The death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, St. Gregory Palamas

The pre-eternal, uncircumscribed and almighty Logos and omnipotent Son of God could clearly have saved man from mortality and servitude to the devil without Himself becoming man. He upholds all things by the word of His power and everything is subject to His divine authority (compare Hebrews 1.3). According to Job, He can do everything and nothing is impossible for Him (compare Job 42.2 LXX). The strength of a created being cannot withstand the power of the Creator, and nothing is more pwerful than the Almighty. But the incarnation of the Logos of God was the method of deliverance most in keeping with our nature and weakness, and most appropriate for Him who carried it out, for this method had justice on its side, and God does not act without justice. As the Psalmist and Prophet says, “God is righteous and loveth righteousness” (compare Psalm 11.7), “and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psalm 92.15). Man was justly abandoned by God in the beginning as he had first abandoned God. He had voluntarily approached the originator of evil, obeyed him when he treacherously advised the opposite of what God had commanded, and was justly given over to him. In this way, through the evil one’s envy and the good Lord’s just consent, death became twofold, for he brought about not just physical but also eternal death.
Christ clearly had to make immortal not only the human nature which existed in Him, but the human race, and to guide it towards participating in that true life which in due course procures eternal life for the body as well, just as the soul’s state of death in due course brought about the death of the body too. That this plan for salvation should be made manifest, and that Christ’s way of life should be put before us to emulate, was highly necessary and beneficial. At one time God appeared visibly before man and the good angels that they might imitate Him. Later, when we had cast ourselves down and fallen away from this vision, God came down to us from on high in His surpassing love for mankind, without in any way giving up His divinity, and by living among us set Himself before us as the pattern of the way back to life.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and love of God (compare Romans 11.33)! In His wisdom, power and love for mankind God knew how to transform incomparably for the better the falls resulting from our self-willed waywardness. If the Son of God had not come down from heaven we should have had no hope of going up to heaven. If He had not become incarnate, suffered in the flesh, risen and ascended for our sake, we should not have known God’s surpassing love for us. If He had not taken flesh and endured the passion while we were still ungodly, we should not have desisted from the pride which so often lifts us up and drags us down. Now that we have been exalted without contributing anything, we stay humble, and as we regard with understanding the greatness of God’s promise and benevolence we grow in humility, from which comes salvation.
A sacrifice was needed to reconcile the Father on high with us and to sanctify us, since we had been soiled by fellowship with the evil one. There had to be a sacrifice which both cleansed and was clean, and a purified, sinless priest. We needed a resurrection not just of our souls but of our bodies, and a resurrection for those to come after us. This liberation and resurrection, and also the ascension and the everlasting heavenly order, not only had to be bestowed upon us but also confirmed. And all this was necessary not just for those alive at the time and those to come, but also for people born since the beginning of time. In Hades there were far more of such people than there were people to be born later, and far more were to believe and be saved at once. I think that is why Christ came at the end of the ages. He had to preach the gospel to those in Hades (compare 1 Peter 3.19), to reveal His great plan for salvation to them and to give them complete freedom from the demons who held them captive, as well as sanctification and promises for the future. It was clearly necessary for Christ to descend into Hades, but all these things were done with justice, without which God does not act.
In addition to what we have mentioned, the deceiver had to be justly deceived and to lose the riches he had seized and deceitfully acquired. For evil had taken control through cunning, and the originator of evil continually boasted of this fact. The devil would not have ceased from boasting if he had been subdued by God’s sovereign power and not pulled down from his authority by justice and wisdom. Since everybody turns aside to evil in deed or word or thought, or in two or all of these, we defile the purity given by God to human nature, and need to be sanctified. Sanctification is accomplished by each person’s offering and sacrifice of firstfruits, but as the firstfruits have to be pure, we are not able to offer such a sacrifice to God. This is why Christ was revealed, who alone is undefiled and presented Himself as an offering and a sacrifice of firstfruits to the Father for our sake, that all we who look towards Him, believe in Him and attach ourselves to Him through obedience will appear through Him before the face of God, obtain forgiveness and be sanctified. The Lord referred to this in the Gospels, saying, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17.19). Not only did the offering have to be pure and sinless but so did the high priest who offered it. As the apostle says, “Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7.26).
For such reasons as these the Logos of God was made flesh and dwelt among us, appearing on earth and living with men. He took upon Himself our human flesh, which was subject to suffering and death, even though it was completely pure, and He used it in His divine wisdom as a bait to hook the serpent, the originator of evil, through the Cross, and set free the whole human race which he had enslaved. When a tyrant falls, all those he tyrannized are liberated. This is what the Lord Himself said in the Gospels, that the strong man was bound and his goods spoiled (compare Matthew 12.29). His possessions were taken as spoil by Christ, and were set free, justified, filled with light and endowed with divine gifts. As David sings, “Thou hast ascended on high,” up on to the Cross, or, if you wish, up to heaven, “thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast given gifts to men” (Ephesians 4.8; compare Psalm 68.18).
Christ overturned the devil through suffering and His flesh which He offered as a sacrifice to God the Father, as a pure and altogether holy victim—how great is His gift!—and recnciled God to our human race. He underwent the passion according to the Father’s will and became for us, who were destroyed through disobedience and saved through obedience, an example of how obedient we should be. He showed that death was far more precious than the devil’s immortality, because it procured life that was truly immortal, life that will not be subject to the second and eternal death, but stays with Christ in the heavenly dwellings. When Christ had risen from the dead on the third day and had shown Himself alive to His disciples, He ascended into heaven. He remained immortal and bestowed on us, with complete assurance, resurrection, immortality and truly blessed, eternal, incorruptible life in heaven. By means of the one death and resurrection of His flesh, He healed our twofold death and freed us from our double captivity of soul and body.
The Lord has given us rebirth through divine baptism and sealed us with the grace of the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption (compare Ephesians 4.30), but He has allowed us still to have a body which is mortal and passible. Although He has cast out the teacher of evil from the treasure houses of our soul, yet He allows him to attack from without. This is so that anybody who has been renewed in accordance with the new covenant, that is to say, the gospel of Christ, who lives in good works and repentance, despises the delights of this life, endures suffering and is trained in the enemy’s assaults, can be made ready to receive immortality and the incorruptible good things to come in the new age.
May we too attain to this through the grace and love for mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sake was made man, suffered, was buried, rose from the dead, took our fallen human nature up to heaven and honoured it by sitting on the Father’s right hand. To our Lord Jesus Christ belong glory, honour, and worship, together with His Father without beginning and the all-holy and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The translation from which these excerpts are taken is Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies

“The Yoga” of Hesychasm; a poem by Theophanis. Professor Cutsinger

The following article is a good precis from  Prof.  Cutsinger a professor of religious  and Christian studies.  The title is decidedly provocative.  He uses the term yoga in the sense of yoking the mind to the heart as in the true hesychastic sense. So he is not advocating a syncretist approach  or hinduism to his spirituality, in fact, he is a devout orthodox Christian.

The Yoga of Hesychasm

© 2007 James S. Cut singer

Published in Merton and Hesychasm: The Prayer of the Heart in the Eastern Church, ed. Bernadette Dieker and Jonathan Montaldo (Louisville, Kentucky: Fons Vitae, 2003); Reprinted in Parabola, 30:2 (Summer 2005) and in The Inner Journey: Views from the Christian Tradition, ed. Lorraine Kisly (Sandpoint, Idaho: Morning Light Press, 2006)


I must begin with a few words of caution. This article is meant to cast light on a short mystical poem, “The Ladder of Divine Graces” by Theophanis the Monk. We know very little about Theophanis, not even when he lived. All we are sure of is that he was a monastic of the Christian East, one among the monks of Mounts Athos and Sinai, whose quest towards hesychia or stillness has given rise to their designation as the Hesychast Fathers. Here is where a first warning comes in. Nothing I shall be saying is going to make the slightest sense unless my reader understands at the outset that for Theophanis Christianity is a mystagogical path, a way toward what is. It is not a creed, it is not a rite, and it is not an ethic. Or rather, while it includes all these things on the surface, in its essence it is the means of our becoming Divine.

A second caveat has to do with the expectations one brings to these brief remarks. We need to be modest. Into these seventy-one lines of verse are distilled over a thousand years of spiritual teaching and ascetic discipline. The poem contains what amounts to an alchemical tincture, very concentrated and very potent, and my hope is simply to offer a taste of the resulting elixir. There is no question of providing an exhaustive interpretation of this tradition. I wish only to highlight a few salient ideas, while underscoring the poet’s own repeated stress on experience. Experience teaches one, he says, not words. Whatever else, the author means to prick the conscience of anyone who supposes that doctrine can stand alone without method, theory without practice. We need the effectual means of liberation supplied by a genuine yoga.

I have mentioned how little is known of this writer. This fact is a great blessing, of course. By providing the ready excuse of necessity, it permits us cheerfully to dispense with that whole apparatus of biographical and other horizontal detail that so often intrudes between a text and its interpreters. My only concession to the usual academic procedure is to admit that “The


Ladder” can be found in the third volume of The Philokalia, a classic compilation of Christian mystical writings ranging from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries. Beyond that, I would ask that one think of “Theophanis” strictly as a symbol for the spiritual search, and of his poem as but a provocation for entering the Supreme Reality.

The Ladder of Divine Graces

which experience has made known to those inspired by God

The first step is that of purest prayer.
From this there comes a warmth of heart,
And then a strange, a holy energy,
Then tears wrung from the heart, God-given. Then peace from thoughts of every kind.
From this arises purging of the intellect,
And next the vision of heavenly mysteries. Unheard-of light is born from this ineffably,
And thence, beyond all telling, the heart’s illumination. Last comes—a step that has no limit
Though compassed in a single line— Perfection that is endless.
The ladder’s lowest step
Prescribes pure prayer alone.
But prayer has many forms:
My discourse would be long
Were I now to speak of them:
And, friend, know that always
Experience teaches one, not words.
A ladder rising wondrously to heaven’s vault:
Ten steps that strangely vivify the soul.
Ten steps that herald the soul’s life.
A saint inspired by God has said:
Do not deceive yourself with idle hopes
That in the world to come you will find life
If you have not tried to find it in this present world. Ten steps: a wisdom born of God.
Ten steps: fruit of all the books.
Ten steps that point towards perfection.
Ten steps that lead one up to heaven.
Ten steps through which a man knows God.
The ladder may seem short indeed,
But if your heart can inwardly experience it
You will find a wealth the world cannot contain,


A god-like fountain flowing with unheard-of life. This ten-graced ladder is the best of masters, Clearly teaching each to know its stages.
If when you behold it
You think you stand securely on it,
Ask yourself on which step you stand,
So that we, the indolent, may also profit.
My friend, if you want to learn about all this, Detach yourself from everything,
From what is senseless, from what seems intelligent. Without detachment nothing can be learnt. Experience alone can teach these things, not talk. Even if these words once said
By one of God’s elect strike harshly,
I repeat them to remind you:
He who has no foothold on this ladder,
Who does not ponder always on these things, When he comes to die will know
Terrible fear, terrible dread,
Will be full of boundless panic.
My lines end on a note of terror.
Yet it is good that this is so:
Those who are hard of heart—myself the first— Are led to repentance, led to a holy life,
Less by the lure of blessings promised
Than by fearful warnings that inspire dread. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
You who have written this, hear, then, and take note: Void of all these graces,
How have you dared to write such things? How do you not shudder to expound them? Have you not heard what Uzzah suffered When he tried to stop God’s ark from falling?
Do not think that I speak as one who teaches:
I speak as one whose words condemn himself, Knowing the rewards awaiting those who strive, Knowing my utter fruitlessness.

As my readers will have noticed, the text falls naturally into several distinct parts. First, there is a labeling of the ten steps of the ladder; second, an emphasis on the special importance of the initial step, purity in prayer; third, a listing of the ladder’s benefits; fourth, a request for assistance from persons further advanced than the author; fifth, stern counsel for those who are just beginning, together with a justification for this severity; and sixth, the author’s concluding


self-reproach and effacement. An entire article could be written on any one of these headings. What I shall do here is to concentrate on the meaning of the ten steps themselves, adding then a few broader strokes concerning the rest of the poem.

First, though, just a word or two concerning the title. In a sense, the title of this poem says it all: The Ladder of Divine Graces. The man who seeks union with God must understand before he even begins his search that synergy or cooperation is the key to his movement, a cooperation between human effort and Divine mercy. A ladder must be climbed, and the climbing is accomplished one step at a time. The spiritual life demands real work, real movement, real discipline, which proceeds methodically and incrementally. It is dangerous, says Plato, to go too quickly from the many to the One, and the Hesychast tradition takes account of this fact in distrusting ecstasies and consolations not grounded in method. On the other hand, one must not forget that man’s climbing is not only toward God; it is in and by God. Each of the rungs of the ladder is a gift or a grace, a real and efficacious presence of the Goal in the very midst of the way. True spirituality is not Pelagian, not a self-help technique. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work within you” (Phil. 2:12-13).

The subtitle confirms this synergy. The authority of the poem’s teaching is at once human and Divine. On one level it is a matter of embodied truth. What we are about to be told is no rarified speculation, concocted by some spiritual dreamer whose claims are untestable. It comes instead rooted in the concrete, the practical, the immediate, and it leads beyond mere credulity or acceptance to certainty. Notice that experience has made the ladder known. But at the same time, the knowledge is thanks to God, who has mercifully condescended to those inspired by Him. We should be grateful. Authentic wisdom is never man’s alone, an accomplishment or achievement for which he can take credit. The wisdom born of God is to know that God knows Himself in us.

Turning now to the poem itself, one observes that each of the ten steps of the ladder can be distinguished by a single noun. The journey passes through the several stages of prayer, heart, energy, tears, peace, purging, vision, light, illumination, and perfection. But the nouns in each case are to be specified by adjectives. It is not just any prayer, but purest prayer that counts; not just any heart, but a warm one. So also we note that the energy is holy, the tears are God-given, the peace is mental, the purging is intellective, the vision is mystical, the light is ineffable, the illumination is cardiac, and the perfection is endless.


“Theophanis” is careful to stress that the prayer of step one is of a most particular kind. Prayer may include but is more than a collection of petitions and praises, whether private or public, spoken or silent, personal or canonical. In its purest form, it is an imageless attention to the Divine presence, ontologically rather than discursively linked to its object, and often supported by the repetition of a short invocatory formula like the Jesus Prayer. Please note that the attention of this opening step is itself a highly advanced spiritual state, presupposing a background not even hinted at in the poem. Our exposition of the text obliges us to begin at a point far beyond what most of us may be ready for. Quintessential prayer is the bottom rung of a ladder that must first be set on a living sacramental foundation, and its scaling assumes a deliberate and extensive propaedeutic under the guidance of a spiritual father. The Christian mystical tradition knows very well that individual initiatives and exploits are always ruinous in the contemplative life. Hence the author’s deference, in the lines below, to his own elders and betters: to a saint inspired by God and to one of God’s elect.

