"We are told that God and man are exemplars of each other. Man’s ability to become Christlike through love for God’s sake is correlative with God’s becoming man through compassion for man’s sake. And man’s manifestation of the virtues of the God who is by nature invisible is correlative with the degree to which his intellect is seized by God and imbued with spiritual knowledge."
Maximos the Confessor
I once asked the Bishop of Geneva what one must do to obtain perfection. “You must love God with all your heart,” he answered, “and your neighbor as yourself.”
“I did not ask wherein perfection lies,” I rejoined, “but how to attain it.” “Charity,” he said again, “that is both the means and the end, the only way by which we can reach that perfection which is, after all, but Charity itself… Just as the soul is the life of the body, so charity is the life of the soul.”
“I know all that,” I said. “But I want to know how one is to love God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbor as oneself.”
But again he answered, “We must love God with all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves.”
“I am no further than I was,” I replied. “Tell me how to acquire such love.”
“The best way, the shortest and easiest way of loving God is to love him wholly and heartily!”
He would give no other answer. At last, however, the Bishop said, “There are many besides you who want me to tell them of methods and systems and secret ways of becoming perfect, and I can only tell them that the sole secret is a hearty love of God, and the only way of attaining that love is by loving. You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; and just so you learn to love God and man by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves. If you want to love God, go on loving Him more and more. Begin as a mere apprentice, and the very power of love will lead you on to become a master in the art. Those who have made most progress will continually press on, never believing themselves to have reached their end; for charity should go on increasing until we draw our last breath.”
A conversation between the Bishop of Belley and the Bishop of Geneva (Francis de Sales)
"Each man’s knowledge is genuine to the extent that it is confirmed by gentleness, humility and love."
"The Old Testament makes the body obedient to the intelligence and raises it towards the soul by means of the virtues, preventing the intellect from being dragged down towards the body. The New Testament fires the intellect with love and unites it to God."
Maximos the Confessor
"Prayer is the purity of the mind, and it is terminated only by the light of the Holy Trinity through awestruck wonder."
Gregory the Great
Where each blade of grass, has the status of a flower. (An echo of Zossima, from Arvo Pärt?)
"Trying to be a Christian without accepting the requirement of love is like trying to play basketball without a ball."
"In God’s order nothing can substitute for loving people. And we define who our neighbor is by our love. We make a neighbor of someone by caring for him or her. So we don’t first define a class of people who will be our neighbors and then select only them as the objects of our love—leaving the rest to lie where they fall. Jesus deftly rejects the question “Who is my neighbor?” and substitutes the only question really relevant here: “To whom will I be a neighbor?” And he knows that we can only answer this question case by case as we go through our days. In the morning we cannot yet know who our neighbor will be that day. The condition of our hearts will determine who along our path turns out to be our neighbor, and our faith in God will largely determine whom we have strength enough to make our neighbor."
"At some thoughts a man stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and he wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide: “I will combat it by humble love.” If you resolve on that once for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it."
Fyodor Dostoevsky, via Father Zosima
"Love is the highest happiness of mankind. It is the ability of our souls to be open (philosophers use the term immanent) and thus to be internally available for another person. When riding the escalator on your way to take the subway, check to see if you are able to love or not. When you look at those people going in the opposite direction, and they disgust you, it means that every corner of the soul is plugged up and any feeling of love is still in its embryonic state. The power of Christ’s grace, however, is able to rebuild a person in such a way that he would see people completely differently. This reconfiguration would make it possible for his first reaction to be one of good will. Such a change would allow him to immediately see beauty—spiritual beauty in an attractive woman or man—even where others do not notice it. Christ’s grace makes it possible for a changed person, when he sees a suffering face, to feel compassion. And it allows him to be open. Such a person is always happy, because he is in unity with people. He lives by love."
Father Alexander Men