The Source of Sin is Within

Our Lord Jesus made it clear that sin comes from within our hearts. Jesus tells us that the food we eat enters the stomach, not the heart, so the food we eat doesn’t make us unclean.

Fasting from food doesn’t cleanse the heart, but fasting can allow us to become more clearly aware of what is in our hearts.  Food itself doesn’t cause us to sin.  If we consider the Lord’s words we realize we can’t even blame Satan for our sins, for the sins come from within us.  They don’t originate outside of our self.   Spiritual warfare has to take place in and for our own hearts.

And Jesus said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man.”  (Mark 7:20-23)

So, St. John Cassian reminds us that even another person can’t really cause us to sin.  Blaming another because “YOU make me angry” is failing to acknowledge the anger is already an evil in our hearts.  It is more honest to acknowledge, “I get angry when….”  Others don’t cause our anger, but they can cause us to reveal what is in our hearts.


So Cassian says:

“A man can be harmed by another only through the causes of the passions which lie within himself. It is for this reason that God, the Creator of all and the Doctor of men’s souls, who alone has accurate knowledge of the soul’s wounds, does not tell us to forsake the company of men; He tells us to root out the causes of evil within us and to recognize that the soul’s health is achieved not by a man’s separating himself from his fellows, but by his living the ascetic life in the company of holy men.” (The Philokalia: Volume 1, p 87)

Holiness, like evil, is found within our own hearts.   We have to bring it out in our relationships with others.  Avoiding other people will not help us become holy.  Being in the company of holy people can help awaken the holiness God has planted within each of us – the image of God which is natural to each of us and which is imprinted on our souls.  We do become like the people we associate and identify with.

The purpose of fasting is to help “stir the pot” which is our heart – to help bring to the surface what really  is within each of us.  We can then confront the passions and sins in us or bring out the holiness which God has endowed us with.

Notice in icons – the halo around the saints emanates from the holy person.  It doesn’t descend on them from above.  The icons show holiness is revealed in and through the lives, the very being, of the saints.

This is the spiritual goal for us all.

Ridding Ourselves of Anger

Cassian JohnSt. John Cassian (d. 435) meditating on the Gospel saw anger arising within us as a great threat to our salvation as it cuts us off from loving God or neighbor.  Additionally for St. John it is not a matter only if we vent our rage.  He says we need to cut off such anger in our hearts before we ever act on it.  Our hearts must become pure.  Just controlling outward expressions and behavior is not enough to purify our hearts.   St. John’s words are an interpretation of what St. Paul advises: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).   For Cassian, the only way to prevent anger from becoming sin is to deal with it in your heart before you are tempted to express it.

“Hence, if we desire to obtain in its entirety that divine prize of which it is said: ‘Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God,’ this must not only be cut off from our actions but must even be uprooted from the depths of our soul. For a wrathful anger that has been checked in speech and that has not manifested itself in deeds is of no value whatsoever if God, from whom the secrets of the heart are not concealed, sees that it exists in the recesses of our breast.  For the words of the Gospel command that the roots of our vices be cut off rather than the fruits, which will certainly never grow anymore once the shoot has been pulled up. And when they have been pulled up not from the surface of our deeds and actions but from the depths of our thoughts, our mind will then be able to abide in utter patience and holiness. And therefore, in order for murder not to be perpetrated, anger and hatred are cut off; without them the crime of murder can never be committed.

The Fathers in general allowed that the passions in themselves were not evil.  Even anger can serve a righteous purpose.  The ability to become angry itself was given to us by God to serve a good purpose.  Anger can sometimes motivate us to resist evil and sin.  However, as experience shows, anger often is vented without any wisdom.  When expressed in an uncontrolled fashion it becomes destructive and we use it to excuse whatever behavior we engage in.  So anger in itself may not always be sin, but neither does it always lead to righteousness.  It can be a scourge that sets off a series of angry responses in others – a chain reaction not of righteousness but of sinful passion which leads to further anger and sin.   St. John Cassian continues:

For ‘whoever is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgement.’ And: ‘Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.’ In that he desires, namely, to kill him in his heart, even though other human beings have not seen him shed his blood with his own hand or weapon, the Lord, who renders each person a reward or punishment not only for his accomplished deeds but even for his desires and intentions, declares him a murderer on account of his angry disposition. As he himself says through the prophet: ‘Their works and their thoughts I am coming to gather together with all nations and tongues.’ And again: ‘Their thoughts within them accusing or defending them, on the day when God will judge the secrets of men.’ […]  Hence it behooves the athlete of Christ, who is contending lawfully, to root out the movements of wrath. The perfect medicine for this diseases is that we realize, first, that in no way are we permitted to get angry, whether for an unjust or a just cause, knowing that we shall at once lose the light of discretion and firm and correct counsel, as well as goodness itself and the restraints of righteousness, if the guiding principle of our heart is obscured by darkness; and then, that the purity of our mind will soon be driven out and that it can never become a temple of the Holy Spirit as long as the spirit of wrath dwells in us.

