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Spiritual precepts

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Spiritual precepts - Spiritual gems. We have currently entered such a period of human existence, wherein salvation is attained exclusively by means of a
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 4, 2003
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      Spiritual precepts -

      Spiritual gems.
      We have currently entered such a period of human existence, wherein
      salvation is attained exclusively by means of a patient endurance of
      sorrows, with faith in God and hope in His mercy. At present no one is able
      to attain salvation by any other means. Only one single path has been left
      for our times: the endurance of sorrows.

      Most people do not understand Christianity. However, some have understood
      it, and have come to realize that the most important thing to do is to
      force oneself to live according to Christ's commandments, to repent one's
      sins and the trespassing of these commandments, to repent always, to
      consider oneself unworthy of the Heavenly Realm, to entreat the Lord for
      mercy with the words of the publican: "Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner."
      Here is my testament to you: repent, consider yourselves sinners just as
      the publican did, entreat God's mercy, and pity each other.

      Abbot Nikon (Vorobyev)

      Some people say: why must we enumerate the names of the living and the
      deceased when praying for them? God, being omniscient, knows these names
      Himself, knows each one's need. But those who say this forget or do not
      understand the importance of prayer, forget that God's justice and mercy
      are obtained by our heartfelt prayer, which the Lord, in accordance with
      His goodness, imputes to the living and the deceased who are mentioned,
      since we are all members of a single Church body. They do not realize that
      the heavenly Church, in its great love, constantly prays to God for us, -
      and specifically mentions before God the names of those people who pray to
      the heavenly denizens - equal measure for equal measure. We commemorate
      them and they commemorate us. And whoever does not commemorate his brethren
      in his prayers, will himself be unworthy of commemoration. Of great
      significance is even a single word of faith and love during prayer. The
      fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

      Saint John of Kronstadt

      Do not be afraid of spiritual struggles and do not try to avoid them:
      wherever struggles are absent, so is virtue; wherever loyalty and love are
      not tested, it is not known whether loyalty and love for the Lord exist.
      Our faith, hope and love are manifested in contrariness, i.e. in difficult
      and dire circumstances, both external and internal: in illness, sorrow,
      need.

      Charity is like a seed; if you wish it to bear fruit a hundredfold, turn it
      into a good seed, giving charity simply and from a kind, merciful and
      compassionate heart; and be assured that you are not losing anything by
      giving, but instead are acquiring enormously, if you give charity from a
      kind heart and not for mercenary or selfish reasons. Inasmuch as ye have
      done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto
      Me, your Lord (Matt. 25:40).

      A person's thoughts have a very strong effect on the state and inclination
      of his heart and actions; therefore, in order for the heart to be pure,
      good and tranquil, and the inclination of the will to be good and pious,
      one must cleanse one's thoughts through prayer, the reading of the Holy
      Scriptures and the works of the Holy Fathers, musing upon the quick passing
      and decay of earthly pleasures.

      From the spiritual diary of St. John of Kronstadt, "My Life in Christ"


      Silence is golden.
      "For every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof
      in the day of judgment" (Matt. 12:36).
      In the snowy mountains of Switzerland there are regions where the guides
      warn travelers not to utter a single word, because the slightest vibration
      of air can cause the overhanging snow to move and create an avalanche,
      carrying everything along with it into the abyss. Who would think that one
      word could have such terrible consequences? However, the moral effect of
      our words is far greater. The thoughtless words which we so often and so
      easily throw to the winds can affect events for centuries, and the great
      day of judgment will reveal the terrible consequences of our words.

      On that day we will answer "for every idle word." Is it not awful to think
      of the multitude of words which we have uttered and which will confront us
      with implacable clarity? "Idle words" are those which spring from an idle
      life, they are words which are unnecessary, thoughtless, often harmful.
      Such empty words, passing in idleness from mouth to mouth, often blacken a
      person's moral character, inflict wounds, gloat over the misfortune of
      others, and from idle become cruel. "Idle words" also include talk which
      intrudes into the privacy of family life, which under the guise of a flat
      joke or inappropriate remark can shake the foundation of a family's
      happiness.

