13 saint quotes describing Christianity as an ascetical faith

1) St. Moses the black (-405)

To live with Jesus you need – struggle, humility and unceasing prayer. These are your tools for the hard road ahead.


2) St Paisios of Mt Athos (-1994)

Struggle with all your power to gain Paradise. And do not listen to those say that everyone will be saved. This is a trap of Satan so that we won’t struggle.


3) St John of Kronstadt (-1909)

If we do not daily strive to conquer the passions, which fight against us, and to gain the Kingdom of God in our heart, then the passions will tyrannically, forcibly take possession of us, will invade our soul like robbers; our attachments to earthly things will increase in proportion as our faith in heavenly blessings and love for God and our neighbour will also grow weaker and weaker; we shall enjoy rest of conscience and peace of heart more and more seldom. We must struggle in the matter of the salvation of the soul, which is more precious than anything in the world; we must count everything earthly as dross, or as a phantom, a vision, and everything heavenly, above all, the Lord Himself, as truth itself, eternal, most-blessed, and unchangeable.


4) St Nektarios of Aegina (-1920)

Christians, have we understood the great responsibility that we have taken on before God through baptism? Have we come to know that we must conduct ourselves as children of God, that we must align our will with the will of God, that we must remain free from sin, that we must love God with all our hearts and always patiently await union with Him? Have we thought about the fact that our heart should be so filled with love that it should overflow to our neighbor? Do we have the feeling that we must become holy and perfect, children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven? We must struggle for this, so that we may not be shown unworthy and rejected. Let none of us lose our boldness, nor neglect our duties, nor be afraid of the difficulties of spiritual struggle. For we have God as a helper, who strengthens us in the difficult path of virtue.


5) St Theophan the Recluse (-1894)

Of course, you need labor and effort, both mental and from the heart. Do not spare yourself. If you do, you will ruin yourself. Do not spare yourself, and you will have salvation. Abandon a certain wrongful activity that often strikes and afflicts almost everyone: That is, the fact that we spare no labor on any matter except when it comes to that of salvation. We want to think that we have only to contemplate salvation and desire it, and everything is all set. That is not how it happens in reality. The matter of salvation is the most important thing. Consequently it is the most difficult. This is by virtue of its importance and by the labor required. Labor then, for the Lord’s sake! Very soon you will see the fruit. If you do not set to work, however, you will be left without anything and be unworthy. Deliver us, Lord, from this!


6) St Paisios of Mt Athos (-1994)

The soft life makes people useless. Without toil and struggle, sanctification won’t come.


7) St Joseph of Optina (-1891)

The kingdom of heaven is not granted to those who lie in bed. But to those who labour and endure sorrows.


8) St John of Kronstadt (-1909)

People say that if you feel no inclination to pray, it is better not to pray; but this is crafty, carnal sophistry. If you only pray when you are inclined to, you will completely cease praying; this is what the flesh desires. ‘The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence’ (Matt 11:12). You will not be able to work out your salvation without forcing yourself.


9) St Theophan the Recluse (-1894)

There have been people who attained salvation by humility alone, without ascetic endeavors. But without humility no one has ever been saved or ever will be saved.


10) St Philaret of Moscow (-1867)

Every Christian should find for himself the imperative and incentive to become holy. If you live without struggle and without hope of becoming holy, then you are Christians only in name and not in essence. But without holiness, no one shall see the Lord, that is to say they will not attain eternal blessedness. It is a trustworthy saying that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (I Tim. 1:15). But we deceive ourselves if we think that we are saved while remaining sinners. Christ saves those sinners by giving them the means to become saints.


11) St Poryphios (-1991)

Nobody can become a Christian by being lazy. It needs work, lots of work.


12) St Justin Popovich (-1974)

The ascetics are Orthodoxy’s only missionaries. Asceticism is her only missionary school. Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about. The development of asceticism…this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people. The parish must become an ascetic focal point. But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest. Prayer and fasting, the Church-oriented life of the parish, a life of liturgy: Orthodoxy holds these as the primary ways of effecting rebirth in its people.


13) Mother Erini (-2006)

Everyone had a place in heaven depending on their struggle – “one star differs from another star in glory” (2 Cor. 15:41). The greater the struggle, the more greener and flowers the place of the saint had. But all places in heaven inspire joy and whoever entered them would feel peace, quietude and assurance and the Lord Jesus Christ was seen by all.