“My life in Christ” despite my employment, I have decided to give the thoughts that came to me during prayer and contemplation. These thoughts will make you as a strong believer made to discover a real spiritual treasure.
God, His mercy and concern for people
As a mother teaches a baby to walk, so the Lord teaches us living faith in Him. The mother will set the baby up, she will leave, and the baby tells the baby to go to her place. The baby cries without the support of the mother, wants to go to her, but is afraid to step, or tries to approach, but falls. Likewise, the Lord teaches a Christian to believe in Him. Our faith is as weak as a baby learning to walk. The Lord leaves the Christian for a while and gives him over to various calamities, and then, when the need arises, he saves him. The Lord tells you to look at Him and go to Him.
The Christian tries to see the Lord, but the heart, not taught to see God, fears its own courage, stumbles and falls. And the Lord is close and ready, as it were, to take a weak Christian into His hands. Therefore, during various sorrows or intrigues of the devil, learn to look at the Savior with the eyes of your heart. Look boldly at Him, as an inexhaustible treasure of goodness and pray earnestly to Him to help you. And immediately, you will receive what you ask for. The main thing here is the Lord’s heartfelt vision and hope in Him as the All-Good. This is true from experience! So the Lord teaches us to recognize our weakness and hope in Him.
How many times, Master Lord Jesus, You renewed my nature, which I frivolously corrupted with my sins! There is no number! How many times have You taken me out of the flame of many passions burning inside me, from the abyss of despondency and despair! How many times have you renewed my corrupted heart by your name alone, invoked with faith! Many times You have done this through Your life-giving Communion. Oh, Master! There is no number of Thy mercies to me, a sinner. What will I bring You for Your immeasurable blessings, Jesus, my life and lightness! Help me to be discreet.
The Lord has high respect for the creatures that He has endowed with reason and free will, especially for the Angels and saints. Through them, He acts to sanctify and save people. Therefore, do not say, “I always turn directly to God with my needs.” Sometimes it is necessary to turn to His saints as His messengers and instruments of His help. The Lord Himself does not want creatures who have reached great spiritual heights to remain idle in the matter of saving people who have not yet matured in faith. A Canaanite mother, for example, begged for her daughter to be freed from the demon, and four friends achieved the healing of their relaxed companion by bringing him to the feet of Christ.
The Lord has complete respect for the nature created by Him and its laws, as for the products of His infinite Wisdom. Therefore, He usually does His will through nature and according to its laws, punishing or blessing us through various physical objects and life circumstances. Therefore, without extreme need, do not demand a miracle from Him.
Without grace-filled help, you cannot overcome any of your passions. Therefore, always ask for help from Christ, your Savior. That is why He came into the world, for this he suffered, died and rose again, in order to help you in everything, to save you from the violence of passions and to cleanse your sins, in order to give you the power to do good by the Holy Spirit, in order to enlighten and pacify you. You ask: “How can one be saved when there is temptation at every step and sinning every minute?” The answer to this is simple: “At every step and every minute, call upon the Savior. So you will save yourself and others.”
As breath is necessary for the body, so without the breath of the Spirit of God, the soul cannot live a true life. As air is to the body, so the Spirit of God is to the soul. Air is some kind of the Spirit of God.
The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, permeating the entire universe, passes through all believers, humble, kind and meek souls, dwelling, revitalizing and strengthening them. He is one Spirit with them, and everything is all for them – light, strength, peace, joy, success in business, especially in a pious life.
How easily and instantly the Lord can save us! Often during the day, I was a great sinner, and in the evening after prayer, I retired to rest justified and whitened more than snow by the grace of the Holy Spirit, with the deepest peace and consolation in my heart! How easy it is for the Lord to save us in the evening of our life, at the end of our days! Oh, save, save me, good Lord, accept me into Your heavenly kingdom, for everything is possible for You! If we fall, we fall before our Lord. And He is able to raise us up (Rom. 14: 4).
When the Savior lived on earth, all who touched His garment in faith were healed. For the same reason, in our time, people who use holy water with faith are healed. After all, the Cross, immersed in water with a prayer of faith, carries the life-giving power of the Lord. As the Savior’s clothes were imbued with His life, so the water, into which the life-giving Cross is immersed, is itself imbued with His life, from which it is healing.
Striking with disease our bodily composition, the Lord crushes our old and sinful person in order to give strength to a new person whom we have weakened by carnal deeds: gluttony, idleness, entertainment, various addictions. “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). We must accept the disease with gratitude.
Faith in God
The property of faith is remarkable: one living thought about God, heartfelt faith in Him – and He is already with me; heartfelt repentance of sins, and He is with me; a kind thought, and He is with me; godly feeling and He is with me. The devil enters into me through thoughts of doubt, fear, pride, anger and other passions. This means that his power over me is limited and completely dependent on me. If I am attentive to myself and in prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ, he is completely powerless to do me any harm.
Unbelief itself exposes its deceit by filling the soul with darkness, vague anxiety and fear. On the contrary, faith is always calm, blissful, majestic, firm.
How many blessings the faith of Christ has brought me so far! How many emotional disturbances and passions she chased away, giving me inner peace. How many times has she corrected the unrighteous strivings of my heart? How many times did she cleanse my sins and save me from spiritual death? And how close the Lord is to us! He is our air and breath.
