuous noetic invocation and intense concentration, it can be given some rest by releasing it from  the straitness of silent prayer and allowing it to relax in the amplitude of psalmody. This is an excellent rule, taught  by the wisest men.

8. Those who do not psalmodize at all also act rightly, provided they are well advanced on the spiritual path. Such  people have no need to recite psalms; if they have attained the state of illumination, they should cultivate silence,  uninterrupted prayer and contemplation. They are united with God and have no need to tear their intellect away from  Him and so to throw it into confusion. As St John Klmiakos says, 'One under monastic obedience falls when he  follows his own will, while the hesychast falls when he is interrupted in his prayer.' For the hesychast commits  adultery in his intellect when he sunders it from its mmdfulness of God: it is as if he were being unfaithful to his true  spouse and philandering with trivial matters.

To impart this discipline to others is not always possible. But it can be taught to simple uneducated people who  are under obedience to a spiritual father, for such obedience, thanks to the humility that goes with it, can partake of  every virtue. Those, however, who are not under this kind of obedience should not be taught it, regardless of  whether they are unlearned people or educated: they may easily be deluded, because people who are a law unto  themselves cannot avoid being conceited, and the natural result of conceit is delusion, as St Isaac says. Yet some  people, unaware of the harm which will result, counsel anybody they happen to meet to practice this discipline  alone, so that their intellect may grow accustomed to being mindful of God and may come to love it. But this is not  possible, especially for those not under  

[V4] 269

St Gregory of Sinai

  On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

obedience. For, because of their negligence and arrogance, their intellect is still impure and has not first been  cleansed by tears; and so, instead of concentrating on prayer, they are filled with images of shameful thoughts, while  the unclean spirits in their heart, panic-struck by the invocation of the dread name of the Lord Jesus, howl for the  destruction of the person who scourges them. Thus if you hear about or are taught this discipline, and want to  practice it, but are not under spiritual direction you will experience one of two things: you will either force yourself  to persist, in which case you fall into delusion and will fail to attain healing; or you will grow negligent, in which  case you will never make any progress during your whole life.

9. I will add this from my own small experience. When you sit in stillness, by day or by night, free from random  thoughts and continuously praying to God in humility, you may find that your intellect becomes exhausted through  calling upon God and that your body and heart begin to feel pain because of the intense concentration with which  you unceasingly invoke the name of Jesus, with the result that you no longer experience the warmth and joy that  engender ardor and patience in the spiritual aspirant. If this is the case, stand up and psalmodize, either by yourself  or with a disciple who lives with you, or occupy yourself with meditation on some scriptural passage or with the  remembrance of death, or with manual labor or with some other thing, or give your attention to reading, preferably  standing up so as to involve your body in the task as well.

When you stand and psalmodize by yourself, recite the Trisagion and then pray in your soul or your intellect,  making your intellect pay attention to your heart; and recite two or three psalms and a few penitential troparia but  without chanting them: as St John Klimakos confirms, people at this stage of spiritual development do not chant. For  'the suffering of the heart endured in a spirit of devotion', as St Mark puts it, is sufficient to produce joy in them, and  the warmth of the Spirit is given to them as a source of grace and exultation. After each psalm again pray in your  intellect or soul, keeping your thoughts from wandering, and repeat the Alleluia. This is the order established

[V4] 270

St Gregory of Sinai  On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

by the holy fathers Varsanuphios, Diadochos and others. And as St Basil the Great says, one should vary the  psalms daily to enkindle one's fervor and to prevent the intellect from getting bored with having to recite always the  same things. The intellect should be given freedom and then its fervor will be quickened.' If you stand and  psalmodize with a trusted disciple, let him recite the psalms while you guard yourself, secretly watching your heart  and praying. With the help of prayer ignore all images, whether sensory or conceptual, that rise up from the heart.  For stillness means the shedding of all thoughts for a time, even those which are divine and engendered by the  Spirit; otherwise through giving them our attention because they are good we will lose what is better.

10. So, lover of God, attend with care and intelligence. If while engaged in spiritual work you see a light or a fire  outside you, or a form supposedly of Christ or of an angel or of someone else, reject it lest you suffer harm. And do  not pay court to images, lest you allow them to stamp themselves on your intellect. For all these things that  externally and inopportunely assume various guises do so in order to delude your soul. The true beginning of prayer  is the warmth of heart that scorifies the passions, fills the soul with joy and delight, and establishes the heart in  unwavering love and unhesitating surety. The holy fathers teach that if the heart is in doubt about whether to accept  something either sensory or conceptual that enters the soul, then that thing is not from God but has been sent by the  devil. Moreover, if you become aware that your intellect is being enticed by some invisible power either from the  outside or from above, do not trust in that power or let your intellect be so enticed, but immediately force it to  continue its work. Unceasingly cry out: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy', and do not allow yourself to  retain any concept, object, thought or form that is supposedly divine, or any sequence of argument or any color, but  concentrate solely on the pure, simple, formless remembrance of Jesus. Then God, seeing your intellect so strict in  guarding itself in every way against the enemy, will Himself bestow pure and unerring vision upon it and will make  it participate in God and share in all other blessings.

What is of God, says St Isaac, comes of itself, without you knowing when it will come. Our natural enemy - the  demon who operates in the seat of our desiring power - gives the spirit-forces various guises in

[V4]271

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

our imagination. In this way he substitutes his own unruly heat for spiritual warmth, so that the soul is oppressed  by this deceit. For spiritual delight he substitutes mindless joy and a muggy sense of pleasure, inducing self-  satisfaction and vanity. Thus he tries to conceal himself from those who lack experience and to persuade them to  take his delusions for manifestations of spiritual joy. But time, experience and perspicacity will reveal him to those  not entirely ignorant of his wiles. As the palate discriminates between different kinds of food (cf. Eccles. 36:18,19),  so the spiritual sense of taste clearly and unerringly reveals everything as it truly is.

11. 'Since you are engaged in spiritual warfare,' says St John Klimakos, 'you should read texts concerned with  ascetic practice. Translating such texts into action makes other reading superfluous.' Read works of the fathers  related to stillness and prayer, like those of St John Klimakos, St Isaac, St Maxmios, St Neilos, St Hesychios,  Philotheos of Sinai, St Symeon the New Theologian and his disciple Stithatos, and whatever else exists of writers of  this kind. Leave other books for the time being, not because they are to be rejected, but because they do not  contribute to your present purpose, diverting the intellect from prayer by their narrative character. Read by yourself,  but not in a pompous voice, or with pretentious eloquence or affected enunciation or melodic delectation, or,  insensibly carried away by passion, as if you are wanting to please an audience. Do not read with inordinate avidity,  for in all things moderation is best, nor on the other hand in a rough, sluggish or negligent manner. On the contrary,  read reverently, gently, steadily, with understanding, and at an even pace, your intellect, your soul and your reason  all engaged. When the intellect is invigorated by such reading, it acquires the strength to pray harder. But if you read  in the contrary manner - as I have described it above - you cloud the intellect and make it sluggish and distracted, so  that you develop a headache and grow slack in prayer.

12. Continually take careful note of your inner intention: watch carefully which way it inclines, and discover  whether it is for God and for the sake of goodness itself and the benefit of your soul that you practice stillness or  psalmodize or read or pray or cultivate some virtue. Otherwise you may unknowingly be ensnared and prove to be  an ascetic in outward appearance alone while in your manner of life and  

[V4] 272

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

inner intention you are wanting to impress men, and not to conform to God. For the devil's traps are many, and he  persistently and secretly watches the bias of our intention, without most of us being aware of it, striving  imperceptibly to corrupt our labor so that what we do is not done in accordance with God's will. But even if he  attacks and assaults you relentlessly and shamelessly, and even if he distracts the bias of your will and makes it  waver in spite of your efforts to prevent it, you will not often be caught out by him so long as you keep yourself  steadfastly intent on God. If again in spite of your efforts you are overcome through weakness, you will swiftly be  forgiven and praised by Hun who knows our intentions and our hearts. There is, however, one passion - self-esteem  - that does not permit a monk to grow in virtue, so that though he engages in ascetic labors in the end he remains  barren. For whether you are a beginner, or midway along the spiritual path, or have attained the stage of perfection,  self-esteem always tries to insinuate itself, and it nullifies your efforts to live a holy life, so that you waste your time  in listlessness and day-dreaming.

13.1 have also learnt this from experience, that unless a monk cultivates the following virtues he will never make  progress: fasting, self-control, keeping vigil, patient endurance, courage, stillness, prayer, silence, inward grief and  humility. These virtues generate and protect each other. Constant fasting withers lust and begets self-control. Self-  control enables us to keep vigils, vigils beget patient endurance, endurance courage, courage stillness, stillness  prayer, prayer silence, silence inward grief, and grief begets humility. Or, going in the reverse order, you will find  how daughters give birth to mothers - how, that is to say, humility begets inward grief, and so on. In the realm of the  virtues there is nothing more important than this form of mutual generation. The things opposite to these virtues are  obvious to all.

