Struggling against the Passions

“Take courage my child and Christ will be the Victor.”

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

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“Today I would like to speak in more detail. Sin is every thought that doesn’t correspond to the spirit of the Evangelical Commandments. And we have to get away from it. But how can we get away? When the work of a certain thought manifests in us, then we cry out: “Lord, heal my mind! Lord, heal my heart! Lord, heal me whole! You see how painful is when the thought, which doesn’t even make sense, torments me like a slave. I pray You, protect me! You know that I have no other desire than to live according to Your Commandments. Your Commandment is the highest law of my whole being: both temporary and eternal. You inspired me to love Your Commandments. You gave me Your Light, in order to see the beauty of the Divine Life. And now, save me from the power of passionate lust!” This is how we can begin the conversation with God, against the passions. Sometimes it can be a monologue, other times it takes the form of a dialogue. An example of one of the rarest dialogues in the life of the Universal Church is found in Saint Silouan [the Athonite]: When he was overwhelmed by the attacks of the enemies, with all the power of his Soul, wanting to Pray with a clear mind, he said to Christ: “You see that I wish to Pray to You, but the enemies won’t let me.” The Lord answered: “The proud always suffer like this.” And then – dialogue: “Lord, teach me how to humble myself!” And the answer, gentle, but truly tragic, and more than tragic: “Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not!” And this refers to the knowledge of how we can spend our day or night without sin. Every human passion, because it belongs to the created world, has its form, image and energy. The high mind guides us, helped by the Grace, in the unseen war with the enemy, and thus, through such a Prayer – monologue or dialogue – we get out of the conversation with the enemy and we enter into conversation with God Himself. It is this transition from conversation with the enemy to conversation with God which is important! And if we keep talking to God, then, of course, God becomes the content of our lives. And He Himself, through Himself, is the Eternal Life, which never diminishes. And no matter what passion we struggle with, whether it be with bodily passion, either with the love of money, or with the love of power, or with the love of comfort, and so on – no matter, the principle remains essentially the same: Do not surrender your mind to the enemy!”

Saint Sophrony of Essex

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“Until we become broken through temptations and sorrow, we will not know our own infirmities and humble ourselves before God.”

Saint Makarios the Great

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“In every trial and in all warfare use Prayer as your invincible weapon, and by the Grace of Christ you will be victorious.”

Saint Maximos the Confessor

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“When you Pray to God in time of temptation do not say, ‘Take this or that away from me’, but Pray like this: ‘O Jesus Christ, Sovereign Master, help me and do not let me sin against Thee’.”

Saint Isaiah the Solitary

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“Are you fighting against your passions? Fight, fight, and be good soldiers of Christ. Do not give in to evil and do not be carried away by the weakness of the flesh. During the time of temptation, flee to the Physician…”

Saint Anatoly of Optina

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“One Ascetic woman was besieged for a long time with unclean thoughts. When the Lord came and cast them away from her, she called to Him: ‘Where were You before now, O my sweet Jesus?’ The Lord answered: ‘I was in your heart.’ She said then: ‘How could that be? For my heart was full of unclean thoughts.’ The Lord said to her: ‘Know that I was in your heart, for you were not disposed to the unclean thoughts, but strove rather to be free of them; and when you were not able to be free, you struggled and grieved. By this you prepared a place for Me in your heart.'”

Saint Ambrose of Optina

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“Escape from temptation through patience and Prayer. If you oppose temptation without these, it only attacks you more strongly.”

Saint Mark the Ascetic

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“For our love of God is demonstrated above all by the way we endure trials and temptations.”

Saint Gregory Palamas

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“Chase away the bad thoughts and fantasies that the devil presents. Don’t even notice them.”

Saint Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia

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“A man wanted to do evil, but first Prayed as usual; and finding himself prevented by God, he was then extremely thankful.”

Saint Mark the Ascetic

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“Fear evil like fire. Don’t let it touch your heart, even if it seems just or righteous. No matter what the circumstances, don’t let it come into you. Evil is always evil.”

Saint John of Kronstadt

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“When a bad or gloomy thought, fear or temptation threatens to afflict you, don’t fight it to try and get rid of it. Open your arms to Christ’s Love and He will embrace you, then it will vanish by itself.”

Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia

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“When you Pray to God in time of temptation do not say, ‘Take this or that away from me’, but Pray like this: ‘O Jesus Christ, Sovereign Master, help me and do not let me sin against Thee…’.

Saint Isaiah the Solitary

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“When a man is given over to the passions, he does not see them in himself and does not fight against them, because he lives in them and by them. But when the Grace of God becomes active in him, he begins to discern the passionate and sinful in himself, acknowledge them, and to repent and decide to guard against them. A struggle begins.”

