Have you ever observed the life of the heart?

“Have you ever observed the life of the heart? Try to do so, even for a short time and see what you’ll discover: something unpleasant occurs and you get upset; some misfortune befalls you and you feel sorry for yourself; you see somebody you don’t like and immediately hostility wells up within you; you bump into someone of equal standing who’s now advanced beyond you socially, and you start to envy them; you look back at your talents and your abilities and you begin to feel proud… All this rottenness: vainglory, desires of the flesh, gluttony, sloth, nastiness… one piled on top of the next and in the end they destroy the heart. And all of them can make their way into the heart in just a few minutes. This is why one ascetic, who exercised strict control over himself said – quite rightly – that people’s hearts are full of poisonous snakes. Only the hearts of the saints are free of these snakes, the passions.”
— Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco

From a sermon of St John, “Stand Fast and Watch”
published in “Orthodox America,” Vol. XIV, No. 2-3,
September-October, 1993
Translated by pravoslavnaya.ru.
Read it online.

Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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