Feed on
Posts

13. Self-control together with humility withers passionate desire, love calms inflamed anger, and intense prayer together with mindfulness of God concentrates distracted thoughts. Thus the tripartite soul is purified. It was to this end that the apostle said: 'Pursue peace with all men and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord' (Heb. 12:14).

14. Many people wonder whether thought stimulates the passions or the passions stimulate thought. Some say the first and some the second. My own view is that thoughts are stimulated by the passions. For unless passions were in the soul, thoughts about them would not disturb it.

15. The demons, who are always waging war against us, try to prevent us from performing actions that are within our power and that would help us to acquire the virtues, while at the same time they suggest ways of accomplishing things that in fact are impossible or else out of place. They compel those progressing in obedience to follow the hesychasts' way of life; and they implant in hesychasts and hermits a desire for the coenobitic rule. They use a similar method with respect to every virtue. So let us be mindful of their designs, knowing that all things are good in their proper time and measure, while things lacking measure and out of place are noxious.

 

9. It does not lie within our power to decide whether or not the passions are going to harass and attack the soul. But it does lie within power to prevent impassioned thoughts from lingering within us and arousing the passions to action. The first of these conditions is not sinful, inasmuch as it is outside our control: where the second is concerned, if we fight against the passions and overcome them we are rewarded, but we shall be punished if because of laziness and cow- ardice we let them over-come us.

10. There are three principal passions, through which all the rest arise: love of sensual pleasure, love of riches, and love of praise. Close in their wake follow five other evil spirits, and from these five arise a great swarm of passions and all manner of evil. Thus he who defeats the three leaders and rulers simultaneously overcomes the other five and so subdues all the passions.

11. Memories of all the impassioned actions we have performed exert an impassioned tyranny over the soul. But when impassioned thoughts have been completely erased from our heart, so that they no longer affect it even .is provocations, this is a sign that our former sinful acts have been forgiven. For so long as the heart is stimulated by passion, sin clearly reigns there.

12. Bodily passions or passions concerned with material things are reduced and withered through bodily hardship, while the unseen passions of the soul are destroyed through humility, gentleness and love.

 

7. So long as the soul is in a state contrary to nature, running wild with the weeds and thorns of sensual pleasures, it is a dwelling-place of grotesque beasts. Isaiah's words apply to it: ass-centaurs shall rest there, and hedgehogs make their lair in it, and there demons will consort with ass«centaurs (cf Isa. 34:11, 14. LXX) - for all these animals signify the various shameful passions. But the soul, so long as it is joined to the flesh, can recall itself to its natural state at any time it wishes: and whenever it does so and disciplines itself with diligent effort, living in accordance with God's law, the wild beasts that were lurking inside it will take to flight, while the angels who guard our life will come to its aid, making the soul's return a day of rejoicing (cf. Luke 15:7). And the grace of the Holy Spirit will be present in it, teaching it spiritual knowledge, so that it may be strengthened in what is good and rise to higher levels.

8. The Fathers define prayer as a spiritual weapon. Unless we are armed with it we cannot engage in warfare, but are carried off as prisoners to the enemy's country. Nor can we acquire pure prayer unless we cleave to God with an upright heart. For it is God who gives prayer to him who prays and who teaches man spiritual knowledge.

 

4. If anyone whatsoever opposes us in the fulfillment of God's commandments, even if it is our father or mother, we ought to regard him with hatred and loathing, lest we be told: 'He who loves father or mother or anyone else whatsoever more than Me is not worthy of Me' (cf Matt. 10:37).

5. Let us bind ourselves with all our strength to fulfill the Lord's commandments, lest we ourselves should be held by the unbreakable cords of our evil desires and soul-corrupting pleasures (cf. Prov, 5:22), and lest the sentence passed on the barren fig tree should be passed on us as well; 'Cut it down, so that it does not clutter up the ground' (Luke 13:7). For, as Christ says, whatever 'does not produce good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire' (Matt. 3:10).

6. He who gives himself to desires, and sensual pleasures and lives according to the world's way will quickly be caught in the nets of sin. And sin, when once committed, is like fire put to straw, a stone rolling downhill or a torrent eating away its banks. Such pleasures, then, bring complete perdition on him who embraces them.

 

1. Since by God's grace we have renounced Satan and his works and have sworn allegiance to Christ, both at our baptism and now again through our profession as monks, let us keep His commandments. Not only does our double profession demand this of us, but it is also our natural duty, for since we were originally created by God as 'very good' (Gen. 1:31), we owe it to God to be such. Although sin entered us through our negligence and introduced into us what is contrary to nature, we have been reclaimed through God's great mercy, and renewed by the passion of Him who is dispassionate. We have been 'bought with a price' (1 Cor. 6:20), namely by the blood of Christ, and liberated from the ancient ancestral sin. If, then, we become righteous, this is nothing great; but to fall from righteousness is pitiable and deserves condemnation.

2. Just as a good act performed without genuine faith is quite dead and ineffective, so too faith alone without works of righteousness does not save us from eternal fire; for 'he who loves Me', says the Lord, 'will keep My commandments', (cf John 14:45, 23). If, then, we love the Lord and believe in Him, we shall exert ourselves to fulfill His commandments, so as to be granted eternal life. But how can we call ourselves faithful if we neglect to keep His ordinances, which all creation obeys, and if, although we have been honored above all creation, we are the only creatures who disobey the Creator and show ourselves ungrateful to our Benefactor?

3. When we keep Christ's commandments we do not benefit Him in any way, since He is in need of nothing and is the bestower of every blessing. It is ourselves that we benefit, since we win for ourselves eternal life and the enjoyment of ineffable blessings.

 

January 2, 2022

 

December 26, 2021

 

December 19, 2021

 

December 12, 2021

 

December 5, 2021

 

November 14, 2021

 

November 7, 2021

 

October 31, 2021

 

October 24, 2021

 

October 17, 2021

 

October 10, 2021

 

October 3, 2021

 

September 26, 2021

 

September 12, 2021

 

September 5, 2021

 

August 22, 2021

 

August 8, 2021

July 18, 2021

 

July 11, 2021

 

The aim of The Art of Spiritual Life Study Group is to gain the art of spiritual life through the teaching of Holy Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov: The Field.

This study has already transformed many lives and we hope your life will be transformed too.

 

- Older Posts »

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App