John of Kronstadt: Know by these tokens when the Spirit of God is within you… Thursday, Apr 21 2016 

john_kronstadtObserve the difference between the presence of the life-giving spirit and the presence of the spirit that deadens and destroys your soul.

When there are good thoughts in your soul you feel happy and at ease; when peace and joy are in your heart, then the spirit of good, the Holy Ghost, is within you;

whilst when evil thoughts or evil motions of the heart arise within you, you feel ill at ease and oppressed; when you are inwardly troubled, then the spirit of evil, the crafty spirit, is within you.

When the spirit of evil is in us, then, together with oppression of heart and disturbance, we generally feel a difficulty in drawing near to God in our heart, because the evil spirit binds our soul, and will not let it raise itself to God.

The evil spirit is a spirit of doubt, unbelief – of passions, oppression, grief and disturbance; whilst the spirit of good is one of undoubting faith, of virtue, of spiritual freedom and breadth – a spirit of peace and joy.

Know by these tokens when the Spirit of God is within you, and when the spirit of evil, and, as often as possible, raise your grateful heart to the most Holy Spirit that gives you life and light, and flee with all your power from doubt, unbelief, and the passions through which the evil serpent, the thief and destroyer of our souls, creeps in.

Sometimes in the lives of pious Christians there are hours when God seems to have entirely abandoned them – hours of the power of darkness; and then the man from the depths of his heart cries unto God:

“Why hast Thou turned Thy face from me, Thou everlasting Light? For a strange darkness has covered me…and has obscured all my soul….Turn me, O Saviour, to the light of Thy commandments and make straight my spiritual way, I fervently pray Thee.”

[…] Not knowing the spirit that destroys, you will not know the Spirit that gives life. Only by means of direct contrasts of good and evil, of life and death, can we clearly know the one and the other: if you are not subjected to distresses and dangers of bodily or spiritual death, you will not truly know the Saviour, the Life-Giver, who delivers us from these distresses and from spiritual death.

Jesus Christ is the consolation, the joy, the life, the peace and the breadth of our hearts! Glory to God, the Most Wise and Most Gracious, that He allows the spirit of evil and death to tempt and torment us! Otherwise we should not have sufficiently appreciated and valued the comfort of grace, the comfort of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, the Life-Giving!

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ, part 1, pp.37-38.

Advertisements

John of Kronstadt: The Most Holy Virgin was brought into the temple to be instructed in the Lord… Saturday, Nov 21 2015 

john_kronstadtNovember 21st – The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary / The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple.

Since the Most Holy Virgin was brought into the temple to be instructed in the Lord, let us talk now about the benefit and necessity of going to the church of God as the house of God and place where we are raised for the Heavenly Fatherland.

We are called Christians, and we are all called by Jesus Christ to the Heavenly Fatherland, to be heavenly citizens, Divine inheritors, co-inheritors with Christ.

Our calling is very high, our duties are also just as important; our spirit should be very exalted, holy, meek, and humble.

Who will show us what makes up our Christian calling and duty, of what spirit we must be, and how we should behave ourselves in various life situations?

Who will give us the strength to live in the spirit of Christ—holy? The Church gives us all this. We can receive these spiritual powers in the temple of God through the Sacraments.

Here a heavenly, unearthly spirit hovers; here is the school of Jesus Christ, in which future heavenly citizens are educated.

Here you will receive heavenly lessons from the Divine Teacher, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the Gospels.

Here is heavenly food and heavenly drink, spiritual, heavenly garments, and spiritual armaments against the enemies of salvation.

Here you will receive the peace that is a foretaste of heaven, so necessary to our spiritual activity and education, and strength for spiritual labors and struggle with sin.

Here we partake of sweet conversation with our Heavenly Father and the Most Holy Queen and Mother of God, with the angels of the Lord and saints.

Here we learn how to pray, and for what to pray. Here you will find examples of all the Christian virtues in the saints who are glorified each day by the Church.

Here, gathered together in the house of God, as children of one Heavenly Father, as members of the mystical body of Christ, we learn how to love one another—member loving member, as members of Christ, as Christ Himself.

See how beneficial, how necessary it is for a Christian to visit God’s church. It is a school of faith and piety founded by God, a sacred treasure According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), the treasury of all the Mysteries of Christ!

