Monday, January 20, 2020

The Purpose of a Christian Life

A video on the purpose of a Christian life. The first session in our series on the Path to Salvation.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Do we know our sinfulness?

King David committed horrible sins, adultery and murder (2Sam 11:2-27), but was not aware of how sinful he was until the profit Nathan came to him and told him a story that paralleled David’s life.  When Nathan told David a story of a supposed subject in his kingdom, that was actually a disguised story of David’s life, David severely condemned this person seeking to punish him. He asked Nathan for his name. Then when Nathan told him that he, David, was this person, he was awakened, he then condemned himself and sought God to help him repent (2Sam 15). This why the theme of many of his psalms are about repentance.

Are we like David, blind to our sinfulness? Who’s is your Nathan? How well do you know your sinfulness? Are you denying that you too are a sinner? 

Knowing our sinfulness is knowing ourselves. Not knowing our sinfulness is a common spiritual ailment. I have experienced this many times. Before I was a practicing Orthodox I was into various contemplative practices  I was also busy with my career and family, thinking every success was the result of my own efforts. There was no room for God. My contemplative efforts were simply to relieve stress.  At some point I discovered the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ son of God have mercy on me a sinner.” It fit the passage meditation practice I had learned from an Indian teacher. But I made one change, I dropped the phrase, “I am a sinner.” Why? Because I did not know myself. I was like David, asleep, unaware about the nature of my separation from God even though I would attend Church regularly. I saw myself as a good person.

It took a number of years to break this shield and to see the depth of my sinful nature. It was after I began to learn about the Orthodox way of life. At first Confession was like going to the judge and pleading to have my case dismissed. But eventually, after experiencing the receptiveness of my confessions, I began to see the patterns controlling my inner being. To break this control I first had to learn more about the nature of God. I had to learn that God was love and he was merciful to those who recognized the nature of their condition and desired to change basic patterns of behavior in their life. I needed to learn that He was not a God seeking to punish me, but a God who had open arms to embrace me and to help me become more like Him. That He was all powerful and someone who could help me, like a loving father with his child.

At first I dealt with specific issues like judging others and anger. There would be cycles in this uncovering of sin. Recognition of one sin and it’s recurring pattern would lead to efforts to make changes in my life. Then there would follow periods where I was again blind to my sinfulness. Then I would beg God to help me see myself again as a sinner and eventually a new pattern would emerge. As this continued I came closer and closer to my basic issue, self-centeredness, my pride. When this became clear I was devastated because I was able to see the way I had lived my whole life in sin. Confession became more and more powerful.  The more I understood myself, the more God helped me.

We know that Christ came to save not the righteous but sinners (1Tim 1:15). He shows us that when we repent, sinners, publicans, and harlots easily enter into paradise (Mt 21:31), like David the adulterer and murderer. The main issue we face is pride. It underlies all sin. It, along with superficial piety, blocks us from seeing our sinfulness.

Seeing our sinfulness is more than acknowledging a particular sin, but is seeing that every aspect of our life is entangled with sin.
Archimandrite Aimilianos: What does it mean to be a sinner? It doesn’t mean simply that I’ve committed a particular sin, but that my entire being, every aspect of my self, is entangled in sin, for in sins did my mother conceive me (Ps 51:7). From the very moment of my conception, long before I was born, before I ever had an opportunity to commit any kind of particular sin, I existed in a mode of fallen nature, in the fallen Adam, and as such I opened my eyes on a world adrift in evil and wickedness (1 Jn 5:19).
To become united with God, to become a true son of His, we need to know ourselves and know the loving nature of God. Then we will want to run to Confession, to follow the ascetic disciplines of the church, daily prayer and fasting, and go to Liturgy early to hear the prayers at Orthros and to receive Him in communion by partaking His Body and Blood offered in the Divine Liturgy. 

When awake to our sinful nature we will no longer  go to confession for relief, but to be rescued from this sinful condition, to be liberated, so God can lead us to paradise.

