Thursday, March 29, 2012

Scriptual References to the Creed

The Nicene Creed

I believe (Romans 10: 8-10; 1 John 4: 15)
in One God (Deuteronomy 6: 4, Ephesians 4: 6)
Father (Matthew 6: 9)
Almighty, (Exodus 6: 3)
Creator of heaven and earth, (Genesis 1: 1)
and of all things visible and invisible; (Colossians 1: 15-16)
and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, (Acts 11: 17)
the Only-Begotten Son of God, (Matthew 14: 33; 16: 16)
begotten of the Father before all ages; (John 1: 2, John 1: 18; 3: 16 )
Light of Light, (Psalm 27: I; John 8: 12; Matthew 17: 2,5)
true God of true God, (John 17: 1-5)
begotten, not created, (John 3:16)
of one essence with the Father, (John 10: 30)
through Whom all things were made; (John 1:10, Hebrews 1: 1-2)
Who for us men and for our salvation (I Timothy 2: 4-5)
came down from heaven (John 6: 33,35)
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, (Luke 1: 35)
and became man. (John 1: 14)
He was crucified for us (Mark 15: 25; I Corinthians 15: 3)
under Pontius Pilate, (John 1: 14)
and suffered, (Mark 8: 31)
and was buried; (Luke 23: 53; I Corinthians 15: 4)
And He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures, (Luke 24: 1; 1 Cor. 15: 4)
He ascended into heaven, (Luke 24: 51; Acts 1: 10)
and is seated at the right hand of the Father; (Mark 16: 19; Acts 7: 55)
And He will come again with glory (Matthew 24: 27)
to judge the living and dead, (Acts 10: 42; 2 Timothy 4: 1)
His kingdom shall have no end; (2 Peter 1: 11)
And in the holy Spirit, (John 14: 26)
the Lord (Acts 5: 3-4)
the Giver of life, (Genesis 1: 2)
Who proceeds from the Father, (John 15: 26)
Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,(Matthew 3: 16-17)
Who spoke through the prophets; (I Samuel 19: 20; Ezekiel 11: 5, 13)
In one, (Matthew 16: 18)
holy, (I Peter 2: 5, 9)
catholic (Mark 16: 15)
and apostolic Church; (Acts 2: 42; Ephesians 2: 19-22)
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; (Ephesians 4: 5, Acts 2:38)
I expect the resurrection of the dead; (John 11: 24; I Cor. 15: 12-49)
and the life of the age to come. (Mark 10: 29-30)
Amen. (Psalm 106:48)

What I believe as a Christian

"I BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light: true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father; by Whom all things were made:

Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man;

And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried;

And arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures;

And ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father;

And shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life; Who proceeds from the Father; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the prophets.

In One,Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

I confess one baptism for the remission of sins.

I look for the resurrection of the dead,

And the life of the age to come. Amen."

In Future postings I will examine the Creed section by section to get a fuller understanding.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," STEP 22: On the Many Forms of Vainglory

The flatterer is a servant of devils, a guide to pride, a destroyer of contrition, a ruiner of virtues, a misleader. Those who pronounce you blessed, lead you astray, says the prophet. (Isaiah 3:12)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"The faith of a Christian is with love; faith without love is that of the devil"

