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Gregory of Sinai: On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; On Thoughts, Passions, and Virtues, and Also on Stillness and Prayer: One Hundred and Thirty-Seven Texts

1. You cannot be or become spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to man in his pre -fallen state unless you first attain purity and freedom from corruption. For our purity has been overlaid by a state of sense-dominated mindlessness, and our original mcorruption by the corruption of the flesh.

2. Only those who through their purity have become saints are spiritually intelligent in the way that is natural to man in his pre-fallen state. Mere skill in reasoning does not make a person's intelligence pure, for since the fall our intelligence has been corrupted by evil thoughts. The materialistic and wordy spirit of the wisdom of this world may lead us to speak about ever wider spheres of knowledge, but it renders our thoughts increasingly crude and uncouth. This combination of well-infonned talk and crude thought faUs far short of real wisdom and contemplation, as well as of undivided and unified knowledge.

3. By knowledge of truth understand above all apprehension of truth through grace. Other kinds of knowledge should be regarded as images of mtellections or the rational demonstration of facts.

4. If you fail to receive grace it is because of your lack of faith and your negligence; if you find it again it is because of your faith and your diligence. For faith and diligence always conduce to progress, while their opposites do the reverse.

5. To be utterly senseless is like being dead, and to be blind in intellect is like not seeing physically. To be utterly senseless is to be deprived of life-giving energizmg power; to be blind in intellect is to be deprived of the divine light by which a man can see and be seen by God.

6. Few men receive both power and wisdom from God. Through power we partake of divine blessings; through wisdom we manifest them. This participation and this communication to others is a truly divine gift, beyond man's unaided capacity.

7. A true sanctuary, even before the life to come, is a heart free from distractive thoughts and energized by the Spirit, for all is done and said there spiritually. If we do not attain such a state in this life, we may because of our other virtues be a stone fit for building into the temple of God; but we will not ourselves be a temple or a celebrant of the Spirit.

8. Man is created incorruptible, without bodily humors, and thus he will be when resurrected. Yet he is not created either immutable or mutable, since he possesses the power to choose at will whether to be subject to change or not But the will cannot confer total immutability of nature upon him. Such immutability is bestowed only when he has attained the state of changeless deification.

9. Corruption is generated by the flesh. To feed, to excrete, to stride about and to sleep are the natural characteristics of beasts and wild animals; acquiring these characteristics through the fall, we have become beast- like, losing the natural blessings bestowed on us by God. We have become brutal instead of spiritually intelligent, ferine instead of godlike.

10. Paradise is twofold - sensible and spiritual: there is the paradise of Eden and the paradise of grace. The paradise of Eden is so exalted that it is said to extend to the third heaven. It has been planted by God with every kind of sweet-scented plant. It is neither entirely free from comiption nor altogether subject to it. Created between corruption and mcorruption, it is always rich in fruits, ripe and unripe, and continually full of flowers. When trees and ripe fruit rot and fall to the ground they turn into sweet-scented soil, free from the smell of decay exuded by the vegetable-matter of this world. That is because of the great richness and holiness of the grace ever abounding there. The river Ocean, appointed always to irrigate paradise with its waters, flows through the middle of it. On leaving paradise, it divides into four other rivers, and flowing down to the Indians and Ethiopians brings them soil and fallen leaves. Their fields are flooded by the united rivers of Pison and Gihon until these divide again, the one watering Libya and the other the land of Egypt (rf. Gen. 2:8-14).

11. It is said that when the world was first created it was not subject to flux and corruption. According to Scripture it was only later corrupted and 'made subject to vanity' - that is, to man - not by its own choice but by the will of Him to whom it is subject, the expectation being that Adam, who had fallen into corruption, would be restored to his original state (cf Rom. 8:20-21). For by renewing man and sanctifying him, even though in this transient life he bears a corruptible body. God also renewed creation, although creation is not yet freed from the process of corruption. This deliverance from corruption is said by some to be a translation to a better state, by others to require a complete transmutation of everything sensory. Scripture generally makes simple and straightforward statements about matters that are still obscure.

12. People who have received grace are as if impregnated and with child by the Holy Spirit; but they may abort the divine seed through sinning, or divorce themselves from God through intercourse with the enemy lurking within them. It is the turbulence of the passions that aborts grace, while the act of sinning deprives us of it altogether. A passion- and sin-loving soul, shorn of grace and divorced from God, is the haunt of passions - not to say of demons - in this world and the next.

13. Nothing so converts anger into joy and gentleness as courage and mercy. Like a siege-engine, courage shatters enemies attacking the soul from without, mercy those attacking it from within.

14. Many who practice the commandments think they are following the spiritual path. But they have not yet reached the city, and in fact remain outside it. For they travel foolishly, deviating unawares from the straight highway into side-roads, not realizing how close the vices are to the path of virtue. For the trae fulfillment of the commandments demands that we do neither too little nor too much but simply pursue a course acceptable to God and in accordance with His will. Otherwise we labor in vain and do not make straight the paths of the Lord (cf. Isa. 40:3). For in everything we do we must be clear about the goal we are pursuing.

15. To be on the spiritual path means seeking the Lord in your heart through fulfilling the commandments. For when you listen to John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight' (Matt. 3:3), you must understand that he is referring to the commandments and their fulfillment both in the heart and in actions. It is impossible to 'make straight' the path of the commandments and to act rightly unless your heart too is straight and upright.

16. When Scripture speaks of rod and staff (cf. Ps. 23:4), you should take these to signify in the prophetic sense judgment and providence, and in the moral sense psalmody and prayer. For when we are chastened by the Lord with me rod of correction (cf I Cor. I 1 :32), this is so that we may learn how to mend our ways. And when we chasten our assailants with the rod of dauntless psalmody, we become established in prayer. Since we thus wield the rod and the staff of spiritual action, let us not cease to chasten and be chastened until we are wholly in the hands of providence and escape judgment both now and hereafter.

17. The essence of the commandments is always to give precedence to the one that embraces them all: mindfulness of God, as stipulated in the phrase, 'Always be mindful of the Lord your God' (cf. Deut. 8:18). Our failure or success in keeping the commandments depends on such mindfulness, for it is this that forgetfulness first destroys when it shrouds the commandments in darkness and strips us of every blessing.

18. Those engaged in spiritual warfare regain their original state by practicing two commandments - obedience and fasting; for evil has infiltrated our human condition by means of their opposites. Those who keep the commandments out of obedience return to God more quickly. Others who keep them by means of fasting and prayer return more slowly. Obedience befits beginners, fasting those in the middle way, who have attained a state of spiritual enlightenment and self-mastery. To observe genuine obedience to God when practicing the commandments is something only very few can do, and proves difficult even for those who have attained a state of self -mastery.

19. According to St Paul, it is characteristic of the Spirit of life to act and speak in the heart, while a literal, outwardly correct observance of things characterizes the Men unregenerate person (cf Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:6). The Spirit of life frees the intellect from sin and death, whereas a literal, outwardly correct observance imperceptibly turns us into Pharisees, since we then act only in an external bodily sense and practice the commandments merely in order to be seen doing so (cf Matt. 23:5).

20. The whole complex of the commandments united and knit together in the Spirit (cf. Eph. 4:16) has its analogue in man, whether his state is perfect or imperfect. The commandments are the body. The virtues - established inner qualities - are the bones. Grace is the soul that lives and vivifies, energizing me vital power of the commandments just as the soul animates the body. The degree of negligence or diligence with which a man tries to attain to Christ's stature reveals what stage he has reached. Alike in this world and in the next, it indicates whether he is in his spiritual infancy or has achieved maturity.

21. If you want the body of me commandments to nourish, you must zealously desire the pure spiritual milk of maternal grace (cf. I Pet. 2:2); for it is on this milk of grace that you must suckle yourself if you wish to increase your stature in Christ. Wisdom yields fervor from her breasts as milk that helps you to grow; but to nourish the perfect she gives them the honey other purifying joy. 'Honey and milk are under your tongue' (Song of Songs 4:11): by 'milk' Solomon means the Spirit's nurturing and maturing power, while by 'honey' he means the Spirit's purificatory power. St Paul likewise refers to the differing functions of these powers when he says, 'I have fed you as little children with milk, and not with meat' (cf. I Cor. 3:2).

22. To try to discover the meaning of the commandments through study and reading without actually living in accordance with them is like mistaking the shadow of something for its reality. It is only by participating in the truth that you can share in the meaning of truth. If you search for the meaning without participating in the truth and without having been initiated into it, you will find only a besotted kind of wisdom (cf. I Cor. 1:20). You will be among those whom St Jude categorized as 'psychic' or worldly because they lack the Spirit (cf Jude I 9), boast as they may of their knowledge of the truth.

23. The physical eye perceives the outward or literal sense of things and from it derives sensory images. The intellect, once purified and reestablished in its pristine state, perceives God and from Him derives divine images. Instead of a book the intellect has the Spirit; instead of a pen, mind and tongue - 'my tongue is a pen', says me Psalmist (cf. Ps. 45:1); and instead of ink, light. So plunging the mind into the light that it becomes light, the intellect, guided by the Spirit, inscribes the inner meaning of things in the pure hearts of those who listen. Then it grasps the significance of the statement that the faithful 'shall be taught by God' (cf. Isa. 54:13; John 6:45), and that through the Spirit God 'teaches man knowledge' (Ps. 94:10).

24. The efficacy of the commandments depends on faith working directly in the heart. Through faith each commandment kindles and activates the soul's illumination. The fruits of a true and effective faith are self-control and love, its consummation God-given humility, the source and support of love.

25. A right view of created things depends upon a truly spiritual knowledge of visible and invisible realities. Visible realities are objects perceived by the senses, while invisible realities are noetic, intelligent, intelligible and divine.

