Somebody once asked Abba Silouan, “How have you acquired such great wisdom?” Abba Silouan replied, “I have made it my rule to never allow into my mind a thought which might offend God.”
A quote that especially touched me, having visited a monastery over the weekend:
“When Christ orders us to follow the narrow path, he addresses himself to all. The monastics and the lay persons must attain the same heights. Those who live in the world, even though married, ought to resemble the monks in everything else. You are entirely mistaken if you think that there are some things required of ordinary people, and others of monks … they will have the same account to render.” – St. John Chrysostom
“The American ‘God’ loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, but he does not want you to have to struggle to realize it … It is the illusion of the crucifixion without nails, of salvation through self-realization, of worship as entertainment, not the faith of the Fathers believed in by all Orthodox Christians everywhere since the beginning.” – Frank Schaeffer, “Letter to Aristotle”
In old age, Pierre Auguste Renoir, the great French painter, suffered from arthritis, which twisted and cramped his hands. Henri Matisse, his artist friend, watched sadly while Renoir, grasping a brush with only his fingertips, continued to paint, even though each movement caused stabbing pain.
One day, Matisse asked Renoir why he persisted in painting at the expense of such torture.
Renoir replied, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
As told in Philokalia: The Bible of Orthodox Spirituality by Anthony M. Coniaris
The Apostles inherited the entire life of Christ, and were eyewitnesses and partakers of His works and acts. They inherited the lengthy fasts they saw Christ Himself perform, as Christ told them: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mk. 9:29). They inherited night-long prayers (“Watch and pray”). They inherited agony in prayer with frequent prostrations and sweat like drops of blood: “And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground … And He said to His disciples, ‘Why do you sleep? Rise and pray'” (Lk. 22:44-46). They inherited endurance and patience amid the insults of the hierarchy and the betrayal of comrades: “If they persecuted me they will persecute you” (Jn. 15:20). They inherited ministry in markets among the sick, the sinners, and the poor. They inherited agony, suffering, and crucifixion, the most precious and exquisite gift they inherited from Christ: “The cup that I drink you will drink” (Mk. 10:39). – St. Matthew the Poor
We visited Holy Archangels Greek Orthodox Monastery in Kendalia, TX, this weekend for Vespers last night and Orthros and Divine Liturgy this morning. The monastery is beautiful, if a bit difficult to find. I think I ended up driving an extra 50 miles due to wrong turns, but at least it give me a chance to see the gorgeous Texas hill country. The abbot, Father Dositheos, and all of the monks were wonderful to us. They made sure that we felt welcome and were taken care of at all times. My wife and I were very happy to be able to attend services there and plan on visiting again very soon. My son, Isaiah, who is two years old, was entranced by the monks and (for the first time ever!) sat quietly for all of Vespers. It was a great experience and I encourage any one who lives nearby to visit the monastery. Yalchicago.org has some pictures of the inside of the church, as well as great pictures of the monastery grounds and My San Antonio has a great article about the monastery and its monks if you want to learn more. A couple of pictures from our trip are below.
“Though not with the same power as in the people of God (the Hebrews), nevertheless the presence of the Spirit of God also acted in the pagans who did not know the true god, because even among them God found for himself chosen people. Such, for instance, were the virgin prophetesses called Sibyls who vowed virginity to an unknown God, but still to God the Creator of the universe, the all-powerful ruler of the world, as He was conceived by the pagans. Though the pagan philosophers also wandered in the darkness of ignorance of God, yet they sought the Truth which is beloved by God; and on account of this God-pleasing seeking, they would partake of the Spirit of God, for it is said that the nations who do not know God practice by nature the demands of the law and do what is pleasing to God [cf. Romans 2:14]… So you see, both in the holy Hebrew people, a people beloved by God, and in the pagans who did not know God there was preserved knowledge of God – that is, a clear and rational comprehension of how our Lord God the Holy Spirit acts in man, and by means of what inner and outer feelings one can be sure that this is really the action of our Lord God the Holy Spirit and not a delusion of the enemy. That is how it was from Adam’s fall until the coming in flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world.“ – St. Seraphim of Sarov