      One can never be careful enough in the use of words. May our words be
      truthful, plain and sincere, may they be good-natured and loving. "May your
      word always be with grace," says Apostle Paul. The thought of God's
      judgment should serve to curb our tongue. We would speak with greater
      wisdom if we would constantly remember that our words are heard in heaven,
      and that they will serve to either acquit us or condemn us on the final
      day. How sacred, how pure, how truth-ful would be each word we utter if we
      would remember that one of the appellations of Jesus Christ Himself was ?
      "the Word."

      From "Day by day" ? a book of spiritual reflections.



      The grace of the Holy Spirit
      Many people think the saints are far away from us. But they are far away
      only from those who have distanced themselves, and very near to those who
      keep Christ's commandments and who possess the grace of the Holy Spirit. In
      heaven everything lives and breathes by the Holy Spirit. But on earth there
      is the same Holy Spirit. He lives in our Church; He lives in the
      sacraments; He is to be found in the Holy Scriptures; He is in the souls of
      the faithful. The Holy Spirit brings everyone together, and therefore the
      saints are close to us, and when we pray to them ? they hear our prayers
      through the Holy Spirit, and our souls feel that they are praying for us.

      God can be known only through the Holy Spirit, and the one who, in his
      pride, wishes to know the Creator through his mind ? is blind and foolish.
      With the mind we cannot even understand how the sun was made, and when we
      ask God to tell us how He made the sun, the reply is clear: "Humble
      yourself, and you will know not only the sun, but also its Creator."

      Venerable Siluan the Athonite


      The mirror of the Gospel
      I gaze at eternity: all that is temporal is trivial, vain, insignificant. I
      love solitude: in this state one can gaze at eternity more intently,
      observe what is needed, and prepare this needful thing in advance, before
      the soul departs from the body. I am attracted to the Gospel. My gaze is
      overwhelmed by the traits of God's image and the nuances of God's likeness
      that are depicted in the Gospel! "Be like unto Me," ? the Lord says to
      mankind, and in order for men to absorb this wondrous likeness more easily
      ? God became incarnate. What ineffable beauty in this new Adam, our Lord
      Jesus Christ! And what ugliness in myself, what disorder! How many stains
      there are upon me! This is how I see myself when I look into the mirror of
      the Gospel.

      Saint Ignaty (Bryanchaninov)


      St. Pimen the Great
      A brother asked Abba Pimen: "What constitutes repentance of sin?" The elder
      replied: "Never to commit this sin again. The sinless and the righteous are
      so called because they have rejected their sins and have become righteous."

      Abba Pimen said: "Man has constant need of humility, spiritual wisdom and
      the fear of God, just as he needs the air that he breathes through his
      nostrils."

      Abba Pimen said: "If man reaches the state of which the Apostle said: for
      the pure one everything is pure, he will see himself the worst of all
      creation." A brother said to him: "How can I consider myself to be worse
      than murderers?" The elder replied: "If a man reaches the spiritual state
      indicated by the Apostle, and sees another man who had committed murder, he
      will say to himself: that man committed the sin only once, while I kill
      myself and others with my sins daily!"


      Our protectors.
      If tomorrow you had to go to court in order to appear before a strict
      judge, I think today you would take great care to prepare a good defense,
      and would immediately try to find defenders and protectors who would
      intercede on your behalf. And yet soon the mighty judge Jesus Christ will
      arrive for His judgment, together with a host of angels and archangels. If
      we do not now find protectors for ourselves, who will defend us then? We
      have the holy martyrs to defend and help us, they are always ready to come
      to our aid and intercede on our behalf. Call upon them now, appeal to them
      for help. The Lord will accept their intercession, because although He is a
      righteous judge, at the same time He is long-suffering and ever-merciful.

      Saint Gregory the Theologian.


      The holy fathers on angels.
      It is our duty to venerate the angels: they, glorifying the Creator, reveal
      His charity and goodwill towards men.

      St. John Chrysostome.

