Sunday, 27 December 2009

Selected Quotes from the writings of Saint Nilus

The following writings are by St. Nilus. I have drawn a selection of brief quotes from two major sources. These have had to be brief so as not to infringe on any copyrighted material. Please refer to the two major translated English sources of writings by St. Nilus of Sora. The most extensive is by George A. Maloney in "Russian Hesychasm: The Spirituality of Nil Sorsij" , and George P. Fedotov "A Treasury of Russian Spirituality." (See Bibliography in History). Both are very good. The Paulist Press is in the process of publishing The Complete Writings of Nil Sorsky by George A Maloney but that will not be available until the Fall of l999. They have been kind enough to allow this site to use selected quotes as soon as they are available. The following quotes are drawn from "Russian Hesychasm: The Spirituality of Nil Sorsij" and are translated by George A. Maloney.

Please realize this selection is under construction and as permission to use materials are received much more will be posted.

Selected Quotes
from the writings of Saint Nilus

And when you have to depart from this world, think, what does it profit those who during their lifetime ruled it? If you have much honor, fame, riches all that, what is it but a shadow that passes by and as smoke soon disappears.

Let us look into the grave and what do we see? We see our created beauty, now without form, without glory, nothing good remaining. Seeing our bones, do we know to whom they belong? Was he a king, a beggar, honorable or without honor? All that the world considers beautiful, powerful, turns again into nothingness as a beautiful flower fades and dies, as a shadow passes by: thus all mankind must pass away, Feel this instability and call out to your soul: "Oh, how strange, why does this remain ever for us a mystery? How were we brought into bodily existence? Why do we return to dust in death?

I always sought out the Divine Writings, above all, the laws of God and their explanation of them by the Fathers, and the apostolic traditions, then the lives and the teachings of the Holy Fathers, and I gave my whole attention to these and so gradually learned. In them I lived and breathed...and if there was something to do to improve myself, and if I did not find it immediately in the Holy Writings, I laid it aside until I could find some teaching on this point.

Bind yourself to the Divine Writings-

..it is beneficial that we devote ourselves to the work of God, together with the faithful brethern, animated by the same aspirations, and that we dwell with one or two of them in searching out the will of God in the Divine Writings. If the Lord grant to one a greater understanding, let him aid the other brother, friend instructing friend.

I call you brothers instead of disciples. We have but one teacher, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Like a dog picking up scraps from under the table, I have gathered the words uttered by those blessed Fathers and have written all this down as reminder to us to be their imitators, if only in a small way.

There are many writings, but not all are divine.

When no guide can be found, the Fathers have us turn to the Holy Writings and listen to The Lord Himself speaking. Study the Holy Writings and you shall find eternal life in them.

We are told to draw the waters of life from the sources of the Divine Writings which alone can extinguish the passions that plague us and set us on the road to intellectual truth.

Many do good actions, but neglect the mind; they know nothing of the spiritual contests, the victories and defeats. They neglect the mind which is the eye of the soul.

When you ae conscious of the sweetness of divine grace working in you and when prayer operates in your heart, then you must continue in it. Do not interrupt it or rise up to sing psalms as long as God sees fit to leave its work in you, for to do so would be to leave God who is within, in order to call on Him outside yourself, as if one were to leave the heights to stoop down to the flats.

Nothing that happens to us is contrary to the will of Providence, and everything that is sent us by God is for our good and the salvation of our soul. Even if it does not seem helpful at the moment, we shall understand later on that it was willed so by God, and that it is not what we ourselves wish that is always useful to us. God sends trials out of his Mercy, so that after we have suffered, we may be crowned by Him. Without temptation it is impossible to receive a crown. This is why we should thank God for these sufferings, as out Benefactor and Saviour.

In particulars..the mind must always be persuaded of the reverence due to God and confidence in Him, so as to do all to Please God and not for self vanity or to please men....

We should constantly probe our thoughts and feelings, so that our actions may be in harmony with God's will.

Have this only before your eyes (to repent and to seek God with great love and fear) and obey His commandments, living constantly in prayer.

Above all pray for the gift of tears...

Such tears should be preserved...because they have great power and action in destroying and uprooting sins and passions.

For weeping delievers us from eternal fire and other future punishments, so the Fathers say"

...turn again to the prayer of the heart, for exercise and works of virtue are many, but in relation to the whole, they are all only parts. The prayer of the heart is the source of all good, refreshing the soul as cool waters sprinkle a garden, rejecting all temptations, not only evil, but any appearing good for he calls that quietude when we remove the imaginatons that arise in time, so that we may not be deprived of the most important by taking what seems to us to be good. Hesychia means to seek the Lord in your heart, i.e. to fix with your mind the heart in prayer and only with this to be continually occupied....

Let us do only what is pleasing to God, singing, praying, reading, studying spiritual things, doing manual work or any other labors. And so little by little let us approach God in the interior man, adding by our good works to the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one in the Blessed Trinity. Amen.....

We, unwise and with the meagerness of our intelligence, with God's help have written this as a reminder to myself and to others of similar mind who are in need of instruction, if they wish so...If there is anything found here not pleasing to God and not helpful to souls because of my foolishenss and ignorance, let it be not so, but may the will of God perfect it and make it well-pleasing. I ask pardon or beg this, that, if anyone should find anything else more practical and useful, then let him do it and we shall be glad and rewarded. If anyone should find from these writings some help, let him pray for me a sinner that I may obtain mercy before God.

We must resist and avoid like deadly posion the desire to possess earthly goods.

Not only gold or silver and property must be absent from our lives, but we should have only the barest necessities for life, as clothing, shoes, cells, dishes, instruments of manual work. And these should not be of any value, not decorated, not capable of arousing in us a fretting and preoccupation, and thus tempted to have contacts with the world. True victory over avrice and in general attachment to thnigs consists in this that we not only do not have, but do not wish to have anything. This leads us to a spiritual purity.

There are two kinds of work for monks: they can devote themselves to The Holy Scripture or give themselves to so called manual work.

Hold every brother as a saint. ...Do not judge anyone in anything, even if his actions appear not good, but consider yourself as sinful and utterly useless...Be an imitator of their (the saints) way of life, showing patience in sorrows and praying for those who offend you.

...for I have worked hard at this labor. Such for me is the fulfillment of the command to love God and to love my neighbor..This is true love for one's neighbor: to move his conscience to love God and keep His commands according to His true Divine Words, and , according to the life and teachings of the Holy Fathers, to live this as far as possible and thus be saved. If I am sinful and wretched and incapable of doing any good, at least I wish the salvation of many of my neighbors.

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