Were a man granted the grace of this first step—were those of us writing and reading this article truly prepared to go further—it would soon be discovered that true prayer is a transformative power, which begins to work its magic within the tissues of the human body itself. This is noticed initially, the Hesychasts teach, in that central part of the body, the heart, where pure consciousness dwells, and the most common signal of change is a sensation of warmth. Warmth, like the heart, is no metaphor. Something really begins to happen in the breast. One could say that it happens in and to the four-chambered beating muscle if the concern is to stress, as one must, the material actuality of the process. But at the same time, the warmth comes as proof that our true heart was always more than its concealment in matter, more than just a physical pump. In either case, the ladder brings the whole man into play. The body is not left behind in our approach to full union, but is lifted up and drawn into its Divine prototype. Heaven is more, not less, solid than earth.

And then a strange, a holy energy. What was true at first for the central organ alone gradually makes itself felt throughout the entire human organism. A centrifugal radiation of power begins now to course outward through the various envelopes of the self. Energy is a technical term in this context. Western philosophy is accustomed to a distinction between form and matter. Energy is the third that connects these two, the living and interior pulse through which essence communicates itself as substance. If we picture what a thing is as a center and


how it appears as a sphere, then the radii are an image of its energy. God too has His own kind of energy, the effective and salvific presence of the Transcendent in the domain of the immanent. “Theophanis” is certainly no pantheist: the Divine Essence remains like an asymptote forever beyond our aspiration as creatures. Nevertheless we may participate fully in the Divine Substance and come to share in God’s powers through an assimilation of His holy energies. The nexus of this exchange is man’s heart, an exchange which begins when our own center moves toward coincidence with the center of God.

Tears, the fourth step, are a mark of this concentrical shift. Not just any tears, however: only those that are God-given. It is very important that we not confuse the “gift of tears”, as it is sometimes called, with ordinary sorrow or grief. Climbing the ladder means mastering the passions, including the self-pity, resentment, and anger which sometimes express themselves in crying. We are to become objective toward our ego, no longer controlled by its sentimental involvement in the shifting play of the world. Detach yourself from everything, says “Theophanis”. For without detachment nothing can be learnt. The tears of the ladder are not tears of selfish regret or refusal. On the contrary, they are the natural result of the ego’s liquefaction. As the radiant energy of God carries the heart’s warmth forward through the rest of our organism, the many layers of ice begin melting. We become the warm, soft water of our tears. The warmth is our fervor and longing for God; the softness is our yielding to the Divine influx; the water is the power of our new-found passivity.

The next pair of steps may be usefully treated as one, for they are two sides of a single coin: peace from thoughts and purging of the intellect. Notice that the peace is from thoughts of every kind. This is no power of positive thinking, which would simply replace bad or debilitating conceptions with good ones. The Hesychast follows a path leading beyond conception as such. By thoughts he means any product of discursive mentation, any recording of the impressions of sense and any abstraction therefrom or combination thereof. He knows that our waking life is dominated by the mental chatter that comes from the jostling and sorting of these impressions, images, ideas, and feelings, and that our so-called waking is therefore truly a dreaming. We are never simply now in the present, so fully occupied is our mind by the memory of what was and the idle hopes of what will be.

Against all of this must be placed an altogether different quality of attention, superintended by what the Christian East calls the nous or intellect. Unlike discursive thinking,


which proceeds sequentially with the information it has gleaned from the surface of things, the intellective or noetic faculty goes straight to their core, contemplating the inner logoi or essences of creatures by direct apprehension. Present in all of us but dormant in most, the intellect is first awakened and set into motion by the efforts of prayer and ascetic discipline. Once purged of the encrusting dross which surrounds it, the noetic faculty becomes in turn a purging or purifying force of its own. Cutting through the veils of forgetfulness and piercing to the world’s very marrow, it there discovers by recollection its own inward content. “For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

“Theophanis” has incorporated within his own ten-fold sequence a more common and better known distinction among three basic stages in the spiritual life: purification, illumination, and union. The first of these has been the subject of the poem to this point, beginning with purest prayer in step one and culminating with the purging of the intellect in step six. His aim has been to describe the indispensable initial work of repentance, a negative movement away from illusion and death. Now we begin glimpsing the positive results of that work, for the next three steps are all concerned in some way with vision and light, and thus with the second fundamental stage of illumination. There is a vision of heavenly mysteries, next the perception of unheard-of light, and then the illumination of the heart itself.

Now please understand, the mysteries which “Theophanis” has in view are not secret facts or formulas, nor is the fruit of his path a knowledge of celestial statistics. If one were foolish enough to be interested in dating the end of the world or in the names and properties of discarnate masters or in how many lives one might have lived before now—or in any of the other bits and pieces of occult information so often dangled before the curious and restless seekers of our day—one would have to go elsewhere. “Theophanis” has counseled detachment not only from what is senseless but from what seems intelligent, and this latter category doubtless includes much of what passes for spirituality in this so-called new age. He knows that a true mystery by definition exceeds the form of data, no matter how peculiar or enticing those data might be. The inner is always inner even in the midst of our seeing it. Etymology is important here: the term mystery comes from the Greek verb muo, which refers to a closing or shutting of the eyes and mouth. The vision of mysteries remains therefore a vision of mysteries, of realities which continue to elude even the innermost modalities of sensation and which cannot be adequately conveyed by any language. I might add that the Eastern Christian tradition regularly


uses the term mysteries to refer to its sacraments, especially the Eucharist. We are thus reminded that the spiritual ladder must be firmly positioned on a living faith before we even consider ascending it.

Whatever it is that one noetically envisions, the Hesychasts are unanimous about its being bathed in an extraordinary light. Indeed, the doctrine of the uncreated light is characteristic of their teaching. Once again we are using more than a metaphor. It is said that the light in question is objectively real, its model being the light of Christ’s transfiguration on Mount Tabor, when “His face shone as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). Being born from one’s vision ineffably, this dazzling darkness eclipses all description. And yet it is truly present, suffusing creation with the radiance of God, a sort of visible band in the spectrum of His holy energy. Intimately tied to our transformed perception of this light all about us, says our poet, there will come next a corresponding and complementary illumination within. Beyond all telling, this ninth step of the ladder admits man to a degree of Divine participation where he himself begins to shine with Christ’s glory. True to the maxim that like can be known only by like, the Hesychast strives by grace toward the moment when the body, now thoroughly steeped in God, bears witness in its own substance to the realities it has seen. The iconographical tradition of the halo or nimbus is no pious extravagance. Had we the eyes to see, we would realize that the true saint shines like the heaven he is.

And yet heaven is not enough. Heaven is a prison for the Sufi, say the mystics of Islam, for who wants the garden when there is also the Gardener? “Theophanis” agrees. There is more than illumination in the spiritual journey. We are not to rest satisfied with a contemplation of the splendor of God, nor with an appreciative spectator’s place in the Divine proximity, however joyful and permanent. A tenth step remains: a coinherence or union with the Supreme Reality itself. For as the Hesychast sees it, the only truly endless perfection is the perfection of what is intrinsically endless or infinite, namely, God. It is therefore into this Infinite that human nature will eventually be drawn at the very top of the ladder. Like God Himself, the top rung has no limit, even though its description may be compassed in a single line. The end of the way is in fact the beginning of an immeasurable advance into the Love that loves Love and in Love all things. Those of my readers who are familiar with Eastern Christian theology will recognize this as the Orthodox doctrine of theosis or deification, classically summed up in the Patristic formula “God became man that man might become God”. Salvation is not just the restoration of an


Edenic status quo. It is an unprecedented and unheard-of life, no longer restricted by the qualities and conditions of created existence in this present world. A reversion has taken place along the path of creation, a voluntary return of what we are into God. Two distinct circles remain, the human and the Divine, but their center is now the same.

I turn now as promised to a few, even briefer, comments on the remaining parts of the poem. The most important question the reader should be asking himself at this juncture is why there is a remainder at all. After scaling the summit of deification, the succeeding lines may seem tedious and anticlimactic. What is the author’s point? Why not stop, as he easily might have, with the highly charged first half of his efforts? Why all the imploration, admonition, and self- reproach of his conclusion?

To answer these questions, we need to consider a common feature of all Hesychast writing, common in fact to the Christian East as a whole, and that is its preference for the mystical way of negation. It is sometimes said that there are two distinct spiritual paths: the cataphatic way or way of affirmation and the apophatic way or way of negation. In the former, which is somewhat more typical of western theology, one approaches God by affirming His goodness in good things, His beauty in things that are beautiful, and His truth in all truths. God is the highest or greatest of beings, to whom creatures point through their positive qualities. In the negative way, by contrast, one approaches God by prescinding from all qualities or attributes, by denying that the Supreme Reality has anything whatsoever in common with this world. God is not created or finite, of course. Every theologian knows that. But neither is He even good with the goodness we know, nor wise in terms of earthly wisdom, nor indeed does He even exist by our measures. He is not the highest or greatest of beings, but superessentially beyond even being itself.

We have seen evidence of this apophaticism in the first part of “The Ladder”. The vision is a vision of mysteries, the Divine light is unheard-of, and the heart’s illumination is beyond all telling. In short, experience alone can teach these things, not talk. All language is reduced to stammering and silence when confronted by the experience of God. But the same thing is true of all our experiences. Which words are really sufficient for a rose or a friendship? Perception on every level of being is always more than the concepts describing it.

“Theophanis” is therefore obliged to go further, extending the range of negation and deepening its intensity. Do not deceive yourself, he continues. The full force of his imperative


will not be felt unless we have first admitted that our entire waking life is a web of delusion and vanity. Recall what I said earlier on the subject of thoughts. Try to attend to one thing alone, and we soon discover that our days are but daydreams. Whatever contact we may hope to have with absolute Truth will come only at the expense of all those idle hopes aroused by our present, passion-laden experience. This does not mean that we should despair of making any progress toward God, believing ourselves condemned to a sort of total depravity. The apophatic path is still a path, and the poet is quick in counseling us to make every effort to find the Truth in this present world. It should be understood, however, that this last phrase is adverbial, not adjectival; it modifies man’s endeavors toward finding, not the Truth found. For the Supreme Reality is beyond even more than our personal experience. It transcends the entire cosmic order. What we shall find when we find it is a wealth the world cannot contain. The author means what he says: if you wish to enter God, you must detach yourself from everything.

Understanding this stress on negation should help considerably when it comes to making sense of the concluding parts of “The Ladder”. The poet’s vivid expressions of unworthiness may at first seem excessive. We are told that “Theophanis” is indolent, hard of heart, and void of all these graces; that he is presumptuous in having dared to write on so sublime a subject and is therefore deserving of the fate of the Biblical Uzzah, who was killed for touching the ark of God (2 Sam. 6:6-7); and finally that he is worthy only of words that condemn himself, an example of utter fruitlessness. Surely, one feels, this very eloquent monk cannot have been quite such a villain! And then, making matters perhaps even more indigestible, there are the threats of boundless panic. A note of terror is sounded by the author’s fearful warnings, which he deliberately intends to strike us harshly and to inspire our dread. What is going on here? Is this pious sentimentality? Is the author following some ancient stylistic precedent? Is he just trying to scare us?

Our answer in each case must be no. One must admit that the poem could be read this way and that it is easy to be put off by its seeming platitudes and fire-and-brimstone exhortations. Such a reading, however, would be quite mistaken. A man who understands so precisely the pure science of prayer, who is subtle enough to distinguish between illumination and light, and who from his own wrestling with thoughts can speak so powerfully about the limits of language is surely aware of what we ourselves can see so clearly. We all know from our own not-so-subtle experience that terror and panic are emotions belonging to the hardened, not


the liquefied, heart. They are measures of the ego’s continuing eccentricity in relation to God, the result of its congenital complicity in a world that will finally disappoint every one of us. In Hesychast terms, such passions are simply more thoughts, more psychic chatter. “Theophanis” cannot possibly be construed as encouraging them. Nor can he have failed to see that insofar as someone recognizes his fruitlessness, he cannot be utterly fruitless. The poet is well aware that the ego has a way of feeding even on abjection and self-condemnation, of being proud of its sin. When he refers to himself as the first among those who are hard of heart, it would therefore be absurd to imagine that he expects us to think we are his rightful superiors.

Only the negative way can make sense of these puzzling expressions; both the self- reproaches and the warnings require transposing into an apophatic key. It is helpful to recall the anonymity of the poet. The compilers of The Philokalia have recorded a name, or at least a pen name, but that is all. In reading the “Ladder”, we are not listening to a particular individual whose biography might be used in checking the accuracy of his judgments. We are listening to a voice which the accidents of history have now rendered impersonal, according perhaps to its own design: the voice, as I proposed earlier, of the spiritual search itself, the inward cry of every man’s longing for God. I suggested that the author’s name should be seen as a symbol, and I can now be more precise about that symbol’s significance. “Theophanis the Monk” is not such and such an ego. He is the ego as such—the principle of limitation, individuation, and self- forgetfulness in each of us.

With this in mind, his estimate of himself becomes perfectly intelligible. He is indeed void of all graces, not just in fact but in principle. For measured against the Supreme Reality at the top of the ladder, the ego is even less than unworthy; it is a virtual void, a centrifugal tendency toward the “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12) of destruction and the root of blind and fruitless craving, and its mortification is essential to our seeing that God is the only true center. Competition with the Divine is never more than illusion.

The promises of terror and the fearful warnings can be interpreted along similar lines. I have singled out the words terror and panic as signs of a purely emotional and ego-centric attachment. But suppose we read them instead in conjunction with two of the poem’s other terms: fear and dread. Fear is often just a passion itself, of course, a feeling of malaise, consternation, or anxiety, and as such it too must be excluded from the soul of the man who is seeking peace from thoughts. But in an older and deeper sense, fear signifies awe. Rather than a


subjective and blood-freezing fright, it points us toward an objective and liberating wonder. No mere reactive emotion, this kind of fear is a real organ for perception and participation in God. Let us not expunge the common sense meaning of the poet’s words. Doubtless there will come a day of sheer panic for those who in this life did not ponder always on these things and did not by a serious spiritual effort grow accustomed to the daily death of desire. But for those who did, the holy fear of awe will be among the blessings promised. Far from something they might wish to escape, the exquisite joy of dread will be offered as one of the rewards of their way, a delicious fruit of all the books.

The true seeker knows from repeated experience that the negation of a negation is something wondrously positive. “Theophanis” is not trying to frighten us or force our submission to a sectarian ideology. On the contrary, with a precise and carefully selected dialectical language, he is simply describing what makes it possible to climb the ladder: the negations are nothing but the spaces between the rungs. And he is showing us, from the point of view of the ego he “is”, what must inevitably happen as one moves through these spaces: how the many layers of ambition and cowardice and resentment and greed and smugness and torpor are each in turn stripped away and the naked soul is ushered, beyond all possibility, into the heart of the living God.

