My Life in Christ has been read by millions, making it one of the most beloved modern works of Orthodox Christian spirituality. In this new edition, the English translation has been thoroughly revised and freshly typeset to make St John's own words more accessible to today's reader. The bite-sized reflections draw the reader in to the author's profound spiritual experience and love for Jesus Christ and the Church. This is the kind of book you will return to time and time again. Appropriate, relevant, and edifying reading for all Christians. The two parts of this present edition are available separately and as a complete set.
|Publisher:||Holy Trinity Publications|
|Edition description:||Second Edition, Second edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
E.E. Goulaeff's only publishing endeavor is his 1897 translation of My Life in Christ from the original Russian. Ivan Ilyich Sergiev (1829-1908), known to his contemporaries as Fr John of Kronstadt, was the most revered figure of the Orthodox Church in Russia in the half-century leading up to the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. Nicholas Kotar is a recent graduate of Holy Trinity Seminary. He is also a founding member of Conquering Time, a San Francisco-based ensemble of performance, visual, and literary artists inspired by the Inklings that stages original works of storytelling and traditional music and publishes new poetry and prose. His first novel, Raven Son, was published in 2014.
Read an Excerpt
My Life in Christ
The Spiritual Journals of St John of Kronstadt (Part 2)
By Ivan Ilyich Sergiev, Nicholas Kotar
Holy Trinity PublicationsCopyright © 2015 Holy Trinity Monastery
All rights reserved.
My Life In Christ
And this is eternal life, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
MAY the living water of the Holy Ghost fill my heart, and may rivers of living water flow from my heart to the glory of God, and for the salvation of God's people.
To the Glory of the Triune God. Amen.
Lord! I am a miracle of Your goodness, wisdom, and omnipotence, inasmuch as I was brought by You from nonexistence into existence; inasmuch as I am preserved until now by You in this existence; inasmuch as through the mercy, bounties, and love for mankind of Your Only-begotten Son, I shall inherit eternal life, provided I am faithful to You; inasmuch as by the mysterious act of offering Yourself through Your Son as a sacrifice, I am restored from the terrible fall, I am redeemed from eternal destruction. I glorify Your goodness, Your infinite power, Your wisdom! Complete the miracle of Your goodness, omnipotence, and wisdom in me, a miserable sinner, and by ways known only to You, save me, Your unworthy servant, and lead me into Your eternal kingdom, make me worthy of the life that never grows old, of the day that has no evening.
* * *
My heart should cling to God alone. "It is good for me to cleave unto God" (Psalm 72:28), but — what blindness and perversion — my heart clings to earthly delights — to food, drink, carnal pleasures, money, dress, perishable colors, patterns, fashions that charm the eyes, luxuriously furnished rooms, etc. How strange it is! I, a Christian, a citizen of heaven, am occupied with everything earthly, and care but little for heavenly things. Through Christ, I have been relocated into heaven, but instead I cling with all my heart to earth, and to all appearances never desire to be in heaven, but would rather always remain on earth, even though earthly things, notwithstanding their delights, oppress and torment me. I see that everything earthly is uncertain, corruptible, and soon passes away; I know and feel that nothing earthly can satisfy my spirit, appease and give joy to my heart, which is constantly disturbed and grieved by earthly vanity. How long shall I, a citizen of heaven, remain earthly? How long shall I, a child of God, born in holy baptism, "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13), remain flesh? How long will it be before I strive with my whole being to God? Lord! Draw my heart to You through Your Holy Spirit. Lord! Turn my heart away from earthly vanities. Lord! Without You I can do nothing.
* * *
We love everything on earth that glistens — gold, silver, precious stones, crystal, bright clothing. Why then do we not love the future glory to which the Lord calls us? Why do we not aspire to shine like the sun? "Then the righteousness will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt 13:43). It is because we have perverted the nature of our soul by sin, and have attached ourselves to earth instead of to heaven, to corruptible things instead of to incorruptible ones. It is because we love earthly, transitory, perishable, and seductive splendor. But why do we love everything glistening? Because our soul was created for heavenly light, and it was originally all light, all radiance; thus, light is innate in us, the feeling and desire for light is innate in our soul. Direct this aspiration to seeking the heavenly light!
* * *
When you see a beautiful girl or a handsome youth, immediately raise your thoughts to the supreme, most-holy beauty, the author of every earthly and heavenly beauty — God. Glorify Him for having created such beauty out of mere dirt; marvel at the beauty of God's image in man that shines forth even in our perverted state; imagine what our image will be when we shall shine forth in the kingdom of our Father (if we become worthy of it); picture to yourself what must be the beauty of God's saints, the holy angels, the Mother of God Herself, adorned with the Divine glory; imagine the unspeakable goodness of God's face, which we shall behold, and do not be allured by earthly beauty, by flesh and blood. Carnal desire is sweet, but it is sinful, corruptive, and repugnant to God. Do not attach yourself with your heart to any feminine beauty, but to the Lord God alone, Who has created every beauty for His own sake, and say, "It is good for me to cleave unto God" (Psalm 72:28), to God alone, and not to fleeting carnal beauty.