References: Psalm 37 (38), Psalms and the Life of Faith, by Elder Archimandrite Aimilianos, p 191-260

Thursday, January 16, 2020


Humility! The basis of all the virtues and the fundamental requirement for spiritual fruition. Do you have humility? You have God, You have everything! You don’t have humility? You lose everything! So retain the feeling of humility in your heart. Our natural and normal relationship with God requires a heart which is impassioned, contrite and entirely devoted to Him, a heart which cries mystically at every moment: ‘Lord, You know all things; save me!’ If we surrender ourselves into His hands, He’ll do with and for us whatever’s best for our salvation, according to His wise and holy will. Saint Theophan the Recluse 

The soul that has acquired humility is always mindful of God, and thinks to herself: 'God has created me. He suffered for me. He forgives me my sins and comforts me. He feeds me and cares for me. Why then should I take thought for myself, and what is there to fear, even if death threaten me?' The Lord enlightens every soul that has surrendered to the will of God, for He said: Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.   Saint Silouan the Athonite

Monday, January 13, 2020


Pride first manifests itself in the human heart. We can tell how deeply we are possessed by this sin by examining our own thoughts. To contrast humility and pride, here wejuxtapose the two:
A proud heart loves only itself. A humble heart loves everyone.
A proud heart always promotes its own ego. A humble heart never talks about itself.
A proud one is filled with envy. A humble one is filled with love.
Pride exposes its gifts. Humility hides them. Pride boasts about its deeds. Humility never mentions them.
Pride loves and is flattered by praise.
Humility avoids and is embarrassed by such.
Pride remembers the evil done against it. Humility remembers only the good.
Pride talks of vengeance. Humility speaks of love.
Pride has a high opinion of itself. Humility remembers that all good things are a gift from God.
A proud heart considers itself righteous. A humble one acknowledges its sinfulness.
Pride seeks vengeance, hates others and finds joy in their misfortunes.
Humility forgives, loves and is happy when others succeed.
A proud heart is self-confident. A humble one is filled with trust in God.
Pride seeks to be number one, does not tolerate superiority and if it meets such, it responds with envy.
Humility seeks the last seat for itself and rejoices when others prosper and excel.
Pride desires to be a king. Humility desires to be a servant.
A proud heart is a well from which all bad things come forth.
A humble heart is a spring from which all good things flow.
Pride destroys us spiritually. Humility saves us.
If we ask pride: "What do you tell the hearts that give you refuge?" it will answer: "I tell them: Learn and show your virtues, quality and value and the whole world will bow to you and admire you. Then you
will be content." If we ask humility the same question, it will answer: "I tell them: Consider yourself nothing and you will have peace in God."
Pride brings darkness to oiir hearts, humility brings light. In a heart that harbors pride there is no room for humility, since light and darkness cannot coexist in the same place. The brighter the day becomes in the morning, the further it pushes darkness away. The same happens in our inner lives —as our hearts fill with humility even the vestige of pride disappears.

Metropolitan Hilario Dorostolski

Sunday, January 5, 2020

On Pride

Pride is a sin I wrestle with. It’s a serious sin because it is known to be the root cause of other sins and separates us from God. Below are some thoughts on pride by Church fathers and others to help us understand this common sinful tendency.

