[I]t is not unusual to meet people who think that not to believe in any truth, or not to adhere firmly to any assertion as unshakeably true in itself, is a primary condition required of democratic citizens in order to be tolerant of one another and to live in peace with one another. May I say that these people are in fact the most intolerant people, for if perchance they were to believe in something as unshakeably true, they would feel compelled, by the same stroke, to impose by force and coercion their own belief on their co-citizens. The only remedy they have found to get rid of their abiding tendency to fanaticism is to cut themselves off from truth.
My Lord, I know not what I ought to ask of Thee. Thou and Thou alone knowest my needs. Thou lovest me more than I am able to love Thee. O Father, grant unto me, Thy servant, all which I cannot ask. For a cross I dare not ask, nor for consolation; I dare only to stand in Thy presence. My heart is open to Thee. Thou seest my needs of which I myself am unaware. Behold and lift me up! In Thy presence I stand, awed and silenced by Thy will and Thy judgments, into which my mind cannot penetrate. To Thee I offer myself as a sacrifice. No other desire is mine but to fulfill Thy will. Teach me how to pray. Do Thyself pray within me. Amen.
The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet there also are dragons and there are lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil. And there are rough and uneven roads; there are precipices. But there is also God, also the angels, the life and the kingdom, the light and the Apostles, the treasures of grace – there are all things.
* This excerpt is from “Pseudo-Macarius: The Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter.”
Once, a poor man went to church to complain to God that he has no shoes to wear. But in front of the church he saw a man with no legs. Then our man, ashamed of his thoughts gave thanks to the Lord for his healthy legs.
Our holy fathers have listened to the Lord who said that from the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury, slander [Mt 15:19] and how these are the things that make a man unclean. [Mt 15:20] Further, they have listened to the part of the gospel where we are ordered to clean the inside of cup and dish first so that the outside may become clean as well. [Mt 23:26] They therefore left aside any other spiritual work and concentrated exclusively on guarding the heart, being confident that through this they would easily achieve all other virtues, whilst without it no virtue can be preserved. This practice was called by some fathers ‘serenity of the heart,’ whilst others named it ‘attention,’ others ‘sobriety’ and ‘detainment,’ others ‘examination of the thoughts’ and ‘guarding of the mind;’ for they were all absorbed in this, and by this they were found worthy to accept the divine virtues.
Understand two thoughts, and fear them. One says, ‘You are saint,’ the other, ‘You won’t be saved.’ Both of these thoughts are from the enemy, and there is no truth in them. But think this way: I am a great sinner, but the Lord is merciful. He loves people very much, and He will forgive my sins.
“I love you because you are you.” Have you ever thought about the message this sentence conveys? I love you, and I am able to love you because you aren’t me. This is the first interpretation. Essentially I do not love you, if I want you to be like me. Through the diversity of each person, with love, there is achieved a constant enrichment of a relationship. Otherwise, as they say in the world and society: “Relationships and marriage get old.” But it gets old because we allow it to get old. If you do not consider the possibility of each human being to be sanctified and to share more and more in the glory of God and His Grace, then we can never have a new man. But we try to correct the works of God, thinking that we know how to do things better. We will even see the tragedy of this issue when we get to another very basic and daily relationship.
The relationship of children with their parents. The relationship of parents with their children. It is a difficult relationship. Many times it is without freedom, in the name of love. The majority of times our ego replaces love, and it is easy to come into conflict. Truly, when we raise our children, what vision do we have for our lives? Do we raise children to live freely and stand on their own feet, or do we “praise” them because they listen to us? If we rejoice because they listen to us about everything, in actuality we have recognized and pronounced ourselves infallible, and we believe we are always right, and we are pleased that our children listen to us[…] They want our love, but not at the expense of their freedom. And there is no freedom without responsibility. And we know this from experience.
* Με παρρησία… translated by John Sanidopoulos