If you do not warm faith in your heart, then from negligence it can completely extinguish in us; Christianity, with its life-giving sacraments, can, as it were, completely die for us. The enemy is only trying to extinguish faith in a person and make him forget the teaching of Christ. Therefore, we see people who are Christians in only one name and perfect pagans in deeds.
Prayer is a union of mind and heart with God, a live conversation with Him, reverent devotion to the life-giving source. Therefore, when praying, one must forget everything around him and stand before God in a deep consciousness of his poverty and unworthiness. True prayer illuminates and revives the soul, gives it a foretaste of future bliss. It gives strength to the soul and body, enlightens the face. She is the golden thread that connects the creature with the Creator. It gives courage and courage in various temptations, promotes business success, strengthens faith and other virtues, helps to correct life, generates tears of repentance, inclines to works of mercy.
In order to live like a Christian and so that the Spirit does not fade in us, domestic and public prayer is necessary. Just as it is necessary to pour oil into the icon lamp so that it does not go out, so it is necessary to attend services in the Church and pray there with faith, understanding and diligence. And since prayer becomes sincere and ardent from abstinence, then one must live in moderation and fast. Nothing so quickly extinguishes the Spirit in us as intemperance, satiety and an absent-minded way of life.
The theatre and all kinds of spectacles extinguish the Christian life, giving rise to absent-mindedness, slyness and idle laughter. Theatre is the enemy of Christian life; he is a product of the Spirit of this world, not the Spirit of God. True children of the Church avoid him.
People have fallen into disbelief because they do not pray. The prince of this age has room for action in their hearts. These people do not ask the Lord for the life-giving dew of the grace of the Holy Spirit, and so their hearts, corrupted by nature, dry up completely and begin to blaze with the hellish flame of unbelief and various passions.
The devil only knows to kindle this terrible fire even more and triumphs, looking at the death of the unfortunate souls, redeemed by the blood of the One who once trampled on his power.
In order to spend the whole day completely holy, peacefully and without sin, the only remedy is the most sincere and fervent prayer in the morning immediately after sleep. It will bring Christ into the heart with the Father and the Holy Spirit and thus give the soul the strength to resist evil.
Speak the words of the prayer with a heartfelt firmness. When praying, for example, in the evening, do not forget with all sincerity and contrition of heart to express to the Holy Spirit your sins, which you fell into during the day. A few moments of warm repentance – and you are cleansed by the Holy Spirit from all filth, more snow is whitened. Then tears will flow from your eyes, the robe of Christ’s righteousness will cover you, and you will unite with Christ and together with the Father and the Spirit.
Sometimes in prolonged prayer, only a few minutes are pleasing to God and constitute true service to God. The main thing in prayer is the closeness of the heart to God, evidenced by the sweetness of God’s presence in the soul.
The measure of the dignity of our prayer will be measured by a human measure. So, for example, sometimes we are with people cold, out of decency and pretending to thank them or praise them or do something for them without the participation of our hearts. Sometimes we do it sincerely, with warmth and love. We are also not the same as God. But it is not necessary. We must always express our praise, thanksgiving, and petition to God from the bottom of our hearts. We must always love Him with all our heart and hope in Him.
Often in colloquial speech, prayer is called what is not prayer at all. For example, a person went to the temple, stood there, looked around, listened to the chanting, and then said: “I prayed to God.” Or he stood at home in front of the icon, nodded his head, spoke mechanically memorized words and said: “I prayed to God.” But in fact, in both cases, the person did not pray with his thoughts and heart at all but only fulfilled the external form.
In the temple of God, simple, believing, and kind souls are like children in the house of the Heavenly Father, here they are free, here it is easy and easy. True Christians in the temple anticipate the future kingdom, prepared for them from the creation of the world, future freedom from all sin and death, future peace and bliss.
Prayer is raising the mind and heart to God. Hence, it is obvious that a person whose mind and heart are tied to something carnal, for example, to money, to honour, who hates neighbours or envies them, cannot pray. This is because passion binds the heart, while God gives it true freedom.
Try to reach an infant simplicity in dealing with people and in prayer to God. Simplicity is the greatest blessing and dignity of man. God is perfectly simple because he is perfectly spiritual, perfectly good. And let your soul not be doubled into good and evil.
During prayer, remind yourself of the simplicity of the truth and say: “It’s simple!” – “I believe simply and ask simply; but your craftiness, my enemy, your doubts and dreams – I reject. “Let the humble consciousness of your insignificance and the greatness of God, who created everything and governs everything, be the basis and source of all your mental activity, your words and deeds (1 Cor. 12:). 6. He who is infected with pride tends to despise everything. Pride tends to defile every good thought, every word and deed. She is Satan’s deadly breath.
While praying, it is necessary to take control of the heart and turn it to the Lord. It must not be cold and double-minded. Otherwise, what is the use of our prayer? Is it good to hear the Lord’s reproach: “These people draw near to Me and honour Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me ”(Matt. 15: 8). So, let us not stand before the Lord with spiritual relaxation, but let our Spirit burn when we serve Him. After all, people do not value our services very much when we do them coldly and out of habit. And God wants exactly our heart: “Son, give me your heart” (Prov. 23:26). After all, the heart is the main thing in a person. Therefore, whoever does not pray to God with all his heart is the same as not praying at all. Our prayer should be all Spirit and all mind.