25. Orthodoxy may be defined as the clear perception and grasp of the two dogmas of the faith, namely, the Trinity and the Duality. It is to know and contemplate the three Persons of the Trinity as distinctively and mdivisibly constituting the one God, and the divine and human natures of Christ as united in His single Person - that is to say, to know and profess that the single Son, both prior and subsequent to the Incarnation, is to be glorified in two natures, divine and human, and in two wills, divine and human, the one distinct from the other.

27. Three unaltering and changeless properties typify the Holy Trinity: unbegottenness, begottenness and procession. The Father is unbegotten and unonginate; the Son is begotten and also unoriginate; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, as St John of Damaskos says, and is equaUy coetemal.

28. Grace-imbued faith energized by the Spirit through our keeping of the commandments, alone suffices for salvation, provided we sustain it and do not opt for a dead and ineffectual faith rather than for a living effective faith in Christ. To embody and give life to an effective faith in Christ all we need to do as believers. But nowadays we who call ourselves orthodox believers have in our ignorance imbibed not the faith imbued with grace but a faith that is merely a matter of words, dead and unfeeling.

29. The Trinity is simple unity, unqualified and uncompounded. It is three-in-one, for God is three-personed, each person wholly interpenetrating the others without any loss of distinct personal identity.

30. God reveals and manifests Himself in all things in a threefold manner. In Himself He is undetermined; but through the Son in the Holy Spirit He sustains and watches over all things. And wherever He expresses Himself, none of the three Persons is manifest or to be perceived apart from or without the other two.

31. In man there is intellect, consciousness and spirit. There is neither intellect without consciousness nor consciousness without spirit: each subsists in the others and in itself. Intellect expresses itself through consciousness and consciousness is manifested through the spirit In this way man is a dim image of the ineffable and archetypal Trinity, disclosing even now the divine image in which he is created.

32. When the divine fathers expound the doctrine of the supra-essential, holy and supernatural Trinity, they illustrate it by saying that the Father truly corresponds to the intellect, the Son to consciousness and the Holy Spirit to the spirit. Thus they bequeath to us the dogma of one God in three Persons as the hallmark of the true faith and the anchor of hope. For, according to Scripture, to apprehend the one God is the root of immortality, and to know the majesty of the three-personed Monad is complete righteousness (cf Wisd. 15:3). Again, we should read what is said in the Gospel in the same way: eternal life is to know Thee the only true God in three Persons, and Him whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ, in two natures and two wills (cf John 17:3).

33. Chastisements differ, as do the rewards of the righteous. Chastisements are inflicted in hell, in what Scripture describes as 'a dark and gloomy land, a land of eternal darkness' (Job 10:21-22. LXX), where sinners dwell before the judgment and whither they return after judgment is given. For can the phrases, 'Let sinners be returned to hell' (Ps. 9:17. LXX), and 'death will rule over them' (Ps. 49:14. LXX), refer to anything other than the final judgment visited upon sinners, and their eternal condemnation?

34. Fire, darkness, the worm and the nether world correspond to ubiquitous self-indulgence, total tenebrific ignorance, all-pervasive, lecherous titivation, and the tearfulness and foul stench of sin. Already even now they can be seen to be active, as foretastes and first fruits of hell's torments, in sinners in whose soul they have taken root. 35. Passion-embroiled states are foretastes of hell's torments, just as the activity of the virtues is a foretaste of the kingdom of heaven. We must realize that the commandments are activities producing effects, and that virtues are states, just as vices that have taken root are also states.

36. Requitals correspond to our deserts, even if many people think they do not. To some, divine justice gives eternal life; to others, eternal chastisement. Each will be requited according to his actions -according to whether he has passed through this present life in a virtuous or in a sinful manner. The degree or quality of the requital will accord with the state induced in each by either the passions or the virtues, and the differing effects these have had.

37. Lakes of fire (cf. Rev. 19:20) signify self-indulgent souls. In these lakes the stench of the passions, like fetid bogs, nourishes the sleepless worm of dissipation - the unbridled lusts of the flesh - as it also nourishes the snakes, frogs and leeches of evil desire, the loathsome and poisonous thoughts and demons. A soul in such a state already in this life receives a foretaste of the chastisement to come.

38. As the firsttruits of future chastisement are secretly present in the souls of sinners, so the foretaste of future blessings is present and experienced in the hearts of the righteous through the activity of the Spirit. For a life lived virtuously is the kingdom of heaven, just as a passion-embroiled state is hell.

39. The coming night of which Christ speaks (cf John 9:4) is the complete inertia of hell's darkness. Or, interpreted differently, it is antichrist, who is, and is called, both night and darkness. Or alternatively, according to the moral sense, it is our daily negligence which, like a dark night, deadens the soul in insensate sleep. For just as the night makes all men sleep and is the image of the lifelessness of death, so the night of hell's darkness deadens and stupefies sinners with the sottishness of pain.

40. Judgment upon this world (cf. John 12:31) is synonymous with ungodly lack of faith; for 'he who lacks faith is already judged' (John 3:18). It is also a providential visitation restraining us or turning us back from sin, and likewise a way of testing whether by inner disposition we incline towards good or evil actions; for according to the Psalmist, 'The wicked are estranged from the womb' (Ps. 58:3). Thus God manifests His judgment either because of our lack of faith, or to discipline us. or to test which way our actions gravitate. Some He chastens, to others He is merciful; on some He bestows crowns of glory, others He visits with the torments of hell. Those whom He chastens are the utterly godless. Those to whom He shows mercy possess faith, but at the same time they are negligent, and it is for this reason that they are compassionately chastised. Those consummate either in virtue or in wickedness receive their rewards accordingly.

41. If our human nature is not kept pure or else restored to its original purity by the Holy Spirit, it cannot become one body and one spirit in Christ, either in this life or in the harmonious order of the life to come. For the all- embracing and unifying power of the Spirit does not complete the new garment of grace by sewing on to it a patch taken from the old garment of the passions (cf. Matt. 9:16).

42. Every person who has been renewed in the Spirit and has preserved this gift will be transformed and embodied in Christ, experiencing ineffably the supernatural state of deification. But he will not hereafter be one with Christ or be engrafted into His body unless in this life he has come to share in divine grace and has embodied spiritual knowledge and truth.

43. The kingdom of heaven is like the tabernacle which was built by God, and which He disclosed to Moses as a pattern (cf. Exod. 25:40); for it too has an outer and an inner sanctuary. Into the first will enter all who are priests of grace. But into the second - which is noetic - will enter only those who in this life have attained the divine darkness of theological wisdom and there as true hierarchs have celebrated the triadic liturgy, entering into the tabernacle that Jesus Himself has set up, where He acts as their consecrator and chief Hierarch before the Trinity, and illumines them ever more richly with His own splendor.

44. By 'many dwelling-places' (John 14:2) the Savior meant the differing stages of spiritual ascent and states of development in the other world; for although the kingdom of heaven is one, there are many different levels within it. That is to say, there is place for both heavenly and earthy men (cf. I Cor. 15:48) according to their virtue, their knowledge and the degree of deification that they have attained. 'For there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in glory' (1 Cor. 15:41); and yet all of them shine in a single divine firmament.

45. You partake of angelic life and attain an incorruptible and hence almost bodiless state when you have cleansed your intellect through tears, have through the power of the Spirit resurrected your soul even in this life, and with the help of the Logos have made your flesh - your natural human form of clay - a resplendent and fiery image of divine beauty. For bodies become incorruptible when rid of their natural humors and their material density.

46. The body in its incorruptible state will be earthy, but it will be without humors or material density, indescribably transmuted from an unspintual body into a spiritual body (cf. I Cor. 15:44), so that it will be in its godlike refinement and subtleness both earthy and heavenly. Its state when it is resurrected will be the same as that in which it was originally created - one in which it conforms to the image of the Son of Man (cf. Rom. 8:29; Phil. 3:21) through fuU participation in His divinity.

47. The land of the gentle (of. Ps. 37: I 1) is the kingdom of heaven. Or else it is the theandnc state of the Son, which we have attained or are in the process of attaining, having through grace been reborn as sons of God into the new life of the resurrection. Or again, the holy land is our human nature when it has been divinized or, it may be, the land purified according to the measure of those dwelling in it. Or, according to another interpretation, it is the land granted as an inheritance (cf. Numb. 34:13) to those who are truly saints, the untroubled and divine serenity and the peace that transcends the intellect (cf. Phil. 4:7) - the land wherein the righteous dwell quietly and unmolested.

48. The promised land is dispassion, from which spiritual joy flows like milk and honey (cf. Exod. 13:5).

49. The saints in heaven hold inner converse together, communicating mystically through the power of the Holy Spirit.

50. If we do not know what we are like when God makes us, we shall not realize what sin has turned us into.

51. All who have received the fullness of the perfection of Christ in this life are of equal spiritual stature.

52. Rewards correspond to labors. But their quantity or quality -that is to say, their measure - will be shown by the position and state in heaven of those who receive them.

53. According to Scripture the saints, the sons of Christ's resurrection, through incorruption and deification will become intellects, that is to say, equal to the angels (cf Luke 20:36).

54. It is said that in the life to come the angels and saints ever increase in gifts of grace and never abate their longing for further blessings. No lapse or veering from virtue to vice takes place in that life.

55. A person is perfect in this life when as a pledge of what is to come he receives the grace to assimilate himself to the various stages of Christ's life. In the life to come perfection is made manifest through the power of deification.

56. If by passing through the different stages of spiritual growth you become perfect in virtue during this life, you will attain a state of deification in the life hereafter equal to that of your peers.

57. It is said that true belief is knowledge or contemplation of the Holy Spirit. It is also said that scrupulous discernment in matters of dogma constitutes full knowledge of the true faith.

58. Rapture means the total elevation of the soul's powers towards the majesty of divine glory, disclosed as an undivided unity. Or again rapture is a pure and all-embracing ascent towards the limitless power that dwells in light. Ecstasy is not only the heavenward ravishing of the soul's powers; it is also complete transcendence of the sense- world itself. Intense longing for God - there are two forms of it - is a spiritual intoxication that arouses our desire.

59. As just remarked, there are two main forms of ecstatic longing for God: one within the heart and the other an enravishment taking one beyond oneself. The first pertains to those who are still in the process of achieving illumination, the second to those perfected in love. Both, acting on the intellect, transport it beyond the sense-world. Such longing for the divine is truly a spiritual intoxication, impelling natural thoughts towards higher states and detaching the senses from their involvement with visible things.

60. The source and ground of our distractive thoughts is the fragmented state of our memory. The memory was originally simple and one-pointed, but as a result of the fall its natural powers have been perverted: it has lost its recollectedness in God and has become compound instead of simple, diversified instead of one-pointed.

61. We recover the original state of our memory by restoring it to its primal simplicity, when it will no longer act as a source of evil and destructive thoughts. For Adam's disobedience has not only deformed into a weapon of evil the soul's simple memory of what is good; it has also corrupted all its powers and quenched its natural appetite for virtue. The memory is restored above all by constant mindfulness of God consolidated through prayer, for this spiritually elevates the memory from a natural to a supernatural state.

62. Sinful acts provoke passions, the passions provoke distractive thoughts, and distractive thoughts provoke fantasies. The fragmented memory begets a multiplicity of ideas, forgetfulness causes the fragmentation of the memory, ignorance leads to forgetfulness, and laziness to ignorance. Laziness is spawned by lustful appetites, appetites are aroused by misdirected emotions, and misdirected emotions by committing sinful acts. A sinful act is provoked by a mindless desire for evil and a strong attachment to the senses and to sensory things.

63. Distractive thoughts arise and are activated in the soul's intelligent faculty, violent passions in the incensive faculty, the memory of bestial appetites in the desiring faculty, imaginary forms in the mind, and ideas in the conceptualizing faculty.

64. The irruption of evil thoughts is like the current of a river. We are provoked to sin by such thoughts, and when as a result of this we give our assent to sin our heart is overwhelmed as though by a turbulent flood.

65. By the 'deep mire' (Ps. 69:2) understand slimy sensual pleasure, or the sludge of lechery, or the burden of material things. Weighed down by all this the impassioned intellect casts itself into the depths of despair.

66. Scripture often calls thoughts motives for actions, just as it also calls these motives mental images and, conversely, calls mental images motives. This is because the point of departure for such actions, although in itself immaterial, is embodied through them and changed into a particular visible form. Thus the sin that is provoked is identified and named according to its external manifestation.

67. Distractive thoughts are the promptings of the demons and precursors of the passions, just as such promptings and mental images are also the precursors of particular actions. There can be no action, either for good or evil, that is not initially provoked by the particular thought of that action; for thought is the impulse, non-visible in form, that provokes us to act at all, whatever the action may be.

68. The raw material of actions generates neutral thoughts, while demonic provocation begets evil thoughts. Thus when they are compared it is clear that there is a difference between motives and thoughts that accord with nature and those which are either Contrary to nature or supernatural.

69. Thoughts in different classes of people are equally prone to change, thoughts that accord with nature becoming either thoughts contrary to nature or, alternatively, becoming thoughts that transcend nature. Occasions for these changes are provided, in the case of evil-minded people, by thoughts suggested by material things; whereas in the case of those who are materially -minded they are provided by demonic provocation. Similarly, in the case of saints, it is thoughts that accord with nature that provide the occasion for this change, such thoughts generating thoughts that transcend nature. For the motivating occasions and grounds for these changes of the various types of thought into their congenerate types are fourfold: material, demonic, natural and supernatural.

70. Occasions give rise to distractive thoughts, thoughts to fantasies, fantasies to the passions, and the passions give entry to the demons. It is as if there were a certain cunningly devised sequence and order among the disordered spirits, one thing following and derived from another. But no one thing in the sequence is self-operative: each is prompted and activated by the demons. Fantasy is not wrought into an image, passion is not energized, without unperceived hidden demonic impulsion. For even though Satan has fallen and is shattered, he is still stronger than we are and exults over us because of our sloth.

71. The demons fill our minds with images; or, rather, they clothe themselves in images that correspond to the character of the most dominant and active passion in our soul, and in this way they provoke us to give our assent to that passion. For the demons use the state of passion as an occasion for stirring up images. Thus, whether we are awake or asleep, they visit us with varied and diverse imaginings. The demons of desire turn themselves sometimes into pigs, sometimes into donkeys, sometimes into fiery stallions avid for copulation, and sometimes - particularly the demons of licentiousness - into Israelites. The demons of wrath turn themselves sometimes into gentiles and sometimes into lions. The demons of cowardice take on the form of Ishmaelites, those of licentiousness the form of Idumaeans, and those of drunkenness and dissipation the form of Hagarenes. The demons of greed appear sometimes as wolves and sometimes as leopards, those of malice assume the form sometimes of snakes, sometimes of vipers, and sometimes of foxes, those of shamelessness the form of dogs and those of listlessness the form of cats. FinaUy there are the demons of lechery, that turn sometimes into snakes and sometimes into crows and jackdaws. Carnal-minded demons, particularly those dwelling in the air, transform themselves into birds. Our fantasy transmutes the images of the demons in a threefold manner corresponding to the tripartite nature of the soul: into birds, wild animals and domestic animals, that correspond respectively to the desiring, incensive and intelligent aspect of the soul. For the three princes of the passions are always ready to wage war on these three powers of the soul. Whatever the passion that dominates the soul, they assume a form that corresponds to it and thus they insinuate themselves into us.

72. The demons of sensual pleasure often attack us in the form of fire and coals. For the spirits of self-indulgence kindle the soul's desiring faculty, while they also confuse the intelligence and plunge it into darkness. The chief cause of lustful burning and mental confusion and beclouding lies in the sensuality of the passions.

73. The night of the passions is the darkness of ignorance. Or alternatively the night is the state which begets the passions, where the prince of darkness rules, and where the beasts of the field, the birds of the air and the creeping things of the earth have their dwelling, these being allegorical terms for the roving spirits that seek to lay hold of us in order to devour us (cf Ps. 104:20).

74. Some distractive thoughts precede the activity of the passions and others follow it. Such thoughts precede fantasies, while passions are sequent to fantasies. The passions precede demons, while demons follow the passions.

75. The cause and origin of the passions is the misuse of things. Such misuse results from perversion of our character. Perversion expresses the bias of the will, and the state of our will is tested by demonic provocation. The demons thus are permitted by divine providence to demonstrate to us the specific state of our will.

76. The lethal poison of the sting of sin is the soul's passion-charged state. For if by your own free choice you allow yourself to be dominated by the passions you will develop a firm and unchanging propensity to sin.

77. The passions are variously named. They are divided into those pertaining to the body and those pertaining to the soul. The bodily passions are subdivided into those that involve suffering and those that are sinful. The passions that induce suffering are further subdivided into those connected with disease and those connected with corrective discipline. The passions pertaining to the soul are divided according to whether they affect the incensive, appetitive or intelligent aspect of the soul. Those connected with the intelligence are subdivided into those affecting the imagination and those affecting the understanding. Of these some are the result of the deliberate misuse of things; others we suffer against our will, out of necessity, and for these we are not culpable. The fathers have also called them concomitants and natural idiosyncrasies.

78. The passions that pertain to the body differ from those that pertain to the soul; those affecting the appetitive faculty differ from those affecting the incensive faculty; and those of the intelligence differ from those of the intellect and the reason. But all intercommunicate, and all collaborate, the bodily passions with those of the appetitive faculty, passions of the soul with those of the incensive faculty, passions of the intelligence with those of the intellect, and passions of the intellect with those of the reason and of the memory.

79. The passions of the incensive faculty are anger, animosity, shouting, bad temper, self-assertion, conceit, boastfulness, and so on. The passions of the appetitive faculty are greed, licentiousness, dissipation, insatiateness, self-indulgence, avarice and self-love, which is the worst of all. The passions of the flesh are unchastity, adultery, uncleanliness, profligacy, injustice, gluttony, listlessness, ostentation, self-adornment, cowardice and so on. The passions of the intelligence are lack of faith, blasphemy, malice, cunning, mquisitiveness, duplicity, abuse, backbiting, censonousness, vilification, frivolous talk, hypocrisy, lying, foul talk, foolish chatter, deceitfulness, sarcasm, self-display, love of popularity, day-dreaming, perjury, gossiping and so on. The passions of the intellect are self-conceit, pomposity, arrogance, quarrelsomeness, envy, self-satisfaction, contentiousness, inattentiveness, fantasy, fabrication, swaggering, vainglory and pride, the beginning and end of all the vices. The passions of the reason are dithering, distraction, captivation, obfuscation, blindness, abduction, provocation, connivance in sin, bias, perversion, instability of mind and similar things. In short, all the unnatural vices commingle with the three faculties of the soul, just as all the virtues naturally coexist within them.

80. How eloquent is David when he speaks to God in ecstasy, saying, 'Thy knowledge is too wonderful for me; I cannot attain to it' (cf. Ps. 139:6), for it exceeds my feeble knowledge and my powers. How incomprehensible, indeed, is even this flesh in the way it has been constituted: it too is triadic in every detail, and yet a single harmony embraces its limbs and parts; in addition it is graced by the numbers seven and two which, according to mathematicians, signify time and creation. Thus it, too, when perceived according to the laws at work in creation, is to be seen as an organ of God's glory manifesting His triadic magnificence.

