St Mark the Ascetic / Hermit

5th century monk



On Those who Think They Are Made Righteous by Works

"Ample room in the heart denotes hope in God; congestion denotes bodily care.

The grace of the Spirit is one and unchanging, but energizes in each one of us as He wills (cf. 1 Cor 12:11).  When rain falls upon the earth, it gives life to the quality inherent in each plant: sweetness in the sweet, astringency in the astringent."


"Similarly, when grace falls upon the hearts of the faithful, it gives to each the energies appropriate to the different virtues without itself changing."


"To him who hungers after Christ grace is food; to him who is thirsty, a reviving drink; to him who is cold, a garment; to him who is weary, rest; to him who prays, assurance; to him who mourns, consolation."


"When you hear Scripture saying of the Holy Spirit that He ‘rested upon each’ of the Apostles (Acts 2:3), or ‘came upon’ the Prophet (1 Sam 11:6), or ‘energizes’ (1 Cor 12:11), or is ‘grieved’ (Eph 4:30), or is ‘quenched’ (1 Thess 5:19), or is ‘vexed’ (Is 63:10), and again, that some ‘have the first fruits’ (Rom 8:23), and that others are ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 2:4), do not suppose that the Spirit is subject to somekind of division, variation or change; but be sure that…He is unvarying, unchanging and all-powerful."


"When the intellect forgets the purpose of true devotion, then external works of virtue bring no profit."




"He who does something good and expects a reward is serving not God but his own will."



"Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into Christ; and it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively observe the commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do good – as far as lies in our power – depends on us."



"Even though knowledge is true, it is still not firmly established if unaccompanied by works. For everything is established by being put into practice."



"Oh how insinuating and imperceptible is the passion of pleasing men: it possesses even the wise! For the effects of other passions are easily seen by those who obey them and so bring those they possess to humility and mourning. But the effort to please men clothes itself in the words and appearance of piety, so that men whom it beguiles find it hard to detect its various aspects."



"When the Scripture says “He will reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the kingdom.  On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but God our Creator and Redeemer."



"Those who, because of the rigour of their own ascetic practice, despise the less zealous, think that they are made righteous by physical works.  But we are even more foolish if we rely on theoretical knowledge and disparage the ignorant.  Even though knowledge is true, it is still not firmly established if unaccompanied by works.  For everything is established by being put into practice."