The Basic Rule of Living a Spiritual Life

A certain brother asked Abba Sisoes: “Counsel me, Father, for I have fallen to sin. What am I to do?”

The Elder said to him: “When you fall, get up again.”

With bitterness the sinning brother continued: “Ah! Father, I got up, yet I fell to the same sin again.”

The Elder, so as not to discourage the brother, answered: “Then get up again and again.”

The young man asked with a certain despondency: “How long can I do that, Father?”

The Elder, giving him courage, said to the brother: “Until the end of your life, whether you be found in the commendable attempt at lifting yourself up from sin or falling again to it. For wherever it is that a man is found at the last moment of his life on earth, whether it be in things good or evil, there he will be judged, going forth either to punishment or to reward.”

– St. Sisoes the Great in The Evergetinos, vol. 1


The Japanese saying 七転八起 (Shichiten Hakki) literally means: Fall down seven times; get up eight. In a flood of troubles, bear up and continue.


“Therefore, don’t despair when you fall, but get up eagerly and do a metanoia saying, ‘Forgive me, my dear Christ. I am human and weak.’ The Lord has not abandoned you. But since you still have a great deal of worldly pride, a great deal of vainglory, our Christ lets you make mistakes and fall, so that you perceive and come to know your weakness every day, so that you become patient with others who make mistakes, and so that you do not judge the brethren when they make mistakes, but rather put up with them.”

— Elder Joseph the Hesychast


“The holy fathers are right in asserting that Christian perfection is achieved through patience. For this, God sends a person external and internal grief, illness, poverty, reproach, contempt from neighbors. And internal sorrows, that is, passions, sometimes serve the same purpose, for they give rise to repentance and the desire to correct their bad temper. The tax collector is above the Pharisee, although covered in the mud of sins.”

— Elder Eli (Nozdrin)


“One ascetic woman was besieged for a long time with unclean thoughts. When the Lord came and cast them away from her, she called to Him: ‘Where were you before now, O my sweet Jesus?’ The Lord answered: ‘I was in your heart.’ She said then: ‘How could that be? For my heart was full of unclean thoughts.’ The Lord said to her: ‘Know that I was in your heart, for you were not disposed to the unclean thoughts, but strove rather to be free of them; and when you were not able to be free, you struggled and grieved. By this you prepared a place for Me in your heart.’”

— St. Ambrose of Optina


“Do not fall into despair because of stumblings. I do not mean that you should not feel contrition for them, but that you should not think them incurable. For it is more expedient to be bruised than dead. There is, indeed, a Healer for the man who has stumbled, even He Who on the Cross asked that mercy be shown to His crucifiers, He Who pardoned His murderers while He hung on the Cross. ‘All manner of sin,’ He said, ‘and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,’ that is, through repentance. For a brief moment of mourning he pardoned Simon who had denied Him, and after His resurrection He commanded him to become the head of His flock. Three times He asked him, ‘Lovest thou Me?’ on account of his threefold denial of Him, so as to confirm his pardon. Christ came in behalf of sinners, to heal the broken of heart and to bandage their wounds.”

— St. Isaac of Syria, Homily 64


“I have consciousness of my sinfulness, but I live with hope. It is bad to despair, because someone who despairs becomes embittered and loses his willingness and strength. Someone who has hope, on the contrary, advances forward.”

— Saint Porphyrios

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The Editor of the Catalog of Good Deeds.

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