81. The laws of creation are the qualities inventing wholes compounded of energized parts - qualities also known as generic differences, since they invest many different composites constituted from identical properties. Or again the natural law is the potential power to energize inherent in each species and in each part. As God does with respect to the whole of creation, so does the soul with respect to the body: it energizes and impels each member of the body in accordance with the energy intrinsic to that member. At this point it must be asked why the holy fathers sometimes say that anger and desire are powers pertaining to the body and sometimes that they are powers pertaining to the soul. Assuredly, the words of the saints never disagree if they are carefully examined. In this case, both statements are true, if correctly understood in context. For indescribably body and soul are brought into being in such a way that they coexist. The soul is in a state of perfection from the start, but the body is imperfect since it has to grow through taking nourishment. The soul by virtue of its creation as a deiform and intellective entity possesses an intrinsic power of desire and an intrinsic incensive power, and these lead it to manifest both courage and divine love. For senseless anger and mindless desire were not created along with the soul. Nor originally did they pertain to the body. On the contrary, when the body was created it was free from corruption and without the humors from which such desire and uncontrollable rage arise. But after the fall anger and desire were necessarily generated within it, for then it became subject to the corruption and gross materiality of the instinct-driven animals. That is why when the body has the upper hand it opposes the will of the soul through anger and desire. But when what is mortal is made subject to the intelligence it assists the soul in doing what is good. For when characteristics that do not originally pertain to the body but have subsequently infiltrated into it become entangled with the soul, man becomes like an animal (cf Ps. 49:20), since he is now necessarily subject to the law of sin. He ceases to be an intelligent human being and becomes beast-like.

82. When God through His life-giving breath created the soul deiform and intellective. He did not implant in it anger and desire that are animal-like. But He did endow it with a power of longing and aspiration, as well as with a courage responsive to divine love. Similarly when God formed the body He did not originally implant in it instinctual anger and desire. It was only afterwards, through the fall, that it was invested with these characteristics that have rendered it mortal, corruptible and animal-like. For the body, even though susceptive of corruption, was created, as theologians will tell us, free from corruption, and that is how it will be resurrected. In the same way the soul when originally created was dispassionate. But soul and body have both been denied, commingled as they are through the natural law of mutual mterpenetration and exchange. The soul has acquired the qualities of the passions or, rather, of the demons; and the body, passing under the sway of corruption because of its fallen state, has become akin to instinct-driven animals. The powers of body and soul have merged together and have produced a single animal, driven impulsively and mindlessly by anger and desire. That is how man has sunk to the level of animals, as Scripture testifies, and has become like them in every respect (cf. Ps. 49:20).

83. The principle and source of the virtues is a good disposition of the will, that is to say, an aspiration for goodness and beauty. God is the source and ground of all supernal goodness. Thus the principle of goodness and beauty is faith or, rather, it is Christ, the rock of faith, who is principle and foundation of all the virtues. On this rock we stand and on this foundation we build every good thing (cf. I Cor. 3:11). Christ is the capstone (cf Eph. 2:20) uniting us with Himself. He is the pearl of great price (c£ Matt. 13:46): it is this for which the monk seeks when he plunges into the depths of stillness and it is this for which he sells all his own desires through obedience to the commandments, so that he may acquire it even in this life.

84. The virtues are all equal and together reduce themselves to one, thus constituting a single principle and form of virtue. But some virtues - such as divine love, humility and divine patience - are greater than others, embracing and comprising as they do a large number or even all of the rest. With regard to patience the Lord says, 'You will gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance' (Luke 21:19). He did not say 'through your fasting' or 'through your vigils'. I refer to the patience bestowed by God, which is the queen of virtues, the foundation of courageous actions. It is patience that is peace amid strife, serenity amid distress, and a steadfast base for those who acquire it. Once you have attained it with the help of Christ Jesus, no swords and spears, no attacking armies, not even the ranks of demons, the dark phalanx of hostile powers, will be able to do you any harm.

85. The virtues, though they beget each other, yet have their origin in the three powers of the soul - all except those virtues that are divine. For the ground and principle of the four cardinal virtues, both natural and divine - sound understanding, courage, self-restraint and justice, the progenitors of all the other virtues - is the divine Wisdom that inspires those who have attained a state of mystical prayer. This Wisdom operates in a fourfold manner in the intellect. It activates not all the four virtues simultaneously, but each one individually, as is appropriate and as it determines. It activates sound understanding in the form of light, courage as clear-sighted power and ever-moving inspiration, self-restraint as a power of sanctification and purification, and justice as the dew of purity, joy-inducing and cooling the arid heat of the passions. In every one who has attained the state of perfection it activates each virtue fully, in the appropriate form.

86. The pursuit of the virtues through one's own efforts does not confer complete strength on the soul unless grace transforms them into an essential inner disposition. Each virtue is endowed with its own specific gift of grace, its own particular energy, and thus possesses the capacity to produce such a disposition and blessed state in those who attain it even when they have not consciously sought for any such state. Once a virtue has been bestowed on us it remains unchanged and unfailing. For just as a living soul activates the body's members, so the grace of the Holy Spirit activates the virtues. Without such grace the whole bevy of the virtues is moribund; and in those who appear to have attained them, or to be in the way of attaining them, solely through their own efforts they are but shadows and prefigurations of beauty, not the reality itself.

87. The cardinal virtues are four: courage, sound understanding, self-restraint and justice. There are eight other moral qualities, that either go beyond or fall short of these virtues. These we regard as vices, and so we call them; but non-spiritual people regard them as virtues and that is what they call them. Exceeding or falling short of courage are audacity and cowardice, of sound understanding are cunning and ignorance; of self-restraint are licentiousness and obtuseness; of justice are excess and injustice, or taking less than one's due. In between, and superior to, what goes beyond or what falls short of them, lie not only the cardinal and natural virtues, but also the practical virtues. These are consolidated by resolution combined with probity of character; the others by perversion and self-conceit. That the virtues lie along the midpoint or axis of rectitude is testified to by the proverb, 'You will attain every well- founded axis' (Prov. 2:9. LXX). Thus when they are all established in the soul's three faculties in which they are begotten and built up, they have as their foundation the four cardinal virtues or, rather, Christ Himself. In this way the natural virtues are purified through the practical virtues, while the divine and supra-natural virtues are conferred through the bounty of the Holy Spirit.

88. Among the virtues some are practical, others are natural, and others are divine and conferred by the Holy Spirit. The practical virtues are the products of our resolution, the natural virtues are built into us when we are created, the divine virtues are the fruits of grace.

89. Just as the virtues are begotten in the soul, so are the passions. But the virtues are begotten in accordance with nature, the passions in a mode contrary to nature. For what produces good or evil in the soul is the will's bias: it is like the joint of a pair of compasses or the pivot of a pair of scales: whichever way it inclines, so it will determine the consequences. For our inner disposition is capable of operating in one way or another, since it bears within itself both virtue and vice, the first as its natural birthright, the second as the result of the self-incurred proclivity of our moral will.

90. Scripture calls the virtues 'maidens' (cf Song of Songs 1:3) because through their close union with the soul they become one with it in spirit and body. In the same way as a girl's beauty is emblematic of her love, the presence of these holy virtues expresses our inner purity and saintliness. Grace habitually gives to divine things an outward form that accords with their inner nature, at the same time unerringly molding those receptive to it in a way that corresponds to this nature.

91. There are eight ruling passions: gluttony, avarice and self-esteem - the three principal passions; and unchastity, anger, dejection, listlessness and arrogance - the five subordinate passions. In the same way, among the virtues opposed to these there are three that are all-embracing, namely, total shedding of possessions, self-control and humility, and five deriving from them, namely, purity, gentleness, joy, courage, and self-belittlement - and then come all the other virtues. To study and recognize the power, action and special flavor of each virtue and vice is not within the competence of everyone who wishes to do so; it is the prerogative of those who practice and experience the virtues actively and consciously and who receive from the Holy Spirit the gifts of cognitive insight and discrimination.

92. Virtues either energize in us or are energized by us. They energize in us by being present in us when it is appropriate, when they will, for as long as they will and in whatever manner they will. We energize them ourselves according to our resolve and the moral state of our capabilities. But they energize in us by virtue of their own essence, whereas we energize them merely in an imitative way, by modeling our moral conduct upon them. For all our actions are but typifications of the divine archetypes; and few indeed are those who participate concretely in noetic realities before they enjoy the eternal blessings of the life to come. In this life we mainly activate and make our own not the virtues themselves but their reflections and the ascetic toil they require.

93. According to St Paul (cf Rom. 15:16), you 'minister' the Gospel only when, having yourself participated in the light of Christ, you can pass it on actively to others. Then you sow the Logos like a divine seed in the fields of your listeners' souls. 'Let your speech be always filled with grace', says St Paul (Col. 4:6), 'seasoned' with divine goodness. Then it will impart grace to those who listen to you with faith. Elsewhere St Paul, calling the teachers tillers and their pupils the fields they till (cf 2 Tim. 2:6), wisely presents the former as plowers and sowers of the divine Logos and the latter as the fertile soil, yielding a rich crop of virtues. True ministry is not simply a celebration of sacred rites; it also involves participation in divine blessings and the communication of these blessings to others.

94. Oral teaching for the guidance of others has many forms, varying in accordance with the diverse ways in which it is put together from different sources. These sources are four in number: instruction, reading, ascetic practice, and grace. For just as water, while essentially the same, changes and acquires a distinctive quality according to the composition of the soil under it, so that it tastes bitter, or sweet, or brackish, or acidic, so oral teaching, colored as it is by the moral state of the teacher, varies accordingly in the way it operates and in the benefits it confers.

95. Oral teaching is something to be enjoyed by all intelligent beings. But just as there are many different kinds of food, so the recipient of this teaching experiences its pleasure in a variety of ways. Instruction moulds the moral character; teaching by reading is like 'still waters' that nourish and restore the soul (cf Ps. 23:2); teaching through ascetic practice is like 'green pastures', strengthening it (cf. Ps. 23:2); while teaching imparted through grace is like a cup that intoxicates it (cf. Ps. 23:5. LXX), filling it with unspeakable joy, or else it is like oil that exhilarates the face and makes it radiant (cf. Ps. 104: 15).