14. Here we should specify the toils and hardships of the ascetic life and explain clearly how we should embark  on each task. We must do this lest someone who coasts along without exerting himself, simply relying on what he  has heard, and who consequently remains barren, should blame us or other writers, alleging that things are not as we  have said. For it is only through travail of heart and bodily toil that the work can properly be carried out. Through  them the grace of the Holy Spirit is revealed. This is the grace with which we and all Christians are endowed at  baptism but which through neglect of the commandments  

[V4] 273

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Different Ways of Psalmodizing

has been stifled by the passions. Now through God's ineffable mercy it awaits our repentance, so that at the end of  our life we may not because of our barrenness hear the words 'Take the talent from him', and 'What he thinks he has  will be taken away from him' (of. Matt. 25:28-29), and may not be sent to hell to suffer endlessly in Gehenna. No  activity, whether bodily or spiritual, unaccompanied by toil and hardship bears fruit; 'for the kingdom of heaven is  entered forcibly,' says the Lord, 'and those who force themselves take possession of it' (Matt. 11:12), where 'forcibly'  and 'force' relate to the body's awareness of exertion in all things.

Many for long years may have been preoccupied with the spiritual life without exerting themselves, or may still  be preoccupied with it m this way; but because they do not assiduously embrace hardships with heartfelt fervor and  sense of purpose, and have repudiated the severity of bodily toil, they remain devoid of purity, without a share in the  Holy Spirit. Those who practice the spiritual life, but do so carelessly and lazily, may think that they make  considerable efforts; but they will never reap any harvest because they have not exerted themselves and basically  have never experienced any real tribulation. A witness to this is St John Klimakos, who says, 'However exalted our  way of life may be, it is worthless and bogus if our heart does not suffer.' Sometimes when we fail to exert ourselves  we are in our listlessness carried away by spurious forms of distraction and plunged into darkness, thinking we can  find rest in them when that is impossible. The truth is that we are then bound invisibly by unloosable cords and  become inert and ineffective in everything we do, for we grow increasingly sluggish, especially if we are beginners.  For those who have reached the stage of perfection everything is profitable in moderation. St Ephrem also testifies to  this when he says, 'Persistently suffer hardships in order to avoid the hardship of vain sufferings. ' For unless, to use  the prophet's phrase, our loins are exhausted by the weakness induced through the exertions of fasting, and unless  like a woman in childbirth we are afflicted with pains arising from the constriction of our heart, we will not conceive  the Spirit of salvation in the earth of our heart (cf. Isa. 21:3; 26:18). Instead, all we will have to boast about is the  many profitless years we have spent in the wilderness, lazily cultivating stillness and imagining that we are

[V4] 274

  St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

  Different Ways of Psalmodizing

somebody. At the moment of our death we will all know for certain what is the outcome of our life.

15. No one can learn the art of virtue by himself, though some have taken experience as their teacher. For to act  on one's own and not on the advice of those who have gone before us is overweening presumption - or, rather, it  engenders such presumption. If the Son does nothing of His own accord, but does only what the Father has taught  Him (cf John 5:19-20), and the Spirit will not speak of His own accord (cf. John 16:3), who can think he has  attained such heights of virtue that he does not need anyone to initiate him into the mysteries? Such a person is  deluded and out of his mind rather than virtuous. One should therefore listen, to those who have experienced the  hardships involved in cultivating the virtues and should cultivate them as they have - that is to say, by severe fasting,  painful self-control, steadfast vigils, laborious genuflexions, assiduous standing motionless, constant prayer,  unfeigned humility, ceaseless contrition and compunctive sorrow, eloquent silence, as if seasoned with salt (cf. Col.  4:6), and by patience in all things. You must not be always relaxing or pray sitting down, before it is the proper time  to do so, or before age or sickness compels you. For, as Scripture says, 'You will nourish yourself on the hardships  of your practice of the virtues' (cf. Ps. 128:2. LXX); and, 'The kingdom of heaven is entered forcibly' (Matt. 1 1:12).  Hence those who diligently strive day by day to practice the virtues that we have mentioned will with God's help  gather in the harvest at the appropriate time.  

[V4] 275

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

How the Hesychast Should Sit for Prayer and Not Rise Again Too Quickly

  1 . Sometimes - and most often - you should sit on a stool, because it is more arduous; but sometimes, for a break,  you should sit for a while on a mattress. As you sit be patient and assiduous, in accordance with St Paul's precept,  'Cleave patiently to prayer' (Col. 4:2). Do not grow discouraged and quickly rise up again because of the strain and  effort needed to keep your intellect concentrated on its inner invocation. It is as the prophet says: 'The birth-pangs  are upon me, like those of a woman in travail' (Isa. 21:3). You must bend down and gather your intellect into your  heart - provided it has been opened - and call on the Lord Jesus to help you. Should you feel pain in your shoulders  or in your head - as you often will - endure it patiently and fervently, seeking the Lord in your heart. For 'the  kingdom of God is entered forcibly, and those who force themselves take possession of it' (Matt. 11:12). With these  words the Lord truly indicated the persistence and labor needed in this task. Patience and endurance in all things  involve hardship in both body and soul.

How to Say the Prayer



2. Some of the fathers advise us to say the whole prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy', while others  specify that we say it in two parts - 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy', and then 'Son of God, help me' - because this is  easier, given the immaturity and feebleness of our

[V4] 276

  St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

How to Say the Prayer

intellect. For no one on his own account and without the help of the Spirit can mystically invoke the Lord Jesus,  for this can be done with purity and in its fullness only with the help of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). Like  children who can still speak only falteringly, we are unable by ourselves to articulate the prayer properly. Yet we  must not out of laziness frequently change the words of the invocation, but only do this rarely, so as to ensure  continuity. Again, some fathers teach that the prayer should be said aloud; others, that it should be said silently with  the intellect. On the basis of my personal experience I recommend both ways. For at times the intellect grows listless  and cannot repeat the prayer, while at other times the same thing happens to the voice. Thus we should pray both  vocally and in the intellect. But when we pray vocally we should speak quietly and calmly and not loudly, so that the  voice does not disturb and hinder the intellect's consciousness and concentration. This is always a danger until the  intellect grows accustomed to its work, makes progress and receives power from the Spirit to pray firmly and with  complete attention. Then there will be no need to pray aloud - indeed, it will be impossible, for we shall be content  to carry out the whole work with the intellect alone.  

How to Master the Intellect in Prayer

3. .No one can master the intellect unless he himself is mastered by the Spirit. For the intellect is uncontrollable,  not because it is by nature ever-active, but because through our continual remissness it has been given over to  distraction and has become used to that. When we violated the commandments of Him who in baptism regenerates  us we separated ourselves from God and lost our conscious awareness of Him and our union with Him. Sundered  from that union and estranged from God, the intellect is led captive everywhere; and it cannot regain its stability  unless it submits to God and is stilled by Him, joyfully uniting with Him through unceasing and diligent prayer and  through noetrcally confessing all our lapses to Him each day. God immediately forgives everything to those who ask  forgiveness in a spirit of humility and contrition and who ceaselessly invoke His holy name. As the

[V4] 277

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

How to Master the Intellect in Prayer

Psalmist says, 'Confess to the Lord and call upon His holy name' (cf Ps. 105: 1). Holding the breath also helps to  stabilize the intellect, but only temporarily, for after a little it lapses into distraction again. But when prayer is  activated, then it really does keep the intellect in its presence, and it gladdens it and frees it from captivity. But it  may sometimes happen that the intellect, rooted in the heart, is praying, yet the mind wanders and gives its attention  to other things; for the mind is brought under control only in those who have been made perfect by the Holy Spirit  and who have attained a state of total concentration upon Christ Jesus.

How to Expel Thoughts

4. In the case of a beginner in the art of spiritual warfare. God alone can expel thoughts, for it is only those strong  in such warfare who are in a position to wrestle with them and banish them. Yet even they do not achieve this by  themselves, but they fight against them with God's assistance, clothed in the armor of His grace. So when thoughts  invade you, in place of weapons call on the Lord Jesus frequently and persistently and then they will retreat; for they  cannot bear the warmth produced in the heart by prayer and they flee as if scorched by fire. St John Klimakos tells  us, 'Lash your enemies with the name of Jesus', because God is a fire the cauterizes wickedness (cf. Deut. 4:24; Heb.  12:29). The Lord is prompt to help, and will speedily come to the defense of those who wholeheartedly call on Him  day and night (cf Luke 18:7). But if prayer is not yet activated in you, you can put these thoughts to flrght in another  manner, by imitating Moses (cf. Exod. 17:11-12); rise up, lift hands and eyes to heaven, and God will rout them.  

Then sit down again and begin to pray resolutely. This is what you should do if you have not yet acquired the power  of prayer. Yet even if prayer is activated in you and you are attacked by the more obdurate and grievous of the  bodily passions - namely, listlessness and lust - you should sometimes rise up and lift your hands for help against  them. But you should do this only seldom, and then sit down again, for  

[V4] 278

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

How to Expel Thoughts

there is a danger of the enemy deluding you by showing you some illusory form of the truth. For only in those  who are pure and perfect does God keep the intellect steadfast and intact wherever it is, whether above or below, or  in the heart.  

