top of page

Latest Thoughts

Recent Blogs

Inner/Outer Life

“Inner watchfulness is a primary element of our life in Christ, and far more important than following outward events. Our Lord makes this abundantly clear when He says that His second advent will be apparent to all. Our foremost need, then, is to keep watch over ourselves all the time…Interior watchfulness is the key to purification.” (Dynamis 8/21/2020)

“There is a deep connection between God and the self within Christian understanding. Obviously, they are not the same thing, but we do not know one without the other. It is possible to say that we only know God to the extent that we know ourselves and that we only know ourselves to the extent that we know God. To know yourself is an inner activity, made particularly difficult in an outer-directed culture. Though we live in the age of the “selfie,” we are, nonetheless, an age that is distracted from the true knowledge of the self. The “selfie” has nothing to do with self-knowledge and everything to do with an objectification of the self – how I would like myself to look if I were someone else. What the selfie never shows is how we truly perceive ourselves.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“I thought I was fleeing myself, but—woe is me!–I brought myself with me…” If we do not change in our inner hearts, we will discover that in every situation we see the world exactly as we saw it before and so nothing can change. Change, metanoia, repentance is needed within us if we want to see the world from a new perspective or even if we want to see the new creation.” (Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“Rather than judging others, however, let me guard my own inner life and outward behavior, ensuring they are in line with the teachings of my Lord and Savior. Let me continually remove the “plank” from my own eye before I call out the “speck” in another person’s eye (Matt. 7:3–5). Let me behave in a way that enlivens the Holy Spirit within my being, and by measuring the “fruit of the Spirit” growing within me (see Gal. 5:22), I will know whether or not I am on the correct moral path.” (Archpriest Steven John Belonick)

“When we declare ourselves to be disciples of Christ, we claim that we want Him to cure our spiritual and moral disease. Yet in truth we want Him to relieve the symptoms, such as misery, discontent, despair, and so on. Jesus, by contrast, knows that He cannot relieve these symptoms unless He overcomes their deep, inner cause. And this is where the problems arise. While we would like to be rid of the symptoms, we stubbornly resist the efforts of Jesus to penetrate our souls. We do not want our deep-set feelings and attitudes to be changed. But only when we truly open our souls to the transforming grace of God will the symptoms of spiritual disease begin to disappear.” (St. John Chrysostom)

“What then is the source of contention in human society? The apostle’s penetrating insight discloses that the cause is found in the “desires for pleasure” (James 4:1). But the term that this phrase translates has a broader meaning than this phrase suggests. It refers to sensual gratifications, that is, insatiable lusts (vs. 1). James says that these passions “war in your members” (vs. 4:1). He does not mean that the cravings set different parts of the body against each other. Rather the passions tear up our psyches with internal conflict as they compete with one another. Outer conflict, therefore, begins with inner turmoil. Humans project the warfare within by making war on the world around them…the struggle with the passions is internal. But it has external consequences for how we live in this world. The Lord’s call for us to be peacemakers is one of many motives for us to redouble our spiritual labor in the Spirit in order to overcome the passions. It is a good reason to replace the worldly desires with the heavenly virtues that are the characteristics of peacemakers.” (Fr. Basil)

“…peace and well-being are the results of our internal disposition…Saint John Chrysostom expressed this insight when he observed that “it is certainly not in the nature of things, but in the will of man, that our happiness naturally resides.” (Robin Phillips)

“…life is filled with finger-pointing because we are still looking out on the world and acting out of the darkness of our inner demons. No wonder we have always had divisions. But we cannot resign ourselves to that. As Jesus says (quoted by Abraham Lincoln in a famous speech), “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand…”( Matt 12:25). With God’s grace we can “bind the strong man” (Matt 12:29), and begin looking out onto the world and each other with the eyes of God’s light.” (Fr. John Jillions)

“In those whose hearts are pure, the internal conflict that tears the soul apart is resolved. The pure are at peace with themselves and others. Moreover, peacemakers are gentle because they do not need to force their will on others. And they are “willing to yield” since they do not have to insist on their own way. The way of peacemakers is one of mercy, not judgment. That is, their method is kindness that opens the hearts of others. They have a single purpose and motive. Therefore, they show no partiality which would favor one person or interest against the other. But they strive only for the goals of goodwill and concord between everyone. And in all they say and do, they are genuine and sincere without hypocrisy.” (Fr. Basil)

“The peace we are to pursue is not simply an end to quarreling and strife, nor does it mean pleasant inner quiet for the individual. Saint Paul calls us to embrace the well-being of every spiritual and social relationship that flourishes within the Body of Christ, whether it involves God or our fellow members…Saint Paul says that the Lord’s servants must not be quarrelsome (2 Timothy 2:24), and Saint James tells us that the wisdom which is from above and which must inspire us is pure and peaceable, gentle, open to reason, and full of mercy. It is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:17-18). A warlike Christian is almost a contradiction in terms.” (Dynamis 2/21/2015, Fr. Lawrence Farley)

“Sin works in the soul and heart, but most terribly in the mind (Romans 1:28) or nous, which is the center or eye of the heart according to the Church Fathers. Sin corrupts and distorts the governing of our being at the very core so that our inward faculties become deranged. If we allow sin to rage freely, we risk become fully debased. As this inward struggle unfolds, it leads us to physical acts of the flesh. Sin always begins inside us, within our interior life; only secondarily does it manifest as physical action.” (Dynamis 7/6/2021)

“It is easy to fall into the devil’s trap of spiritual stagnation. In this lethargy of the spirit,  we do not see beneath the surface of our souls. We think that we can rest in the false assurance of our salvation and enjoy a cozy relationship with God. But in today’s reading of Romans 7:14-8:2, we may be surprised at Paul’s description of his inner conflict. He writes, “I delight in the law of God according to the inward man, but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind” (OSB vs. 22-23). Today we learn to look beneath the complacency of our hearts to the true state of our souls and the inner struggle that we are called to wage…Until we reach the end of our life on earth, our “ultimate concern” must be the condition of our soul….Therefore, if we are to grow in faith, we…must come to terms with the inner struggle within us. Our inner sight will prove that we need the Holy Spirit to stir up our hearts against the stagnation of our souls.” (Fr. Basil)

“…the truth of our inner life is that it is often marred by toxic shame. Even experiences of mild, healthy, shame can trigger a storm of toxic shame when that is a dominant part of your inner world. This reality is made more complex by the fact that the experience of shame is so painful that it is generally morphed into other, less painful emotions (most commonly, anger or sadness), meaning that we live unaware that the pain of our life is actually rooted in shame. The result is a culture (and a Church) filled with people who are often clueless about the true nature of their inner life. That which is broken within us (or which functions in a broken manner) is often too toxic to touch. It colors our perception of the world around us, as well as our perception of ourselves and God. When this is translated into a growing culture of wounded anger, the result is predictably disastrous.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Our secular culture offers a myriad of opportunities to do harm to yourself. And each way destroys some faculty of your mind, and then corrupts your soul. On the other hand, when you come to appreciate the gift God has given you in Christ, you will enjoy entering into the inner temple, for there only will you discover true peace. If you have no inner peace, you will do anything but listen to the sweet silence of your heart. You will search for any distraction that will set you free from your inner self: TV, cell phones, noise, parties, anybody who will enslave you and tell you it’s the only way to enjoy life. And of course you will do anything rather than to pray, because prayer will only remind you how far you are from the Lord of love.” (Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky)

“There is no conflict between transcendence and immanence, but there can be a distinct difference in emphasis. God is transcendent, beyond our wildest dreams. He is making zebras and mosquitoes. He is giving us breath and focusing the retinas of our eyes. Yet He is so immanent, so small, that He “fits” inside the Eucharist. Heaven is earth transformed by love when we live the life of love; the suffering of earth is transformed into a foretaste of heaven when we move guided by the inner center of love.” (Albert S. Rossi, PhD)