May each of us be granted the grace and the strength so to climb.


Re evaluating the 20 per cent

The Pew Poll that 20%  of Americans have no religious preference shocked people.  But I truly believe it needs to be rephrased.  Wording in polls, after all,  is key.  But this poll still captured my interest. I just had a hunch  this was,  like most polls, a semantic  significance,  so  I informally talked to my own  soldiers at my annual  training as we had talks with  “chappie” over coffee et alia.  Mind you,  I WAS NOT proselytizing (as this is verboten now, but we can  always talk matters of faith). I just love talking to my soldiers. Service members are a true cross section  of culture.  Soldiers don’t mince words when talking to me. They  will cuss like they  are sailors,  say  they’re sorry and progress to tell me the BLUF, bottom line up front. They  will honestly  tell you  exactly what they  feel or think.  Kind  of like your older relatives, who have reached twilight years and  who  open  their mouth  and will tell you exactly what they  think of “aunt Betty”  or “uncle Ralph.”

Universally what I saw was not as dismal  as prognosticated. While they certainly did not identify with  a particular faith group,  they  did affirm  the essential  concept of the Christian dogma  that God is love.  This is the Person  they  said they  believed in.  Not a Jewish  conception or Muslim or Christian, but still affirmed God’s essence as love.  So  invariably, I would ask  the service member  how they  thought Christian  teaching related to this love. What I observed was  there was a disconnect between  this concept of love and the dogma of the Church and worship. Many knew Bible facts,  but few of how they  fit together in this scheme of love,  which,  after all, is the whole purpose of the Law and Prophets. So  I was afforded the rare pleasure of talking with some folks, sometimes for hours,  about how mercy and truth are met together.

 Atheists are not moral  reprobrates.  They  are genuinely sincere people

Now let me swing to the atheist discussions.  Atheists are not moral  reprobrates.  They  are genuinely sincere people, for the most part, who  have legitimate concerns with organized religion as such.  So  one particlar officer  said, “chappie  I am  an atheist.  I believe in Newtonian  physics.”  Of course,  this is alright with me.  He then saw morality as following a Newtonian  sense that every (moral) action  has an equal and opposite reaction.  Wow, who can resist seeing the thoughtfulness here? This led to a long discussion  about the nature of love, and on a deeper level, in Orthodox theology,  the divine energies.  By the end,  he was wanting to visit church for a liturgy.  He saw how faith  and science intersect.

Let’s go further down the atheist road.  This member was a devout Christian,  then abandoned his faith  for just a raw militant  spaghetti monster style faith,  Richard Dawkin’s style.  He is open about the apparent contradictions in the Old Testament and the seeming barbarity of it.  Do we dismiss these arguments?  Or can  we say  we reason  together with them,  like Prophet Isaiah said to do?  I took him  back to the maxim,  God is love. He affirmed it,  but could not make sense of the stuff in between. We had a nice cup of coffee together and talked about this.  He attended my service the next day  and we had a great discussion  about the nature of revelation  and it’s record in the Old Testament.  Now he is still an atheist, or as he puts it now,  quasi  agnostic,  but he sees I am  not just following something blindly,  and he is open to  possibilities.

Love alone is credible. Cardinal  Balthasar

This all led me back  to an interesting set of essays by Cardinal Balthasar that love alone is credible.  The universal  belief of all those I talked with, who  said they  had no religion,  was exactly that.  The Christian  message is still in our culture, it just needs to  be connected to dogma, namely, the conscience of the Church, and liturgy,  the worship  of the Church.  So I remain optimistic.  The 20% are just honestly trying to find  where the expression  of what they  already believe,  that God is love,  and alone credible,  lies.  This presents a challenge; belief and ethics, faith and works, must coexist in a community. May  I, as a pastor,  be shepherding with  this  in mind.

Commandments in the New Testament, Part two

This is not a legalistic list,  but they are actual commands scattered in the NT.  For the sake of readability, I have opted to use the English  here.  A goal  I have  is to compile a comprehensive list so that as confessors, and sinners ourselves,  we can  be more circumspect.  After all, we sin in word, thought, deed  in ignorance and presumption.  All the hesychastic  prayer in the world does not help us if we are not walking in the law of the Lord, if we are not repenting (“if I regard iniquity in their heart YOU WILL NOT HEAR.”).

Thirty “Be Not’s”:

1. Be not like the hypocrites in prayer (Matthew 6:5)

2. Be not like the heathen in prayer (Matthew 6:8)

3. Be not as hypocrites in fasting (Matthew 6:16)

4. Be not called “Rabbi” (Matthew 23:8)

5. Be not called “Master” (Matthew 23:9)

6. Be not afraid of man (Luke 12:4)

7. Be not of doubtful mind (Luke 12:29)

8. Be not many teachers (James 3:1)

9. Be not afraid of terror (1 Peter 3:14)

10.Be not troubled (1 Peter 3:14)

11. Be not ignorant of time with God (2 Peter 3:8; cp. Isaiah 57:15)

12. Be not deceived: 10 classes not to inherit the kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-10)

13. Be not conformed to world (Romans 12:2)

14. Be not slothful in business (Romans 12:11)

15. Be not conceited (Romans 12:16)

16. Be not overcome of evil (Romans 12:21)

17. Be not mere servants of men (1 Cor. 7:23)

18. Be not children in understanding (1 Cor. 14:20)

19. Be not deceived by evil companions (1 Cor. 15:33)

20. Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-15)

21. Be not entangled again with keeping the law (Galatians 5:1)

22. Be not deceived: man will reap what he sows (Galatians 6:7-8)

23. Be not partakers with sinners (Ephes. 5:7)

24. Be not unwise about God’s will (Ephes. 5:17)

25. Be not drunk with wine (Ephes. 5:18)

26. Be not weary in well doing (2 Thes. 3:13)

27. Be not ashamed of God (2 Tim. 1:8)

28. Be not slothful (Hebrews 6:12)

29. Be not forgetful of strangers (Hebrews 13:2)

30. Be not carried about with different strange doctrines (Hebrews 13:9)

Four things to believe:

1. The gospel (Mark 1:15)

2. God’s existence (Hebrews 11:6)

3. On Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23)

4. God rewards diligent seeking (Hebrews 11:6).

One thing not to believe: 

Believe not every spirit (1 John 4:1).

 Fourteen “Beware’s”:

1. Beware of false prophets (Matthew 7:15)

2. Beware of people (Matthew 10:17)

3. Beware of leaven (doctrine) of Pharisees (Matthew 16:6-12)

4. Beware of leaven (doctrine) of Herod (Mark 8:15)

5. Beware of hypocrisy (Luke 12:1)

6. Beware of covetousness (Luke 12:15)

7. Beware of scribes (Mark 12:38; Luke 20:46)

8. Beware of lest you despise God and perish (Acts 13:40-41)

9. Beware of dogs (false teachers, Phil. 3:2; Isaiah 56:10)

10.    Beware of evil workers (Phil. 3:2)

11.    Beware of the concision (Jews, Phil. 3:2)

12.    Beware of being spoiled through philosophy (Col. 2:8)

13.    Beware of being spoiled through vain deceit (Col. 2:8)

14.    Beware of backsliding (2 Peter 3:17)

Two classes to bless:

1. Those who curse you (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:28)

2. Persecutors (Romans 12:14)

Three things to cast out or away:

1. The beam out of own eyes (Matthew 7:5; Luke 6:42)

2. Devils (Matthew 10:8)

3. All your cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7)

One thing not to cast away:

Your confidence in God (Hebrews 10:35)

Five things to charge:

1. Men to be blameless (1 Tim. 5:7)

2. The rich to be humble (1 Tim. 6:17)

3. The rich to trust in God (1 Tim. 6:17)

4. The rich to do good works (1 Tim. 6:18)

5. The rich to lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim. 6:19)

Two classes to comfort:

1. One another—fellow Christians (1 Thes. 4:18; 1 Thes. 5:11)

2. The feeble-minded (1 Thes. 5:14)

Five things to consider:

1. The ravens (Luke 12:24)

2. The lilies (Luke 12:27-28)

3. Truth (2 Tim. 2:7)

4. That you are capable of falling (Galatians 6:1)

5. Christ (Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 12:3)

Three things to continue in:

1. Love (John 15:9)

2. Prayer (Romans 12:12; Col. 4:2)

3. Truth (2 Tim. 3:14)

Two things to covet:

1. The best gifts (1 Cor. 12:31)

2. To prophesy (1 Cor. 14:39); cp. things not to covet (Exodus 20:17; Deut. 5:21)

Ten “Do’s”:

1. Do good to them that hate you (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27)

2. Do to others what you expect of them (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31)

3. Do violence to no man (Luke 3:14)

4. Do good (Luke 6:35; Romans 13:3)

5. Do this (put God first) and live (Luke 10:28)

6. Do all to God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17,23)

7. Do all things without murmuring and disputing (Phil. 2:14)

8. Do those things which were seen and heard in me (Paul, Phil. 4:9)

9. Do your own business (1 Thes. 4:11)

10. Do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5)

Ten “Do Not’s”:

1. Do not alms before people (Matthew 6:1)

2. Do not sound trumpet before you when giving alms (Matthew 6:2)

3. Do not do works of Pharisees (Matthew 23:3-33)

4. Do not love in word only (1 John 3:18)

5. Do not give heed to fables (1 Tim. 1:4)

6. Do not give heed to genealogies (1 Tim. 1:4)

7. Do not err (James 1:16)

8. Do not commit adultery (James 2:11)

9. Do not kill (James 2:11)

10.    Do not fashion self according to former lusts (1 Peter 1:14)

Two things to endure:

1. Hardness (2 Tim. 2:3)

2. Sufferings (2 Tim. 4:5)

Whom to fear: God

(Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5; 1 Peter 2:17; Rev. 14:7)

Three things not to fear:

1. Man (Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5)

2. Persecutors (Matthew 10:26)

3. No lack of provision (Matthew 10:31; Mark 6:8-9; Luke 12:7)

Five things to feed:

1. Enemies (Romans 12:20)

2. Lambs (John 21:15)

3. Sheep (John 21:16,17)

4. Flock of God (1 Peter 5:2)

5. The church (Acts 20:28)

Four things to flee from:

1. Fornication (1 Cor. 6:18)

2. Idolatry (1 Cor. 10:14)

3. Hurtful lusts (1 Tim. 6:9-11)

4. Youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22)

Ten things to follow:

1. Christ (Matthew 4:19; Matthew 8:22; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:23;          John 21:19)

2. Love (1 Cor. 14:1; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22)

3. Good (1 Thes. 5:15; 3 John 1:11)

4. Righteousness (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22)

5. Godliness (1 Tim. 6:11)

6. Faith (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22)

7. Patience (1 Tim. 6:11)

8. Meekness (1 Tim. 6:11)

9. Peace (2 Tim. 2:22; Hebrews 12:14)

10.Holiness (Hebrews 12:14)

New Testament Commands, Part one

Lent  is a time of reflection.  Here is a partial  list of some of the explicit commands of the New Testament.  It is said there were 613 mosaic laws.  The New Testament has 1050 exhortations  on how to order our life;  they are specific applications of the command to love God and our neighbor. As we will see,  they presuppose divine grace in the heart enabling us to obey the Lord.  One caveat;  this list is borrowed.  I will update this in the future, God willing,  with a list  organized from  an Orthodox perspective and based on the original  text.

Seven “Abstains”—Abstain From:

1. Idols (Acts 15:20) 

2. Fornication (Acts 15:20,29; 1 Thes. 4:2-3) 

3. Strangled meats (Acts 15:20)

4. Eating blood (Acts 15:20)

5. Meats offered to idols (Acts 15:29) 

6. All appearance of evil (1 Thes. 5:22) 

7. Fleshly lusts (1 Peter 2:11)

Seven things to avoid:

1. Troublemakers (Romans 16:17) 

2. Profane and vain babblings (1 Tim. 6:20) 

3. False science (1 Tim. 6:20) 

4. Unlearned questions (2 Tim. 2:23) 

5. Foolish questions (Titus 3:9) 

6. Genealogies (Titus 3:9) 

7. Arguments about the law (Titus 3:9)

Three “Asks”:

1. Ask and ye shall receive (Matthew 7:7) 

2. Ask no return of goods (Luke 6:30) 

3. Ask life for backsliders (1 John 5:16)

Two things to awake to:

1. Awake to righteousness (1 Cor. 15:34) 

2. Awake to life (Ephes. 5:14)

Seventy-four “Be’s”:

1. Be exceeding glad (Matthew 5:12) 

2. Be reconciled to a brother (Matthew 5:24) 

3. Be perfect (Matthew 5:48; 2 Cor. 13:11)

4. Be wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16) 

5. Be harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16) 

6. Be ready for Christ’s coming (Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40) 

7. Be content with your wages (Luke 3:14) 

8. Be merciful as God (Luke 6:36) 

9. Be like faithful servants (Luke 12:36) 

10.    Be thankful (Col. 3:15) 

11.    Be at peace among selves (1 Thes. 5:13) 

12.    Be patient toward all people (1 Thes. 5:14; 2 Tim. 2:24) 

13.    Be no partaker of sin (1 Tim. 5:22) 

14. Be sober and hope (1 Peter 1:13) 

15. Be sober and pray (1 Peter 4:7) 

16. Be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, charity, and patience (aged men, Titus 2:2) 

17. Be sober, love husbands and children (young women, Titus 2:4) 

18. Be sober minded (young men, Titus 2:6) 

19. Be in behavior as becoming to saints (aged women, Titus 2:3) 

20. Be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient (young women, Titus 2:5) 

21. Be ready to give an answer of the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15) 

22. Be of good cheer (John 16:33) 

23. Be baptized (Acts 2:38) 

24. Be converted (Acts 3:19) 

25. Be transformed (Romans 12:2) 

26. Be kind of brotherly love one to another (Romans 12:10; Ephes. 4:32) 

27. Be fervent in spirit (Romans 12:11) 

28. Be patient in tribulation (Romans 12:12)

29. Be given to hospitality (Romans 12:13) 

30. Be afraid, if lawless (Romans 13:4) 

31. Be no idolater (1 Cor. 10:7) 

32. Be followers of Paul as he followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17) 

33. Be followers of God (Ephes. 5:1) 

34. Be followers of the faithful and patient (Hebrews 6:12) 

35. Be children in malice (1 Cor. 14:20) 36. Be men in understanding (1 Cor. 14:20) 

37. Be stedfast (1 Cor. 15:58) 

38.    Be unmoveable (1 Cor. 15:58) 

39. Be always abounding in God’s work (1 Cor. 15:58) 

40. Be strong in the Lord (1 Cor. 16:13; Ephes. 6:10; 2 Tim. 2:1) 

41. Be of good comfort (2 Cor. 13:11) 

42. Be of one mind (Romans 12:16; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 2:2; 1 Peter 3:8) 

43. Be separate from the unclean (2 Cor. 6:17) 

44. Be renewed in spirit (Ephes. 4:23) 

45. Be angry and sin not (Ephes. 4:26)

46. Be tenderhearted one to another (Ephes. 4:32) 47. Be filled with the Spirit (Ephes. 5:18) 48.    Be likeminded (Phil. 2:2) 49. Be one of accord (Phil. 2:2)

50. Be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6) 

51. Be an example to believers in word, conversation, charity, spirit, faith, and purity (1

Tim. 4:12) 

52. Be a partaker of Christian sufferings (2 Tim. 1:8; cp. 1 Peter 4:1) 

53. Be gentle to all people (2 Tim. 2:24) 

54. Be apt to teach (2 Tim. 2:24) 

55. Be instant in season, out of season (2 Tim. 4:2) 

56. Be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8,14; cp. Matthew 5:16) 

57. Be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5) 

58. Be doers of the Word (James 1:22) 

59. Be afflicted and mourn (James 4:9) 

60. Be patient till Christ comes (James 5:7-8) 

61. Be holy in conversation (behavior) (1 Peter 1:15-16) 

62. Be pitiful (1 Peter 3:8) 

63. Be courteous (1 Peter 3:8) 

64. Be examples of the flock of God, not lord over it (1 Peter 5:3) 

65. Be subject one to another (1 Peter 5:5) 

66. Be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5) 

67. Be sober (1 Peter 5:8) 

68. Be vigilant (1 Peter 5:8)

69. Be mindful of prophecies and commandments (2 Peter 3:2) 

70. Be diligent to be found in peace (2 Peter 3:14) 

71. Be diligent to be without spot, and blameless (2 Peter 3:14) 

72. Be faithful to death (Rev. 2:10) 

73. Be watchful, strengthen self (Rev. 3:2) 

74. Be zealous and repent (Rev. 3:19)



Perpetual Pascha

I realize Pascha is a month (!) away.  Yet this is a thought I had last year and I like to recycle.

