STORIES FROM THE
A brother said to Abba Antonios :
"Pray for me"
The elder replied :
"Neither I can forgive you, nor
God, if you yourself do not examine your errors and pray."
Certain brothers visited Abba
Antonios and they said to him :
"Speak to us, how may we be saved
And the elder replied :
"Have you heard the Holy
Scriptures? That is enough for you."
but they said :
"We want to hear a piece of advice
from you also, father."
So the elder replied :
"The Gospel says - if someone
strikes you on the right cheek, turn, so that he may strike you on the
"We can't do that"
So the elder said to them :
"If you cannot turn the other side,
at least tolerate the one blow"
They replied :
"We can't do that either."
Then the elder said :
"If you can't do that either,
then don't return the blow."
They again said :
"We can't do that either"
Then the elder said to his pupil :
"Prepare some broth for them, for
they are sick."
And to them he said :
"If you can't do this, and you
don't want the other, then what can I do for you ? Praying is
The brothers again asked him :
"Father, which virtue demands the
He said to them :
"Forgive me, but I think that
nothing is as difficult as praying. Because, every time someone wants
to pray, the enemies want to obstruct him; because they know that
nothing can stop them, except praying to God.
And furthermore, whichever excercise
a person may pursue, if he patiently perseveres, in the end he will be
comforted; praying, however, demands struggling, even to our dying
Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus
The Abba of a monastery in Palestine
reported to the blessed Epiphanios, bishop of Cyprus :
"With the support of your
blessings, we did not neglect our canon; indeed, we zealously observed
the third, the sixth and the ninth hours."
However, he reprimanded them, saying
"It is obvious that you have
neglected the other hours of the day, seeing how you allowed resting
between your prayers. A true monk should constantly have a prayer and
a psalm in his heart ."
Certain elders visited Abba Poemen
and said to him :
"If we see any brothers dozing in
the congregation, do you believe we should wake them, in order that
they pay attention during the night-vigil ?"
And he said to them :
"Well, if I happen to see a brother
dozing, I place his head on my knees and allow him to rest."
Vasileios the Great
For prayers and for psalms - just
like many other things - every moment is suitable, therefore we
should praise the Lord, not only by using our hands as we work, but
also with our tongue whenever we can, which is even more capable of
strengthening our faith. If, however, we cannot pray in a loud voice,
then let us praise the Lord within our hearts, with psalms and hymns
and spiritual odes as the Scriptures tell us; let us say our prayer
during our working hours : namely, we can thank Him for giving
strength to our hands for labouring, and for the mind's capacity for
science; for granting us the materials from which we made our tools,
and the materials which we use in our crafts, whichever they may be;
and to pray that the labours of our hands have no other purpose, than
to please God.
Saint Mark the Ascetic
He is blind, who cries out loudly,
saying : "Son of David, have mercy on me", for he prays with the
body, and has not yet acquired spiritual knowledge.
He that was blind and recovered his
sight, upon seeing the Lord, thenceforth confessed Him to be the Son
of God , and no longer Son of David, and worshipped Him.
Do not boast, if you shed tears while
you pray. It is Christ who touched your eyes, so that you may see the
The ways of praying are many, and one
may differ more or less from the other; but there is not a single way
of praying that will cause harm; unless it is not praying, but a work
of the devil.
Whenever you remember God, multiply
your beseeching, so that whenever you forget Him, He will remind you.
He that prays for the good of unjust
people, exterminates the demons; he that defies the former, is
annihilated by the latter.
Pray, so that you might not be
visited by any temptation.
If it does come, confront it as
something that belongs to you, and not as if it were someone else's.
A servant does not demand freedom as
though it were his wages;
instead, he thanks the Lord like a
debtor, and anticipates his freedom
through God's grace.
When the mind prays undisturbed, it
leads to the crushing of the heart. A crushed and humbled heart the
Lord shall not allow to perish.
Saint Esychius the Elder
As it happens with rain, when, the
more it falls upon the soil, the more it softens it, thus the soil of
our heart rejoices and is filled with the holy name of Christ, the
more we pronounce it and call upon it .
(….) It is not possible for the
soul to become the image of God, except only through divine grace and
man's faith, when he concentrates his mind with extreme humility in
Saint Neilos the Ascetic
You must strive to maintain your mind
deaf and dumb during the time of prayer, and only then, shall you be
able to pray.
If you wish to pray correctly, do not
cause sorrow to any soul; otherwise, your labour will be futile.
Do not pray, so that the things you
desire may be done. For they may not necessarily coincide with God's
will. It is better that you pray as taught, with the words : "may
Your Will be done, within me".
And in every circumstance, ask this
of the Lord : that His Will be done; because He wants what is best for
you, and what is most beneficial for your soul, while you do not
always ask for that which is beneficial.