"The faith of a Christian is with love; faith without love is that of the devil"
Hieromonk SERAPHIM (Rose)
We can define Orthodoxy in no better way than in the words of the great 18th-century Russian Father, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk — a Saint whose fervent spirit is needed very much today by Orthodox Christians. We should read him more and practice what he teaches. St. Tikhon calls Orthodoxy "the true Christianity," and he wrote a whole book under this title. But "true Christianity" does not mean just having the right opinions about Christianity — this is not enough to save one's soul.
St. Tikhon in his book, in the chapter on "The Gospel and Faith," says: "If someone should say that true faith is the correct holding and confession of correct dogmas, he would be telling the truth, for a believer absolutely needs the Orthodox holding and confession of dogmas. But this knowledge and confession by itself does not make a man a faithful and true Christian. The keeping and confession of Orthodox dogmas is always to be found in true faith in Christ, but the true faith of Christ is not always to be found in the confession of Orthodoxy... The knowledge of correct dogmas is in the mind, and it is often fruitless, arrogant, and proud... The true faith in Christ is in the heart, and it is fruitful, humble, patient, loving, merciful, compassionate, hungering and thirsting for righteousness; it withdraws from worldly lusts and clings to God alone, strives and seeks always for what is heavenly and eternal, struggles against every sin, and constantly seeks and begs help from God for this." And he then quotes Blessed Augustine, who teaches: "The faith of a Christian is with love; faith without love is that of the devil" ("True Christianity," ch. 287, p. 469). St. James in his Epistle tells us that "the demons also believe and tremble" (James 3:19)...One might think, hearing about our faith; that all one has to do is to become on fire with zeal for it, and then one can enter the Heavenly Kingdom. But it so happens that we have an enemy — the devil — and as soon as we become fervent, the enemy comes and begins to fight...The first pitfall occurs when one begins to read Orthodox books, is inspired by them, but does not apply their principles properly to one's own life...This is a basic pitfall. One can think about living in the desert, while right in front of one there may be an excellent opportunity to practice Christianity — someone may be in trouble, and with our high ideas we may not even think of helping him. Or, with these same high ideas in our mind, we may begin to criticize others and be lacking in the basic Christian love without which all our high ideas are empty. Through experience we must learn how to apply the writings of the Holy Fathers and the Scripture itself to our own level and circumstances.Our spiritual life is not something bookish or that follows formulas. Everything we learn has to become part of our life and something natural to us. We can be reading about hesychasm and the Jesus Prayer, for example, and begin to say it ourselves — and still be blind to our own passions and unresponsive to a person in need right in front of us, not seeing that this is a test of our Christianity that comes at a more basic level than saying the Jesus Prayer. We have to read Orthodox books that are on our level — the ones I mentioned above are more for beginners — and we have to read them very humbly, realizing the nature of our times when worldly influences are present everywhere and affect our thinking even when we aren't aware of it, and never dreaming that we are on any level but that of raw beginners.Bound up with this is a disease of today's Orthodox Christians which can be deadly: the "correctness disease." In a way this is a natural temptation to anyone who has just awakened to Christian faith and to spiritual life — the more one finds out about Christian doctrine and practice, the more one discovers how many "mistakes" one has been making up to now, and one's natural desire is to be "correct." This is praiseworthy, although in the beginning one is probably going to be too artificially "strict" and make many new mistakes out of pride (to which we are constantly blind). If you are critical of others, self-confident about your own correctness, eager to quote canons to prove someone else is wrong, constantly "knowing better" than others — you have the germs of the "correctness disease." These are signs of immaturity in spiritual life, and often one outgrows them if one is living a normal spiritual life.But especially in our days, the spirit of worldliness is so strong, and there is obviously so much wrong in our church life — that there is a strong temptation to make "correctness" a way of life, to get stuck in it...Sometimes one's zeal for "Orthodoxy" (in quotes) can be so excessive that it produces a situation similar to that which caused an old Russian woman to remark of an enthusiastic American convert "Well, he's certainly Orthodox all right — but is he a Christian?"...To be "Orthodox but not Christian" is a state that has a particular name in Christian language: it means to be a pharisee, to be so bogged down in the letter of the Church's laws that one loses the spirit that gives them life, the spirit of true Christianity. In saying this my aim is not to be critical or to point to anyone in particular — we all suffer from this — but only to point out a pitfall which can cause one to fail to take advantage of the riches which the Orthodox Church provides for our salvation, even in these evil times.Even when it is not fanatical, this spirit of "correctness" for its own sake turns out to be fruitless. As an example, I can tell you of a very good friend of ours, one of the zealot fathers of Mt. Athos. He is a "moderate" zealot, in that he recognizes the grace of New Calendar sacraments, accepts the blessings of priests of our Church, and the like; but he is absolutely strict when it comes to applying the basic Zealot principle, not to have communion not only with bishops whose teaching departs from Orthodox truth, such as the Patriarch of Constantinople, and not only with anyone who has communion with him, but with anyone who has communion with anyone who in any remote way has communion with him. Such "purity" is so difficult to attain in our days (our whole Russian Church Abroad, for example, is "tainted" in his eyes by some measure of communion with the other Orthodox Churches) that he is in communion with only his own priest and ten other monks in his group on the Holy Mountain; all of the rest of the Orthodox Church is not "pure."Perhaps there are only ten or twelve people left in the world who are perfectly "strict" and "pure" in their Orthodoxy — this I really don't know; but it simply cannot be that there are really only ten or twelve Orthodox Christians left in the world with whom one can have true oneness of faith, expressed in common communion. I think that you can see that there is some kind of spiritual dead-end here; even if we had to believe such a narrow view of Orthodoxy according to the letter, our believing Christian heart would rebel against it. We cannot really live by such strictness; we must somehow be less "correct" and closer to the heart of Orthodox Christianity.From a talk delivered by Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) at the St. Herman Winter Pilgrimage at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, December 25, 1979.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Obedience is another indispensable implement in the struggle against our selfish will. With obedience you cut off your physical members the better to be able to serve with the spiritual, says St. John Climacus. And again, obedience is the grave of your own will, but from it rises humility.