How to Psalmodize

5. Some say that we should psalmodize seldom, others often, others not at all. You for your part should not  psalmodize often, for that induces unrest, nor yet not at all, for that induces indolence and negligence. Instead you  should follow the example of those who psalmodize from time to time, for moderation in all things is best, as the  ancient Greeks tell us. To psalmodize often is appropriate for novices in the ascetic life, because of the toil it  involves and the spiritual knowledge it confers. It is not appropriate for hesychasts, since they concentrate wholly  upon praying to God with travail of heart, eschewing all conceptual images. For according to St John Klimakos,  'Stillness is the shedding of thoughts', whether of sensible or of intelligible realities. Moreover, if we expend all our  energy in reciting many psalms, our intellect will grow slack and will not be able to pray firmly and resolutely.  Again according to St John Klimakos, 'Devote-most of the night to prayer and only a little of it to psalmody.'

You, too, should do the same. If you are seated and you see that prayer is continuously active in your heart, do not  abandon it and get up to psalmodize until in God's good time it leaves you of its own accord. Otherwise, abandoning  the interior presence of God, you will address yourself to Him from without, thus passing from a higher to a lower  state, provoking unrest and disrupting the intellect's serenity. Stillness, in accordance with its name, is maintained by  means of peace and serenity; for God is peace (cf. Eph. 2:14) beyond all unrest and clamor. Our psalmody, too,  should accord with our mode of life, and be angelic, not unspiritual and secular. For to psalmodize with clamor

[V4] 279

St Gregory of Sinai

  On Prayer: Seven Texts

How to Psahnodize

and a loud voice is a sign of inner turbulence. Psalmody has been given to us because of our grossness and  indolence, so that we may be led back to our true state.

As for those not yet initiated into prayer - this prayer which, according to St John Klimakos, is the source of the  virtues' and which waters, as plants, the faculties of the soul - they should psalmodize frequently, without measure,  reciting a great variety of psalms; and they should not desist from such assiduous practice until they have attained  the state of contemplation and find that noetic prayer is activated within them. For the practice of stillness is one  thing and that of community life is another. 'Let each persist in that to which he is called' (1 Cor. 7:24) and he will  be saved. It was on account of this that I hesitated to write to you, for I know that you live among those still weak. If  someone's experience of praying derives from hearsay or reading; he will lose his way, for he lacks a guide.  According to the fathers, once you have tasted grace you should psalmodize sparingly, giving most of your time to  prayer. But if you find yourself growing indolent you should psalmodize or read patristic texts. A ship has no need  of oars when a fair wind swells the sails and drives it lightly across the salt sea of the passions. But when it is  becalmed it has to be propelled by oars or towed by another boat.

To gainsay this, some point to the holy fathers, or to certain living persons, saying that they kept all-night watches  psalmodizmg the whole time. But, as we learn from Scripture, not all things can be accomplished by everyone, for  some lack diligence and strength. As St John Klimakos says, 'Small things may not always seem so to the great, and  great things may not seem altogether perfect to the small ' Everything is easy for the perfect; and not everyone, either  now or in former times, remains always a probationer, nor does everyone travel along the same road or pursue it to  the end. Many have passed from the life of ascetic labor to the life of contemplation, laying aside outward practices,  keeping the Sabbath according to the spiritual law, and delighting in God alone. They are replete with divine fare,  and the grace that fills them does not permit them to psalmodize or to meditate on anything else; for the time being  they are in a state of ecstasy, having attained, if only in part and as a foretaste, the ultimate

[V4] 280

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

How to Psalmodize

desire of all desires. Others have been saved through pursuing the life of ascetic labor until their death, awaiting  their reward in the life to come. Some have received conscious assurance of salvation at their death, or else after  death they have given off a fragrant odor as testimony to their salvation. Like all other Christians they had received  the grace of baptism, but because of the distraught and ignorant state of their intellects they did not participate in it  mystically while still alive. Others excel in both psalmody and prayer and spend their lives in this manner, richly  endowed with ever-active grace and not impeded by anything. Yet others, being unlettered and restricting  themselves solely to prayer, have persevered in stillness until the end of their lives; and in doing this they have done  well, uniting themselves as single individuals with God alone. To the perfect, as we said, all things are possible  through Christ who is their strength (cf. Phil. 4:13).

How to Partake of Food

6. What shall I say about the belly, the queen of the passions? If you can deaden or half-deaden it, do not relent. It  has mastered me, beloved, and I worship it as a slave and vassal, this abettor of the demons and dwelling-place of  the passions. Through it we fall and through it - when it is well-disciplined - we rise again. Through it we have lost  both our original divine status and also our second divine status, that which was bestowed on us when after our  initial corruption we are renewed in Christ through baptism, and from which we have lapsed once more, separating  ourselves from God through our neglect of the commandments, even though in our ignorance we exalt ourselves.  We think that we are with God, but it is only by keeping the commandments that we advance, guarding and  increasing the grace bestowed upon us.

As the fathers have pointed out, bodies vary greatly in their need for food. One person needs little, another much  to sustain his physical strength, each according to his capacity and habit. A hesychast, however, should always eat  too little, never too much. For when the stomach is heavy the intellect is clouded, and you cannot pray resolutely and  with purity. On the contrary, made drowsy by the effects of too much food you are soon induced to sleep; and as you

[V4] 281

St Gregory of Sinai

  On Prayer: Seven Texts

  How to Partake of Food

  sleep the food produces countless fantasies in your mind. Thus in my opinion if you want to attain salvation and  strive for the Lord's sake to lead a life of stillness, you should be satisfied with a pound of bread and three or four  cups of water or wine daily, taking at appropriate times a little from whatever victuals happen to be at hand, but  never eating to satiety. In this way you will avoid growing conceited, and by thanking God for everything you will  show no disdain for the excellent things He has made. This is the counsel of those who are wise in such matters. For  those weak in faith and soul, abstinence from specific types of food is most beneficial; St Paul exhorts them to eat  herbs (cf Rom. 14:2), for they do not believe that God will preserve them.

What shall I say? You are old, yet have asked for a rule, and an extremely severe one at that. Younger people  cannot keep to a strict rule by weight and measure, so how will you keep to it? Because you are ill, you should be  entirely free in partaking of food. If you eat too much, repent and try again. Always act like this - lapsing and  recovering again, and always blaming yourself and no one else - and you will be at peace, wisely converting such  lapses into victories, as Scripture says. But do not exceed the limit I set down above, and this will be enough, for no  other food strengthens the body as much as bread and water. That is why the prophet disregarded everything else  and simply said, 'Son of man, by weight you will eat your bread and by measure you will drink water' (cf. Ezek.  4:16).

There are three degrees of eating: self-control, sufficiency and satiety. Self-control is to be hungry after having  eaten. Sufficiency is to be neither hungry nor weighed down. Satiety is to be slightly weighed down. To eat again  after reaching the point of satiety is to open the door of gluttony, through which unchastity comes in. Attentive to  these distinctions, choose what is best for you according to your powers, not overstepping the limits. For according  to St Paul only the perfect can be both hungry and full, and at the same time be strong in all things (cf. Phil. 4:12).  

On Delusion and Other Subjects

7. I wish you to be fully informed about delusion, so that you can guard yourself against it and not do great harm  to yourself through  

[V4] 282

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

ignorance, and lose your soul. For our free will easily veers towards keeping company with the demons,  especially when we are inexperienced and still under their sway. Around beginners and those who rely on their own  counsel the demons spread the nets of destructive thoughts and images, and open pits into which such people fall;  for their city is still in the hands of the workers of iniquity, and in their impetuosity they are easily slain by them. It  is not surprising that they are deceived, or lose their wits, or have been and still are deluded, or heed what is contrary  to truth, or from inexperience and ignorance say things that should not be said. Often some witless person will speak  about truth and will hold forth at length without being aware of what he is saying or in a position to give a correct  account of things. In this way he troubles many who hear him and by his inept behavior he brings abuse and ridicule  on the heads of hesychasts. It is not in the least strange that beginners should be deceived even after making great  efforts, for this has happened to many who have sought God, both now and in the past.

Mindfulness of God, or noetic prayer, is superior to all other activities. Indeed, being love for God, it is the chief  virtue. But a person who is brazen and shameless in his approach to God, and who is over-zealous in his efforts to  converse with Him in purity and to possess Him inwardly, is easily destroyed by the demons if they are given  license to attack him; for in rashly and presumptuously striving prematurely to attain what is beyond his present  capacity, he becomes a victim of his own arrogance. The Lord in His compassion often prevents us from  succumbing to temptation when He sees us aspiring over-confidently to attain what is still beyond our powers, for in  this way He gives each of us the opportunity of discovering his own presumption and so of repenting of his own  accord before making himself the butt of demons as well as of other people's ridicule or pity. Especially is this the  case when we try to accomplish this task with patience and contrition; for we stand in need of much sorrow and  lamentation, of solitude, deprivation of all things, hardship and humility, and - most important of all for its  marvelous effects - of guidance and obedience; for otherwise we might unknowingly reap thorns instead of wheat,  gall instead of sweetness, ruin instead of salvation. Only the strong and the perfect can continuously fight alone with  the demons, wielding against them the sword of the Spirit, which is the teaching of God (cf Eph. 6:17). The weak  and beginners

[V4] 283

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

escape death by taking refuge in flight, reverently and with fear withdrawing from the battle rather than risking  their life prematurely.