Asking God for various benefits believe that God is everything for everyone. If you ask Him for health, believe that He is your health; whether you ask for faith – He is your faith; whether love – He is your love; whether peace and joy – He is your peace and joy; whether help in difficult circumstances – He is your help and protection. Whatever good you ask Him for, He is precisely that good. If He finds it timely, He will give you whatever you ask for.
If you want to ask God for something, then before praying, prepare yourself for undoubted, strong faith and take the means against doubt in advance. It will be bad if, during prayer, your heart becomes exhausted in faith. Then do not think that you will receive what you asked for because you have offended God with your doubts. The Lord said that “whatever you ask for in prayer in faith, you will receive” (Matt. 21:22). This means that if you ask with doubt, you will not receive. “If you have faith, and do not hesitate,” He says, “then you can move mountains too.” “But he who doubts, let him not think to receive anything from the Lord,” teaches the Apostle James, “because a double-minded man is not steady in all his ways” (James 1: 7,8).
The heart of a person who doubts that God can give what is asked is punished for doubting: it languishes painfully and hesitates from doubt. Do not anger the Almighty God with a shadow of a doubt, especially you, who have repeatedly experienced God’s omnipotence on yourself. Doubt is a lie of the Spirit of lies nesting in the heart… Remember that during your request, God expects an affirmative answer to His question, which is internally offered to you: “Do you believe that I can do this?” Then you must answer from the depths of your heart: “I believe, Lord!” (Matt. 9:28) And then it will be according to your faith. The following thoughts may help you not to doubt. 1) I ask for an existing, not a dreamy or fantastic good, but everything that exists from God received being, and “without Him, nothing began to be that began to be” (John 1: 3).
In addition, He calls the non-existent as existing (Rom. 4:17). So, if I asked Him for something that does not exist, He could create it and give it to me. 2) I ask for the possible, but for God, our impossible is possible. This means that there is no obstacle on this side either. Our trouble is that a short-sighted reason is mingled with our faith – this spider that catches the truth with the nets of all judgments and analogies. Faith at once embraces everything and sees, and reason reaches the truth in roundabout ways. Faith is a means of communication between the Spirit and the Spirit, and the reason is sensible with the sensual. That is Spirit, and this is flesh.
Our hope of receiving what is asked during prayer is based on faith in the goodness of God. Saying: “Like [because] you are the God of mercy and generosity and love of mankind,” we remind ourselves of the countless previous cases of God’s mercy both to the people mentioned in the Holy Scriptures and in the lives of the saints and to us. Therefore, it contributes to the success of prayer when the praying person has already received what was asked for and firmly believed in it with his heart. We receive what we ask whenever it relates to the salvation of our souls. All good things must be attributed to the Lord, and not to any occasion…
Many do not pray because it seems to them that God does not hear their prayers. Others consider prayer to be unnecessary, citing the fact that God knows what we need even before we ask. They forget what was said: “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you” (Matt.7: 7). Prayer is essential precisely to strengthen our faith, by which alone we are saved. It is said: “By grace, you are saved through faith” (Ephesians 2: 8); “O woman, great is your faith!” (Matthew 15:28). For this, the Savior made the Canaanite woman beg hard to arouse her faith.
Praying to the Mother of God, angels and saints, we recognize them as one mysterious body of the Church, to which we also belong, and we believe that they pray to God for our salvation out of their love. Praying for the repose of the departed, we consider them as one spiritual body with us and wish them peace and quiet in the land of immortality, confessing that they are alive with their souls.
Christian life, diligence, patience and courage
Our inner man sees more clearly in the morning when his spiritual gaze is not yet clouded by worldly vanity and the temptations of the evil one. Then he is like a fish emerging from the depths of the sea to the surface of the water. Yet the rest of the time, it is shrouded in almost impenetrable darkness; a painful bandage lies on his eyes, hiding the true order of things from him. Therefore, catch the morning hours. It is like a watch of a new, renewed life. They predict to us the state when we will rise renewed on the morning of the non-evening day of the general resurrection.
Take the trouble to spend at least one day according to the commandments of God, and you will see for yourself how good it is to do the will of God. Love the Lord even as you love your parents and benefactors; Appreciate the strength of His love and good deeds for you. Go over with your mind how He gave you life and with it all the blessings, how He patiently endures your frequent sins, how He forgives them endlessly many times because of the suffering on the Cross and the death of His only-begotten Son; remember what bliss He promised you in eternity if you will be faithful to Him.
Next, love every person, i.e. do not desire anything for him that you do not desire for yourself; think, feel for him as you think and feel for yourself; do not want to see in him anything that you do not want to see in yourself; may your memory not hold back the harm done to you by others, as you wish, so that the evil you have done be forgotten by others; do not suspect anything criminal or unclean in the other, present others as well-meaning, as well as yourself. At the very least, do not do to others what you do not do to yourself – and you will see what will be in your heart – what silence, what bliss! You will be before paradise in paradise. “The kingdom of God,” says the Savior, “is within you” (Luke 17:21). “He who abides in love,” teaches the Apostle, “abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).