Perhaps part of the Desert Father thinking on anger is that anger which continually abides in the heart will prevent us from ever having a pure heart.  We have to rid ourselves of being possessed by anger and seeing life through the lens of anger.  ‘

Anger may occur in our hearts in reaction to something we experience, but then that anger has to be harnessed by wisdom, humility and love to become an energy that inspires us to the good.

If we are simply “an angry person”, no one else will ever see any righteousness in our anger.  Only when we are a person of peace, will we ourselves be able to experience our anger as a righteous reaction to evil.  Only then will we be able to use the energy of anger to deal with sin.


Lastly, we should understand that we are never allowed to pray or make petition to God when we are angry. Above all, we should keep before our eyes the uncertain state of our human condition, daily realizing that we shall depart from our bodies and that our chaste abstinence, the renunciation of all our property, the contempt of wealth, and the toil of fasting and keeping vigil will confer nothing on us if eternal punishment is being readied for us by the Judge of all on account of wrath and hatred alone.” (THE INSTITUTES, pp 203-204)

If we see evil, anger can be a right reaction to it.   But then, we have to cast the anger aside in order to pray to God for the wisdom, humility and love needed to know how to act.  Cassian warns that a prayer said in anger and hatred which asks for the destruction of another will only result in our being judged by God.  Anger can energize to act in the face of evil, but then we cannot let that same anger control our lives, but rather have to rid ourselves of personal wrath in order to turn to and trust in God.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”* says the Lord.Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”*
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  

(Romans 12:17-21)

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. (3 John :11)

Praying the Lord’s Prayer

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew (6:5-14), our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us about prayer: both how to pray and what we should seek in prayer.  What is most wondrous is that Jesus, even though He is God, prays for us in the Gospels.  One really has to think about this mystery.  God becomes incarnate to save humanity, then as a human, He prays to His Father for all of us.  God becomes human in order to be able to pray for us!  His prayer for us, as our High Priest, is in part how Christ saves us.  His prayer for us is essential for our salvation, and He can only pray for us as the incarnate Messiah.  This is the love of Christ for all humanity.

The Lord Jesus teaches us:

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

St. John Cassian (d. 435AD) comments on the Lord’s Prayer that there really is a wrong way to pray, and things not worthy of prayer.  Part of our own spiritual life is discerning what is it that we should be offering up to God.

“You see then the brief mode and formula of prayer given us by the judge to whom our pleas must be offered. There is no request for riches, no reminder of honors, no plea for power or bravery, no reference to bodily well-being or to this present life. The Creator of eternity does not wish that something perishable, something cheap, something time-bound, is sought from Him. It would be a terrible wrong to His generosity and lavishness to ignore requests for what eternally endures in favor of petitions for what is transitory and perishable. This kind of spiritual poverty in our prayers would incur the wrath instead of the favor of our judge.” (Conferences, p 116)

Passions, Peace and Anger

“If therefore we are to follow the divine laws, we must struggle with all our strength against the demon of anger and against the sickness which lies hidden within us. When we are angry with others we should not seek solitude on the grounds that there, at least, no one will provoke us to anger, and that in the solitude the virtue of long-suffering can easily be acquired.

Our desire to leave our brethren is because of our pride, and because we do not wish to blame ourselves and ascribe to our own laxity the cause of our unruliness. So long as we assign the causes for our weaknesses to others, we cannot attain perfection in long-suffering. Self-reform and peace are not achieved through the patience which others show us, but through our own long-suffering towards our neighbor.

When we try to escape the struggle for long-suffering by retreating into solitude, those unhealed passions we take there with us are merely hidden, not erased; for unless our passions are first purged, solitude and withdrawal from the world not only foster them but also keep them concealed, no longer allowing us to perceive what passion it is that enslaves us. On the contrary, they impose on us an illusion of virtue and persuade us to believe that we have achieved long-suffering and humility, because there is no one present to provoke and test us.

But as soon as something happens which does arouse and challenge us, our hidden and previously unnoticed passions immediately break out like uncontrolled horses that have long been kept and idle, dragging their driver all the more violently and wildly to destruction. Our passions grow fiercer when left idle through lack of contact with other people. Even that shadow of patience and long-suffering which we thought we possessed while we mixed with our brethren is lost in our isolation through not being exercised.

