Church Fathers, Day 301: St. Cyril of Alexandria warns us to avoid the first approaches of evil

Avoid the first approaches of evilSurely we can stand just a little evil. Not so, says St. Cyril of Alexandria. Judas began simply by tolerating a few whispered suggestions from Satan; he ended up with Satan as master of his whole heart.This is why Judas the traitor was not dismayed at rebukes spoken as yet quietly and secretly, nor did he even regard the invincible might of love, nor honor and glory and grace, nor the gift that he received from Christ. But hurrying on, without pausing … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 300: St. Ephrem the Syrian tells us to turn temptation into triumph

Turn temptation into triumphTemptations and trials do us good, says St. Ephrem the Syrian. Easy living makes us forget God, but difficulties strengthen us.To those who are just and upright, temptations become helps.Job, a man of discernment, was victorious in temptations. Sickness came on him, and he did not complain; disease afflicted him and he did not murmur; his body failed and his strength departed, but his will was not weakened. He proved perfect in all by sufferings, because … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 299: Origen says don’t blame the world for your failings


Don’t blame the world for your failingsNo temptation is irresistible, says Origen. No matter what the allurement, your will can resist it—if you strengthen it by exercising virtue.If anyone says that the outward world is made in such a way that one cannot resist it, let him study his own feelings and movements, and see whether there are not some plausible motives to account for his approval and assent, and the inclination of his reason to a particular object.To take an ill … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 298: St. John Cassian tells us to set one vice against another

Set one vice against anotherSt. John Cassian shares the wise advice of Abbot Serapion in Egypt: sometimes you can make use of one of your vices to combat a worse one. If you’re vain, think how much people will admire you for overcoming lust!But in one matter we find vanity to be a useful thing for beginners—by which I mean those who are still troubled by carnal sins. If (for example) they are troubled by the spirit of fornication, they could form an idea of the dignity of the pri … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 297: St. John Cassian says guard against every vice

No matter how strong your defenses against the worst vices, says St. John Cas­sian, opening the gate for one lets them all in.It is impossible that the fiery motions of the body can be extinguished before the incentives of the other chief vices are utterly rooted out. For you will never feel sure that someone can strive against the opposition of a stronger enemy, if you have seen him overcome by weaker ones in a higher conflict.The nature of all virtues is one and the same, although … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day 296: St. Cyprian says overcome your jealousy

Envy is listed among the deadly sins for a good reason. As St. Cyprian tells us, envy just keeps gnawing at us unless we get rid of it. There will always be people who have more than we have; we need to learn to rejoice with them rather than envy them. The way we do that is by turning to Christ.What a gnawing worm of the soul it is—to envy someone for his virtue or for his happiness; to make others’ good into our own evil; to be tortured by the prosperity of the famous. To the envious, no fo … [Read more...]