Abba Poemen said, “There is no greater love than that a man lays down his life for his neighbour. When you hear someone complaining and you struggle with yourself and do not answer him back with complaints; when you are hurt and bear it patiently, not looking for revenge; then you are laying down your life for your neighbour.”
[Abba Poemen, Apophthegmata Patrum]
It happened that when Abba Arsenius was sitting in his cell that he was harassed by demons. His servants, on their return, stood outside his cell and heard him praying to God in these words, ‘O God, do not leave me. I have done nothing good in your sight, but according to your goodness, let me now make a beginning of good.’
[Abba Arsenius, Apophthegmata Patrum]
Recite constantly the word of God. Put up with fatigue and “be grateful for everything” (1 Th 5:18). Shun the praise of men and love the one who, in the fear of the Lord, reprimands you. Let every man be profitable to you so that you may be good to everyone. Persevere in your work, and in language be above reproach. Do not take one step forward, then a step backward, that God may not detest you; for the crown shall go to the one who perseveres (c.f. Mt. 10:22). Be ever more obedient to God and He will save you.
[St. Pachomius the Great, Instruction Concerning a Spiteful Monk (Pach. Instr. 1), 14]
Once as the abbot Macarius was passing through Egypt with some brethren, he heard a child say to his mother, ‘Amma, a rich man loves me, and I hate him; and a poor man hates me, and I love him.’ The abbot Macarius wondered when he heard it. The brethren said to him, ‘What was there to wonder at in the saying, father?’ The old man said to them, ‘Truly our Lord is rich and loves us and we will not listen to Him; but our enemy the Devil is poor and hates us, and we love his uncleanness.’
My son, I ask you to be watchful and to be on your guard, acquainted with those who lie in ambush against you.
The spirit of cowardice and the spirit of distrust walk hand in hand; the spirit of lying and the spirit of deceit walk hand in hand;
the spirits of greed and trafficking, of perjury and dishonesty, and that of jealousy walk hand in hand;
the spirit of vanity and the spirit of gluttony walk hand in hand;
the spirit of fornication and the spirit of impurity walk hand in hand;
the spirit of enmity and the spirit of sadnesss walk hand in hand.
Woe to the wretched soul in which they make their home and of which they make themselves masters. They hold such a soul far from God, because it is in their power. It sways from side to side till it ends in the abyss of hell.
[St. Pachomius the Great, Instruction Concerning a Spiteful Monk (Pach. Instr. 1), 10]
It is patience that reveals every grace to you, and it is through patience that the saints received all that was promised them. Patience is the pride of the saints. Be patient, to be admitted to the saints’ legion, confident that you will be given a crown that will never rust.
A thought? Come to terms with it in patience, waiting for God to give you calm. Fasting? Put up with it in perseverance. Prayer? Without letup, in your room between you and God. One single heart with your brother. Virginity in all your members: virginity in your thoughts, purity of body, and purity of heart. Head bowed, and a humble heart; gentleness in the hour of anger.
[Abba Pachmious the Great, Instructions Concerning a Spiteful Monk (Pach Instr 1.), 8]
“The nature of water is soft, that of stone is hard; but if a bottle is hung above the stone, allowing the water to fall drop by drop, it wears away the stone. So it is with the Word of God; it is soft and our heart is hard, but the man who hears the Word of God often, opens his heart to the fear of God.”
[Abba Poemen, Apophthegmata Patrum]