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): The House of God – Homily on the Day of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple @ Pravoslavie.

John of Kronstadt: Jesus Christ is the consolation, the joy, the life, the peace and the breadth of our hearts Monday, Oct 19 2015 

john_kronstadtObserve the difference between the presence of the life-giving spirit and the presence of the spirit that deadens and destroys your soul.

When there are good thoughts in your soul you feel happy and at ease;

when peace and joy are in your heart, then the spirit of good, the Holy Ghost, is within you;

whilst when evil thoughts or evil motions of the heart arise within you, you feel ill at ease and oppressed;

when you are inwardly troubled, then the spirit of evil, the crafty spirit, is within you.

When the spirit of evil is in us, then, together with oppression of heart and disturbance, we generally feel a difficulty in drawing near to God in our heart, because the evil spirit binds our soul, and will not let it raise itself to God.

The evil spirit is a spirit of doubt, unbelief–of passions, oppression, grief and disturbance; whilst the spirit of good is one of undoubting faith, of virtue, of spiritual freedom and breadth–a spirit of peace and joy.

Know by these tokens when the Spirit of God is within you, and when the spirit of evil, and, as often as possible, raise your grateful heart to the most Holy Spirit that gives you life and light, and flee with all your power from doubt, unbelief, and the passions through which the evil serpent, the thief and destroyer of our souls, creeps in.

Sometimes in the lives of pious Christians there are hours when God seems to have entirely abandoned them–hours of the power of darkness; and then the man from the depths of his heart cries unto God:

“Why hast Thou turned Thy face from me, Thou everlasting Light? For a strange darkness has covered me…. Turn me, O Saviour, to the light of Thy commandments and make straight my spiritual way, I fervently pray Thee.”

If you do not yourself experience the action of the wiles of the evil spirit, you will not know, and will not appreciate and value as you ought, the benefits bestowed upon you by the Holy Spirit: not knowing the spirit that destroys, you will not know the Spirit that gives life.

Only by means of direct contrasts of good and evil, of life and death, can we clearly know the one and the other: if you are not subjected to distresses and dangers of bodily or spiritual death, you will not truly know the Saviour, the Life-Giver, who delivers us from these distresses and from spiritual death.

Jesus Christ is the consolation, the joy, the life, the peace and the breadth of our hearts!

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ, part 1, pp.37-38.

John of Kronstadt: “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him” Wednesday, Jul 22 2015 

john_kronstadtBegin to fulfil the commandments relating to small things, and you will come to fulfil the commandments relating to great things.

Small things everywhere lead to great ones.

Begin by fulfilling the commandment of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, or the tenth commandment relating to evil thoughts and desires, and you will eventually learn to fulfil all the commandments.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).

[…] 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 fulfil 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 things, how endlessly long He bears with your sins, how endlessly He forgives you them for the sake of your hearty repentance…, 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 that 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” (Luke 17:21), says the Lord. “He that dwelleth in love,” teaches the Apostle, “dwelleth in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ, part 1, pp.33-35.

John of Kronstadt: The frequent deliverance from affliction of heart through the intercession and patronage of the saints Thursday, Jun 25 2015 

john_kronstadtGod’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.

In saying this, I speak by experience;

by this I mean the frequent deliverance from affliction of heart through the intercession and patronage of the saints, and especially through the intercession of Our Lady, the Holy Virgin Mary.

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 recognise, 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. I am a man–and the grace, the truth and the righteousness of God are continually working within me.

It is God Who at one time cherishes and comforts me, and at another punishes and afflicts me with sorrows for any inward motion of the soul adverse to Him.

But the earth is full of men like me. Therefore, in them also God manifests His mercy, truth and righteousness, as in myself. “He worketh all in all.”

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ, part 1, pp.31-32.

John of Kronstadt: The Son of God became the Son of Man in order to make us sons of God Tuesday, Dec 24 2013 

john_kronstadtWe are approaching…the world-saving feast of the birth in the flesh of our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

For several days before the feast, the holy Church will celebrate this wondrous mystery in the spiritual hymns of her daily services.

These hymns remind us of our divine birthright, and the squandering of our sonship through sin; of its restoration through repentance of our common spiritual kinship and of the spirit of love and care for one another.

