Quote of the day: Self-Knowledge

“He who senses his sins,
is greater than he who raises the dead
with his prayer.

He who groans one hour for his soul, is greater
than he who benefits the whole world.

He who is made worthy to see himself, is greater
than he who is made worthy to see angels.

To him who knows himself,
is given the knowledge of all things.
For the knowledge of ourselves is the fullness
of knowledge of all things.”

St. Isaac the Syrian 



QOD: Rejoice Evermore!

Today’s quote of the day fits perfectly with the new Learning Joy series.

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” We always struggle to know the will of God – we look anywhere, ask anyone, and interpret anything as a sign to know His will.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 could not spell it out more clearly for us. He wants us to:

1. Rejoice evermore.

2. Pray without ceasing.

3. Give thanks in every situation.

By learning to choose joy, to pray continuously, and to praise God in the midst of everything (both good and bad) we will experience a life of heaven on earth like Makrina said in her post for Learning Joy. These three things are definitely easier said than done, but I believe that it is about developing daily habits that help us practice each one regularly. More on this to come in the series.

For today:

1. Make a list of people you are grateful for,

2. Pray for those people,

3. Think of a battle you have overcome, or made baby steps in, and thank God,

4. And pray to the Holy Spirit to teach you how to choose joy, to give you a heart of prayer, and to fill you with thanksgiving.

Glory be to our Father forever and ever.

Philosophy or Prayer?

I read a passage this morning that spoke to me personally and will I’m sure to many others. Often, we get too caught up in theology while ignoring practical application. God is not to be worshipped by mind alone but with all our soul, heart, and body as well. Let us always remember to balance the two. Our reading and theological education is a guide and means – not the absolute source of our communion with or knowledge of God.

“He who seeks the inner kingdom of God and a living communion with Him, will naturally seek to remain continually in the thought of God. Turning his mind towards Him with all his might, his one desire will be to read only of Him, to speak only of Him. But these occupations alone will not lead to what is sought, unless accompanied by other, more practical activities. A certain type of mystic talks only of these occupations: the reason is that such teachers are people of theory and not of practice.

This practice of reading and speaking of God will, used on its own, create a facile habit for such things: it is easier to philosophize than to pray or pay attention to oneself. But since it is a work of the mind, which falls so easily into pride, it predisposes a man to self-esteem. It may altogether cool the desire for practical effort, and consequently hinder sound progress by a flattering successfulness in this mental activity.

For this reason sound-minded teachers warn their pupils of the danger, and advise them not to concern themselves too much with such reading and talk to the detriment of other things.”

Theophan the Recluse


“The love which grace has begotten in the heart of the bride is itself divine and persistent; many waters cannot quench it, nor the floods drown it. Suffering and pain, bereavement and loss may test its constancy, but they will not quench it. Its source is not human or natural; like the life, it is hidden with Christ in God.

Our love to God is secured by God’s love to us. To the soul really rescued by grace, no bribe to forsake God’s love will be finally successful. ‘If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned (Song of Solomon).'”

From Union and Communion by J. Hudson Taylor

QOD: The Mystery of Love is Solitude

“The mystery of love is that it protects and respects the aloneness of the other and creates the free space where he can convert his loneliness into a solitude that can be shared. In this solitude we can strengthen each other by mutual respect, by careful consideration of each other’s individuality, by an obedient distance from each other’s privacy and by a reverent understanding of the sacredness of the human heart. In this solitude we encourage each other to enter into the silence of our innermost being and discover there the voice that calls us beyond the limits of human togetherness to a new communion. In this solitude we can slowly become aware of a presence of Him who embraces friends and lovers and offers us the freedom to love each other, because He loved us first.”

QOD: Making prints from negatives

“And so, writing about the spiritual life is like making prints from negatives. Maybe it is exactly the experience of loneliness that allows us to describe the first tentative lines of solitude. Maybe it is precisely the shocking confrontation with our hostile self that gives us words to speak about hospitality as a real option, and maybe we will never find the courage to speak about prayer as a human vocation without the disturbing discovery of our own illusions. Often it is the dark forest that makes us think about the open field. Frequently prison makes us think about freedom, hunger helps us to appreciate food, and war gives us words for peace. Not seldom are our visions of the future born out of the sufferings of the present and our hope for others out of our own despair. Only few ‘happy endings’ make us happy, but often someone’s careful and honest articulation of the ambiguities, uncertainties and painful conditions of life give us new hope. The paradox is indeed that new life is born out of the pains of the old.”

Henri Nouwen

QOD: Divine Love

“Bridal love between two people has its place, but it should not be confused with divine love. The bridal state, fatherhood, and other such gifts which we know upon earth, are but dim likenesses and shadows of the true and real and eternal, which is above. Because there is such a thing as fatherhood in heaven, we can know something of it here on earth. All fatherhood upon earth derives its name and character from Him, the real Father. In the heavenly places there are throne and principalities (Col. 1:16), and therefore upon earth, fleeting and transient, are the shadows and likenesses of these heavenly realities. And because there is a Bridegroom in heaven – that is what Jesus called Himself (Matt. 9:15, 25:1) – and a Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and a Bride (Rev 19:7), therefore upon the earth there is such a thing as a bridal state. It is but a shadow of the reality. It is a part of this present world which is passing away; for in heaven one will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Love to Jesus therefore can never be put on the same level with what we may know about human love.”

Mother Basilea Schlink in Those Who Love Him

QOD: Light at the end

“Often we find that those who had never previously known God have much stronger faith than those who claim to have been devout all their lives. When a person who has not known God comes to his senses and begins to pray to God, he know what it [life] was like before and he knows Who helped him find the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Elder Thaddeus