The Philokalia

The Philokalia ( “love of the beautiful, the good”) is a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters” of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in “the practice of the contemplative life”. The collection was compiled in the eighteenth-century by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth.

Although these works were individually known in the monastic culture of Greek Orthodox Christianity before their inclusion in The Philokalia, their presence in this collection resulted in a much wider readership due to its translation into several languages. The earliest translations included a Church Slavonic translation of selected texts by Paisius Velichkovsky in 1793, a Russian translation by Ignatius Bryanchaninov in 1857, and a five-volume translation into Russian by St. Theophan the Recluse in 1877. There were subsequent Romanian, Italian and French translations.

The book is a “principal spiritual text” for all the Eastern Orthodox Churches; the publishers of the current English translation state that “The Philokalia has exercised an influence far greater than that of any book other than the Bible in the recent history of the Orthodox Church.”

The Virtuous Life

St. Anthony the Great

To say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying the sun hides itself from the blind.

Those Who Think They Are Made Righteous By Works

St. Mark the Ascetic

Scripture urges us to acquire the knowledge of God, so that through our works we may serve Him rightly.

Guarding the Intellect

St. Isaiah the Solitary

If you find yourself hating your fellow men and resist this hatred, and you see that it grows weak and withdraws, do not rejoice in your heart; for this withdrawal is a trick of the evil spirits. They are preparing a second attack worse than the first.

Passions and Thoughts

St. Evagrius the Solitary

Man cannot drive away impassioned thoughts unless he watches over his desire and incensive power. He destroys desire through fasting, vigils and sleeping on the ground, and he tames his incensive power through longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness and acts of compassion.

The Eight Vices

St. John Cassian

Food is to be taken in so far as it supports our life, but not to the extent of enslaving us to the impulses of desire. To eat moderately and reasonably is to keep the body in health, not to deprive it of holiness.

Ascetic Discourse

St. Nilus the Elder

Men such as Elijah and Elisha became what they were through their courage, perseverance and indifference to the things of this life. They practiced frugality; by being content with little they reached a state in which they wanted nothing, and so came to resemble the bodiless angels.

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