Russian Orthodox christian Presbyter and a member of the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church
Saint John of Kronstadt, fully John Il’ich Serguiev, aka Holy Father John of the Kronstadt
Russian Orthodox christian Presbyter and a member of the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church
When seeking material light, remember the spiritual light which is indispensable for the soul, and without which it remains in the darkness of the passions, in the darkness of spiritual death. 'I am come as a light into the world,' says the Lord, 'that whosoever believeth on Me, should not abide in darkness' (Jn. 12:46).
When the darkness of the accursed one [the devil] covers you ? doubt, despondency, despair, disturbance ? then only call with your whole heart ? and in Him you shall find all ? light, strengthening, trust, comfort, and peace; in Him you shall find the greatest mercy, goodness and bountifulness; all these mercies you will find contained in His name alone, as though in a rich treasury.
When the foolish thought of counting up any of your good works enters into your head, immediately correct your fault and rather count up your sins, your continual and innumerable offenses against the All-merciful and Righteous Master, and you will find that their number is as the sand of the sea, whilst your virtues in comparison with them are as nothing.
When the light of faith or God's truth dwells in your heart, only then is it tranquil, firm, strong, and living; but when this is cut off, then your heart becomes uneasy, weak as a reed shaken by the wind, and lifeless. Do not pay any attention to this darkness of Satan.
When you are praying, watch over yourself so that 0not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Wherever I am, as soon as I raise the eyes of my heart in my affliction to God, the Lover of men immediately answers my faith and prayer, and the sorrow immediately departs.
When you are threatened with temptation to sin, then represent to yourself vividly that sin is exceedingly displeasing to God, Who hates iniquity. "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." And in order to understand this better, imagine a father, righteous and severe, who loves his family, and is trying by every means to make his children well-principled and upright, in order to reward them afterwards for their good behaviour by the great riches he has laboriously laid up for them, and, who nevertheless sees, to his grief, that the children, disregarding their father's love, do not love him, do not pay attention to the inheritance so lovingly prepared for them by their father, but live disorderly, and rush impetuously to destruction. Mark, that " sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,"1 because it kills the soul, because it makes us the slaves of the Devil?the destroyer of men; and the more we work for sin, the more difficult will be our return, and the more sure will be our ruin. Dread, therefore, every sin with the whole heart. When your heart inclines to evil, and the evil one begins to undermine your heart, so that it is completely removed from the rock of faith, then say to yourself inwardly " I know of my spiritual poverty, my own nothingness without faith. I am so weak, that it is only by Christ's name that I live and obtain peace, that I rejoice and my heart expands, whilst without Him I am spiritually dead, I am troubled, and my heart is oppressed; without the Lord's Cross I should have been long since the victim of the most cruel distress and despair. Only Christ keeps me alive: and the Cross is my peace and my consolation.
The moon as it waxes and wanes illustrates the condition of man: sometimes he does what is right, sometimes he sins and then through repentance returns to a holy life. The intellect of one who sins is not destroyed... just as the physical size of the moon does not diminish, but only its light. Through repentance a man regains his true splendor, just as the moon after the period of waning clothes itself once more in its full light. If a man believes in Christ, 'even though he dies, he shall live' (John 11:25); he shall know that 'I the Lord have spoken, and will do it' (Ezek. 17:24 LXX).
The more sincere our confession, the more tranquil will be the soul afterwards. Sins are secret serpents, gnawing at the heart of a man and all his being; they do not let him rest, they continually suck his heart; sins are prickly thorns, constantly goring the soul; sins are spiritual darkness. Those who repent must bring forth the fruits of repentance.
The only means by which you can spend the day in perfect holiness, peace, and without sin, is the most sincere, fervent prayer as soon as you rise from sleep in the morning.
The problem of our life is union with God, and sin completely prevents this; therefore flee from sin as from a terrible enemy, as from the destroyer of the soul, because to be without God is death and not life. Let us therefore understand our destination; let us always remember that our common Master calls us to union with Himself.
There is nothing impossible unto those who believe; lively and unshaken faith can accomplish great miracles in the twinkling of an eye. Besides, even without our sincere and firm faith, miracles are accomplished, such as the miracle of the sacraments; for God?s Mystery is always accomplished, even though we are incredulous or unbelieving at the time of its celebration. ?Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?? (Romans 3: 3). Our wickedness shall not overpower the unspeakable goodness and mercy of God; our dullness shall not overpower God?s wisdom, nor our infirmity God?s omnipotence.
Therefore, do not grudge anything to your brother, but do unto him as unto the Lord; especially as you do not know in whom the Lord will come and visit you; be impartial to all, be kind to all, sincere and hospitable. Remember that sometimes God speaks even through unbelievers, or disposes their hearts towards us, as it happened in Egypt when the Lord gave Joseph favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Therefore, live in a manner pleasing to God, especially you who are priests of God; be holy, pure, meek, humble, merciful, temperate, laborious, patient, and your prayer shall always penetrate the heavens, and shall be heard and fulfilled. Always pray with your whole heart, and, above all, with a pure heart.
They straightway left their nets and followed Him' (Mt. 4:20). The Apostles did not grudge leaving their nets for the Lord's sake, although they were perhaps their only property, and precious to them because they lived by them; and we, likewise, for the Lord's sake, ought to leave everything that hinders our following Him that is, all the many and various nets in which the enemy entangles us in life.
