Friday, 8 November 2013

The Writings of Saint Nektarios

Selected Passages From the Writings of Orthodox Saints
Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes

Christian religion is not a certain philosophic system, about which learned men, trained in metaphysical studies, argue and then either espouse or reject, according to the opinion each one has formed. It is faith, established in the souls of men, which ought to be spread to the many and be maintained in their consciousness.
There are truths in Christianity that are above out intellectual comprehension, incapable of being grasped by the finite mind of man. Our intellect takes cognizance of them, becomes convinced of their reality, and testifies about their supernatural existence.
Christianity is a religion of revelation. The Divine reveals its glory only to those who have been perfected through virtue. Christianity teaches perfection through virtue and demands that its followers become holy and perfect. It disapproves of and opposes those who are under the influence of the imagination. He who is truly perfect in virtue becomes through Divine help outside the flesh and the world, and truly enters another, spiritual world; not, however, through the imagination, but through the effulgence of Divine grace. Without grace, without revelation, no man, even the most virtuous, can transcend the flesh and the world.
God reveals Himself to the humble, who live in accordance with virtue. Those who take up the wings of the imagination attempt the flight of Ikaros and have same end. Those who harbor fantasies do not pray; for he that prays lifts his mind and heart towards God, whereas he that turns to fantasies diverts himself. Those who are addicted to the imagination have withdrawn from God's grace and from the realm of Divine revelation. They have abandoned the heart in which grace is revealed and have surrendered themselves to the imagination, which is devoid of all grace. It is only the heart that receives knowledge about things that are not apprehended by the senses, because God, Who dwells and moves within it, speaks within it and reveals to it the substance of things hoped for.
SEEK GOD daily. But seek Him in your heart, not outside it. And when you find Him, stand with fear and trembling, like the Cherubim and the Seraphim, for your heart has become a throne of God. But in order to find God, become humble as dust before the Lord, for the Lord abhors the proud, whereas He visits those that are humble in heart, wherefore He says: "To whom will I look, but to him that is meek and humble in heart?"
THE DIVINE LIGHT illumines the pure heart and the pure intellect, because these are susceptible to receiving light; whereas impure hearts and intellects, not being susceptible to receiving illumination, have an aversion to the light of knowledge, the light of truth; they like darkness... God loves those who have a pure heart, listens to their prayers, grants them their requests that lead to salvation, reveals Himself to them and teaches the mysteries of the Divine nature.

On Godly and Ungodly Zeal

The zealot according to knowledge, motivated by the love of God and his neighbor, does all things with love and self-effacement; he does nothing that might bring sorrow to his neighbor; such a zealot is enlightened by knowledge and nothing prompts him to deviate from what is morally right.

The Christian who is inspired by zeal not according to knowledge is a ruinous man who turns the Gospel of Grace and love upside down. His zeal is a seductive fire, a consuming fire. Destruction comes forth from him and desolation follows in his wake. He beseeches God to send down fire from Heaven and to devour all of those who do not embrace his principles and convictions. He is characterized by hatred for those of other religions and confessions, envy and persistent anger, violent resistance to the true spirit of Divine Law, an unreasonable obstinacy in defending his own views, a passionate zeal for prevailing in all things, the love of glory, quarrels, contention, and a love of turmoil.
 From Self-Knowledge, pp. 135-136.

The Church.

The term CHURCH, according to the strict Orthodox view, has two meanings, one of them expressing its doctrinal and religious character, that is, its inner, peculiarly spiritual essence, and the other expressing its external character. Thus, according to the Orthodox confession, the Church is defined in a twofold manner: as a religious institution, and as a religious community (koinonia).
The definition of the CHURCH as a religious institution may be formulated thus: The Church is a divine religious institution of the New Testament, built by our Savior Jesus Christ through His incarnate Dispensation, established upon faith on the day of holy Pentecost by the descent of the All-Holy Spirit upon the holy Disciples and Apostles of the Savior Christ, whom He rendered instruments of Divine grace for the perpetuation of His work of redemption. In this institution is entrusted the totality of revealed truths; in it operates Divine grace through the Mysteries; in it are regenerated those, who with faith, approach Christ the Savior; in it has been preserved both the written and the unwritten Apostolic teaching and tradition.
The definition of the CHURCH as a religious community may be formulated thus: The CHURCH is a society of men united in the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace.
The right view of the CHURCH is that the CHURCH is distinguished into the Militant and the Triumphant; and that it is Militant so long as it struggles against wickedness for the prevalence of the good, the Triumphant in the heavens, where there dwells the choir of the Righteous, who struggled and were made perfect in the faith in God and in virtue.

Immortality of the soul.

The rational soul of man has supernatural, infinite aspirations. If the rational soul were dependent upon the body and died together with the body, it should necessarily submit to the body and follow it in all its appetites. Independence would have been contrary both to the laws of nature and to reason, because it disturbs the harmony between the body and the soul. As dependent upon the body it should submit to the body and follow in all its appetites and desires, whereas, on the contrary, the soul masters the body, imposes its will upon the body. The soul subjugates and curbs the appetites and passions of the body, and directs them as it (the soul) wills. This phenomenon comes to the attention of every rational man; and whoever is conscious of his own rational soul is conscious of the soul's mastery over the body.
The mastery of the soul over the body is proved by the obedience of the body when it is being led with self-denial to sacrifice for the sake of the abstract ideas of the soul. The domination by the soul for prevalence of its principles, ideas, and views would have been entirely incomprehensible if the soul died together with the body. But a mortal soul would never have risen to such a height, would never have condemned itself to death along with the body for the prevalence of abstract ideas that lacked meaning, since no noble idea, no noble and courageous thought has any meaning for a mortal soul.
A soul, therefore, which is capable of such things, must be immortal.


Two factors are involved in man's salvation: the grace of God and the will of man. Both must work together, if salvation is to be attained.
Repentance is a Mysterious through which he who repents for his sins confesses before a Spiritual Father who has been appointed by the Church and has received the authority to forgive sins, and receives from this Spiritual Father the remission of his sins and is reconciled with the Deity, against Whom he sinned.
Repentance signifies regret, change of mind. The distinguishing marks of repentance are contrition, tears, aversion towards sin, and love of the good.

Source- Selected Passages From the Writings of Orthodox Saints

Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes

Edited by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

Missionary Leaflet # EA40

Copyright © 2004 Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
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