Our Crowded Hearts

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The heart is but a small vessel; and yet dragons and lions are there, and there likewise are poisonous creatures and all treasures of wickedness; rough, uneven paths are there, and gaping chasms. There also is God, there also are the angels, there – life and the Kingdom, there-light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasures of grace: all things are there. ~ St. Macarius the Great

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere Incognito. ~ C.S. Lewis

The Simplest Blessings…

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…Give us hope!

Just as the blessings of God are unutterably great, so their acquisition requires much hardship and toil undertaken with hope and faith. ~ St. Macarius the Great

The spiritual life is very simple and quite easy. We make it difficult by not struggling properly. ~ Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ~Romans 12:12

Ribbons of Blessings

Ancient Mosaic from Museum – Turkey, 2004

Just as the blessings of God are unutterably great, so their acquisition requires much hardship and toil undertaken with hope and faith. ~ St. Macarius the Great

If God is slow in answering your request, or if you ask but do not promptly receive anything, do not be upset, for you are not wiser than God. ~ St. Isaac of Syria

Steep and Thorny

Bristling Scotch Thistles

Steep and thorny is the path that leads to the Heavenly Kingdom… Self-love is the soil upon which grow passions, emptiness of life, and sorrow. ~ Archbishop Seraphim Sobolev

Loving only himself, a man loves neither God nor his fellow-men. He does not even love the man that is in himself; he loves only his thoughts about himself, his illusions about himself. Were he to love the man in himself, he would at the same time love God’s image in him, and would quickly become a lover of God and man, for he would be seeking man and God in other men, as objects of his love. Self-love is not love, but is rejection of God and contempt for men, whether open or concealed. Self-love is not love but sickness, a serious illness that inevitably brings other illnesses in its train. As pox inevitably produces fever throughout the body, so self-love produces the fire of envy and anger in the whole body. A man full of self-love is full of envy of those who are better than he is, or richer, more learned or more respected by men. With envy there always goes anger, like flame with fire; a concealed anger, that flares out at times and, in so doing, reveals all the ugliness of the man’s sick heart, that has been poisoned with the poison of self-love… ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Take the example of the earth. Even though it is one, nevertheless, some earth is rocky, some quite fertile. And some is good for vines while other ground is suited for raising wheat and barley. So also are different types of human hearts and wills. Likewise also gifts from above are distributed differently. To one is given ministry of preaching, to another that of discernment, to another the gifts of healings (1 Corinthians 12:9). For God knows how a person is able to fulfill his stewardship and so He gives His various gifts accordingly. In a similar way to the interior battles, the enemy power is permitted to attack humans in the certain measure that each person is able to receive and withstand. ~ St. Macarius of Egypt (Fifty Spiritual Homilies)

Lord, Help

Crypt of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Bari, Italy – 2017

There is no need to make long prayers, but extend your hands and say, ‘Lord, as you will and as you desire, lead me.’ If the conflict us urgent within you, say, ‘Lord help.’ He knows what is good for us, and He acts with mercy toward us. ~ St. Macarius the Great

Dry Spells

Sometimes we are tested by pleasure, sometimes by distress or by physical suffering. By means of His prescriptions the Physician of souls administers the remedy according to the cause of the passions lying hidden in the soul. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

We know God is with us, but sometimes there may be struggles to feel His Presence and Love, or even pray. Yet, there is a consolation!

During times of spiritual dryness, faithful perseverance in prayer is the sweetest of all our prayers to God. By clinging tenaciously to Christ’s love with prayer, regardless of circumstances, we are blessed.

4th Century St. Macarius the Great reminds: One must force himself to prayer when he has not spiritual prayer, and God, beholding him thus striving, and compelling himself by force, in spite of an unwilling heart, gives him the true prayer of the Spirit.

The Holy Apostle Paul writes the rewards of perseverance in prayer: And we also have joy with our troubles because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces experience, and experience produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. God gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5

Archpriest Nikolai Guryanov encourages: Do not grieve, do not be sad: Again will come a time to be glad; patiently wait, patiently endure, to those who wait will come their reward!

Everything that has a beginning has an end… Except for God, Who is beginningless.

This is just for now!

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