There was a man who had a habit of getting up before dawn, going to the seashore, and praying to God.
That man had a son who would also get up early and go to the seashore to greet the dawn. However, he did not say a prayer.
The son’s son also inherited the same habit of going to the seashore at dawn. Unfortunately, he did not know why he was doing it…
Someone asked Paisius the Athonite whether the life of a monk is greater than the life of a family man. The elder answered with a short parable:
– Let’s imagine two men going on a pilgrimage. One of them treads a smooth road, and the other walks on a path. Both of them have the same purpose. God is happy with the first man and pleased with the second man. Things may go wrong only if the person who walks on the path will judge the other person who took the smooth road, or vice versa. Both ways are blessed. If you choose one of them and follow God, any of these ways will lead you to the paradise.
Ivan Ilyin, a Russian philosopher, said that there is an unquenched flickering coal left in one’s heart after a genuine prayer, even if the said prayer lasted for just one minute. This coal permeates the soul with its light and is always ready to rekindle. A person may mind his own business, eat, drink, and sleep, work hard and relax but the inner light won’t leave him: the light will rekindle and shine in his soul… One may even forget about this quiet light of prayer but it will keep doing its great work of purification, sanctification, making one reconsider one’s life, and healing.
Someone asked St Isaac the Syrian:
– What is the most precious treasure for a human being?
– Peace in one’s heart, – the saint replied without much thinking. – Don’t give up peace in your heart for anything! Make peace with yourself, and the Heaven and earth will be at peace with you, too.
“Look for your lost eyeglasses on your forehead. Look for a lost bucket in a water well. Look for a lost fish in the cat’s claws. If you are looking for the Truth, look for it in your heart,” Monk Symeon of Mount Athos teaches.
Elder Porphyrios from Greece possessed many gifts from God and was able to foresee another person’s future. Once he had to scold his spiritual child for bathing in cold water, which could cause a heart attack.
– Father, didn’t you tell me that I will live for many years? – the latter protested. – Why do you say that I could have died yesterday?
– I told you the truth, – the elder replied. – The lamp of your life has enough oil to shine for many years. However, if you allow it to fall down on the floor, the oil will spill and the lamp will stop shining. Life is life! God gives us this life as a precious gift: when we accept it, we must protect it and not to expose it to meaningless dangers. Be careful with your lamp!
The Rev Pavel Florensky used to call religion the art of salvation. This is how he explained it:
– Religion is — or at least claims to be — the creator of salvation. It has to provide salvation. What does religion save us from? It saves us from ourselves. It saves our inner world from the chaos hiding inside it. It overcomes the hell that dwells inside us, the fire of which breaks loose from the cracks in our souls and burns our conscience. It shepherds our souls and makes them peaceful. By doing so, religion brings peace to the society and the nature as a whole.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds