Archimandrite Sophrony

(On the Experience of Prayer) “When we become so conscious of our frailty that our spirit despairs, somehow, in an unknown fashion, a wondrous light appears, proclaiming life incorruptible. When the darkness within us is so appalling that we are paralyzed with dread, the same light will turn black night into bright day. When we properly condemn ourselves to eternal infamy and in agony descend into the pit, of a sudden some strength from Above will lift our spirit to the heights. When we are overwhelmed by the feeling of our own utter nothingness, the uncreated light transfigures and brings us like sons into the Father’s house.”


Archimandrite Sophrony

“Repentance does not come readily to carnal man; and none of us fathoms the problem of sin which is only disclosed to us through Christ and the Holy Spirit. . . . repentance for sin is possible and appropriate only where there is a personal relationship [with Jesus Christ]. Encounter with a Personal God—that is what the event signifies. The sinful man experiences at one and the same time fear and exultation. It is a new birth from on High.”


St. John Climacus

Pride is a denial of God, an invention of the devil, contempt for men. It is the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of barrenness. It is a flight from God’s help, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall. It is the cause of diabolical possession, the source of anger, the gateway of hypocrisy. It is the fortress of demons, the custodian of sins, the source of hardheartedness. It is the denial of compassion, a bitter Pharisee, a cruel judge. It is the foe of God. It is the root of blasphemy.


St. John Climacus

“The insensitive man is . . . a scholar who contradicts himself, a blind man teaching sight to others. He talks about healing a wound and does not stop making it worse. He complains about what has happened and does not stop eating what is harmful. . . . And the wretched man is in no way shamed by his own words. ‘I’m doing wrong,’ he cries, and zealously continues to do so. . . . He talks profoundly about death and acts as if he will never die. . . . He has plenty to say about self-control and fights for a gourmet life. . . . He recites what he has learnt about keeping vigil, and at once drops off to sleep. Prayer he extols, and runs from it as if from a plague. Blessings he showers on obedience, and is the first to disobey. . . . He gorges himself, and is sorry, and a little later is at it again. He blesses silence and cannot stop talking about it. He teaches meekness and frequently gets angry while he is teaching it. . . . In front of others he criticizes himself for being vainglorious, and in making the admission is looking for glory.”