Morality

St Mark the Ascetic, No Righteousness By Works

We should always search our heart for upright and humble motives. St Mark the Ascetic warns that “some, without keeping the commandments, think they are keeping the faith, while others, keeping the commandments, expect to receive the kingdom as a reward owed to them. Both are deprived of the kingdom.” Our reward lies in our humble obedience, our salvation is our striving to live a more godly life.

Salvation is not a transaction, salvation is not bartering, salvation is a gift by grace, unearned. St Mark the Ascetic teaches us, “when the Scriptures say, ‘God will reward each person according to his works,’ the Scriptures are not saying that works deserve hell or the kingdom, but rather that works are done out of faith or lack of faith in Him. Christ repays each person not as a businessman fulfilling his contracts but as God, our Creator and Redeemer,” out of love for us, not out of bartered obligations. […]

Morality

St. Mark the Ascetic, Writings on the Spiritual Law

You cannot cherry-pick which commandments you should follow and which ones you should ignore. Little sins vs whoppers, scrupulously avoiding small penny sins to save up for the whoppers you need to be forgiven for when you hide thousands of dollars of defects when selling your house or when you need to ruin someone financially to steal their business. St Mark the Ascetic teaches us, “Those who do not consider themselves under obligation to perform all of Christ’s commandments study the law of God in a literal manner, ‘understanding neither what they say nor what they affirm.’ (1 Tim 1:7) Therefore the think they can fulfill the law by their own works.”(34)
“Do not seek the perfection of the law in human virtues. . . Perfection is hidden in the Cross of Christ.(31) The law of freedom by true knowledge, and is understood through the practice of the commandments, and is fulfilled through the mercy of Christ.”(32)
“Fulfilling a commandment is one thing, and virtue is another, although each promotes the other.(193) Fulfilling a commandment means doing what we are enjoined to do; but virtue to do it in a manner that conforms to the truth.”(194) […]

Morality

St Hesychios On Watchfulness and Holiness

We must be watchful. “Watchfulness is a continual fixing and halting of thought at the entrance to the heart. Guard your mind and you will not be harassed by temptations. But if you fail to guard your mind, accept patiently whatever trial comes. Watchfulness when practiced over a long period, completely frees us with God’s help from impassioned thoughts, impassioned words and evil actions. . . This enables us to fulfil every divine commandment in the Old and New Testaments and bestows every blessing of the age to come. It is purity of heart, a state blessed by Christ when He says” ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ Purity of heart is the ground for the vision of God.” […]

Morality

Introduction to the Philokalia, the Love of the Beautiful

When the Russian pilgrim in the spiritual classic, “The Way of a Pilgrim,” hears the Scriptures being read that exhorts us to pray without ceasing.  He asks a monk in a monastery how he can pray without ceasing, and the simple answer is he can start on his path by each day praying more.  He selling all he has, giving it to the poor, to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage, trudging through the forests of Siberia.  His only possessions in his travel bag are the Holy Scriptures and the Philokalia, the treasured writings of the early Greek Church Fathers. […]