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1010On Those who Think They Are Made Righteous by Works: Two Hundred Twenty Six Texts

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  • Christopher Orr
    Mar 16, 2009
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      From *The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I. *Trans. and eds. G.E.H.
      Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware **(Faber & Faber, London &
      Boston: 1979), pp. 125-146.
      Translator�s Introductory Note

      Little can be affirmed with confidence about the life of St Mark the
      Ascetic, also known as Mark the Monk, Mark the Wrestler (�ascetic� literally
      means �wrestler�), or Mark the Hermit. St. Nikodimos dates him to the early
      5th century, and this seems to be correct; according to another but less
      probable view, he lived at the beginning of the sixth century. Like his
      contemporary St Neilos, he may have been a disciple of St John Chrysostom,
      but this is not certain. As the *Letter to Nicolas the Solitary* indicates,
      Mark was living at one stage of his life as a hermit in the desert, although
      we cannot be sure where this was; both Palestine and Egypt have been
      suggested. Prior to this he may have been superior of a community near
      Ankyra (Ankara), in Asia Minor. In addition to the three works included in
      the *Philokalia*, Mark wrote at least six other treatises, the most
      important being those on baptism, on repentance, and against Nestorios. In
      his spiritual teaching, which is directed particularly against the heretical
      Syrian movement of Messalianism, he lays great emphasis upon the role played
      by baptismal grace and provides a detailed analysis of the nature of
      temptation. In addition to the Greek text provided by St Nikodimos, we have
      had before us the variant readings found in the earliest Greek manuscripts
      of Mark�s writings; we have indicated in the footnotes when we depart from
      the text of the printed Greek *Philokalia*. In our translation of the
      treatises *On the Spiritual Law* and *On Those who Think that They are Made
      Righteous by Works*, the numbering of sections follows that in the Greek *
      Philokalia*. In Migne, Patrologia Graeca, LXV, the numbering is slightly

      In the Orthodox Church, St. Mark is commemorated as a saint on 5 March.*


      *On Those who Think They Are Made Righteous by Works: Two Hundred Twenty Six

      by St. Mark the Ascetic

      1. In the texts which follow, the beliefs of those in error will be refuted
      by those whose faith is well founded and who know the truth.

      2. Wishing to show that to fulfil every commandment is a duty, whereas
      sonship is a gift given to men through His own Blood, the Lord said: �When
      you have done all that is commanded you, say: �We are useless servants: we
      have only done what was our duty� (Lk 17.10). Thus the kingdom of heaven is
      not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for his
      faithful servants.

      3. A slave does not demand his freedom as a reward; but he gives
      satisfaction as one who is in debt, and he receives freedom as a gift.

      4. �Christ died on account of our sins in accordance with the Scriptures�
      (1Co 15:3); and to those who serve Him well He gives freedom. �Well done,
      good and faithful servant,� He says, �you have been faithful over a few
      things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your
      Lord� (Mt 25:21).

      5. He who relies on theoretical knowledge alone is not yet a faithful
      servant: a faithful servant is one who expresses his faith in Christ through
      obedience to His commandments.

      6. He who honours the Lord does what the Lord bids. When he sins or is
      disobedient, he patiently accepts what comes as something he deserves.

      7. If you love true knowledge, devote yourself to the ascetic life; for mere
      theoretical knowledge puffs a man up (cf. 1Co 8:1).

      8. Unexpected trials are sent by God to teach us to practice the ascetic
      life; and they lead us to repentance even when we are reluctant.

      9. Afflictions that come to us are the result of our own sins. But if we
      accept them patiently through prayer, we shall again find blessings.

      10. Some people when praised for their virtue are delighted, and attribute
      this pleasurable feeling of self-esteem to grace. Others when reproved for
      their sins are pained, and they mistake this beneficial pain for the action
      of sin.

      11. Those who, because of the rigor of their own ascetic practice, despise
      the less zealous, think that they are made righteous by physical works. But
      we are even more foolish if we rely on theoretical knowledge and disparage
      the ignorant.

      12. Even though knowledge is true, it is still not firmly established if
      unaccompanied by works. For everything is established by being put into

      13. Often our knowledge becomes darkened because we fail to put things into
      practice. For when we have totally neglected to practice something, our
      memory of it will gradually disappear.

      14. For this reason Scripture urges us to acquire the knowledge of God, so
      that through our works we may serve Him rightly.

      15. When we fulfil the commandments in our outward actions, we receive from
      the Lord what is appropriate; but any real benefit we gain depends on our
      inward intention.

      16. If we want to do something but cannot, then before God, who knows our
      hearts, it is as if we have done it. This is true whether the intended
      action is good or bad.

      17. The intellect does many good and bad things without the body, whereas
      the body can do neither good nor evil without the intellect. This is because
      the law of freedom applies to what happens before we act.

      18. Some without fulfilling the commandments think that they possess true
      faith. Others fulfil the commandments and then expect the kingdom as a
      reward due to them. Both are mistaken.

      19. A master is under no obligation to reward his slaves; on the other hand,
      those who do not serve him well are not given their freedom.

      20. If �Christ died on our account in accordance with the Scriptures� (Rm
      5:8; 1Co 15:3), and we do not �live for ourselves�, but �for Him who died
      and rose� on our account (2Co 5:15), it is clear that we are debtors to
      Christ to serve Him till our death. How then can we regard sonship as
      something which is our due?