      After the Trinity come the invisible shining Angels. They move freely
      around the great throne - quick minds, flames and divine spirits - and
      faithfully serve the high commands of God. They are one in spirit and alike
      among themselves: one essence, one mind, one love - around the mighty King
      God.

      St. Gregory the Theologian.

      Angels, being servants of love and peace, rejoice in our repentance and
      attainment of virtues, try to fill us with spiritual contemplation and aid
      us in the doing of good.

      St. Theodore of Ephesus.

      The difficult easy path.
      For people who are just beginning to love piety, the path of virtue seems
      severe and fearful. And that is not because it is so in essence, but
      because such people have become used from childhood to live in pleasure and
      with total abandonment. For the one who has already lived a goodly portion
      of his life in piety, the path of virtue appears benevolent and joyful.
      That is because when we suppress our evil intentions with good habits, then
      our passion for pleasures of the flesh begins to disappear simultaneously.
      Afterwards the soul willingly follows the path of righteousness. For this
      reason the Lord, calling upon us to begin working on our salvation, says
      that strait and narrow is the way that leads unto life, and few are those
      who follow it (Matt. 7:14). To those who earnestly wish to live in
      accordance with His holy commandments He says: My yoke is easy and My
      burden is light (Matt. 11:30)

      Blessed Diodochus, Bishop of Photika.


      The crowning virtue.
      Treat your brethren with joy and affection. Love them. Serve them: they are
      precious - the Saviour's blood has been spilt for them, they are members of
      Christ. Do not offend them in any way whatsoever.

      Attain salvation by pleasing the Lord God, pleasing Him with all forms of
      love. Make your chief concern the enrichment of yourselves with love.
      Whosoever possesses love - has God within himself.

      Humility has its beginning in the humbleness of our Lord Jesus Christ and
      is the crown and beauty of all virtues. What rain is to parched earth, so
      humility is to the human soul. Humility is a virtue which even the Lord God
      Himself admires: upon whom shall I gaze? - He says, - safe the meek one and
      the humble one, the one in awe of My words.

      With the Lord and for the sake of the Lord all that is difficult is not
      difficult and all that is sorrowful is not sorrowful.

      Elder Ambrose of Optina.


      Love for one's brethren.
      I will not conceal from you the virtue for which the Lord gives His grace.
      I will not write too much, but will only ask you - love each other and you
      shall then see God's grace. Let us love our brethren, and the Lord will
      love us. Do not think, o soul, that the Lord loves you when you glance
      askance at someone. Not at all! It is more likely that the demons love you
      then, since you have become their servant; but hurry up and repent, and ask
      the Lord for strength to love your brother, and you will find peace in your
      soul.


      With all your might ask the Lord for humility and love among yourselves,
      because for love of your brethren the Lord freely give His grace. Test
      yourself: one day ask the Lord to grant you love for your brethren, and the
      next day live without love, and you will see the difference. The spiritual
      fruits of love are clear: peace and joy within the soul, and everyone will
      seem dear to you, and you will shed copious tears for your neighbors and
      for all creation.

      Venerable Siluan the Athonite.

      On inner peace.
      Inner peace is acquired through sorrows. The Scriptures say: We went
      through fire and through water; but Thou has brought us out into a tranquil
      place (Psalm 66:12). For those who wish to please God, the path lies
      through many sorrows. How can we worship the holy martyrs for the suffering
      they endured for the sake of God, when we ourselves are unable to endure
      even a single spark? Thus we must concentrate all our thoughts, wishes and
      actions towards attaining the peace of God. We must do our best to preserve
      this inner peace and not become upset by insults on the part of others; to
      this end we must make a great effort to restrain our anger, and by means of
      attentiveness safeguard our mind and heart from unseemly actions.
      Therefore, we must be totally indifferent to insults from others, and we
      must attain such a disposition whereby these insults would seem to us to
      concern others and not ourselves?