Begin to fulfil the commandments concerning the small, and you will fulfil the commandments concerning the great: small everywhere leads to great. Begin to fulfil at least the commandment about fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, or the tenth commandment concerning bad thoughts and desires, and you will fulfil all the commandments, “but the unfaithful in little and in many respects is unfaithful.”
Our flesh, when it is weak, is discouraged and murmured, but when it is healthy and tastes of the pleasures of the flesh, then it rejoices and gallops. Do not pay attention to the deceptive feelings of the flesh. One must learn to neglect all carnal play and delight. One must calmly endure sorrows and illnesses, take courage in Spirit and place all trust in God.
Life is a great science that is not easy to learn. She is a narrow path and a narrow gate. Those who from childhood have not begun to study the science of life under the guidance of the Gospel, have not learned to believe in God, are not accustomed to reverence for Him, clearly do not distinguish between good and evil – it will be difficult to learn in the following years of life. Although other people will regard him as intelligent, they will recognize his knowledge and abilities, and in the school of life, he may turn out to be completely ignorant. He may be incapable of either family life or social activities – for example, because of his quarrelsome nature or bad habits. He can be wrecked in life, like a ship loaded with goods, which was launched into the open sea without a rudder, tackle and sails.
Science of sciences – to conquer the passions operating in us. It is great wisdom, for example, not to be angry with anyone and not think evil of anyone, even if someone has done us evil. Wisdom is to despise self-interest and love non-acquisitiveness, despise delicacies and be content with simple food eaten in moderation. Wisdom is not to flatter anyone but always fearlessly tell the truth; wisdom is not to be seduced by the beauty of the face but to respect in every person the beauty of the image of God. Wisdom is to love your enemies and not take revenge on them either by deed, by word or by thought. Wisdom is not to collect wealth for oneself but to give alms to the poor in order to acquire treasure in Heaven. Alas! We have almost studied all the sciences, but we haven’t learned to withdraw from sin at all, and thus we often turn out to be complete ignoramuses in moral science. And it turns out that the truly wise were saints,
People who try to live spiritually have the most subtle and difficult war in their thoughts. We must constantly observe our thoughts and reflect on those that are from the evil ones. It is necessary that our heart always burns with faith, humility and love. Otherwise, devilish cunning can settle in him, and with it – lack of faith and all evil, from which you will not quickly wash yourself off with tears. Therefore, do not allow your heart to be cold, especially during prayer; Avoid cold indifference in every possible way… While praying, be strong and support your heart.
We have a sure barometer that shows the rise or fall of our spiritual life, this is the heart. It can also be called a compass, which shows us where to sail. It shows whether we are going to the spiritual east – Christ, or to the west – to the dark power of the devil, this Lord of death. Therefore, carefully look at your inner compass, and it will show you the right path.
The conscience of every person is a ray of light from the one, all enlightening spiritual Sun-God. Through conscience, the Lord God rules over everyone, as the Righteous and Almighty King. And how powerful is His power through conscience! No one can completely drown out her voices. She speaks to everyone without partiality, like the voice of God Himself! Thanks to our conscience, we are all with God as one person. Therefore, the Ten Commandments are addressed as if to one person: “I am the Lord your God, let you have no other gods… Do not make yourself an idol… remember the Sabbath day… honor your father and your mother… do not kill, do not commit adultery” and so further (Ex. 20: 1-17). Or: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart… and your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:30, 31), because he is exactly the same as me.
Watch your heart all your life and look closely at what prevents it from uniting with God. Let this be the science of sciences for you, and with the help of God, you will learn to quickly notice what moves you away from God and what brings you closer to Him. The evil one is trying very hard to get between our heart and God. It is he who alienates us from God with various passions: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Distinguish between the Spirit of Life and the Spirit of the dead. When there are good thoughts in your soul, you feel good and easy, you feel calm and joy: this means that the Holy Spirit is in you. When you have unkind thoughts or unkind heart movements, you feel heaviness and anxiety. This means that you have an evil spirit in you. An evil spirit is a spirit of doubt, unbelief, passions, tightness, sorrow, confusion; and the good Spirit is the Spirit of undoubted faith, the Spirit of virtue, the Spirit of spiritual freedom and breadth, the Spirit of peace and joy. By these signs, recognize who is acting in you.
“He who does not gather with Me,” says the Lord, “scatters” (Luke 11:23). Throughout your life, you have to strive forward in spiritual life, rise higher and higher, and increase the wealth of good deeds. If we stand at one point of moral perfection, then it is all the same that we are sliding back. Not gaining is the same as losing.
Be moderate in every religious matter, for virtue must also be prudent, in accordance with the forces and circumstances of time and place. It is good, for example, to pray from a pure heart, but as soon as there is no correspondence of prayer with physical forces, with different circumstances, place and time, then it will no longer be a virtue. Therefore, the Apostle Peter teaches: “Show prudence in your virtue, in prudence – abstinence, in abstinence – patience” (2 Peter 1: 5, 6).
Day is a symbol of the transience of earthly life: morning comes, then day, then evening, and with the onset of night and day all passed. So life will pass. First, infancy, like early morning, then adolescence and courage, like full dawn and noon, and then old age, like evening, if God willing, and then death is inevitable.
Since the time when man fell away from God, he, like an animal that was once domestic, and then became feral, is already reluctant to look at the place of his former residence. It loves the darkness of the forest more, i.e. of this world, than the light of the former place, i.e. paradise of God. It is difficult for a person to unite with God, and, having united, he quickly falls away from Him. It is difficult for him to sincerely believe in God and in everything that God has revealed to him.
Looking at the world of God, I see everywhere an extraordinary breadth and playfulness of life: in the animal kingdom, between four-legged animals, between reptiles, insects, birds, between fish. Now the question is: where do the tightness and sorrow come from people who are trying to live a godly life? After all, the Lord everywhere poured life, abundance, joy and spaciousness. All creatures, except man, glorify the Creator with contentment and playful joy. Am I not a creation of the same Creator? The answer is simple: our life is being poisoned by our sins and ethereal enemy.
He especially attacks those people who strive for piety. Therefore, the true life of man is ahead in the next century. There all joys and complete bliss will open for him. Here he is an exile and under punishment. Sometimes, as it were, the whole of nature arms itself against him for his sins. So, I am not embarrassed by the fact that there is joy and contentment everywhere in the world, and there is sorrow in you. We have an executioner for sin who is always with us and beats us. But joy will come for us, only not here, but in another world.
Firmly remember that you are a dual person: one is fleshly, sick with passions and old. He must be put to death and not bow before his persistent sinful demands. The other is spiritual, new, seeking Christ, living by Christ and finding peace and life in Him. Just as the demands of that person must be despised by all means because their fulfilment is murderous for the soul, so the demands of the latter must be fulfilled by all means because they lead to eternal life. Take the trouble to actually do what you understand.
Get to know a person his spiritual misfortune and constantly pray with zeal to the Savior to save you too. Do not say to yourself: “I am safe, I do not need to worry about anything.” This is the trouble that you, being in the greatest trouble, do not see it. Your trouble is your sins.
How damaged I am by sin! Something bad and unclean easily comes to mind and immediately responds in the heart, while good and holy are often only thought and said, but not felt. Alas, for me! So far, evil is closer to my heart than good. I just thought of something bad, and I am immediately ready to do it, and I would have done it if the fear of God or circumstances did not hold me back. And good is often only desired by the inner person, but there is neither strength nor will to do it (Rom. 7:18, 19). Often a good deed, conceived, is postponed for a long, long time.
Most people voluntarily carry satanic weight in their hearts, but they are so used to it that they do not even feel it. Sometimes, however, the evil enemy multiplies his weight tenfold in them, and then they become discouraged, murmur and even blaspheme the name of God. For people of this age, the usual means to dispel inner heaviness are spectacles, evenings, cards, dances. But after them, boredom and the yearning of the heart return with even greater strength. How many people who left the Lord, the Fountain of living water, and dug for themselves damaged wells that cannot hold water (Jeremiah 2:13). Only when people turn to God, the weight of sin falls from their hearts, and they begin to understand the reasons for their dissatisfaction, as well as how to deal with it.
Let no one think that sin is something unimportant. No, sin is a terrible evil that kills the soul! The sinner in the age to come is bound hand and foot and plunged into total darkness. The Savior says: “Having bound his hands and feet, take him and cast him into the outer darkness” (Matt. 22:13). It follows from this that sinners will completely lose the freedom of their spiritual powers. Created for free activity, they will find themselves shackled there by some kind of murderous inaction for good. Sinners will be aware of their spiritual abilities and, at the same time, will feel bound by some kind of indissoluble chains. They will be held captive to their own sins (Proverbs 5:22).
To this add the torment from the consciousness of your folly, with which you angered the Creator. After all, even in the present age, sin binds and kills the soul. Who among the sincere believers does not know what sorrow and tightness strike the soul, what scorching fire rages in the chest after committing any sin? If, for example, it happens to one of the God-fearing people to go to sleep without repenting for some sin committed during the day, then his conscience will bother and disturb him all night, until he, having got up, will not heartily repent of his sin and wash his hearts with tears. (This is an experience). Now, let us suppose that this person, tormented by sin, will be overtaken by sudden death at night. Is it not obvious that the soul will leave in that century in torment. And since there is no place for repentance after death, she will forever suffer in proportion to the severity of her sins. This is evidenced by the Holy Scriptures (Matt. 25:46; Rom. 2: 6, 9; 2 Cor. 5:10, etc.).
Everyday worries, like haze, obscure the mental horizon of the soul and darken the eyes of the heart. Therefore, learn not to worry about anything, but to place all sorrow and care on the Lord. Do not worry when you have to spend to help those in need: it will serve to new and even greater bounties of the Lord to you.