[…] God became man to save His people from their sin (Mt 1:21). For this reason He is called Jesus, which means Saviour.

And so, it was for our salvation that the Lord came to earth and became man, for the regeneration in us of the image of God which had fallen.

The Son of God became the Son of Man in order to make us sons of God who were the children of wrath and eternal damnation; in the words of the Holy Apostle John the Theologian: that we should be called the sons of God (I Jn 3:1).

Now God became man, that He may make Adam a god (Stichera for lauds of Annunciation). O the unutterable love of God! O the unspeakable compassion of the Lord! And He, the Most Holy, did this.

He deified mankind in His chosen ones, cleansed them from all evil both of soul and body, sanctified, glorified, led them from corruption to everlasting life, made them worthy to stand in blessedness before the terrible throne of His glory.

And He deified us also, brothers and sisters; He gave us a new birth through water and the Holy Spirit, sanctified us, made us His sons, gave us the promise of eternal life and eternal blessings, surpassing all telling and imagining.

And in confirmation, as a surety of the future blessings, He gave to us, still here on earth, the Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts: God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father (Gal 4:6) writes the Apostle.

And so, my brothers, the feast of the Nativity of Christ reminds us that we are born of God, that we are sons of God, that we have been saved from sin and that we must live for God and not sin; not for flesh and blood, not for the whole world which lies in evil and wickedness (1 Jn 5:19), not for earthly corruption.

We must live for an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you (1 Pet 1:4), and for which the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, (Isa 7:14).

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): The Nativity of Christ: The Feast of Renewal from Orthodox Heritage Vol. 11, Issue 11-12 @ ΑΠΑΝΤΑ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΙΑΣ.

John of Kronstadt: We must bring every word of the prayer down to our heart Sunday, Sep 29 2013 

john_kronstadtGod is an all-seeing Eye, a spiritual Sun, standing above the world, penetrating with His spiritual eyes into the thoughts and hearts of men, enlightening every creature.

Our soul is an eye from the Eye, sight from the Sight, light from the Light. But now, since our fall into sin, our eye, our soul, is diseased through sins.

Take the cataract off your eye, and you will see the spiritual Sun, the everlasting Eye, ten thousand times brighter than the material sun.

How often it happens in life that a man has one thing in his heart and another upon his lips, and wears two faces at one and the same time!

It is thus also during prayer, before God Himself, Who knows the secrets of the heart; a man also frequently wears two faces, saying one thing and having another in his heart and thoughts.

If, which happens still oftener, when saying a prayer, although he understands it and thinks about it, he does not sympathise in his heart with that which he is saying—being dead, and thus throwing the words to the air—then he deceives himself if he believes that he can please God by such a prayer.

This is strange, sinful duplicity! It is a bitter fruit and evidence of our fall into sin. It seems habitual to our heart to lie in prayer and in our intercourse with other men. The heart is a pillar of falsehood. “All men are liars” (Psalm cxvi:10).

The Christian must make use of every means in order to eradicate every falsehood from his heart, and to implant pure truth within it.

We must begin with prayer, as with a matter in which truth is indispensable before everything, in accordance with the Lord’s own words: “Worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Speak the truth from your heart (Psalm 15:2).

When we have learnt to speak the truth from our heart during prayer, we shall not allow ourselves to lie in our everyday life: sincere, true prayer, having cleansed our heart from falsehood, will protect it against falsehood in our relations with other men in worldly matters.

How can we teach ourselves to speak the truth from our heart during prayer? We must bring every word of the prayer down to our heart, lay it to heart, feel its truth in our heart, be convinced of all our need of that for which we ask God in prayer, or of the need of hearty gratitude for His great and innumerable benefits to us, and of most heartfelt praise for His great, most wise works in His creation.

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ.

John of Kronstadt: Love calms and agreeably expands the heart and vivifies it Sunday, Dec 16 2012 

john_kronstadtOur soul is, so to say, a reflection of God’s countenance, and the brighter this reflection is, the clearer and calmer is the soul; and the less bright this reflection is, the darker, the more disturbed is the soul.

And as our soul is our heart it is necessary that every truth of God should be reflected in it through feeling, through gratitude, and that there should be no reflection in it of any lie.

