Church Fathers, Day Fifty-Eight: St. Ephrem tells us to let creation be our book


Let creation be your book You can be truly free from rules and laws, says St. Ephrem the Syrian, if you order your life the way nature itself teaches you to order it. Yoke yourself under the law, so that you may truly be free. Do not work the desire of your soul apart from God. How many commandments must I write—how many laws must I engrave— when, if you desire your freedom, you could learn them all from yourself ? And if you love purity, you will teach it to others as well. Let nature be y … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day Fifty-Seven: St. Ephrem tells us to make the sign of the cross everywhere


Make the Sign of the Cross everywhereWherever you are, says St. Ephrem the Syrian, seal everything you do with the Sign of the Cross, and teach your children to do the same.How gracious is the Lord! How measureless are His mercies! Happy the race of mortals when God confesses it! Woe to the soul that he denies! Fire is stored up for its punishment.Be of good cheer, my child, in hope; sow good seed and do not despair. The farmer sows in hope, and the merchant journeys in hope. You … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day Fifty-Six: St. John Cassian says don’t despair when in a dry spell

Don’t despair when you’re in a dry spellSt. John Cassian recalls the wise words of the abbot Daniel in the Egyptian desert. Why do we sometimes feel so close to God, and other times so far away? Don’t despair, says Daniel: even in those dry spells, God has your benefit in mind.We asked this blessed Daniel why it was that as we sat in the cells we were sometimes filled with the utmost gladness of heart, together with inex­pressible delight and abundance of the holiest feelings, and why it … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day Fifty-Five: Palladius of Galatia discusses prayer quality


In prayer, quality counts more than quantity Palladius of Galatia tells the story of an ascetic who was dismayed to learn that there was a woman who prayed even more than he did. The wise Macarius answered him that the number of the prayers wasn’t the problem: it was whether he was praying with a pure heart. There is a mountain in Egypt called Pherme, which borders on the great desert of Scete. On this mountain dwell some five hundred men, devotees of asceticism. One of them, a man named P … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day Fifty-Four: Tertullian tells us to get rid of our anger

Get rid of your anger before you pray Tertullian reminds us how important it is not to be angry with our neighbors when we approach God. How can we ask for forgiveness when we ourselves have not forgiven? Remembering the Lord’s commandments paves the road to heaven for our prayers. And the chief commandment is that we should not go up to God’s altar before we make up whatever argument or offense we’ve got into with our brothers. What do we think we’re doing if we approach the peace of God w … [Read more...]

Church Fathers, Day Fifty-Three: St. Basil advises us to look for quiet

Look for quiet when you pray St. Basil tells us that a quiet heart will help us overcome our passions and our temptations. We have to break our bad habits and start new good habits, and a little solitude will help a lot. We must work to have a quiet mind. You can’t see an object right in front of you if your eye is moving restlessly up and down and sideways; you have to look at it steadily. In the same way, your mind can’t understand the truth if it’s distracted by a thousand worldly cares. … [Read more...]