“If a man does not put himself in the attitude of a sinner, his prayer will not be heard before God.” A brother said to him, “What is a sinful soul?” And the elder said, “Every one who bears his own sins, and does not consider those of his companion.”
[Abba Moses the Strong, Apophthegmata Patrum]
If you have begun to act well, do not turn back through the constraint of the enemy, for through your endurance the enemy is destroyed. Those who put out to sea at first sailed with a favourable wind; then the sails spread, but later the wind becomes adverse. Then the ship is tossed by the waves and is no longer controlled by the rudder. But when in a little while there is calm, and the tempest dies down, then the ship sails on again. So it is with us, when we are driven by the spirits who are against us; we hold to the cross as our sail and so we can set a safe course.
[Amma Syncletica, Apophthegmata Patrum]
Whenever you find your course is in peace, without variations, be suspicious. For you are deviating from the divine ways trodden by the weary footsteps of the saints. The more you proceed on the way towards the city of the Kingdom and approach it’s neighbourhoods, this will be the sign: that you meet hard temptations. And the more you approach, the more you will find difficulties.
So, whenever the soul on its way perceives varying states which cause difficulty you must know that your soul has secretly been advanced to a higher state and that it has acquired a gift of increase in comparison with the degree it occupied before.
The hard temptation into which God brings the soul are in accordance with the greatness of His gifts. If there is a weak soul which is not able to bear a very hard temptation and God deals meekly with it, then know with certainty that, as it is not capable of bearing a hard temptation, so it is not worthy of a large gift. As great temptations have been withdrawn from it, so large gifts are also withdrawn from it. God never gives a large gift and small temptations. So temptations are to be classed in accordance with gifts. Thus from the hardships to which you have been subjected you may understand the measure of the greatness which your soul has reached. In accordance with affection is consolation.
[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Homilies]