Saint John Climacus says pride is:
“the source of anger, the gateway of hypocrisy.”... It involves “the shameless parading of our achievements, complacency, and unwillingness to be found out.” “The proud man wants to be in charge of things.” “A proud man despises the meek.” “Pride makes us forget our sins...” “Pride leads to unholy thoughts.” “It ends with the spurning of God's help, the exalting of one's own efforts and a devilish disposition.” “I have seen people who speak aloud their thanks to God but who in their hearts are glŠ¾rifying themselves.” “Blasphemy is the child of dreadful pride.”
Saint John of Kronstadt says,
When we hear anything bad said of anyone, then, inwardly comparing him with ourselves, we say in our heart: "I am not such; I am perfection in comparison to him," and thinking thus of ourselves and inwardly judging others, we are delighted at our superiority over others. This is the pride of Satan; this is the stench of the carnal, sinful man. May such thoughts flee from the soul!Our self-love and pride would like everything to be as we wish, that we should be surrounded by every honor and comfort of this temporal life; would like all men, and even — how far is pride carried! — all nature itself, to speedily and silently obey a sign from us...Spiritual pride also manifests itself by insensibility to our sins, by the Pharisee's self-justification and self-praise, by insensibility to God's mercies, by ingratitude to God for all that is good, by not feeling the need of praising God's greatness.Spiritual pride also manifests itself in boastfulness, in the proud man's pretended knowledge of everything, whilst in reality he knows very little or his spiritual eyes are entirely blind. "That is not worth reading," he says; " it is all well known; these sermons are not worth reading; they contain the one same thing which I already know.'' 
Saint Tikhon writes:
A proud man seeks honor, glory and praise by every means.He complains, he is displeased, he curses when deprived of honor and leadership.He begins labors that are beyond his strength which he is not able to manage.Out of self-will he interferes in the affairs of others. He desires to direct everyone...He boasts of himself shamelessly and exalts himself.He looks down on and humiliates other people.He does not submit, he does not obey his authorities and his parents.The goods they have they ascribe to themselves, to their own efforts and labors, and not to God.He greatly dislikes reproach and admonition.He is impatient, is displeased, complains and even curses when in destruction, in contempt, in misfortunes and calamities.He displays haughtiness and is somewhat pompous, etc. in word and deed.
So what is pride? Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves. Is this love of ourselves pride? Prof. Paul Sands wrote an excellent article on this topic. He points out that the word “pride” has many different meanings. We often confuse it with “self-respect.” While pride that is to be avoided includes a feeling of superiority, self-respect does not. This is what Jesus meant when he says “as we love ourselves.” He means the proper regard for oneself as a human being. Self-esteem is another good concept that differs from the kind of pride we are to avoid. Self-esteem involves the proper judgement of our capabilities that Paul labels “sober judgement” (Rom 12:3). Neither should pride be confused with “feeling proud” of others when they do good. When we feel  proud of our children’s accomplishments this is an expression of our love. But in feeling proud of our own accomplishment can involve the dangerous notion of superiority. To avoid the sin of pride we must alway recognize God’s action in our lives. Remembering that we are His creation, made from the earth. In His eyes we are all equal, but He gives us differing gifts. We are expected to use them for the benefit of all, to do His will. When we lose this connection for our accomplishments and think everything is achieved only by our own will we are guilty of pride. If we attribute our achievements to the work of the Holy Spirit then we avoid the sin of pride. Paul’s says, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gal 6:14) In Philippians 2:16 he says, “as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” Legitimate, godly pride has nothing to do with ourselves. (Romans 15:17)

Sinful pride blocks us from loving our neighbor by comparing ourselves to them, criticizing them, and feeling better than them even in little ways. We criticize others often because it makes us feel better than the other. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector provides an example, showing how destructive it can be to relationships: 
"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess'" (Luke 18:11-12). 

When we are prideful in a sinful way we forget that God created us equal, in His image and likeness, and we begin to credit ourselves for our accomplishments and develop a feeing of superiority over others. 1 Corinthians 4:7 states, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” Our sinful pride tempts us to be self-sufficient rather than God reliant.

Prideful people who see themselves as superior to others are described in the following ways: “stuck up”, they “look down their noses,” we say they live in “an ivory tower,”  as acting “high and mighty,” or puffed up”, “inflated” with self-importance. The proud assert their opinions while discounting and ignoring those of others. They seek to glorify themselves, and fantasize their own greatness.

Shyness is another kind of pride. A person who seems reserved and does not speak out much may also suffer from pride. We tend to be shy because we fear that others will find out how imperfect we are. When shy we link our self-esteem with an idealized view of ourselves. We fail to see that being God’s children we are equal in His eyes, but, because we have differing gifts, we have also weaknesses, that this is normal. We shouldn’t fear having weaknesses or compare ourselves with others. When you can see you own weakness and not fear exposing them you will also praise the gifts that others have. The proud person will see their shyness as a virtue rather than a form of sinful pride that we must overcome.

