The Desert Fathers: Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Desert

The Desert Fathers: Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Desert
The Monastery of St. Paul of Thebes, Red Sea Desert, Egypt (1990)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

ST. PETER OF DAMASKOS - 24 Discourses: Courage

St. Peter of Damaskos wrote a short, but very nice piece on "courage" and how to cultivate the courage that is most needed in the eyes of God. It's a good teaching and, I think, will speak to each of us during these tense times.

(from The 24 Discourses)


Courage does not consist in defeating and oppressing one's neighbor, for this is overbearingness, which oversteps the bounds of courage. Nor again does it consist in fleeing terrified from the trials that come as a result of practicing the virtues; for this is cowardice and falls short of courage. Courage itself consists in persisting in every good work ad in overcoming the passions of soul and body. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, that is, against men, as was the case with the Jews of old, where to conquer other nations was to do the work of God; it is against principalities and powers, that is, against the unseen demons (Ephesians 6:12). He who is victorious conquers spiritually; otherwise he is conquered by the passions. The warfare described in the Old Testament prefigures our spiritual warfare.

These two passions of overbearingness and cowardice, though they appear to be opposites, are both caused by weakness. Overbearingness pulls one upwards and is outwardly something startling and frightening, like some powerless bear, while cowardice flees like a chased dog. No one who suffers from either of these two passions puts his trust in the Lord, and therefore he cannot stand firm in battle, whether he is overbearing or cowardly. But the righteous man is as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1) in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and dominion throughout the ages. Amen. END

from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, trans., The Philokalia -- vol. III, (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), pp. 258.