From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2016 13:45:42 -0400 Subject: Teachings of the Elders of Optina
all keep from blaming and judging your close ones. We do have something
to worry about: our sinful sores stink—we have to busy ourselves about them. You will not have to answer for others, only for yourself.
Whoever feels that what he does is according to God, it will not be bad for him here, and it will be good for him there.
Keeping the Lord’s commandments revives the soul; it brings peace to your body, and abundant comfort.
If you somehow pardon someone sometime, for this you yourself will be pardoned.
Pharisees both prayed and fasted more than we do, but without humility
all their labor was nothing; so apply yourself the most to obtaining the
Publican’s humility, which usually is born of obedience, and that will
be sufficient for you.
the Holy Fathers have remarked that when a person prepares to receive
Holy Communion or awaits the coming of one of the Feasts, the devil
tries with all his might to cause that person irritation and thus upset
his soul, so that that day would not be passed in joy in the Lord, but
in demonic sorrow. The causes of his attacks on us are varied, but the
most important is the judging of our neighbors—which sin, as do the sins
of licentiousness and other temptations, defiles not only the body, but
also our very soul.
peace is obtained from perfect devotion to the will of God, without
which nothing exists. And if your husband really is not good, ask
yourself in all good conscience before God: “Do I, a sinner, really
deserve a good and kind husband?” And your conscience without fail will
say that you do not deserve a perfectly good husband; and then in
humility of heart, in submission to God’s will, you will love him with
all your heart and will find much that is good, which up until then you
passion reproaches another: where there is self-love, greed for money
gives way— and the opposite also happens. And we know that all vices
sometimes leave a person, and only one stays with him—pride, which is
sufficient to take the place of all the others.
we can in no way dare to blame someone who offends us, even though it
seemed to be an unjust offense. Rather we must consider him to be an
instrument of God’s Providence, sent to us to show our disposition.
one can offend us or irritate us if the Lord doesn’t let this happen
for our benefit, or as a punishment, or to try us and correct us.
you reconcile your heart to the one who is making you angry, then the
Lord will tell his heart to be reconciled with you also.
We must start everything that we do by calling on God’s name.
If you want to have love, then do the works of love, even if at the beginning you do them without love.
should live on earth like a wheel turns: it touches the earth only at
one little point, while all the rest of it ceaselessly rushes upward;
but we, how we lie down on the earth and cannot get up!
best thing of all is to live simply. Don’t rack your brains over
anything. Pray to God. The Lord will arrange everything, only live more
simply. Don’t torment yourself thinking about how and what to do. Let it
be as it happens: that’s what it is to live more simply.
A cross that you have begged for is hard to bear—better to devote yourself to God’s will in simplicity.
has an evil heart should not despair, because with God’s help a person
can correct his heart. One only needs to watch oneself attentively and
not miss an opportunity to be helpful to one’s neighbors, to confide
often in one’s elder, and to give alms according to one’s
means. Of course, one cannot do this all at once, but the Lord will wait
patiently. He only cuts short a person’s life when He sees that he is
ready to cross over to eternal life, or else when He sees no hope of the
God’s judgment, it is not one’s character that has significance, but
the direction of one’s will. Understand that character only has
significance in the judgment of men, and according to it they are either
praised or censured; but in God’s judgment people’s characters, as
natural characteristics, are neither condoned nor censured. The Lord
looks at a good intention and the forcing of oneself to do good, and He
values a person’s resisting the passions, although sometimes one may be
conquered by something due to his weakness. And again, He alone judges
indifference about this, for He knows the person’s innermost heart and
conscience, his natural power to do good, and the circumstances
you notice a fault in a close one that you would like to correct, if it
destroys your peace of mind and annoys you, then you also are sinning
and, consequently, you will not correct a fault by a fault—it is
corrected by meekness.
it’s good for us when they jostle us. The tree that the wind sways more
is strengthened more at the roots, but the one that lives in the calm
things come together, that’s how we should live, because the
circumstances that surround us are not simply accidental, as many of our
contemporary, new-fangled know-it-alls think. Everything happens to us
by God’s Providence, which ever looks after the salvation of our souls.
We ourselves aggravate our sorrows when we begin to complain..
what is needful and necessary, but don’t collect anything unnecessary.
