Quotes from the Desert Fathers

February 22, 2008


“Just as painters in working from models constantly gaze at their exemplar and thus strive to transfer the expression of the original to their own artistry, so too he who is anxious to make himself perfect in all kinds of virtue must gaze upon the lives of the saints… and must make their excellence his own by imitation.”

St. Basil the Great

“We must thoroughly quench the darts of the devil and beat them off by continual reading of the divine Scriptures. For it is not possible, not possible for anyone, to be saved without continually taking advantage of spiritual reading. Actually, we must be content, if even with continual use of this therapy, we are barely able to be saved. But when we are struck every day, if we do not use any medical care, what hope do we have of salvation?”

St. John Chrysostom


“If trees have not stood up against tile, winter’s storms they cannot bear fruit. It is much the same with us… This present age is a storm, and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Amma (Mother) Theodora- From the Desert Fathers


“Burden the soul with the labor of reading the Scriptures which make known the narrow ways of ascetic life and of contemplation, as well as the stories of the saints; that you may exchange one habit for another even if in the beginning your soul does not feel the pleasure because of the thick darkness and confusion of present memories. Then when you arise for prayer and for the office, instead of musing upon the things of the world, ideas from Scripture will be imprinted in the mind. And wih these, the memory of what it already has seen and heard will be erased from it. In this way your mind will come to purity.”

Isaac the Syrian


God is glorified not by mere words, but by works of righteousness, which proclaim the majesty of God far more effectively than words.

St. Maximos the Confessor


Feed the needy now of be ready to forever feed the fires of hell, because there is no love in you unless you do it.

St. John Chrysostom


For it is impossible for love to the poor ever to remain unrewarded. Whether therefore a man gives away all his wealth, or only a part, he will certainly benefit his soul.

St. Cyril of Alexandria


Christ is Risen, and you (Hades) are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep… Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Saviour has set us free.

St. John Chrysostom


“Marriage is the key of moderation and the harmony of desires, the seal of a deep friendship… the unique drink from a fountain enclosed, inaccessible to those without. United in the flesh, one in spirit, they urge each other on by the goad of their mutual love. For marriage does not remove God, but brings all closer to Him, for it is God Himself who draws us to it.”

St. Gregory the Theologian


Thank God. These are powerful words. When you are bereaved and afflicted, when your heart is attacked by doubt, cowardice and rebellious discontent, make yourself repeat again and again slowly and in concentration “Thank God.” He who in the simplicity of his heart believes this advice and tests it in the hour of need will see the miraculous power of thanksgiving. This is a much needed weapon of hope in the difficulty of our times. St. Paul says ‘we are saved by hope.'”

Adapted from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov


“What is more precious than anything in the world? Time! And what do we waste uselessly and without being sorry? Time! What do we not value and what do we disregard more than anything? Time! When we waste time, we lose ourselves… Time is given by God to use correctly for the salvation of the soul and the acquisition of the life to come… The Lord will call us to account for having stolen time for our own whims, and for not using it for God and our souls.”

St. Sebastian of Optina