Through our spiritual vision we see and know the smallest movements of the heart, all our thoughts, desires and intentions in general, almost everything that is in our soul. But God is greater than our heart. He is within us and around us and everywhere, in every place, as the Single, All-seeing, Spiritual Eye, of which our own spiritual vision is but a small specimen, and, therefore, He knows all that is in us a thousand times better and more clearly than we ourselves; at the same time He knows everything that is in every man, in every angel, and in all the heavenly powers, in every animate and inanimate creature; sees as upon the palm of His hand all that is within us and every creature, being inherent in each one of them, and maintaining each one of them in its existence and functions, as the All-Provident Creator.
To the soul that doubts how it can ever give birth to Christ through great acts of holiness, these words are said: 'The Holy Spirit shall come upon you' (Lk. 1:35). Where the Holy Spirit is present, do not expect any more the sequence and laws of nature and habit. The Holy Spirit whom we worship is all-powerful, and in an astonishing way He brings into existence what does not as yet exist within us. The intellect that was previously defeated He now makes victorious; for the Paraclete who in compassion comes upon us from above 'is higher than all' (Jn. 3:31), and He raises us above all natural impulses and demonic passions.
Very often it happens that prayer is on the lips, but in the heart cunning, incredulity or unbelief, so that by the lips the man seems near to God, whilst in his heart he is far from Him.
Watch whether your heart agrees with, everything that your tongue pronounces.
Watch your heart during all your life - examine it, listen to it, and see what prevents its union with the most blessed Lord. Let this be for you the science of all sciences, and with God's help you will easily observe what estranges you from God, and what draws you towards Him and unites you to Him.
We have a Tsar of righteous and pious life. God has sent a heavy cross of sufferings to him as to His chosen one and beloved child, as the seer of the destinies of God said: ?Whom I love, those I reproach and punish? (Rev. 3.19). If there is no repentance in the Russian people, the end of the world is near. God will remove from it the pious Tsar and send a whip in the person of impure, cruel, self-called rulers, who will drench the whole land in blood and tears.
We love everything brilliant on earth: gold, silver, precious stones, crystal, bright clothing - why, then, do we not love the future glory to which the Lord calls us? Why do we not aspire to shine like the sun? 'Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father' (Matt. 13:43). It is because we have perverted the nature of our soul by sin, and have attached ourselves to earth instead of to heaven, to corruptible things instead of to incorruptible ones; because we love earthly, transitory, perishable, and seductive splendor. But why is there such a love for everything bright in us? Because our soul was created for heavenly light, and was originally all light, all radiance; thus light is inborn in it, the feeling and desire for light are inborn in it. Direct this aspiration to seeking for heavenly light!
We must most carefully look after the field of our heart, lest the tares of evil, slothfulness, luxuriousness, self-indulgence, unbelief, avarice, envy, hatred, and others, should grow within it; we must daily weed the field of our heart ? at least, at morning and evening prayers, and refresh it by salutary sighs, as by healthful winds, and water it with abundant tears, as by early and late rain. Besides this, we must by every means implant in the field of our heart the seeds of the virtues, faith, hope in God, and love for God and our neighbor, fertilize it with prayer, patience, good works, and not for a single hour remain in complete idleness and inactivity, for in times of idleness and inactivity the enemy zealously sows his tares. 'While men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way' (Mt. 13:25).
Strive, therefore, to perfect within you that which loves and hates, that which is calm or disturbed, which rejoices or grieves?that is, your heart or your inward man, which thinks and reasons through your intellect.
Take the trouble to spend only one single day according to God's commandments, and you will see yourself, you will feel by your own heart, how good it is to fulfill God's will (and God's will in relation to us is our life, our eternal blessedness). Love God with all your heart at least as much as you love your father, your mother, and your benefactors; value with all your strength His love and His benefits to you (go over them mentally in your heart, think how He gave you existence and with it all good tillings, how endlessly long He bears with your sins, how endlessly He forgives you them; for the sake of your hearty repentance, by virtue of the suffering and death upon the Cross of His only-begotten Son, what blessedness He has promised you in eternity, if you are faithful to Him); enumerate besides His mercies, which are endlessly great and manifold. Furthermore, love every man as yourself?that is, do not wish him anything mat you would not wish for yourself ; think, feel for him just as you would think and feel for your own self; do not wish to see in him anything that you do not wish to see in yourself; do not let your memory keep in it any evil caused to you by others, in the same way as you would wish that the evil done by yourself should be forgotten by others; do not intentionally imagine either in yourself or in another anything guilty or impure ; believe others to be as well-intentioned as yourself, in general, if you do not see clearly that they are evilly disposed ; do unto them as you would to yourself, or even do not do unto them as you would not do unto yourself, and then you will see what you will obtain in your heart-?what peace, what blessedness! You will be in paradise before reaching it?that is, before the paradise in heaven you will be in the paradise on earth. "The kingdom of God is within you," says, the Lord. "He that dwelleth in love," teaches the Apostle,"dwelleth in God and God in him.?
The accursed one does not allow the eye of the heart to see the Lord or His saints. He darkens our heart in every way. He scatters faith, oppressing, burning and darkening us inwardly. We must look upon all such actions as illusions and falsehood, and break through this imaginary wall to the Lord, or to His Holy Mother, or His saints. As soon as you break through this wall you will be immediately saved.