Tuesday, August 7, 2012

St Peter of Damaskos on Self-Restraint


Self-restraint is a sure and unfailing sense of discretion.

It does not permit its possessor to lapse into either licentiousness or obduracy, but safely preserves the blessings reaped through moral judgment while rejecting all that is bad.

At the same time it unites to itself the intelligence and through itself leads the intelligence up toward God. Like a good shepherd it folds the sheep - the divine thoughts - and through refraining from what is harmful it slays licentiousness as if it were a mad dog. It expels stupidity as though it were a fierce wolf, and prevents it from devouring the sheep one by one; but it constantly keeps an eye on such stupidity and reveals it to the intelligence, so that it cannot lie hidden in the moonless dark and infiltrate among our thoughts.

Self-restraint is born of the desiring power of the soul.

Without it, should any good thing come to pass, it cannot be preserved; for without self-restraint the soul’s three powers are carried either upward towards licentiousness or downwards towards stupidity.

And I do not mean only the licentiousness involved in gluttony and unchastity, but that involved in every passion and thought not deliberately nurtured in a manner that accords with God’s will.

For self-restraint disciplines all things and bridles the mindless impulses of soul and body, directing them towards God: to whom be glory throughout the ages. Amen.

St Peter of Damaskos

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