Socrates has been charged by the citizens of Athens of impiety, of corrupting the youth, and in preparation he must go to the porch of the King Archon. There he meets his friend, Euthyphro, and they converse about the serious charges filed against Socrates, and the serious charges Euthyphro intends against, surprisingly, his very own father. Socrates senses that his friend has little idea of the consequences of this action, and that his youthful haste may lead to a miserable and penurious future, and that his friend has pondered little of this drastic action. […]
St John of Karpathos encourages us to persevere in the spiritual life. When we stumble on the rocky path, when we skin our knees on the hard rocks, we should seek the hand of the Lord to pull us back up again. When we allow evil thoughts to roam about in our consciousness, for a time we forget grace, we distance ourselves from God, but that is when we should make every effort to seek God, so we are not deprived of the grace of God. St John of Karpathos tells us that “lifted by the wings of the Spirit and freed from the weight of my body, I was able to soar above he predatory demons,” those demons who care not for our soul, those demons who seduce us with the pleasures of this world. […]
Justin asks him why he needs philosophy when he can profit from Moses, his lawgiver, and the prophets. Trypho responds, “Why not? Do not the philosophers turn every discourse on God? Do not questions continually arise on God’s unity and providence? Is it not truly the duty of philosophy to investigate the Deity?”
How do the Jewish Scriptures and Greek philosophy relate to the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Do they conflict with the Gospel? Can Christians profitably study Jewish Scripture and Greek philosophy? These are the questions this dialogue explores, and St Justin the Martyr was one of the first of apostolic fathers to explore these issues. When you read teachings you have read many times before, remind yourself, you are probably reading the original source. […]
We must not only watch what we eat, we must watch what we think, as we seek to conquer the next vice, the demon of unchastity and the desire of the flesh. St John Cassian teaches, “Bodily fasting is not enough to bring about perfect self-restraint and true purity; it must be accompanied by contrition of heart, intense prayer to God, frequent meditation on Scriptures, toil and manual labor. . . Humility of soul helps more than anything else. . . We must take the utmost care to guard the heart from base thoughts.” Contrition and humility comes from sincere confession and repentance. […]
John Cassian’s teachings in the Philokalia are a good summary of the Ladder of the Divine Ascent. His teachings on the Eight Vices are advice to those seeking salvation as monks, so we must discern how these teachings apply to those of us who seek salvation in the secular world; indeed, imagine what advice he would give to us living in the secular modern world to resist the vices of gluttony, unchastity, avarice, anger, dejection, listlessness, self-esteem, and pride.
The early Church Fathers always talk about fasting, the struggle against gluttony, as the first vice to conquer, once you conquer fasting, the other vices become easier to conquer. The spiritual life is about changing your habits, adopting good habits, discarding bad habits, indeed habitually seeking to change your daily habits for the good. […]
St Augustine tells us the fate of those who hear God’s words and does them, and then for emphasis those who do not, hearing is not enough, the words must be planted in our soul and bear fruit in our actions and deeds.
Who are the poor in spirit in the first beatitude, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God?” St Augustine teaches us that the poor in spirit are those who “are humble and God fearing,” whose spirit is not proud, not puffed up by the wind. St Augustine contrasts this with the spirit of the proud, in a passage quoted by the Catholic Catechism, that though the “proud seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth” while the poor in spirit possess the kingdom of heaven. […]