I have a new friend, but I’ve never seen him in person. I was introduced to him through a Christmas present. However, he’s not a facebook (or any other internet social network) friend.
Theodore is a Russian who lived in the 18th Century. I’ve gotten to know him through the book, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. V: St. Theodore of Sanaxar.
Theodore, the son of a Russian prince, grew up in affluence. As a young man he was partying with some of his friends, when one of them fell over and died. This shook up Theodore so much that he left everything behind and moved into an isolated hut in a wilderness area. There, as he began to pray and seek the meaning of life. he encountered the living Jesus Christ.
Theodore lived ten years as a hermit, seeking to know God better. Eventually he became a priest, a monk, and the leader of a monastery. Although, Theodore never learned to read, he became famous for his spiritual wisdom. People began to write to him and come to him for advice and counsel.
One of Theodore’s disciples wrote down much of his teaching. I was very fortunate to receive those writings as a Christmas present. What a blessing. I have to share with you some of Theodore of Sanaxar’s powerful ideas. Here goes:
“He who forgives others has been freed from torments.”
“You are always hearing the word of God, but in your deeds you do not fulfill what you have heard.”
“If tasty morsels were being offered to someone, and at the bottom of them deadly poison had been concealed, then I suppose that no one knowing about this would choose to taste them, since poison had been hidden underneath. Such are the unseemly delights of the world. There is spiritual poison in them.”
“Vile and abominable thoughts are those which issue, either from an impure life, or from wicked habits, or from the suggestions of the enemy. Vile thoughts pass by like the wind if a man does not consent to them.”
“Our sight stretches its gaze towards various unlawful deeds and to seductive amusements and these should be restrained.”
“Patience consists in not desponding in any difficult circumstance.”
“Do not obey evil thoughts.”
“We have been commanded to speak well of and bless those who slander or abuse us.”
“He who was crucified for you will live in you.”