96. Strictly speaking the soul possesses these various forms of teachings within itself as part of its own life; but when it learns about them through listening to others it becomes conscious of them, provided it listens with faith and provided the teacher teaches with love, speaking of the virtues without vanity or self-esteem. Then the soul is disciplined by instruction, nourished by reading, graciously escorted to her wedding by the deeply -rooted teaching that derives from ascetic practice, and receives the illuminative teaching of the Holy Spirit as a bridegroom who unites her to Himself and fills her with delight. 'Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God' (Matt. 4:4) denotes the words that, inspired by the Holy Spirit, issue from the mouths of the saints - an inspiration granted not to all but only to those who are worthy. For although all intelligent beings take pleasure in knowledge, very few are those in this world who are consciously filled with joy by the wisdom of the Spirit; most of us only know and participate through the power of memory in die images and reflections of spiritual wisdom, for we do not yet with full awareness partake of the Logos of God, the true celestial bread. But in the life to come this bread is the sole food of me saints, proffered in such abundance that it is never exhausted, depleted, or immolated anew.

97. Without spiritual perception you cannot consciously experience the delight of divine things. If you dull your physical senses you make them insensible to sensory things, and you neither see, hear nor smell, but are paralyzed or, rather, half-dead; similarly, if through the passions you deaden the natural powers of your soul you make them insensible to the activity of the mysteries of the Spirit and you cannot participate in them. If you are spiritually blind, deaf and insensible you are as dead: Christ does not live in you, and you do not live and act in Christ.

98. The physical senses and the soul's powers have an equal and similar, not to say identical, mode of operation, especially when they are in a healthy state: far then the soul's powers live and act through the senses, and the life- giving Spirit sustains them both. A man is truly ill when he succumbs to the generic malady of the passions and spends his whole time in the sickroom of inertia. When there is no satanic battle between them, making them reject the rule of the intellect and of the Spirit, the senses clearly perceive sensory things, the soul's powers mtelligible things; for when they are united through the Spirit and constitute a single whole, they know directly and essentially the nature of divine and human things. They contemplate with clarity the logoi, or inward essences of these things, and distinctly perceive, so far as is possible, the single source of all things, the Holy Trinity.

99. He who practices hesychasm must acquire the following five virtues, as a foundation on which to build: silence, self-control, vigilance, humility and patience. Then there are three practices blessed by God: psalmody, prayer and reading - and handiwork for those weak in body. These virtues which we have listed not only embrace all the rest but also consolidate each other. From early morning the hesychast must devote himself to the remembrance of God through prayer and stillness of heart, praying diligently in the first hour, reading in the second, chanting psalms in the third, praying in the fourth, reading in the fifth, chanting psalms in the sixth, praying in the seventh, reading in the eighth, chanting psalms in the ninth, eating in the tenth, sleeping in the eleventh, if need be, and reciting vespers in the twelfth hour. Thus fruitfully spending the course of the day he gains God's blessings.

100. Like a bee one should extract from each of the virtues what is most profitable. In this way, by taking a small amount from all of them, one builds up from the practice of the virtues a great honeycomb overflowing with the soul-delighting honey of wisdom.

101. Now hear, if you will, how it is best to spend the night. For the night vigil there are three programs: for beginners, for those midway on the path, and for the perfect. The first program is as follows: to sleep half the night and to keep vigil for the other half, either from evening till midnight or from midnight till dawn. The second is to keep vigil after nightfall for one or two hours, then to sleep for four hours, then to rise for matins and to chant psalms and pray for six hours until daybreak, then to chant the first hour, and after that to sit down and practice stillness, in the way already described. Then one can either follow the program of spiritual work given for the daylight hours, or else continue in unbroken prayer, which gives a greater inner stability. The third program is to stand and keep vigil uninterruptedly throughout the night.

102. Now let us say something about food. A pound of bread is sufficient for anyone aspiring to attain the state of inner stillness. You may drink two cups of undiluted wine and three of water. Your food should consist of whatever is at hand - not whatever your natural craving seeks, but what providence provides, to be eaten sparingly. The best and shortest guiding rule for those who wish to live as they should is to maintain the threefold all-embracing practices of fasting, vigilance and prayer, for these provide a most powerful support for all the other virtues.

103. Stillness requires above all faith, patience, love with all one's heart and strength and might (cf. Deut. 6:5), and hope. For if you have faith, even though because of negligence or some other fault you fail to attain what you seek in this life, you will on leaving this life most certainly be vouchsafed the fruit of faith and spiritual struggle and will behold your liberation, which is Jesus Christ, the redemption and salvation of souls, the Logos who is both God and man. But if you lack faith, you will certainly be condemned on leaving this world. In fact, as the Lord says, you are condemned already (cf . John 3:18). For if you are a slave to sensual pleasure, and want to be honored by other people rather than by God (cf. John 5:44.), you lack faith, even though you may profess faith verbally; and you deceive yourself without realizing it. And you will incur the rebuke: 'Because you did not receive Me in your heart but cast Me out behind your back, I too will reject you' (ef Ezek. 5: I 1). If you possess faith you should have hope, and believe in God's truth to which the whole of Scripture bears witness, and confess your own weakness; otherwise you will inescapably receive double condemnation.

104. Nothing so fills the heart with contrition and humbles the soul as solitude embraced with self-awareness, and utter silence. And nothing so destroys the state of inner stillness and takes away the divine power that comes from it as the following six universal passions: insolence, gluttony, talkativeness, distraction, pretentiousness and the mistress of the passions, self-conceit. Whoever commits himself to these passions plunges himself progressively into darkness until he becomes completely insensate. But if he comes to himself again and with faith and ardor makes a fresh start, he will once more attain what he seeks, especially if he seeks it with humility. Yet if through his negligence even one of the passions that we have mentioned gets a hold on him once more, then the whole host of evils, including pernicious lack of faith, moves in and attacks him, devastating his soul till it becomes like another city of Babylon, full of diabolical turmoil and confusion (cf. Isa. 13:21). Then the last state of the person to whom this happens is worse than his first (cf. Matt. 12:45), and he turns into a violent enemy and defamer of those pursuing the path of hesy chasm, always whetting his tongue against them like a sharp double-edged sword.

105. Once the waters of the passions, like a turbid and chaotic sea, have flooded the soul's state of stillness, there is no way of crossing over them except in the light swift- winged barque of self-control and total poverty. For when because of our dissipation and enslavement to materiality the torrents of the passions inundate the soil of the heart, they deposit there all the filth and sludge of evil thoughts, befouling the intellect, muddying the reason, clogging the body, and slackening, darkening and deadening soul and heart, depriving them of their natural stability and responsiveness.

106. Nothing so makes the soul of those striving to advance on the spiritual path sluggish, apathetic and mindless as self-love, that pimp of the passions. For whenever it induces us to choose bodily ease rather than virtue- promoting hardship, or to regard it as positive good sense not willingly to burden ourselves with ascetic labor, especially with respect to the light exertions involved in practicing the commandments, then it causes the soul to relax its efforts to attain a state of stillness, and produces in it a strong, irresistible sense of indolence and slackness.

107. If you are feeble in practicing the commandments yet want to expel your inner murkiness, the best and most efficient physic is trustful unhesitating obedience in all things. This remedy, distilled from many virtues, restores vitality and acts as a knife which at a single stroke cuts away festering sores. If, then, in total trust and simplicity you choose this remedy out of all alternatives you excise every passion at once. Not only will you reach the state of stillness but also through your obedience you will fully enter into it, having found Christ and become His imitator and servitor in name and act.

108. Unless your life and actions are accompanied by a sense of inner grief you cannot endure the incandescence of stillness. If with this sense of grief you meditate - before they come to pass - on the many terrors that await us prior to and after death you will achieve both patience and humility, the twin foundations of stillness. Without them your efforts to attain stillness will always be accompanied by apathy and self-conceit. From these will arise a host of distractions and day-dreams, all inducing sluggishness. In their wake comes dissipation, daughter of indolence, making the body sluggish and slack and the intellect benighted and callous. Then Jesus is hidden, concealed by the throng of thoughts and images that crowd the mind (cf. John 5:13).

109. The torments of conscience in this life or the life to come are experienced with full awareness not by everyone but only by those who in this world or the next are deprived of divine glory and love. Such torment is like a fearful torturer punishing the guilty in various ways, or like a sharp sword striking with pitiless indignation and reproach. Once our conscience is active, what some call righteous indignation and others natural wrath is roused in three ways - against the demons, against our nature and against our own soul; for such indignation or wrath impels us to sharpen our conscience like a keen-bladed sword against our enemies. If this righteous indignation triumphs and subjects sin and our unregenerate self to the soul, then it is transmuted into the loftiest courage and leads us to God. But if the soul enslaves itself to sin and our unregenerate self, then this righteous indignation turns against it and torments it mercilessly, for it has enslaved itself to its enemies by its own free will. Thus enslaved, the soul commits terrible crimes, for its state of virtue is lost and it has alienated itself from God.

110. Of all the passions, lechery and listlessness are especially harsh and burdensome, for they oppress and debilitate the unhappy soul. And as they are inter-related and intertwined they are difficult to fight against and to overcome - in fact by our own efforts alone we cannot defeat them. Lechery burgeons in the soul's appetitive aspect and by nature embraces indiscriminately both soul and body, since the total pleasure it generates spreads through all our members. Listlessness, once it has laid hold of our intellect and like bindweed has enlaced our soul and body, makes us slothful, enfeebled and indolent. Even before we have attained the blessed state of dispassion these two passions are expelled, though not finally defeated, whenever through prayer our soul receives from the Holy Spirit a power that releases it from tension, producing strength and profound peace in the heart, and solacing us with stillness. Lechery is the pleasure that includes all other forms of sensual indulgence, their source, mistress and queen; and its crony, sloth, is the invincible chariot bearing Pharaoh's captains (cf. Exod. 14:7). Through these two - lechery and sloth - the seeds of the passions are sown in our unhappy lives.

