St. Nikephoros the Monk, On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart
St. Nikephoros the Monk
St Nikephoros the Hesychast is known to us from the life of St Gregory Palamas. The saint was a convert from Roman Catholicism, and opposed the false-union policies of Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologos in the 13th century. St. Nikephoros settled on Mt. Athos, and became renowned for writing On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart. This beautiful text is usually the first text recommended to beginners when setting off to read the Philokalia. It is an anthology of quotations from earlier holy fathers, such as Sts Anthony and Macarius the Great, St John of Sinai, and St Symeon the New Theologian. St. Nikephoros calls upon the aspirant to take custody of his mind, and seek to unite the mind with the heart by the use of the Jesus Prayer. By this, St. Nikephoros affirms, all the other virtues will arise.