by Saint Theophan the Recluse
by Saint John of Kronstadt Press, 2014
Above my elders have I received understanding,
for after Thy commandments have I sought.
Like young Prophet Jeremiah, who “had a gray-haired wisdom that shone in him through God’s all-illumining grace”. St Ambrose, quoted p. 233.
And like David. This grace comes when you seek out God’s commandments.
“Because, since childhood, he [David] made for himself a law for his whole life — to please God through an unwavering fulfillment of His commandments.”
Importance of keeping one’s heart free of passions and worthless notions, not accustomed to the earth. Then our heart is made ready to receive God’s grace and heavenly wisdom.
for after Thy commandments have I sought:
Not in the sense that he tried to find out what they were, but that “he tried by all means to succeed in carrying out each one of them… that they might seem natural inclinations of the heart.” (p.234) And as natural as breathing.
From every way that is evil have I restrained my feet
that I might keep Thy words.
Now he shows how the wrongness of the will has also been rectified.
“My will became accustomed to keeping God’s words, and became settled in them” (p.234).
I notice a couple of times the mention of being accustomed to, in these 2 verses.
Like in everything (learning a new language, e.g.), it’s important to practice (and we talk about the practice of the commandments!) daily, until it becomes a habit, something natural even, as breathing.
Otherwise, we will develop bad habits. Hence the importance of “restraining our feet“, not to fall into these bad habits.
Then we don’t keep falling into self-indulgence, disregarding conscience (p.235)
Preserve a strong resolution to keep God’s words.
It works externally, but also innerly: “the restraining of spiritual feet from spiritual evil paths” — evil thoughts. That eventually lead to evil deeds.
Guard yourself from leaning towards evil.
Evil thoughts hum like mosquitoes;
chase them away, and do not slacken.
If you speedily replace the evil thoughts with good ones,
then your task will become manageable and be made a hundred times easier.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THESE NOTES
Any reflection on these quotes?