111. Noetic prayer is an activity initiated by the cleansing power of the Spirit and the mystical rites celebrated by the intellect. Similarly, stillness is initiated by attentive waiting upon God, its intermediate stage is characterized by illuminative power and contemplation, and its final goal is ecstasy and the enraptured flight of the intellect towards God.

112. Prior to the enjoyment of the blessings that transcend the intellect, and as a foretaste of that enjoyment, the noetic activity of the intellect mystically offers up the Lamb of God upon the altar of the soul and partakes of Him in communion. To eat the Lamb of God upon the soul's noetic altar is not simply to apprehend Him spiritually or to participate in Him; it is also to become an image of the Lamb as He is in the age to come. Now we experience the manifest expression of the mysteries; hereafter we hope to enjoy their very substance.

113. For beginners prayer is like a joyous fire kindled in the heart; for the perfect it is like a vigorous sweet- scented light. Or again, prayer is the preaching of the Apostles, an action of faith or, rather, faith itself, 'that makes real for us the things for which we hope' (Heb. 11:1), active love, angelic impulse, the power of the bodiless spirits, their work and delight, the Gospel of God, the heart's assurance, hope of salvation, a sign of purity, a token of holiness, knowledge of God, baptism made manifest, purification in the water of regeneration, a pledge of the Holy Spirit, the exultation of Jesus, the soul's delight, God's mercy, a sign of reconciliation, the seal of Christ, a ray of the noetic sun, the heart's dawn-star, the confirmation of the Christian faith, the disclosure of reconciliation with God, God's grace, God's wisdom or, rather, the origin of true and absolute Wisdom; the revelation of God, the work of monks, the life of hesychasts, the source of stillness, and expression of the angelic state. Why say more? Prayer is God, who accomplishes everything in everyone (cf I Cor. 12:6), for there is a single action of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, activating all things through Christ Jesus.

114. Had Moses not received the rod of power from God, he would not have become a god to Pharaoh (cf. Exod. 7:1) and a scourge both to him and to Egypt. Correspondingly the intellect, if it fails to grasp the power of prayer, will not be able to shatter sin and the hostile forces ranged against it.

115. Those who say or do anything without humility are like people who build in winter or without bricks and mortar. Very few acquire humility and know it through experience; and those who try to talk about it are like people measuring a bottomless pit. And I who in my blindness have formed a faint image of this great light am rash enough to say this about it: tme humility does not consist in speaking humbly, or in looking humble. The humble person does not have to force himself to think humbly, nor does he keep finding fault with himself. Such conduct may provide us with an occasion for humility or constitute its outward form, but humility itself is a grace and a divine gift. The holy fathers teach that there are two kinds of humility: to regard oneself as lower than everyone else, and to ascribe all one's achievement to God. The first is the beginning, the second the consummation.

Those who seek humility should bear in mind the three following things: that they are the worst of sinners, that they are the most despicable of all creatures since their state is an unnatural one, and that they are even more pitiable than the demons, since they are slaves to the demons. You will also profit if you say this to yourself: how do I know what or how many other people's sins are, or whether they are greater than or equal to my own? In our ignorance you and I, my soul, are worse than all men, we are dust and ashes under their feet. How can I not regard myself as more despicable than all other creatures, for they act in accordance with the nature they have been given, while I, owing to my innumerable sins, am in a state contrary to nature. Truly animals are more pure than I, sinner that I am; on account of this I am the lowest of all, since even before my death I have made my bed in hell. Who is not fully aware that the person who sins is worse than the demons, since he is their thrall and their slave, even in this life sharing their murk-mantled prison? If I am mastered by the demons I must be inferior to them. Therefore my lot will be with them in the abyss of hell, pitiful that I am. You on earth who even before your death dwell in that abyss, how do you dare delude yourself, calling yourself righteous, when through the evil you have done you have defiled yourself and made yourself a sinner and a demon? Woe to your self-deception and your delusion, squalid cur that you are, consigned to fire and darkness for these offences.

116. According to theologians, noetic, pure, angelic prayer is in its power wisdom inspired by the Holy Spirit. A sign that you have attained such prayer is that the intellect's vision when praying is completely free from form and that the intellect sees neither itself nor anything else in a material way. On the contrary, it is often drawn away even from its own senses by the light acting within it; for it now grows immaterial and filled with spiritual radiance, becoming through ineffable union a single spirit with God (cf. I Cor. 6: 17).

117. We are led and guided towards God-given humility by seven different qualities, each of which generates and complements the others: silence, humbleness in thought, in speech, in appearance, self-reproach, contrition and looking on oneself as the least of men. Silence consciously espoused gives birth to humbleness in thought. Humble- ness in thought produces three further modes of humility, namely, humbleness in speech, bearing oneself in a simple and humble way, and constant self-belittlement. These three modes give birth to contrition; this arises within us when God allows us to suffer temptations - when, that is, we are disciplined by providence and humbled by the demons. Contrition readily induces the soul to feel the lowest and least of all, and the servant of all. Contrition and looking on oneself as the least of all bring about the perfect humility that is the gift of God, a power rightly regarded as the perfection of all the virtues. It is a state in which one ascribes all one's achievements to God. Thus the first factor leading to humility is silence, from which humbleness of thought is born. This gives birth to the three further modes of humility. These three generate the single quality of contrition. The quality of contrition gives birth to the seventh mode, the primal humility of regarding oneself as the least of men, which is also' called providential humility. Providential humility confers the true and God-given humility that is perfect and indescribable. Primal humility comes thus: when you are abandoned, overcome, enslaved and dominated by every passion, distractive thought and evil spirit, and can find no help in doing good works, or in God, or in anything at all, so that you are ready to fall into despair, then you are humbled in everything, are filled with contrition and regard yourself as the lowest and least of all things, the slave of all, and worse even than the demons, since you are dominated and vanquished by them. This is providential humility. Once acquired, through it God bestows the ultimate humility. This is a divine power that activates and accomplishes all things. With its aid a man always sees himself as an instrument of divine power, and through it he accomplishes the miraculous works of God.

118. Because we are now mastered by the passions and succumb to a host of temptations we cannot in our age attain those states that characterize sanctity - I mean real spiritual contemplation of the divine light, an intellect free from fantasy and distraction, the true energy of prayer ceaselessly flowing from the depths of the heart, the soul's resurrection and ascension, divine rapture, the soaring beyond the limits of this world, the mind's ecstasy in spirit above all things sensory, the ravishment of the intellect above even its own powers, the angelic flight of the soul impelled by God towards what is infinite and utterly sublime. The intellect - especially in the more superficial among us - tends to picture these states prematurely to itself, and in this way it loses even the slight stability God has given it and becomes altogether moribund. Hence we must exercise great discrimination and not try to pre-empt things that come in their own good time, or reject what we already possess and dream of something else. For by nature the intellect readily invents fantasies and illusions about the high spiritual states it has not yet attained, and thus there is no small danger that we may lose what has already been given to us and destroy our mind through repeated self-deception, becoming a day-dreamer and not a hesychast.

119. Faith, like active prayer, is a grace. For prayer, when activated by love through the power of the Spirit, renders true faith manifest - the faith that reveals the life of Jesus. If, then, you are aware that such faith is not at work within you, that means your faith is dead and lifeless. In fact you should not even speak of yourself as one of the 'faithful' if your faith is merely theoretical and is not actualized by the practice of the commandments or by the Spirit. Thus faith must be evidenced by progress in keeping the commandments, or it must be actualized and translucent in what we do. This is confirmed by St James when he says, 'Show me your faith through your works and I will show you the works that I do through my faith' (cf Jas. 2:18). In saying this he makes it clear that grace-inspired faith is evidenced by the keeping of the commandments, just as the commandments are actualized and made translucent by grace-inspired faith. Faith is the root of the commandments or, rather, it is the spring that feeds their growth. It has two aspects - that of confession and that of grace - though it is essentially one and indivisible.

120. The short ladder of spiritual progress - which is at the same time both small and great - has five rangs leading to perfection. The first is renunciation, the second submission to a religious way of life, the third obedience to spiritual direction, the fourth humility, and the fifth God-imbued love. Renunciation raises the prisoner from hell and sets him free from enslavement to material things. Submission is the discovery of Christ and the decision to serve Him. As Christ Himself said, 'He who serves Me, follows Me; and where I am he who serves Me will also be' (cf. John 12:26). And where is Christ? In heaven, enthroned at the right hand of the Father. Thus he who serves Christ must be in heaven as well, his foot placed ready to climb up; indeed, before he even begins to ascend by his own efforts he is already raised up and ascending with Christ. Obedience, put into action through the practice of the commandments, builds a ladder out of various virtues and places them in the soul as rungs by which to ascend (cf. Ps. 84:5, LXX). Thence the spiritual aspirant is embraced by humility, the great exaher, and is borne heavenwards and dehvered over to love, the queen of the virtues. By love he is led to Christ and brought into His presence. Thus by this short ladder he who is truly obedient swiftly ascends to heaven.

121. The quickest way to ascend to the kingdom of heaven by the short ladder of the virtues is through effacing the five passions hostile to obedience, namely, disobedience, contentiousness, self-gratification, self -justification and pernicious self-conceit. For these are the limbs and organs of the recalcitrant demon that devours those who offer false obedience and consigns them to the dragon of the abyss. Disobedience is the mouth of hell; contentiousness its tongue, whetted like a sword; self-gratification its sharp teeth; self-justification its gullet; and self-conceit, that sends one to hell, is the vent that evacuates its all-devouring belly. If through obedience you overcome the first of these - disobedience - you cut off all the rest at a stroke, and with a single swift stride attain heaven. This is the truly ineffable and inconceivable miracle wrought by our compassionate Lord: that through a single virtue or, rather, a single commandment, we can ascend straightway to heaven, just as through a single act of disobedience we have descended and continue to descend into hell.

