...A Place for Personal Communion with Me

Practical Christian Basics

by Joseph Barabbas Theophorus

Single Eyes

Matthew 6:22–23

άπλους means single, simple, and unified

οφθαλμους is a metaphor for the eye of the mind, or νους

πονηρος, the word used for evil, literally means distracted

So let your eye be single, with no distraction!

Nothing should obtrude on the mind: neither face, nor activity, nor object. -St. Theophan the Recluse

Matthew 6:21

Where is your treasure? Or more simply, what is your mind focused on?

The Builder of the world tells you the world will soon fall, and will you not believe it? -St. Augustine

Matthew 6:24

Mammon is Aramaic for "confidence personified"

Do you talk about your abilities, ideas, and opinions, or do you talk about God?

But if this is shocking, its taking place in our deeds…is much more shocking. -St. John Chrysostom

1 Maccabees 2:20–22

No compromise, large or small, even in the face of death.

Let all your life, all your works, all your thoughts, and all your desires be founded upon truth. -St. John of Kronstadt

A Look at Life

St. John Cassian and the Eight Vices

Gluttony (Overindulgence)

Causes: Lack of self-control, giving into desires

Cures: Fast, deny oneself

A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while still hungry. -St. John Cassian

Fornication (Lusts of the Flesh)

Causes: The flesh itself, sometimes even innocent thoughts

Cures: Be vigilant, control thoughts and feelings

He who cherishes his stomach and hopes to overcome the spirit of fornication, is like one who tries to put out a fire with oil. -St. John Climacus

Avarice (Covetousness)

Causes: Love of "things", ultimately love of the world

Cures: Die to the world and give it no thought, love God

The presence of the passion of avarice reveals itself when a person enjoys receiving but resents having to give. -St. Maximus the Confessor

Anger (Judgment)

Causes: Judgment of others, selfishness

Cures: Stop judging others, instead judge oneself (see 1 Corinthians 11:31)

Anger is tamed and becomes transformed into benevolence only through courage and mercy. -St. Gregory of Sinai

Dejection (Depression)

Causes: False hope, distraction, worldliness

Cures: Don't place hope in the world or worldly things, have a "single eye"

Prayer is a remedy against grief and depression. -Abba Nilus

Acedia (Weariness)

Causes: High-mindedness, idealism, worrying

Cures: Be obedient, focus on the tasks at hand, control thoughts

[Acedia] is very often one of the branches of talkativeness, and its first child. -St. John Climacus

Vainglory (Spiritual Delusion)

Causes: Feeling of being right or good, wanting praise

Cures: Have a sober mind, judge oneself, attribute things to God

Many have performed truly great labors of virtue, but have ruined themselves through folly. It would not be surprising if the same thing were to happen to you too; if, for example, having cooled towards active work, you begin to imagine that you already possess virtues. For there you have already fallen into that devilish disease (high opinion of yourself), thinking that you are close to God and are in the light, whereas in actual fact you are in darkness. -St. Anthony the Great

Pride (Love of Self)

Causes: Idolatry of self, sometimes the mere acknowledgement of self

Cures: Die to self and do nothing it desires, be humble, love others

A man who is deeply wounded in his heart by provocation and abuse shows thereby that deep in himself he harbors the old serpent. If he bears the blows in silence or answers with great humility, he will render this serpent weak and powerless (or will kill it altogether). But if he argues with bitterness or speaks with arrogance he will give the serpent an added strength to pour poison into his heart. -St. Symeon the New Theologian

A proud [person] has no need of a devil; he has become a devil and enemy to himself. -St. John Climacus

The Most Excellent Way

Why should we love?

1 John 4:19

1 John 4:8, 16

The main name of our God is love…Just as we love our God, let us also love our brother. -St. Kosmas Aitolos

What is love?

1 Corinthians 13:4–7

He who has no love cannot be called a Christian…The whole Gospel is summarized in compassion. And this secures immortality and eternal life to man. -Fr. Justin Popvitch


Every work which does not have love as its beginning and root, is nothing. -St. John Chrysostom


This is a lesson plan/outline covering some of the most basic aspects of the Orthodox Christian life, with an emphasis on communicating to an almost entirely evangelical Protestant audience. It came about during my time in a multi-denominational Bible study group I attended while living in Colorado, United States, when I was asked to give an entire lesson by myself. Since I was very new to Orthodoxy and because my audience was not Orthodox, I didn't want to tackle anything too deep or controversial. So, I settled on the basics of the practical life in Orthodoxy, something that I could already relate to and which my hearers would find challenging but not completely unfamiliar. I've kept it for similar reasons. It's also a good example of my early post-baptism/chrismation Orthodox life.


I wrote this lesson plan/outline in July, 2006 and have not modified its content since then, with the exception of standardizing my name at the top of the work.

I created this metadata on October 1, 2011 and last modified it on January 7, 2013.

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