Pity gives freedom of speech before God – Abba Pambo

 

Abba Theodore of Pherme asked Abba Pambo, “Give me a word.” With much difficulty he said to him, “Theodore, go and have pity on all, for through pity, one finds freedom of speech before God.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

[Icon of “Tilakani”  by the hand Fadi Mikhail in the Neo-Coptic Style]

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Our life and death is with our neighbour – Abba Anthony the Great

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He also said, ‘Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ.’

[Abba Anthony the Great, the Father of Monks, Apophthegmata Patrum]

On pressing forwards – Abba Theodore of Pherme

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Abba Theodore of Pherme said, ‘The man who remains standing when he repents, has not kept the commandment.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]

The remembrance of outer darkness troubles me – Abba Sisoes

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Three old men once came to Abba Sisoes because they had heard that he was a great man. And the first one said unto him, “Father, how can I escape from the river of fire” And Abba Sisoes answered him never a word.

Then the second old man said unto him, “Father, how can I escape from the gnashing of teeth, and from the worm which never dies?” And Abba Sisoes answered him never a word.

Then the third old man said unto him, “Father, what shall I do? For the remembrance of the outer darkness troubles me.”

And Abba Sisoes answered and said unto them, “I never think on any of these things, but I believe that God is Merciful, and that He will show mercy unto me.” Then the old men went away grieved at the answer which Abba Sisoes had spoken unto them.

Now because he did not wish to send them away sorrowful, he brought them back, and said unto them, “Blessed are you, O my brethren, for I have been jealous of you”, and they said unto him, “In what matter have you been jealous of us?”

And he said, “The first one of you spoke about a river of fire; and the second spoke about the gnashing of teeth and the worm which dies not; and the third spoke about the outer darkness; if remembrances of this kind have dominion over your minds it is impossible for you to commit sin. What can I do who am stubborn of heart? For hardness of heart will not allow me to perceive even that there a punishment for men exists, and because of this I sin every hour.”

And when the old men had heard these words, they made excuses to him, and said, “In very truth according to what we have heard, even so have we seen.”

[Abba Sisoes, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Words to live by – Abba Anthony the Great

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Somebody asked Abba Anthony, “By observing which [precept] shall I be well pleasing to God?” The elder answered, “Observe what I am telling you: Always have God before your eyes wherever you go. Whatever you are doing, have the testimony from Holy Scripture to hand. Wherever you are living, do not be in a hurry to move away. Observe these three [precepts] and you will be saved.”

[Abba Anthony the Great, the Father of Monks, Apophthegmata Patrum]

Of all the things valued in this life, nothing is more precious than prayer – St. Gregory of Nyssa

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Whatever anyone may set out to do, if it is done with prayer the undertaking will prosper and he will be kept from sin, because there is nothing to oppose him and drag the soul into passion.

If, on the other hand, a man leaves God out and gives his attention to nothing but his business, then he is inevitably opposed to God, because he is separated from Him. For a person who does not unite himself to God through prayer is separated from God.

Therefore we must learn first of all that we ought always to pray and not to faint. For the effect of prayer is union with God, and if someone is with God, he is separated from the enemy.

Through prayer we guard our chastity, control our temper, and rid ourselves with vanity; it makes us forget injuries, overcomes envy, defeats injustice, and makes amends for sin. Through prayer we obtain physical well-being, a happy home, and a strong, well-ordered society. Prayer will make our nation powerful, will give us victory in war and security in peace; it reconciles enemies and preserves allies.

Prayer is the seal of virginity and a pledge of faithfulness in marriage; it shields the wayfarer, protects the sleeper, and gives courage to those who keep vigil. It obtains a good harvest for the farmer and a safe port for the sailor.

Prayer is your advocate in lawsuits. If you are in prison, it will obtain your release; it will refresh you when you are weary and comfort you when you are sorrowful. Prayer is the delight of the joyful as well as solace to the afflicted. It is the wedding crown of the spouses and the festive joy of a birthday no less than the shroud that enwraps us in death.

Prayer is intimacy with God and contemplation of the invisible. It satisfies our yearnings and makes us equal to the angels. Through it good prospers, evil is destroyed and sinners will be converted.

Prayer is the enjoyment of things present and the substance of the things to come. Prayer turned the whale into a home for Jonas, it brought Ezechias back to life from the very gates of death; it transformed the flames into a moist wind for the Three Children. Through prayers the Israelites triumphed over the Amalekites, and 185,000 Assyrians were slain one night by the invisible sword.

Past history furnishes us with thousands of other examples besides these which makes it clear that, of all the things valued in this life, nothing is more precious than prayer.

I wish we could already turn to prayer itself; but we would rather add a little to what has been said, and consider how many diverse good things we have received from Divine grace, for the gift of which we should make a return to our Benefactor by prayer and thanksgiving.

Now I think that, even if we spent our whole life in constant communion with God in prayer and thanskgiving, we should be as far from having made Him an adequate return as if we had not even begun to desire making the Giver of all good things such a return.

[St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Lord’s Prayer, The Beatitudes]

[On this day, the 26 Hatour in the Coptic Calendar, we commemorate St. Gregory of Nyssa, his blessings be with Amen.

Take care of your speech – Abba Poemen

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Abba Poemen said, “If a person remembers the saying that is written, ‘By your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned’ [Mat 12:37], he would rather choose to keep silent.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]