122. Man is like another or second world - a new world, as he is called by St Paul when he states, 'Whoever is in Christ is a new creation' (2 Cor. 5:17). For through virtue man becomes a heaven and an earth and everything that a world is. Every quality and mystery exists for man's sake, as St Gregory of Nazianzos says. Moreover, if, as St Paul affirms, our struggle is not against creatures of flesh and blood, but against the potentates and rulers of the darkness of this world, against the spirits of evil in the celestial realms of the prince of the air (cf. Eph. 2:2; 6: 12), it follows that those who secretly fight against us inhabit the world of our psychic powers, which is like another great world of nature. For the three princes that oppose us in our struggle attack the three powers of the soul; and it is precisely where we have made progress, and in areas that we have labored to develop, that they launch their assault.

Thus the dragon, the prince of the abyss, whose strength is manifest in the loins and the belly - organs of our soul's appetitive power - sallies forth against those who strive to keep their attention in their hearts; and through the lust-loving giant of forgetfulness he hurls at them the whole battery of his fiery darts (cf. Eph. 6:16). Desire being for him like another sea and abyss, he plunges into it, coils his way through it, and stirs it up, making it foam and boil. In this way he inflames it with sexual longing and inundates it with sensual pleasure; but this does not slake it, for it is insatiable.

The prince of this world (cf. John 12:31), who campaigns against the soul's incensive power, attacks those striving to attain practical virtue. With the help of the giant of sloth, he continually ranges his forces against us and engages us in a spiritual contest with every trick of passion he can devise. As though in the theatre or stadium of some other world, he wrestles with all who stand up against him with courage and endurance; sometimes he wins, sometimes he is defeated, and so he either disgraces us or gains us crowns of glory in the sight of the angels.

The prince of the air (cf. Eph. 2:2) attacks those whose minds are absorbed in contemplation, deluding them with fantasies; for supported by the evil spirits of the air he attacks the soul's intellectual and spiritual power. Through the giant of ignorance he clouds the aspiring mind as though it were an intellectual heaven, disrupting its composure, craftily insinuating into it vague fantastic images of evil spirits and their metamorphoses, and producing fear- inspiring similitudes of thunder and lightning, tempests and alarums. These three princes, assisted by the three giants, attack the three powers of our soul, each waging war against the particular power that corresponds to him.

123. These demons were once celestial intelligences; but, having fallen from their original state of immateriality and refinement, each of them has acquired a certain material grossness, assuming a bodily form corresponding to the kind of action allotted to it. For like human beings they have lost the delights of the angels and have been deprived of divine bliss, and so they too, like us, now find pleasure in earthly things, becoming to a certain extent material because of the disposition to material passions which they have acquired. We should not be surprised at this, for our own soul, created intellectual and spiritual in the image of God, has become bestial, insensate and virtually mindless through losing the knowledge of God and finding pleasure in material things. Inner disposition changes outward nature, and acts of moral choice alter the way that nature functions. Some evil spirits are material, gross, uncontrollable, passionate and vindictive. They hunger for material pleasure and indulgence as carnivores for flesh. Like savage dogs and like those possessed they devour and relish rotten food; and their delight and habitation are coarse, fleshy bodies. Others are licentious and slimy. They creep about in the pool of desire like leeches, frogs and snakes. Sometimes they assume the form of fish, delighting in their brackish lubricity. Slippery and flaccid, they swim in the sea of drunkenness, rejoicing in the humectation of mindless pleasures. In this manner they constantly stir up waves of impure thoughts, and storms and tempests in the soul. Others are light and subtle, since they are aerial spirits, and agitate the soul's contemplative power, provoking strong winds and fantasies. They deceive the soul by appearing sometimes in the form of birds or angels. They fill one's memory with the forms of people one knows. They pervert and deform the contemplative vision of those pursuing the path of hohness who have not yet attained the state of purity and inner discrimination; for there is nothing spiritual but that they can secretly transform themselves into it in the imagination. They too arm themselves according to our spiritual state and degree of progress, and substituting illusion for truth and fantasy for contemplation they take up their abode within us. It is to these evil spirits that Scripture refers when it speaks of beasts of the field, birds of the air and things that creep on the ground (cf. Hos. 2:18).

124. There are five ways in which the passions may be aroused in us and our fallen self may wage war against our soul. Sometimes our fallen self misuses things. Sometimes it seeks to do what is unnatural as though it were natural. Sometimes it forms warm friendship with the demons and they provide it with arms against the soul. Sometimes under the influence of the passions it falls into a state of civil war, divided against itself. Finally, if the demons have failed to achieve their purpose in any of the ways just mentioned. God may permit them in their malice to wage war against us in order to teach us greater humility.

125. The main causes of warfare - arising in us through every kind of object or situation - are three: our inner disposition, the misuse of created things and, by God's leave, the malice and onslaught of the demons. As the fallen self rises in protest against the soul, and the soul against the fallen self (cf Gal. 5:17), so in the same way our inner disposition and our mode of acting make the passions of the fallen self war against the soul, and the valiant powers of the soul wage war against the fallen self. And sometimes our enemy, shameless as he is, has the audacity to fight against us in his own person, without cause or warning. Thus, my friend, do not let this blood-loving leech bleed your arteries, and then spit out the blood he has sucked from you. Do not glut the snake and the dragon, and then you will easily trample on the insolence of the lion and the dragon (cf Ps. 91:13). Lament until you have stripped off the passions and clothed yourself in your heavenly dwelling-place (cf. 2 Cor. 5:2), and are refashioned according to the likeness of Jesus Christ, who made you in His image (cf. Col. 3:10).

126. Those completely given over to the pursuits of the flesh and full of self-love are always slaves to sensual pleasure and to vanity. Envy, too, is rooted in them. Consumed by malice and embittered by their neighbor's blessings, they calumniate good as bad, calling it the fruit of deceit. They do not accept things of the Spirit or believe in them; and because of their lack of faith they cannot see or know God. Such people, due to this same blindness and lack of faith, on the last day will justly hear spoken to them the words, T know you not' (Matt. 25: 12). For the questing believer must either believe when he hears what he does not know, or come to know what he believes; and he must teach to others what he has come to know and abundantly multiply the talent entrusted to him. But if he disbelieves what he does not know, and vilifies what he does not understand, and teaches what he has not learnt, envying those who teach things from practical experience, his lot will surely be to suffer punishment with those consumed by 'the gall of bitterness' (Acts 8:23).

127. According to the wise, a true teacher is he who through his all-embracing cognitive insight comprehends created things concisely, as if they constituted a single body, establishing distinctions and connections between them according to their generic difference and identity, so as to indicate which possess similar qualities. Or he may be described as one who can truly demonstrate things apodictically. Or again, a true spiritual teacher is he who distinguishes and relates the general and universal qualities of created things - classified as five in number, but compounded in the incarnate Logos - in accordance with a particular formulation that embraces everything. But his apodictic skill is not a matter of mere verbal dexterity, like that of profane philosophers, for he is able to enlighten others through the contemplative vision of created things manifested to him by the Holy Spirit.

A true philosopher is one who perceives in created things their spiritual Cause, or who knows created things through knowing their Cause, having attained a union with God that transcends the intellect and a direct, unmediated faith: He does not simply learn about divine things, but actually experiences them. Or again, a true philosopher is one whose intellect is conversant equally with ascetic practice and contemplative wisdom. Thus the perfect philosopher or lover of wisdom is one whose intellect has attained - alike on the moral, natural and theological levels - love of wisdom or, rather, love of God. That is to say, he has learnt from God the principles of ascetic practice (moral philosophy), an insight into the spiritual causes of created things (natural philosophy), and a precise contemplative understanding of doctrinal principles (theology).

Or again, a teacher initiated into things divine is one who distinguishes principial beings from participative beings or beings that have no autonomous self-subsistent reality; he adduces the essences of principial beings from beings that exist through participating in them, and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he perceives the essences of principial beings embodied in participative beings. In other words, he interprets what is intelligible and invisible in terms of what is sensible and visible, and the visible sense -world in terms of the invisible and supersensory world, conscious that what is visible is an image of what is invisible, and that what is invisible is the archetype of what is visible. He knows that things possessing form and figure are brought into being by what is formless and without figure, and that each manifests the other spiritually; and he clearly perceives each in the other and conveys this perception in his teaching of the truth. His knowledge of the truth, with all its sun-like radiance, is not expressed in anagogical or allegorical form; on the contrary, he elucidates the true underlying principles of both worlds with spiritual insight and power, and expounds them forcibly and vividly. In this way the visible world becomes our teacher and the invisible world is shown to be an eternal divine dwelling-place manifestly brought into being for our sake.

A divine philosopher is he who through ascetic purification and noetic contemplation has achieved a direct union with God, and is a true friend of God, in that he esteems and loves the supreme, creative and true wisdom above every other love, wisdom and knowledge. A student of spiritual knowledge, though not properly speaking a philosopher (even though reflected wisdom has unnoticed appropriated the name of philosophy, as St Gregory of Nazianzos points out) is he who esteems and studies God's wisdom mirrored in His creation, down to the least vestige of it; but he does this without any self-display or any hankering after human praise and glory, for he wishes to be a lover of God's wisdom in creation and not a lover of materialism.

An interpreter of sacred texts adept in the mysteries of the kingdom of God is everyone who after practicing the ascetic life devotes himself to the contemplation of God and cleaves to stillness. Out of the treasury of his heart he brings forth things new and old (cf. Matt. 13:52), that is, things from the Gospel of Christ and the Prophets, or from the New and Old Testaments, or doctrinal teachings and rules of ascetic practice, or themes from the Apostles and from the Law. These are the mysteries new and old that the skilled interpreter brings forth when he has been schooled in the life of holiness.