Prof Paul says there are three kinds of pride. Vanity, conceit and arrogance. Vanity is a preoccupation with appearances. Conceit is having an exaggerated opinion of your good qualities and achievements. It presupposes a superiority over others so everything about one’s self tends to be exaggerated and one criticizes the abilities of others to inflate their own superiority. Arrogance is the feeling of superiority. Arrogance needs no comparison to others. It’s beyond conceit. Those who suffer from this madly of pride cause all kinds of trouble by overestimating their own abilities and knowledge. They tend to set unreasonable goals and disregard normal limits. They will make poor judgements as they pursue goals to glorify themselves without having adequate knowledge, resources or planning.

Pride is a way people compensate for low self-esteem. In such cases people will develop an imaginary, idealized and unrealistic view of themselves. They suppress weaknesses and exaggerate their skills. This can cause psychological problems like depression when they cannot live up to this ideal image. They tend to minimize their failures or blame someone else or the circumstances. It’s too painful for them to admit mistakes or failures. Any form of criticism is defended against. 

Those with pride often find themselves in the midst of self-made controversies. Wanting to be first or recognized above others can lead to quarrels, envy, and even resentment. Remember when the disciple of Jesus were quarreling? 
At that time, Jesus and his disciples came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?" But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all." And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me." (Mark 9:33-41)

Having wealth can also exaggerate the notion of superiority, leading to expectations of special privileges, or not having concerns about needs of others with less resources or poor. They may even blame them of being lazy. In the Parable of the Sower, it is said: "And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in; it chokes the Word, which becomes unfruitful" – Mark 4:19.

The most dangerous aspect of pride is that it separates us  from God. A proud person sees himself as being self-sufficient, knowing even more than God. It is only their own mind that has truth. He believes only in his own skills and way of life. Everything he has or achieved is seen through his self-will. God is distant and unnecessary. The problem of God for one with pride is that God is someone who is superior. It destroys the self image of self-sufficiency. They become their own God.

Think about what Jesus has taught and how difficult His teaching is to accept for one suffering from pride. He said that we can only save our lives by losing them (Mat 10:39; 16:25; Mk 8:35; Luke 9:24), he also told his followers to “take up their cross” and “deny themselves” (Mk 8:34; cf. Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23). Jesus calls His followers to follow Him alone and to put their trust in Him and have faith in the Kingdom to come. His way of life always exemplified humility and obedience to the Father.

St. Macarius wrote about the main signs that humility or pride is present in a person: 
“Let the following be for you a sign of humility or pride: the latter blames, reproaches, and sees blackness in others, while the former sees only his own bad state and doesn’t dare to judge anyone.”
Elder Ephriam on  answering the question, “When can we realize that we have egotism?
When one of our brothers makes a comment to us or when the elder reproaches us or points out one of our faults. If you feel bothered, upset, full of turmoil, dismay, distress, and anger internally, you can gage the corresponding size, depth, and length of egoism that exists within you. When someone is humble he accepts advice, criticism, and insults....At last, we must recognize our problem, we must acknowledge that egoism exists within us, and we must take a stance and put up a fight against it. When others point out mistakes and try to correct us, we should blame ourselves, accuse ourselves, s courage ourselves internally, strike our ego, take full responsibility, justify the person who corrected us and give thanks to God for attempting to cleanse us....We must fight against egoism, this evil wickedness, armed with the Jesus Prayer. The words “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” should not stop day and night, if possible,
Here is a list of questions to evaluate the condition of pride created by Fr. William Casey
  • In your heart of hearts, do you see yourself as being better than others because of who you are, what you have, or what you know?
  • In conversation with others, do you always seem to bring the subject back to yourself?
  • Do you always seem to talk about yourself, your interests, and your affairs?
  • Are you overly concerned about what people think of you?
  • Are you always trying to make yourself look good in the sight of others?
  • Are you always ready to stretch the truth — lie, that is — if that’s what it takes to build yourself up?
  • Do you always have to be right and hate to be contradicted?
  • Do you hold on to your own opinions even when they are proven to be wrong?
  • Do you find it easy to dissent from the teaching of the Church on faith and morals?
  • Do you think that you know better than the Holy Spirit, the Holy Scriptures, the whole Church, and the whole company of the saints? (Bonus question: Are you ready to bet your immortal soul on that?)
  • Are you ultra-sensitive to criticism, and do you struggle to accept even mild fraternal correction?
  • Do you find it easy to gossip?
  • Do you take satisfaction in hearing somebody else being torn down?
  • Do you jump on every chance to point out the faults and the mistakes of others?
  • Do you find it hard to forgive even the slightest offense?
  • Do you always feel a need to get even, and are always ready to hold a grudge?
  • Do you organize your life for the sake of appearances, and do you always feel the need to be noticed?
  • Do you perform your good works in order to win the praise of others, like the Pharisees who preferred the praise of men to the glory of God?
The opposite of pride is humility. To overcome pride we need to develop this virtue. This will be our next topic.