You must remember that you have of your own free will given yourself over to slavery, and let the cross you wear around your neck be a reminder of this: through slavery you are proceeding towards true freedom. But has the slave a will of his own? He must learn to obey.

Perhaps you ask: Whom shall I obey? The saints answer: you shall obey your leaders (Hebrewws 13:17). Who are my leaders, you ask? Where shall I find any, now that it is so utterly hard to discover a genuine leader? Then the holy Fathers reply: The Church has foreseen this too. Therefore since the time of the apostles it has given us a teacher who surpasses all others and who can reach us everywhere, wherever we are and under whatever circumstances we live. Whether we be in city or country, married or single, poor or rich, the teacher is always with us and we always have the opportunity to show him obedience. Do you wish to know his name? It is holy fasting.

God does not need our fasting. He does not even need our prayer. The Perfect cannot be thought of as suffering any lack or needing anything that we, the creatures of His making, could give Him. Nor does he crave anything from us, but, says John Chrysostom, He allows us to bring Him offerings for the sake of our own salvation.

The greatest offering we can present to the Lord is our self. We cannot do this without giving up our own will. We learn to do this through obedience, and obedience we learn through practice. The best form of practice is that provided by the Church in her prescribed fast days and seasons.
Besides fasting we have other teachers to whom we can show obedience. They meet us at every step in our daily life, if only we recognize their voices. Your wife wants you to take your raincoat with you: do as she wishes, to practice obedience. Your fellow-worker asks you to walk with her a little way: go with her to practice obedience. Wordlessly the infant asks for care and companionship: do as it wishes as far as you can, and thus practice obedience. A novice in a cloister could not find more opportunity for obedience than you in your own home. And likewise at your job and in your dealing with your neighbor.

Obedience breaks down many barriers. You achieve freedom and peace as your heart practices non-resistance. You show obedience and thorny hedges give way before you. Then love has open space in which to move about. By obedience you crush your pride, your desire to contradict, your self-wisdom and stubbornness that imprison you with a hard shell. Inside that shell you cannot meet the God of love and freedom. . . .

You may depend upon it that you are sent just as many opportunities for obedience as you need, and the very kind that are most suitable for you. But if you notice that you have let an opportunity slip by, reproach yourself: you have been like a sailor who has let a favourable wind go by unused.

For the wind it was a matter of indifference whether it was used or not. But for the sailor it was a means of reaching his destination sooner. Thus you should think of obedience, and all the means that are offered us by the Holy Trinity, in that way.

