Whatever a man loves, he desires at all costs to be near to continuously and uninterruptedly, and he turns himself away from everything that hinders him from being in contact and dwelling with the object of his love. It is clear therefore that he who loves God also desires always to be with Him and to converse with Him. This comes to pass in us through pure prayer. Accordingly, let us apply ourselves to prayer with all our power; for it enables us to become akin to God. Such a man was he who said: ‘O God, my God, I cry to Thee at dawn; my soul has thirsted for Thee” (Ps. 63:1. LXX). For the man who cries to God at dawn has withdrawn his intellect from every vice and clearly is wounded by divine love. –St Theodoros the Great Ascetic ‘Philokalia’
God is good, dispassionate and immutable. Now someone who thinks it reasonable and true to affirm that God does not change, may well ask how, in that case, it is possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good and showing mercy to those who honor Him, while turning away from the wicked and being angry with sinners. To this it must be answered that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, for to rejoice and to be offended are passions: nor is He won over by the gifts of those who honor Him, for that would mean He is swayed by pleasure. It is not right to imagine that God feels pleasure or displeasure in a human way. He is good, and He only bestows blessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we remain good through resembling God, are united to Him; but if we become evil through not resembling God, we are separated from Him. By living in holiness we cleave to God; but by becoming wicked we make Him our enemy. It is not that He grows angry with us in an arbitrary way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him change, but through our actions and our turning to God we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of God’s goodness. Thus to say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind. –St Antony the Great ‘Philokalia’
If we make every effort to avoid death of the body, still more should it be our endeavor to avoid death of the soul. There is no obstacle for a man who wants to be saved other than negligence and laziness…
Those who scorn to grasp what is profitable and salutary are considered to be ill. Those, on the other hand, who comprehend the truth but insolently enjoy dispute, have an intelligence that is dead; and their behavior has become brutish. They do not know God and their soul has not been illumined. –St Antony the Great ‘Philokalia’
A man cannot become good and wise immediately, but only through much effort, reflection (rejection), experience (failures), time (boredom), practice and desire (longing) for virtuous action. The man who is good and enjoys the love of God, and who truly knows Him, never ceases to do ungrudgingly all that accords with His will. Such men are rare. –St Antony the Great ‘Philokalia’
If our intellect is inexperienced in the art of watchfulness, it at once begins to entertain whatever impassioned fantasy appears in it, and plies it with illicit questions and responds to it illicitly. Then our own thoughts are conjoined to the demonic fantasy, which waxes and burgeons until it appears lovely and delectable to the welcoming and despoiled intellect. The intellect then is deceived in much the same way as lambs when a stray dog comes into the field in which they happen to be: in their innocence, they often run towards the dog as though it were their mother, and their only profit in coming near it is that they pick up something of its stench and foulness. In the same way, our thoughts run ignorantly after demonic fantasies that appear in our intellect and, as 1 said, the two join together and one can see them plotting to destroy the city of Troy like Agamemnon and Menelaus. For they plot together the course of action they must take in order to bring about, in practice and by means of the body, that purpose which the demons have persuaded them is sweet and delectable. In this Way sins are produced in the soul: and hence the need to bring out into the open what is in our hearts. –St Hesychios the Priest ‘Philokalia’
The intellect changes from one to another of three different noetic states; that according to nature, above nature, and contrary to nature. When it enters the state according to nature, it finds that it is itself the cause of evil thoughts, and confesses its sins to God, clearly understanding the causes of the passions. When it is in the state contrary to nature, it forgets God’s justice and fights with men, believing itself unjustly treated. But when it is raised to the state above nature, it finds the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, and the other fruits of which the Apostle speaks (cf Gal. 5:22); and it knows that if it gives priority to bodily cares it cannot remain in this state. An intellect that departs from this state falls into sin and all the terrible consequences of sin—if not immediately, then in due time, as God’s justice shall decide. –St Mark the Ascetic ‘Philokalia’
We must live the dogma expressing a revealed truth, which appears to us as an unfathomable mystery, in such a fashion that instead of assimilating the mystery to our mode of understanding, we should, on the contrary, look for a profound change, an inner transformation of spirit, enabling us to experience it mystically. Far from being mutually opposed, theology and mysticism support and complete each other. If the mystical experience is a personal working out of the content of the common faith, theology is an expression, for the profit of all, of that which can be experienced by everyone. Outside the truth kept by the whole church personal experience would be deprived of all certainty, of all objectivity. It would be the mingling of truth and falsehood, of reality and of illusion: “mysticism” in the bad sense of the word. On the other hand, the teaching of the church would have no hold on souls, if it did not in some degree express an inner experience of truth, granted in different measure to each one of the faithful. There is, therefore, no Christian mysticism without theology; but, above all, there is no theology without mysticism. –Vladimir Lossky quoted from ‘Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church’ in an introduction to the Philokalia. Philiokalia a Greek word meaning: love of the beautiful.