On Guarding the Heart- by: St. Nicephorus the Hesychast

St. Nicephorus the Hesychast

We must look for a master who is not himself in error: his lessons will show us when we go astray to right or left and our excess in the matter of attention…If you can find no one, pray to God in contrition of heart and with tears, appeal to him in your nakedness and do what I shall tell you.

You know that we breathe our breath in and out, only because of our heart…So, as I have said, sit down, recollect your mind, draw it-I am speaking of your mind-in your nostrils; that is the path the breath takes to reach the heart. Drive it, force it to go down to your heart with the air you are breathing in. When it is there, you will see the joy that follows: you will have nothing to regret. As a man who has been away from home for a long time cannot restrain his joy at seeing his wife and children again, so the spirit overflows with joy and unspeakable delights when it is united again to the soul…

Next you must know that as long as your spirit abides there, you must not remain silent nor idle. Have no other occupation or meditation than the cry of: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!” Under no circumstances give yourself any rest. This practice protects your spirit from wandering and makes it impregnable and inaccessible to the suggestions of the enemy and lifts it up every day in love and desire for God.

But if, in spite of all your efforts, brother, you do not succeed in entering your heart as I have directed, do what I tell you and with God’s help you will achieve your end. You know that man’s reason has its seat in the breast. In fact it is in our breast that though our lips are silent, we speak, make decisions, compose prayers and psalms, etc… After putting all thoughts away from this rational power (it can be done; you need only to will it), present to it the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me,” and force it to utter these words interiorly, excluding all other thoughts. When in time you will have mastered this practice, it will undoubtedly open for you the entrance to the heart”. (PG 147, 961-966; cf. Writings from the Philokalia, pp. 32-34).

2 Responses to “On Guarding the Heart- by: St. Nicephorus the Hesychast”

  1. 1 KenJ October 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you so much for this.

  2. 2 Adrienne October 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Yes – The Philokalia: of the heart. Much spiritual progress can be made by anyone in their own vocation, by this practice as much as we are able. It is good to spread it thusly.

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St. Mary of Egypt


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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