  For your part, if you are rightly cultivating stillness and aspiring to be with God, and you see something either  sensory or noetic, within or without, be it even an image of Christ or of an angel or of some saint, or you imagine  you see a light in your intellect and give it a specific form, you should never entertain it. For the intellect itself  naturally possesses an imaginative power and in those who do not keep a strict watch over it it can easily produce, to  its own hurt, whatever forms and images it wants to. In this way the recollection of things good or evil can suddenly  imprint images on the intellect's perceptive faculty and so induce it to entertain fantasies, thus making whoever this  happens to a daydreamer rather than a hesychast.

Be careful, therefore, not to entertain and readily give assent to anything even if it be good, before questioning  those with spiritual experience and investigating it thoroughly, so as not to come to any harm. Always be suspicious  of it and keep your intellect free from colors, forms and images. For it has often happened that things sent by God to  test our free will, to see which way it inclines and to act as a spur to our efforts, have in fact had bad consequences.  For when we see something, whether with mind or senses - even if this thing be from God - and then readily  entertain it without consulting those experienced in such matters, we are easily deceived, or will be in the future,  because of our gullibility. A novice should pay close attention solely to the activity of his heart, because this is not  led astray. Everything else he must reject until the passions are quietened. For God does not censure those who out  of fear of being deluded pay strict attention to themselves, even though this means that they refuse to entertain what  He sends them until they have questioned others and made careful enquiry. Indeed, He is more likely to praise their  prudence, even though in some cases He is grieved.

Yet you should not question everyone. You should go only to one, to someone who has been entrusted with the  guidance of others as well, who is radiant alike in his life and in his words, and who although poor makes many rich  (cf. 2 Cor. 6:10). For people lacking spiritual experience have often done harm to foolish questioners, and for this  they will be judged after death. Not everyone is qualified to guide others: only those can do so who have been  granted divine discrimination - what St Paul calls the 'discrimination of spirits'

[V4] 284

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

  (1 Cor. 12:10) - enabling them to distinguish between bad and good with the sword of God's teaching (cf Eph.  6:17). Everyone possesses his own private knowledge and discrimination, whether inborn, pragmatic or scientific,  but not all possess spiritual knowledge and discrimination. That is why Sirach said, 'Be at peace with many, but let  your counselors be one in a thousand' (Eccles. 6:6). It is hard to find a guide who in all he does, says or thinks is free  from delusion. You can tell that a person is undeluded when his actions and judgment are founded on the testimony  of divine Scripture, and when he is humble in whatever he has to give his mind to. No little effort is needed to attain  a clear understanding of the truth and to be cleansed from whatever is contrary to grace, for the devil - especially in  the case of beginners - is liable to present his delusions in the forms of truth, thus giving his deceit a spiritual guise.

If, then, you are striving in stillness to attain a state of pure prayer, you must journey with great trepidation and  inward grief, questioning those with spiritual experience, accepting their guidance, always lamenting your sins, and  full of distress and fear lest you should be chastised or should fall away from God and be divorced from Him in this  life or the next. For when the devil sees someone leading a penitent life, he retreats, frightened of the humility that  such inward grief engenders. But if, with a longing that is satanic rather than authentic, you are presumptuous  enough to imagine that you have attained a lofty state, the devil will easily trap you in his nets and make you his  slave. Thus the surest guard against falling from the joy of prayer into a state of conceit is to persevere in prayer and  inward grief, for by embracing a solace-filled grief you keep yourself safe from harm. Authentic prayer - the warmth  that accompanies the Jesus Prayer, for it is Jesus who enkindles fire on the earth of our hearts (cf. Luke 12:49) -  consumes the passions like thorns and fills the soul with delight and joyfulness. Such prayer comes neither from  right or left, nor from above, but wells up in the heart like a spring of water from the life-quickening Spirit. It is this  prayer alone that you should aspire to realize and possess in your heart, always keeping your intellect free from  images, concepts and thoughts. And do not be afraid, for He who says, "Take heart; it is I; be not afraid' (Matt.  14:27), is with us - He whom we seek and who protects us always. When we invoke God we must be neither timid  nor hesitant.

If some have gone astray and lost their mental balance, this is

[V4] 285

St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

  because they have in arrogance followed their own counsels. For when you seek God in obedience and humility,  and with the guidance of a spiritual master, you will never come to any harm, by the grace of Christ who desires all  to be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4). Should temptation arise, its purpose is to test you and to spur you on; and God, who has  permitted this testing, will speedily come to your help in whatever way He sees fit. As the holy fathers assure us, a  person who lives an upright and blameless life, avoiding arrogance and spuming popularity, will come to no harm  even if a whole host of demons provoke him with countless temptations. But if you are presumptuous and follow  your own counsel you will readily fall victim to delusion. That is why a hesychast must always keep to the royal  road. For excess in anything easily leads to conceit, and conceit induces self-delusion. Keep the intellect at rest by  gently pressing your lips together when you pray, but do not impede your nasal breathing, as the ignorant do, in case  you harm yourself by building up inward pressure.

There are three virtues connected with stillness which we must guard scrupulously, examining ourselves every  hour to make sure that we possess them, in case through unmmdfulness we are robbed of them and wander far away  from them. These virtues are self-control, silence and self-reproach, which is the same thing as humility. They are  all-embracing and support one another; and from them prayer is bom and through them it burgeons.

Grace begins to operate in people during prayer in different ways, for, as the apostle says, the Spirit distributes  Himself as He wills in a variety of modes, and is perceived and known correspondingly (cf. Heb. 2:4). Elijah the  Tishbite serves here as an example for us (cf. 1 Kgs. 19:11-12). In some the Spirit appears as a whirlwind of awe,  dissolving the mountains of the passions and shattering the rocks of our hardened hearts, so that our worldly self is  transpierced and mortified. In others the Spirit appears as an earthquake, that is to say as a sense of inward jubilation  or what the fathers more clearly define as a sense of exultation. In others He is manifested inwardly as a fire that is  non-material yet real; for what is unreal and imaginary is also non-existent. Finally, in others - particularly in those  well advanced in prayer - God produces a gentle and serene flow of light. This is when Christ comes to dwell in the  heart, as St Paul says (cf. Eph. 3:17), mystically disclosing Himself through the Holy Spirit. That is why God said to  Elijah on Mount Horeb that the Lord was not in this or in that -

[V4] 286

  St Gregory of Sinai

On Prayer: Seven Texts

On Delusion and Other Subjects

not in the particular actions He manifests Himself in to beginners - but in the gentle flow of light; for it is in this  that He attests the perfection of our prayer.

Question: What should we do when the devil transforms himself into an angel of light (cf 2 Cor. 11:14) and tries  to seduce us?

Answer: You need great discrimination in order to distinguish between good and evil. So do not readily or lightly  put your trust in appearances, but weigh things well, and after testing everything carefully cleave to what is good  and reject what is evil (cf. 1 Thess. 5:21-2). You must test and discriminate before you give credence to anything.  You must also be aware that the effects of grace are self-evident, and that even if the devil does transform himself he  cannot produce these effects: he cannot induce you to be gentle, or forbearing, or humble, or joyful, or serene, or  stable in your thoughts; he cannot make you hate what is worldly, or cut off sensual indulgence and the working of  the passions, as grace does. He produces vanity, haughtiness, cowardice and every kind of evil. Thus you can tell  from its effects whether the light shining in your soul is from God or from Satan. The lettuce is similar in  appearance to the endive, and vinegar, to wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and recognizes the  differences between each. In the same way the soul, if it possesses the power of discrimination, can distinguish with  its noetic sense between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the illusions of Satan.
Or again, a teacher initiated into things divine is one who distinguishes principial beings from participative beings  or beings that have no autonomous self-subsistent reality; he adduces the essences of principial beings from beings  that exist through participating in them, and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he perceives the essences of principial  beings embodied in participative beings. In other words, he interprets what is intelligible and invisible in terms of  what is sensible and visible, and the visible sense -world in terms of the invisible and supersensory world, conscious  that what is visible is an image of what is invisible, and that what is invisible is the archetype of what is visible. He  knows that things possessing form and figure are brought into being by what is formless and without figure, and that  each manifests the other spiritually; and he clearly perceives each in the other and conveys this perception in his  teaching of the truth. His knowledge of the truth, with all its sun-like radiance, is not expressed in anagogical or  allegorical form; on the contrary, he elucidates the true underlying principles of both worlds with spiritual insight  and power, and expounds them forcibly and vividly. In this way the visible world becomes our teacher and the  invisible world is shown to be an eternal divine dwelling-place manifestly brought into being for our sake.

