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“Sin is not ultimately about breaking rules; rather, it is about erecting false notions of what it means to flourish as a human being…Understanding virtue in terms of human flourishing helps shed light on the problem of sin. This problem is not simply that we do bad things by breaking God’s rules, but that we have been corrupted into following rival notions of human flourishing…sin is the setting up of a rival good to God’s good.” (Robin Phillips) 

“Cleansing from sin cannot be separated from pursuing virtue (2 Timothy 2:22), for the two activities must be carried on together, which is why Saint Paul interweaves them in his teaching….“Strive to love every man equally, and you will simultaneously expel all the passions.” Pursuing virtue is an active, purposeful acquisition of righteousness, faith, love and peace. (Dynamis 1/15/2024, Philokalia) 

“In this world, some things are obviously wicked. But the unrighteousness of other things is not so easily identified. Evil comes in attractive packages and desirable wrappings. Vices are mixed with virtues, and goodness is mingled with immorality…For most of us, pure evil does not assault us directly like it did to St. Anthony and other saints. No, it usually comes mixed with some appeal, even benefit. It takes wisdom to discern that what attracts us is or is not the temptation to evil…No benefit comes from a just man's prayers if he who asks for it finds more pleasure in sin than in virtue.” (Fr. Basil, St. Maximos the Confessor)

“Repentance hurts, it’s painful. But through it you can be reformed. Repentance is the key that opens the gate to God’s mercy. Because human nature is such that it can never attain sinlessness. Only Christ, as a human person, was without sin, as was, by grace, the Most Holy Mother of God, who received this gift from God. We can’t envision ourselves as ever being sinless, because it’s not possible. Therefore, given that sin is, in practice, unavoidable for us, that which can be evidence in our favor before God isn’t our deeds and virtues, but our genuine repentance. In this way we destroy the myth that we can become purely moral and virtuous, because, no matter how moral we are, we’ll certainly still sin. So we can’t build our relationship with God on the fact that we’ll escape sin; but we can do so on repentance. We learn to repent and to stand aright before God through a spirit of humility.” (Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol)

“Once the deep thirst for God dawns on us, we must focus our efforts on the work of salvation if we are to avoid falling into these temptations and delusions. Our experience is rather like that of a pilot searching for a place to land – we need to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, our controller. We follow the Spirit’s direction, devoting ourselves to God and His path to salvation. We obey the Life-giving Spirit in order to gain life, turning to His blessings in repentance and practicing the virtues opposite to our sins. We receive the Holy Gifts, which enable us to “taste and see how good the Lord is.” (Dynamis 6/7/2019)

“Human virtue” should not be an oxymoron. From a Christian perspective, the words should be synonymous. The virtuous life is the only life God ever intended humans to have…“For just as the kingdom of the devil is gained by deceiving people with vices, so the kingdom of God is possessed in purity of heart and spiritual knowledge by practicing the virtues. And where the kingdom of God is, there without a doubt is eternal life, and where the kingdom of the devil is, there—it is not to be doubted—are death and hell. Whoever is there cannot praise the Lord.” (Kevin Scherer, St. John Cassian)

“The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered…it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone.” (G. K. Chesterton)

“… all the virtues are mutually bound to each other. Like a spiritual chain, one is dependent upon the other: prayer to love, love to joy, joy to meekness, meekness to humility, humility to service, service to hope, hope to faith, faith to obedience, obedience to simplicity. And likewise, on the opposite side, the vices are bound one to the other: hatred to anger, anger to pride, pride to vainglory, vainglory to disbelief, disbelief to hardness of heart, hardness of heart to carelessness, carelessness to sloth, sloth to acedia or boredom, boredom to a lack of perseverance, a lack of perseverance to a love of pleasure. And the other parts of vice similarly are interdependent. So also on the good side the virtues are dependent upon each other and are interconnected.” (Pseudo-Macarius)

“You will not be able to perceive the face of virtue so long as you still look on vice with a feeling of pleasure. But vice will appear hateful to you when you hunger for the taste of virtue and avert your gaze from every form of evil…In this world, some things are obviously wicked. But the unrighteousness of other things is not so easily identified. Evil comes wrapped in attractive packages and desirable wrappings. Vices are mixed with virtues, and goodness is mingled with immorality…evil…usually comes mixed with some appeal, even benefit. It takes wisdom to discern that what seems to be attractive is the temptation to evil.” (St. Elijah the Priest, Fr. Basil)

“…we learn the virtues through imitation. More specifically, we learn to be virtuous by imitating exemplars of justice, compassion, kindness, and love. In our culture that prizes “authenticity” and places a premium on novelty and uniqueness, imitation has received a bad rap, as if being an imitator is synonymous with being a fake (think “imitation leather”). But the New Testament holds imitation in a very different light. Indeed, we are exhorted to be imitators…Virtue is a very natural thing. It is acquired slowly, frequently without great intention, through repeated practices and habits. Those who worry about the collapse of civilization have become too lofty in their thoughts. It is the collapse of the parish that matters just now…The origin of the word, “parish,” says a lot. It is derived ultimately from paroikia (“near the house”).” (James Smith, Father Stephen Freeman)

Each human being will struggle and acquire virtue slightly differently depending on both their God-given personal uniqueness and the unique ways they have been damaged by sin in this broken world. Furthermore, the various gifts of Grace that God grants to each person vary. One may experience great Grace for self control, but struggle with gentleness. Another may be granted the Grace of joy, but struggle to maintain inner peace.” (Fr. Michael Gillis)

“Saint John Chrysostom addressed the question of human flourishing in a sermon written shortly before his death in 407…the saint urged his readers to conceive human virtue in the same way that people of his time thought about virtue in animals or inanimate objects, namely, as that which enables a thing to flourish according to the goal of its nature. Saint John taught that only through a lifestyle of serving others, adhering to true doctrine, and patiently enduring suffering can we realize this purpose for which we were created. Ultimately, to flourish as human beings is to develop our spiritual lives in preparation for eternity, something we can do regardless of what is happening around us.” (Robin Phillips)

“Virtues are fruits of the Spirit, not human works. But the Spirit does not produce these fruits in us unless we cultivate them. The virtues do not spring full-grown from the ground of faith. Thus, the apostle wrote that we should add virtue to faith (2 Peter 1:5). Then the apostle states that if you “abound” in knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, “you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:6-8).” (Fr. Basil)

“Popular culture suggests that we should “live large,” by which a hedonistic lifestyle is touted as the most desirable way of being. There is, instead, a “largeness” that refers to the enlargement of the heart by which our life is lived, not as an end in itself, but as but one moment of vast sweep of all time. The virtues which mark such a manner of living are straightforward: love, patience, kindness, humility, and gratitude. This manner of life can also be described as a “traditioned” existence. It is the recognition that what he have has been given to us. We are not creatures of our own invention. Everything from the “stuff” we are made of to the words we use for our thoughts and the cultural waters in which we swim are given to us. We might very well complain about various details in this inheritance, but we can only do so by using the inheritance itself.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Regardless of what we say we believe or what spiritual heritage we claim, whether we truly share in Christ’s life is shown by whether His mercy is evident in us. If we truly participate in Him, the Lord’s virtues will become our virtues, for He has worked the fulfillment of the human person in the image and likeness of God. Nothing is more characteristic of Him than self-emptying love for all who suffer the degrading consequences of sin. By offering Himself fully on the Cross and rising in glory on the third day, the God-Man has set us free from bondage to corruption and united us to Himself as members of His Body, the Church. He enables us to participate by grace in the eternal communion of love shared by the Holy Trinity. The ultimate test of our souls is whether we have allowed His love to permeate every dimension of who we are and how we live in this world.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“Virtue may be defined as the conscious union of human weakness with divine strength…if we rely on our own capability as if our natural powers are our strength, we confuse our human works with virtue. On the other hand, if we “do not make an effort” to receive divine help and “transcend human weakness” with the power of God, we will fall short of virtue…the development of virtue depends on…the cooperation between God and the human person.” (St. Maximus the Confessor, Fr. Basil)

“…we should expect to struggle in developing the fruit of the Spirit. The good news, however, is that the more we engage in this struggle, the more natural these virtues become to us. The effort to develop the fruit of the Spirit works like any other skill: we start in small areas and grow from there. For example, the way to develop the type of love that is strong enough to lead you to lay down your life for someone else is to spend every day sacrificing your own needs and desires to serve those God has placed in your life. The way to remain patient in the midst of severe persecution is to begin practicing patience with the sundry annoyances that arise in ordinary life. The way to remain grateful in the midst of severe suffering is to begin practicing contentment in the face of the mild inconveniences that disturb you every day. Through these choices you will become your true self. If you make opposite choices, you will become a shadow of who you were meant to be.” (Robin Phillips)

