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 21, 2013

ST. THALASSIOS THE LIBYAN - Four Centuries on the Spiritual Life -- Part IVb

In this issue we will look at the second half of part four of our four-part series on St. Thalassios's four "centuries" on the spiritual life. We are dividing this fourth part into two sections due to the richness of their teachings and the length of the text. These are only excerpts as we do not have space for the full text. St. Thalassios the Libyan, abbot of a monastery in Libya in the late sixth and early seventy centuries. There is little information in his biography beyond saying that he was a contemporary and friend of St. Maximos the Confessor (580 - 662). St. Maximos wrote his largest work as a theological treatise addressed to St. Thalassios.

- by St. Thalassios the Libyan

-- The truly physician-like intellect is one that first heals itself and then heals others of the diseases of which it has been cured.

-- Our Lord Jesus has given light to all men, but those who do not trust in Him bring darkness upon themselves.

-- Do not think that the loss of virtue is a minor matter, for it was through such a loss that death came into the world.

-- He who has put his passions to death and overcome ignorance goes from life to life.

-- Search the Scriptures and you will find the commandments; do what they say and you will be freed from your passions.

-- Obedience to a commandment purifies the soul, and purification of the soul leads to its participation in light.

-- The tree of life is the knowledge of God; when, being purified, you share in that knowledge you attain immortality.

-- The first step in the practice of the virtues is faith in Christ; its consummation, the love of Christ.

-- Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and our God, who grants us faith in Him so that we may live.

-- Let us acquire faith so that we may attain love; for love gives birth to the illumination of spiritual knowledge.

-- The acquisition of faith leads successively to fear of God, restraint from sensual pleasure, the patient endurance of suffering, hope in God, dispassion and love.

-- Genuine love gives birth to the spiritual knowledge of the created world. This is succeeded by the desire of all desires: the grace of theology.

-- When you have been given faith, self-control is demanded from you; when self-control has become habitual, it gives birth to patient endurance, a disposition that gladly accepts suffering.

-- The sign of patient endurance is delight in suffering; and the intellect, trusting in this patient endurance, hopes to attain what is promised and to escape what is threatened.

-- He who has tasted the things for which he hopes will spurn the things of this world: all his longing will be spent on what he hopes for.

-- It is God who has promised the blessings held in store; and the self-disciplined person who has faith in God longs for what is held in store as though it were present.

-- The sign that the intellect dwells among the blessings for which it hopes is its total oblivion to worldly things and the growth in its knowledge of what is held in store.

-- The dispassion taught by the God of truth is a noble quality; through it He fulfils the aspirations of the devout soul.

-- According to the degree to which the intellect is stripped of the passions, the Holy Spirit initiates the intellect into the mysteries of the age to be.

-- The more the intellect is purified, the more the soul is granted spiritual knowledge of divine principles.

-- He who has disciplined his body and dwells in a state of spiritual knowledge finds that through this knowledge he is purified still further.

-- Initially our search for wisdom is prompted by fear; but as we attain our goal we are led forward by love.

-- The intellect that begins its search for divine wisdom with simple faith will eventually attain a theology that transcends the intellect and that is characterized by unremitting faith of the highest type and the contemplation of the invisible. END

from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, trans., The Philokalia -- vol. II, (London: Faber and Faber, 1981), pp. 328 - 330.