Christ is Risen! This is our joyful proclamation, but the celebratory exclaim soon starts losing it’s vigor and meaning for us. In fact, the Sunday after Pascha is Thomas Sunday. We doubt the resurrection, as Thomas did, and so the Church reads this gospel to reinforce our faith. After all, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Pascha however, is meant to be lived or rather experienced every day, not just once a year. We shouldn’t allow the Paschal light to be blown out in our lives and then  wait till next year to  think about this unwaning light. The Risen Lord has made this Communion with Him possible. How? Well, we need to ask ourselves what did the Resurrection of Christ do and how do we share in it?

The Purpose of the Resurrection

Humanity, because of Adam’s sin, was placed under the sway of the evil one. As St. John  says,  “the whole world  lies in the wicked one.” Christ’s resurrection delivers us however from this power and gives us His personal Presence.
Just as Moses led the people  through the Red Sea and swallowed up  Pharoah,  so  Christ as the true Moses, leader,  passes us through  the floods of God’s judgment  and  swallows up  the adverse powers, the devil,  as He did Pharoah.
He proceeds to  bring us into the Promised Land.

We can experience this delivering power every moment in our lives when we surrender to Him.   Pharoah, the devil,  is swallowed up in victory, as death  was,  when  we like the Israelites follow  the Head of God’s people and walk  with Him.
When we obey the liturgy, “let us commit ourselves and one other and our whole lives to Christ our God,” then we enter into communion with Christ and experience His power to deliver us from sin and our passions.

Pascha should be perpetual- He has trampled down death by death. Do we submit our selves to the King of Kings and allow Him to trample down death in our own hearts and desires? Truly the Lord is Risen! Truly He is the Lord. Let’s not let the light of the Resurrection wane in our lives.

Getting to the Root of the Problem


Do you ever feel like like spiritual  advice equates with  the proverbial  doctor saying “take two and call me in the morning”?  Sometimes  it amounts to mere moralisms and does not address the root problem. This requires self knowledge.  St.  Gregory Palamas, the defender of 14th century inner stillness, constantly quoted  Moses’ admonition “Pay attention to your self.”  When  we observe our faults St. Gregory reasoned,  then we ultimately will see the genetic relation  between vices and virtues. And we will go beyond just seeing the branches on the tree but understand why, at least in measure,  we do what we do. Just trimming the weeds in the garden  does no good; they  need to be uprooted.

The genetics of sin

Evagrios Ponticus  lists the root sin  as selfishness.

The first thought of all is that of love of self (philautia); after this [come] the eight” (skemmata,7)

All sin can  be rightly understood as selfishness. Pleasure as opposed to pleasing God, and by relation my neighbor. Yes,  the biblical  definition is “sin is the transgression of the Law.” Yet, the fulfillment is love. “Love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Eight branches to the tree;  eight  logismoi,  thoughts.  Reproduced below is the text of Evagrios on the eight thoughts.

1. OF the demons opposing the ascetical life [pratiké], those standing in the first [wave] for combat are:

[1] those entrusted with the appetites of gluttony,

[2] those that inspire us to love money, and

[3] those that entice us to seek human glory.

[p.148]1.Τῶν ἀντικειμένων δαιμόνων τῇ πρακτικῇ, πρῶτοι κατὰ τὸν πόλεμον συνίστανται

οἱ τὰς τῆς γαστριμαργίας ὀρέξεις πεπιστευμέοι,

καὶ οἱ τὴν φιλαργυρίαν ἡμῖν ὑποβάλλοντες,

καὶ οἱ πρὸς τὴν τῶν ἀνθρώπων δόξαν ἡμᾶς ἐκκαλούμενοι.

All the rest march behind and receive the wounded whom these three pass along to them.

Οἱ δ’ ἄλλοι πάντες κατόπιν τούτων βαδίζοντες, τοὺς ὑπὸ τούτων [79.1201a] τιτρωσκομένους διαδ́εχονται.

[1] For it is impossible to fall into the spirit of adultery, unless one has succumbed to gluttony;

[2] it is impossible to be agitated by anger, unless one covets and fights for food, or money, or fame;

Οὐκ ἔστι γὰρ ἐμπεσεῖν εἰς χεῖρας τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς πορνείας, μὴ ὑπὸ τῆς γαστριμαργίας καταπεσόντα·

καὶ οὐκ ἔστι ταράξαι θυμὸν, μὴ ὑπὲρ βρωμάτων ἢ χρημάτων, ἢ δόξης ἀλόγων ἐπιθυμιῶν μαχόμενον·

[3] and it is impossible to avoid the demon of sadness, unless one has been deprived of all he wants to obtain;

[4] nor is it possible to escape pride, this first offspring of the devil, unless one has uprooted the love of money… the root of all evil (1Tim. 6.10); since Poverty brings a man low according to the wise Solomon, (Prov.10:4).

καὶ οὐκ ἔστι τὸν τῆς λύπης δαίμονα διαφυγεῖν, τούτων πάντων στερηθέντα, ἢ μὴ δυνηθέντα τυχεῖν·

οὐδὲ ἀποφεύξεται τὴν ὑπερηφανίαν τις, τὸ πρῶτον γέννημα τοῦ διαβόλου, μὴ τὴν τῶν κακῶν ῥίζαν ἐξορίσας φιλαργυρίαν, εἴπερ καὶ πενία ἄνδρα ταπεινοῖ, κατὰ τὸν σοφὸν Σολομῶντα·

In other words, it is impossible for a man to fall under the power of any demon, unless he is first wounded by the three of the first wave.

 [p.152] καὶ συλλήβδην ἐιπεῖν, οὐκ ἔστιν ἄνθρωπον περιπεσεῖν δαίμονι, μὴ πρότερον ὑπ’ ἐκείνων τῶν πρωτοστατῶν κατατρωθέντα,

THIS is why the devil suggested these three [tempting-]thoughts to the Lord (Mt 4:3, ff):

[1] the first, when he suggested that stones should become bread;

[2] the second, when he promised the whole world, if [the Lord] would fall down and worship him;

[3] and the third, when he said that if he would listen to him he would be glorified, suffering no harm from his fall [from the Temple].

διὸ καὶ τοὺς τρεῖς τούτους λογισμοὺς ὁ διάβολος τότε τῷ Σωτῆρι προσήγαγε. [Mt 4:3, ff]

Πρῶτον μὲν τοὺς λίθους,[79.1200b] ἄρτους γενέσθαι παρακαλῶν,

ἔπειτα δὲ τὸν κόσμον ὅλον ἐπαγγελλόμενος εἰ πεσὼν προσκυνήσει·

καὶ τρίτον εἰ ἀκούσοι δοξασθήσεσθαι λέγων, μηδὲν ἐκ τοῦ τηλικούτου πτώματος πεπονθότα,

But our Lord, showing himself to be above this, commanded the devil to get behind him (cf. Mat. 4:1-10), showing us by this that it not possible to banish the devil unless we depise these three [tempting-]thoughts.

ὧν, ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν κρείττων φανεὶς, εἰς τοὐπίσω τῷ διαβόλῳ χωρεῖν προσέταττε, διὰ τούτων καὶ ἡμᾶς διδάσκων, ὡς οὐκ ἔστιν ἀπώσασθαι τὸν διάβολον, μὴ τῶν τριῶν τούτων καταφρονήσαντας λογισμῶν.



 2.  ALL the [tempting-] thoughts of demonic origin introduce into the soul concepts of sensory concerns[“objects”]: because of this the nous, stamped with the imprint of these concerns, carries them about within itself; and [so]from the concern itself it [can] henceforth recognize the approaching demon.

[p.154] 2. Πάντες οἱ δαιμονιώδεις λογισμοὶ, νοήματα εἰς τὴν ψυχὴν αἰσθητῶν πραγμάτων εἰσφέρουσιν, ἐν οἱς τυπούμενος ὁ νοῦς τὰς μορφὰς τῶν πραγμάτων ἐκείνων ἐν ἑαυτῷ περιφέρει, καὶ ἀπ ᾿αὐτοῦ τοῦ πράγματος λοιπὸν ἐπιγινώσκει τὸν προσεγγίσαντα δαίμονα·

For example, if the face of a person who has done me harm or insulted me appears in my mind (dianoia), I recognize the approach of the [tempting-]thought of memory of injury. Or if there arises a memory of possessions or of esteem, we will recognize from the concern which [demon] is troubling us. And it is the same with other [tempting-]thoughts: from the [mental] concern we can discover which demon stands beside us, suggesting the representation (fantasia) to us.

[79.1201c] οἰον, εἰ τοῦ ζημιώσαντός με, καὶ ἀτιμασαντός με ἐν τῇ διανοίᾳ μου τὸ πρόσωπον γένοιτο, ἐλέγχεται ὁ τῆς μνησικακίας παραβαλὼν λογισμός. Εἰ πάλιν χρημάτων, ἢ δόξης ἀνάμνησις γένοιτο, ἐκ τοῦ πράγματος δῆλον ὅτι ὁ θλίβων ἡμᾶς ἐπιγνωσθήσεται· καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων δὲ λογισμῶν ὡσαύτως, ἀπὸ τοῦ πράγματος εὑρήσεις τὸν παρεστῶτα, καὶ ὑποβαλλοντα τὰς φαντασίας δαίμονα.

I do not say that all memories of such concerns [“objects”]come from the demons; for when the intellect is activated by man it is its nature to bring forth the representation(fantasia) of past events.

Οὐ πάσας δὲ τὰς μνήμας τῶν τοιούτων πραγμάτων ἐκ δαιμόνων λέγω συμβαίνειν· ἐπειδὴ πέφυκε καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ νοῦς κινούμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τῶν γεγονότων ἀναφέρειν τὰς φαντασίας,

But all thoughts producing indignation (thumos) or desire(epithumia) in a way that is contrary to nature [are caused by demons].  For through disturbance of these two powers thenous mentally commits adultery and becomes incensed, and is no longer able to welcome in itself the representation (fantasia) of its [divine] lawgiver:

 [p.156] ἀλλ ᾿ ὅσαι τῶν μνημῶν θυμὸν, ἢ ἐπιθυμίαν παρὰ φύσιν συνεπισπῶνται. Διὰ γὰρ τὴν ταραχὴν τῶν δύο δυνάμεων τούτων, ὁ νοῦς κατὰ διάνοιαν μοιχεύει, καὶ μάχεται τοῦ νομοθετήσαντος [79.1201d] αὐτὸν θεοῦ τὴν φαντασίαν ἀναδέξασθαι μὴ δυνάμενος,.

for such luminosity only appears in the mind (hegimonikon)with the deprival of all conceptions (noemata) of objects[“concerns”] at the time of prayer.

εἴπερ ἡ λαμπρότης ἐκείνη κατὰ στέρησιν πάντων τῶν ἐν τοῖς πράγμασι νοημάτων ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τῆς προσευχῆς τῷ ἡγεμονικῷ παραφαίνεται.



3. A PERSON cannot drive away impassioned memories unless he watches over his desire and indignation:

[1] destroying the one [i.e. desire] with fasting, vigils and sleeping on the ground; and

[2] taming the other [indignation] by patient endurance, forgetfulness of injury, and almsgiving. 

3. Οὐκ ἄν ἀπόθοιτο τὰς ἐμπαθεῖς μνήμας ὁ ἄνθρωπος, μὴ ἐπιθυμίας, καὶ θυμοϋ ἐπιμέλειαν ποιησάμενος,

τὴν μὲν [p.158] νηστείαις, ἀγρυπνίαις, καὶ χαμευνείαις καταναλώσας,

τὸν δὲ μακροθυμίαις, καὶ ἀμνησικακίαις, καὶ ἐλεημοσύναις καθημερώσας

For with these two passions are connected almost all the demonic [tempting-]thoughts that lead the nous to disaster and destruction(1Tim 6:9)

· ἐκ γὰρ τῶν δύο τούτων παθῶν πάντες σχεδὸν οἱ δαιμονιώδεις συνίστανται λογισμοὶ οἱ τὸν νοῦν ἐμβάλλοντες εὶς ὅλεθρον, καὶ ἀπώλειαν.

 IT is impossible to overcome these passions unless we can rise above attachment to food and possessions, to esteem, and even to our own body, through which the demons often attempt to attack us.

[79.1204A]   Ἀδύνατον δέ τινα τῶν παθῶν τούτων περιγενέσθαι, μὴ παντελῶς βρωμάτων καὶ χρημάτων, καὶ δόξης ὑπεριδόντα, ἔτι δὲ καὶ τοῦ ἰδίου σώματος διὰ τοὺς ῥαπίζειν αὐτὸ πολλάκις ἐπιχειροῦντας·

It is essential, then, to imitate people who are in danger at sea and throw things overboard because of the violence of the winds and the threatening waves. But here we must be very careful in case we cast things overboard just to be seen doing so by men. For then we shall get the reward we want; but we shall suffer another shipwreck, worse than the first, blown off our course by the contrary wind of the demon of self-esteem.

