Draw near to him as a child – Mar Isaac the Syrian

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When you fall down before God in prayer, become in your thought like an ant, like a creeping thing of the earth, like a leech, and like a tiny lisping child. Do not say anything before him with knowledge, but with a child’s manner of thought, draw near God and walk before him, that you may be counted worthy of that paternal providence that fathers have for their small children.

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies]

Be careful of laziness and procrastination – Mar Isaac the Syrian

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Be on your guard against idleness, my beloved; intelligible death is hidden in it. Without it, it is impossible that the solitary should fall into the hands of those who wish to captivate him.

Not that God will judge us on that day on the basis of the Psalm we have recited or whether we have passed in idleness the times of service occasionally; but by our neglecting them, the demons win access.

And when they have found an opportunity to enter and have shut our rooms, they accomplish in us tyrannically things which will necessarily bring their perpetrators under divine judgement in view of the severe punishment allotted to them. So we become enslaved through negligence in small matters which by the prudent are treated in a painstaking way, for the sake of Christ.

As it has been said: “Whoever does not subject his will to God, he becomes a slave to his foe.” We have therefore, to consider as walls against those who desire to captivate us, those things which are reputed to be of a humble nature and which are accomplished in the cell, things which by those who maintain the strict institutes of the church have been laid down in prudence, in a spirit of revelation, for the preservation of our life, the neglect of which is deemed insignificant by the imprudent, the harm of which, however, they do not consider.The beginning and middle of their path is untrained freedom, which is the mother of wrongs.

To trouble oneself which the care of small things is better than to give opportunity for sin by remissness regarding them.This is freedom at the wrong time; the end of which is grinding slavery.

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies, Homily XXX]

The importance of humility – Mar Isaac the Syrian

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Humility, even without works, gains forgiveness for many offenses; but without her, works are of no profit to us.

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies, Homily 69)

For a man who for God’s sake humbles himself, and thinks meanly of himself, is glorified by God.

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies, Homily 5]

Humility always received mercy from God; but hardness of heart and littleness of faith contend with fearful encounters.

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies. Homily 5]

One of the saints wrote that, “If a man does not count himself a sinner, his prayer is not accepted by the Lord.”

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies, Epistle to Abba Symeon]

Stretch forth your hands, not to heaven, but to the poor – St. John Chrysostom

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Make God your debtor, and then offer your prayers. Lend to Him, and then ask a return, and you shall receive it with usury. God wills this, and does not retract. If you ask with alms, He holds himself obliged. If you ask with alms, you lend and receive interest.

Yes, I beseech you! It is not for stretching out your hands you shall be heard! stretch forth your hands, not to heaven, but to the poor. If you stretch forth your hand to the hands of the poor, you have reached the very summit of heaven. For He who sits there receives your alms. But if you lift them up without a gift, you gain nothing.

[St. John Chrysostom, Homily I on Timothy]

A mouth that praises and a heart that is grateful – Mar Isaac the Syrian

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The mouth which constantly praises, receives a blessing from God; the heart which is constantly grateful, is inhabited by grace.

[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies, Homily XLV]

What is fear of God? – Abba Isaiah of Scetis

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Abba Peter said, “I asked him, ‘what is fear of God?’ and he said to me, ‘A person who trusts in anybody who is not God, that person does not have fear of God in himself.'”

[Abba Isaiah of Scetis, Ascetical Discourses, Discourse 26]

Grow in spirituality step by step – John of the Ladder

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To admire the labours 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.

[John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent]