Monday, June 14, 2010

On writing on spiritual matters

The occasional visitors to this very intermittent blog may find it odd that despite its name, the posts seldom address spiritual matters. I think perhaps the more prolific "Ortho-bloggers" might do well to consider two passages from The Philokalia:

According to St. Maximos the Confessor there are three motives for writing which are above reproach and censure: to assist one's memory, to help others or as an act of obedience. It is for the last reason that most spiritual writings have been composed, at the humble request of those who have need of them. If you write about spiritual matters simply for pleasure, fame or self-display, you will get your deserts, as Scripture says, and will not profit from it in this life or gain any reward in the life to come. On the contrary, you will be condemned for courting popularity and for fraudulently trafficking in God's wisdom.

--St. Gregory of Sinai, On Commandments and Doctrines

. . .through your writings you converse also with those who are not present, and often what you write falls into the hands of others, sometimes of those whom you would not wish to read it, since writings usually survive the death of their author.

For this reason many of the fathers who practiced extreme stillness could not bear to write anything at all, although they were in a position to set forth great and profitable things. It is true that I myself, who totally lack the strict observance of the fathers, have a habit of writing, although only when some great need compels me to do so. Now, however, those who look upon certain of my writings with malicious eyes and seek to find in them grounds to do me wrong have made me more reluctant to write.

--St. Gregory Palama, To the Most Reverend Nun Xenia

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