Πᾶσα οὖν ἀνάγκη μιμεῖσθαι τοὺς κινδυνεύοτας, εν θαλάττη, καὶ τῶν σκευῶν ἐκβολὴν ποιουμένους διὰ τὴν βίαν τῶν ἀνεμων καὶ τῶν ἐπανισταμένων κυμάτων.  Ἀλλ’ ἐνταῦθα προσεκτέον ἀκριβῶς, [p.158] μή πως ἐκβολὴν ποιούμενοι τῶν σκευῶν, πρὸς τὸ θεαθεῖναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ποίσωμεν· ἐπεὶ ἀπέχομεν τὸν μισθὸν ἡμῶν, καὶ ἄλλο τοῦ προτέρου χαλεπώτερον διδέξεται ἡμᾶς ναυάγιον, τοῦ τῆς κενοδοξίας ἡμῖν ἀντιπνεύσαντος δαίμονος. ´.

That is why our Lord, instructing the intellect, our helmsman, says in the Gospels: ‘Take heed that you do not give alms in front of others, to be seen by them; for unless you take heed, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. ‘ Again, He says: `When you pray, you must not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in synagogues and at street- corners, so as to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they get the reward they want […]Moreover when you fast, do not put on a gloomy face, like the hypocrites; for they disfigure their faces, so that they may be seen by men to be  fasting. Truly I say to you, they get the reward they want’ (cf. Mt. 6: 1- 18).

Διὸ καὶ ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν ἐν τοῖς Εὐαγγελίοις, τὸν κυβερνήτην νοῦν παιδεύων, [79.1204b] ̧ προσέχετε, φασὶν, τὴν ἐλημοσύνην ἡμῶν μὴ ποιεῖν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων πρὸς τὸ θεαθεῖναι αὐτοῖς, εἰ δὲ μήγε μισθ̀ον οὐκ ἔχετε παρὰ τῷ Πατὶ ὑμῶν τῷ ἐν τοὶς οὐρανοῖς. ς  Καὶ πάλιν· ̧ Ὅταν προσεύχησθε, φησὶν, οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ, ὅτι φιλοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς, καὶ ἐν ταῖς γωνίαις τῶν πλατειῶν ἑστῶτες προσεύχεσθαι, ὅπως φανῶσι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὅτι ἀπέχουσι τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν. ς  Καὶ πάλιν λέγει·̧  Ὅταν νηστεύητε, μὴ γίνεσθε, ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ σκυθρωποὶ· ἀφανίζουσι γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν, ὅπως φανῶσι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.ς

BUT observe how the Physician of souls here:

[1] through acts of mercy [medically] treats our irascibility;

[2] through prayer purges the nous;

[3] and through fasting causes desire to atrophy.

  Ἀλλὰ προσεκτέον ἐνταῦθα τῷ ἰατρῷ τῶν ψυχῶν, [79.1204c] πῶς

̈διὰ μὲν τῆς ἐλεημοσύνης τὸν θυμὸν θεραπεύει,

διὰ δὲ τῆς προσευχῆς τὸν νοῦν καθαρίζει, [p.162] 

καὶ πάλιν διὰ τῆς νηστείας τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν καταμαραίνει,̈

FROM these [virtues] the new man is formed, renewed according to the image of his Creator (Gal. 3:28), in whom, thanks to holy apatheia, there is neither male nor female;and, thanks to singleness of faith and love there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all (Col. 3: 10-11).

ἐξ ὧν συνίσταται ὁ νέος ἄνθρωπος, ὁ ἀνακαινούμενος κατ̓ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτὸν, ἐν ᾧ οὐκ ἔστι διὰ τὴν ἀγίαν ἀπάθειαν ἄρσεν, καὶ θῆλυ, οὐδὲ διὰ τὴν μίαν πίστιν, καὶ ἀγάπην,  Ἕλλην, καὶ  Ἰουδαῖος, περιτομὴ, καὶ ἀκροβυστία, Βάρβαρος, Σκύθης, δοῦλος, καὶ ἐλεύθερος, ἀλλὰ τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσι Χριστός



(The Role of the Memory in Dreams)


4. We shall now enquire how, in the fantasies that occur during sleep, the demons imprint shapes and forms on our intellect. Normally the intellect receives these shapes and forms either through the eyes when it is seeing, or through the ears when it is hearing, or through some other sense, or else through the memory, which stirs up and imprints on the intellect things which it has experienced through the body.

4. [79.1204c]  [p.162] Ζητητέον δὲ πῶς ἐν ταῖς καθ ᾿ ὕπνον φαντασίαις τυποῦσιν ἡμων τὸ ἡγεμονικὸν καὶ σχηματίζουσιν οἱ δαίμονες· τὸ γὰρ τοιοῦτον ἔοικε συμβαίνειν τῷ νῷ, ἢ δι○ ὀφθαλμῶν ὀρωντι, ἢ δι○ἀκοῆς ἀκούοντι, ἢ [79.1204d] πάλιν δι○ αἰσθήσεως ποιᾶς, ἢ ἀπὸ τῆς μνήμης ἥτις τυποῖ μὲν τὸ ἡγεμονικὸν, οὐ διὰ τοῦ σώματος, πλὴν ἁπερ διὰ τοῦ σώματος ἔσχε, ταῦτα κινει.

Now it seems to me that in our sleep, when the activity of our bodily senses is suspended, it is by arousing the memory that the demons make this imprint. But, in that case, how do the demons arouse the memory? Is it through the passions Clearly this is so, for those in a state of purity and dispassion no longer experience demonic fantasies in sleep.

Οἱ οὖν δαίμονες ἐοίκασί μοι τὴν μνήμην κινοῦντες, τυποῦν τὸ ἡγεμονικόν· τὸ γὰρ ὅργανον ὑπὸ τοῦ ὔπνου κατέχεται ἀνενέργητον.  Πῶς οὖν πάλιν τὴν μνήμην κινοῦσι ζητητέον, ἢ τάχα ιὰ τῶν παθῶν; καὶ τοῦτο δῆλον ἐκ τοῦ μηκέτι τοὺς καθαροὺς καὶ ἀπαθεις πάσχειν τὶ τοιοῦτον.

There is also an activity of the memory that is not demonic: it is caused by ourselves or by the angelic powers, and through it we may meet with saints and delight in their company. We should notice in addition that during sleep the memory stirs up, without the body’s participation, those very images which the soul has received in association with the body. This is clear from the fact that we often experience such images during sleep, when the body is at rest.

Εστι δὲ καὶ κίνησίς τις ἁπλῆ ὑφ’ ἡμῶν γινομένη, ἢ ὑπὸ ἁγίων δυνάμεων, καθ’ ἣν ἁγίοις τε συντυγχάνομεν ἐν τοῖς ὕπνοις καὶ ὁμιλοῦμεν, καὶ συνεστιώμεθα.  Πλὴν προσεχτέον, ὅτι ἅπερ μετὰ τοῦ σώματος ἡ ψυχὴ εἰσδέχεται εἴδωλα, [79.1205a]ταυτα ᾶνευ τοῦ σώματος ἡ μνήμη κινεῖ καὶ τοῦτο σαφὲς ἐκ τοῦ πολλάκις καὶ ἐν τοῖς ὕπνοις πάσχειν ἡμᾳς τοῦτο ἡρεμοῦντος τοῦ σώματος.

Just as it is possible to think of water both while thirsty and while not thirsty, so it is possible to think of gold with greed and without greed. The same applies to other things. Thus if we can discriminate in this way between one kind of fantasy and another, we can then recognize the artfulness of the demons. We should be aware, too, that the demons also use external things to produce fantasies, such as the sound of waves heard at sea.

 Ὥσπερ ἔστι γὰρ μνημονεῦσαι ὕδατος καὶ μετὰ δίψης, καὶ ἄνευ δίψης· οὕτως ἔστι μνημονεῦσαι χρυσίου μετὰ πλεονεξίας, καὶ ἄνευ πλεονεξίας, καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων πραγμάτων ὡσαύτως.  Τὸ δὲ τοιάσδε ἢ τοιάσδε εὑρίσκειν φαντασιῶν διαφορὰς τὸν τοῦν, τῆς ἐκείνων κακοτεχίας ἐστὶ γνώρισμα.  Ἅμα δὲ καὶ τοῦτο ἰστέον, ὅτι καὶ τοῖς ἔξωθεν πράγμασι κέχρηνται πρὸς τὰς φαντασίας οἱ δαίμονες, ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν πλεόντων τῷ ἤχῳ τῶν κυμάτων.



5. When our incensive power is aroused in a way contrary to nature, it greatly furthers the aim of the demons and is an ally in all their evil designs. Day and night, therefore, they are always trying to provoke it. And when they see it tethered by gentleness, they at once try to set it free on some seemingly just pretext; in this way, when it is violently aroused, they can use it for their shameful purposes. So it must not be aroused either for just or for unjust reasons; and we must not hand a dangerous sword to those too readily incensed to wrath, for it often happens that people become excessively worked up for quite trivial reasons.

[p.166] 5. Σφωδρα τω σκοπω των δαιμονων ὁ θυμος ἡμων συμβαλλεται παρα φυσιν κινουμενος, και προς πασαν αυτων κακομηχανιαν γινεται χρησιμωτατος, ὁθεν νυκτωρ, και μεθ ἡμεραν ταρασσειν [79.1205b]τουτον ουδεις αυτων παραιτειται, αλλ ὁταν ιδωσιν αυτον δεθεντα πραοτητι, το τηνικαυτα επι δικαιαις προφασεσιν ευθυς αυτον απολυουσιν, ἱνα οξυτερος γεγονως, και προς τους θηριωδεις λογισμους αυτων χρησιμευη, διοπερ αναγκη, μητε δικαιοις, μητε επ αδικοις πραγμασιν αυτο ερεθιζειν μητε κακον ξιφος διδοναι τοις ὑποβαλλουσιν.  Οπερ πολλακις πολλους ποιουντας επισταμαι, και πλεον η χρη, επι μικραις αναπτομενους προφασεσιν.

Tell me, why do you rush into battle so quickly, if you are really above caring about food, possessions and glory? Why keep a watchdog if you have renounced everything? If you do, and it barks and attacks other men, it is clear that there are still some possessions for it to guard. But since I know that wrath is destructive of pure prayer, the fact that you cannot control it shows how far you are from such prayer.

                [79.1205b] Υπερ τινος γαρ, ειπε μοι, και προσπιπτεις ταχεως [79.1205c] εις μαχην, ειπερ βρωματων, και δοξης, και χρηματων καταπεφρονηκας τι δε τρεφεις τον κυνα, μηδεν εχειν επαγγελλομενος  Ει δε οὑτος ὑλακτει, και τοις ανθρωποις επερχεται, προδηλος ει ενδον κεκτημενος τινα, και ταυτα φυλασσειν βουλομενος.  Αλλ εγω τον τοιαυτον μαχραν καθαρας προσευχης πειθομαι ειναι λυμενωμα τον θυμον της τοιαυτης επισταμενος.

 I am also surprised that you have forgotten the saints: David who exclaims, `Cease from anger, and put aside your wrath’ (Ps. 37: 8 LXX); and Ecclesiastes who urges us, `Remove wrath from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh’ (Eccl. r x: 1 0. LXX); while the Apostle commands that always and everywhere men should `lift up holy hands, without anger and without quarreling’ ( 1Tim. 2:8). And do we not learn the same from the mysterious and ancient custom of putting dogs out of the house during prayer? This indicates that there should be no wrath in those who pray. `Their wine is the wrath of serpents’ (Deut 32:33. LXX)); that is why the Nazarenes abstained from wine.

Πρὸς δὲ τούτοις θαυμάζω, ὡς καὶ τῶν ἁγίων ἐπιλελησμένων, τοῦ μὲν Δαβὶδ βοῶντος, ̧Παῦσαι ἀπὸ ὁργῆς, καὶ ἐγκατάλιπε θυμόν·ς τοῦ δὲ  Ἐκκλησιαστοῦ παραγγέλλοντος, ̧  Ἀπόστησον θυμὸν ἀπὸ καρδίας σου, καὶ πάραγε πονηρίαν ἀπὸ σαρκός σου· ς τοῦ δὲ  Ἀποστόλου προστάσσοντος, ̧ Χωρὶς ὀργῆς, καὶ διαλογισμῶν ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἐπαίρειν οσίας χεῖρας πρὸς Κ́ριον.ς  Τί δὲ οὐ μανθάνομεν απὸ[79.1205d] τῆς τῶν ἀνθρώπων μυστικῆς, καὶ παλαιᾶς συνηθείας διωκούσης ἐκ τῶν οἴκων τοὺς κύνας ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τῆς προσευχῆς, καὶ τοῦτο αἰνιττομένης, ὡς οὐ δεῖ συμπαρῆναι τοῖς προσευχομένοις θυμόν; Καὶ πάλιν· ̧ Θυμὸς δρακόντων ὁ οἴνος αὐτῶν. ς  Οἴνου δὲ οἱ Ναζιραῖοι ἀπείχοντο.

It is needless to insist that we should not worry about clothes or food. The Saviour Himself forbids this in the Gospels: `Do not worry about what to eat or drink, or about what to wear’ (cf. Mt. 6:25).

Χολὴν δὲ καὶ ὀσφὺ ἄβρωτα τοῖς θεοῖς τις τῶν ἔξωθέν σοφῶν ἀπεφήνατο εἶναι, οὐκ εἰδὼς, οἶμαι, [p.170] ὃ ἔλεγεν, ὧν τὸ μὲν ὀργῆς, τὸ δὲ ἀλόγου ἐπιθυμίας ἔγωγε σύμβολον εἶναι νομίζω.



6. Such anxiety is a mark of the Gentiles and unbelievers, who reject the providence of the Lord and deny the Creator. An attitude of this kind is entirely wrong for Christians who believe that even two sparrows which are sold for a farthing are under the care of the holy angels (cf. Mt. 10 29).

6. Περὶ δὲ τοῦ μὴ δεῖν μεριμνᾷν ἐνδυμάτων ἕνεκεν, ἤ βρωμάτων, περιττὸν οἶμαι τὸ γράφειν, αὐτοῦ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ἐν τοῖς Εὐαγγελίοις ἀπαγορεύσαντος, ̧Μὴ μεριμνήσητε γὰρ, φησὶ, τῇ ψυχῇ ὑμῶν τί φάγητε, ἢ τί πίητε ἢ τ́ περιβαλεῖσθε.ς  Ἐθνικῶν γὰρ[79.1208a] ἄντικρυς τοῦτο, καὶ ἀπίστων ἀθετούντων τὴν πρόνοιαν τοῦ Δεσπότου, καὶ τὸν Δημιουργὸν ἀρνουμένων· Χριστιανῶν δὲ τὸ τοιοῦτον παντλῶς ἀλλοτριον, ἅπαξ πεπιστευκότων, ὅτι καὶ τὰ πρασσόμενα δύο στρουθία τοῦ ἀσσαρίου ὑπὸ τὴν οἰκονομίαν τῶν ἁγίων ἀγγέλων ἐστί.