The Deadly Sin of Pride, Family and Community ministries, by Prof. Paul Sands of Baylor University, George Truett Theological School.
The Danger of Pride and the Power of Humility, by Fr. Willian Casey,
Journey to Heaven by Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk
My Life in Christ, by Saint John of Kronstadt

Monday, December 30, 2019

What is a true Christian?

When we look around the church on a Sunday can we say that we are all Christians? We have all been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit; we believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead and all recite the Creed; we make the sign of the cross, we have icons; we pray, we attend church regularly and even always come on time (far from reality); and even if we all received Holy Communion (which is also far from reality) can we say we are a Christian?

Saint Paul says, “Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith (2Cor 13:5).” We all probably think we have faith or we would not be coming to church regularly, but what kind of faith do we have? Saint James says “Show me faith without works (Jas 2:18).” When we hear the reading of the Gospel can we say that we live what is being taught to us by Jesus? We take Holy Communion but is it a mystical experience where we feel the real presence of God and are renewed by it?

To know if we are truly Christians we need to examine our life and our relationship with God. The works that are good in the eyes of God are those that come from our heart out of love. When we have faith we have a love of God that is greater than any other love. Because of this love we choose to do His will and receive His grace to help us. This grace is given when we are humble, says Apostle James (Jas 4;6).

Saint Tikhon says,
Correct your heart and will and you shall be good, you shall be a true Christian, you shall be a new creature. For all good or evil is from the will and from the heart. When the heart and the will are good, then the whole person is good.
Our examination thus begins with the examination of our heart. We need to make a deep examination to penetrate the scales that surround our heart. Do we know what is hidden there? Do we recognize our self-will, wrath, envy, greediness...? This examination requires great humility. Most of the bad tendencies we have are suppressed in our subconscious mind. We tend to think we are a Christian, very spiritual and faithful. But, beware, we may suffer from vainglory.

How can we expose our lack of faith that keeps us from following all that is taught in the Gospel and leaves us with a luke warm relationship with God? This effort involves our willingness to acknowledge and struggle with sin. 
Saint Tikhon says,
It is not possible to correct yourself rightly if you do not recognize the evil hidden in your heart and the calamities that proceed from it. This struggle is the mark of a true Christian.... 
The struggle against every sin is an unfailing necessity for all Christians who wish to be true Christians and to receive eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.
Saint Paul says, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts (Rom 6:12).

This is demanded by the vows we made at Baptism. At that time we vowed (or our sponsor on our behalf did if we were infants) to labor for the Lord in faith and truth. There is no salvation for those who do not keep these vows. “A true Christian is one who wages incessant war against sin.” He is one who labors in truth and faith. 

Saint Tikhon lists these causes of sin:

1. The corruption of human nature. We have inherited the tendency for sin from our ancestors all the way back to Adam. 
2. The devil leads man to sin. Saint Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour. Oppose him with firm faith (1Pet. 5:8-9).” Paul says, “Put on the whole armor of God, so you are able to stand against the Wile’s of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph 6:10-12).” 
3. The seductions of the world also lead to sin. Jesus says, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Mat 18:7).“ 
4. A cause of sin is often bad upbringing of children. 
5. Habits strongly attracts a man toward sin. 