Saint Theophan the Recluse

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“The beginning of the path toward pure Prayer is the battle against the passions. It is impossible to progress in Prayer as long as the passions still exist. In spite of this, the presence of the Grace of Prayer is not blocked as long as one is not careless or proud.”

Saint Joseph the Hesychast

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“Every day you should try to plant in your Soul something Spiritual which will eject something worldly and sinful. Gradually, the old self will be disclaimed, and you will be able to move freely in the Spiritual realm. Replace the sinful images in your mind with Holy ones. Replace songs with Hymns, worldly magazines with Spiritual books.”

Saint Paisios the Athonite

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“When you are tempted, recognise that a Crown is being prepared for you.”

Saint John Chrysostom

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“You don’t see how, with every Prayer you utter, many demons fall and turn back. You only see how much you are wounded. Know that they, also, are being beaten, and flee. Each time we show patience they flee in leaps, and with each Prayer they are seriously wounded. So, in the time of war, don’t expect that while you are firing bullets and cannonballs that they’ll retaliate with turkish delight and chocolates!”

Saint Joseph the Hesychast

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“My sins are a wall between me and Thy Goodness. Tear it down that I might approach Thy Loving-Kindness; pour out Thy Love upon me and exalt me to Thy heights.”

Saint Ephrem the Syrian

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“The person who gives himself over to evil thoughts cannot keep his outer self free from sin.”

Saint Philotheos of Sinai

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“Let us who are weak and passionate have the courage to offer our infirmity and natural weakness to Christ with unhesitating faith, and confess it to Him; and we shall be certain to obtain His help, even beyond our merit.”

Saint John Climacus

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“He who refuses to give in to his passions does the same as he who refuses to bow down and worship idols.”

Saint Theophan the Recluse

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“The path of God is a daily cross.”

Saint Isaac the Syrian

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“No sacrifice is more fragrant in the sight of God than purity of body, which is realised through… great struggles.”

Saint Joseph the Hesychast

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“When you are subjected to the malicious and furious violence of the passions, and to the harassments of the devil, during the fulfillment of various works for God, accept these sufferings as sufferings for the Name of Christ, and rejoice in your sufferings, thanking God; for the devil is preparing you, without knowing it himself, the most shining crowns from the Lord.”

Saint John of Kronstadt

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“People who struggle against sin write the most lovely pages in God’s book. Because everything’s written there.”

Elder Evsevios Yannakakis

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“When we stand in Prayer, those unclean and unspeakable thoughts assail us; but if we continue Praying to the end they retire at once, for they do not fight those who stand up to them.”

Saint John Climacus

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“Don’t be sad, my child. Don’t worry so much. Even though you have fallen again, get up again. You have been called to a Heavenly Road. It is not surprising for someone running to stumble. It just takes patience and repentance at every moment.”

Saint Joseph the Hesychast

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“Often Divine Providence leaves certain slight passions in Spiritual people so that by unsparingly condemning themselves for those trifling and venial defects they may obtain that wealth of humility which none can steal.”

Saint John Climacus

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“Souls are tortured by the passions and they rest near the Love of God.”

Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia

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“Christ allows temptations so that we may be purified of our predispositions. Temptations are like soap and a mallet which hits us and whitens us.”

Saint Joseph the Hesychast

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“Do not be cast down over the struggle – the Lord loves a brave warrior. The Lord loves the Soul that is valiant.”

Saint Silouan of Mount Athos

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“Flee from bad thoughts as from a fire. Don’t take notice of them at all, so they can’t take root in you; and don’t despair, for God is great and forgives sinners. When you err, repent and force yourself not to repeat the offence.”

Saint Joseph the Hesychast

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“When you perceive an evil thought, rebut it and immediately call upon Christ to defend you; and while you are still speaking, Jesus in His gentle love will say: ‘Behold, I am by your side ready to help you.'”

Saint Philotheos of Sinai

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“If you wish, you can be a slave of passions, and if you wish, you can remain free and not submit to their yoke; for God has created you with that power.”

Saint Anthony the Great

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“What does my experience tell me when I am the prisoner of sin? I am tormented sometimes the whole day, and cannot turn to God with my whole heart, because sin hardens my heart, making God’s mercy inaccessible to me. I burn in the fire, and willingly remain in it, because sin has bound my powers, and I – like one inwardly chained – am unable to turn to God until He, seeing my helplessness, my humility, and my tears, takes pity on me and bestows His Grace upon me.”

Saint John of Kronstadt

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“Continue along your path. The devil will come with his tempting thoughts and will tug at your sleeve, so as to disorient you. Don’t turn to him, don’t start a conversation with him, and don’t oppose him. In this way the devil will get bored and will leave you alone.”

Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia

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“It is not an external enemy we dread. Our foe is shut up within ourselves. An internal warfare is daily waged by us.”

Saint John Cassian

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“When there is no struggle, there is no virtue.”

Saint John of Kronstadt

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“Every person who has sin within him is very confused. He must leave open a crack in his Soul so that the Light and Love of Christ might enter in. Thus he will be able to disentangle his Soul.”

Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia

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“The Lord will deliver you from all improper thoughts; just humble yourself.”

Saint Ambrose of Optina

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“Refuse to listen to the devil when he whispers to you: give me now, and you will give tomorrow to God. No, no! Spend all the hours of your life in a way pleasing to God.”

Saint Nikodemos of Mount Athos

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“We should always remember that the Lord sees us wrestling with the enemy, and so we must never be afraid. Even should all hell fall upon us, we must be brave.”

Saint Silouan of Mount Athos

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“On one occasion Abba Moses of Patara was engaged in a war against fornication, and he could not endure being in his cell, and he went and informed Abba Isidore of it; and the Elder retreated him to return to his cell, but he would not agree to this. And having said, ‘Father, I cannot bear it’, the Elder took him up to the roof of his cell, and said unto him, ‘Look to the West’, and when he looked he saw multitudes of devils with troubled and terrified aspects, and they showed themselves in the form of phantoms which were in fighting attitudes. Abba Isidore said unto him, ‘Look to the East’, and when he looked he saw innumerable Holy Angels standing there, and they were in a state of great Glory. Then Abba Isidore said unto him, ‘Behold, those who are in the West are those who are fighting with the Holy ones, and those whom you have seen in the East are they who are sent by God to the help of the Saints, for those who are with us are many.’ And having seen this Abba Moses took courage and returned to his cell without fear.”

Abba Moses the Strong

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“He who hates the passions gets rid of their causes. But he who is attracted by their causes is attacked by the passions even though he does not wish it.”

Saint Mark the Ascetic

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“Let your Soul, then, trust in Christ, let it call on Him and never fear; for it fights, not alone, but with the aid of a Mighty King, Jesus Christ, Creator of all that is, both bodiless and embodies, visible and invisible.”

Saint Hesychios the Priest

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“Why do the demons wish to excite in us gluttony, fornication, greed, anger, rancour and other passions? So that the mind, under their weight, should be unable to Pray as it ought.”

Saint Nilus of Sinai

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“For God to help, one must have a desire to struggle. And when we say a desire to struggle, we mean that one must be willing to make some effort to overcome his particular weakness. If God sees even a little true will, He provides abundant help for man, He sends His Grace in great abundance.”

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

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“Every day I lay a foundation for building my repentance, and again with my own hands I demolish it.”

Saint Ephrem the Syrian

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“What does my experience tell me when I am the prisoner of sin? I am tormented sometimes the whole day, and cannot turn to God with my whole heart, because sin hardens my heart, making God’s Mercy inaccessible to me. I burn in the fire, and willingly remain in it, because sin has bound my powers, and I – like one inwardly chained – am unable to turn to God until He, seeing my helplessness, my humility, and my tears, takes pity on me and bestows His Grace upon me.”

Saint John of Kronstadt

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“The one who realises his mistake, has already progressed halfway. However, it is also very important for him to sense his weakness. It is much better to be aware of our own weakness, than to struggle very hard, while neglecting it.”

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

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“Out of the greatest sinners He makes righteous men!”

Saint John of Kronstadt

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“The Lord sometimes allows people who are devoted to Him to fall into such dreadful vices; and this is in order to prevent them from falling into a greater sin – pride. Your temptation will pass and you will spend the remaining days of your life in humility. Only do not forget your sin.”

Saint Seraphim of Sarov

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“When you are being tested by trials and temptations, you cannot avoid feeling dejected. But those who till the Earth of hardship and tribulation in their hearts are afterwards filled with great joy, tears of consolation and Holy thoughts.”

Saint John of Karpathos

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“When bad thoughts are planted in you, then cry to God: ‘Lord, my Maker and Creator. You see that my soul is in agony from bad thoughts. Have mercy on me.’ Teach yourself to root out bad thoughts immediately. But when you forget and don’t root them out immediately, then offer repentance. Work on this, so that you get a habit.”

Saint Silouan of Mount Athos

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“He who is battling to repulse what harasses and wars against him must enlist the help of other allies – I mean humility of Soul, bodily toil and every other kind of ascetic hardship, together with Prayer that springs from an afflicted heart and is accompanied by many tears. He must be like David who says: ‘Look on my humility and my toil, and forgive all of my sins’ (Ps. 25:18)…”

Saint Theodoros the Great Ascetic

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