Poisonous creatures that live quietly in their lairs in the desert display their fury only when they detect someone approaching; and likewise passion-filled men, who live quietly not because of their virtuous disposition but because of their solitude, spit forth their venom whenever someone approaches and provokes them. This is why those seeking perfect gentleness must make every effort to avoid not only anger towards men, but also towards animals and even inanimate objects.” (St. John Cassian in The Philokalia: Vol 1, p 85)

The Sin of Anger

St. John Cassian (d. 435AD) writes:

“If then we wish to receive the Lord’s blessing we should restrain not only the outward expression of anger, but also angry thoughts. More beneficial than controlling our tongue in a moment of anger and refraining from angry words is purifying our heart from rancor and not harbouring malicious thoughts against our brethren. The Gospel teaches us to cut off the roots of our sins and not merely their fruits. When we have dug the root of anger out of our heart, we will no longer act with hatred or envy. ‘Whoever hates his brother is a murderer’ (1 John 3:15), for he kills him with the hatred in his mind.

The blood of a man who has been slain by the sword can be seen by men, but blood shed by the hatred in the mind is seen by God, who rewards each man with punishment or a crown not only for his acts but for his thoughts and intentions as well.

As God Himself says through the Prophet: ‘Behold, I am coming to reward them according to their actions and their thoughts’ (cf Ecclus. 35:19); and the Apostle says: ‘And their thoughts accuse or else excuse them in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men’ (Rom. 2:15-16). The Lord Himself teaches us to put aside all anger when He says: ‘Whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgement’ (Matt. 5:22). This is the text of the best manuscripts; for it is clear from the purpose of Scripture in this context that the words ‘without a cause’ were added later. The Lord’s intention is that we should remove the root of anger, its spark, so to speak, in whatever way we can, and not keep even a single pretext for anger in our hearts. Otherwise we will be stirred to anger initially for what appears to be a good reason and then find that our incisive power is totally out of control.” (The Philokalia:Volume 1, pg. 86)

The above words by St. John Cassian are an important challenge to us to overcome the passion of anger in ourselves.  The great problem with anger is it quickly burns out of control, wildly,  igniting a powder keg in us setting off an uncontrolled emotional explosion.  As wisdom says: “keep your anger to yourself as nobody else wants it.”

Cassian JohnIt is also interesting that in the above passage St. John Cassian acknowledges that there exist different manuscript traditions through which the Scriptures have come down to us.  Such a concern is not just that of modern biblical scholars but was known in the 5th Century!  He is convinced that a phrase that in his day existed in the received tradition was a later addition to the original text to ‘soften’ the text by making it more palatable and ‘reasonable.’   Cassian will have none of it because he believes it is the very ‘sharpness’ of the text which is so challenging and true to the spiritual life.  It is not easy to take up one’s cross and deny one’s self, and Cassian doesn’t want to accept a text that tries to make that road an easier one.   Even the saints have a critical eye for the received Tradition.


Perfect Image of Fasting

Cassian JohnWhile it is possible to keep the fast of Great Lent by paying strict attention to every ingredient in the foods we eat, in a previous blog, Fasting: the Rules and the Individual, I quoted St. John Cassian, a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, who in the 5th Century reported on the Tradition he received regarding fasting.  He clearly believed it was not possible to have one rule for all and claims that is the Orthodox Tradition he received from the Fathers of the Church who came before him.   St. John Cassian is famous for taking the teachings of the Dessert Fathers and spreading them throughout the church of the 5th Century.

A friend of mine wrote some months ago about a teaching on fasting she had learned from an Orthodox priest which is another way of understanding the Tradition of St. John Cassian.   One might say it is an apophatic fasting teaching:

Remove the food that is between you and God


put Christ between you and the food.

Any food – whatever quality, quantity, or type – which in any way gets between you and loving God or loving neighbor is the food you should fast from.  This calls to mind the teachings of St. Paul which we also proclaim on the Sundays before Great Lent begins:

Food will not commend us to God.

We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.  (1 Corinthians 8:8-13 read on the Sunday of the Last Judgment!)

St. Paul reiterates the same teaching in his letter to the Romans:

If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.  (Romans 14:15)

And we can have Christ before us when we eat as long as the food – whatever quantity, quality or type – can be blessed by Christ, can be shared with the needy and hungry (or angels unaware or as happened to Abraham when he showed hospitality to the Three), can reveal Christ to us (as happened to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus), can cause us to offer thanksgiving to God rather than causing us gluttonously to over-eat or indulgence.  When the meal puts Christ in front of us and we see the Lord or see Him in the least of His brothers and sisters, then the food is blessed whatever it consists of.