“Attainment of a genuinely virtuous life means an arduous, often frustrating and painful struggle to obey the commandments. Whatever fruit that struggle might bear, though, derives neither from qualities of our nature nor from a victory over sin that we ourselves have won…Whatever “morality,” whatever genuine virtue we may know and express in our life is a gift, granted not because we have in fact become “pleasing to God,” but simply because He loves us, despite ourselves. It is granted as an expression of the abundant mercy and compassion He has “so richly poured out upon us.” (Fr. John Breck)

“To make your heart straight toward the Lord God of Israel means to return the soul to its natural state, as it was when the Lord made it. John the Baptist meant the same thing when he said, “Make His paths straight” (Mt 3:3). For if we abide as we have been made, we are in a state of virtue. When God made our soul, it was beautiful and exceedingly honest, but if we turn aside from our natural state to morally depraved thoughts, we shall be living in vice. Therefore, let us willingly return to the virtue endowed by God within our nature, for we have no need to leave our homes or cross the sea for the sake of God's kingdom, to find virtue outside ourselves. All we need is a willing heart, for the moral integrity of the soul consists in its spiritual part being in its natural state as it was created. If this is the case, the Lord will recognize His work as being the same as when He made it.” (St. Anthony of Egypt)

“Sainthood is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. All Christian virtue and holiness is the work of the Holy Spirit…If we truly participate in Him, the Lord’s virtues will become our virtues, for He has worked the fulfillment of the human person in the image and likeness of God. And what is more characteristic of Christ than His self-emptying love for all who suffer the degrading consequences of sin?...The ultimate test of our souls is whether we have united ourselves to Christ such that His love permeates every dimension of who we are from the depths of our souls to how we treat our neighbors.” (Father Spyridon Baily, Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“For Christian thought, the movement towards virtue was easily taken up in the understanding of the Christian life as a constant transformation into the image of Christ, the true incarnation of the virtuous person.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“We cannot produce virtue ourselves; but we can choose to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (Foundation Study Bible, 2 Peter 1:5)

“True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most oppressed; and the divine excellency of real Christianity, is never exhibited with such advantage, as when under the greatest trials.” (Jonathan Edwards)

“Good men avoid sin from the love of virtue: Wicked men avoid sin from a fear of punishment.” (John Wesley)

“At the root of every vice is a lie, a distortion of the truth. On the other hand, those activities rooted in truth produce virtue. The eight virtues corresponding to the eight vices are self-­control, purity, charity, peacefulness, spiritual mourning, zeal, modesty, and humility. These virtues are the natural expressions of our willful desires that the vices unnaturally pervert…The most evil vice is always the perversion of the most excellent virtue.” (Kevin Scherer, Father Thomas Hopko)

“Virtue is never mere virtue, it is either from God, or through God, or in God…Whoever pursues true virtue participates in nothing other than God, because he is himself absolute virtue.” (Meister Eckhart, St. Gregory of Nyssa)

“Virtue is a stable and utterly dispassionate state of righteousness. Nothing stands opposed to it, for it bears the stamp of God, and there is nothing contrary to that. God is the cause of the virtues; and a living knowledge of God is realized when the person who has truly recognized God changes his inner state so that it conforms more closely to the Spirit.” (St. Maximos the Confessor)

“…each person has an intrinsic value and importance in virtue of his or her unique relationship to God.” (Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald)

“Every act and every word of our Savior is a guide for holiness and virtue. For this reason He became human, so that in images He may depict both holiness and virtue for us…For this reason he bears a body so that we may imitate His life.” (St. Basil the Great)

“The Bible says God is love. This is not a definition of who God is, but rather describes His relationship to us…When we love, we reflect God…The ability both to give and to receive, love is the constant and unending reciprocal exchange of what is ours, one to the other. This is at the heart of our effort, of the Christian life. I hope that love, the eternal virtue, will remain our constant motive, in that "God is love." My prayer is that true love will be both our source and our goal, our means and our end.” (Sacramental Living, Orthodox Study Bible, 1 John 4:7-11, Sdn. Jeremiah Vollman)

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