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
For we are inclined to forget the only thing we need. With death all will be taken from us, all earthly goods, riches, beauty of body and raiment, spacious dwellings, etc., but the virtue of the soul, that incorruptible raiment, shall remain with us eternally.
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Mt. 18:20). I reverence even two or three praying together, for in accordance with the Lord's promise He Himself is in the midst of them.
Forgive those who trespass against you, so that God may forgive your trespasses, incomparably greater than the trespasses of others against you.
God is inexhaustible in His gifts to men? Everywhere we see plenty and joy; only the greedy rich lay their hands on and keep in their treasuries too many of God's gifts, which might plentifully nourish hundreds and thousands of poor. Man! Believe firmly in God's inexhaustibility in His gifts, and willingly 'deal your bread to the hungry' (Isa. 58:7)?
God?s saints are near to believing hearts and, like the truest and kindest of friends, are ready in a moment to help the faithful and pious who call upon them with faith and love. We have for the most part to send, and have sometimes to wait long for earthly helpers, whilst we have not to send for nor wait long for spiritual helpers: the faith of Him who prays can place them close to his very heart in a moment, and he will as speedily receive through faith full spiritual help... Probably some would say that this is the action of simple and firm faith, and a determined assurance in our deliverance from affliction, and not the intercession of the saints for us before God. No, it is not so. How can this be proved? It can be proved by the fact that if I do not call upon the saints known to me in hearty prayer, without making any distinction, if I do not see them with my spiritual vision, then I shall obtain no help, however great assurance I may have felt of being saved without their help. I recognize, I feel clearly, that I receive help through the names of those saints upon whom I have called, because of my lively faith in them. This happens just as everything happens in the usual order of earthly things. First, I see my helpers by means of earnest faith; then, seeing them, I pray to them also with my whole heart, invisibly but intelligibly to myself; after this, having received invisible help in quite an imperceptible manner, but sensibly to my soul, I simultaneously receive a strong conviction that this help has been obtained from them, just as a sick man, cured by a doctor, is convinced that he has been cured precisely by that doctor, and not by anyone else; that his illness has passed away not by itself, but through the help of this particular doctor. All this comes to pass so simply that it is only necessary to have eyes in order to see.
He says: I was dead, and behold, I am alive for, evermore, amen; and you also will be alive forever. This is the meaning of the words of Him Who arose: I am the first and the last; I am He that liveth and was dead for you, for your redemption from death, and I; that is: I conquered your death by My innocent death for your sake, and behold, I am also forever and will sit with My Father on His throne; I was not separated from Him, even though I was on earth accomplishing My great work for you who are subject to sin and death. Therefore, do you also, My followers, work and struggle against sin and do righteous deeds, and where I am, there shall My servant be also--that is, in the eternal Kingdom.
Hearty faith is indispensable for man, because the light of our intellect is very limited, and cannot contain much mental light, while the Lord our God is Infinite Light, and the world is an abyss of His omnipotence and wisdom, whilst in us there is only, so to say, a drop of His power and wisdom, because only so much, and not more, can be contained of them in our perishable flesh.
How do we receive the highest mystery of Divine love to us ? ?With our mind, heart and life; with our free will? Are all the three powers of our souls penetrated by holy faith, as were the souls of the saints? The kingdom of heaven 'is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened' (Lk. 13:21). The three measures are the three powers of the soul.
How indifferent a priest should be to earthly things, in order that when celebrating such services, such high and most heavenly sacraments, he may not be ensnared by the enemy, but may always burn with pure love for God and his fellow men, who are lost through sins and are saved by the grace of Christ in the Holy Spirit! But how greatly we are wont to sin! How strong are our earthly attachments! Even when celebrating the sacraments, we sometimes, through being accustomed to them, do not completely lay aside worldly cares and attachments, and therefore the enemy disturbs, darkens and perverts our mind, binds our heart, and takes us prisoners. And deservedly! Do not dream. A priest should be an angel by the elevation of his thoughts, by the purity of his soul and body, by the ardor of his love for God, the Creator of all things and the Savior, and for men, his brethren.
How many of us become irritated and lose their temper when they are deprived, not of their last coin, but only of some small part of by no means their last property! How much agitation, anger, bile, bitter reproaches, murmuring, sometimes even curses! Righteous God! Can this dross called money, or this food and drink produce such storms in our souls, in us who know the words of our sweetest Savior? 'Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body what you shall put on. Behold the birds of the air, they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you' (Mt. 6:25, 26, 33). Or: 'A man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses' (Lk. 12:15).
How will it be with us in the future life, when everything that has gratified us in this world: riches, honors, food and drink, dress, beautifully furnished dwellings, and all attractive objects-how will it be, I say, when all these things leave us-when they will all seem to us a dream, and when works of faith and virtue, of abstinence, purity, meekness, humility, mercy, patience, obedience, and others will be required of us?