But if you don’t have anything and are upset about it, then what is the
point? — It’s better to follow the middle course.
acts in a person more strongly than anything. Sometimes a person will
even do something difficult—by his own desire. But just tell him to do
something easy, and he immediately gets upset. But we have to do as we
as we must not seek out honor, so neither must we refuse it, as we live
in society for the good of others. Honor imposed [by others] is also
The very sin that each person thinks is so bad in his neighbor is the one that accuses himself, the accuser.
St. Anatoly (Zertsalov)
us submit to God and humble ourselves, and the Lord will cover us, and
we will be holy. But until we humble ourselves and accept God’s will,
until we propitiate God—though we beat our heads against the floor doing
prostrations—the passions will not diminish.
endure everything and you will not only be peaceful yourself, but you
will also give peace to others! But as soon as you begin to keep scores,
you will lose your peace and along with it your salvation.
tell you a secret, I’ll tell you the very best way of finding humility.
This is what it is: to patiently endure every pain that pierces your
winter there would be no spring, and without spring there would be no
summer. So it is also in the spiritual life: a little consolation, and
then a little grief—and thus little by little we work out our salvation.
us accept everything from the hand of God. If He comforts us, let us
thank Him. And if He doesn’t comfort us—let us thank Him.
to be meek and of few words, and you will be loved by everyone. But
open emotion is like open gates: the dog runs through them, the cat runs
through them…and they leave their droppings.
We are obliged to love everyone, but we don’t dare demand that everyone love us.
sure sign of the deadening of the soul is evading church services. A
person who has grown cold towards God first of all begins to avoid going
to church—in the beginning he tries to arrive at the service a little
late, and then he completely stops visiting God’s church.
Lord puts each soul in the position, and surrounds it with the
atmosphere, which will be the most conducive to its improvement and
whole life is a great mystery of God. All the circumstances of our
life, however insignificant they may seem, have huge significance. We
will only fully understand the meaning of our present life in the age to
come. How circumspectly we ought to relate to it! But we leaf through
our life like a book, page after page, not realizing what is written
there. There is nothing accidental in life—everything is wrought by the
will of the Creator.
have to remember that the Lord loves everyone and cares about everyone;
however, if even by human standards it is dangerous to give a beggar a
million, because it may ruin him, while 100 rubles can more easily set
him on his feet, how much better does the All-Knowing Lord know what
will benefit whom.
most difficult thing is prayer. Every virtue becomes habit out of
practice, but we need to force ourselves to pray right up until death
itself. By prayer our “old man” is opposed, and the enemy especially
rises up against a person who is praying.
have to listen to complaints about the fact that we are now going
through difficult times, that now free rein is given to all kinds of
heretical and godless teachings, that the Church is being subjected to
the attacks of enemies from all sides and that it will become terrible
for Her, that these murky waves of unbelief and heresy are overcoming
Her. I always answer, “Don’t worry! Don’t be afraid for the Church! She
will not perish: the gates of hell will not prevail against Her, right
to the Dread Judgment itself. Do not fear for Her but for
yourself—that’s what you have to fear for, and it’s true that our times
are very difficult. Why? Because now it is especially easy to fall away from Christ, and then—perish.”
St. Anatoly (Potapov)
say that church is boring. It’s boring because they don’t understand
the services! You have to study the services! Church is boring because
they don’t care about it—it doesn’t seem to belong to them, but to
someone else. Even if they at would least bring some flowers or greens
for decorations, if they took part in all the fuss of decorating the
church, then it wouldn’t be boring.
Live simply, by your conscience, and always remember that the Lord sees—and don’t pay attention to all the rest!
main thing is to beware of judging your neighbors. As soon as it enters
your head to judge someone, right then and there say to the Lord with
attention, “Lord, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my
can’t demand that a fly do the work of a honeybee—you have to give to
each person according to his measure. You can’t give to everyone
is not, never was, and never will be a place on earth without sorrow.
There can only be a place without sorrow in the heart, when the Lord is
It is a mistake to seek after human truth—seek only God’s truth.
remember the law of the spiritual life: if you get upset about some
fault of another person and you condemn him, afterwards the same fate
will befall you, and you will suffer from the same.
matter how insignificant it may seem to you, do everything well, as in
the presence of God. Remember that the Lord sees everything.