–Tito Colliander, Way of the Ascetics (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press: 1960/2003). pp. 42-44, 45

…He who is obedient, is an imitator of Christ, and he who is proud and talks back is an imitator of the devil. So let us be careful, whom we are imitating, Christ or the devil…The so-called Christians must be true, in word and deed and not false, only in name. Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Therefore silence, prayer, obedience; when you practice these virtues with the help of God, then you will know the light of Christ is within your soul. Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Mount Athos, "Counsels from the Holy Mountain"

...a man who submits to the statutes of the fathers, reaches his goal before he has made a single step. the Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 15, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 180)

...obedience is the medicine compounded of virtues, giving life to those who drink it, and the knife which, with one cut, cleans festering wounds. A man who, in faith and simplicity, has chosen to wield this knife, at once cuts off all passions, more completely than anyone... St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 107)

...willing obedience is an action which shows more courage and strength of spirit than subjugating great kings and ruling over them... Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 7)

A truly intelligent man has only one care -- wholeheartedly to obey Almighty God and to please Him. The one and only thing he teaches his soul is how best to do things agreeable to God, thanking Him for His merciful Providence in whatever may happen in his life. For just as it would be unseemly not to thank physicians for curing our body, even when they give us bitter and unpleasant remedies, so too would it be to remain ungrateful to God for things that appear to us painful, failing to understand that everything happens through His Providence for our good. In this understanding and this faith in God lie salvation and peace of soul. St. Antony the Great A.D. 250-350

Four monks of Scetis, clothed in skins, came one day to see the great Pambo. Each one revealed the virtue of his neighbor. The first fasted a great deal; the second was poor; the third had acquired great charity; and they said of the fourth that he had lived for twenty-two years in obedience to an old man. Abba Pambo said to them, “I tell you, the virtue of this last one is the greatest. Each of the others has obtained the virtue he wished to acquire; but the last one, restraining his own will, does the will of another. Now it is of such men that the martyrs are made, if they persevere to the end.” Abba Pambo, from Sr. Benedicta Ward, “The Desert Christian,” (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1975), pp. 195 - 198

He is not yet a faithful servant who bases himself on bare knowledge alone; a faithful servant is he who professes his faith by obedience to Christ, Who gave the commandments. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

He who reveres the Lord does what is commanded, and if he commits some sin or disobeys Him, endures whatever he has to suffer for this as being his desert. St. Mark the Ascetic, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 86 - 90

He who wishes to tear up the account of his sins and to be inscribed in the Divine book of the saved, can find for this purpose no better means than obedience. SS. Callistus & Ignatius
In order, then, that Christ may win us all unto obedience, He promises us surpassing honors, and deigns us the highest love, saving, `My mother and My brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it.' For who among men is so obdurate and ungentle, as to refuse to honor, and accord the most complete love to his mother and brethren? For the all-powerful law of nature, even without our will, obliges us to this. When, therefore, bowing our neck to the Savior's commands, we become His followers, and so are in the relation of a mother and brethren to Him, how does He regard us before God's judgment seat? Is it not with gentleness and love? What doubt can there be of this?: And what is comparable to this honor and goodness? What is there worthy of being matched with a gift thus splendid and desirable? St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke

It was said of Abba John the Dwarf that he withdrew and lived in the desert at Scetis with an old man of Thebes. His abba, taking a piece of dry wood, planted it and said to him, "Water it every day with a bottle of water, until it bears fruit." Now the water was so far away that he had to leave in the evening and return the following morning. At the end of three years the wood came to life and bore fruit. The old man took some of the fruit and carried it to the church saying to the brethren, "Take and eat the fruit of obedience." Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 85-89

Obedience is absolute renunciation of our own life, clearly expressed in our bodily actions. Or, conversely, obedience is the mortification of the limbs while the mind remains alive. Obedience is unquestioning movement, voluntary death, a life free of curiosity, carefree danger, unprepared defense before God, fearlessness of death, a safe voyage, a sleeper’s progress. Obedience is the tomb of the will and the resurrection of humility. A corpse does not argue or reason as to what is good or what seems to be bad. For he who has devoutly put the soul of the novice to death will answer for everything. Obedience is an abandonment of discernment in a wealth of discernment. St John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 4: On Blessed and Ever-Memorable Obedience (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978)

Our Holy Father Acacius of Sinai.