Cleansing of conscience, confession
A terrible truth. After death, unrepentant sinners lose any opportunity to change for the better and, therefore, invariably remain devoted to eternal torment. How to prove it? This is evidently proved by the real state of some sinners and the property of sin itself – to keep a person in captivity, blocking all exits to him. Who does not know how difficult it is without the special grace of God to turn a sinner from his beloved path of sin to the path of virtue! How deeply sin takes root in the sinner’s heart, how it changes the very sight of the sinner, so that he begins to see things different from what they really are, so that he perceives the disgusting as charming.
Therefore, we see that sinners often do not see their fall and do not think about a repentant appeal to God: pride and pride have blinded their eyes. When they begin to recognize themselves as sinners, they give themselves up to despair, spreading deep darkness in their minds and hardening their hearts. If it were not for the grace of God, which of the sinners would turn to God? However, the time and place for the operation of grace is determined only here. After death, only the prayers of the Church can affect the soul, which still retains receptivity to spiritual light thanks to previous good deeds. Unrepentant sinners are undoubted sons of perdition.
When you sin, and your sins will torment and burn you, then quickly resort to the One Sacrifice of sins, eternal and living, and cast all your sins before Her. You will find no other salvation. Save yourself and do not think.
Why does a sinful soul not first receive the forgiveness of sins, as after deeply feeling all their folly and ruinousness? Because, as a sin, she recognized them as pleasant and specious, so, repenting for them, she must recognize them as disastrous and false. As the desire for sin arises in the heart, so deliverance from it must be accompanied by pain in the heart.
Consciousness, memory, imagination, feeling and will help to true repentance. As we sin with all our souls, so we must repent with all our souls. Repentance only in words, without the intention of correction and without a sense of contrition, is called hypocritical. A negligent life darkens the consciousness of sins – it is necessary to clarify it; the feeling is dulled – it is necessary to awaken it; the will is weakened – it is necessary to force it. It is said: “The kingdom of heaven is taken by force” (Matthew 11:12). Therefore, the confession must be heartfelt, deep and complete.
What do fasting and repentance lead to? For what labor? They lead to the cleansing of sins, to peace of mind and to union with God. There is something to fast for and repent from the bottom of your heart. An invaluable reward for conscientious work. But how many of us have a sense of filial love for God? How many of us warmly invoke Heavenly Father with the words of our Father? Is it not on the contrary that such a filial voice is not heard in our hearts at all, because it is drowned out by vanity and attachment to pleasures? Yes, for our sins, we all deserve His righteous punishment; and it is marvellous that He has mercy on us for so long, and does not cut us down like barren fig trees. Therefore, we will examine our unclean heart with all severity, we will see how many impurities block the access of divine grace to it, let us hasten to propitiate the Lord with tears of repentance.
Comparing confession with an operation, they say: you will endure a difficult and painful operation, but you will become healthy. This means that at confession, you must openly disclose all your shameful deeds to your confessor, although you will be hurt, ashamed, and humiliating. Otherwise, the wound remains unhealed, it will ache and undermine mental health, and the infection will spread to other healthy members. A priest is a spiritual doctor. Show him your wounds, not ashamed, frankly, with childish trust: after all, the confessor is your spiritual father. It is given to him to love his spiritual children, and the love of Christ is higher than carnal love. He must answer God for you. Why has our life become so unclean, full of passions and sinful habits? Because many hide their mental ulcers, and these ulcers hurt and become more and more inflamed.
Whoever gets used to giving an account of his actions during this life in confession will not be afraid to give an answer at the Last Judgment of Christ. That is why a brief judgment seat of repentance is established here, so that we, purified and reformed, can be given a shameful answer at the judgment of Christ. Awareness of this fact should induce us at least once a year to sincerely repent of our sins. The longer we postpone repentance, the worse it will be for us, the more confused our sinful bonds will become, the more difficult it will be to understand our hearts. And on the contrary: the more sincere the confession, the calmer the soul. Sins are secret snakes that gnaw at the heart of a person and haunt him. Sins are thorny thorns pierced into the soul. Sins are spiritual darkness. To completely get rid of the ulcer of sin, one must bear the fruits of repentance.
2You need to confess your sins more often to scourge your pride with open confession and feel disgusted for your sins. Think about what trouble sin has thrown you into and what the Lord-Christ did for your salvation. Remember His incarnation, His treatment of people, His instructions and miracles, remember what He endured numerous ridicule, curses, spitting and beatings, how, finally, He accepted the painful crucifixion, shameful death and burial, and then resurrected in Divine glory from the dead. He did all this to deliver you from eternal torment. Therefore, surrender yourself entirely to Him, your Benefactor, live for Him, fulfilling His commandments. Avoid all that leads to sin, such as: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; crucify your flesh with its passions and lusts; save your soul with patience, love God and your neighbour as yourself.
We say: no matter how I look, I would not be tempted, no matter how I heard, my heart would not hurt, no matter how I tasted, I would not want to… You see how much temptation comes from our eyes, hearing and taste. How many people suffer from the fact that being not firm in the heart in good intentions, they looked carelessly with unclean eyes, listened with ears that were not used to distinguishing between good and evil, and tasted greedy taste. Feelings of a sin-loving, greedy flesh, not bridled by reason and God’s commandments, drew them into various everyday passions, darkened their mind and heart, deprived of the peace of the heart and enslaved them. How carefully you need to look, listen, taste, smell and touch, how you need to protect your heart, so that through external feelings, like through a window, sin does not get into us or, even worse, the culprit of sin himself is the devil, and this does not hit us with its deadly poison.