      21. Christ is Master by virtue of His own essence and Master by virtue of
      His incarnate life. For He creates man from nothing, and through His own
      Blood redeems him when dead in sin; and to those who believe in Him He has
      given His grace.

      22. When Scripture says �He will reward every man according to his works�
      (Mt 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the
      kingdom. On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his
      works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a
      dealer bound by contract, but God our Creator and Redeemer.

      23. We who have received baptism offer good works, not by way of repayment,
      but to preserve the purity given to us.

      24. Every good work which we perform through our own natural powers causes
      us to refrain from the corresponding sin; but without grace it cannot
      contribute to our sanctification.

      25. The self-controlled refrain from gluttony; those who have renounced
      possessions, from greed; the tranquil, from loquacity; the pure, from
      self-indulgence; the modest, from unchastity; the self-dependent, from
      avarice; the gentle, from agitation; the humble, from self-esteem; the
      obedient, from quarrelling; the self-critical, from hypocrisy. Similarly,
      those who pray are protected from despair; the poor, from having many
      possessions; confessors of the faith, from its denial; martyrs, from
      idolatry. Do you see how every virtue that is performed even to the point of
      death is nothing other than refraining from sin? Now to refrain from sin is
      a work within our own natural powers, but not something that buys us the

      26. While man can scarcely keep what belongs to him by nature, Christ gives
      the grace of sonship through the Cross.

      27. Certain commandments are specific, and others are comprehensive. Thus
      Christ enjoins us specifically to �share with him who has none� (Lk 3:11);
      and He gives us a comprehensive command to forsake all that we have (cf. Lk

      28. There is an energy of grace not understood by beginners, and there is
      also an energy of evil which resembles the truth. It is advisable not to
      scrutinize these energies too closely, because one may be led astray, and
      not to condemn them out of hand, because they may contain some truth; but we
      should lay everything before God in hope, for He knows what is of value in
      both of them.

      29. He who wants to cross the spiritual sea is long-suffering, humble,
      vigilant and self- controlled. If he impetuously embarks on it without these
      four virtues, he agitates his heart, but cannot cross.

      30. Stillness helps us by making evil inoperative. If it also takes to
      itself these four virtues in prayer, it is the most direct support in
      attaining dispassion.

      31. The intellect cannot be still unless the body is still also; and the
      wall between them cannot be demolished without stillness and prayer.

      32. The flesh with its desire is opposed to the spirit, and the spirit
      opposed to the flesh, and those who live in the spirit will not carry out
      the desire of the flesh (cf. Ga 5:15- 17).

      33. There is no perfect prayer unless the intellect invokes God; and when
      our thought cries aloud without distraction, the Lord will listen.

      34. When the intellect prays without distraction it afflicts the heart; and
      �a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise� (Ps 51:17).

      35. Prayer is called a virtue, but in reality it is the mother of the
      virtues: for it gives birth to them through union with Christ.

      36. Whatever we do without prayer and without hope in God turns out
      afterwards to be harmful and defective.

      37. Christ�s words that the �first will be last, and the last will be first�
      (Mt 19:30) refer to those who participate in the virtues and those who
      participate in love. For love is the last of the virtues to be born in the
      heart, but it is the first in value, so that those born before it turn out
      to be �the last�.

      38. If you are listless when you pray or afflicted by various forms of evil,
      call to mind your death and the torments of hell. But it is better to cleave
      to God through hope and prayer than to think about external things, even
      though such thoughts may be helpful.

      39. No single virtue by itself opens the door of our nature; but all the
      virtues must be linked together in the correct sequence.

      40. He whose mind teems with thoughts lacks self-control; and even when they
      are beneficial, hope is more so.

      41. There is a sin which is always �unto death� (1Jn 5:16): the sin for
      which we do not, repent. For this sin even a saint�s prayers will not be

      42. He who repents rightly does not imagine that it is his own effort which
      cancels his former sins; but through this effort he makes his peace with

      43. If we are under an obligation to perform daily all the good actions of
      which our nature is capable, what do we have left over to give to God in
      repayment for our past sins?

      44. However great our virtuous actions of today, they do not requite but
      condemn our past negligence.

      45. He who suffers affliction in his intellect but relaxes physically is
      like one who suffers affliction in his body while allowing his intellect to
      be dispersed.

      46. Voluntary affliction in one of these parts of our nature benefits the
      other: to suffer affliction with the mind benefits the flesh, and to suffer
      it with the flesh benefits the mind. When our mind and flesh are not in
      union, our state deteriorates.

      47. It is a great virtue to accept patiently whatever comes and, as the Lord
      enjoins, to love a neighbor who hates you.

      48. The sign of sincere love is to forgive wrongs done to us. It was with
      such love that the Lord loved the world.

      49. We cannot with all our heart forgive someone who does us wrong unless we
      possess real knowledge. For this knowledge shows us that we deserve all we

      50. You will lose nothing of what you have renounced for the Lord�s sake.
      For in its own time it will return to you greatly multiplied.

      51. When the intellect forgets the purpose of true devotion, then external
      works of virtue bring no profit.

      52. If poor judgment is harmful to everyone, it is particularly so to those
      who live with great strictness.

      53. Philosophize through your works about man�s will and God�s retribution.
      For your words are only as wise and as profitable as your works.

      54. Those who suffer for the sake of true devotion receive help. This must
      be learnt through obeying God�s law and our own conscience.