The demons, however, after arousing impure thoughts, go on to suggest worries of this kind, so that  ‘Jesus conveys Himself away’. because of the multitude of concerns in our mind (cf. Jn 5: 13).   The divine word can bear no fruit, being choked by our cares.

Πλήν ἐστι καὶ αὔτη συνήθεια τῶν δαιμόνων, μετὰ τοὺς ἀκαθάρτους λογισμοὺς ἐμβλ́λλειν καὶ τοὺς τῆς μερίμνης, ἵνα ἐκνεύσῃ ὁ  Ἰησοῦς ὄχλου ὄντος νοημάτων ἐν τῷ κατὰ διάνοιαν τόπῳ, καὶ ἄκαρπος γένηται ὁ λόγος ὑπὸ τῆς μερίμνης πνιγόμενος τῶν ἀκανθῶν.

Let us, then, renounce these cares, and throw them down before the Lord, being content with what we  have at the moment; and living in poverty and rags, let us day by day rid ourselves of all that fills us with self-esteem.

                [ΚΕΦΑΛ.  ϛʹ. [79.1208.b] Οὐκοῦν τοὺς ἐκ μερίμνης ἀποθέμενοι λογισμοὺς, ἐπιῤῥίψωμεν ἐπὶ Κύριον τὴν μέριμναν ἡμῶν τοῖς παροῦσιν ἀρκούμενοι, καὶ πενιχρᾷ ζωῇ χρησάμενοι, καὶ στολῇ τοὺς πατέρας τῆς κενοδοξόας μεθ’ ἡμέραν ἀποδυσώμεθα.

If anyone thinks it shameful to live in rags, he should remember St. Paul, who `in cold and nakedness’ patiently awaited the `crown of righteousness’ (2 Cor. 11:27; 2 Tim. 4:8). The Apostle likened this world to a contest in an arena (cf. 1Cor 9: 24); how then can someone clothed with anxious thoughts run for `the prize of the high calling of God’ (Phil. 3: 14), or `wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world’ (Eph 6:12) ? I do not see how this is possible; for just as a runner is obstructed and weighed down by clothing, so too is the intellect by anxious thoughts – if indeed the saying is true that the intellect is attached to its own treasure; for it is said, `where your treasure is, there wilt your heart be also ‘ (Mt, 6:21).

Εἰ δέ τις ἀσχημονεῖν ἐπὶ πενιχρᾷ νομίζει στολῇ, βλεπέτω τὸν ἅγιον Παῦλον ἐν ψύχει, καὶ γυμνότητι, τὸν τῆς δικαιοσύνης προσδοκήσαντα στέφανον.  Ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὴ θέατρον, καὶ στάδιον ὁ  Ἀπόστολος τὸν κόσμον τοῦτον ὠνόμασεν, ἴδωμεν, εἰ ἔστι δυνατὸν, μερίμνης ἐνδυσάμενον λογισμοὺς, δραμεῖν ἐπὶ τὸ βραβεῖον τἠς ἄνω κλήσεως, ἢ παλαῖσαι πρὸς τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας, καὶ πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου· ἐγὼ μὲν οὐκ οἶδα, καὶ ἀπ’ αὐτῆς τῆς αἰσθητῆς παιδευόμενος ἱστορίας.   Ἐμποδισθήσεται γὰρ ἐκεῖνος ὁ[1208C] ἀθλῶν ὑπὸ τοῦ χιτῶνος δηλονότι, καὶ εὐκόλως περιελκυσθήσεται, καθάπερ καὶ ὁ νοῦς ὑπὸ τῶν λογισμῶν τῆς μερίμνης, εἴπερ ἀληθινὸς ὁ λέγων τῷ ἰδίῳ τὸν νοῦν προσκαρτερεῖν θησαυρῷ,  ̧  Ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρός σου, φησὶν, ἐκεῖ ἔσται, καὶ ἡ καρδία δου.ς [Mt 6:21]



7. [Phl6] Sometimes thoughts are cut off, and sometimes they do the cutting off. Evil thoughts cut off good thoughts, and in turn are cut off by good thoughts. The Holy Spirit therefore notes to which thought we give priority and condemns or approves us accordingly. What I mean is something like this: the thought occurs to me to give hospitality and it is for the Lord’s sake; but when the tempter attacks, this thought is cut off and in its place he suggests giving hospitality for the sake of display.

[79.1208c]  [p.174] 7.  Τῶν λογισμῶν οἱ τέμνουσιν, οἱ δὲ τέμνονται· καὶ τέμνουσι μὲν οἱ πονηροὶ τοὺς ἀγαθοὺς, τέμνονται δὲ πάλιν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀγαθῶν οἱ πονηροὶ τὸ τοίνυν Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον πρώτως τεθέντι προσέχει λογισμῷ, καὶ πρὸς ἐκεῖνον κρίνει ἡμᾶς, ἢ ἀποδέχεται.  Ὃ δὲ λέγω τοιοῦτόν ἐστιν.  Ἔχω τινὰ φιλοξενίας λογισμὸν, καὶ τοῦτον ἔχω διὰ τὸν Κύριον, ἀλλ’ οὑτος [79.1208d] ἐπελθόντος τοῦ πειράζοντος τέμνεται καὶ δόξης χάριν φιλοξενεῖν ὑποβάλλοντος. 

Again, the thought comes to me of giving hospitality so as to appear hospitable in the eyes of others. But this thought in its turn is cut off when a better thought comes, which leads me to practice this virtue for the Lord’s sake and not so as to gain esteem from men. [In PhK  there follows here PhK 7]

Πάλιν· ἔχω φιλοξενίας λογισμὸν πρὸς τὸ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις φανῆναι, ἀλλὰ καὶ οὗτος ἐπελθοντος κρείττονος λογισμοῦ διατέμνεται, τοῦ πρὸς τὸν Κύριον μᾶλλον ῾ῶν τὴν ἀρετὴν ἀπευθύνοντος. 


8. (Ph 7) We have learnt, after much observation, to recognize the difference between angelic thoughts, human thoughts, and thoughts that come from demons. Angelic thought is concerned with the true nature of things and with searching out their spiritual essence . For example, why was gold created and scattered like sand in the lower regions of the earth, to be found only with much toil and effort? And how, when found, is it washed in water and committed to the fire, and then put into the hands of craftsmen who fashion it into the candlestick of the tabernacle and the censers and the vessels (cf. Ex. 25:22-39) from which, by the grace of our Saviour, the king of Babylon no longer drinks (cf. Dan 5:2, 3)? A man such as Cleopas brings a heart burning with these mysteries (cf. Lk 24:3 2). Demonic thought, on the other hand, neither knows nor can know such things. It can only shamelessly suggest the acquisition of physical gold, looking forward to the wealth and glory that will come from this. Finally, human thought neither seeks to acquire gold nor is concerned to know what it symbolizes, but brings before the mind simply the image of gold, without passion or greed. The same principle applies to other things as well.

[79.1209a] [p.176] 8. Τῶν ἀγγελικων λογισμῶν, καὶ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων καὶ τῶν ἐκ δαιμόνων ταύτην τὴν διαφορὰν μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς παρατηρήσεως ἐγνώκαμεν εἰναι, ὅτι πρῶτον μὲν οἱ ἀγγελικοὶ τὰς φύσεις τῶν πραγμάτων περιεργάζονται, καὶ τοὺς πνευματικοὺς αὐτῶν ἐξιχνιάζουσι λογισμούς.  Οἷον, τίνος χάριν γεγένηται ὁ χρυσὸς, καὶ διὰ τί ψαμμώδης, καὶ κάτω πυ τοῖς μορίοις τῆς γῆς ἐγκατέσπαρται, καὶ μετὰ πολλοῦ καμάτου, καὶ πόνου εὑρίσκεται; ὅπως τε εὑρωθεὶς ὕδατι πλύνεται, καὶ πυρὶ παραδίδοται, καὶ οὕτως εἰς τεχνιτῶν ἐμβάλλεται χεῖρας, τῶν ποιούντων τῆς σκηνῆς τὴν λυχνίαν, καὶ [79.1209b] τὸ θυμιατήριον, καὶ τὰς θυΐσκας, καὶ τὰς φιάλας, ἐν αἷς οὐκέτι νυν͂ν πίνει διὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ὁ Βαβυλώνιος βασιλεύς, Κλεόπα δὲ φέρει καρδίαν καιομέην ὑπὸ τούτων μυστηρίων.  Ὁ δὲ δαιμονιώδης λογισμὸς, ταῦτα μὲν οὔτε οἶδεν, οὔτε ἐπίσταται· μόνην δὲ τὴν κτῆσιν τοῦ αἰσθητοῦ χρυσίου ὑποβάλλει, καὶ τὴν ἐκ τούτου τρυφή́ν τε καὶ δόξαν ἐσομένην προλέγει· ὁ δὲ ἀνθρώπινος λογισμὸς, οὐδὲ τὴν κτῆσιν ἐπιζητεῖ, οὔτε τίνος περιεργάζεται σύμβολον ο ῾ χρυσὸς, ἀλλὰ μόνο εἰς τὴν διάνοιαν τοῦ χρυσοῦ τὴν μορφὴν εἰσφέρει ψιλὴν, πάθους πλεονεξίας κεχωρισμένην· ὁ δὲ αὐτὸς λόγος, καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων πραγμάτων ῥθήσεται, κατὰ τὸν κακόνα τοῦτον μυστικῶς γυμναζόμενος.



(The Wandering Demon)


9. [] There is a demon known as the one who leads astray, [‘wanderer’] who especially at dawn presents [himself] to the brothers, and leads around the nous of the solitary from city to city, from house to house, from village to village, pretending at first to simply carry on [holy] conversation; [but] then recognizing those it meets and talking at greater length: and in time it happens that, little by little it incurs forgetfulness of the knowledge of God, of virtue, and of its calling.

[79.1209c] [p.180] 9.  Ἔστι δαίμων, πλάνος λεγόμενος, καὶ ὑπὸ τὴν ἕω μάλιστα τοῖς ἀδλφοῖς παρίσταται, ὅστις περιάγει τοῦ ἀναχωρητοῦ τὸν νοῦν ἀπὸ πόλεως εἰς πόλιν, καὶ ἀπὸ οἰκίας εἰς οἰκίαν, καὶ ἀπὸ κώμης εἰς κώμην, ψιλὰς δῆθεν [πρῶτον] τὰς συντυχίας ποιούμενον, καὶ γνωορίμοις τισὶ τυγχάνοντα, [καὶ λαλοῦντα] μακρότερα, καὶ τὴν οἰκείαν πρὸς τοὺς ἀπαντῶντας κατάστασιν διαφθείροντα, καὶ μακρὰν γινόμενον, κατ’ ὀλίγον τῆς γνώσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ τῆς ἀρετῆς, καὶ τοῦ ἐπαγγέλματος λήθην λαμβάνοντα.

Therefore the solitary must watch this demon, noting where he comes from and where he ends up; for this demon does not make this long circuit without purpose and at random, but because he wishes to corrupt the state of the solitary, so that his intellect, overexcited by all this wandering, and intoxicated by its many meetings, may immediately fall prey to the demons of unchastity, anger or dejection – the demons that above all others destroy its inherent brightness.

Δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἀναχωροῦντα, τοῦτον τηρεῖν, πόθεν τε α
αρχεται, καὶ ποῦ καταλήγει· οὐ γὰρ εἰκ, οὐδὲ ὡς ἔτυχε μακρὸν ἐκεῖνον κύκλον ἐργάζεται, ἀλλὰ τὴν κατάστασιν τοῦ ἀναχωρητοῦ διαφθείρειν βουλόμενος, ταῦτα ποιεῖ, ἵνα ἐκκαυθεις  [79.1209d] ἐκ τούτων ὁ νοῦς, καὶ ἐκ τῶν πολλῶν συντυχιῶν μεθυσθεὶς εὐθέως τῷ τῆς πορνείας, ἢ τ͂ς ὀργῆς, ἢ τῷ τῆς λύπης δαίμονι περιπέσῃ, οἵτινες μάλιστα λυμαίνονται τῆς καταστάσεως αὐτοῦ τὴν λαμπρότητα.

But if we really want to understand the cunning of this demon, we should not be hasty in speaking to him, or tell others what is taking place, how he is compelling us to make these visits in our mind and how he is gradually driving the intellect to its death -for then he will flee from us, as he cannot bear to be seen doing this; and so we shall not grasp any of the things we are anxious to learn. But, instead, we should allow him one more day, or even two, to play out his role, so that we can learn about his deceitfulness in detail; then, mentally rebuking him, we put him to flight.

̓Αλλ’ ἡμεῖς, εἴπερ ἔχομεν σκοπὸν τοῦ γνῶναι σαφῶς τὴν τούτου πανουργίαν, μὴ ταχέως φθεγξώμεθα πρὸς αὐτὸν, μηδὲ δεικνύωμεν τὰ γινόμενα, πῶς κατὰ τὴν διάνοιαν τὰς συντυχίας ἐργάζεται, καὶ τίνα τρόπον κατ’ ὀλίγον συνελαύνει τὸν νοῦν πρὸς τὸν θάνατον, ἐπεὶ φεύξεται ἀφ’ ἡμῶν· [79.1212a] ὁρᾶσθαι γὰρ ταῦτα πράττων οὐ καταδέχεται· καὶ οὐδὲν λοιπὸν εἰσόμεθα ὧν μαθεῖν ἐσπουδάκαμεν,  Ἀλλὰ καὶ ἄλλην μίαν ἡμέραν, ἢ καὶ δευτέραν συγχωρήσωμεν αὐτοῦ τὸ σκαιώρημα, λόγῳ μετὰ ταῦτα ἐλέγξαντες αὐτὸν φυγαδεύσωμεν.



(Analyze Your Thoughts)

[not Phk]) 

9. But because during temptation the intellect is clouded and does not see exactly what is happening, do as follows after the demon has withdrawn. Sit down and recall in solitude the things that have happened: where you starred and where you went, in what place you were seized by the spirit of unchastity, dejection or anger and how it all happened. Examine these things closely and commit them to memory, so that you will then be ready to expose the demon when he next approaches you. Try to become conscious of the weak spot in yourself which he hid from you, and you will not follow him again.

