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Christian Life, Zeal, Patience and Determination

Our inner being can see more clearly in the morning when its spiritual eyes have not yet been clouded with earthly cares and temptations of the Deceiver. Because then, it is like a fish that has risen from the depths of the sea to the surface. The rest of the time, it is shrouded with a near impenetrable gloom; its eyes are covered with a sickly blindfold that hides the genuine order of things. That is why you should capture the morning hours. These are like hours from a new, renovated life to be. They indicate to us the state we will be in when we arise rejuvenated in the morning of the nightless day of the General Resurrection.

Take upon yourself to lead at least one day in accordance with God’s laws, and you will see for yourself how good it is to fulfil the will of God. At least come to love God in the same way as you love your parents and your benefactors; appraise His love and grace toward you according to your evaluative powers. Mentally examine how He gave you life and with it, all its blessings; how He tolerates your frequent sinning with long-suffering forbearance; how He endlessly forgives your sins through the power of the suffering and death of His only Son on the Cross; remember what joy he has offered you in eternity if you are faithful to Him. Furthermore, love every human being i.e. do not wish him anything that you would not wish for yourself; contemplate, feel for him like you would for yourself; do not see in him that, that you would not want to see in yourself; let your memory forget the wrongs that have been inflicted upon you by others, just as you hope that your wrongs will be forgotten by others; do not suspect others in anything criminal or unchaste and imagine others as being good intentioned as you yourself are. At least do not inflict upon others that which you would not inflict upon yourself, and your heart will experience such tranquillity — such joy! You will be in Heaven before the advent of Heaven. "The kingdom of God is within you," says God (Luke 17:21). "Whoever lives in love — teaches the Apostle — lives in God, and God in him" (1 John 7:16).

Begin to fulfil commandments relating to small things and you will accomplish the fulfillment of larger ones: all small things lead to larger ones. At least attempt to fulfil the dictate of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, or the tenth Commandment relating to evil thoughts and desires, and you will carry out all the commandments, "but the unfaithful in minor things is unfaithful in major ones."

When our flesh is infirm, it is despondent and complaining, but when it indulges in physical pleasures, it rejoices and bounces. Do not pay any attention to the deceitful feelings of the flesh. You must learn to reject all carnal wiles and sensations. You need to endure all sorrows and sicknesses patiently, be strong in spirit and place all your reliance on God.

Life is a great science that is not easily acquired. It is a constrictive path and a narrow gate. He who has not started from childhood (guided by the New Testament) to learn this study: has not learned to believe in God: is not used to venerating Him: is unable to clearly discern good from evil — will find it difficult to acquire this in the ensuing years of his life. Although others will consider him as being clever and acknowledge his learning and abilities, in the school of life he may turn out to be a total ignoramus. He might not prove to be effectual neither in family life nor societal activity e.g. because of his intractable character or other bad habits. Just like a loaded ship that sails into the open sea without a rudder, tackle or sails, he too may sustain a catastrophe in his life.

The science of sciences is the conquering of active passions within us. An example of great wisdom is not to be angry at, and not to speak ill of anyone even though they may have inflicted hurt upon us. Wisdom is to despise avarice and love benevolence, despise delicacies and be content with simple fare, eaten in moderation. Wisdom is not to indulge in flattery but to speak the truth boldly; wisdom is not to be captivated by the beauty of a face but to respect in every person the beauty of the image of God. Wisdom is to love your enemies and not seek revenge through deed, word or thought. Wisdom is not to accumulate wealth but to give alms to the poor in order to obtain treasures in Heaven. Alas! We have mastered almost all the sciences yet we have not learned at all how to distance ourselves away from sin and as a consequence, we often appear as total ignoramuses in the science on ethics. And it turns out to be that the truly wise were saints, disciples of the Teacher-Christ while we, the so-called erudite are ignoramuses, and often the more scholarly we are, the more ignorant are we because enslaved by various passions, we have not recognized that which is most important.

Those people that attempt to live spiritual lives experience the most subtle and difficult conflicts with their thoughts. One must continually watch one’s thoughts and reject those that are from the devil. Our hearts need to always be afire with faith, humility and love. Otherwise it may be inhabited by the devil’s invidiousness and with it — diminution of faith and every other evil that will be difficult to wash away even with tears. Consequently, do not allow your heart to grow cold, especially during prayer; avoid cold indifference completely…..Pray and strengthen yourself and your heart.

We have a reliable barometer, which indicates the expansion or the decline of our spiritual life and that is — our heart. It can also be called a compass that shows us which way to swim. It reveals whether we are travelling toward the spiritual East — Christ, or headed West — toward the dark domain of the devil, this sovereign of death. Therefore, watch your inner compass attentively and it will show you the true path.

The conscience of each person is a ray of light from the sole, all-enlightening spiritual Sun-God. Like a Just and Almighty King, it is through this conscience that the Lord God controls each and everyone. And how mighty is His sovereignty through the conscience! Nobody is powerful enough to silence its voice totally. Like the voice of God Himself, it speaks to each and everyone without any bias! Thanks to our conscience, we are all as one with God. That is why the Ten Commandments are directed as though to one person: "I am the Lord, thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me…Thou shalt not carve images…Remember to keep the Sabbath Day holy...Honor thy father and thy mother...Thou shalt not kill…Thou shalt not commit adultery" etc. (Exodus 20:1-17) Or, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…and your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31), because he is exactly the same me.

Throughout your life, watch over your heart and notice those things that hinder its union with God. Let this be your science of sciences and with God’s help, you will get accustomed to perceiving quickly what distances you away from God and what draws you nearer to Him. The Deceiver strives very hard to stand between our heart and God. It is precisely he who distances us from God with various passions: carnal lust of the body, lust through the eyes and earthly pride.

Distinguish between the Life-giving Spirit and the spirit of death within yourself. When your soul has good thoughts, you feel good and buoyant, you experience tranquillity and joy: this indicates that the Holy Spirit is in you. Whereas when you have unkind thoughts or unkind inclinations of the heart, you feel burdened and troubled. This indicates that the evil spirit is within you. The evil spirit is the spirit of doubt, disbelief, passion, constriction, sorrow, confusion; whereas the righteous spirit is the spirit of unshakable faith, spirit of benevolence, spirit of spiritual freedom and expanse, spirit of peace and joy. Through these indicators, ascertain what spirit is active within you.

"He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me, scatters" (Luke 11:23). Throughout your life, you must aspire to progress in your spiritual life, advancing higher and higher, ever increasing the abundance of your benevolence. If we remain static in our moral completeness, it would the same as if we were sliding backwards. Not to acquire something is the same as losing it.

Be balanced in all religious matters because even goodness has to be sensible, in accordance with ability, time and place. For example, it is good to pray with an unimpaired heart, but as soon as prayer ceases to correspond with the physical vigor; with a variety of circumstances, of place and time, it will then no longer be good. That is why Apostle Peter teaches, "Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge self-control, and to self-control, perseverance" (2 Peter 1:5-6).

The day is a symbol of the fleetness of earthly life: morning comes, then day, thereupon evening, and with the advent of night, the whole day had passed. Life will pass the same way. Just like early morning, first there is childhood, then just as full sunrise and midday, adolescence and adulthood — thereafter, God willing, just like evening, old age — and then unavoidable death.

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