      55. One man received a thought and accepted it without examination. Another
      received a thought and tested its truth. Which of them acted with greater

      56. Real knowledge is patiently to accept affliction and not to blame others
      for our own misfortunes.

      57. He who does something good and expects a reward is serving not God but
      his own will.

      58. A sinner cannot escape retribution except through repentance appropriate
      to his offence.

      59. There are those who claim that we cannot do good unless we actively
      receive the grace of the Spirit.

      60. Those who always by choice incline to sensual pleasures refrain from
      doing what lies within their power on the grounds that they lack help.

      61. Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into
      Christ; and it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively
      observe the commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do
      good� as far as lies in our power� depends on us.

      62. Initially grace arouses the conscience in a divine manner. That is how
      even sinners have come to repent and so to conform to God�s will.

      63. Again, grace may be bidden in advice given by a neighbor. Sometimes it
      also accompanies our understanding during reading, and as a natural result
      teaches our intellect the truth about itself. If, then, we do not hide the
      talent given to us in this way, we shall enter actively into the joy of the

      64. He who seeks the energies of the Spirit, before he has actively observed
      the commandments, is like someone who sells himself into slavery and who, as
      soon as he is bought, asks to be given his freedom while still keeping his

      65. When you have found that external events come to you through God�s
      justice, then in your search for the Lord you have found �spiritual
      knowledge and justice� (cf. Pr 16:8 LXX).

      66. Once you recognize that the Lord�s judgments �are in all the earth� (1Ch
      16:14), then everything that happens to you will teach you knowledge of God.

      67. Everyone receives what he deserves in accordance with his inner state.
      But only God understands the many different ways in which this happens.

      68. When you suffer some dishonor from men, recognize at once the glory that
      will be given you by God. Then you will not be saddened or upset by the
      dishonor; and when you receive the glory you will remain steadfast and

      69. When God allows you to be praised, do not become boastful on account of
      this divine providence, lest you then fall into dishonor.

      70. A seed will not grow without earth and water; and a man will not develop
      without voluntary suffering and divine help.

      71. Rain cannot fall without a cloud, and we cannot please God without a
      good conscience.

      72. Do not refuse to learn, even though you may be very intelligent. For
      what God provides has more value than our own intelligence.

      73. When through some sensual pleasure the heart is deflected from the
      ascetic way, it becomes difficult to control, like a heavy stone dislodged
      on steep ground.

      74. Like a young calf which, in its search for grazing, finds itself on a
      ledge surrounded by precipices, the soul is gradually led astray by its

      75. When the intellect, having grown to full maturity in the Lord, wrenches
      the soul from long-continued prepossession, the heart suffers torments as if
      on the rack, since intellect and passion drag it in opposite directions.

      76. Just as sailors, in the hope of gain, gladly endure the burning heat of
      the sun, so those who hate wickedness gladly accept reproof. For the former
      contend with the winds, the latter with passions.

      77. Just as flight in winter or on the Sabbath day (cf. Mt 24:20) brings
      suffering to the flesh and defilement to the soul, so too does resurgence of
      the passions in an aged body and a consecrated soul.

      78. No one is as good and merciful as the Lord. But even He does not forgive
      the unrepentant.

      79. Many of us feel remorse for our sins, yet we gladly accept their causes.

      80. A mole burrowing in the earth is blind and cannot see the stars; and he
      who does not trust God in temporal things will not trust Him in eternal

      81. Real knowledge has been given to men by God as a grace preceding the
      fullness of grace; it teaches those who partake of it to believe above all
      in the Giver.

      82. When a sinful soul does not accept the afflictions that come to it, the
      angels say: �We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed� (Jr

      83. When an intellect forgets real knowledge, it fights with men for harmful
      things as though they were helpful.

      84. Fire cannot last long in water, nor can a shameful thought in a heart
      that loves God. For every man who loves God suffers gladly, and voluntary
      suffering is by nature the enemy of sensual pleasure.

      85. A passion which we allow to grow active within us through our own choice
      afterwards forces itself upon us against our will.

      86. We have a love for the causes of involuntary thoughts, and that is why
      they come. In the case of voluntary thoughts we clearly have a love not only
      for the causes but also for the objects with which they are concerned.

      87. Presumption and boastfulness are causes of blasphemy. Avarice and
      self-esteem are causes of cruelty and hypocrisy.

      88. When the devil sees that our intellect has prayed from the heart, he
      makes a powerful attack with subtle temptations; but he does not bother to
      destroy the lesser virtues by such powerful attacks.

      89. When a thought lingers within a man, this indicates his attachment to
      it; but when it is quickly destroyed, this signifies his opposition and
      hostility to it.

      90. The intellect changes from one to another of three different noetic
      states: that according to nature, above nature, and contrary to nature. When
      it enters the state according to nature, it finds that it is itself the
      cause of evil thoughts, and confesses its sins to God, clearly understanding
      the causes of the passions. When it is in the state contrary to nature, it
      forgets God�s justice and fights with men, believing itself unjustly
      treated. But when it is raised to the state above nature, it finds the
      fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace and the other fruits of which
      the Apostle speaks (cf. Ga 5:22); and it knows that if it gives priority to
      bodily cares it cannot remain in this state. An intellect that departs from
      this state falls into sin and all the terrible consequences of sin� if not
      immediately, then in due time, as God�s justice shall decide.

