(4th century)

  Abba Evagrius said; 'Take away temptations and no one will be saved.'

Abba Zeno said, 'If you want God to hear your prayer quickly, then before you pray for anything else, even your own soul, when you stand and stretch out your hands towards God, you must pray with all your heart for your enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that you ask.'

One day Abba Arsenius consulted an old Egyptian monk about his own thoughts. Someone noticed this and said to him, 'Abba Arsenius, how is it that you with such a good Latin and Greek education, ask this peasant about your thoughts?' He replied, 'I have indeed been taught Latin and Greek, but I do not know even the alphabet of this peasant.'

Amma Syncletica said, "If you find yourself in a monastery do not go to another place, for that will harm you a great deal. Just as the bird who abandons the eggs she was sitting on prevents them from hatching, so the monk or the nun grows cold and their faith dies when they go from one place to another."

A brother came to Abba Theodore and began to converse with him about things which he had never yet put into practice. So the old man said to him, 'You have not yet found a ship nor put your cargo aboard it, and before you have sailed you have already arrived at the city! Do the work first; then you will have the speed you are making now.'

Abba John said, 'We have put the light burden on one side, that is to say, self-accusation, and we have loaded ourselves with a heavy one, that is to say, self-justification.'  

In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.