[79.1212a] [π.182.26] ΚΕΦΑΛ. Θ’. Ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὴ κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦ πειρασμοῦ συμβαίνει, τεθολωμένον ὄντα τὸν μὴ ἀκριβῶς ἰδεῖν τὰ γεγόμενα, μετὰ τὴν ἀναχώρησιν τοῦ δαίμονος τοῦτο γινέσθω· καθεσθεὶς καθ’ ἑαυτὸν, μνημόνευσον τῶν συμβεβηκότων σοι πραγμάτων, πόθεν τε ἤρξω καὶ ποῦ ἐπορεύθης, καὶ ἐν ποίω τόπῳ συνελήφθης ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς πορνείας, ἢ τῆς ὀργῆς, ἢ τῆς λύπης, καὶ πῶς πάντα γέγονε τὰ γινόμενα, καὶ σαφῶς ταῦτα κατάμαθε, καὶ παράδος τῇ μνήμῇ ἵνα ἐχῃς ἐλέγχειν αὐτὸν προσιόντα, καὶ τὸν κρυπτόμενον ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ τόπον καταμήνυε, καὶ οὐκ ἀκολουθήσεις αὐτὸν λοιπόν.

If you wish to enrage him, expose him at once when he reappears, and tell him just where you went first, and where next, and so on. For he becomes very angry and cannot bear the disgrace. And the proof that you spoke to him effectively is that the thoughts he suggested leave you. For he cannot remain in action when he is openly exposed. The defeat of this demon is followed by heavy sleepiness and deadness, together with a feeling of great coldness in the eyelids, countless yawnings, and heaviness in the shoulders. But if you pray intensely all this is dispersed by the Holy Spirit.

[79.1212b] ‘Εἰ δὲ βούλει ποτὲ καὶ εἰς μανίαν προκαλέσασθαι, ἔλεγξον αὐτὸν εὐθὺς ἐπιστάντα καὶ τὀν πρῶτον τόπον εἰς ὃν εἰσῆλθε φανέρωσον, καὶ τὸν δεύτερον, καὶ τὸν τρίτον, πάνυγἀρ καλεπαίνει μὴ φέρων τὴν αἰσχύνην· ἀπόδειξις δὲ ἔσται τοῦ καιρίως σε φθέγξασθαι πρὸς αὐτὸν, τὸ πεφευγέναι τὸν ογισμὸν ἀπὸ σοῦ· ἀδύνατον γἀρ λοιπὸν στῆναι αὐτὸν φανερῶς ἐλεγχόμενον,  Τοῦτον δὲ ἡττηθέντα τὸν τῆς πλάνης δαίμονα διαδέχεται ὕπνος βαρύτατος, καὶ νέκρωσις μετὰ ψυχρότητος πολλης τῶν βλεφάρων, καὶ κασμοὶ ἄπειροι, καὶ ὦμοι βαρούμενοι, καὶ ναρκῶντες, ἅπερ τῇ συντόνῳ προσευχῇ διαλύσει τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον.



(Hatred of the demons)


10. (Ph  9) Hatred against the demons contributes greatly to our salvation and helps our growth in holiness. But we do not of ourselves have the power to nourish this hatred into a strong plant, because the pleasure – loving spirits restrict it and encourage the soul again to indulge in its old habitual loves. But this indulgence – or rather this gangrene that is so hard to cure – the Physician of souls heals by abandoning us. For He permits us to undergo some fearful suffering night and day, and then the soul returns again to its original hatred, and learns like David to say to the Lord: `I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them my enemies’ (Ps.139:22). For a man hates his enemies with perfect hatred when he sins neither in activity nor in mind – which is the first and greatest sign of apatheia.

[79.1212c] [p.184] 10. Πάνυ τὸ μῖσος τὸ κατὰ δαιμόνων ἡμιν πρὸς σωτηρίαν συμβάλλεται καὶ πρὸς τὴν ἐργασίαν τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐστιν ἐπιτήδειον· καὶ̀ τοῦτο ἐκτρέφειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, ὥσπερ τι γέννημα ἀγαθον οὐκ ἰσχύομεν, τῶν φιληδόνων πνευμάτων διαφθειρόντων ἀυτὸ, κὰι πρὸς φιλίαν, καὶ συνήθειαν πάλιν τὴν ψυχὴν εκκαλουμένων· ἀλλὰ ταύτην τὴν φιλ́ιαν, μᾶλλον δὲ την δυσίατον γάγραιναν ὁ ἰατρὸς τῶν ψυχῶν δι’ ἐγκαταλείψεως θεραπεύει· συγχωρεῖ γάρ τι φοβερὸν παθεῖν ἡμᾶς ὑπ’ αὐτῶν  νύκτωρ ἢ μεθ’ ἡμέραν, καὶ πάλιν[79.1212d] ἡ ψυχὴ πρὸς τὸ ἀρχέτυπον μῖσος ἐπανατρέχει διδασκομένη πρὸς τὸν Κύριον λέγειν, κατὰ τὸν Δαβ̀ιδ, το ̧Τέλειον μῖσος ἐμίσουν αὐτοὺς, εἰς ἐχθροὺς ἐγενοντό μοι. ς  Οὗτος γὰρ τέλειον μῖσος μισεῖ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς, ὁ μήτε κατ’ ἐνέργειαν, μήτε κατὰ διάνοιαν ἁμαρτάνων· ὅπερ τῆς πρώτης, καὶ τῆς μεγίστης ἐστὶν ἀπαθείας τεκμήριον.





11. [Phk 10]  Now concerning the demon who makes the soul insensitive, what is it proper to say?  For I am afraid to write about him, how the soul departs from its own habitual state: for at the time of his approach [the soul] strips itself of reverence and the fear of God, no longer regarding sin as sin, or wickedness as wickedness; it looks on judgment and the eternal punishment of hell as mere words; it laughs at the fire which causes the earth to tremble; and, while supposedly confessing God, it has no understanding of His commandments.

[79.1212d] [p.188]  11.  Περὶ δὲ τοῦ δαίμονος, τοῦ τὴν ψυχὴν ἀναισθητεῖν ποιοῦντος, τί δεῖ λέγειν;  ‘Εγὼ γὰρ δέδοικα [καὶ]γράφειν περὶ αὐτοῦ, πῶς ἡ ψυχὴ τῆς οἰκείας ἐξίσταιαι καταστάσεως· παρὰ γὰρ τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ὠπιδημίας αὐτοῦ, καὶ τὸν φόβον τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ τὴν εὐλάβειαν [1213a] ἀποδύεται, καὶ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, οὐχ ἁμαρτίαν εἶναι λογίζεται, καὶ τὴν παρανομίαν οὐ νομίζει παρανομίαν, κολάσεως δὲ καὶ κρίσεως αἰωνίου, ὡς ψιλοῦ ῥήματος μέμνηται, καταγελᾳ δὲ ὄντως σεισμοῦ πυρφόρου, καὶ Θεὸν μὲν δῆθεν ὁμολογεῖ, τί δὲ προσέταξεν οὐκ ἐπίσταται.

You may beat your breast as such a soul draws near to sin, but it takes no notice. You recite from the Scripture, yet it is wholly indifferent and will not hear. You point out its shame and disgrace among men, and it ignores you, like a pig that closes its eyes and charges through a fence. This demon gets into the soul by way of long-continuing thoughts of self-esteem; and unless ‘those days are shortened, no flesh will be saved’ (Mt 24 22).

τύπτεις εἰς τὰ στήθη, κινουμένης αὐτῆς πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, καὶ αὕτη οὐκ αἰσθάνεται.  Ἀπὸ Γραφῶν διαλέγῃ, και ὅλη πεπώρωται, καὶ οὐκ ἀκούει· ὄνειδος αὐτῇ τὸ παρὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων προσφέρεις, καὶ οὐ λογίζεται τὴν παρὰ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις αἰσχύνην, καὶ αὕτη ὅλως οὐ συνίησι, δίκην χοίρου καμμύσαντος ὀφθαλμοὺς, καὶ τὸν φραγμὸν διακόπτοντος· τοῦτον δὲ τὸν δαίμονα κενοδιξίας χρονίσαντες ἐπάγουσι λογισμοὶ, οὗ εἰ μὴ ἐκολοβώθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι, οὐκ ἂν ἐσώθη πᾶσα σάρξ.

This is one of those demons that seldom approach brethren living in a community. The reason is clear: when people round us fall into misfortune, or are afflicted by illness, or are suffering in prison, or meet sudden death, this demon is driven out; for the soul has only to experience even a little compunction or compassion and the callousness caused by the demon is dissolved. We solitaries lack these things, because we live in the wilderness and sickness is rare among us.

Καὶ γὰρ [79.1213b] τῶν σπανίως παραβαλλόντων τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, ἐστὶ καὶ ἡ αἰτία πρόδηλος· ἐπὶ συμφοραῖς  γὰρ ἑτέρων ἢ ἐν νόσοις πιεζομένων, ἢ ἐν φυλακαῖς δυστυχούντων, ἢ αἰφνιδίοις περιπιπτόντων θανάτοις, φυγαδεύεται οὗτος, τῆς ψυχῆς κατὰ μικρὸν κατανυσσομένης, καὶ εἰς συμπάθειαν ἐρχομένης, καὶ διαλυομένου τοῦ δαιμονίου πωρώματος, ὧν ἡμεῖς ἀποροῦμεν διὰ τὴν ἔρημον, καὶ τὴν σπάνιν τῶν παρ’ ἡμῖν ἀσθενούντων.

[12. not PhK.] It was to banish this demon especially that the Lord enjoined us in the Gospels to call on the sick and visit those in prison. For `I was sick,’ He says, `and you visited Me’ (Mt 25:36).  But you should know this: if an anchorite falls in with this demon, yet does not admit unchaste thoughts or leave his cell out of listlessness, this means he has received the patience and self-restraint that come from heaven, and is blessed with dispassion. Those, on the other hand, who profess to practise godliness, yet choose to have dealings with people of the world, should be on their guard against this demon. I feel ashamed to say or write more about him.

[79.1213b] ΚΕΦΑΛ. ΙΒ’. Τοῦτον τὸν δαίμονα μάλιατα φυγαδεύων ὁ Κυριος ἐν τοῖς Εὐαγγελίοις προσέταξεν ἀσθενοῦντας ὁρᾷν,[79.1213c] καὶ τοὺς ἐν φυλακῇ ἐπεσκεψασθέ με, καὶ ἐν φυλακῇ καὶ ἤλθετε  πρός με. ς  Πλὴν τοῦτο ἰστέον, εἴ τις τῶν ἀναχωρητῶν, περιπεσὼν τούτῳ τῷ δαίμονι, λογισμοὺς οὐκ ἔλαβε πορνικοὺς, ἢ τὸν οἶκον ἀκηδίας οὐ κατέλιπεν, οὗτος σωφροσύνην, καὶ ὑπομονὴν ἀπ’ οὐρανῶν ἐδέξατο κατελθούσας, καὶ μακάριός συναυλίζεσθαι προαιροῦνται, φυλαττέσθωσαν τούτου τοῦ [p.192] δαίμονος. Ἐγὼ γὰρ περὶ αὐτοῦ πλέον τι λέγειν, ἢ γράφειν, καὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους αἰσχύνομαι.





12. [POhK 11] All the demons teach the soul to love pleasure; only the demon of dejection refrains from doing this, since he corrupts the thoughts of those he enters by cutting off eve? pleasure of the soul and drying it up through dejection, for `the bones of the dejected are dried up’ (Pr 17:22 LXX). Now if this demon attacks only to a moderate degree, he makes the anchorite more resolute; for he encourages him to seek nothing worldly and to shun all pleasures. But when the demon remains for longer, he encourages the soul to give up, or forces it to run away. Even Job was tormented by this demon, and it was because of this that he said: ‘O that I might lay hands upon myself, or at least ask someone else to do this for me’ (Job 30:24. LXX).

[79.1213d] ΚΕΦΑΛ. ΙΓʹ. [p.192] 12. Πάντες οἱ δαίμονες φιλήδονον διδάσκουσι τὴν ψυχήν· μόνος δὲ ὁ τῆς λύπης δαίμων, τοῦτο πράττειν οὐ καταδέχεται, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν εἰσελθότων τοὺς λογισμοὺς διαφθείρει, πᾶσαν ἡδονὴν περικόπτων καὶ ξηραίνων αὐτὴν διὰ τῆς λύπης.  Εἴπερ ἀνδρὸς λυπηροῦ ξηρίνειαι ὀστᾶ, καὶ μετρίως μὲν πολεμῶν δόκιμον τὸν ἀναχωρητὴν ἀπεργσάζεται· πείθεν γὰρ αὐτὸν μηδὲν τῶν κοσμου τούτου προσίεσθαι, καὶ πᾶσαν ἡδονὴν περιίστασθαι, πλεῖον δὲ προσκαρτερῶν, γεννᾷ λογισμοὺς ὑπεξάγειν ἑαυτὸν τῇ ψυχῇ συμβουλεύοντας, ἢ φευγειν τῶν τόπων μακρὰν [1216a]ἀναγκάζοντας· ὅπερ λελόγισταί ποτε, καὶ πέπονθε καὶ ὁ ἅγιος  Ιὼβὑπὸ ούτου παρενοχλούμενος τοῦ δαίμονος· ̧ Εἴθε γὰρ δυναίμην, φησὶν, ἐμαυτὸν χειρώσασθαι, ἢ δεηθείς γε ἑτέρου, καὶ ποιήσει μοι τοῦτο.ς

The symbol of this demon is the viper. When used in moderation for man’s good, its poison is an antidote against that of other venomous creatures, but when taken in excess it kills whoever takes it. It was to this demon that Paul delivered the man at Corinth who had fallen into sin. That is why he quickly wrote again to the Corinthians saying: ‘Confirm your love towards him… lest perhaps he should be swallowed up with too great dejection’ (2 Cor. 2: 7-8).He knew that this spirit, in troubling men, can also bring about true repentance.

Τούτου τοῦ δαίμονος σύμβολόν ἐστιν ἡ ἐχιδνα, τὸ θηρίον, ἧς ἡ φύσις φιλανθρώπως διδομένη, τοὺς τῶν ἄλλων θηρίων ἰοὺς διαφθείρει τὸ ζῶον.  Τούτῳ τῷ δαίμονι παρέδωκεν ὁ Παῦλος τὸν ἐν Κορίνθῳ παρανομήσαντα, διὸ κὶ γράφει πάλιν σπουδαίως· ̧Κυρώσατε, λέγων τοῖς Κορινθίοις, ἰς αὐτὸν ἀγάπην, ἵνα μή ποτε τῇ περισσοτέρᾳ λύπῃ καταποθῇ ὁ τοιοῦτος. ς  Ἀλλ’ οἶδε τοῦτο θλίβον τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ μετανοίας αὐτοῖς ἀγαθῆς πρόξενον γίνεσθαι·

It was for this reason that St. John the Baptist gave the name `progeny of Vipers’ to those who were goaded by this spirit to seek refuge in God, saying: `Who has warned you to flee from the anger to come? Bring forth fruits, then, that testify to your repentance; and do not think that you can just say within yourselves, We have Abraham as our father’ (Mt. 3:7-9). But if a man imitates Abraham and leaves his country and kindred (cf. Gen. Iz: t), he thereby becomes stronger than this demon.

