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St. Peter Damaskos on Humility and Repentance

Peter exhorts sinners not to despair and challenges their belief that the Creator of all is incapable of saving them. Because God is, as the liturgy says, “the lover of mankind,” because Paul tells us that it is God’s desire “that all shall be saved” (1 Timothy 2:3-4), so we should not lose hope. Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned-

Theophany (or Epiphany) and Christmas (Part II)

The Deeper Meaning of the Baptism of Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism. a) Man’s Return to the True God. The Baptism of the Forerunner was a “baptism of repentance,” which signaled man’s return to God by obedience to the divine will. It was necessary in view of the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God which He would bring into the world. It was a kind of prelude and preparation which looked

REPENTANCE IN THE PHILOKALIA (Part III)

Theognostos (fourteenth century?) is known to us only as the author of the work included in the Philokalia. “When you fall from a higher state, do not become panic-stricken, but through remorse, grief, rigorous self-reproach, and, above all, through copious tears shed in a contrite spirit, correct yourself and return quickly to your former condition. Rising up again after your fall, you will enter the joyous valley of salvation, taking care so far as possible

Members of One Another (Part IX): Weep with Me, Forest and Desert (I)

Sin and salvation, however, are not merely human in scope, but they also involve the entire created order. When Adam fell, the whole creation fell with him; and by the same token our human salvation will inaugurate the salvation of the total cosmos. As Fr Sophrony puts it, ‘Every saint is a phenomenon of cosmic character’. We are not saved from but with the world. This cosmic understanding of sin and salvation has a firm

Members of One Another (Part III)

‘My soul longs for the whole world to be saved…. Divine love desires the salvation of all…. The Lord’s is such that He would have all men to be saved…. Our one thought must be that all should be saved…. The merciful Lord sometimes gives the soul peace in God but sometimes makes the heart ache for the whole universe, that all men might repent and enter paradise. According to St Silouan, this burning desire

Members of One Another (Part II)

Despite the striking parallels between the Russian novelist and the Athonite monk, it is highly unlikely that St Silouan had ever read Dostoevsky. More probably, the similarities arise because both are shaped by the same living tradition, and both are drawing on the same sources. St Silouan (almost certainly) and Dostoevsky (possibly) have been influenced by a Mesopotamian hermit of the seventh century, St Isaac the Syrian, who writes in a famous passage of his