you are a layperson, live among laypeople and do their works…” This
should be understood like this: Every form of Christian life has its own
virtues and occupations. The works of those whose manner of life
differs from ours are inaccessible to us. For example, a mother with
nursing infants cannot go to church every day to all the services or
read long prayers at home. Doing so would only cause confusion, and even
sin, if for example while the mother is gone the child is left to
itself and injures itself or makes mischief as it grows.
She cannot completely divest herself of personal property for the sake of her own podvig, [spiritual struggle], because
she is obligated to support and feed the children. She has a duty to
please God by the deeds that are natural to her: patient endurance of
the burdens of family life, prayer and almsgiving according to her
strength, teaching and raising her children, keeping the fasts, going to
church on feast days, abstaining from murmuring, gossip, etc.
On talents and abilities
talents we mean not only wealth, education, or fame. Talents are good
conditions for salvation of the soul. Each of us has his own given
talents. Poverty, sickness, various sorrows—these are all talents.
the worldly point of view, talents mean scholarly, musical, or artistic
abilities. They are not sinful; it is good when such abilities are
combined with a Christian life, and when they are dedicated to God.
an ability prevents us from living in a godly manner and saving our
souls, then it should be abandoned. It is better to be a little stupider
and simpler, but to be saved. What benefit is it to you if you gain the
whole world but destroy your soul?
life without sorrows is a sign of God’s disapproval. We should not envy
those who live without sorrows, for the end of their sorrowlessness is
must not boldly throw ourselves into the abyss of sorrows; this would
be prideful self-reliance. But when sorrows come of their own accord do
not be afraid of them; do not think that they came by accident or
circumstance. No, they are allowed by God’s unfathomable Providence.
The fruit of sorrows is in the purification of the soul and its spiritual state. It must be preserved.
is not, never has been, nor ever will be a place on the earth without
sorrows. A place without sorrows can only be in the heart, when the Lord
is in within it.
shouldn’t be vainglorious about health, or beauty, or any other gifts
of God… All that is earthly is inconstant—both beauty and health. We
have to thank the Lord—thank Him with humility, recognizing our
unworthiness, and not be vainglorious about anything.
When you feel an aversion for someone
you feel an aversion for people, or anger, or irritation against them,
you have to pray for them, regardless of whether they are guilty or not.
Pray in the simplicity of your heart, as the holy fathers council:“Save
O Lord and have mercy on Thy servant (name), and help me, a sinner,
through his/ holy prayers!" The heart will become peaceful from this
prayer, although not always right away.
our own, without Divine help, we are not even capable of praying. We
can not pray as needed, and we do not know how to pray or what to pray
All the time, no matter what you do, whether you are sitting, walking, or working, say with your heart, “Lord have mercy!"
is gained by prayer. You are only approaching the first step, you
haven’t yet ascended it, only approach it and you still have to enter
the door, but you can’t go in by any effort if God’s mercy is not there.
That is why you first of all need to ask, “Open unto me the doors of
Thy compassion, O Lord!"
you are in sorrows or despondency and heavy temptation has found you,
keep repeating this: “O Lord spare, save, and have mercy on Thy
servant!” and the sorrow will be eased.
not to skip your prayer rule, morning or evening. But if you skip it
sometime for some reason, especially if it is due to circumstances
beyond your control, do not be upset, but humbly reproach yourself for
your weakness; for self-reproach is an unseen ascent, while getting
upset, in the words of Elder Ambrose, is not listed anywhere in the
over the passions is accomplished through God’s power. Our feeble
powers are not enough for this. We need to be humbly aware of this and
with humility attract God’s mercy and help to ourselves.