What a blessing this smoking is! Perhaps the greatest that we owe to the discovery of America.
The prophet shows that, for the sake of silence, we are to abstain even from good talk. If this be so, how much more needful is it that we refrain from evil words, on account of the penalty of the sin!
And there are men who wear out their bodies to no purpose in the pursuit of total dispassion, heavenly treasures, miracle working, and prophetic ability, and the poor fools do not realize that humility, not hard work, is the mother of such things.
But Adam did not wish to say, I sinned, but said rather the contrary of this and placed the blame for the transgression upon God Who created everything very good, saying to Him, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate. And after him she also placed the blame upon the serpent, and they did not wish at all to repent and, falling down before the Lord God, beg forgiveness of Him. For this, God banished them from Paradise, as from a royal palace, to live in this world as exiles. At that time also He decreed that a flaming sword should be turned and should guard the entrance into Paradise. And God did not curse Paradise, since it was the image of the future unending life of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. If it were not for this reason, it would have been fitting to curse it most of all, since within it was performed the transgression of Adam. But God did not do this, but cursed only the whole rest of the earth, which also was corrupt and brought forth everything by itself; and this was in order that Adam might not have any longer a life free from exhausting labors and sweat.
I consider those fallen mourners more blessed than those who have not fallen and are not mourning over themselves; because as a result of their fall, they have risen by a sure resurrection.
If there is a time for everything under heaven, as Ecclesiastes says, and by the word ‘everything’ must be understood what concerns our holy life, then if you please, let us look into it and let us seek to do at each time what is proper for that occasion. For it is certain that, for those who enter the lists, there is a time for dispassion and a time for passion (I say this for the combatants who are serving their apprenticeship); there is a time for tears, and a time for hardness of heart; there is a time for obedience, and there is a time to command; there is a time to fast, and a time to partake; there is a time for battle with our enemy the body, and a time when the fire is dead; a time of storm in the soul, and a time of calm in the mind; a time for heartfelt sorrow, and a time for spiritual joy; a time for teaching, and a time for listening; a time of pollutions, perhaps on account of conceit, and a time for cleansing by humility; a time for struggle, and a time for safe relaxation; a time for stillness, and a time for undistracted distraction; a time for unceasing prayer, and a time for sincere service. So let us not be deceived by proud zeal, and seek prematurely what will come in its own good time; that is, we should not seek in winter what comes in summer, or at seed time what comes at harvest; because there is a time to sow labors, and a time to reap the unspeakable gifts of grace. Otherwise, we shall not receive even in season what is proper to that season.
It is sheer lunacy to imagine that one has deserved the gifts of God. You may be proud only of the achievements you had before the time of your birth. But anything after that, indeed the birth itself, is a gift from God. You may claim only those virtues in you that are there independently of your mind, for your mind was bestowed on you by God. And you may claim only those victories you achieved independently of the body, for the body too is not yours but a work of God.
Repentance raises the fallen, mourning knocks at the gate of Heaven, and holy humility opens it.
Run from places of sin as from the plague.
The lover of silence draws close to God. He talks to Him in secret and God enlightens him.
To admire the labors of the saints is good; to emulate them wins salvation; but to wish suddenly to imitate their life in every point is unreasonable and impossible.
Without the heart it is no worship; it is a stage play; an acting a part without being that person really which is acted by us: a hypocrite, in the notion of the world, is a stage-player. We may as well say a man may believe with his body, as worship God only with his body. Faith is a great ingredient in worship; and it is “with the heart man believes unto righteousness.” We may be truly said to worship God, though we want perfection; but we cannot be said to worship him if we want sincerity; a statue upon a tomb, with eyes and hands lifted up, offers as good and true a service; it wants only a voice, the gestures and postures are the same; nay, the service is better; it is not a mockery; it represents all that it can be framed to; but to worship without our spirits, is a presenting God with a picture, an echo, voice, and nothing else; a compliment; a mere lie; a “compassing him about with lies.”
But self-abasement is just inverted egoism. Anyone who acts with genuine humility will be as far from humiliation as from arrogance.
Children understand that 'once upon a time' refers not only--not even primarily--to the past, but to the impalpable regions of the present, the deeper places inside us where princes and dragons, wizards and talking birds, impassable roads, impossible tasks, and happy endings have always existed, alive and bursting with psychic power.
The covetous man is like a camel with a great hunch on his back; heaven's gate must be made higher and broader, or he will hardly get in.
The way to be humble is to look upwards to God. If we think greatly of his majesty, purity, and infinity of all excellence, it will give us such a striking view of our vileness and absolute unworthiness, that we shall think it hardly possible for any to be lower than ourselves.
For a close, remember this, that your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all.
The only way to avoid cannon-shot is to fall down. No such way to be freed from temptation as to keep low.
Every man becomes the image of the God he adores. He whose worship is directed to a dead thing becomes dead. He who loves corruption rots. He who loves a shadow becomes, himself, a shadow. He who loves things that must perish lives in dread of their perishing.
I have been summoned to explore a desert area of man's heart in which explanations no longer suffice, and in which one learns that only experience counts.