How to Live a Holy Life (Part II)

Venerable Herman of Alaska, Wonderworker of All America

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

PSALM 62 (63)

O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on you in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him shall glory; but the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

[This is a psalm of the soul, which used to be empty of any good thing, but is now restored through the grace of Christ. It is the most common and most beloved of the morning psalms of the Orthodox Church. Saint Basil the Great said if there were a perfect prayer to be prayed in the morning, it is Psalm 62 (63). It is the third of the Six Orthros (Matins) Psalms and also a Psalm of vigil during the night (vv.6-8).


On August 9th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions (prayers) of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Apostle Matthias; Sts. Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexius, Demetrios, Potius, Peter, Leontius, and Mary, of Constantinople; St. Psoes of Egypt; St. Anthony of Alexandria; Synaxis of All Saints of Solovki; St. Macarius of Oredezh; Holy Martyr Patricia; St. Alexis Medvedkov, Archpriest of Uzine.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

HOLY MARTYR ANTHONY OF ALEXANDRIA. During the persecution in this city, St. Anthony was arrested. He would not hide or deny his faith, but freely confessed it. To force St. Anthony to deny Jesus Christ, they flogged him. They prepared a fire and cast him in. From within the flames, he taught those who witnessed his martyrdom. He implored them not to give thought to the body but to the soul, which was given by God. The flames soon consumed St. Anthony and he gave up his soul.


Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 1:12-17, 21-26

Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 15:29-31


"Love does not depend on time, and the power of love continues always. There are some who believe that the Lord suffered death for love of man but because they do not attain to this love in their own souls it seems to them that it is an old story of bygone days. But when the soul knows the love of God by the Holy Spirit she feels without a shadow of doubt that the Lord is our Father, the closest, the best and dearest of fathers, and there is no greater happiness than to love God with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds, according to the Lord's Commandment, and our neighbor as ourself. And when this love is in the soul, everything rejoices her; but when it is lost sight of, man cannot find peace, and is troubled, and blames others as if they had done him an injury, and does not realize that he himself is at fault--he has lost his love for God and has accused or conceived a hatred for his brother. Grace proceeds from brotherly love, and by brotherly love grace is preserved; but if we do not love our brother, the Grace of God will not come into our souls." (Saint Silouan the Athonite).

By Metropolitan Gregory (Postnikov) of St. Petersburg (1784-1860)

(We continue: How Should We Conduct Ourselves in the Morning?)

But when you pray this way, always carefully observed the following:

a.) Thank the Lord God that He preserved your life during the past night and is again giving you time for repentance and amendment of your life, for each new day is for us a new and not in the least bit deserved favor from God, because no new day automatically follows after night. Very many people, having quietly gone to sleep in the evening, have awakened not in this life, but in another one: eternity. Is it really that difficult for a person to lose his life? Sometimes even a mild fright can cause us to die. Not one night passes without many people dying during it. What preeminence do we have over those who have died in the past night? Could we not also die? Yes, we could, very easily. But who has preserved us from death, if not the All-Good and All-Merciful God, Who continuously awaits our repentance and amendment of our lives? He preserved us and has granted us a new day that we might save our souls. So, can we not give thanks to the Lord God? Each morning thank Him with all your soul, like this, for example: "My Lord God and King! I thank Thee that during the past night Thou hast preserved my life and that Thou has again granted me time for repentance and amendment of my life. Many, many people have been deprived of their earthly lives in the past night. The day that is beginning is not an inevitable day in my life. It is beginning only because Thou art giving it to me because of Thine unspeakable mercy. I could easily have died in the past night. But Thou, O All-Good One, hast saved me and hast given me a new day that I may save my soul. I thank Thee with all my heart, O All-Merciful One."

b.) Thank God for the other benefactions that you have received from Him. Thank Him that He created you, preserves you, redeemed you, brought you to the True faith, and in the True faith has provided you and continues to provide with all means for salvation. All these benefactions are exceedingly great and deserving of unceasing and profound gratitude. Would you have felt the joy of life if the Lord God had not created you? Would you be alive now, if He had not preserved your life? What would happen to us if He had not redeemed us? How miserable we would be if He had not brought us into the True faith and in this way provided us with all the means for salvation! Thank the Lord God incessantly and with all your soul, like this for example: "Lord God, My Father and King, I thank You that You have created me, have preserved me, have called me to the true faith, and in the true faith have provided and continue to provide me with all means for salvation. Would I feel the joy of life if You had not created me? Would I be alive now, if You had not preserved my life? What would have happened to me if you had not redeemed me? How miserable I would be if You had not brought me into the true faith and not provided me thus with all the means for salvation! I thank You with all my soul, All-Good and All-Merciful One."

c.) Thank the Lord God that, having provided you with all the means for salvation, He also unceasingly disposes you to use those means, and in spite of your frequent recalcitrance, in spite of the frequent grief that you cause Him, in spite of all your stubbornness, He does not punish you by depriving you of His great gift--life, but continues to call you and by various means disposes you to salvation. Oh, how long our bodies and souls would already be burning in the eternal fire of hell if the Lord God had not been so very merciful and longsuffering towards us. Thank the Lord with all your soul.

d.) Thank the Lord God that during the past night He deigned to strengthen your bodily powers and granted you the possibility to engage again in necessary and useful secular affairs. How many people because of various infirmities cannot acquire their daily subsistence. How many because of various illnesses cannot make the most necessary movements and constantly serve as a burden to other and to themselves. Thank the Lord God from all your heart for strengthening your bodily powers.

e.) After this pray with all your soul that the Lord God may forgive your innumerable sins, whether they were done in deed, intention, desire, or even only in thought. Never omit this prayer: you are always very sinful in the sight of the Lord God. In this regard not a single person should deceive himself. For in many things we offend all, the Holy Apostle says in the Spirit of God (St. James 3:2). And if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not is us, another Holy Apostle says in the same Spirit (I John 1:8).

f.) Pray that the Lord God may give you a firm, unalterable will to belong always and completely to Him, our constant Benefactor, from this day forward. This means to always consider the fulfillment of His Will as our most important priority and to constantly try to live in complete accord with His Holy Will and therefore to try most zealously and above all else to discern His Holy Will, which in relation to us is basically always the same: our holiness (I Thess. 4:3), and the salvation of our souls (I Thess. 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:13).

(To be continued)

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George