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Saturday, August 13, 2005

DEVELOPING AND MAINTAINING INNER PEACE

St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain


SOME REMINDERS THAT CAN IMPEL OUR WILL TOWARDS DESIRE TO PLEASE GOD IN EVERY ACTIVITY

In order that you may move your will more easily to this one desire in everything -- to please God and to work for His glory alone -- remind yourself often, that He has granted you many favors in the past and has shown you His love. He has created you out of nothing in His own likeness and image, and has made all other creatures your servants; He has delivered you from your slavery to the devil, sending down not one of the angels but His Only-Begotten Son to redeem you, not at the price of corruptible gold and silver, but by His priceless blood and His most painful and degrading death. Having done all this He protects you, every hour and every moment, from your enemies; He fights your battles by His divine grace; in His immaculate Mysteries He prepares the Body and Blood of His beloved Son for your food and protection.

All this is a sign of God's great favor and love for you; a favor so great that it is inconceivable how the great Lord of hosts could grant such favors to our nothingness and worthlessness. Judge from this what honor and devotion we must offer to the boundless Majesty of Him, Who has done such wonderful things for us. If we cannot help offering thanks, honor, glory and obedience to earthly kings for their favors, how much more, immeasurably more, must we worthless ones offer to the Almighty Lord of hosts, Who loves us and bestows upon us favors beyond counting.

But more than all we have just said, keep always in your memory the realization that God's greatness is in itself worthy of all honor, worship and wholehearted service acceptable to Him.

ON THE MEANS OF PRESERVING INNER PEACE

To preserve inner peace;

(1) First of all keep your outer senses in order and flee all licentiousness in your external conduct -- namely, neither look, speak, gesticulate, walk nor do anything else with agitation, but always quietly and decorously. Accustomed to behave with decorous quietness in your external movements and actions, you will easily and without labor acquire peace within yourself, in the heart; for, according to the testimony of the fathers, the inner man takes his tone from the outer man.

(2) Be disposed to love all men and to live in accord with everyone, as St. Paul instructs: "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18).

(3) Keep your conscience unstained, so that it does not gnaw at you or reproach you in anything, but is at peace in relation to God, to yourself, to your neighbors, and to all external things. If your conscience is thus kept clean, it will produce, deepen, and strengthen inner peace, as David says: "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them" (Psalms 119:165).

(4) Accustom yourself to bear all unpleasantness and insults without perturbation. It is true that before you acquire this habit you will have to grieve and suffer much in your heart, through this lack of experience in controlling yourself in such cases. But once this habit is acquired, your soul will find great comfort in the very troubles you meet with. If you are resolute, you will day by day learn to manage yourself better and better and will soon reach a state when you will
know how to preserve the peace of your spirit in all storms, both inner and outer.

If at times you are unable to manage your heart and restore peace in it by driving away all stress and griefs, have recourse to prayer and be persistent, imitating our Lord and Savior, Who prayed three times in the garden of Gethsemane, to show you by His example that prayer should be your refuge in every stress and affliction of the heart and that, no matter how faint- hearted and grieved you may be, you should not abandon it until you reach a state when your will is in complete accord with the will of God and, calmed by this, your heart is filled with courageous daring and is joyfully ready to meet, accept and bear the very thing it feared and wished to avoid; just as our Lord felt fear, sorrow and grief, but, regaining peace through prayer, said calmly: "Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me" (Matthew 26:46).

Unseen Warfare, by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, revised by St. Theophan the Recluse