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Correct your own sins. Do not lose your temper with those who sin. Do not have a passion for noticing every sin in your neighbor and judging it, as we usually do. Everyone will give an answer for himself before God. Especially, do not look with evil intention on the sins of those older than you, with whom you have no business. But correct your own sins, your own heart.
Do not be vexed with those who show pride, or malice, effeminacy, and impatience in their intercourse with you, or others, but , remembering that you yourself are subject to the same and greater sins and passions, pray for them and be meek with them.
Do not forget yourself in looking upon the bodily face ? look more attentively with your inward vision upon the face of your soul, what aspect it wears: is it not disfigured by the passions? And if so, destroy this disfigurement by prayer and tearful repentance. Do not forget yourself in looking upon beautiful raiment: it is corruption; but consider the incorruptible raiment of your soul, in what state it is: is it not hideous and impure, owing to frequent transgressions, both secret and evident; and strive to clothe your soul in the imperishable beauty of meekness, humility, chastity and purity, mercy, and righteousness.
Do not neglect to uproot from the hearts of children the tares of sins, impure, evil and blasphemous thoughts, sinful habits, inclinations and passions; the enemy and the sinful flesh do not spare even children; the seeds of all sins are to be found in children too; show them the danger of sin on the path of life; do not hide sins from them lest through ignorance and want of comprehension they should be confirmed in sinful habits and attachments, which grow stronger and stronger and bring forth corresponding fruits when the children grow up.
Every lying thought bears in itself a proof of its falsehood. This proof is its deadly effect upon the heart.
Every man on earth is sick with the fever of sin, with the blindness of sin and is overcome with its fury. As sins consist mostly of malice and pride, it is necessary to treat everyone who suffers from the malady of sin with kindness and love. This is an important truth, which we often forget. Very often we act in the opposite manner: we add malice to malice by our anger, we oppose pride with pride. Thus, evil grows within us and does not decrease; it is not cured ? rather it spreads
Every man possesses that which is according to the image of God, "for the gifts of God are irrevocable" (Rom. 11:29). But only a few ? those who are virtuous and holy, and have imitated the goodness of God to the limit of human powers ? Possess that which is according to the likeness of God.
Every sin comes from the love of self.
Every sin is a war against God. But - O infinite gift of God's love to men! - When we had fallen so low by having sinned against the Creator, when we had fallen from life into death, by turning away from God, our Life; when we had corrupted ourselves by sins, and when everlasting death threatened us ? God sent upon earth the Redeemer of the World, His own Only-begotten Son, in flesh like ours, to suffer for our offenses and thus cleanse us from sins, through repentance and faith in Him, and bring us again to His Father, from Whom we had fallen away. Let us value this, God's greatest benefit to us, and let us not 'neglect so great a salvation' (Heb. 2:3)! Let us constantly remember our sinful corruption, and the means of grace offered by the Church for our regeneration.
As the word of the man reveals what is in his mind and heart (reveals the mind unseen, dominating, creating), and as the breath proceeds from the man through the word, revealing the mind or the thought, so, somewhat similarly, the Word of God reveals to us the Father ? that great all-creating Mind and, through the Word, the Holy Spirit, the life-giving Spirit, Who is the power of the Highest, eternally proceeds from the Father and is revealed to men.
As you are aware, man, in his words, does not die; he is immortal in them, and they will speak after his death.
Bear any illness bravely, and do not merely not become despondent, but on the contrary, rejoice, if you can, in your illness. You would ask me what there is for you to rejoice at when you are racked all over with pain? Rejoice that the Lord has sent you this temporary chastisement in order to cleanse your soul from sins. 'For whom the Lord loves He chastens' (Heb. 12:6). Rejoice in the fact that now you are not gratifying those passions which you would have gratified had you been in good health; rejoice that you are bearing the cross of sickness, and that therefore you are treading the narrow and sorrowful way leading to the kingdom of heaven. Maladies in our eyes only appear painful, unpleasant and terrible. It is seldom that any one of us during the time of sickness represents to himself the profit which his illness brings to his soul; but in God's all wise and most merciful Providence, not a single malady remains without some profit to our soul. Sicknesses in the hands of Providence are the same as bitter medicines for our soul, curing its passions, its bad habits and inclinations. Not a single malady sent to us shall return void. Therefore, we must keep in view the utility of sicknesses, in order that we may bear them more easily and more calmly.
Both learned and unlearned young men seldom go to church, and in general do not attend to their spiritual education, looking upon it as unnecessary and giving themselves up to worldly vanity. Attention must be paid to this. It is the fruit of pride... They consider attendance at church and Divine service as the business of the common people and women, forgetting that, in the temple, Angels officiate with trembling, together with men, and regard this as their highest bliss.