Saint Tikhon says, “A Christian wishing to be saved must unfailingly struggle against these things.” The worst of all are the habits that we become accustomed to so sin becomes second nature. Often, we are not even aware of our poor condition.

Saint Tikhon gives us these suggestions to help us in our struggle against sin:

1. Listen and heed the Word of God. Saint Paul: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 
2. God is present in every place and with us wherever we may be. Our sins cannot be hidden from God. Even though we are unwilling to confess in front of a priest because of our pride or shame God knows everything with His holy eyes. 
3. Remember death, the judgement of Christ, hell, and the Kingdom of Heaven. 
4. Avoid occasions that lead to sin. Avoid gatherings or friends that lead to temptations. Paul: For evil communications corrupt good manners (1Cor 15:33)
5. Remember you can die in the very act of sin.  
6. Consider that Christ suffered and died for our sins. He came only for our benefit out of love to show the path to paradise. 
7. Don’t look at what other people are doing, but heed what the word of God teaches. Following the norms of society or our community can be deadly. 
8. Our effort and struggle is powerless without the help of God. Prays for His help and participate in the Sacraments.

Are you a true a Christian? If you feel like you are struggling against bad habits, have regular confession with your spiritual father, and experience the joy when you uncover a new one, then you are probably a true a Christian.

Reference: Journey to Heaven by Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, pp 56-72

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Why did Jesus come?

For whom did He come? He came for each of us, for our salvation! Think about all He did only for our benefit. We must remember He was born of a Virgin, took human flesh becoming fully human. He was a child and was raised on His mother’s milk. Even though He was from before time, He came in total humility, wrapped in swaddling clothes, born in a smelly stable. As John says, “And the Word was made flesh (Jn 1:14).” Then, when still a small child, He fled from the terror of Herod who wanted to kill Him. Remember when he began teaching how He went from place to place, helping others to awaken to their salvation, without giving concern about His own worldly desires. He was blasphemed, cursed and mocked. He was tortured, suffered, and even betrayed by one of His disciples. Finally, He was led to his death to be hung on a Cross between two lawless evil doers. Why did He do all this? He did it only for our benefit, our salvation. Remember these things.

Many of us have ignored Him and have lived a life for our pleasure. Remember his Blood he shed, all His suffering, all He did without regard for Himself. Think about His extreme humility. All He asks is that we be uplifted by His example and accept His love. All we need to do is to humble ourselves and repent.

Saint Tikhon writes,
Christ the son of God shows us His coming into the world for his sake in the Gospel. He presents in him His willing self-emptying, His willing poverty, His willing and deep humility, His labors, pains, tribulations, sorrows, sufferings and death, and even a death on the Cross. And He says to us, “I took all this on myself and endured it for your sake and for your salvation. But you neglect your salvation, and take no thought that you should repent and cease from your sins, to make use of My Blood and live.” 
Why do we languish in our sinful way of life and make no effort to change when God Himself has come out of love for us to show us the path to be saved? Why do we not understand that He came to help us, not punish us? If we do not heed his word there will be a judgement and we will not find eternal joy, but will be eternally separated from the source of love. We need to awaken to the Truth.

Saint Tikhon says,
Set your salvation on nothing else but on Christ Jesus alone, the Savior of the world. If you truly believe that He suffered and died for you and is your Savior, then love Him as your Savior, and lay and confirm all your hope in Him alone.
His Church was created when He sent the Holy Spirit to empower His disciples. He gave them instruction and guidance on how to nurture our fallen souls so all of us could be united with Him. They created what can be thought of as a spiritual hospital, with Sacraments, beautiful liturgies that lift us to heaven, with guidelines for ascesis like fasting and rules for daily prayer. When we awake we will rush to the Church ahead of time seeking to be renewed and nourished by His Body and Blood in the sacrament. We will make time for daily prayer and read daily Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers,

Remember how He came, how He selflessly gave Himself for our benefit. Make a renewed effort to follow Him and prepare yourself to be worthy of His grace.

Reference: Journey to Heaven, by Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, pp 41-44