      91. Each man�s knowledge is genuine to the extent that it is confirmed by
      gentleness, humility and love.

      92. Everyone baptized in the orthodox manner has received mystically the
      fullness of grace; but he becomes conscious of this grace only to the extent
      that he actively observes the commandments.

      93. If we fulfil Christ�s commandments according to our conscience, we are
      spiritually refreshed to the extent that we suffer in our heart. But each
      thing comes to us at the right time.

      94. Pray persistently about everything, and then you will never do anything
      without God�s help.

      95. Nothing is stronger than prayer in its action, nothing more effective in
      winning God�s favor.

      96. Prayer comprises the complete fulfillment of the commandments; for there
      is nothing higher than love for God.

      97. Undistracted prayer is a sign of love for God; but careless or
      distracted prayer is a sign of love for pleasure.

      98. He who can without strain keep vigil, be long-suffering and pray is
      manifestly a partaker of the Holy Spirit. But he who feels strain while
      doing these things, yet willingly endures it, also quickly receives help.

      99. One commandment is higher than another; consequently one level of faith
      is more firmly founded than another.

      100. There is faith �that comes by hearing� (Rm 10:17) and there is faith
      that �is the substance of things hoped for� (Hb 11:1).

      101 . It is good to help enquirers with words; but it is better to
      co-operate with them through prayer and the practice of virtue. For he who
      through these offers himself to God, helps his neighbor through helping

      102. If you want with a few words to benefit one who is eager to learn,
      speak to him about prayer, right faith, and the patient acceptance of what
      comes. For all else that is good is found through these.

      103. Once we have entrusted our hope about something to God, we no longer
      quarrel with our neighbor over it.

      104. If, as Scripture teaches, everything involuntary has its cause in what
      is voluntary, man has no greater enemy than himself.

      105. The first among all evils is ignorance; next comes lack of faith.

      106. Escape from temptation through patience and prayer. If you oppose
      temptation without these, it only attacks you more strongly.

      107. He who is gentle in God�s sight is wiser than the wise; and he who is
      humble in heart is stronger than the strong. For they bear the yoke of
      Christ with spiritual knowledge.

      108. Everything we say or do without prayer afterwards turns out to be
      unreliable or harmful, and so shows us up without our realizing it.

      109. One alone is righteous in works, words and thoughts. But many are made
      righteous in faith, grace and repentance.

      110. One who is repentant cannot be haughty, just as one who sins
      deliberately cannot be humble-minded.

      111. Humility consists, not in condemning our conscience, but in recognizing
      God�s grace and compassion.

      112. What a house is to the air, the spiritual intellect is to divine grace.
      The more you get rid of materiality, the more the air and grace will come in
      of their own accord; and the more you increase materiality, the more they
      will go away.

      113. Materiality in the case of a house consists of furnishings and food.
      Materiality in the case of the intellect is self-esteem and sensual

      114. Ample room in the heart denotes hope in God; congestion denotes bodily

      115. The grace of the Spirit is one and unchanging, but energizes in each
      one of us as He wills (cf. 1Co 12:11).

      116. When rain falls upon the earth, it gives life to the quality inherent
      in each plant: sweetness in the sweet, astringency in the astringent;
      similarly, when grace falls upon the hearts of the faithful, it gives to
      each the energies appropriate to the different virtues without itself

      117. To him who hungers after Christ grace is food; to him who is thirsty, a
      reviving drink; to him who is cold, a garment; to him who is weary, rest; to
      him who prays, assurance; to him who mourns, consolation.

      118. When you hear Scripture saying of the Holy Spirit that He �rested upon
      each� of the Apostles (Ac 2:3), or �came upon� the Prophet (1Sm 11:6), or
      �energizes� (1Co 12:11), or is �grieved� (Ep. 4:30), or is �quenched� (1Th
      5:19), or is �vexed� (Is 63:10), and again, that some �have the first
      fruits� (Rm 8:23), and that others are �filled with the Holy Spirit� (Ac
      2:4), do not suppose that the Spirit is subject to some kind of division,
      variation or change; but be sure that, in the way we have described, He is
      unvarying, unchanging and all-powerful. Therefore in all His energies He
      remains what He is, and in a divine manner He gives to each person what is
      needful. On those who have been baptized He pours Himself out in His
      fullness like the sun. Each of us is illumined by Him to the extent to which
      we hate the passions that darken us and get rid of them. But in so far as we
      have a love for them and dwell on them, we remain in darkness.

      119. He who hates the passions gets rid of their causes. But he who is
      attracted by their causes is attacked by the passions even though he does
      not wish it.

      120. When evil thoughts become active within us, we should blame ourselves
      and not ancestral sin.

      121. The roots of evil thoughts are the obvious vices, which we keep trying
      to justify in our words and actions.

      122. We cannot entertain a passion in our mind unless we have a love for its

      123. For what man, who cares nothing about being put to shame, entertains
      thoughts of self-esteem? Or who welcomes contempt and yet is disturbed by
      dishonor? And who has �a broken and a contrite heart� (Ps 51:17) and yet
      indulges in carnal pleasure? Or who puts his trust in Christ and yet worries
      or quarrels about transitory things?

      124. If a man is treated with contempt by someone and yet does not react
      with anger in either word or thought, it shows he has acquired real
      knowledge and firm faith in the Lord.

