Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Solid as rock or quick like sand?

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does them, I will liken to a prudent man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain came down, and the rivers rose, and the winds blew, and fell upon the house; and yet it fell not, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not do them, shall be likened to a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain cam down, and the rivers rose, and the wind blew, and struck against the house; and it fell. And the fall of it was great” (Mat. 7:24-27).”

“To master any art requires time and much instruction. Can the art of arts alone be mastered without learning? No one without experience would go in for farming; nor would someone who has never been taught medicine try to practice as a doctor. The first would be condemned for making good farmland barren and weed-infested; the second, for making the sick worse instead of better. The only art which the uninstructed dare to practice, because they think it the simplest of all, is that of the spiritual way. What is difficult, and the majority regard as easy; and what Paul says he has not yet apprehended (cf. Phil. 3:12), they claim to know through and through, although they do not know even this: that they are totally ignorant.”
St. Neilos the Ascetic

“In the world you live in … you must have seen how long it takes an artist to train for his art, and how much effort he must devote to it. Is it not natural that the art of arts should exact even more time and even greater effort? … No art is acquired easily or without much diligent study and practice. Could it be otherwise with the greatest art of all – the art of arts – the spiritual life, the soul's salvation?”
St. Macarius of Optina

“Usually, people prefer to remain silent concerning a matter which they know nothing about and do not understand. This, of course, is completely sensible. Let us imagine, for example, a person who knows nothing about chemistry but who, nevertheless, constantly insists upon interfering in the affairs of chemists. He corrects their scientific formulae which have been obtained with great difficulty, changing their order or replacing one with another. We would agree that such a person is acting with the highest degree of imprudence and that we can only have pity for him.
There is one field, however, in which too many people consider themselves to be complete masters, in fact, almost legislators; that is the area concerning the Christian faith and the Church. In this field also, clear and definite formulae have been established with a great effort of theological thought, spiritual guidance, faith, and piety. These formulae are established and must be accepted on faith. Regardless of this fact, a great many people enter into the questions of faith and the Church solely as bold and decisive reformers who want to remake everything according to their own personal desires. In cases where such people have insufficient knowledge or understanding, they are especially averse to remaining silent. To the contrary they begin not only to speak, but to shout. Such shouting on the questions of faith and the Church usually finds the columns of newspapers and the ordinary conversations of people who, in general, very seldom think of faith and the Church at all. If they do think of such things, they prefer to voice themselves exclusively in an authoritative and accusatory tone.
In such an atmosphere a great multitude of various perverse opinions are born which then become fashionable because no one will trouble himself to consider and examine them. In the prevalence of such opinions it can easily occur that they are unconsciously assimilated even by people who are dedicated in their souls to the faith and the Church.”
St. Hilarion (Troitsky) the New Martyr