Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers


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In Categories: Miscellaneous Topics

Abba Ammonas was asked, "What is the ‘narrow and hard way?’" (Matthew 7:14). He replied, "The ‘narrow and hard way’ is this, to control your thoughts, and to strip yourself of your own will, for the sake of God. This is also the meaning of the sentence, ‘Lo, we have left everything and followed you.’" (Matthew 19:27) Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 25-28

Most people desire and seek after prosperity in this life, and they strive to avoid sorrows. While that seems very good and pleasant, constant prosperity and good fortune do a person harm. He falls into a variety of passions and sins, and angers the Lord, while those who live a life of sorrow come closer to the Lord and more readily attain unto salvation, for the Lord called the life of happiness the broad path. The wide gates and the broad way lead to destruction, and many there be who take that way (Matthew 7:13). It is the narrow way and the strait gate which lead to life eternal, and few there be who find it (Matthew 7:14). Thus, according to His love for us, seeing the possible benefit [of sorrows] to those who are worthy, the Lord moves many off the broad road and puts them on the narrow, sorrowful path, so that in [their] patient endurance of sickness and sorrow, He might effect their salvation and grant them life eternal. Counsels of Venerable St. Makary (Ivanov) of Optina

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