By pious Nicodemus the Athonite
For this is required practice, which is the third thing that should be accomplished first with the mind and will. We have to protect our mind against ignorance, which is opposed to it , because it darkens it and impedes it from the knowledge of truth, which is its goal. That is why it is necessary to exercise it so that it becomes enlightened and pure and able to distinguish well what we need to purify our souls of passions and to adorn it with virtues.
We can acquire this brightness of mind in two ways. The first and the most useful is prayer, by means of which we ask the Holy Spirit to favour us by pouring his divine light within our hearts, thing which He will do if we truly seek God alone, if we do His holy will and if we subject all our deeds and thoughts to the judgment of our experienced spiritual fathers.
The second way is a permanent practice of a profound meditation and examination of things in order to know by means of this which are the good ones and which are the bad ones. Not as they are wrongly judged by senses and by the world but as they are judged by the right word and the Holy Spirit, meaning the truth of the Scriptures inspired by God and that of the wise spiritual fathers and teachers of our Church.
When this meditation and examination are made correctly and as it is required, they help us realize that we must consider as vain and false things all those that are loved and sought by the blind and rotten world. Meaning the pleasures, honors, the richness of the world which are nothing else than futility and death of soul. And the insults and dishonors brought to us by the world become reasons of true glory and the sorrows causes of joy. To forgive our enemies and do them good means magnanimity of soul and one of the greatest attributes of God. Since it is better for someone to despise the whole world than be its lord.
Joyful obedience is a nobler and braver deed than the great emperors’ acts of subjection and command.
The humble knowledge of our soul it is right to be considered more valuable than any other kind of knowledge. Since to defeat and kill our wills and cravings, no matter how small they might be, it is more worthy of praise than to conquer many citadels, to make some powerful armies run away or to perform miracles and revive the dead.