A divine philosopher is he who through ascetic purification and noetic contemplation has achieved a direct union  with God, and is a true friend of God, in that he esteems and loves the supreme, creative and true wisdom above  every other love, wisdom and knowledge. A student of spiritual knowledge, though not properly speaking a  philosopher (even though reflected wisdom has unnoticed appropriated the name of philosophy, as St Gregory of  Nazianzos points out) is he who esteems and studies God's wisdom mirrored in His creation, down to the least  vestige of it; but he does this without any self-display or any hankering after human praise and glory, for he wishes  to be a lover of God's wisdom in creation and not a lover of materialism.

An interpreter of sacred texts adept in the mysteries of the kingdom of God is everyone who after practicing the  ascetic life devotes himself to the contemplation of God and cleaves to stillness. Out of the treasury of his heart he  brings forth things new and old (cf. Matt. 13:52), that is, things from the Gospel of Christ and the Prophets, or from  the New and Old Testaments, or doctrinal teachings and rules of

[V4] 247

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

  One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

ascetic practice, or themes from the Apostles and from the Law. These are the mysteries new and old that the  skilled interpreter brings forth when he has been schooled in the life of holiness.

An interpreter is one proficient in the practice of the ascetic life and still actively engaged in scriptural exegesis.  A divine teacher is one who mediates, in accordance with the laws governing the natural world, the spiritual  knowledge and inner meanings of created things and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, elucidates all things with the  analytic power of his intelligence. A true philosopher is one who has attained, consciously and directly, a  supernatural union with God.

128. Those who write and speak and who wish to build up the Church, while lacking the inspiration of the Holy  Spirit, are 'psychic' or worldly people void of the Spirit, as St Jude observes (cf . Jude 1 9). Such people come under  the curse which says, 'Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and esteem themselves as possessors of  knowledge' (Isa. 5:21); for they speak from themselves and it is not the Spirit of God that speaks in them (cf Matt.  10:20). For those who speak what are simply their own thoughts before they have attained purity are deluded by the  spirit of self-conceit. It is to them that Solomon refers when he says, 'I knew a man who regarded himself as wise;  there is more hope for a fool than for him' (Prov. 26: 12. LXX); and again, 'Do not be wise in your own sight' (Prov.  3:7). St Paul himself, filled with the Spirit, endorses this when he says, 'We are not qualified to form any judgment  on our own account; our qualification comes from God' (2 Cor. 3:5), and, 'As men sent from God, we speak before  God in the grace of Christ' (2 Cor. 2:17). What people say when they speak on their own account is repellent and  murksome, for their words do not come from the living spring of the Spirit, but are spawned from the morass of their  own heart, a bog infested with the leeches, snakes and frogs of desire, delusion and dissipation; the water of their  knowledge is evil-smelling, turbid and torpid, sickening to those who drink it and filling them with nausea and  disgust.

129. 'We are the body of Christ', says St Paul, 'and each of us is one of its members' (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27). And  elsewhere he says, 'You are one body and one spirit, even as you have been called' (Eph. 4:4). For 'as the body  without the spirit is dead' (Jas. 2:26) and insensate, so if you have been deadened by the passions through neglecting  the commandments after your baptism the Holy Spirit and the grace of  

[V4] 248

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

Christ cease to operate in you and to enlighten you; for though you possess the Spirit, since you have faith and  have been regenerated through baptism, yet the Spirit is quiescent and inactive within you because of the deadness  of your soul.

Although the soul is one and the members of the body are many, the soul sustains them all, giving life and  movement to those that can be animated. Should some of them have withered because of some disease and become  as if dead and inert, yet they are still sustained by the soul, even in their lifeless and insensate state. Similarly, the  Spirit of Christ is present with integral wholeness in all who are members of Christ, activating and generating life in  all capable of participating in it; and in His compassion He still sustains even those who through some weakness do  not actively participate in the life of the Spirit. In this way each of the faithful participates, by virtue of his faith, in  adoption to sonship through the Spirit; but should he grow negligent and fail to sustain his faith he will become inert  and benighted, deprived of Christ's life and light. Such is the state of each of the faithful who, though a member of  Christ and possessing the Spirit of Christ, fails to activate this Spirit within himself and so is stagnant, incapable of  participating positively in the life of grace.

130. The principal forms of contemplation are eight in number. The first is contemplation of the formless,  unongmate and uncreated God, source of all things - that is, contemplation of the one Triadic Deity that transcends  all being. The second is contemplation of the hierarchy and order of the spiritual powers. The third is contemplation  of the structure of created beings. The fourth is contemplation of God's descent through the incarnation of the Logos.  The fifth is contemplation of the universal resurrection. The sixth is contemplation of the dread second coming of  Christ. The seventh is contemplation of age-long punishment. The eighth is contemplation of the kingdom of  heaven. The first four pertain to what has already been manifested and realized. The second four pertain to what is in  store and has not yet been manifested; but they are clearly contemplated by and disclosed to those who through  grace have attained great purity of intellect. Whoever without such grace attempts to descry them should realize that  far from attaining spiritual vision he will merely become the prey of fantasies, deceived by and forming illusions in  obedience to the spirit of delusion.

131. Here something must be said about delusion, so far as this is

[V4] 249

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

possible; for, because of its deviousness and the number of ways in which it can ensnare us, few recognize it  clearly and for most it is almost inscrutable. Delusion manifests itself or, rather, attacks and invades us in two ways -  in the form of mental images and fantasies or in the form of diabohc influence - though its sole cause and origin is  always arrogance. The first form is the origin of the second and the second is the origin of a third form - mental  derangement. The first form, illusory visions, is caused by self-conceit; for this leads us to invest the divine with  some illusory shape, thus deceiving us through mental images and fantasies. This deception in its turn produces  blasphemy as well as the fear induced by monstrous apparitions, occurring both when awake and when asleep - a  state described as the terror and perturbation of the soul. Thus arrogance is followed by delusion, delusion by  blasphemy, blasphemy by fear, fear by terror, and terror by a derangement of the natural state of the mind. This is  the first form of delusion, that induced by mental images and fantasies.

The second form, induced by diabolic influence, is as follows. It has its origin in self-indulgence, which in its turn  results from so-called natural desire. Self-indulgence begets licentiousness in all its forms of indescribable impurity.  By inflaming man's whole nature and clouding his intelligence as a result of its intercourse with spurious images,  licentiousness deranges the intellect, searing it into a state of delirium and impelling its victim to utter false  prophecies, interpreting the visions and discourses of certain supposed saints, which he claims arc revealed to him  when he is intoxicated and befuddled with passion, his whole character perverted and corrupted by demons. Those  ignorant of spiritual matters, beguiled by delusion, call such men 'little souls'. These 'little souls' are to be found  sitting near the shrines of saints, by whose spirit they claim to be inspired and tested, and whose purported message  they proclaim to others. But in truth they should be called possessed by the demons, deceived and enslaved by  delusion, and not prophets foretelling what is to happen now and in the future. For the demon of licentiousness  himself darkens and deranges their minds, inflaming them with the fire of spiritual lust, conjuring up before them  the illusory appearance of saints, and making them hear conversations and see visions. Sometimes the demons  themselves appear to them and convulse them with fear. For having harnessed them to the yoke of Belial, the demon  of licentiousness drives them on

[V4] 250

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,  Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

to practice their deceits, so that he may keep them captive and enslaved until death, when he will consign them to  hell.

132. Delusion arises in us from three principal sources: arrogance, the envy of demons, and the divine will that  allows us to be tried and corrected. Arrogance arises from superficiality, demonic envy is provoked by our spiritual  progress, and the need for correction is the consequence of our sinful way of life. The delusion arising solely from  envy and self-conceit is swiftly healed, especially when we humble ourselves. On the other hand, the delusion  allowed by God for our correction, when we are handed over to Satan because of our smfulness, God often permits  to continue until our death, if this is needed to efface our sins. Sometimes God hands over even the guiltless to the  torment of demons for the sake of their salvation. One should also know that the demon of self-conceit himself  prophesies in those who are not scrupulously attentive to their hearts.

133. All the faithful are truly anointed priests and kings in the spiritual renewal brought about through baptism.  just as priests and kings were anointed figuratively in former times. For those anointings were prefigurations of the  truth of our anointing: prefigurations in relation not merely to some of us but to all of us. For our kingship and  priesthood is not of the same form or character as theirs, even though the symbolic actions are the same. Nor does  our anointing recognize any distinction in nature, grace or calling, in such a way that those anointed essentially  differ one from the other: we have but one and the same calling, faith and ritual. The true significance of this is that  he who is anointed is pure, dispassionate and wholly consecrated to God now and for ever.  134. If your speech is full of wisdom and you meditate on understanding in your heart (cf Ps. 49:3), you will  disclose in created things the presence of the divine Logos, the substantive Wisdom of God the Father (cf. 1 Cor.  1:24); for in created things you will perceive the outward expression of the archetypes that characterize them, and  thus through your active living intelligence you will speak wisdom that derives from the divine Wisdom. And  because your heart will be illuminated by the power of the transfiguring understanding on which you meditate in  your spirit, you will be able through this understanding to instruct and illuminate those who listen with faith.