      Saint Seraphim of Sarov.
    • larry most
      GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST - GLORY TO HIM FOREVER Dear Orthodox Synod, Thank you for such a WONDERFUL POST. It takes someone a lot of time and effort to put such
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 6, 2003
      View Source
      • 0 Attachment
        GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST - GLORY TO HIM FOREVER
        Dear Orthodox Synod,
        Thank you for such a WONDERFUL POST. It takes someone a lot of time and effort to put such words of wisdom on the internet, and I would like to tell you how much the effort is appreciated. I look forward to reading them.
        Love in Christ,
        Sub-deacon Lawrence Most (ROCOR)

        byakimov@... wrote:
        Spiritual precepts -

        Spiritual gems.
        We have currently entered such a period of human existence, wherein
        salvation is attained exclusively by means of a patient endurance of
        sorrows, with faith in God and hope in His mercy. At present no one is able
        to attain salvation by any other means. Only one single path has been left
        for our times: the endurance of sorrows.

        Most people do not understand Christianity. However, some have understood
        it, and have come to realize that the most important thing to do is to
        force oneself to live according to Christ's commandments, to repent one's
        sins and the trespassing of these commandments, to repent always, to
        consider oneself unworthy of the Heavenly Realm, to entreat the Lord for
        mercy with the words of the publican: "Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner."
        Here is my testament to you: repent, consider yourselves sinners just as
        the publican did, entreat God's mercy, and pity each other.

        Abbot Nikon (Vorobyev)

        Some people say: why must we enumerate the names of the living and the
        deceased when praying for them? God, being omniscient, knows these names
        Himself, knows each one's need. But those who say this forget or do not
        understand the importance of prayer, forget that God's justice and mercy
        are obtained by our heartfelt prayer, which the Lord, in accordance with
        His goodness, imputes to the living and the deceased who are mentioned,
        since we are all members of a single Church body. They do not realize that
        the heavenly Church, in its great love, constantly prays to God for us, -
        and specifically mentions before God the names of those people who pray to
        the heavenly denizens - equal measure for equal measure. We commemorate
        them and they commemorate us. And whoever does not commemorate his brethren
        in his prayers, will himself be unworthy of commemoration. Of great
        significance is even a single word of faith and love during prayer. The
        fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).

        Saint John of Kronstadt

        Do not be afraid of spiritual struggles and do not try to avoid them:
        wherever struggles are absent, so is virtue; wherever loyalty and love are
        not tested, it is not known whether loyalty and love for the Lord exist.
        Our faith, hope and love are manifested in contrariness, i.e. in difficult
        and dire circumstances, both external and internal: in illness, sorrow,
        need.

        Charity is like a seed; if you wish it to bear fruit a hundredfold, turn it
        into a good seed, giving charity simply and from a kind, merciful and
        compassionate heart; and be assured that you are not losing anything by
        giving, but instead are acquiring enormously, if you give charity from a
        kind heart and not for mercenary or selfish reasons. Inasmuch as ye have
        done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto
        Me, your Lord (Matt. 25:40).

        A person's thoughts have a very strong effect on the state and inclination
        of his heart and actions; therefore, in order for the heart to be pure,
        good and tranquil, and the inclination of the will to be good and pious,
        one must cleanse one's thoughts through prayer, the reading of the Holy
        Scriptures and the works of the Holy Fathers, musing upon the quick passing
        and decay of earthly pleasures.

        From the spiritual diary of St. John of Kronstadt, "My Life in Christ"


        Silence is golden.
        "For every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof
        in the day of judgment" (Matt. 12:36).
        In the snowy mountains of Switzerland there are regions where the guides
        warn travelers not to utter a single word, because the slightest vibration
        of air can cause the overhanging snow to move and create an avalanche,
        carrying everything along with it into the abyss. Who would think that one
        word could have such terrible consequences? However, the moral effect of
        our words is far greater. The thoughtless words which we so often and so
        easily throw to the winds can affect events for centuries, and the great
        day of judgment will reveal the terrible consequences of our words.

        On that day we will answer "for every idle word." Is it not awful to think
        of the multitude of words which we have uttered and which will confront us
        with implacable clarity? "Idle words" are those which spring from an idle
        life, they are words which are unnecessary, thoughtless, often harmful.
        Such empty words, passing in idleness from mouth to mouth, often blacken a
        person's moral character, inflict wounds, gloat over the misfortune of
        others, and from idle become cruel. "Idle words" also include talk which
        intrudes into the privacy of family life, which under the guise of a flat
        joke or inappropriate remark can shake the foundation of a family's
        happiness.

