Tuesday, March 24, 2009

St. Dorotheus

 One more thing I tell you, my soul. We cannot escape sorrows if we are to follow the path of righteousness and truth. Nor can we escape bodily illnesses or old age. Those who have loved life of good works and the way of holy fathers cannot come closer to Christ by escaping sorrows. Who tries to cut off his sufferings, he cuts off his salvation. He who doesn't want to suffer doesn't receive benefit, and he who runs away from sorrow runs away from eternal life.

If you really want to be saved, my soul, you will not be able to do so without going through suffering. It is not the number of years that saves us but trusting the Lord and working hard. Even one day spent struggling is better then 100 years spent in ignorance and laziness. What good does longevity do to us if we live in laziness and do not die in struggle? Every good work is taught by patience and forcing one self. Not a single good thing is acquired without a struggle, suffering, and patience. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Seraphim of Sarov wisdom

In silence receive accusations from your enemies and to the Lord alone open your heart. Those who humiliate you or take away your honor with all your might try to forgive them according to the Gospel: From those who took from you, do not ask it back (Lk. 6:30). 
When people scold us, imagine that we deserve it and are not worthy of praise for if we were then all would bow down to us. We should always humble ourselves before others according to the word of St. Isaac Syrin: "Humble yourself and you will see the glory of God in you." 

St. Seraphim of Sarov

Friday, March 13, 2009

God despises lie

Once St. Jacob of Nezeby set out to go to a nearby town. Three poor men who saw him coming decided to deceive him hoping to extract something from him. One of them pretended to be dead. When St. Jacob approached them, the two men pointing at their pseudo dead friend began asking for money to bury him. St. Jacob gave them as much as he could and having prayed for the departed continued on his journey. Seeing that the Elder has gone far away, the beggars asked their "dead" friend to get up.  But the friend did not get up. When they looked closely and saw their friend indeed dead, they were afraid and ran after St. Jacob. Having reached him,  they told him the whole truth asking for forgiveness. Holy Elder was merciful; he came back to the dead man, raised him from the dead by his prayer and suggested not to joke like this again.  

Thursday, March 12, 2009

For those who want salvation

by St. Seraphim of Sarov

Those who want to be saved need to have a humble heart and a broken spirit: The sacrifice of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart - these, o God, You will not despise (Ps. 50:19). In such humble spirit, a man can easily avoid all the traps of the evil one whose efforts are directed towards making us furious and angry thus sowing evil seeds according to the word of the Gospel: Sir! Did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares? He said to them, "An enemy has done this."  However, when the person is trying to be humble and preserves peace in his thoughts, then all the traps of the enemy are meaningless, for where there is peace in one's thoughts there is God Himself: peace is His dwelling place (Ps. 75:2). 

All our life we insult God with our lawlessness and that is why we should always ask the Lord for the forgiveness of our sins.

We should always be patient and accept everything that happens to us with thanksgiving for the Lord's sake. Our life is one minute in comparison with eternity. That is why according to the apostle, our sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). 

Let us constantly, day and night, with tears bring ourselves before the mercy of God  so that He would cleanse us from every evil thought and that we would be able to worthily bring Him gifts of our service. When we do not accept evil thoughts that are planted in us by the evil one, we do good.  

Monday, March 9, 2009

About the destruction of Sodom

from the letters of St. Nicholas of Serbia

Why did the Lord destroy Sodom? The Scripture tells us: And the Lord said "because the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous" (Gen. 18:20). The greatness of the sin of Sodom is evident by the fact that there was not found even ten righteous people in it. When Abraham asked the Lord if He will destroy the city if He finds in it ten righteous ones, the Lord answered: I will not destroy  it for the sake of ten (Gen. 18:32).

But even ten righteous men were not found - all the people of that city arose against the Lord and human nature. Their souls were dead and their bodies were lecherous. And because of that the Lord rained brimstone and fire, the symbol of their filthy passions. And nothing was left of Sodom except bad fame and terrible history. 

The anger of God was upon not only Sodom but other cities as well where sin had made humans so ugly that they stopped looking like a creation of God. If such was the experience of cities which did not know the name of Jesus Christ, what should expect those who were baptized in the name of the Son of God but with their sins they were like Sodom and Gomorrah? Read the prophesy of the Saviour to Capernaum: And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven will be brought down to hades, for if the mighty works which were done in you were done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day (Mt. 11:23). This prophesy was fulfilled on the place where once stood Capernaum which is now covered with thorny bushes, stones, and snakes. With my own eyes I saw this sight and the heart of every pilgrim to the Holy Land was aching. 

Why do we need a persistent prayer?

by St. John of Kronstat 

We need a persistent prayer so that we could warm up our hearts that became cold because of persistent worldly cares. It would have been strange to request such a heart to become penetrated with the warmth of faith and love of God  immediately upon starting one's prayer. For that to happen hard work and time are required. The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force and those who put effort acquire it (Mt. 11:12). Not immediately the Kingdom of Heaven will enter the heart because men run away from it. The Lord Himself lets His will known to us by presenting the parable of the persistent widow who continually come to the judge and trouble him with her requests (Lk. 18: 4-5). Our Lord and God knows our needs even before we tell Him what we need; however, we do not know Him the way we should for we are loyal to our worldly cares  and not to our Heavenly Father. And that is why He, being compassionate and merciful, uses our needs as an excuse for us to turn to Him. Turn to Me, your Father, My lost children, with your whole heart. Even though before you were away from Me but now warm your hearts with faith and love towards Me. 


Sunday, March 8, 2009

St. Theophan the Recluse wisdom

A person, who for a long time lived in sin without repentance, when he begins to repent and change, his soul also begins to feel torment: there is no salvation for him in God (Ps. 3:3). Where does these fear, sadness, boredom, and worry come from? During such temptations, think of the great compassion of God: no matter the multitude of sins and their greatness, the mercy of our God is far greater. Think that whenever you opposed the will of God, the Lord would always have mercy on you. And now when you want and are trying to follow His commandments, wouldn't He help you and have mercy on you? For if the person genuinely and whole-heartedly turns away from his sins to God,  the Lord will grant him much grace and accept him into His mercy. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Have Peace with Everyone

a sermon by Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, tomorrow we are entering into a  seven -week -long Great Lent. What is the best way to start this journey which is so beneficial for us? The Holy Church asks us to embrace the Evangelical commandment of reconciliation with our brethren in Lord Jesus, and to forgive whatever wrong they have done before us. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you - says the Lord in today's reading of the Gospel - but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses (Mt. 6 :14-15). This is the first and necessary condition for reconciliation with God, and forgiveness of our sins. Without this genuine reconciliation and embraced forgiveness, one cannot approach the Lord and begin Great Lent, a journey of repentance. Why? Because the Lord our God is the God of peace and not confusion (1Cor. 14:33). How one can appear before His Face who has anger in his heart, who does not have peace, love, and holiness with each other? Have peace and holiness with each other without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14).
~Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)


This blog is dedicated to my beautiful daughter Annie who is a great blessing for me and who, I pray, will help me come closer to God. 
Here I will post articles translated from Russian into English about Orthodox Christian life, thoughts of prominent spiritual people of Russia, sermons by Russian Orthodox clergy. None of the postings contain my own thoughts. By translating these sermons, I would like to share with the Orthodox Christians in America the wealth of wisdom that is expressed by the elders of Russia.  Please feel free to comment on any of the articles. Thank you for visiting my blog! I hope you will find it beneficial!