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Themes from the PHILOKALIA NO 1 - Watchfulness and Prayer

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Archim. Ioannikios Kotsonis

Themes from the Philokalia 1

Watchfulness and Prayer

THEMES FROM THE PHILOKALIA will comprise a series of separate volumes readily accessible and easy to comprehend. We present here the first volume in the series, titled “Watchfulness and Prayer”.


Size: 14Χ21


“The study of divine principles teaches knowledge of God to the person who lives in truth, longing and reverence”1. “Knock, and it will be opened to you”2. The pious study of the Sacred Scriptures leads to opening the door of divine knowledge, to revelation of ineffable mysteries, to a purified heart burning with heavenly longing and divine eros for the kingdom of God and eternal life: “This is eternal life, that they know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent”3.

In the contemporary rabble of human opinions and false knowledge, in the flood of human words and philosophies, “blessed is the man who… on the law of the Lord… meditates day and night”4.

The Philokalia is a true “neptic” encyclopedia, i.e., an encyclopedia of watchfulness, study and commentary of Holy Scripture, and of the Mystical Orthodox Tradition; it is a philosophy of action in Christ the God-Man; it is the road leading man to his divine destiny, to deification by grace, and to contemplation through asceticism; it is a collection of powerful texts, the fruit of Orthodox spirituality. They are offered here in fragments from the classic work, The Philokalia.

Our Orthodox Church is the Church of the Fathers, of watchfulness, of asceticism, of Philokalia. The “neptic” hue of the Philokalia permeates the Church in all its expurely Orthodox colour (like the marvelous Byzantine fresco which has been painted over and covered by a fleshy, rationalistic, European painting of western origin). The THEMES FROM THE PHILOKALIA must uncover it within Holy Scripture, the lives of our saints, the apophthegmata of the ascetis, the texts of the Fathers, our Hymnology, our Liturgy, our contemporary ascetic scene. Besides, the depth of Orthodox life according to the Fathers of the Philokalia is not new: it is very essence of the everlasting, inviolate and unchanging Tradition of our Church.

THEMES FROM THE PHILOKALIA are intended mainly for the average layman. They seek to contribute to the knowledge of the mystical life of our Church to the general public. Especially in our times, the thirst for such a pure fountain becomes stronger in fellow Orthodox as well as in the heterodox and followers of Eastern religions drowning in the sea of an egocentric or demonic mysticism. Only Orthodox mysticism is Life, Grace, Joy, Light, and Truth.

THEMES FROM THE PHILOKALIA will comprise a series of separate volumes readily accessible and easy to comprehend. We present here the first volume in the series, titled “Watchfulness and Prayer”.

It is our hope that spiritual progress in watchfulness, coupled with frequent sacramental and eucharistic life, will help essentially our shepherds and their flock with their spiritual renewal in Christ during these difficult, arid, and unproductive years.

Whatever these THEMES have to say is not the property of the “poor and needy”5 author. Their content is but a loan from the inexhaustible spiritual Treasury of the holy Fathers and from the inheritance they left us, their modern, unwise children; an inheritance which up to now has remained untouched on the dusty shelves of our libraries… They have only this to say, only this message to send:

“…It is full time now for you to wake from sleep”6.
It is time for repentance and joyful mourning.
It is time for Watchfulness and prayer.


  1. St. Thalassios the Libyan, “On Love, Self-control and Life in accordance with the Intellect”, Second Century, No.28, in Philokalia, vol. 2, p. 314.
  2. Mt. 7:7.
  3. Jn. 17:3.
  4. Ps. 1:1-2.
  5. Ps. 37:14, et al.
  6. Rom. 13:11.
Preface 7
Prologue 11
Prologue of the English Edition 13
Watchfulness in Holy Scripture 15
Watchfulness: in Divine Worship 26
Watchfulness: The Basis of Spiritual Life   36
Mental Prayer and our Salvation 44
The Whip of Jesus 50
Jesus: "All Things to All Men" 55
How and How Much to Pray 60
Mental Prayer and the Beatitudes 70
     I. The Beatitude of Humility 73
     II. The Beatitude of Gladsome 75
     III. The Beatitude of Meekness 78
     IV. The Beatitude of hunger and thirst for God   80
     V. The Beatitude of Mercy 81
     VI. The Beatitude of Purity of Heart 83
     VII. The Beatitude of Peace 88
     VIII. The Beatitude of Joy 90
The Cross of Prayer 94
The Fruit of Mental Prayer 97
Mental Prayer and Divine Eros 101

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