Orthodox Christian Life of Piety

Martyr Antonina of Nicea, in Bithynia

Martyr Antonina of Nicea, in Bithynia

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,


As Orthodox Christians we need not only to uphold the truth but to live it daily. Remember always that you are in the presence of the Lord and your Guardian Angel. Encourage yourself to get up early and as soon you are awake, raise yourself, thinking of our crucified Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who died on the Cross for our salvation.

Begin the every morning with prayers. Kneeling, pray reverently, attentively, and with deep humility, as one would before the sight of the Almighty. Pray for faith, hope and love; pray for blessing for the coming day, as well as for strength to endure willingly everything that comes your way. Pray for the endurance of all burdens, hardships, sorrows, disappointments, and infirmities of the soul and body, out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ. Think: perhaps this day may be the last one of my life, and do everything as you would do getting ready to stand before God's judgment now. (Source: Russian Women's Monastery of Our Lady of Vladimir)

If you desire to lead a peaceful life, devote yourself to your Creator. One will never find peace of soul until one devotes one's life to the Almighty God alone, loving Him alone. Remember the Lord God and His love for us sinners, in everything try to carry out God's will and to please God alone. Do everything and endure everything for God's sake.

Avoid even the smallest sins because one who does not avoid them constantly will fall into bigger and heavier sins. If you wish to be undisturbed by evil thoughts (logismoi), accept humble humiliations of the soul and of physical afflictions, not at some time, but at any time, at any place and in any form. Expel from your heart every thought that keeps you away from Our Lord, especially unclean thoughts of the flesh.

Pray to God that He take away from you everything that maintains your selfishness even though it would be very bitter for you to lose it. Long to live and to die for the Lord alone and to belong entirely to Him alone. Never quarrel and do anything against your superiors or your neighbors without some necessity or obligation. Be sincere and simple in your heart, accept with love all instructions, admonitions and convictions from other people, though you may be intelligent. Do not be one who hates, do not be envious or excessively strict in words and deeds.

Pray to God for the favor to speak and to be silent at the right time. Do not be curious about news: that will distract your spirit. If your words will be of use to someone, acknowledge in it the favor of God. Have your committed sins you had not before? Having sinned, pray to God for forgiveness, humbly with contrition, trusting His kindness, and hasten to repent before your father confessor, because every unrepented sin is a sin to death. If you will not be repentant about the sin you committed, you will fall in it soon again.

Try to do good to everyone. Do what good you can and where you can without thinking whether it would be appreciated or not, or whether people will be thankful to you or not. Rejoice not when you do something good to somebody, but when you endure unrevengefully some insult especially from a person to whom you were beneficent.

Before going to bed examine your conscience, pray for knowing your sins, think of them, pray for forgiveness, promise amendment, determining clearly and precisely in what things namely and in what manner you propose to improve yourself. Then entrust yourself to God as if you had to appear before Him that very night, entrust yourself to God's Mother, to your Guardian Angel and to the Saint whose name you are called. Present your bed as your coffin and your blanket as your shroud. Pray to the Lord that you are not covered with eternal darkness.

During your illness first of all, trust in God. Many times think of the passions (suffering) and the death of Jesus Christ, to strengthen your spirit in your painful suffering. Unceasingly repeat the prayers you know, pray to the Lord God to forgive your sins and to give you patience to endure your illness and suffering. In every way abstain from irritation and grumbling that are so common during illnesses. Our Lord Jesus Christ had suffered the most oppressive illnesses and pains unjustly for the sake of our salvation, and what have we done or endured for our salvation?

As often as possible go to church to the divine services, especially try to be present at the Divine Liturgy. In church remember always that you are in the presence of God, the Theotokos, the holy Angels and all the Saints. Receive the Sacraments as often as possible, and of course, after you have prepared to do so, through prayer, fasting, repentance and confession.

Saint John Climacus writes: "Repentance is the renewal of baptism and is a contract with God for a fresh start in life. Repentance goes shopping for humility and is ever distrustful of bodily comfort. Repentance is critical awareness and a sure watch over oneself. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the refusal to despair...Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the performance of good deeds which are the opposites of the sins. It is the purification of conscience and the voluntary endurance of afflictions..."

A necessary element and ingredient to our spiritual Christian life is obedience. Obedience is a virtue. "Obedience is a total renunciation of our own life, and it shows up clearly in the way we act. Or, again, obedience is the mortification of the members while the mind remains alive. Obedience is unquestioned movement, death freely accepted, a simple life, danger faced without worry, an unprepared defense before God, fearlessness before death, a safe voyage, a sleeper's journey. Obedience is the burial place of the will and the resurrection of lowliness."

Saint James the Holy Apostle says, "Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother (or sister) and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy, Who are you to judge another?" (St. James 4:11-12).

Saint Paul reminds us: "Avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned" (St. Titus 3:9-11).

These are just few guidelines for Orthodox Christian life of piety.

A BLESSED AND PEACEFUL LENT TO ALL!

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

+Father George