* * *
Despondency resulting from failure in any work done for others, especially that of a priest, and its accompanying sense of shame, come from our bodiless enemy, who ever seeks, like a roaring lion, to devour us, and who forces us into every failure, into every sin. Therefore, in order to be unerring in such matters, we must prepare ourselves in advance through study, combined with abstinence and prayer. We must strive for perfection in everything, and never give place to the devil. If failures do occur, let us not be overwhelmed with despondency, but, acknowledging before God our sin and infirmity, let us humble ourselves before Him, casting away our self-love. Without shame, let us confess our sin, carelessness, slothfulness, or weakness, and cast our sin into the abyss of God's mercy, asking for His grace and help for the successful accomplishment of our work in the future.
* * *
In prayer and in every work of your life avoid suspiciousness, doubt, and diabolical fantasy. Let your spiritual eye be simple, so that the whole body of your prayer, of your works, and of your life may be light.
* * *
During communal prayer, let your whole heart be in God, and do not on any account let it cling for a single moment to anything earthly. Cultivate also an ardent love for human souls, love for the sake of God, and be zealous for their salvation. Pray for them as you would for those in great misery, for it is said: "All we who are subjected to the enticements of the evil one are in misery."
* * *
When hungry, do not throw yourself at your food, because you will overfill your heart as well as your body. Eat slowly, without voracity, reflecting on the glory of God, Who feeds us above all, remember His incorruptible food, His Body and Blood, given to us for the love He bears us. Remember also the Holy Word of the Gospel.
* * *
Everything that disturbs us and erodes the heart at its very foundation comes from the devil, for he himself is eternal disturbance and oppression. The Lord is the peace and rest of the heart. "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28). "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you" (John 14:27). How many passions there are, how much disturbance and affliction; how many attachments, how many sharp arrows penetrating the heart, and how much darkness! The greater part of a man's life is spent in spiritual darkness.
* * *
If thoughts of self-praise and self-satisfaction occur to you, say, "I myself am nothing; all that is good in me is accomplished by the grace of God." "And what do you have that you did not receive?" (1 Cor 4:7). "For without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Should the thought of despising any of your neighbors or your family occur to you, say, "The entire man is the beautiful work of God's hands; everything in him is very well ordered,: for "it was very good" (Gen 1:31).
* * *
What is your obligation as a communicant of the Holy Mysteries? You must "seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1), and not think of earthly things, for "Christ came upon earth in order to raise us up to heaven." "In My Father's house are many mansions ... I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). "Our citizenship is in heaven" (Phil 3:20). "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:3). "Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:20). "Let the little children come to Me, ... for of such is the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:16). Do you see what the final purpose is for which Christ came to earth, for which He gives us His Divine Mysteries, His Body and Blood? This purpose is to give us the kingdom of heaven. Let us aspire to gain it.
* * *
Pride is of the devil; malice is of the devil; envy is of the same devil; the abomination of fornication is of the same devil; forceful blasphemy, of the same devil; doubt in the truth, of the same devil; despondency, of the same devil; the passions are various, but the same Satan acts in all of them. The passions are many, but they are all the barking of the same Satan, only in different tunes, and man, when subjected to them is one and the same spirit with Satan. When you are subjected to the malicious and furious violence of the passions and to the harassment of the devil, especially when you work for God, accept these sufferings as labors for the sake of Christ and rejoice in them, thanking God. The devil is preparing, without realizing it himself, the most shining crowns for you from the Lord! Amen. We must absolutely resist the devil.
* * *
Do not be vexed with those who show pride, arrogance, laziness, and impatience in their conversation with you or others, but, remembering that you are subject to the same, even greater, sins and passions, pray for them and be kind to them. "If a man is overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens [if anybody has offended you, and it is hard for you, bear this], and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:1–2).
* * *
Do you pay sufficient attention to the state of your soul? Are you watchful to its good health? If you see that it lives, is its life vigorous? And, if its present temporal life is happy, then is its eternal life, its eternal happiness, ensured by faith? Is there in your soul a living faith in God, in the Saviour, in the Church? Is the soul's eternal life secured with good works, meekness, humility, gentleness, love of truth and honesty, abstinence, chastity, mercy, patience, obedience, industry, and other virtues? If the opposite is true, then all your labor is in vain. The soul, perhaps, does many things worthy of wonder, but it will be lost. "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" (Matt 16:26).
* * *
A day is the symbol of how quickly earthly life passes away. It begins with the morning, then comes the day itself, followed by the evening. With the coming of the night, the whole day has passed away. So, likewise, life passes away. First, childhood, like the early morning; then, adolescence and adulthood, like the full day and noon; and then old age, like evening, if God grants it; afterward, inevitable death.
* * *
Wherever a person goes, he always comes back home afterward. It is the same with the Christian, whoever he may be, whether he is a person of distinction or a commoner, rich or poor, educated or ignorant; wherever he may be, whatever station he may occupy in society, whatever he does, he must remember that he is not at home, but on a journey, and he must return home to his father, mother, to his elder brothers and sisters. This home is heaven; his father is God; his mother is the most-pure Theotokos; his elder brothers and sisters are the angels and saints of God. He must also remember that all his earthly duties and works are incidental, while the real work is the salvation of the soul, the fulfillment of Christ's commandments, the purification of the heart.
* * *
What does it mean to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and all our strength, and with all our thoughts? With all our heart means undividedly, not tearing ourselves in two over our love for God and our love for the world. For example, when you pray, pray with an undivided heart, not allowing your attention to be distracted by vain thoughts and earthly attachments. Be wholly in God, in His love, with all your soul. In other words, do not only love Him with part of your soul. Do not restrict your love to your mind, without including your heart and will in this love. Love Him with all your strength, not with half your strength or partially. When you have to fulfill any commandment, do it zealously, even unto sweat and blood, laying down your life for it if necessary, but never slothfully, lazily, or unwillingly.
* * *
How self-contradictory is this world! Here is merriment, music, but here also are prayers, hymns, lamentation for the dead. Here are riches, luxury, splendor, but here also there is naked poverty, lack of everything, even of decent and sufficiently warm clothing, overcrowding, disgusting dirt and damp. Here is health, excess of strength, but here also we find disease, decrepitude, exhaustion. Here is enlightenment, knowledge, but here is also ignorance, darkness. Or sometimes worldly education is truly united with spiritual enlightenment and piety, and in this union there is beautiful and pleasant harmony and spiritual beauty, but at the same time we find worldly education accompanied by unbelief, immorality, spiritual distortion, lack of harmony, dissonance that harrows the soul. Here we find success in all undertakings, but here is failure also. Here everything is easily obtained (money, position in society, honors, distinctions), but here also a man strives with all his might and obtains nothing, or only by enormous efforts obtains only a little. Who shall solve this apparent contradiction? God alone. We can only conjecture.
* * *
He who is insolent to other people is insolent to God, as many of us are. Respect the great, immeasurable image of God in man, and be forbearing to the faults and errors of fallen man, so that God may be forbearing to your own, because the enemy of God and mankind, being unable to vent his malice, impurity, darkness, pride, envy upon God, endeavors to vent it upon his image — man. Respect man, therefore, and save him; be vigilant with yourself also, do not become irritable nor malicious. Do not envy, do not offend, do not lie, do not commit adultery, do not steal, and so on.
* * *
Our soul is simple as thought, as quick as a thought or lightning. In an instant, it can be wounded by sin and become attached to corruptible things; in an instant it can fall away from the love of God and neighbor through a single sinful thought, a single passionate desire, a single malevolent thought. Therefore, we must constantly watch our heart, lest it incline to words or thoughts of evil. We must always strive to preserve our heart in God's simplicity and purity, in the love of God and neighbor.
* * *
The best moments on earth are those during which we contemplate heavenly things, when we recognize or defend the truth, that heavenly dweller and citizen. Only then do we truly live. Therefore, the essential needs of the soul require that we should rise above the earth more often, upward to heaven. There is our true life, our true country that shall have no end.
* * *
Looking at the many different amusements available to people, at everyone's worries about the flesh alone at the expense of the soul, I cannot help but think, do these people have a soul? And if they do, then why do they not care for it, why do they not think of its salvation? Instead, it is abandoned to countless sins that kill it eternally. Are there truly eternal torments and eternal bliss? And if these exist, then why do men strive so little, or do not strive at all, to escape eternal torments and to inherit eternal bliss? This is what astonishes me. Also, why do people not fear the terrible hour of death? For we cannot live on earth forever. At some moment, our turn will come, and we shall be told, "Return, sons of men, into the earth from which you were created." O, how heedless we are, how great is our pride, how manifold our passions and our attachments to the earth! Sinners, do you think that God has no ways of punishing you? O, there are ways, there are! There is the fiery Gehenna, the lake of fire, the terrible Tartarus, at which even Satan himself trembles, the worm that never dies, and the gnashing of teeth. But why do I speak of this only to you? I should say the same to myself, for I am the greatest of sinners. For me were the torments of hell prepared, but Christ, in Whom is all my hope, has saved me. But you, my brothers, do you all believe in Christ, in His Gospel? Where is your evangelical life? Who of you even reads the Gospel daily, that greatest gift of God, that law of life? "They have all turned aside, They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one" (Rom 3:12; compare Psalm 13:3).
Excerpted from My Life in Christ by Ivan Ilyich Sergiev, Nicholas Kotar. Copyright © 2015 Holy Trinity Monastery. Excerpted by permission of Holy Trinity Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 2: My Life In Christ,