Re: [orthodox-synod] Spiritual precepts
- 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)
Spiritual precepts -
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,
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
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 ?
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
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
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!"
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
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
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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