      125. �The sons of men are false, and cheat with their scales� (Ps 62:9.
      LXX), but God assigns to each what is just.

      126. If the criminal will not keep his gains for ever and his victim will
      not always suffer want, �surely man passes like a shadow and troubles
      himself in vain� (Ps 39:6. LXX).

      127. When you see someone suffering great dishonor, you may be sure that he
      was carried away by thoughts of self-esteem and is now reaping, much to his
      disgust, the harvest from the seeds which he sowed in his heart.

      128. He who enjoys bodily pleasures beyond the proper limit will pay for the
      excess a hundredfold in sufferings.

      129. A man exercising authority should tell his subordinate his duty; and,
      if disobeyed, should warn him of the evil consequences.

      130. He who suffers wrong and does not demand any reparation from the man
      who wronged him, trusts in Christ to make good the loss; and he is rewarded
      a hundredfold in this world and inherits eternal life (cf. Mk 10:30).

      131. The remembrance of God is suffering of heart endured in a spirit of
      devotion. But he who forgets God becomes self-indulgent and insensitive.

      132. Do not say that a dispassionate man cannot suffer affliction; for even
      if he does not suffer on his own account, he is under a liability to do so
      for his neighbor.

      133. When the enemy has booked against a man many forgotten sins, he forces
      his debtor to recall them in memory, taking full advantage of �the law of
      sin� (cf. Rm 8:2).

      134. If you wish to remember God unceasingly, do not reject as undeserved
      what happens to you, but patiently accept it as your due. For patient
      acceptance of whatever happens kindles the remembrance of God, whereas
      refusal to accept weakens the spiritual purpose of the heart and so makes it

      135. If you want your sins to be �covered� by the Lord (cf. Ps 32:1), do not
      display your virtues to others. For whatever we do with our virtues, God
      will also do with our sins.

      136. Having hidden your virtue, do not be filled with pride, imagining you
      have achieved righteousness. For righteousness is not only to hide your good
      actions, but also never to think forbidden thoughts.

      137. Rejoice, not when you do good to someone, but when you endure without
      rancor the hostility that follows. For just as night follows day, so acts of
      malice follow acts of kindness.

      138. Acts of kindness and generosity are spoilt by self-esteem, meanness and
      pleasure, unless these have first been destroyed by fear of God.

      139. The mercy of God is hidden in sufferings not of our choice; and if we
      accept such sufferings patiently, they bring us to repentance and deliver us
      from everlasting punishment.

      140. Some, when they actively observe the commandments, expect this to
      outweigh their sins; others, who observe the commandments without this
      presumption, gain the grace of Him who died on account of our sins. We
      should consider which of these is right.

      141. Fear of hell and love for God�s kingdom enable us patiently to accept
      affliction; and this they do, not by themselves, but through Him who knows
      our thoughts.

      142. He who believes in the blessings of the world to come abstains of his
      own accord from the pleasures of this present world. But he who lacks such
      faith becomes pleasure-loving and insensitive.

      143. Do not ask how a poor man can be self-indulgent when he lacks the
      material means. For it is possible to be self-indulgent in a yet more
      despicable way through one�s thoughts.

      144. Knowledge of created beings is one thing, and knowledge of the divine
      truth is another. The second surpasses the first just as the sun outshines
      the moon.

      145. Knowledge of created beings increases the more we observe the
      commandments actively; but knowledge of the truth grows the more we hope in

      146. if you wish to be saved and �to come unto the knowledge of the truth�
      (1Tm 2:4), endeavor always to transcend sensible things, and through hope
      alone to cleave to God. Then you will find principalities and powers
      fighting against you (cf. Ep 6:12), deflecting you against your will and
      provoking you to sin. But if you prevail over them through prayer and
      maintain your hope, you will receive God�s grace, and this will deliver you
      from the wrath to come.

      147. If you understand what is said in a mystical sense by St Paul, that �we
      wrestle� against spiritual wickedness� (Ep 6:12), you will also understand
      the parable of the Lord, which He spoke �to this end, that men ought always
      to pray, and not to lose heart� (Lk 18:1).

      148. The Law figuratively commands men to work for six days and on the
      seventh to rest (cf. Ex 20:9-10). The term �work� when applied to the soul
      signifies acts of kindness and generosity by means of our possessions� that
      is, through material things. But the soul�s rest and repose is to sell
      everything and �give to the poor� (Mt 19:21), as Christ Himself said; so
      through its lack of possessions it will rest from its work and devote itself
      to spiritual hope. Such is the rest into which Paul also exhorts us to
      enter, saying: �Let us strive therefore to enter into that rest� (Hb 4:11).

      149. In saying this we are not forgetting the blessings of the life to come
      or limiting the universal reward to the present life. We are simply
      affirming that it is necessary in the first place to have the grace of the
      Holy Spirit energizing the heart and so, in proportion to this energizing,
      to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The Lord made this clear in saying:
      �The kingdom of heaven is within you� (cf. Lk 17:21). The Apostle, too, said
      the same: �Faith is the substance of things hoped for� (Hb 11:1); �Run, that
      you may reach your goal� (1Co 9:24); �Examine yourselves whether you are in
      the faith.... Do you not know... that Jesus Christ is in you unless you are
      worthless� (2Co 13:5).

      150. He who has come to know the truth does not oppose the afflictions that
      befall him, for he knows that they lead him to the fear of God.