With virtues, we learn the reasons
behind various creations, and thus, we approach the reasoning of our
Lord the creator.
However, He usually reveals Himself,
during the state of prayer.
He that prays spiritually and
sincerely, ceases to praise the Lord for His creations, but instead,
honours Him and glorifies Him for His sake alone.
If you are a theologian, you pray
genuinely; and if you genuinely pray, you are a theologian.
Psalms are a kind of wisdom, and
praying introduces us to spiritual and various other kinds of
Saint Maximos the Confessor
He that is in need of a just man's
prayer will not benefit from it, as long as he himself continues to
derive pleasure from sins and not from virtues.
The Mighty Samuel was once sorrowing
for Saul and the sins that he had committed, but he (Samuel) was
unable to appease the Lord, because, to his sorrow was not added the
due repentance of the sinner (Saul).
Thus, God dismissed his faithful one
from a foolish bereavement, with these words : "for how long will
you grieve for Saul? I myself have taken away his right to rule over
Although you may (through
unadulterated prayer which invisibly unites the invisible mind with
God) have attained the state of seeing as a mirrored reflection the
life which is to be the successor of your passing life here, because
you had accepted the betrothal of the Spirit and acquired within you
the kingdom of heaven with all your senses and your thoughts; although
you may have achieved all this, do not, however, tolerate being
dismissed from your flesh, without having foreseen your death;
instead, you should fervently pray for this, and hope to achieve this,
near the time of your departure, if this benefits you. And you should
prepare yourself for this departure, by casting out all fear; thus,
you shall be able to pass through the air, escape from the malevolent
spirits, and pass bravely and fearlessly through the heavenly arches,
to be united with the angelic hosts, and be numbered amongst the
chosen and the just ones throughout the ages, and to look upon God, as
much as this is possible. You will enjoy the benevolence which the
Lord bestows, and you will feel the Word of the Lord radiating beyond
the heavens, while He is being worshipped in His immaculate flesh, in
joint worship with the Father and the Spirit, by all the heavenly
hosts and all the saints.
The demons are extremely hostile
towards unadulterated prayer; they cannot be conquered by a host of
psalms, in the way that an army conquers its adversaries, but by a
harmony of three things : the mind with logic, and logic with the
Hosios Peter of Damascus
Do You wish to comfort me, within the
knowledge of You ? I will not contradict You.
Do You perhaps wish to deliver me
unto temptations, in order to humble me ? I will still follow You.
There is nothing for me to do,
Without You, I would not have been
born from nothing, and neither can I live without You, or be saved.
Do what You will, with Your creation.
I believe that - guileless as You are - You have reserved good things
for me, even though perhaps for my own benefit I do not recognize
them; but then again, I am not worthy enough to see them, nor do I ask
to see them so that I might be comforted, for it may not be beneficial
Neither do I dare to ask You to
comfort me from any ongoing war ( even though I am weak and everything
fatigues me), because I do not know what is for my benefit.
You know everything. Do as You wish;
only do not let me fail, no matter what, and even if want to or not,
please save me, And that too, only if You so wish.
I have no will of my own; I stand
before You as something lifeless; I place my soul in Your holy hands,
in this life and the life to come.
Because everything is possible for
You, and everything is known to You, and You wish only the best for
everyone, and You always long for my salvation. I can see this, in all
the good things which You have done for us by your grace, openly or
secretly; in those things which we recognize and those which we do not
recognize, and in that condescendence which You have shown us, that no
mind can grasp, o Son and Word of God.
Who am I, that dares to speak to You,
reader of hearts ? Yet, I utter these things, so that I myself may
comprehend, and so that my enemies may also learn, that I seek refuge
in You, my harbour of salvation.
And behold how, by Your grace, I have
learnt that You are my God, and that I dare not speak in excess,
except perhaps to display my slow, deaf and mute mind. Because it is
not I, but Your grace, which engineers all good. Because I do not know
whether I have ever done anything good; instead, I have always
accomplished a multitude of bad deeds, and for these, I kneel before
you as a servant, because You have made me worthy of repentance, hence
I am Your servant and the son of your servant-girl. But, please do not
allow me my Lord, o Lord Jesus Christ my God, to do, or to say, or to
think of, something which you do not desire, because the many sins
which I have committed are sufficient enough; but, in whichever way
that You wish, please help me.
I have sinned, help me in the way
that You know best. I believe o Lord that you hearken to my pitiful
voice and that you care. Help me in my faithlessness. You, that have
given me life, and made me a Christian. It is an important dignitary
rank for me, as Karpathios says, to be named a Monk and a Christian;
just as You had said, Lord, to one of your servants "it is a great
honour for you to have received My name". This is the best that I
could have, above all the kingdoms of the earth and the heavens, as
long as I shall never cease to be called by Your most sweet name.