Part One Cap 1. What is Christian perfection?-Warfare is necessary to acquire it – Four things indispensable to success in this warfare Cap 2. One should never believe in oneself or trust oneself in anything Cap 3. On hope in God alone and on confidence in Him Cap 4. How to recognise whether a man acts without self-reliance and with perfect trust in God Cap 5. On the wrong opinion of those who deem excessive grief a virtue Cap 6. Some indications on the scope and limits of disbelief in oneself and of complete trust in God Cap 7. On how we should exercise our mind, lest it be sick with the disease of ignorance Cap 8. On reasons for our wrong judgment of things and how to form a right judgment of them Cap 9. On protecting the mind from too much useless knowledge and idle curiosity Cap 10. How to train one’s will to have but one ultimate aim in all things, both external and internal- to please God Cap 11. Some reminders that can impel our will towards desire to please God in every activity Cap 12. On the many desires and tendencies existing in man and on their struggle with one another Cap 13. On how to fight against the dumb sensory will, and on the training necessary for the will to acquire experience in virtues Cap 14. What to do when the higher, intelligent will seems to be entirely overcome by the lower will and by the enemies Cap 15. War should be waged ceaselessly and courageously Cap 16. How a warrior of Christ should prepare for battle in the morning Cap 17. In what order should you fight your passions? Cap 18. How to fight sudden impulses of passions Cap 19. How to struggle against bodily passions Cap 20. How to overcome negligence Cap 21. On the control and right use of the outer senses Cap 22. The same sensory objects we were speaking of can be means and instruments for a right control of our senses, if from them we pass to reflections on the incarnation of God the Word, and the mysteries of His life, passion and death Cap 23. How to translate sensory impressions into profitable lessons Cap 24. General lessons in the use of the senses Cap 25. On control of the tongue Cap 26. How to correct imagination and memory Cap 27. A warrior of Christ should use all means to avoid worries’ and agitations of the heart, if he wishes really to overcome his enemies Cap 28. What to do when we are wounded in battle Cap 29. The order of battle pursued by the devil in spiritual warfare against us all and how he seduces people of different inner states Cap 30. How does the devil confirm sinners in their slavery to sin? Cap 31. How the enemy keeps in his nets those who have realised their perilous position and wish to be free of it, but make no move. And the reason why our good intentions are so often not fulfilled Cap 32. On the wiles of the enemy against those who have entered the right path Cap 33. How the enemy diverts a man from righteous deeds and spoils them Cap 34. How the enemy turns the virtues themselves against those who practise them Cap 35. Some indications useful in the work of overcoming passions and acquiring virtue Cap 36. On the order of acquiring virtues Cap 37. What dispositions are needed to acquire virtues in general and how to undertake training for any one of them Cap 38. Virtue should be practised constantly and with all diligence Cap 39. A man should not avoid opportunities he meets for good actions Cap 40. One should love those opportunities of practising virtue which are particularly difficult Cap 41. How to progress in one and the same virtue in different circumstances Cap 42. How long should one exercise oneself in each virtue and what are the signs of progress in it? Cap 43. One should not desire too strongly to be free from the attack of afflictions, but should wholly abandon oneself to God’s will Cap 44. Warning against evil counsels of the devil in relation to good actions Cap 45. Our severe judgment of others comes from a high opinion of ourselves and the instigation of the devil. How to overcome this tendency Cap 46. On prayer Cap 47. What is mental or inner prayer, and of what kinds can it be? Cap 48. How to learn to pray in this way Cap 49. On praying in one’s own words Cap 50. On short prayers, or short prayerful sighings to God Cap 51. On the Jesus Prayer Cap 52. Aids to success in gaining the habit of prayer Cap 53. The role of prayer in unseen warfare Part Two Cap 1. The most holy sacrament of