      151. To recall past sins in detail inflicts injury on the man who hopes in
      God. For when such recollection brings remorse it deprives him of hope; but
      if he pictures the sins to himself without remorse, they pollute him again
      with the old defilement.

      152. When the intellect through rejection of the passions attains to
      unwavering hope, then the enemy makes it visualize its past sins on the
      pretext of confessing them to God. Thus he tries to rekindle passions which
      by God�s grace have been forgotten, and so secretly to inflict injury. Then,
      even though someone is illumined and hates the passions, be will inevitably
      be filled with darkness and confusion at the memory of what be has done. But
      if he is still befogged and self-indulgent, he will certainly dally with the
      enemy�s provocations and entertain them under the influence of passion, so
      that this recollection will prove to be a prepossession and not a

      153. If you wish to make a blameless confession to God do not go over your
      failings in detail, but firmly resist their renewed attacks.

      154. Trials come upon us because of our former sins, bringing what is
      appropriate to each offence.

      155. The man who possesses spiritual knowledge and understands the truth
      confesses to God, not by recalling what he has done, but by accepting
      patiently what comes.

      156. If you refuse to accept suffering and dishonor, do not claim to be in a
      state of repentance because of your other virtues. For self-esteem and
      insensitivity can serve sin even under the cover of virtue.

      157. just as suffering and dishonor usually give birth to virtues, so
      pleasure and selfesteem usually give birth to vices.

      158. All bodily pleasure results from previous laxity, and laxity results
      from lack of faith.

      159. He who is under the power of sin cannot by himself prevail over the
      will of the flesh, because he suffers continual stimulation in all his

      160. Those who are under the sway of passions must pray and be obedient. For
      even when they receive help, they can only just manage to fight against
      their preposessions.

      161. He who tries to conquer his own will by means of obedience and prayer
      is following a wise ascetic method. His renunciation of external things
      indicates his inward struggle.

      162. He who does not make his will agree with God is tripped up by his own
      schemes and falls into the hands of his enemies.

      163. When you see two evil men befriending one another, you may be sure that
      each is co-operating with the other�s desires.

      164. The haughty and the conceited gladly agree together; for the haughty
      man praises the conceited man who fawns on him in a servile manner, while
      the conceited man extols the haughty man who continually praises him.

      165. The man who loves God benefits from both praise and blame: if commended
      for his good actions he grows more zealous, and if reproved for his sins he
      is brought to repentance. Our outward life should accord with our inner
      progress, and our prayers to God with our life.

      166. It is good to hold fast to the principal commandment, and not to be
      anxious about particular things or to pray for them specifically, but to
      seek only the kingdom and the word of God (cf. Mt 6:25-33). If, however, we
      are still anxious about our particular needs, we should also pray for each
      of them. He who does or plans anything without prayer will not succeed in
      the end. And this is what the Lord meant when He said: �Without Me you can
      do nothing� (Jn 15:5).

      167. If a man disregards the commandment about prayer, he then commits worse
      acts of disobedience, each one handing him over to the next like a prisoner.

      168. He who accepts present afflictions in the expectation of future
      blessings has found knowledge of the truth; and he will easily be freed from
      anger and remorse.

      169. He who chooses maltreatment and dishonor for the sake of truth is
      walking on the apostolic path; he has taken up the cross and is bound in
      chains (cf. Mt 16:24; Ac 28:20). But when he tries to concentrate his
      attention on the heart without accepting these two, his intellect wanders
      from the path and he falls into the temptations and snares of the devil.

      170. In our ascetic warfare we can neither rid ourselves of evil thoughts
      apart from their causes, nor of their causes without ridding ourselves of
      the thoughts. For if we reject the one without the other, before long the
      other will involve us in them both at once.

      171. He who fights against others out of fear of hardship or reproach will
      either suffer more harshly through what befalls him in this life, or will be
      punished mercilessly in the life to come.

      172. He who wishes to be spared all misfortunes should associate God with
      everything through prayer; with his intellect he should set his hope in Him,
      putting aside, so far as possible, all concern about things of the senses.

      173. When the devil finds someone preoccupied needlessly with bodily things,
      he first deprives him of the hard-won fruits of spiritual knowledge, and
      then cuts off his hope in God.

      174. If you should ever reach the stronghold of pure prayer, do not accept
      the knowledge of created things which is presented to you at that moment by
      the enemy, lest you lose what is greater. For it is better to shoot at him
      from above with the arrows of prayer, cooped up as he is down below, then to
      parley with him as he offers us the knowledge he has plundered, and tries to
      tear us away from this prayer which defeats him.

      175. Knowledge of created things helps a man at a time of temptation and
      listlessness; but at a time of pure prayer it is usually harmful.

      176. If it is your task to give spiritual instruction and you are disobeyed,
      grieve inwardly but do not be outwardly upset. For if you grieve, you will
      not share the guilt of the person who disobeys you; but if you are upset you
      will be tested by the same temptations as he is.

      177. When you are explaining things, do not conceal what is relevant to the
      needs of those present. You should discuss explicitly whatever is seemly,
      but refer less explicitly to what is hard to accept.

      178. If someone is not under obedience to you, do not rebuke him to his face
      for his faults. For that would imply you have authority over him, and are
      not just giving advice.

      179. What is said without explicit reference to individuals is helpful to
      all, for each applies it to himself according to his own conscience.