An interpreter is one proficient in the practice of the ascetic life and still actively engaged in scriptural exegesis. A divine teacher is one who mediates, in accordance with the laws governing the natural world, the spiritual knowledge and inner meanings of created things and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, elucidates all things with the analytic power of his intelligence. A true philosopher is one who has attained, consciously and directly, a supernatural union with God.

128. Those who write and speak and who wish to build up the Church, while lacking the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are 'psychic' or worldly people void of the Spirit, as St Jude observes (cf . Jude I 9). Such people come under the curse which says, 'Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and esteem themselves as possessors of knowledge' (Isa. 5:21); for they speak from themselves and it is not the Spirit of God that speaks in them (cf Matt. 10:20). For those who speak what are simply their own thoughts before they have attained purity are deluded by the spirit of self-conceit. It is to them that Solomon refers when he says, 'I knew a man who regarded himself as wise; there is more hope for a fool than for him' (Prov. 26: 12. LXX); and again, 'Do not be wise in your own sight' (Prov. 3:7). St Paul himself, filled with the Spirit, endorses this when he says, 'We are not qualified to form any judgment on our own account; our qualification comes from God' (2 Cor. 3:5), and, 'As men sent from God, we speak before God in the grace of Christ' (2 Cor. 2:17). What people say when they speak on their own account is repellent and murksome, for their words do not come from the living spring of the Spirit, but are spawned from the morass of their own heart, a bog infested with the leeches, snakes and frogs of desire, delusion and dissipation; the water of their knowledge is evil-smelling, turbid and torpid, sickening to those who drink it and filling them with nausea and disgust.

129. 'We are the body of Christ', says St Paul, 'and each of us is one of its members' (cf. I Cor. 12:27). And elsewhere he says, 'You are one body and one spirit, even as you have been called' (Eph. 4:4). For 'as the body without the spirit is dead' (Jas. 2:26) and insensate, so if you have been deadened by the passions through neglecting the commandments after your baptism the Holy Spirit and the grace of Christ cease to operate in you and to enlighten you; for though you possess the Spirit, since you have faith and have been regenerated through baptism, yet the Spirit is quiescent and inactive within you because of the deadness of your soul.

Although the soul is one and the members of the body are many, the soul sustains them all, giving life and movement to those that can be animated. Should some of them have withered because of some disease and become as if dead and inert, yet they are still sustained by the soul, even in their lifeless and insensate state. Similarly, the Spirit of Christ is present with integral wholeness in all who are members of Christ, activating and generating life in all capable of participating in it; and in His compassion He still sustains even those who through some weakness do not actively participate in the life of the Spirit. In this way each of the faithful participates, by virtue of his faith, in adoption to sonship through the Spirit; but should he grow negligent and fail to sustain his faith he will become inert and benighted, deprived of Christ's life and light. Such is the state of each of the faithful who, though a member of Christ and possessing the Spirit of Christ, fails to activate this Spirit within himself and so is stagnant, incapable of participating positively in the life of grace.

130. The principal forms of contemplation are eight in number. The first is contemplation of the formless, unongmate and uncreated God, source of all things - that is, contemplation of the one Triadic Deity that transcends all being. The second is contemplation of the hierarchy and order of the spiritual powers. The third is contemplation of the structure of created beings. The fourth is contemplation of God's descent through the incarnation of the Logos. The fifth is contemplation of the universal resurrection. The sixth is contemplation of the dread second coming of Christ. The seventh is contemplation of age-long punishment. The eighth is contemplation of the kingdom of heaven. The first four pertain to what has already been manifested and realized. The second four pertain to what is in store and has not yet been manifested; but they are clearly contemplated by and disclosed to those who through grace have attained great purity of intellect. Whoever without such grace attempts to descry them should realize that far from attaining spiritual vision he will merely become the prey of fantasies, deceived by and forming illusions in obedience to the spirit of delusion.

131. Here something must be said about delusion, so far as this is possible; for, because of its deviousness and the number of ways in which it can ensnare us, few recognize it clearly and for most it is almost inscrutable. Delusion manifests itself or, rather, attacks and invades us in two ways - in the form of mental images and fantasies or in the form of diabohc influence - though its sole cause and origin is always arrogance. The first form is the origin of the second and the second is the origin of a third form - mental derangement. The first form, illusory visions, is caused by self-conceit; for this leads us to invest the divine with some illusory shape, thus deceiving us through mental images and fantasies. This deception in its turn produces blasphemy as well as the fear induced by monstrous apparitions, occurring both when awake and when asleep - a state described as the terror and perturbation of the soul. Thus arrogance is followed by delusion, delusion by blasphemy, blasphemy by fear, fear by terror, and terror by a derangement of the natural state of the mind. This is the first form of delusion, that induced by mental images and fantasies.

The second form, induced by diabolic influence, is as follows. It has its origin in self-indulgence, which in its turn results from so-called natural desire. Self-indulgence begets licentiousness in all its forms of indescribable impurity. By inflaming man's whole nature and clouding his intelligence as a result of its intercourse with spurious images, licentiousness deranges the intellect, searing it into a state of delirium and impelling its victim to utter false prophecies, interpreting the visions and discourses of certain supposed saints, which he claims arc revealed to him when he is intoxicated and befuddled with passion, his whole character perverted and corrupted by demons. Those ignorant of spiritual matters, beguiled by delusion, call such men 'little souls'. These 'little souls' are to be found sitting near the shrines of saints, by whose spirit they claim to be inspired and tested, and whose purported message they proclaim to others. But in truth they should be called possessed by the demons, deceived and enslaved by delusion, and not prophets foretelling what is to happen now and in the future. For the demon of licentiousness himself darkens and deranges their minds, inflaming them with the fire of spiritual lust, conjuring up before them the illusory appearance of saints, and making them hear conversations and see visions. Sometimes the demons themselves appear to them and convulse them with fear. For having harnessed them to the yoke of Belial, the demon of licentiousness drives them on to practice their deceits, so that he may keep them captive and enslaved until death, when he will consign them to hell.

132. Delusion arises in us from three principal sources: arrogance, the envy of demons, and the divine will that allows us to be tried and corrected. Arrogance arises from superficiality, demonic envy is provoked by our spiritual progress, and the need for correction is the consequence of our sinful way of life. The delusion arising solely from envy and self-conceit is swiftly healed, especially when we humble ourselves. On the other hand, the delusion allowed by God for our correction, when we are handed over to Satan because of our smfulness, God often permits to continue until our death, if this is needed to efface our sins. Sometimes God hands over even the guiltless to the torment of demons for the sake of their salvation. One should also know that the demon of self-conceit himself prophesies in those who are not scrupulously attentive to their hearts.

133. All the faithful are truly anointed priests and kings in the spiritual renewal brought about through baptism. just as priests and kings were anointed figuratively in former times. For those anointings were prefigurations of the truth of our anointing: prefigurations in relation not merely to some of us but to all of us. For our kingship and priesthood is not of the same form or character as theirs, even though the symbolic actions are the same. Nor does our anointing recognize any distinction in nature, grace or calling, in such a way that those anointed essentially differ one from the other: we have but one and the same calling, faith and ritual. The true significance of this is that he who is anointed is pure, dispassionate and wholly consecrated to God now and for ever.

134. If your speech is full of wisdom and you meditate on understanding in your heart (cf Ps. 49:3), you will disclose in created things the presence of the divine Logos, the substantive Wisdom of God the Father (cf. I Cor. 1:24); for in created things you will perceive the outward expression of the archetypes that characterize them, and thus through your active living intelligence you will speak wisdom that derives from the divine Wisdom. And because your heart will be illuminated by the power of the transfiguring understanding on which you meditate in your spirit, you will be able through this understanding to instruct and illuminate those who listen with faith.

135. Today's great enemy of truth, drawing men to perdition, is delusion. As a result of this delusion, tenebrous ignorance rules the souls of all those sunk in lethargy and alienates them from God. Such people are as if unaware that there exists a God who gives us rebirth and illumination, or they assume that we can believe in Him and know Him only in a theoretical way and not through our actions, or else they imagine that He has revealed Himself only to the people of former times and not to us also; and they pretend that the scriptural texts about God are applicable only to the original authors, or to others, but not to themselves. Thus they blaspheme the teaching about God, since they repudiate true knowledge inspired by devotion to God, and read the Scriptures only in a literal, not to say Judaic, manner; denying the possibility that man even in this life can be resurrected through the resurrection of his soul, they choose to remain in the grave of ignorance. Delusion consists of three passions: lack of faith, guile and sloth. These generate and support each other: lack of faith sharpens the wits of guile, and guile goes hand in hand with sloth, which expresses itself outwardly in laziness. Or conversely, sloth may beget guile - did not the Lord say, 'You cunning and lazy servant' (Matt. 25:26)? - and guile mothers lack of faith. For if you are full of guile you lack faith, and if you lack faith you stand in no awe of God. From such lack of faith comes sloth, which begets contempt; and when you are full of contempt you scorn all goodness and practice every kind of wickedness.

136. Complete dogmatic orthodoxy consists in a true doctrine about God and an unerring spiritual knowledge of created things. If you are orthodox in this way you should glorify God thus: Glory to Thee, Christ our God, glory to Thee, because for our sake Thou, the divine Logos who transcends all things, becamest man. Great is the mystery of Thine incarnation. Savior: glory to Thee.

137. According to St Maximos the Confessor there are three motives for writing which are above reproach and censure: to assist one's memory, to help others, or as an act of obedience. It is for the last reason that most spiritual writings have been composed, at the humble request of those who have need of them. If you write about spiritual matters simply for pleasure, fame or self-display, you will get your deserts, as Scripture says (cf Matt. 6:5, 16), and will not profit from it in this life or gain any reward in the life to come. On the contrary, you will be condemned for courting popularity and for fraudulently trafficking in God's wisdom.

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