Monastic Wisdom

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Monastic Wisdom: the letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast  
Author(s) Elder Joseph the Hesychast
Country United States
Language English translation of Greek original
Subject(s) Christianity
Genre(s) Hesychasm
Publisher St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery
Publication date 2016
Pages 421
ISBN 9780966700008
OCLC Number 48092045

Monastic Wisdom: the letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast is a book that collects 81 letters, as well as a longer epistle, of St. Joseph the Hesychast that were composed at Mount Athos.

Front matter

  • Preface by Archimandrite Ephraim (Former Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou on the Holy Mountain)
  • Prolegomena by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos

Part One

Part One
Letters to Monastics and Laymen
  1. To a youth asking about “the prayer”
  2. To the same person about the prayer, and a reply to questions.
  3. To a monk entering the arena of combat.
  4. My child, if you pay attention to everything I write to you…
  5. Do not clothe yourself only with leaves.
  6. You write about anger in the heart of a fool.
  7. Listen to something that happened to me.
  8. Will you not endure everything for My love?
  9. The Creator breathed into you and gave you a living spirit.
  10. Grace always precedes temptations as a warning to prepare.
  11. I found many of the Fathers in “praxis” and “theoria.”
  12. Thus the nous becomes all light, all clarity.
  13. The grace of God doesn’t depend on one’s years.
  14. Truly great is the mystery of obedience.
  15. “So, you won’t listen to me and go back?”
  16. When you are ascending Golgotha, it is impossible not to fall.
  17. During temptations, do not desert your bastion.
  18. Once again I rose and waged war against all the spirits.
  19. Always do a metanoia when you are wrong and don’t lose time.
  20. Don’t despair! These things happen to everyone.
  21. A sin, whether small or great, is blotted out through true repentance.
  22. So, you don’t want to suffer? Then don’t expect to ascend.
  23. The cane is the remedy for every passion.
  24. That night God showed me Satan’s wickedness.
  25. The senses cease, and the one praying is caught up into theoria.
  26. My sister in the Lord, most pious Abbess.
  27. I am struggling for God. I don’t care what people say.
  28. To a nun about to receive the holy and angelic schema.
  29. Blessed is God Who raises mortals still in the body to the way of life of the bodiless angels.
  30. Without it being the Lord’s will, we neither get sick nor die.
  31. Henceforth the world has died to you, and you have died to the world.
  32. Faintheartedness is the mother of impatience.
  33. I cannot describe to you how much our Panagia likes chastity and purity.
  34. My child, these changes happen to all of us.
  35. The prayer stops, the bodily members cease to move, and only the nous is in theoria within an extraordinary light.
  36. Circular prayer within the heart has no danger of delusion.
  37. Out of my love for you and for the benefit of your souls, I am going to sketch out my life for you.
  38. My beloved Mother and all my brothers, relatives, and friends.
  39. My beloved sister, rejoice in the Lord.
  40. God always helps. He always comes in time, but patience is necessary.
  41. The springtime is at hand—the winter of sorrows is dissolving little by little.
  42. This, my sister, is the art of arts and the science of sciences.
  43. Truly, I know a brother who fell into ecstasy while sitting under a full moon.
  44. Be careful, my good little daughter, for you have already grown up now and thoughts begin to change.
  45. Greetings in the Lord, my dearly beloved son.
  46. This world, my child, is so vain.
  47. But we here have chosen the heavenly philosophy…
  48. Listen to my voice, my good son.
  49. My life has passed with pain and illnesses.
  50. Who knows, my child, the judgments of God?
  51. Blessed is he who remembers death day and night and prepares himself to meet it.
  52. Woe to me, the lowly wretch! What account shall I give on Judgment Day?
  53. Oh, my child! A person is never entirely bad.
  54. Living in the wilderness has its own struggles, whereas living in the world has many other different kinds of struggles.
  55. Teach them all noetic prayer, to say “the prayer” without ceasing.
  56. He Who made the ages, and existed before the ages, and in profound silence created the heavenly Powers of the holy angels.
  57. The beautiful rocks theologize like voiceless theologians, as does all of nature.
  58. As the priest was censing…
  59. We shall use plagal of the first tone which is joyous.
  60. Well even now, see to it that you come back.
  61. O vain world! O deceived mankind! You have nothing good in you!
  62. I shall write a little composition for my son…
  63. We do not have a wedding garment. Therefore, we must purify ourselves.
  64. The heart does not tolerate divisions. Thou shalt bow down to thy God alone and Him shalt thou serve.
  65. I beg you to cast the grief away from your soul.
  66. When a person confesses, his soul is cleansed and becomes like a brilliant diamond.
  67. This shows that your life is pleasing to God.
  68. If you don’t give up sinning, whatever you do will go to waste.
  69. Do not doubt that it is time for you to wear the holy schema.
  70. The beginning and end of every good thing is Christ.
  71. Make a good beginning so that the end may be good.
  72. Everything must be accompanied by perpetual, unceasing noetic prayer.
  73. Christ is very merciful and does not seek much from you.
  74. The more you love, the more you are loved.
  75. Put in your hundred mites, and I shall put in my thousand gold florins.
  76. Just be careful and apprehensive; flee from sin.
  77. If you read lives of saints and toil a little at night…
  78. Without struggling very hard, you can quickly reach great heights.
  79. All the yearning of the soul should absorb God.
  80. Once you love God, then you will also love your neighbor as yourself.
  81. I will not leave. I shall fall asleep here with my Fathers.

Part Two

Part 2
An Epistle to a Hesychast Hermit
  • Prologue
    • My beloved child in the Lord. Greetings, and may the grace of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be upon your soul. Amen.
  • Chapter I
    • On the monastic order and lifestyle; namely, how to pass a twenty-four-hour day.
  • Chapter II
    • Answers to questions of the same person.
  • Chapter III
    • On the spiritual work of the intellect, and how we must think.
  • Chapter IV
    • On caution. Namely, how to wrestle with the thought of arrogance when divine aid comes.
  • Chapter V
    • On how divine Grace comes, and how it is distinguished from delusion, and about the short path.
  • Chapter VI
    • On how such strugglers fall into delusions when they have no guide, and what the remedy for their cure is.
  • Chapter VII
    • On how divine Grace returns after it trains us well.
  • Chapter VIII
    • On another delusion.
  • Chapter IX
    • On a different aspect of the same delusion.
  • Chapter X
    • On the double warfare of the demons and how they fight skillfully against strugglers.
  • Chapter XI
    • On the three states of nature that man ascends and descends: according to nature, contrary to nature, and above nature. And on the three modes of divine Grace by which it acts when human nature is constrained, namely: purifying, illuminating, and perfecting grace.
  • Chapter XII
    • On love.
  • Epilogue


  • Elder Joseph the Hesychast (2016). Monastic Wisdom: the letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Florence, Arizona: St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery. ISBN 9780966700008.