This is a different and more blessed way to understand food and fasting – to see them as both gifts from God for our salvation, rather than to think of them only in terms of rules and regulations which we want to know if we are keeping to the Nth degree, or which we try to figure out how to get around technically without violating the rules.

Adam Eve TemptationOur foremother Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) was tricked by the talking serpent  into thinking about God’s food and His fast as merely rule.   She completely puts out of her mind that the fast prohibiting eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is not so much about rules as it was about relationships.

Eve thinks the fruit is good for her.  It is a selfish, self centered idea which is the epitome of self-love.  She forgets about her relationship with God, Adam, and creation.  She forgets to love and engages in self-love.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate… (Genesis 3:6).

Had she thought about the fruit/food of that tree as getting between her and God, she would have said no to it.  But God was gone from her self-loving mind.  Had she kept God’s Word between her and the fruit/food, she also would not have sinned.  Instead she neglected her relationship with God and though only of herself.

Remove the food that is between you and God and put Christ between you and the food.

Food, as St. Paul teaches us, cannot commend us to God – whether it is festal or lenten food.  Food when understood as something to bring us into relationship with God and with neighbor is most blessed – whether lenten or festal.   Heart healthy food is the meal we eat in love for God and for the neighbor.  Food which brings us into communion with God and with neighbor is holy, blessed and divine.

See also my blogs Fasting: The Rules and the Individual and Fasting: It is Not About the Food

Fasting: The Rules and the Individual

Cassian JohnWhile today many Orthodox assume there is only one way to keep the fast of Great Lent, we know from the writings of the saints that they did not insist on a one-size-fits-all approach to fasting.  St. John Cassian (d. 435AD) was a disciple of St. John Chrysostom and one of the great spiritual writers of his time who helped spread Christian ascetical spirituality throughout the Roman Empire in the 5th Century .   He is an early witness to an ancient Orthodox tradition that recognizes a monastic rule cannot artificially be imposed on everyone, not even on all monks.  He did not have a monolithic view of all monks or Christians, nor did he teach that all Christians could walk in lockstep with absolute obedience to one fasting rule.  St. John Cassian writes:

“And so a uniform rule concerning the manner of fasting cannot easily be kept because not all bodies have the same strength, nor is it, like the other virtues, achieved by firmness of mind alone. And therefore, since it does not consist in strength of mind alone, inasmuch as it depends on what the body is capable of, we have accepted the following understanding of it that was passed onto us: There are different times, manners, and qualities with respect to eating that are in accordance with the varied conditions, ages, and sexes of bodies, but there is one rule of discipline for everyone with regard to an abstinent and virtuous mind. For not everyone is able to prolong a fast for weeks, or to put off eating food for three or even two days. Many people who are worn out by sickness and especially old age cannot endure a fast even until sunset without considerable hardship.

A starveling meal of moistened beans does not suit everyone, nor is the frugality of plain vegetables adequate for all, nor is an austere diet of dry bread appropriate for all. One person does not feel full with two pounds, while another is surfeited with a meal of one pound or six ounces. Nonetheless there is one end of abstinence in all these instances – that no one, according to the measure of his own capacity, be burdened by voracious satiety. For it is not only the quality of food but also its quantity that dulls the heart’s keenness, and when both the mind and the flesh have been sated the glowing kindling of the wicked vices is set ablaze.”    (The Institutes, pps.119-120)

St. John Cassian’s rule which he claims is THE Tradition which he received (“we have accepted the following understanding of it that was passed onto us”) is simply not to eat to the point of satiety.   Leave the table feeling some hunger – how much each person eats or what they eat is less important then that they learn self control: one says ‘no’ to oneself at the table even when still a bit hungry.  In some ways, for a culture such as ours which is used to consuming everything to the point of satiety and beyond, this is a harder rule to learn and follow.  It is a fasting rule not focusing on food types (substituting soy for beef, or vegetables for cheese) but considering quantity as well.  We can eat to satiety as vegetarians and vegans just as easily as our more carnivorous fellow humans.  St. John offers us a different way to approach fasting – a way that is part of the Patristic Tradition – that we approach our meals with a conscious desire to eat less, to not satisfy our wants, to experience hunger spiritually not just physically.

For St. John the real goal here is “an abstinent and virtuous mind.”  We are trying to discipline ourselves to learn an attitude or an approach not just to food but to life in the world.   It is much more a matter of the heart than of the stomach, or perhaps of helping the heart rule the stomach.   Like the apostles on the road to Emmaus, we want our meals to reveal Christ to us.