Feel God’s love in the most pure mysteries, feel the truth of all prayers. Our heart is a mirror; as the objects of the outer world are reflected in an ordinary mirror, so ought the truth to be reflected with all exactitude in our hearts.

It is good, very good indeed, to be virtuous; the virtuous man is at peace himself, is pleasing to God and agreeable to other people.

The virtuous man involuntarily attracts everyone’s attention. Why is it so? Because fragrance involuntarily attracts attention and makes everyone wish to breathe it.

[…] Pay attention to his speech; from it there comes still greater fragrance: here you are as if face to face with his soul, and are enraptured with his sweet converse.

Love calms and agreeably expands the heart and vivifies it, whilst hatred painfully contracts and disturbs it.

Those who hate others torture and tyrannise over themselves; therefore they are the most foolish of the foolish ones.

[…] There are innumerable and various ways by means of which the Devil enters into our soul and removes it from God, pressing upon it with all his being, dark, hateful, and destroying.

[…]  Likewise there are innumerable and various ways for the Holy Ghost to enter it: the way of sincere faith, of true humility, of love to God and to our neighbour, and so on.

But, to our misfortune, the destroyer of men from time immemorial makes every effort to obstruct, by all possible means, all these ways for the Holy Ghost to enter the soul.

The most usual way to God for us sinners, who have strayed from Him into a far-away land, is the way of painful suffering and bitter tears.

Both the Holy Scriptures and actual experience testify that, in order to draw near to God, it is necessary for the sinner to suffer, weep, shed tears, and to amend his deceitful heart: “Draw nigh to God …. be afflicted, and mourn, and weep.”

Tears have power to cleanse the wickedness of our heart, and sufferings and affliction are necessary, because through suffering the sinful expansion of the heart is salutarily contracted, and when the heart is thus contracted, tears more easily flow.

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ.

John of Kronstadt: If we remove sins from the soul, the Lord of all will fill it with himself Saturday, Sep 1 2012 

john_kronstadtThe translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.

We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death.

Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end; that is what is meant by “falling asleep”.

[…] This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life.

This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.

Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things.

The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them.

Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God.

And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself.

“We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.

And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue.

Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ.

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): Sermon on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos @ Pravoslavie.

John of Kronstadt: God expands the heart and gives it true freedom Saturday, Jun 16 2012 

john_kronstadtThe problem of our life is union with God, and sin completely prevents this….

Let us therefore understand our destination; let us always remember that our common Master calls us to union with Himself.

It is especially necessary for Christians to have a pure heart, so that they may be able to see God with the eyes of the heart, as He is, with His love to us and with all His perfections,

– as well as to be able to contemplate the beauty of the angels, all the glory of the Holy Virgin, the beauty of Her soul and Her greatness, as the Mother of God, and the beauty of the souls of God’s saints, and their love to us.

We must see them as they are in themselves, we must contemplate the truths of the Christian faith, with all its sacraments, and feel their greatness; we must see the state of our own souls, and especially our sins.

An impure heart – that is, a heart occupied with earthly passions – feeds itself on the carnal desires of the eyes and worldly pride; it cannot see any of the things we have indicated.

Prayer is the lifting up of the mind and heart to God.

From this it is evident that it is quite impossible for anyone to pray whose mind and heart are attached to anything carnal – for instance, to money or to honours – or who has in his heart passions such as hatred or envy for others.

Because passions usually contract the heart, in the same way as God expands it and gives it true freedom.

It is incomprehensible how Jesus Christ is united with the sign of the Cross, and gives it the wonderful power of driving away passions, demons, and to calm the troubled soul.

It is likewise incomprehensible how the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ is united with the bread and wine, transforming them into His own Flesh and Blood, and manifestly cleansing our soul from sins, bringing into it heavenly peace and tranquillity and making it good, gentle, humble, and full of hearty faith and hope.

[…] In order that the unbelieving heart should not think that both the sign of the Cross and the name of Christ act miraculously by themselves, apart from and independently of Christ Himself, this same Cross and name of Christ do not perform any miracles, until I see Jesus Christ with the eyes of my heart, or by faith, and until I believe with my whole heart all that which He has accomplished for our salvation.

“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ

Next Page »