If you greedily pounce on food and drink, you will be flesh, and if you fast and pray, you will be Spirit. “Do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Fast and pray, and you will accomplish great things. A well-fed one is not capable of a feat.
As a newborn child does not care what he is dressed in, so a Christian – a baby about Christ – should be indifferent to the variety and grace of clothes, considering God as his best garment, as it is written: “All of you who were baptized into Christ, into Christ put on “(Gal. 3:27). And the addiction to expensive and beautiful clothes is characteristic of the people of this age – “the pagans are looking for all this” (Matt. 6:32). Exquisite clothing is the idol of the people of this age. Oh, how vain are we who are called to communion with God, to whom the inheritance of incorruptible and eternal blessings as promised! How unclear our concepts of imperishable goods are! How unreasonable we are when we attach importance to insignificant objects and do not value imperishable spiritual goods: peace of mind and joy, closeness to God, treasures of virtues, holiness, eternal bliss in that life. – So, we need to learn to value spiritual benefits, and material,
As much as you can, be meek, humble, simple in dealing with everyone, not hypocritically considering yourself lower than everyone, more sinful and weak. Say to yourself: “Among sinners – the first me.” From pride comes pomp and cold, insincere treatment of others.
Watch carefully for manifestations of pride: it sneaks up unnoticed, especially when upset at others for the most unimportant reasons.
If you want to be humble, then consider yourself worthy of all malice and slander from others. Do not be annoyed when you are reprimanded or slandered. Say: “Let it be, Holy Father, Your will!” Remember what the Savior said: “A servant is not greater than his Lord: if they have cursed Me, they will also curse you … If the world hates you, know that it hated Me first” (John 13:16; 15:18).
Remember the saying of the Holy Scriptures: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). When they are rude to you, they annoy you, they breathe contempt and anger at you, do not pay the same, but be quiet, meek and affectionate, respectful and loving towards those who behave unworthily in front of you. If you are embarrassed and begin to object with excitement, speak rudely and contemptuously yourself, then you yourself have been defeated by evil, and you should apply to yourself what was said: “Doctor, heal yourself,” or: “Why are you looking at the speck in your brother’s eye, Don’t you feel the beam in your eye? First take the beam out of your own eye ”(Luke 4:23; Matt. 7: 3, 5). Do not be surprised if rude attacks against you become more frequent: your ill-wishers, noticing your weakness, will begin to play on it.
So, “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). Let the one who offended you understand that he did not offend you, but only himself. Pity that he is so easily overcome by his passions and is mentally ill. The more rude and irritable he is, the more meekness and loves you will show to him. So you will surely defeat him. Good is always stronger than evil and, therefore, always victorious. Remember also that we are all weak and easily overcome by passions. Therefore, be meek and condescending to those who sin against you. After all, you too are sick with the same as your brother. Forgive your debts to your debtors so that the heavenly Father will forgive your debts. Therefore, be meek and condescending to those who sin against you.
A person who is angry with us is a sick person. You need to apply a plaster to his heart – love. You need to caress him, talk to him kindly, and if anger has not taken root in him, but only a temporary outbreak has occurred, then look how his heart melts from your love. A Christian needs to be wise in order to overcome evil with good.
You do not want to pray for the person you despise, but that is why you do not want to pray; that is why resort to the Doctor, because you yourself are sick with malice and pride, as sick one despised by you. Pray that the Lord will teach you gentleness and patience, that He will strengthen you to love enemies and not well-wishers, only that He will teach you to pray for ill-wishers as sincerely as for well-wishers.
Union with Christ
The purpose of our life is to unite with God. In this life, we unite with Him by faith, hope and love, and in the future – in a perfect way. But notice how we distort this purpose. We become attached with our hearts to different things, so that often (oh horror!) Our love turns to money, food, drink, clothing, home, decoration, or to people we like – until God is forgotten. Because of attachment to worldly blessings, we are proud, envy, hate, lie – and then we directly unite with the devil, this bearer of evil. By this, we insult our Master and distort His image and likeness in ourselves.
Indeed, we think too little about what should be the main thing for us – the connection with God!
If Christ is in you through frequent communion of the Holy Mysteries, then be all like Christ: meek, humble, long-suffering, loving, impartial to the earthly, thinking about heavenly, obedient, reasonable; be sure to carry His Spirit within you.
Having Christ in your heart, fear lest you lose Him, and with Him your heart’s peace. It’s hard to start again. Efforts to cleave to Him again after falling away will cost many bitter tears. Hold on to Christ with all your might, and do not lose your holy boldness before Him.
Love for God and neighbours
The life of the heart is love, and its death is malice and enmity. The Lord keeps us on earth for this, so that love completely penetrates our hearts: this is the purpose of the existence of our temporary world.
Love for God manifests itself in us and acts when we begin to love our neighbour as ourselves: when for him, this image of God, we do not spare ourselves or anything earthly, when we try to serve him for salvation with everything we can; when we refuse, for the sake of pleasing God, from pleasing our womb, this carnal sight, when we subjugate our carnal mind to the mind of God. Scripture teaches: “He who does not love his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he does not see?” and “Those who are Christ’s, crucified the flesh with passions and lusts” (1 John 4:20; Gal. 5:24).