“The spirit of Christianity is a spirit of ‘internalization’…Only internal spiritual experience leads to cognition of God.” (Ivan Ilyin, A. Calmet)

“It is another thing to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...[but there is a] difference between having something be true of you in principle and fully appropriating it, using it, and living in it—in your “inner being” (Eph 3:16) or “in your heart” (v. 17).” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“The Lord looks at the inner depth of the heart, at what the heart longs for and what it desires. And if He sees that a soul cannot come home, the Lord will, in His own time, cleanse it and draw it to the center, and the soul will find peace. However, if in the innermost part of the heart there is something unclean, something that is attracted to this world and is bound to it, then our wandering will last a long time and we will endure much sorrow and suffering.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“The Lord takes from His disciples all food for vanity. He wants the altar of the heart to be purified of that vile idol, and from everything that applies to such idol worship. The Lord commands us to do all of our good deeds in secret. Even almsgiving and fasting must be done in secret! Even our prayer must be spoken in the inner room of our heart. Our good deeds not only must be hidden from people, but from our own selves; so that their praises may not wither our soul, and that our heart itself may not praise us — becoming an adulterer with vanity, instead of a faithful spouse of humility.” (St. Ignatii Brianchaninov)

“Laws and rules do not necessarily provide for inner formation but only tell us what to do, how to behave, and what proper actions to take. As impersonal instructions, they are subject to interpretation, evasion, and infraction…we must turn within and address our inward life in order to purify the state of heart and soul. The whole of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) is concerned with this very need.” (Dynamis 5/16/2019)

"Inner watchfulness is a primary element of our life in Christ, and far more important than following outward events. Our Lord makes this abundantly clear when He says that His second advent will be apparent to all. Our foremost need, then, is to keep watch over ourselves all the time.” (OCPM 8/18/2017)

“As for outward works they are ordained for this purpose that the outward man may be directed to God. But the inner work, the work of God in the soul, is the chief matter.” (Meister Eckhart)

“If wrong actions occur, it means that our inner state is wrong; and it is this inner state which determines our worth before God…There is no benefit in researching the whole world, if you haven’t researched your inner world…” (Unseen Warfare, Papa Demetri)

“When we admit to God the inner desires and temptations raging within us, we learn to heed only His voice.” (OCPM 10/8/2016)

“…we must do continual inner work on ourselves first before we are ready to preach and teach the truth of God…we should always be continually working on ourselves spiritually to grow in God’s likeness revealed to us in Christ. God will provide us with opportunities as we grow to help others.” (Sacramental Living)

“The word for heart in the original [Biblical text] is nous, an inclusive term for the interior life that often refers to the innermost center of our heart or spirit…Our nous is a place deep within us: a quiet, inner temple where we may encounter God. Yet before such a meeting can take place, we must turn our heart, mind and will solely to the Christ, without distraction or false remembrance.” (OCPM 1/22/2016, 12/19/2015)

“Let us attend from the heart to what the Lord is saying and open our inner eye to the deeper spiritual levels of existence... If we become deadened by routine and by the constant enjoyment of life’s good things, we may find that we lack all interior blessing.” (Dynamis 10/16/2013)

“…God is preparing us through our daily efforts for a great inner conquest…External circumstances can never serve as excuses for the deficiencies in our interior life.” (OCPM 2/11/20126, Elder Sergei of Vanves)

“It is another thing to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...[but there is a] difference between having something be true of you in principle and fully appropriating it, using it, and living in it—in your “inner being” (Eph 3:16) or “in your heart” (v. 17).” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“Many of us do not seek Christ or seek Him secondarily after we put our energies in other areas first. We tend to feed our minds with thoughts of gain, entertainment, pleasures and other things either in lieu of Him or before Him. But He tells us to seek first Him and His kingdom and all of the things we desire will be given to us (Matthew 6:33). This is not the prosperity gospel guaranteeing riches but rather a message to us that if we seek Him and wisdom first, our earthly life will be one of inner peace and joy, and that our needs will be met.” (Sacramental Living)


Quote of the Day


bottom of page