      180. He who speaks rightly should recognize that he receives the words from
      God. For the truth belongs not to him who speaks, but to God who is
      energizing him.

      181. Do not argue with people not under obedience to you when they oppose
      the truth; otherwise you may arouse their hatred.

      182. If you give way when someone who is under obedience to you wrongly
      contradicts you, you lead him astray over the point at issue and also
      encourage him to repudiate his promise of obedience.

      183. He who with fear of God admonishes or corrects a man who has sinned,
      gains the virtue that is opposite to that sin. But he who reproaches him out
      of rancor and ill will becomes subject to a similar passion, according to
      the spiritual law.

      184. He who has learned the law properly fears the Lawgiver and, fearing
      Him, he turns away from every evil.

      185. Do not be double-tongued, saying one thing when your conscience says
      another. For Scripture places such people under a curse (cf. Si. 28:13).

      186. One man speaks the truth and is hated for it by the foolish; another
      speaks hypocritically and for this reason is loved. But in both cases their
      reward is not long delayed, for at the appropriate moment the Lord renders
      to each his due.

      187. He who wishes to avoid future troubles should endure his present
      troubles gladly. For in this way, balancing the one against the other,
      through small sufferings he will avoid those which are great.

      188. Guard your speech from boasting and your thoughts from presumption;
      otherwise you may be abandoned by God and fall into sin. For man cannot do
      anything good without the help of God, who sees everything.

      189. God, who sees everything, rewards at their proper value not only our
      actions but also our voluntary thoughts and purposes.

      190. Involuntary thoughts arise from previous sin; voluntary ones from our
      free will. Thus the latter are the cause of the former.

      191. Evil thoughts which arise against our will are accompanied by remorse,
      and so they soon disappear; but when they are freely chosen, they are
      accompanied by pleasure, and so they are hard to get rid of.

      192. The self-indulgent are distressed by criticism and hardship; those who
      love God by praise and luxury.

      193. He who does not understand God�s judgments walks on a ridge like a
      knife-edge and is easily unbalanced by every puff of wind. When praised, he
      exults; when criticized, he feels bitter. When he feasts, he makes a pig of
      himself; and when be suffers hardship, he moans and groans. When he
      understands, he shows off; and when he does not understand, he pretends that
      he does. When rich, he is boastful; and when in poverty, he plays the
      hypocrite. Gorged, he grows brazen; and when he fasts, he becomes arrogant.
      He quarrels with those who reprove him; and those who forgive him he regards
      as fools.

      194. Unless a man acquires, through the grace of Christ, knowledge of the
      truth and fear of God, he is gravely wounded not only by the passions but
      also by the things that happen to him.

      195. When you want to resolve a complex problem, seek God�s will in the
      matter, and you will find a constructive solution.

      196. When something accords with God�s will, all creation aids it. But when
      God rejects something, creation too opposes it.

      197. He who opposes unpleasant events opposes the command of God
      unwittingly. But when someone accepts them with real knowledge, he �waits
      patiently for the Lord� (Ps 27:14).

      198. When tested by some trial you should try to find out not why or through
      whom it came, but only how to endure it gratefully, without distress or

      199. Another man�s sin does not increase our own, unless we ourselves
      embrace it by means of evil thoughts.

      200. If it is not easy to find anyone conforming to God�s will who has not
      been put to the test, we ought to thank God for everything that happens to

      201. If Peter had not failed to catch anything during the night�s fishing
      (cf. Lk 5:5), he would not have caught anything during the day. And if Paul
      had not suffered physical blindness (cf. Ac 9:8), he would not have been
      given spiritual sight. And if Stephen had not been slandered as a
      blasphemer, he would not have seen the heavens opened and have looked on God
      (cf. Ac 6:15; 7:56).

      202. As work according to God is called virtue, so unexpected affliction is
      called a test.

      203. God �tested Abraham� (cf. Gn 22:1-14), that is, God afflicted him for
      his own benefit, not in order to learn what kind of man Abraham was� for He
      knew him, since He knows all things before they come into existence� but in
      order to provide him with opportunities for showing perfect faith.

      204. Every affliction tests our will, showing whether it is inclined to good
      or evil. This is why an unforeseen affliction is called a test, because it
      enables a man to test his hidden desires.

      205. The fear of God compels us to fight against evil; and when we fight
      against evil, the grace of God destroys it.

      206. Wisdom is not only to perceive the natural consequence of things, but
      also to accept as our due the malice of those who wrong us. People who go no
      further than the first kind of wisdom become proud, whereas those who attain
      the second become humble.

      207. If you do not want evil thoughts to be active within you, accept
      humiliation of soul and affliction of the flesh; and this not just on
      particular occasions, but always, everywhere and in all things.

      208. He who willingly accepts chastening by affliction is not dominated by
      evil thoughts against his will; whereas he who does not accept affliction is
      taken prisoner by evil thoughts, even though he resists them.

      209. When you are wronged and your heart and feelings are hardened, do not
      be distressed, for this has happened providentially; but be glad and reject
      the thoughts that arise within you, knowing that if they are destroyed at
      the stage when they are only provocations, their evil consequences will be
      cut off; whereas if the thoughts persist the evil may be expected to

      210. Without contrition of the heart it is altogether impossible to rid
      ourselves of evil. Now the heart is made contrite by threefold self-control:
      in sleep, in food and in bodily relaxation. For excess of these three things
      leads to self-indulgence; and this in turn makes us accept evil thoughts,
      and is opposed to prayer and to appropriate work.