In his famous book, 'The Ladder', St John Climacus records the life of this saint. The young Acacius was a novice with an evil elder in the monastery on Sinai. The foul-tempered elder daily groused and grumbled at Acacius, and often beat him, tormenting and illtreating him in every possible way. Acacius did not complain, but bore it all patiently and with trust that it would work for his salvation. When anyone asked him how he survived, he replied : 'Well, as before the Lord God'. After nine years of obedience and ill-treatment, Acacius died. The elder buried him and then went off to lament to another elder, a holy man, saying: 'Acacius, my disciple, is dead. "I don't believe it' replied the holy elder , 'Acacius is not dead.' They then both went to the dead man's grave, and the holy elder called out: 'Brother Acacius, are you dead?' The obedient Acacius, obedient even in death, replied: 'I am not dead; the obedient cannot die.' Then the evil elder repented and shut himself in a cell near Acacius's grave, where he spent the rest of his life in repentance and prayer. The Prologue from Ochrid - November 29

The Lord said, 'When you have done all that is commanded you, say: We are useless servants: we have only done what was our duty' (Luke 17:10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for His faithful servants. St. Hesychius the Priest

The beginning of the mortification both of the soul’s desire and of the bodily members is much hard work. The middle is sometimes laborious and sometimes not laborious. But the end is insensibility and insusceptibility to toil and pain. Only when he sees himself doing his own will does this blessed living corpse feel sorry and sick at heart; and he fears the responsibility of using his own judgment. St John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Step 4: On Blessed and Ever-Memorable Obedience (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978)

There is no shorter ascent to the royal and Divine mansions...than through subduing the five passions hostile to obedience, namely: disobedience, argumentativeness, self-gratification, self-justification and pernicious high opinion of oneself...Disobedience is the mouth of hell; argumentativeness its tongue, whetted like a sword; self-gratification is its sharp teeth; self-justification its throat; high opinion of oneself, which casts one into hell, is the belching of its all-devouring belly. But he who, through obedience, conquers the first, by one stroke cuts off all the rest and with one stride reaches heaven. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 121)

They used to say that Abba Sylvanus had in Scete a disciple whose name was Mark, and that he possessed to a great degree the faculty of obedience; he was a scribe, and the old man loved him greatly for his obedience. Now Sylvanus had eleven other disciples, and they were disturbed because they saw that the old man loved Mark more than them, and when the old men who were in Scete heard of this they were also troubled about it.

One day when they came to him to reprove him about this, Sylvanus took them, and went forth, and passing by the cells of the brethren, he knocked at the door of each cell, and said, "O brother, come forth, for I have need of thee." And he passed by all their cells, and not one of them obeyed him quickly.

But when they went to the cell of Mark, he knocked at the door and said, "Brother Mark," and as soon as Mark heard the voice of the old man, he jumped up straightway and came out and Sylvanus sent him off on some business.

Then Sylvanus said to the old men, "My fathers, where are the other brethren?" And they went into Mark's cell, and looked at the quire of the book which he was writing, and they saw that he had begun to write one side of the Greek letter "omega" (o) and that as soon as he heard the voice of his master, he ran out and did not stay to complete the other side of the letter. Now when the old men perceived these things, they answered and said unto Sylvanus, "Verily, old man, we also love the brother whom thou lovest, for God also loveth him." "Paradise of the Fathers," vol. II, p. 53, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge, (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984)
Those who live in obedience are strangers to love of money. For where even the body has been given up, what is left to be one's own? Only in one way can they be harmed, namely by being ready and quick to go from place to place. I have seen material possessions make monks patient to remain in one place. But I praise those who are pilgrims for the Lord. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 17: On Non-Permissiveness (that Hastens One Heavenwards)