        One can never be careful enough in the use of words. May our words be
        truthful, plain and sincere, may they be good-natured and loving. "May your
        word always be with grace," says Apostle Paul. The thought of God's
        judgment should serve to curb our tongue. We would speak with greater
        wisdom if we would constantly remember that our words are heard in heaven,
        and that they will serve to either acquit us or condemn us on the final
        day. How sacred, how pure, how truth-ful would be each word we utter if we
        would remember that one of the appellations of Jesus Christ Himself was ?
        "the Word."

        From "Day by day" ? a book of spiritual reflections.



        The grace of the Holy Spirit
        Many people think the saints are far away from us. But they are far away
        only from those who have distanced themselves, and very near to those who
        keep Christ's commandments and who possess the grace of the Holy Spirit. In
        heaven everything lives and breathes by the Holy Spirit. But on earth there
        is the same Holy Spirit. He lives in our Church; He lives in the
        sacraments; He is to be found in the Holy Scriptures; He is in the souls of
        the faithful. The Holy Spirit brings everyone together, and therefore the
        saints are close to us, and when we pray to them ? they hear our prayers
        through the Holy Spirit, and our souls feel that they are praying for us.

        God can be known only through the Holy Spirit, and the one who, in his
        pride, wishes to know the Creator through his mind ? is blind and foolish.
        With the mind we cannot even understand how the sun was made, and when we
        ask God to tell us how He made the sun, the reply is clear: "Humble
        yourself, and you will know not only the sun, but also its Creator."

        Venerable Siluan the Athonite


        The mirror of the Gospel
        I gaze at eternity: all that is temporal is trivial, vain, insignificant. I
        love solitude: in this state one can gaze at eternity more intently,
        observe what is needed, and prepare this needful thing in advance, before
        the soul departs from the body. I am attracted to the Gospel. My gaze is
        overwhelmed by the traits of God's image and the nuances of God's likeness
        that are depicted in the Gospel! "Be like unto Me," ? the Lord says to
        mankind, and in order for men to absorb this wondrous likeness more easily
        ? God became incarnate. What ineffable beauty in this new Adam, our Lord
        Jesus Christ! And what ugliness in myself, what disorder! How many stains
        there are upon me! This is how I see myself when I look into the mirror of
        the Gospel.

        Saint Ignaty (Bryanchaninov)


        St. Pimen the Great
        A brother asked Abba Pimen: "What constitutes repentance of sin?" The elder
        replied: "Never to commit this sin again. The sinless and the righteous are
        so called because they have rejected their sins and have become righteous."

        Abba Pimen said: "Man has constant need of humility, spiritual wisdom and
        the fear of God, just as he needs the air that he breathes through his
        nostrils."

        Abba Pimen said: "If man reaches the state of which the Apostle said: for
        the pure one everything is pure, he will see himself the worst of all
        creation." A brother said to him: "How can I consider myself to be worse
        than murderers?" The elder replied: "If a man reaches the spiritual state
        indicated by the Apostle, and sees another man who had committed murder, he
        will say to himself: that man committed the sin only once, while I kill
        myself and others with my sins daily!"


        Our protectors.
        If tomorrow you had to go to court in order to appear before a strict
        judge, I think today you would take great care to prepare a good defense,
        and would immediately try to find defenders and protectors who would
        intercede on your behalf. And yet soon the mighty judge Jesus Christ will
        arrive for His judgment, together with a host of angels and archangels. If
        we do not now find protectors for ourselves, who will defend us then? We
        have the holy martyrs to defend and help us, they are always ready to come
        to our aid and intercede on our behalf. Call upon them now, appeal to them
        for help. The Lord will accept their intercession, because although He is a
        righteous judge, at the same time He is long-suffering and ever-merciful.

        Saint Gregory the Theologian.