      211. If it is your duty to give orders to your brethren, be mindful of your
      role and, when they contradict you, do not fail to tell them what is
      necessary. When they obey you, you will be rewarded because of their virtue;
      but when they disobey you, you will none the less forgive them, and will
      equally be rewarded by Him who said: �Forgive and it shall be forgiven you�
      (cf. Mt 6:14).

      212. Every event is like a bazaar. He who knows how to bargain makes a good
      profit, he who does not makes a loss.

      213. If someone does not obey you when you have told him once, do not argue
      and try to compel him; but take for yourself the profit which he has thrown
      away. For forbearance will benefit you more than correcting him.

      214. When the evil conduct of one person begins to affect others, you should
      not show long-suffering; and instead of your own advantage you should seek
      that of the others, so that they may be saved. For virtue involving many
      people is more valuable than virtue involving only one.

      215. If a man falls into some sin and does not feel remorse for his offence
      as he should, he will easily fall into the same net again.

      216. Just as a lioness does not make friends with a calf, so impudence does
      not gladly admit the remorse that accords with God�s will.

      217. Just as a sheep does not mate with a wolf, so suffering of the heart
      does not couple with satiety for the conception of virtues.

      218. No one can experience suffering and remorse in a way that accords with
      God�s will, unless he first loves what causes them.

      219. Fear of God and reproof induce remorse; hardship and vigils make us
      intimate with suffering.

      220. He who does not learn from the commandments and warnings of Scripture
      will be driven by �the horse�s whip� and �the ass�s goad� (cf. Pr 26:3 LXX).
      And if he refuses to obey these as well, his �mouth must be controlled with
      bit and bridle� (Ps 32:9).

      221. He who is easily overcome by the lesser will inevitably be enslaved by
      the greater. But he who is superior to the lesser will also with the Lord�s
      help resist the greater.

      222. When someone boasts about his virtues, do not try to help him by
      reproving him. For a man cannot love showing off and at the same time love
      the truth.

      223. Every word of Christ shows us God�s mercy, justice and wisdom and, if
      we listen gladly, their power enters into us. That is why the unmerciful and
      the unjust, listening to Christ with repugnance, were not able to understand
      the wisdom of God, but even crucified Him for teaching it. So we, too,
      should ask ourselves whether we listen to Him gladly. For He said: �He who
      loves Me will keep My commandments, and he will be loved by My Father, and I
      will love him, and will manifest Myself to him� (cf. Jn 14:21). Do you see
      how He has hidden His manifestation in the commandments? Of all the
      commandments, therefore, the most comprehensive is to love God and our
      neighbor. This love is made firm through abstaining from material things,
      and through stillness of thoughts.

      224. Knowing this, the Lord enjoins us �not to be anxious about the morrow�
      (Mt 6:34); and rightly so. For if aman has not freed himself from material
      things and from concern about them, how can he be freed from evil thoughts?
      And if he is beset by evil thoughts, how can he see the reality of the sin
      concealed behind them? This sin wraps the soul in darkness and obscurity,
      and increases its hold upon us through our evil thoughts and actions. The
      devil initiates the whole process by testing a man with a provocation which
      he is not compelled to accept; but the man, urged on by self-indulgence and
      self-esteem, begins to entertain this provocation with enjoyment. Even if
      his discrimination tells him to reject it, yet in practice he takes pleasure
      in it and accepts it. If someone has not perceived this general process of
      sinning, when will he pray about it and be cleansed from it? And if he has
      not been cleansed, how will he find purity of nature? And if he has not
      found this, how will he behold the inner dwelling-place of Christ? For we
      are a dwelling place of God, according to the words of Prophet, Gospel and
      Apostle (cf. Zc 2:10; Jn 14:23; 1Co 3:16; Hb 3:6).

      225. Following the sequence just described, we should try to find the
      dwelling-place and knock with persistent prayer, so that either in this life
      or at our death the Master may open to us and not say because of our
      negligence: �I do not know where you come from� (Lk 13:25). Not only ought
      we to ask and receive, but we should also keep safely what is given; for
      some people lose what they have received. A theoretical knowledge or chance
      experience of these things may perhaps be gained by those who have begun to
      learn late ill life or who are still young; but the constant and patient
      practice of these things is barely to be acquired even by devout and deeply
      experienced elders, who have repeatedly lost it through lack of attention
      and then through voluntary suffering have searched for and found it again.
      So let us constantly imitate them in this, until we, too, have acquired this
      practice irremovably.

      226. Out of the many ordinances of the spiritual law we have come to
      understand these few. The great Psalmist again and again urges us to learn
      and practice them as we ceaselessly praise the Lord Jesus. To Him are due
      glory, power and worship, both now and through all the ages. Amen.

      ** See I. Hausherr, �L�erreur fondamentale et la logique de Messalianisme�,
      in Orientalia Christiana Periodica, I (1935), pp. 328-60, reprinted in I.
      Hausherr, Etudes de spiritualite orientale (Orientalia Christiana Analecta,
      183, Rome, 1969), pp. 64-96; and Kallistos Ware, �The Sacrament of Baptism
      and the Ascetic Life in the Teaching of Mark the Monk�, in Studia
      Patristica, X (Texte und Untersuchungen, 107, Berlin, 1970), pp. 441-52.*

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