Those who struggle, regain their original state by keeping two commandments - obedience and fasting; for all evil entered into the generation of mortals through practices opposed to them. Moreover, those who keep the commandments through obedience ascend to God more quickly, and those who keep them through fasting - more slowly. Besides, obedience is more suitable for beginners, and fasting for those on the way, who possess courage and vision of mind. But in fulfilling the commandments it is given to very few always to obey God undeceived, and even for the most valiant this achievement is very difficult. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 18)

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility.
St. Ambrose of Optina

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Spoken at the beginning of the Great Fast by St Theodore the Studite

Brethren and fathers, the season of Lent, when compared to the whole year, may be likened to a storm-free harbour, in which all who are sailing together enjoy a spiritual calm. For the present season is one of salvation not for monks and nuns only, but also for lay people, for great and small, for rulers and ruled, for emperors and priests, for every race and for every age. For cities and villages reduce their hubbub and bustle, while psalmody and hymns, prayers and entreaties take their place, by which our good God is propitiated and so guides our spirits to peace and pardons our offences, if, with a sincere heart, we will only fall down before him with fear and trembling and weep before him, promising improvement for the future. But let the leaders of the churches speak of what is suitable to lay people, for just as those who run in the stadium need the vocal support of their fellow contestants, so fasters need the encouragement of their teachers. But I, since I have been placed at your head, honoured brethren, will also talk to you briefly. Fasting then is a renewal of the soul, for the holy Apostle says,
Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward is being renewed day by day. And if it is being renewed, clearly it is being made beautiful according to its original beauty; made beautiful in itself it is being drawn lovingly to the one who said, I and the Father will come and make our dwelling with him. If then such is the grace of fasting, that it makes us into a dwelling place of God, we must welcome it, brethren, gladly, not grieving at the plainness of the diet, for we know that the Lord, though he is able to nourish lavishly, made a banquet for thousands in the wilderness from bread and water. Also because what is unusual, with enthusiasm becomes acceptable and painless. Fasting is not defined by foods alone, but by every abstinence from evil, as our godly fathers have explained. And so, I beg you, let us abstain from despondency, idleness, sluggishness, jealousy, strife, maliciousness, self-indulgence, self-reliance; let us abstain from destructive desire which the manyshaped serpent lays before us when we are fasting. Let us listen to the one who says, ‘The fruit which slew me was beautiful to behold and fair to eat’. And observe: he says beautiful to behold, not beautiful by nature. For just as if someone taking a pomegranate decked out with a scarlet rind should find it rotten, in the same way pleasure feigns untold sweetness, but when it is plucked it is found more bitter than gall, or rather, than a sharpened two-edged sword which devours the soul it has captured. This is what our forefather Adam suffered when he was tricked by the serpent; for when he touched the forbidden food, he found death instead of life. This too is what all they have suffered who from then until now have been similarly deceived by the dragon. For just as he, who is darkness, transforms himself into an angel of light, so he knows how to transform bad into good, bitter into sweet, dark into light, ugly into beautiful, deadly into life-giving; and so the all-evil one does not cease to lead the world astray at every opportunity. But let us at least, brethren, not be led astray by his manifold deceptions, nor suffer the fate of the birds who greedily approach what seems to be food and fall into the hunter’s trap. Let us rather look on the outer coverings of evil as dung and when with the mind we have looked on evil in its nakedness we shall flee from it at once. In addition let us welcome the times of psalmody, be enthusiastic for hymnody, attentive to the readings, making prostrations according to the given measure at each hour; working with our own hands, because working is good and because one who does not work is not judged worthy of eating. Let us bear one another’s burdens, for one is weak and another strong, making use of food and drink and the other necessities with moderation, so that there is no provoking to jealousy among evil people, but zeal in goodness. In everything be good to one another, compassionate, reasonable, obedient, full of mercy and good fruits, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and thoughts. And now, may you be found worthy without condemnation to reach the supreme day of the Resurrection, but in the age to come at the resurrection of the dead to gain the kingdom of heaven in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be the glory and the might, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.