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]

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Lord, as you will and as you know, have mercy – Abba Macarius the Great

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Abba Macarius was asked, “How should one pray?” The old man said, “There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one’s hands and say, ‘Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.’ And if the conflict grows fiercer say, ‘Lord, help!’ He knows very well what we need and He shows us His mercy.”

[Abba Macarius the Egyptian, Apophthegmata Patrum]

The grapes of fraternal love – Abba Macarius the Egyptian

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On one occasion some early grapes were sent to Abba Macarius because he longed for them, and to give a proof of his abstinence, he sent them to another brother who was sick, and who craved for grapes; and having received them, he rejoiced over them greatly, and then he despised his desire, and sent them on to another brother, as one who had no wish for food of any kind, and who held his self-denial in contempt. Now when the brother had received the grapes, although he desired greatly to eat them, he did the same as the other brother had done, and no man wished to eat them. And after they had gone about among many brethren, the last one who received them sent them to the blessed Macarius as a gift of great honour; and when the blessed Macarius saw the grapes he marvelled at the extent of the self-denial of the brethren, and gave thanks unto God, and he did not eat them.

[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]

Get up again! – Abba Sisoes

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Another brother asked Abba Sisoes, “I have fallen, Abba; what shall I do?” The elder said to him, “Get up again.” The brother said, “I have gotten up again, but again have I fallen.” The elder said, “Get up again and again.” So the brother asked, “How many times?” The elder replied, “Until you are taken up either in virtue or in sin. For a man presents himself to judgment in that state in which he is found.”

[Apophthegmata Patrum]