        The holy fathers on angels.
        It is our duty to venerate the angels: they, glorifying the Creator, reveal
        His charity and goodwill towards men.

        St. John Chrysostome.

        After the Trinity come the invisible shining Angels. They move freely
        around the great throne - quick minds, flames and divine spirits - and
        faithfully serve the high commands of God. They are one in spirit and alike
        among themselves: one essence, one mind, one love - around the mighty King
        God.

        St. Gregory the Theologian.

        Angels, being servants of love and peace, rejoice in our repentance and
        attainment of virtues, try to fill us with spiritual contemplation and aid
        us in the doing of good.

        St. Theodore of Ephesus.

        The difficult easy path.
        For people who are just beginning to love piety, the path of virtue seems
        severe and fearful. And that is not because it is so in essence, but
        because such people have become used from childhood to live in pleasure and
        with total abandonment. For the one who has already lived a goodly portion
        of his life in piety, the path of virtue appears benevolent and joyful.
        That is because when we suppress our evil intentions with good habits, then
        our passion for pleasures of the flesh begins to disappear simultaneously.
        Afterwards the soul willingly follows the path of righteousness. For this
        reason the Lord, calling upon us to begin working on our salvation, says
        that strait and narrow is the way that leads unto life, and few are those
        who follow it (Matt. 7:14). To those who earnestly wish to live in
        accordance with His holy commandments He says: My yoke is easy and My
        burden is light (Matt. 11:30)

        Blessed Diodochus, Bishop of Photika.


        The crowning virtue.
        Treat your brethren with joy and affection. Love them. Serve them: they are
        precious - the Saviour's blood has been spilt for them, they are members of
        Christ. Do not offend them in any way whatsoever.

        Attain salvation by pleasing the Lord God, pleasing Him with all forms of
        love. Make your chief concern the enrichment of yourselves with love.
        Whosoever possesses love - has God within himself.

        Humility has its beginning in the humbleness of our Lord Jesus Christ and
        is the crown and beauty of all virtues. What rain is to parched earth, so
        humility is to the human soul. Humility is a virtue which even the Lord God
        Himself admires: upon whom shall I gaze? - He says, - safe the meek one and
        the humble one, the one in awe of My words.

        With the Lord and for the sake of the Lord all that is difficult is not
        difficult and all that is sorrowful is not sorrowful.

        Elder Ambrose of Optina.


        Love for one's brethren.
        I will not conceal from you the virtue for which the Lord gives His grace.
        I will not write too much, but will only ask you - love each other and you
        shall then see God's grace. Let us love our brethren, and the Lord will
        love us. Do not think, o soul, that the Lord loves you when you glance
        askance at someone. Not at all! It is more likely that the demons love you
        then, since you have become their servant; but hurry up and repent, and ask
        the Lord for strength to love your brother, and you will find peace in your
        soul.


        With all your might ask the Lord for humility and love among yourselves,
        because for love of your brethren the Lord freely give His grace. Test
        yourself: one day ask the Lord to grant you love for your brethren, and the
        next day live without love, and you will see the difference. The spiritual
        fruits of love are clear: peace and joy within the soul, and everyone will
        seem dear to you, and you will shed copious tears for your neighbors and
        for all creation.

        Venerable Siluan the Athonite.

        On inner peace.
        Inner peace is acquired through sorrows. The Scriptures say: We went
        through fire and through water; but Thou has brought us out into a tranquil
        place (Psalm 66:12). For those who wish to please God, the path lies
        through many sorrows. How can we worship the holy martyrs for the suffering
        they endured for the sake of God, when we ourselves are unable to endure
        even a single spark? Thus we must concentrate all our thoughts, wishes and
        actions towards attaining the peace of God. We must do our best to preserve
        this inner peace and not become upset by insults on the part of others; to
        this end we must make a great effort to restrain our anger, and by means of
        attentiveness safeguard our mind and heart from unseemly actions.
        Therefore, we must be totally indifferent to insults from others, and we
        must attain such a disposition whereby these insults would seem to us to
        concern others and not ourselves?

        Saint Seraphim of Sarov.


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