ὅθεν καὶ ὁ ἅγιος  Ἰωάννης ὁ Βαπτιστὴς, τοὺς [79.1216b] ὑπὸ τούτου κεντουμένους τοῦ δαίμονος, καὶ προσφεύγοντας τῷ Θεῷ·  ̧ Γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν, φησὶ, τίς ὑμῖν ὑπέδειξε φυγεῖν ἀπὸ τῆς μελλούσης, καὶ μὴ δόξητε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν  Ἀβραάμ· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ  Ἀβραάμ. ς  Πλὴν ᾶς ὁ τὸν  Ἀβραάμ μιμησάμενος, καὶ ἐξελθὼν ἐκ τῆς γῆς αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐκ τῆς συγγενείας, αὐτὸς καὶ τούτου τοῦ δαίμονος γέγονεν ἰσχυρότερος.



13. [PhK 12]  He who has mastery over his incensive power has mastery also over the demons. But anyone who is a slave to it is a stranger to the monastic life and to the ways of our Saviour, for as David said of the Lord: `He will teach the gentle His ways’ (Ps 25:9). The intellect of the solitary is hard for the demon to catch, for it shelters in the land of gentleness. There is scarcely any other virtue which the demons fear as much as gentleness. Moses possessed this virtue, for he was called `very gentle, above all men’ (Num 12:3)  And David showed that it makes men worthy to be remembered by God when he said: ‘Lord, remember David and all his gentleness’ (Ps 132:1 I. LXX).

[79.1216b] [p.196] 14. Εἴ τις θυμοῦ κεκράτηκεν, οὗτος δαιμόνων κεκράτηεν, εἰ δέ τις τούτῳ τῷ πάθει δεδούλωται, οὗτος [79.1216c]μοναδικοῦ βίου ἐστὶ παντελῶς ἀλλότριος, καὶ ξένος τῶν ὁδῶ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν· εἴπερ αὐτὸς ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν λέγεται διδάσκειν τοῦς πραεῖς τὰς ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ· διὸ καὶ δυσθήρατος γίνεται τῶν ἀναχωρούντων ὁ νοῦς, εἰς τὸ τῆς πραότητος φεύγων πεδίον· οὐδεμίαν γὰρ τῶν ἀρετῶν σχεδὸν οὕτω δεδοίκασιν οἱ δαίμονες, ὡς πραΰτητα· ταύτην γὰρ καὶ Μωϋσῆς ἐκεῖνος ἐκέκτητο, πραῢς παρὰ πάντας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους κληθείς.  Καὶ ὁ ἅγιος δὲ Δαβὶδ ἀξίαν ταύτην τ͂ς τοῦ Θεοῦ μνήμης ἀπεφθέγξατο εἶναι· ̧ Μνήσθητι Κύριε, λέγων, τοῦ Δαβὶδ, καὶ πάσης τῆς πραότητος αὐτοῦ.ς

And the Saviour Himself also enjoined us to imitate Him in His gentleness, saying: `Learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart: and you will find rest for your souls’(Mt 11:29). Now if a man abstains from food and drink, but becomes incensed to wrath because of evil thoughts, he is like a ship sailing the open sea with a demon for pilot. So we must keep this watchdog under careful control, training him to destroy only the wolves and not to devour the sheep, and to show the greatest gentleness towards all men.

 Ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸς ῾ Σωτὴρ μιμητὰς ἡμᾶς ἐκέλευσε γενέσθαι τῆς ἐκείνοου πραότητος· ̧ Μάθετε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ, λέγων, ὅτι πρᾶός εἰμι, καὶ ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ, καὶ εὑρήσετε ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν.ς [79.1216d] Εἰ δέ τις βρωμάτων μὲν, καὶ πομάτων, ἀπέχοιτο, θυμὸν δὲ λογισμοῖς πονηροῖς ἐρεθίζει, οὗτος ἔοικε ποντοπορούσῃ νηῒ, καὶ ἐχούσῃ δαίμονα κυβερνήτην, διὰ προσεκτέον, ὅση δύναμις, τῷ ἡμετέρῳ κυνὶ, καὶ διδακτέον αὐτὸν, τοὺς λύκους μόνους διαφθείρειν, καὶ μὴ τὰ πρόβατα κατεσθίειν, πᾶσαν ἐνδεικνύμενον πραότητα πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους.



14. [PhK 13] In the whole range of evil thoughts, none is richer in resources than self-esteem; for it is to be found almost everywhere, and like some cunning traitor in a city it opens the gates to all the demons. So it greatly debases the intellect of the solitary, filling it with many words and notions, and polluting the prayers through which he is trying to heal all the wounds of his soul. All the other demons, when defeated, combine to increase the strength of this evil thought; and through the gateway of self -esteem they all gain entry into the soul, thus making a man’s last state worse than his first (cf. Mt 12:45).

[79.1216d] [p.198] 14. Μόνος τῶν λογισμῶν ὁ τῆς κενοδοξίας ἐστὶ πολύυλος, ςαὶ ὅλον σχεδὸν περιλαμβάνων τὴν οἰκουμένην, καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς δαίμοσιν ὑπανοίγων τὰς θύρας, ὥσπερ [79.1217a] τις προδότης πονηρὸς ἀγαθῆς γενόμενος πόλεως.  Διὸ καὶ πάνυ ταπεινοῖ τοῦ ἀναχωροῦντος τὸν νοῦν, πολλῶν λόγων αὐτὸν καὶ πραγμάτων πληρῶν, καὶ τὰς προσευχὰς αὐτοῦ λυμαινόμενος δι’ ὧν πάντα τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ τραύματα θεραπεύειν σπουδάζει.  Τοῦτον τὸν λογισμὸν συναύξουσι πάντες ἡττηθέντες οἱ δαίμονες, καὶ πάλιν δι’ αὐτοῦ πάντες εἰς τὰς ψυχὰς λαμβάνουσιν εἴσοδον, ποιοῦντες ὄντῶς τὰ ἔσχατα, χείρονα τῶν πρώτων. 

Self-esteem gives rise in turn to pride, which cast down from heaven to earth the highest of the angels, the seat of God’s likeness and the crown of all beauty. So turn quickly away from pride and do not dally with it, in case you surrender your life to others and your substance to the merciless (cf. Pr 5:9). This demon is driven away by intense prayer and by not doing or saying anything that contributes to the sense of your own importance.

̓Εκ τούτου δὲ γεννᾶται τοῦ λογισμοῦ, καὶ ὁ τῆς ὑπερηφανίας ἐκεῖνος, ὁ τὸ ἀποσφράγισμα τῆς ὁμοιώσεως, καὶ τὸν στέφανον τοῦ κάλλους ἀπ’ οὐρανῶν εἰς γῆν κατασείσας.  Ἀλλ’ ἀποπήδησον τούτου, καὶ μὴ χρονίσῃς, ἵνα μὴ προδῶμεν ἄλλοις τὴν ζωὴν ἡμῶν, καὶ τὸν ἡμέτερον βίον ἀνελεήμοσι.  Τοῦτον δὲ τὸν δαίμονα φυγαδεύει [p.202] ἐκτενὴς προσευχὴ, [79.1217b] καὶ τὸ μηδὲν ἑκόντα ποιεῖν, τῶν συνελούντων πρὸς τὴν ἐπάρατον δόξαν.



(Apatheia and Vainglory)


15. PhK 14]. When the intellect of the solitary attains some small degree of dispassion, it mounts the horse of self-esteem and immediately rides off into cities, taking its fill of the lavish praise accorded to its repute. But by God’s providence the spirit of unchastity now confronts it and shuts it up in a sty of dissipation. This is to teach it to stay in bed until it is completely recovered and not to act like disobedient patients who, before they are fully cured of their disease, start taking walks and baths and so fall sick again. Let us sit still and keep our attention fixed within ourselves, so that we advance in holiness and resist vice more strongly. Awakened in this way to spiritual knowledge, we shall acquire contemplative insight into many things; and ascending still higher, we shall receive a clearer vision of the light of our Saviour.

[p.202] 15.  Ὅταν ὀλίγης ἀπαθείας τῶν ἀναχωρούντων ὁ νοῦς ἐπιλάβηται, τότε κενοδοξίας ἵππον κτησάμενος, εὐθέως ἐλαύνει κατὰ τὰς πόλεις ἄκρατον ἐκ τῆς δόξης ἐμφορούμενος ἔπαινον, ᾧ, κατ’ οἰκονομίαν, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πορνείας ἀπαντῆσαν, καὶ εἰς ἕνα τῶν συφεῶν ἀποκλεῖσαν τοῦτον, παιδεύει αὐτὸν μηκέτι πρὸ τῆς τελείας ὑγείας καταλιμπάνειν τὴν κλίνην, μηδὲ τοὺς ἀτάκτους τῶν ἀῤῥώστων μιεῖσθαι, οἵτινες, ἔτι λείψανα τῆς ἀσθενείας ἐν ἑαυτοῖς περιφέροντες, ὁδοῖς ἑαυτοὺς, καὶ λουτροῖς ἀκαίροις ἐπιδιδόασι, καὶ τοῖς ἐξ ὑποστροφῆς νοσήμασι περιπίπτουσι.  Διόπερ καθεζόμενοι μᾶλλον προσέχωμεν ἑαυτοῖς, ὡς, προκόπτοντες μὲν ἐν ἀρετῇ,  [79.1217c] δυσκίνητοι πρὸς κακίαν γινόμεθα, ἀνακαινούμενοι δὲ ἐν τῇ γνώσει, ποικίλων προσλαμβάνομεν πλῆθος θεωρημάτων, ὑψούμενοι δὲ πάλιν κατὰ τὴν προσευχὴν φανερώτερον τὸ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ἐποπτεύσομεν φῶς.



(Sexual Immorality)


16. [Ph 15] I cannot write about all the villainies of the demons; and I feel ashamed to speak about them at length and in detail, for fear of harming the more simple- minded among my readers. But let me tell you about the cunning of the demon of unchastity. When a man has acquired dispassion in the appetitive* part of his soul and shameful thoughts cool down within him, this demon at once suggests images of men and women playing with one another, and makes the solitary a spectator of shameful acts and gestures.

[1217C] [p.204] 16.̈           Πάσας μὲν τὰς κακουργίας τῶν δαιμόνων γράφειν οὐ δύναμαι, καὶ τὰς κακοτεχνίας αὐτῶν καταλέγειν αἰσχύνομαι, δεδοικὼς ων ἐντευξομένων τοὺς ἁπλουστέρους.  πλὴν δὲ τοῦ πνεύματος τῆς πορνείας, ἄκουε πανουργίαν.  Ὅταν τις τοῦ ἐπιθυμητικοῦ μέρους κτήσηται ἀπάθειαν, καὶ οἱ αἰσχροὶ λογισμοὶ λοιπὸν ὑπόψυχροι γένωνται, τὸ τηνικαῦτα εἰσάγει[79.1217d] ἄνδρας τε, καὶ γυναῖκας παίζοντας μετ’ ἀλλήλων, καὶ αἰσχρῶν πραγμάτων, καὶ σχημάτων τὸν ἀναχωρητὴν καθίστησι θεατήν.

But this temptation need not be permanent; For intense prayer, a very frugal diet, together with vigils and the development of spiritual contemplation, drive it away like a light cloud. There are times when this cunning demon even touches the flesh, inflaming it to uncontrolled desire; and it devises endless other tricks which need not be described.

̓Αλλ’ οὗτος ὁ πειρασμὸς οὐκ ἔστι τῶν χρονιζόντων· προσευχὴ γὰρ σύντονος, καὶ δίαιτα στενωτάτη μετὰ ἀγρυπνίας καὶ γυμνασίας θεωρημάτων πνευματικῶν ὥσπερ νέφος αὐτὸν ἄνυδρον ἐπελαύνει.  Ἔστι δὲ ὅτε καὶ τῶν σαρκῶν ἐφάπτεται, πρὸς τὴν ἄλογον πύρωσιν αὐτὰς ἐκμοχλεύων, καὶ ἄλλα δέ τινα μυρία προσμηχανᾶται ὁ παμπόνηρος οὗτος, ἅπερ οὐκ ἀναγκαῖον δημοσιεῦσαι, καὶ γραφῇ παραδοῦναι.

Our incensive power is also a good defense against this demon. When it is directed against evil thoughts of this kind, such power fills the demon with fear and destroys his designs.

 Συβάλλεται δὲ σφόδρα πρὸς τοὺς λογισμοὺς καὶ ζέσις θυμου κατὰ τοῦ δαίμονος κινηθεῖσα, ὅνπερ θυμὸν μάλιστα δέδοικεν ἐπὶ τοῖς λογισμοῖς ταρασσόμενον, καὶ διαφθείροντα, αὐτοῦ τὰ [79.1220a] νοήματα·

[LD]And this is [the meaning] of the [text]: `Be angry, and do not sin’ (Ps. 4:5). It is useful to apply to the soul this medicine [of anger] in temptations.

[p.206 l.20] καὶ τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ, ̧ὀργίζεσθε, καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε ς,[p.208] χρήσιμον φάρμακον ἐν τοῖς πειρασμοῖς τῇ ψυχῆ προσαγόμενον. [l.22]

The demon of anger employs tactics resembling those of the demon of unchastity. For he suggests images of our parents, friends or kinsmen being gratuitously insulted; and in this way he excites our incensive power, making us say or do something vicious to those who appear in our minds. We must be on our guard against these fantasies and expel them quickly from our mind, for if we dally with them, they will prove a blazing firebrand to us during prayer. People prone to anger are specially liable to fall into these temptations; and if they do, then they are far from pure prayer and from the knowledge of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Μιμεῖται δὲ καὶ ὁ τῆς ὀργῆς τοῦτον τὸν δαίμονα, καὶ πλάττει, καὶ αὐτός τινας τῶν γεγεννηκότων, ἢ φίλων, ἢ συγγενῶν, ἢ οἰκείων ὑβριζομένους, καὶ τυπτομένους ὑπο ἀναξίων, καὶ τῶν ἀνχωρούντων ἀναινεῖ τὸν θυμὸν, ὥστε φθέγξασθαί τι πονηρὸν ἢ ποιῆσαι πρὸς τοὺς φαινομένους κατὰ διάνοιαν, οἷς οὐ προσέχειν ἀναγκαῖον, καὶ ταχέως ἐξαρπάζειν ἀπὸ τῶν τοιούτων εἰδώλων τὸν καιρὸν τῆς προσευχῆς, ὥσπερ δαλλὸς καπνιζόμενος.  Τούτοις δὲ τοῖς πειρασμοῖς οἱ θυμώδεις περιπίπτουσι, καὶ μάλιοτα οἱ ῥᾳδίως πρὸς τὰς ὀργὰς ἐξαπτόμενοι, οἵτινες μακράν[79.1220b] ε ἰσι καθαρᾳς προσευχῆς, καὶ τῆς γνῶσεως τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν  Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.