135. Today's great enemy of truth, drawing men to perdition, is

  [V4]251

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

delusion. As a result of this delusion, tenebrous ignorance rules the souls of all those sunk in lethargy and  alienates them from God. Such people are as if unaware that there exists a God who gives us rebirth and  illumination, or they assume that we can believe in Him and know Him only in a theoretical way and not through  our actions, or else they imagine that He has revealed Himself only to the people of former times and not to us also;  and they pretend that the scriptural texts about God are applicable only to the original authors, or to others, but not to  themselves. Thus they blaspheme the teaching about God, since they repudiate true knowledge inspired by devotion  to God, and read the Scriptures only in a literal, not to say Judaic, manner; denying the possibility that man even in  this life can be resurrected through the resurrection of his soul, they choose to remain in the grave of ignorance.  Delusion consists of three passions: lack of faith, guile and sloth. These generate and support each other: lack of  faith sharpens the wits of guile, and guile goes hand in hand with sloth, which expresses itself outwardly in laziness.  Or conversely, sloth may beget guile - did not the Lord say, 'You cunning and lazy servant' (Matt. 25:26)? - and  guile mothers lack of faith. For if you are full of guile you lack faith, and if you lack faith you stand in no awe of  God. From such lack of faith comes sloth, which begets contempt; and when you are full of contempt you scorn all  goodness and practice every kind of wickedness.

136. Complete dogmatic orthodoxy consists in a true doctrine about God and an unerring spiritual knowledge of  created things. If you are orthodox in this way you should glorify God thus: Glory to Thee, Christ our God, glory to  Thee, because for our sake Thou, the divine Logos who transcends all things, becamest man. Great is the mystery  of Thine incarnation. Savior: glory to Thee.

137. According to St Maximos the Confessor there are three motives for writing which are above reproach and  censure: to assist one's memory, to help others, or as an act of obedience. It is for the last reason that most spiritual  writings have been composed, at the humble request of those who have need of them. If you write about spiritual  matters simply for pleasure, fame or self-display, you will get your deserts, as Scripture says (cf Matt. 6:5, 16), and  will not profit

[V4] 252

St Gregory of Sinai

On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts,

Passions and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer:

One Hundred and Thirty- Seven Texts

from it in this life or gain any reward in the life to come. On the contrary, you will be condemned for courting  popularity and for fraudulently trafficking in God's wisdom.  

[V4] 253

St Gregory of Sinai

Further Texts

1. Everyone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ's own life, for in  baptism he receives the power so to progress, and through the commandments he can discover and leam how to  accomplish such progression. To Christ's conception corresponds the foretaste of the gift of the Holy Spirit, to His  nativity the actual experience of joyousness, to His baptism the cleansing force of the fire of the Spirit, to His  transfiguration the contemplation of divine light, to His crucifixion the dying to all things, to His burial the  indwelling of divine love in the heart, to His resurrection the soul's life-quickening resurrection, and to His  ascension divine ecstasy and I the transport of the intellect into God. He who fails to pass consciously through these  stages is still callow in body and spirit, even though he may be regarded by all as mature and accomplished in the  practice of virtue.

2. Christ's Passion is a life-quickening death to those who have experienced all its phases, for by experiencing  what He experienced we are glorified as He is (cf Rom. 8:17). But indulgence in sensual passions induces a truly  lethal death. Willingly to experience what Christ experienced is to crucify cracifixion and to put death to death.  3. To suffer for Christ's sake is patiently to endure whatever happens to us. For the envy which the innocent  provoke is for their benefit, while the Lord's schooling tests us so as to bring about our conversion, since it opens  our ears when we are guilty. That is why the Lord has promised an eternal crown to those who endure in this manner  (cf. Jas. 1:12). Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee, Holy Trinity; glory to Thee for all things.

[V4] 254

St Gregory of Sinai

Further Texts

On Passion-Imbued Change

4. Listlessness - a most difficult passion to overcome - makes the body sluggish. And when the body is sluggish,  the soul also grows sluggish. When both have become thoroughly lax, self-indulgence induces a change in the  body's temperament. Self-indulgence incites the appetite, appetite gives rise to pernicious desire, desire to the spirit  of revolt, revolt to dormant recollections, recollection to imaginings, imagining to mental provocation, provocation  to coupling with the thought provoked, and coupling to assent. Such assent to a diabolic provocation leads to actual  sinning, either through the body or in various other ways. Thus we are defeated and thus we lapse.  

On Beneficent Change

5. In whatever work we engage patience gives birth to courage, courage to commitment, commitment to  perseverance, and perseverance to an increase in the work done. Such additional labor quells the body's dissolute  impulses and checks the desire for sensual indulgence. Thus checked, desire gives rise to spiritual longing, longing  to love, love to aspiration, aspiration to ardor, ardor to self-galvanizing, self-galvanizing to assiduousness,  assiduousness to prayer, and prayer to stillness. Stillness gives birth to contemplation, contemplation to spiritual  knowledge, and knowledge to the apprehension of the mysteries. The consummation of the mysteries is theology,  the fruit of theology is perfect love, of love humility, of humility dispassion, and of dispassion foresight, prophecy  and foreknowledge. No one possesses the virtues perfectly in this life, nor does he cut off evil all at once. On the  contrary, by small increases of virtue evil gradually ceases to exist.  

On Morbid Defluxions

Question: In how many ways do morbid defluxions take place, whether sinful or sinless?  [V4] 255

St Gregory of Sinai

Further Texts

On Morbid Defluxions

6. Answer: Sinful defluxions take place in three ways: through fornication, through self-abuse, and through  consent to pernicious thoughts. Sinless defluxions take place in seven ways: through the urine, through eating solid  or stimulating foods, through drinking too much chill water, through the sluggishness of the body, through excessive  tiredness, and through all kinds of demonic fantasy. In veterans in the ascetic life they generally take place through  the first five of the ways we have just mentioned. In those who have attained the state of dispassion, the fluid only  issues mixed with urine, because on account of their ascetic labors their inner ducts have in some way become  porous and they have been given the grace of a divine energy, purificatory and sanctifying - the grace of continence.  The last form of defluxion - that prompted by demonic fantasy during sleep - pertains both to those still under the  domination of the passions and to those suffering from weakness. But since this is involuntary it is free from sin, as  the holy fathers tell us.

By divine dispensation the person who has attained the state of dispassion experiences from time to time a sinless  propulsion, while the remaining fluid is consumed by divine fire. The person still engaged in the ascetic life and so  under various forms of constraint experiences a discharge that is innocuous. The person still under the sway of the  passions experiences a natural discharge and an unnatural discharge, the first prompted by diabolic fantasy during  sleep and the second by diabolic fantasy to which assent has been given while he is awake. The first is innocuous,  the second is sinful and liable to penance.

In those who have attained the state of dispassion the propulsion and the bodily discharge constitute a single  action through which by divine dispensation surplus fluid is expelled through the urine while the rest is consumed  by divine fire, as already stated. In those midway along the ascetic path there are said to be six general ways of  innocuous defluxion through which the body is cleansed and freed from the corruptive fluid formed naturally and  unavoidably in it. These are prompted by solid or stimulating foods, by drinking cold water, by sluggishness of the  body, by torpor resulting from excessive labor, and finally by the malice of demons. In the weak and those newly  engaged in the ascetic life there are similarly six ways, all embroiled with the passions. They are prompted by  gluttony, by back-biting, by censoriousness, by self-esteem, by demonic fantasy during sleep and

[V4] 256

St Gregory of Sinai

Further Texts

On Morbid Defluxions

assent to it while awake, and finally by the aggressive malice of demons. Yet even these have in God's providence  a double purpose: first, they cleanse human nature from corruption, from the surplus matter it has absorbed, and  from impulse-driven appetites; and, second, they train the person engaged in the spiritual struggle to be humble and  attentive, and to restrain himself in all things and from all things.

7. He who dwells in solitude and depends on charity for his food must accept alms in seven ways. First, he must  ask only for what is needful. Secondly, he must take only what is needful. Thirdly, he must receive whatever is  offered to him as if from God. Fourthly, he must trust in God and believe that He will recompense the giver. Fifthly,  he must apply himself to keeping the commandments. Sixthly, he must not misuse what is given to him. Seventhly,  he must not be stingy but must give to others and be compassionate. He who conducts himself thus in these matters  experiences the joy of having his needs supplied not by man but by God.

[V4] 257

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

  Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

1 . As the great teacher St John Chrysostom states, we should be in a position to say that we need no help from the  Scriptures, no assistance from other people, but are instructed by God; for 'all will be taught by God' (Isa. 54:13;  John 6:45), in such a way that we learn from Him and through Him what we ought to know. And this applies not  only to those of us who are monks but to each and every one of the faithful: we are all of us called to carry the law  of the Spirit written on the tablets of our hearts (cf. 2 Cor. 3:3), and to attain like the Cherubim the supreme privilege  of conversing through pure prayer in the heart directly with Jesus. But because we are infants at the time of our  renewal through baptism we do not understand the grace and the new life conferred upon us. Unaware of the  surpassing grandeur of the honor and glory in which we share, we fail to realize that we ought to grow in soul and  spirit through the keeping of the commandments and so perceive noetically what we have received. On account of  this most of us fall through indifference and servitude to the passions into a state of benighted obduracy. We do not  know whether God exists, or who we are, or what we have become, although through baptism we have been made  sons of God, sons of light, and children and members of Christ. If we are baptized when grown up, we feel that we  have been baptized only in water and not by the Spirit. And even though we have been renewed in the Spirit, we  believe only in a formal, lifeless and ineffectual sense, and we say we are full of doubts.