the Eucharist Cap 2. How one should partake of the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, or partake of Christ our Lord sacramentally-in the sacraments Cap 3. How to kindle the love of God in oneself by entering deeply into the sacrament of the Eucharist Cap 4. Communion of the spirit Cap 5. On giving thanks to God Cap 6. On surrender to the will of God Cap 7. On warmth of heart, and on cooling and dryness of heart Cap 8. On guarding and examining conscience Cap 9. On preparation for battle with the enemies in the hour of death Cap 10. The four temptations which come from the enemy in the hour of death. The first temptation, against faith, and the means to overcome it Cap 11. Second temptation in the hour of death- through despair Cap 12. Third temptation in the hour of death- by vainglory Cap 13. Fourth temptation in the hour of death- by phantoms Cap 14. On spiritual peace of heart Cap 15. On the means of preserving inner peace Cap 16. Peace of heart is established little by little Cap 17. To preserve peace of heart one must avoid honours and love humility and poverty Cap 18. It is essential that the soul remain secluded in itself, for God to encompass it with His peace Cap 19. On good sense in works of love for your neighbours, for the sake of your peace of soul Cap 20. Stripped of its will, the soul should surrender to God Cap 21. Do not seek pleasures and comforts, but only God Cap 22. Do not lose heart when inner peace withdraws or is interrupted Cap 23. Many are the wiles of the enemy to despoil us of inner peace; so watch Cap 24. One must not be perturbed by impoverishment of spiritual feelings or by other inner temptations Cap 25. Every temptation is sent for our good Cap 26. Remedy against being perturbed by small transgressions and weaknesses Cap 27. If a man is perturbed, he must immediately re-establish peace in his soul
IntroductionArticle from “Orthodox America”, Nov 1980 – http://www.roca.org/oa/5/5d.htm
In 1729 the word «Methodist» was first used; 90 years before, American Baptists had gathered for the first time. This was still 100 years before the world would hear the name of Joseph Smith, and many disillusioned Protestants in both Europe and America were beginning to seek a revival of faith, As opposed to the comparatively recent birth of these new sects, the long line of Holy Fathers and teachers of the Orthodox Church had at that time already spanned 17 centuries, and it was in this year of 1729 that Almighty God raised up yet another who was to be numbered among the ranks of bright luminaries of the Church. Born on the island of Naxos, Greece, and educated at Smyrna, this Father and Saint went to the Holy Mountain of Athos at the age of 27, where he became a monk and received the name of Nicedemos.
St. Nicedemos undertook the struggle of writing about divine things. As one biographer said, «it is impossible to keep account of his fatigue and sweat in the labors which enabled him to beautify his' soul and capture in his books the fragrance of the Holy Spirit.»
His most famous labour was helping St. Makarios of Corinth to select, edit, and prepare for publication the Philokalia, a collection of writings of Holy Fathers On what St. Nikodemos Called the «mystical school of inward prayer. The. word Philokalia means «love of good”, a fitting title for Writings that speak of how to live in Jesus Christ. The Philokalia appeared at the very time the French Revolution had begun to flood the world with hatred for anything godly.
Large parts of the Philokalia have been translated into English; however, it must be said that these writings are not for the beginner, nor even for the average Orthodox Christian. There is even a danger in their being read «out of season» and without proper guidance. More appropriate, and wonderfully useful, is the Saint''s superb work, Unseen Warfare. This book, originally published in Italy in 1589, was translated and many times enlarged by the Saint. The present English translation* is from the edition of the great 19th century Russian Holy Father, Theophan the Recluse.
The whole purpose of Unseen Warfare is to give the Orthodox Christian teaching concerning perfection in virtue and the «unseen warfare» necessary to accomplish this: «I will tell you plainly: the greatest and most perfect thing a man may desire to attain is to come near to God and dwell in union with Him.
