His was a unique ministry – a “recluse” who communicated with hundreds of people regularly via letters. We are fortunate to have many of his letters, evidently saved by his correspondents. In addition, this “modern” Saint wrote many excellent books, all of which were steeped in the wisdom of the Fathers, expressed in way easy to understand by the modern man. For many parts of his life, St Theophan saw almost no human faces, but he shows an incredible insight into human nature and the troubles of modern life. It is well worth it to pick up ANY book written by him and read it.
Here are a few pithy quotes, in no particular order.
Human life is complex and multi-faceted. It has physical, mental and spiritual aspects. Each aspect has its powers, needs and modes, and the exercise and satisfaction of them. Only when all of our powers are in motion does a man live. But when only a small portion of his powers is in motion, and only a small number of his needs are satisfied, this life is not life. (The Spiritual Life and how to be attuned to it, p 38)
It is necessary for us to live as God created us, and when someone does not live this way, I may confidently state that he does not live at all. (Ibid, p 39)
God grant that such a feeling – rejecting worldly life and amusements – always be with you. But is is also possible to fall in love with such things. It is obvious that you should not come into contact with such a life. The second time around, it will not seem so destructive and disturbing; the third time, even less so, and then it will not seem bad at all. As they say about vodka, with the first glass you are just breaking the bonds, with the second glass you soar like an eagle, and after that you just pour. (Ibid, p 37)
Everywhere and always God is with us, near to us and in us. But we are not always with Him, since we do not remember Him; and because we do not remember Him we allow ourselves many things which we would not permit if we did remember. Take upon yourself this task — to make a habit of such recollection. Make yourself a rule always to be with the Lord, keeping your mind in your heart, and do not let your thoughts wander; as often as they stray, turn them back again and keep them at home in the closet of your heart, and delight in converse with the Lord.
He who refuses to give into passions does the same as he who refuses to bow down and worship idols
It is well known how powerfully corrupt images act upon the soul, no matter in what form they may touch it! How unfortunate is the child who, closing his eyes, or being left alone and going within himself, is stifled by a multitude of improper images — vain, tempting, breathing of the passions. This is the same thing for the soul as smoke is for the head.
The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual
The Spiritual Life and how to be attuned to it.