Hence because we are in fact non-spiritual we live and behave in a non-spiritual manner. Should we repent, we  understand and practice

[V4] 258

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

the commandments only in a bodily way and not spiritually. And if after many labors a revelation of grace is in  God's compassion granted to us, we take it for a delusion. Or if we hear from others how grace acts, we are  persuaded by our envy to regard that also as a delusion. Thus we remain corpses until death, failing to live in Christ  and to be inspired by Him. According to Scripture, even that which we possess will be taken away from us at the  time of our death or our judgment because of our lack of faith and our despair (cf. Matt. 25:29). We do not  understand that the children must be like the father, that is to say, we are to be made gods by God and spiritual by  the Holy Spirit; for 'that which is bom of the Spirit is spirit' (John 3:6). But we are unregenerate, even though we  have become members of the faith and heavenly, and so the Spirit of God does not dwell within us (cf Gen. 6:3).  Because of this the Lord has handed us over to strange afflictions and captivity, and slaughter flourishes, perhaps  because He wishes to correct evil, or cut it off, or heal it by more powerful remedies.

2. With the help of God, then, who inspires those who declare good tidings (cf. Ps. 68:11. LXX), we must first  examine how one finds Christ or, rather, how one is found by Him, since we already possess and have received Him  through baptism in the Spirit: as St Paul says, 'Do you not realize that Jesus Christ dwells within you?' (2 Cor. 13:5).  Then we must ask how to advance or, simply, how to retain what we have discovered. The best and shortest course  is for us to give a brief summary of the whole spiritual journey from start to finish, long though it is. Many, indeed,  have been so exhausted by their efforts to discover what they were looking for that, on finding the starting-point,  they have remained content with this, and have not tried to advance farther. Encountering obstacles and turning  aside unawares from the true path, they think that they are on the right track when actually they are veering  profitlessly off course. Others, on reaching the halfway point of illumination, have then grown slack, wilting before  reaching the end; or they have reverted through their slipshod way of life, and have become beginners again. Yet  others, on the point of attaining perfection, have grown inattentive and self-conceited, relapsing to the state of those  in the middle way or even of beginners. Beginners, those in the middle way and the perfect have each their  distinctive characteristic: for the first it is activity, for the second illumination, for the third purification and  resurrection of the soul.

[V4] 259

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

  3. The energy of the Holy Spirit, which we have already mystically received in baptism, is realized in two ways.  First - to generalize - this gift is revealed, as St Mark tells us, through arduous and protracted practice of the  commandments: to the degree to which we effectively practice the commandments its radiance is increasingly  manifested in us. Secondly, it is manifested to those under spiritual guidance through the continuous invocation of  the Lord Jesus, repeated with conscious awareness, that is, through mindfulness of God. In the first way, it is  revealed more slowly, in the second more rapidly, if one diligently and persistently learns how to dig the ground and  locate the gold. Thus if we want to realize and know the truth and not to be led astray, let us seek to possess only the  heart-engrafted energy in a way that is totally without shape or form, not trying to contemplate in our imagination  what we take to be the figure or similitude of things holy or to see any colors or lights. For in the nature of things the  spirit of delusion deceives the intellect through such spurious fantasies, especially at the early stages, in those who  are still inexperienced. On the contrary, let our aim be to make the energy of prayer alone active in our hearts, for it  brings warmth and joy to the intellect, and sets the heart alight with an ineffable love for God and man. It is on  account of this that humility and contrition flow richly from prayer. For prayer in beginners is the unceasing noetic  activity of the Holy Spirit. To start with it rises like a fire of joy from the heart; in the end it is like light made  fragrant by divine energy.

4. There are several signs that the energy of the Holy Spirit is beginning to be active in those who genuinely  aspire for this to happen and are not just putting God to the test - for, according to the Wisdom of Solomon, Tt is  found by those who do not put it to the test, and manifests itself to those who do not distrust it' (cf. Wisd. 1 :2). In  some it appears as awe arising in the heart, in others as a tremulous sense of jubilation, in others as joy, in others as  joy mingled with awe, or as tremulousness mingled with joy, and sometimes it manifests itself

[V4] 260

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

as tears and awe. For the soul is joyous at God's visitation and mercy, but at the same time is in awe and  trepidation at His presence because it is guilty of so many sins. Again, in some the soul at the outset experiences an  unutterable sense of contrition and an indescribable pain, like the woman in Scripture who labors to give birth (cf.  Rev. 12:2). For the living and active Logos - that is to say, Jesus - penetrates, as the apostle says, to the point at  which soul separates from body, joints from marrow (cf. Heb. 4: 12), so as to expel by force every trace of passion  from both soul and body. In others it is manifest as an unconquerable love and peace, shown towards all, or as a  joyousness that the fathers have often called exultation - a spiritual force and an impulsion of the living heart that is  also described as a vibration and sighing of the Spirit who makes wordless intercession for us to God (cf. Rom.  8:26). Isaiah has also called this the 'waves' of God's righteousness (cf. Isa. 48:18), while the great Ephrem calls it  'spurring'. The Lord Himself describes it as 'a spring of water welling up for eternal life' (John 4:14) - He refers to  the Spirit as water - a source that leaps up in the heart and erupts through the ebullience of its power.

5. You should know that there are two kinds of exultation or joyousness: the calm variety (called a vibration or  sighing or intercession of the Spirit), and the great exultation of the heart - a leap, bound or jump, the soaring flight  of the living heart towards the sphere of the divine. For when the soul has been raised on the wings of divine love by  the Holy Spirit and has been freed from the bonds of the passions, it strives to fly to that higher realm even before  death, seeking to separate itself from its burden. This is also known as a stirring of the spirit - that is to say, an  eruption or impulsion - as in the text, 'Jesus was stirred in spirit and, deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid  him?'" (cf. John 11:34). David the Psalmist indicates the difference between the greater and the lesser exultation  when he declares that the mountains leap like rams and the little hills like lambs (cf. Ps. 114: 6). He is referring of  course to those who are perfect and to beginners, for physical mountains and hills, lacking animal life, do not  actually leap about.

6. Divine awe has nothing to do with trepidation - by which I mean, not the tremulousness induced by joy, but the  trepidation induced by wrath or chastisement or the feeling of desertion by God. On the contrary, divine awe is  accompanied by a tremulous sense of

[V4] 261

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

On How to Discover

The Energy of the Holy Spirit

jubilation arising from the prayer of fire that we offer when filled with awe. This awe is not the fear provoked by  wrath or punishment, but it is inspired by wisdom, and is also deserted as 'the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10).  Awe may be divided into three kinds, even though the fathers speak only of two: the awe of beginners, that of the  perfect, and that provoked by wrath, which should properly be called trepidation, agitation or contrition.

7. There are several kinds of trembling. That of wrath is one, that of joy is another, and that of the soul's incensive  power, when the heart's blood is over-heated, is another, that of old age is another, that of sin or delusion is another,  and that of the curse which was laid on the human race because of Cain is another (cf. Gen. 4:1 1-15). In the early  

stages of spiritual warfare, however, it sometimes but not always happens that the trembling induced by joy and that  induced by sin contend with one another. The first is the tremulous sense of jubilation, when grace refreshes the soul  with great joyfulness accompanied by tears; the second is characterized by a disordered fervor, stupor and obduracy  that consume the soul, inflame the sexual organs, and impel one to assent through the imagination to erotic physical  obscenities.

On the Different Kinds of Energy

8. In every beginner two forms of energy are at work, each affecting the heart in a distinct way. The first comes  from grace, the second from delusion. St Mark the Ascetic corroborates this when he says that there is a spiritual  energy and a satanic energy, and that the beginner cannot distinguish between them. These energies in their turn  generate three kinds of fervor, the first prompted by grace, the second by delusion or sin, and the third by an excess  of blood. This last relates to what St Thalassios the Libyan calls the body's temperament, the balance and concord of  which can be achieved by appropriate self-control.  

[V4] 262

St Gregory of Sinai

On the Signs of Grace and Delusion,

  Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts

On Divine Energy

9. The energy of grace is the power of spiritual fire that fills the heart with joy and gladness, stabilizes, warms and  purifies the soul, temporarily stills our provocative thoughts, and for a time suspends the body's impulsions. The  signs and fruits that testify to its authenticity are tears, contrition, humility, self-control, silence, patience, self-  effacement and similar qualities, all of which constitute undeniable evidence of its presence.  

