PEARLS of the FATHERS for the FIFTH SUNDAY of GREAT LENT
From the Ladder of Divine Ascent regarding the constituent qualities of man’s nature:
God is not the cause of the creator of evil, and those who say that certain passions are natural to the soul have been deceived, not knowing that we have turned the constituent qualities of nature into passions. For instance, nature gives us the seed for childbearing, but we have perverted this for fornication. Nature provides us for the means of showing anger against the serpent, but we have used this against our neighbor. Nature inspires us to be jealous for the virtues, but we are jealous in evil. It is natural for the soul to desire glory, but the glory on high. It is natural to be arrogant, but against the demons. Joy is also natural to us, but a joy on account of the Lord and the welfare of our neighbor. Nature has also given us resentment, but to be used against the enemies of the soul. We have received a desire for pleasure, but not for profligacy.
The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 26: 156
Then said Jesus to the Jews that believed in Him, If ye abide in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest Thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Amen, amen, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin. And the slave abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth for ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:31-36)
“Iniquities ensnare a man, and every one is bound in the chains of his own sins.”(Proverbs 5:22)
O God, great and worthy to be praised Who by the life-creating death of Thy Christ hast translated us out of corruption unto incorruption; do Thou deliver all our senses from deadly passions, setting over them as a good director the understanding that is from within. And let our eyes abstain from every evil sight, our hearing be inaccessible to idle words, and our tongue purged of unseemly speech. Purify our lips, which praise Thee, O Lord; make our hands to refrain from base deeds, and to work only that which is well-pleasing unto Thee, fortifying all our members and our mind by Thy grace.
–A Silent Prayer of the Priest From the Pre-sanctified Liturgy
There was once a great Abba with his disciples in a place where there were lots of cypress trees, large and small. The Abba said to one of his disciples, ‘Pull up that young cypress.’ It was very little and the man was able to lift it out with one hand. The Abba then pointed to a bigger one and said, ‘Pull that up, as well’. He shook it back and forth with both hands and managed to uproot it. Then the Abba showed him another one, bigger again, but when he’d tried his best and had sweated over the job, he was still unable to move it. When the Abba saw that the disciple wasn’t up to the task, he told another brother to get up and help him. Both together they were able to pull it up. Then the Abba said to the brothers: ‘That’s what the passions are like, brethren. When they’re new, if we want we can easily pull them out. But if we ignore them when they’re new, they take root, and the deeper they go the more effort it takes to get rid of them. And if they really penetrate deeply within us, then we can’t remove them by ourselves unless we have the aid of saintly people who, by God’s grace, support us’.
–Abba Dorotheus of Gaza
The ancients described man as having a nature made up of three aspects or powers: the rational, the irascible and the appetitive. The rational aspect of man is the mind, the irascible (incensive) aspect is the emotional force in man that can be described as zeal and anger, and the appetitive aspect of man is desires or appetites. Even the pre-Christian philosophers described the proper arrangement of these forces as the mind as the charioteer who controls the two horses of zeal and desire.
143. When the soul endowed with intelligence firmly exercises her freedom of choice in the right way, and reins in like a charioteer the incensive and the appetitive aspects of her nature, restraining and controlling her passionate impulses, she receives a crown of victory; and as a reward for all her labors, she is granted life in heaven by God her Creator.
—On The Character Of Men by Saint Anthony the Great, P 351 Vol 1, The Philokalia