«There are many who say that the perfection of Christian life consists in fasts, vigils, genuflexions, sleeping on bare earth and other similar austerities of the body. Others say that it consists in saying many prayers at home and in attending long services in church. And there are others who think that our perfection consists entirely in mental prayer, solitude, seclusion and silence. But the majority limit perfection to a strict observance of all the rules and practices laid down by the statutes, falling into no excess or deficiency, but preserving a golden moderation. Yet all these virtues do not by themselves constitute the Christian perfection we are seeking, but are only a means and a method for acquiring it.
«You must learn that perfection consists in nothing but coming near to God and union with Him, as was said in the beginning. With this is connected a heartfelt realization of the goodness and greatness of God, together with the consciousness of our own nothingness and our proneness to every evil .... This is the law of love, inscribed by the finger of God Himself in the hearts of His true servants ! This is the renunciation of ourselves that God demands of us! This is the blessed yoke of Jesus Christ and His burden that is light! This is the submission to God''s will, which our Redeemer and Teacher demands from us both by His word and by His example !
«Do you now see what all this means, brother? I presume that you are longing to reach the height of such perfection. Blessed be your zeal! But prepare yourself also for labor, sweat and struggle from your first steps on the path. You must sacrifice everything to God and do only His will. Yet you will meet in yourself as many wills as you have powers and wants. Therefore, to reach your desired aim, it is first of all necessary to stifle your own wills and finally to extinguish and kill them altogether. And in order to succeed in this, you must constantly oppose all evil in yourself and urge yourself towards good. In other words, you must ceaselessly fight against yourself and against everything that panders to your own wills, that incites and supports them. So prepare yourself for this struggle and this warfare and know that the crown--attainment of your desired aim--is given to none except to the valiant among warriors and wrestlers.
«But if this is the hardest of all wars... victory in it is the most glorious of all .... If you really desire to be victorious in this unseen warfare and be rewarded with a crown, you must plant in your heart the following four dispositions and spiritual activities, as it were arming yourself with invisible weapons, the most trustworthy and unconquerable of all, namely:
a) never rely on yourself in anything;
b) bear always in your heart a perfect and all-daring trust in God alone;
c) strive without ceasing; and
d) remain constantly in prayer.
«You must know that progress on the path of spiritual life differs greatly from an ordinary journey on earth. If a traveler stops on his ordinary journey, he loses nothing of the way already covered; but if a traveler on the path of virtue stops in his spiritual progress, he loses much of the virtues previously acquired .... In an ordinary journey, the further the traveler proceeds, the more tired he becomes; but on the way of spiritual life the longer a man travels, reaching forth unto those things which are before, the greater the strength and power he acquires for his further progress.»
During the night in which he died, July 14, 1809, St. Nicodemos received Holy Communion and, sinking into holy tranquility, prayed constantly. The monks approached and asked: «Teacher, are you resting?» The Saint replied: «I have placed Christ within me, how is it possible for me not to be at rest?»
In the Foreword to his translation, St. Nicodemos wrote:
«This book teaches that the warriors who take part in this unseen war are all who are Christians; and their commander is our Lord Jesus Christ, surrounded and accompanied by His marshals and generals, that is, by all the hierarchies of angels and saints. The arena, the field of battle, the site where the fight actually takes place is our own heart and all our inner man. The time of battle is our Whole life.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but...against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:12)
«So this spiritual warfare of ours must be constant and never ceasing, and should be conducted with alertness and courage in the soul; they can easily be attained, if you seek these gifts from God. So advance into battle without hesitation. Should you be visited by the troubling thought of the hatred and undying malice, which the enemies harbour against you, and of the innumerable hosts of the demons, think on the other hand of the infinitely greater power of God and of His love for you, as well as of the incomparable greater hosts of heavenly angels and the prayers of saints. They all fight secretly for us and with us against our enemies, as it is written, The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation (Ex. 17:16). How many weak women and small children were incited to fight by the thought of this powerful and ever ready help! And they got the upper hand and gained victory over all the wisdom of the world, all the wiles of the devil and all the malice of hell.»