Remember that the Lord is in every Christian. When a neighbour comes to you, have great respect for him, for the Lord is in him. Often through people, the Lord expresses His will: “God works in you both will and action according to His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Do not regret anything for your brother, as for the Lord. Be sincere to everyone, kind and hospitable to everyone. Remember that sometimes the Lord even disposes the hearts of unbelievers to us, as happened in Egypt with the prison guard, whom the Lord disposed towards Joseph (Gen. 39:21).
Remember that man is a great and dear being with God. But after the fall, this great creature became weak, subject to many weaknesses. Loving and honouring him as the bearer of the Creator’s image also bears his weaknesses – various passions and unseemly actions – as the patient’s weaknesses. It is said: “We who are strong must bear the infirmities of the weak and not please ourselves … Bear one another burdens, and thus fulfil the law of Christ” (Rom. 15: 1, Gal. 6: 2).
Love every person, in spite of his fall into sin. Sins are sins, but the basis in man is the same – the image of God. Sometimes, people’s weaknesses are obvious when, for example, they are angry, proud, envious, stingy, greedy. But remember that you are not without evil, and maybe there is even more of it in you than in others. At least with regard to sins, all people are equal: “All,” it is said, “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); all are guilty before God and all need His mercy. Therefore, we must endure one another and mutually forgive so that our heavenly Father would forgive us our sins (Matt. 6:14). See how much God loves us, how much He has done for us and continues to do, how He punishes lightly but mercifully and mercifully!
If you want to correct someone from shortcomings, do not think to correct him by your own means. We ourselves spoil more than we help, for example, with our pride and irritability. But cast your sorrow on the Lord (Ps. 54:23) and pray with all your heart to Him that He Himself will enlighten the mind and heart of man. If He sees that your prayer is imbued with love, He will certainly fulfill your request, and you will soon see a change in who you are praying for. “This change of the right hand of the Most High” (Psalm 76:11).
As a true Christian, trying to acquire more good deeds and the treasure of love, rejoice at every opportunity to show kindness to your neighbor. Do not seek to be shown affection and love, but consider yourself unworthy of them. Rejoice most of all when you have a chance to help another. Show love simply, without any ulterior motive, without any selfish calculations, remembering that God is love, a simple Being. Remember that He sees all your thoughts and heart movements.
Be courageous and decisive for all good, for words of affection and sympathy, especially for deeds of compassion and help. Consider it a dream – despondency and relaxation in any good deed. Say: “Although I am the first of sinners, yet I can do everything about Jesus strengthening me … … All things are possible to the believer” (Phil. 4:13 and Mark 9:23).
About the Church
The Church is a great family of God, in which God is the Father, the Most Holy Virgin Mary is our Mother, Angels and holy people are our elder brothers, and we are all brothers, born by the Church in one baptismal font and revived by one Holy Spirit… Protestants, by breaking the prayer link with the saints, broke off the link with the Church.
To live in the Church of Christ means to feel the closeness of God and, at the same time, the closeness of the Heavenly Church. – Closeness not only in the sense of historical memories or church inheritance but as a genuine, real prayer contact with the apostles, martyrs, saints, saints and all the righteous who are in it. Living in the Church means getting in touch with the spiritual world, opening your heart more and more to the entry of God’s grace into it. The communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, the sacraments of the Church and public prayer are the means that God has given us for our ascent from earthly to heavenly.
Intrigues of demons
The enemy of the human race takes up arms against us through the people subject to him: through the proud – humiliation and contempt; through fanatics – unbelief, freethinking and blasphemy; through cruel rulers – by tyranny and oppression; by means of gluttons – by the seduction of delicacies, overeating and drunkenness; through lecherous – to the loss of chastity and inclination to debauchery; through thieves – theft of our property. He grieves us through haters and envious people; he deprives us of the necessary food, clothing, and housing through greedy people. By the permission of God, being the prince of this world and the ruler of darkness (John 16:11; Eph. 6:12), using all the means available to him and using all kinds of seduction and oppression, he embitters the human race and tries to win everyone over to his side.
When the devil penetrates the heart, then the soul is extremely shy and darkened, everything begins to irritate it, and it feels an aversion to any good deed; in the words or actions of others, she sees malicious intent and therefore feels a deep, murderous hatred for them, rages and strives for revenge. “By their fruits, you will know them” (Matt. 7:20).
Do not be ruthless judges of people who work for God and sometimes fall into conflict with the Christian principles of godliness, which they recognize and honour. It is the devil, their evil rival, who puts them in conflict with themselves. With his teeth, he deeply digs into their hearts and forces them to act against their beliefs.
When your heart is struck by an invisible enemy, which causes confusion, tightness and discouragement in you, then do not preach, lest you bring temptation instead of benefit. Do not reprimand at this time because they only annoy, not correct. In general, when the enemy nests in the soul, then we must be more silent because then we are not worthy of the word, which is the gift of God the Word. Drive away the enemy, bring peace to your heart and then speak.