Recite constantly the word of God. Put up with fatigue and “be grateful for everything” (1 Th 5:18). Shun the praise of men and love the one who, in the fear of the Lord, reprimands you. Let every man be profitable to you so that you may be good to everyone. Persevere in your work, and in language be above reproach. Do not take one step forward, then a step backward, that God may not detest you; for the crown shall go to the one who perseveres (c.f. Mt. 10:22). Be ever more obedient to God and He will save you.
[St. Pachomius the Great, Instruction Concerning a Spiteful Monk (Pach. Instr. 1), 14]
Once as the abbot Macarius was passing through Egypt with some brethren, he heard a child say to his mother, ‘Amma, a rich man loves me, and I hate him; and a poor man hates me, and I love him.’ The abbot Macarius wondered when he heard it. The brethren said to him, ‘What was there to wonder at in the saying, father?’ The old man said to them, ‘Truly our Lord is rich and loves us and we will not listen to Him; but our enemy the Devil is poor and hates us, and we love his uncleanness.’
My son, I ask you to be watchful and to be on your guard, acquainted with those who lie in ambush against you.
The spirit of cowardice and the spirit of distrust walk hand in hand; the spirit of lying and the spirit of deceit walk hand in hand;
the spirits of greed and trafficking, of perjury and dishonesty, and that of jealousy walk hand in hand;
the spirit of vanity and the spirit of gluttony walk hand in hand;
the spirit of fornication and the spirit of impurity walk hand in hand;
the spirit of enmity and the spirit of sadnesss walk hand in hand.
Woe to the wretched soul in which they make their home and of which they make themselves masters. They hold such a soul far from God, because it is in their power. It sways from side to side till it ends in the abyss of hell.
[St. Pachomius the Great, Instruction Concerning a Spiteful Monk (Pach. Instr. 1), 10]
The whole year will be fortunate for you, not if you are drunk on the new-moon, but if both on the new-moon, and each day, you do those things approved by God. For days come wicked and good, not from their own nature; for a day differs nothing from another day, but from our zeal and sluggishness. If you perform righteousness, then the day becomes good to you; if you perform sin, then it will be evil and full of retribution. If you contemplate these things, and are so disposed, you will consider the whole year favourable, performing prayers and charity every day; but if you are careless of virtue for yourself, and you entrust the contentment of your soul to beginnings of months and numbers of days, you will be desolate of everything good unto yourself.
Which then the Devil perceiving, and hastening to make an end of our labours in virtue, and to extinguish our willingness of mind, taught success and failures to be inscribed on the days. For the one persuading himself that a day is evil and good, will neither have a care for good deeds on the evil day, as if performing all things in vain, and benefiting nothing on account of the necessity of the day; nor again on the good day will he do this, as if from his own idleness causing no harm, again on account of the good fortune of the day; and thus from each he promotes his own wellbeing; and sometimes doing profitless things, sometimes superfluous things, he will pass his life in leisure and wickedness. Knowing which, he must flee from the wiles of the devil, and cast out this influence of thought, and observe not the days, neither to hate one nor to love one. For that wicked demon does contrive these things, not only in order to cast us into idleness, but also to revile the works of God, wishing to draw down our souls both into impiety and idleness at the same time.
But we are obliged to resist, and to know clearly, that nothing is evil but sin alone, and nothing good but virtue alone, and to please God always. Strong drink does not produce delight, but spiritual prayer; not wine, but a learned word; Wine effects a storm, but the Word effects calm; the former transports in an uproar, the latter expels disturbance; the former darkens the understanding, the latter lightens the darkened; the former imports despondencies that are non-existent, the latter drives away those there were For nothing is so accustomed to produce contentment and delight, as the teachings of [our] philosophy, [which is] to despise present affairs, to yearn for the things to come, to consider nothing of human affairs to be secure, and if you behold some rich man not to be bitten with envy, and if you fall into poverty not to be downcast by that poverty. Thus you are always able to celebrate festivals. For the Christian ought to hold feasts not for months, nor new moons, nor Lord’s days, but continually through life to conduct a feast befitting him. What is the feast that befits him? Let us listen to Paul speaking, “Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not in the old leaven, nor by leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”If then you have a clean conscience, you hold a feast continually, nourished with good hopes, and revelling in the delight of the good things to come; then just as if you conducted yourself lacking boldness, and you were liable from many sins, and if there be ten thousand feasts and holy-days, you would be in no better state than those grieving. For what is the benefit to me of bright days, if my soul is darkened in its conscience? If then one wishes to gain some benefit from the new moon, do this. When you see the year ending, thank the Lord, because he had led you into this cycle of years. Stab the heart, reckon up the time of your life, say to oneself: “The days run and pass by, the years fill-up, we have progressed much of the way; What good is there for us to do? Will we not depart from here, empty and deserted of all righteousness, the judgment at the doors, the rest of life leads us to our old age.”
[St. John Chrysostom, Homily on the Kalends of January]