Quotes of St. Ambrose of Optina

St. Ambrose of Optina

St. Ambrose of Optina

“Sinful thoughts continually disturb a man. But if he does not cooperate with them, then he is not guilty of them.”

“One ascetic woman was besieged for a long time with unclean thoughts. When the Lord came and cast them away from her, she called to Him: ‘Where were you before now, O my sweet Jesus?’ The Lord answered: ‘I was in your heart.’ She said then: ‘How could that be? For my heart was full of unclean thoughts.’ The Lord said to her: ‘Know that I was in your heart, for you were not disposed to the unclean thoughts, but strove rather to be free of them; and when you were not able to be free, you struggled and grieved. By this you prepared a place for Me in your heart.’”

About the power of repentance, the Elder said: “One man sinned but repented, and this continued all his life. Finally he repented and died. An evil spirit came for his soul and said: ‘He’s mine.’ The Lord said, ‘No, no, he has repented.’ ‘But he repented and then sinned again,’ said the devil. The Lord said to him: ‘If you, being evil, take him back after he repented to Me, then how can I not accept him if after sinning he has turned to Me in repentance? You forget that you are evil, and I am good.’”

About laziness and depression the Elder said: “Boredom is the grandson of depression, and laziness is the daughter. To send her away, labor actively–do not be lazy in prayer, then boredom will pass and zeal will come. And if you add to this patience and humility, then you will escape much evil.”

On almsgiving the Elder said: “St. Demetrius of Rostov wrote: ‘Even if a man comes to you on a horse and asks you for alms, give it to him. You will not have to answer for how he uses it.’”
Also: “St. John Chyrsostom says, ‘Begin by giving away what you do not need, what is lying around unsued, to those who are in need. Then you will begin to give what you can according to your means, and finally you will be ready to give away all that you have.’”

“If you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself,” the Elder said. “The Holy Fathers say that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. You do not want to, but force yourself. The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force (cf. Matt. 11:12).”

“Dogmas are not human postulates, clearly formulated, but the divine truth about God–a truth which people themselves could not possibly arrive at had it not been revealed to them by God. Truth can be investigated, truth can be known, truth can be proven, but truth cannot be contrived. . . .Heresy is a departure from the divine truth and not from the opinion of the majority.”

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St. Poemen the Great

"A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable."

St. Gregory the Great

"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

"Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins."

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

“Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing your body or in reading written prayers….it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, with mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in a crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man’s. We can always say to Him in our hearts Lord , Lord have mercy.”

St. John of Kronstadt

The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind.

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