On Delusion

10. The energy of delusion is the passion for sin, inflaming the soul with thoughts of sensual pleasure and  arousing phrenetic desire in the body for intercourse with other bodies. According to St Diadochos it is entirely  amorphous and disordered, inducing a mindless joy, presumption and confusion, accompanied by a mood of ill-  defined sterile levity, and fomenting above all the soul's appetitive power with its sensuality. It nourishes itself on  pleasure, aided and abetted by the insatiable belly; for through the belly it not only impregnates and enkindles our  whole bodily temperament but also acts upon and inflames the soul, drawing it to itself so that little by little the  disposition to self-indulgence expels all grace from the person thus possessed.  

[V4] 263

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

Two Ways of Prayer

There are two modes of union or, rather, two ways of entering into the noetic prayer that the Spirit activates  in the heart. For either the intellect, cleaving to the Lord (cf 1 Cor. 6:17), is present in the heart prior to the  action of the prayer; or the prayer itself, progressively quickened in the fire of spiritual joy, draws the  intellect along with it or welds it to the invocation of the Lord Jesus and to union with Him. For since the  Spirit works in each person as He wishes (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11), one of these two ways we have mentioned will  take precedence in some people, the other in others. Sometimes, as the passions subside through the ceaseless  invocation of Jesus Christ, a divine energy wells up in the heart, and a divine warmth is kindled; for Scripture  says that our God is a fire that consumes the passions (cf. Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29). At other times the Spirit  draws the intellect to Himself, confining it to the depths of the heart and restraining it from its usual  distractions. Then it will no longer be led captive from Jerusalem to the Assyrians, but a change for the better  brings it back from Babylon to Zion, so that it says with the Psalmist, Tt is right to praise Thee, God, in  Zion, and to Thee shall our vows be rendered in Jerusalem' (Ps. 65:1. LXX), and 'When the Lord brought  back the prisoners to Zion' (Ps. 126:1), and 'Jacob will rejoice and Israel will be glad' (Ps. 53:6). The names  Jacob and Israel refer respectively to the ascetically active and to the contemplative intellect which through  ascetic labor and with God's help overcomes the passions and through contemplation sees God, so far as is  possible. Then the intellect, as if invited to a rich banquet and replete with divine joy, will sing, 'Thou hast  prepared a table before me in the face of the demons and passions that afflict me' (cf. Ps. 23:5).  

[V4] 264

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

The Beginning of Watchfulness

2. 'In the morning sow your seed', says Solomon - and by 'seed' is to be understood the seed of prayer - 'and in the  evening do not withhold your hand', so that there may be no break in the continuity of your prayer, no moment when  through lack of attention you cease to pray; 'for you do not know which will flourish, this or that' (Eccles. 1 1:6).  Sitting from dawn on a seat about nine inches high, compel your intellect to descend from your head into your heart,  and retain it there. Keeping your head forcibly bent downwards, and suffering acute pain in your chest, shoulders  and neck, persevere in repeating noetically or in your soul 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy'. Then, since that may  become constrictive and wearisome, and even galling because of the constant repetition - though this is not because  you are constantly eating the one food of the threefold name, for 'those who eat Me', says Scripture, 'will still be  hungry' (Eccles. 24:21) - let your intellect concentrate on the second half of the prayer and repeat the words 'Son of  God, have mercy'. You must say this half over and over again and not out of laziness constantly change the words.  For plants which are frequently transplanted do not put down roots. Restrain your breathing, so as not to breathe  unimpededly; for when you exhale, the air, rising from the heart, beclouds the intellect and ruffles your thinking,  keeping the intellect away from the heart. Then the intellect is either enslaved by forgetfulness or induced to give its  attention to all manner of things, insensibly becoming preoccupied with what it should ignore. If you see impure evil  thoughts rising up and assuming various forms m your intellect, do not be startled. Even if images of good things  appear to you, pay no attention to them. But restraining your breathing as much as possible and enclosing your  intellect in your heart, invoke the Lord Jesus continuously and diligently and you will swiftly consume and subdue  them, flaying them invisibly with the divine name. For St John Klimakos says, 'With the name of Jesus lash your  enemies, for there is no more powerful weapon in heaven or on earth.'

3. Isaiah the Solitary is one of many who affirm that when praying

[V4] 265

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

The Beginning of Watchfulness

you have to restrain your breath. Another author says that you have to control your uncontrollable intellect,  impelled and dispersed as it is by the satanic power which seizes hold of your lax soul because of your negligence  after baptism, bringing with it other spirits even more evil than itself and thus making your soul's state worse than it  was originally (cf Matt. 12:45). Another writer says that in a monk mindfulness of God ought to take the place of  breathing, while another declares that the love of God acts as a brake on his out-breathing. St Symeon the New  Theologian tells us, 'Restrain the drawing-m of breath through your nostrils, so as not to breathe easily': St John  Klimakos says, 'Let mindfulness of Jesus be united to your breathing, and then you will know the blessings of  stillness.' St Paul affirms that it is not he who lives but Christ in him (cf. Gal. 2:20), activating him and inspiring him  with divine life. And the Lord, taking as an example the blowing of the physical wind, says, 'The Spirit blows where  He wishes' (John 3:8). For when we were cleansed through baptism we received in seed-like form the foretaste of  the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor. 1:22) and what St James calls the 'implanted Logos' (Jas. 1:21), embedded and as it were  consolidated in us through an unparticipable participation; and, while keeping Himself inviolate and undimmished.  He deifies us in His superabundant bounty. But then we neglected the commandments, the guardians of grace, and  through this negligence we again fell into the clutches of the passions, filled with the afflatus of the evil spirits  instead of the breath of the Holy Spirit. That is why, as the holy fathers explain, we are subject to lassitude and  continually enervated. For had we laid hold of the Spirit and been purified by Him we would have been enkindled  by Him and inspired with divine life, and would speak and think and act in the manner that the Lord indicates when  He says, 'For it is not you that speak but the Spirit of My Father that speaks in you' (cf. Matt. 10:20). Conversely, if  we embrace the devil and are mastered by him, we speak and act in the opposite manner.

4. 'When the watchman grows weary,' says St John Klimakos, 'he stands up and prays; then he sits down again  and courageously resumes the same task.' Although St John is here referring to the intellect and

[V4] 266

St Gregory of Sinai

On Stillness: Fifteen Texts

The Beginning of Watchfulness

is saying that it should behave in this manner when it has learnt how to guard the heart, yet what he says can  apply equally to psalmody. For it is said that when the great Varsanuphios was asked about how one should  psalmodize, he replied, 'The Hours and the liturgical Odes are church traditions, rightly given so that concord is  maintained when there are many praying together. But the monks of Sketis do not recite the Hours, nor do they sing  Odes. On their own they practice manual labor, meditation and a little prayer. When you stand in prayer, you should  repeat the Trisagion and the Lord's Prayer. You should also ask God to deliver you from your fallen selfhood. Do  not grow slack in doing this; your mind should be concentrated in prayer all day long.' What St Varsanuphios  wanted to make clear is that private meditation is the prayer of the heart, and that to practice 'a little prayer' means to  stand and psalmodize. Moreover, St John Khmakos explicitly says that to attain the state of stillness entails first total  detachment, secondly resolute prayer - this means standing and psalmodizmg - and thirdly, unbroken labor of the  heart, that is to say, sitting down to pray in stillness.  




Page Size
Jesus Prayer Explained for Beginners
Jesus Prayer Explained for Beginners
2 B Spiritual - Don't Resent or React - Be Silent
SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!

DO NOT RESENT,

DO NOT REACT,

KEEP INNER STILLNESS.


When I was in seminary I had the great blessing of becoming the spiritual son of a Greek bishop, Bishop Kallistos of Xelon. He was the one who taught me the Jesus Prayer (Νοερά Προσευχή) .

The whole spiritual vision of Bishop Kallistos had three very simple points.
Do not resent.
Do not react.
Keep inner stillness.

By Abbot Jonah Paffhausen of St John Monastery (now Metropolitan Jonah)
2 B Spiritual - Don't Resent or React - Be Silent
Πως Αποκτουμε το Αγιο Πνευμα



Πως Αποκτουμε το Αγιο Πνευμα

ΤΟ ΑΓΙΟ ΠΝΕΥΜΑ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΔΩΡΟ ΘΕΟΥ Σ' ΑΥΤΟΥΣ ΠΟΥ ΕΡΓΑΖΟΝΤΑΙ ΤΙΣ ΕΝΤΟΛΕΣ ΤΟΥ. ΓΙ' ΝΑ ΤΟ ΛΑΒΟΥΜΕ,

1. ΧΡΕΙΑΖΕΤΑΙ ΤΑΠΕΙΝΩΣΗ

Για να φτάσουμε στη Θέωση...για να γεμίσουμε με Άγιο Πνεύμα και να συνειδητοποίσουμε την ύπαρξη τού Θεού, χρειάζεται η δωρεά απ' τον θεο και μόνο μιά κατάσταση. Η κατάσταση της ταπείνωσης μπροστά στο Θεό.

ΠΩΣ ΜΠΟΡΟΥΜΕ ΝΑ ΓΙΝΟΥΜΕ ΤΑΠΕΙΝΟΙ?
Πως Αποκτουμε το Αγιο Πνευμα
Page Size

 
Copyright

www.Stassinos.com * www.Stasinos.tv * www.Stasinos.com *