Skip to Navigation

July 1, 2015 + Good and Bad Thoughts from the Heart

by St. Diadochos of Photiki

83. It is true that the heart produces good and bad thoughts from itself (cf. Luke 6:45). But it does this not because it is the heart's nature to produce evil ideas, but because as a result of the primal deception the remembrance of evil has become as it were a habit. It conceives most of its evil thoughts, however, as a result of the attacks of the demons. But we feel that all these evil thoughts arise from the heart, and for this reason some people have inferred that sin dwells in the intellect along with grace. That is why, in their view, the Lord said: 'But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, adulteries', and so on (Matt. 15:18-19). They do not realize, however, that the intellect, being highly responsive, makes its own the thoughts suggested to it by the demons through the activity of the flesh; and, in a way we do not understand, the proclivity of the body accentuates this weakness of the soul because of the union between the two. The flesh delights endlessly in being flattered by deception, and it is because of this that the thoughts sown by the demons in the soul appear to come from the heart; and we do indeed make them our own when we consent to indulge in them. This was what the Lord was censuring in the text quoted above, as the words themselves make evident. Is it not clear that whoever indulges in the thoughts suggested to him by Satan's cunning and engraves them in his heart, produces them thereafter as the result of his own mental activity?

84. The Lord says in the Gospel that a strong man cannot be expelled from a house unless someone stronger than himself disarms him, binds him and casts him out (cf. Matt. 12:29). How, then, can such an intruder, cast out in this shameful way, return and dwell together with the true master who now lives freely in his own house? A king, after defeating a rebel who has tried to usurp his throne, does not dream of allowing him to share his palace. Rather, he slays him immediately, or binds him and hands him over to his soldiers for prolonged torture and a miserable death.

85. The reason why we have both good and wicked thoughts together is not, as some suppose, because the Holy Spirit and the devil dwell together in our intellect, but because we have not yet consciously experienced the goodness of the Lord. As I have said before, grace at first conceals its presence in those who have been baptized, waiting to see which way the soul inclines; but when the whole man has turned towards the Lord, it then reveals to the heart its presence there with a feeling which words cannot express, once again waiting to see which way the soul inclines. At the same time, however, it allows the arrows of the devil, to wound the soul at the most inward point of its sensitivity, so as to make the soul search out God with warmer resolve and more humble disposition. If, then, a man begins to make progress in keeping the commandments and calls ceaselessly upon the Lord Jesus, the fire of God's grace spreads even to the heart's more outward organs of perception, consciously burning up the tares in the field of the soul. As a result, the demonic attacks cannot now penetrate to the depths of the soul, but can prick only that part of it which is subject to passion. When the ascetic has finally acquired all the virtues - and in particular the total shedding of possessions - then grace illumines his whole being with a deeper awareness; warming him with great love of God. From now on the arrows of the fiery demon are extinguished before they reach the body; for the breath of the Holy Spirit, arousing in the heart the winds of peace, extinguishes them while they are still in mid-air. Nevertheless, at times God allows the demons to attack even one who has reached this measure of perfection, and leaves his intellect without light, so that his free will shall not be completely constrained by the bonds of grace. The purpose of this is not only to lead us to overcome sin through ascetic effort but also to help us advance still further in spiritual experience. For what is considered perfection in a pupil is far from perfect when compared with the richness of God, who instructs us in a love which would still seek to surpass itself, even if we were able to climb to the top of Jacob's ladder by our own efforts.

From On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination: One Hundred Texts, vol. 1 from the Philokalia

+++

Holy Wonderworking Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian at Rome

Troparion, Tone 8

Holy unmercenaries and wonderworkers, Cosmas and Damian, visit our infirmities. Freely you have received; freely give to us.

Kontakion, Tone 2

Having received the grace of healing, you grant healing to those in need. Glorious wonder workers and physicians, Cosmas and Damian, visit us and put down the insolence of our enemies, and bring healing to the world through your miracles.