Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cautions on Reading the Fathers

As Orthodox Christians we are encouraged to read the writings of the Fathers, but some cautions are due.  Many of the Father's writings were written to those monks who were spiritually advanced.  This is especially true of the writings that are contained in the Philokalia. Therefore we must approach such writings with great humility.

Elder Macarius advises as follows:
It is admirable that you should be reading the Fathers.  Bear in mind, however, that  their writing is like a thick forest: venturing there unprotected, without knowledge and without guidance, we easily go astray and may even run into grave dangers.  Many readers have erred from undue self-assurance; whoever attempts a shortcut to the higher life, and sets out willfully to acquire and appropriate vision and other spiritual joys, call down on himself the divine wrath.
Our first task is master our passions.  Often this is a long and arduous task.  But, it cannot be shortcut.

Isaac the Syrian says,
Do not imagine that you have left the thicket of passions behind you, until you are well within the walls of the citadel of humility.
We have to make sure that our prayer is that of the publican and not the pharisee.

Reference: Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction, p 102


  1. Your posts on Orthodox Spirituality are very helpful and informative. In my reading, I have come references to St. John of the Cross and his poem "Dark Night of the Soul." I'm wondering if we as Orthodox believe that the "Dark Night" is something we experience on our path to Theosis. Any thoughts on this? A post on the topic would be very interesting.


  2. Great question Matt. I will try and post something on this latter.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.