SAINT JOHN OF KRONSTADT ON TEACHING YOUNG PEOPLE THE SPIRITUAL WAY
Saint John of Kronstadt addresses the teaching priests, the Christian teachers, and leaders in the following words:
Do not neglect to uproot from the hearts of children the tares of sins, impure, evil and blasphemous thoughts, sinful habits, inclinations and passions; the enemy and sinful flesh do not spare even children; the seeds of all sins are to be found in the children, too; show them all the danger of sin on the path of life; do not hide sin from them lest through ignorance and want of comprehension, they should be confirmed in sinful habits and attachments, which grow stronger and stronger and bring forth corresponding fruits when children grow up.
These words set forth the mission and goal of the Christian priest, teacher and leader.
In concluding this presentation, the following suggestions can be made to those responsible for the development of spirituality in the Church:
- In order to transmit Orthodox Christian spirituality to young people, the teacher first must learn it through personal experience and through study of the spiritual writings of Orthodox authors.
- Each Christian must acquire Orthodox Christian spirituality in his or her own life by living the sacramental life of the Church and by participating frequently in Holy Confession and Holy Communion.
- Responsible Christians ought to communicate to young people the great spiritual riches of Orthodox Christianity and the importance of adhering to the Holy Orthodox tradition of spirituality.
The Role of the Mysteries (Sacraments)
We must further emphasize the role and purpose of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) in attaining spirituality. In the Mysteries, we receive Divine grace, and in the case of the Holy Eucharist, Christ Himself, Who aids us in waging war successfully against the satanic powers. As Father Sergius Bulgakov says: "The heart of Orthodoxy lies in its rites." All the Orthodox rites and Mysteries (Sacraments) are meant to combat the powers of evil and to sanctify the believer. The Sacramental life of the Church is the chief means toward the attainment of spirituality and of ultimate salvation.
The Eucharist as Expression of Spirituality
The question is asked: Is it possible without the Holy Eucharist to reach the spiritual state of perfection? The answer is no! Because Christ says: "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you." Frequent participation in the Most Blessed Mystery (Sacrament) of the Holy Eucharist is the preeminent means for our salvation and spiritual perfection. Jesus said: "For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed." Thus, Christ's statement makes clear that the "Body and Blood" of Our Lord is necessary for our salvation. The Holy Eucharist, therefore, is not received merely as an act of obedience to the Command of God or of the Church; it is an antidote to sin and death. It is a necessary prerequisite for our perfection in our life in Christ. An important interpretation by Saint John Chrysostom makes this clear.
Saint Paul does not say participation, but communion, because he wishes to express a closer union. For, in receiving Holy Communion, we not only participate in Christ, we unite in Him. In fact, as this body is united with Christ, so by bread we are united with Christ. But why do I speak of Communion? Saint Paul says that we are identical with this body. For what is this bread? That is, the Body of Christ. And what do we become by receiving this bread? The Body of Christ: not many bodies, but only one.
The Divine Eucharist serves as the bond of unity in love. The Holy Eucharist unites us to Christ and to one another. This is the makeup of the Mystical Body of Christ: The Holy Church. This belief of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ is very dear to Our Holy Orthodox Tradition because it expresses the reality of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the world and the unity of the Church, which is real only when Jesus Christ is the central figure. The Orthodox Church rejects the misconception, or sectarian origin, that Christianity is only a system of morals. It strongly emphasizes the fact that Mystical Union with our Lord Christ is a reality in His Church. (Source: Holy Protection Orthodox Christian Church)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God