We are not meant to spend more time in Lent focusing on food, but less than we normally do so that we can focus on spiritual issues: issues of the heart, the soul and the mind by saying “no” to the body whose voracious appetite (including lusts, cravings, hungers and passions) often drives us through life, causing us to veer off of the the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.

We are not endeavoring to starve ourselves for 40-50 days and then to gorge ourselves at Pascha.  We are supposed to be teaching ourselves an approach to life in the world of the fall which will not distract us from the Kingdom of God but will keep us ever moving toward living in love for God and love for our neighbor.

See also my blog: Perfect Image of Fasting

The Goal of the Christian Life and of the Church

St. John Cassian  (d. 435AD) offers us straightforward advice on how to stay focused as a Christian on what is important.  There are so many things we might imagine that each of us Christians individually are to do,  or collectively as Church are to accomplish.  Cassian reminds  us that it is easy to lose sight of the goal and then all of our spiritual activities will be aimless.  This is as true for each of us in our spiritual as it is for a parish council or an entire parish or any committee or institutional assembly.  We have to know where we are going in order to know if we are getting close to our destination or to know if we have arrived.   St. John would want to remind us that before we begin any deed to keep in mind the goal of Christians is the Kingdom of God.  Before we begin any activity or meeting, we might ask ourselves how this activity or meeting moves us toward that goal.

“In the same fashion the objective of our life is the kingdom of God, but we should carefully ask what we should aim for. If we do not look very carefully into this we will wear ourselves out in useless strivings. For those who travel without a marked road there is the toil of the journey – and no arrival at a destination. Seeing our amazement at all this, the old man resumed: ‘As we have said, the aim of our profession is the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven. But our point of reference, our objective, is a clean heart, without which it is impossible for anyone to reach our target. If we keep to this point of reference we will proceed with all assurance, as though along a carefully drawn line. If our minds wander a little from this we can come back to it again and keep our eye on it, using it as a standard by which to give ourselves sure guidance.” (Conferences, pg. 39)

Fasting before Christmas

The Nativity Fast, like any other fasting period, is a time to practice a spiritual discipline.  As often has been pointed out, the goal of any Lent is not simply to change one’s diet, but more importantly to change one’s heart and mind in order to be a disciple of Christ.

St. John Cassian (d. 435AD), an early Christian monk frequently writes about the nature of fasting and how abstaining from food is not the goal of Lent or monasticsm or the Christian life, but a tool that all Christians use in combination with the virtues to follow Christ.

St. John writes:

Fasting: By itself abstinence from food does not contribute to perfect purity of soul unless the other virtues are active as well. Humility, for example, practiced through obedience in our work and through bodily hardship, is a great help. Freedom from anger, from dejection, self-esteem and pride also contributes to purity of soul in general, while self-control and fasting are especially important for bringing about that specific purity of soul which comes through restraint and moderation. Our initial struggle therefore must be to gain control of our stomach and to bring our body into subjection not only through fasting, but also through vigils, labours and spiritual reading, and through concentrating our heart on, and longing for the kingdom of heaven.”

(quoted in Through the Year with the Church Fathers compiled by Emily Harakas, pg. 97)

Links to all of this year’s blogs related to the Nativity of Christ can be found at Christmas Blogs 2012.

The Beginning of the Nativity Fast (2012)

November 15 marks the beginning of the 40 day Nativity Lenten period.  Concerning fasting St. John Cassian (d. 435AD) offers what he considers to be the Tradition of the Church – since he was writing in the early 5th Century, he is speaking about the very early Church Tradition.  The Holy Fathers are the Desert Fathers from whom he learned the monastic life.

“I shall speak first about control of the stomach, the opposite to gluttony, and about how to fast and what and how much to eat. I shall say nothing on my own account, but only what I have received from the Holy Fathers. They have not given us only a single rule for fasting or a single standard and measure for eating, because not everyone has the same strength; age, illness or delicacy of body create differences. But they have given us all a single goal: to avoid over-eating and the filling of our bellies. They also found a day’s fast to be more beneficial and a greater help toward purity than one extending over a period of three, four, or even seven days. Someone who fasts for too long, they say, often end up by eating too much food. The result is that at times the body becomes enervated through undue lack of food and sluggish over its spiritual exercises, while at other times, weighed down by the mass of food it has eaten, it makes the soul listless and slack.”    (The Philokalia: Volume One, pg. 73)

Links to all of this year’s blogs related to the Nativity of Christ can be found at Christmas Blogs 2012.