Principles of a Pious Life

By Archbishop Platon of Kostroma

Always force yourself to get up early and at a fixed time. Without particular reason do not sleep more than seven hours. As soon as you are awake, raise yourself, thinking of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ, Who died on the cross for our salvation. Immediately rise, dress, and do not permit yourself to lie awake in bed for a long time. While dressing, remember that you are in the presence of our Lord and your Guardian Angel. Keep in mind the fall of Adam, who because of his sin, was deprived of his attire of innocence. Pray to the Lord to give you the grace to be arrayed in Him.

Then promptly begin your morning 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 He would like to send or to let happen on that day. Pray for the endurance of all burdens, hardships, miseries, disturbances, misfortunes, sorrows and maladies of the soul and the body, out of love for Jesus Christ. Take the firm resolution to do everything from His Fatherly Hand with a special determination to do some particular good or to avoid some particular evil. Every morning, consecrate for at least a quarter of an hour, a short meditation about the inconceivable mystery of the incarnation of God’s Son and about his dreadful Second Arrival, about Hell and Paradise. 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. Thank the Lord God for having kept you during the past night, that you are still alive and did not die in your sins. How many people passed away during the past night to the awful judgment of the Lord! Also thank God that you have yet time for grace and mercy and means for penitence for acquiring Heaven. Every morning think that only now you begin to be, and wish to be, a real Christian, and previous time passed uselessly.

After the prayer and meditation, if you have time, read some spiritual book, for instance, “The Spiritual Alphabet of St. Dimitry of Rostov” or of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk “Spiritual Treasures Gathered from World” and read till your heart will be warmed. Having thought enough on one place in your reading, read further and pay attention to what God is telling your heart.

After that, occupy yourself with your work and may your work be in the glory of God. Remember, that God sees you everywhere, sees all your actions, all your occupations, all your feelings, intentions and desires and will generously reward you for your good deeds. Never begin your work without a prayer to God because that which we do or say without prayer afterwards proves to be sinful or harmful and accuses us through deeds in a way unknown to us. Our Lord Himself said: “Without My help you cannot do anything”. In your work be always benignant and entrust the success of your deeds to God’s blessing. Fulfill all that is hard for you as penance for your sins in the spirit of obedience and humility. During your work say short prayers especially prayers to Jesus, and think of Jesus Who ate His bread in the sweat of His face, working hard with Joseph. If your work is going on successfully, according to the desire of your heart, praise the Lord God; if unsuccessfully remember that God let it be and God does everything well.

At dinner think that the Heavenly Father opens his hand to satiate you; never forget to pr ay before dinner; share your meals with the poor. After dinner think of yourself as one of those whom Jesus Christ sated miraculously among five thousand. Thank Him with all your heart and pray that He would not deprive you of the heavenly food – of His Word and His All pure Flesh and Blood.

If you wish to lead a peaceful life, devote your whole self to God. You will never find peace of soul until you devote yourself to God alone, loving Him alone. Always and in everything 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. Do not care for the respect and love of the people of our time, but try to please the Lord God and that your conscience does not accuse you of your sins. Watch yourself attentively, your feelings, thoughts, every movement of your heart, your passions: consider nothing to be of small importance when the salvation of your soul is concerned. When thinking of God, increase your prayers for God to remember you when you will forget Him. Let Jesus Christ be your Teacher in everything. Looking at Him with the eye of your mind, ask yourself more often: what would Jesus Christ say or do in this case? Be gentle, quiet, mild, silent and patient, according to Jesus’ example. He will not charge you with a cross that is heavier than you can bear; He Himself will help you to bear your cross.

Do not think that you can acquire some virtue without any sorrow or pains of soul. Pray to God for His grace to fulfill the best way possible His holiest commandments, though they may seem to you very hard to fulfill. Having carried out some of God’s commandments, expect some temptation because love for Christ is tested by mastering of obstacles. Even for a short time do not remain idle but always be at work and at some occupation because an idle person is not worthy of the name of man. Retire as Jesus did, Who retiring from people, prayed to His Heavenly Father. During the time of weariness of the soul and indifference to prayer, do not leave the deeds of piety. Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed three times when His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even unto death. Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and thus every one of your works will be a deed of piety.

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, accept humble humiliations of the soul and physical afflictions, not only 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. Do it as quickly as you would throw off a spark of fire from your clothes. If such a thought comes, pray fervently: O, Lord, have mercy! O Lord, do not leave me! Deliver me from temptations! Or use similar prayers. But do not be troubled by these temptations for the One Who gives you a chance to fight will give you strength to conquer. Be quiet in spirit; trust in God. If God is for you, how can anything be against you? 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. Having endured some degradation from men, think that it was sent by God to you for your glory and thus in your dishonor you will be sorrowless and untroubled and in glory. Having food and clothes, be contented with them, like Jesus Who was impoverished for our sakes. 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.

What you do not wish for yourself, do not do it to others, and what you wish for yourself from others, do it first yourself to them. If somebody comes to visit you, raise your heart to the Lord, praying to Him to give you a kind, gentle and collected spirit. Be friendly, modest, discreet, prudent, blind or deaf, according to the circumstances. Do not say anything inconsiderately, remember firmly that time is short and that men will have to give account for every useless word. Give your conversation a certain purpose and try to conduct it to soul salvation. Do more listening than speaking: in much speaking you can not be safe from committing some sin. 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. When you are alone try to find out whether you are not getting worse than before. Have you 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 everybody. 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. If somebody will not obey the first word, do not force him through controversy; use yourself the good he has lost, because your gentleness will do you much good. But when the harm extends to many people, do not tolerate it. Do not strive after your own profit but after that of many people. General welfare is more important than personal welfare.

During supper time think of the last Supper of Jesus Christ, praying to Him to admit you to His heavenly supper.

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. Crossing yourself and kissing the cross you bear sleep under the protection of the Pastor of Israel, “Who will neither slumber nor sleep”. If you cannot sleep and are awake at night remember the words, “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh!” Or think of that last night when Jesus prayed to his Father till bloody sweat; pray for those who are seriously sick at night and in death agony, for the suffering and the dead. Pray to the Lord that you are not covered with eternal darkness. At midnight get up from your bed and pray as much as your strength will let you.

During your illness first of all, trust in God. Many times think of the passions and the death of Jesus Christ, to strengthen your spirit in your hard suffering. Unceasingly repeat the prayers you know, pray to Lord God to forgive your sins and to give you patience to endure your illness. In every way abstain from irritation and grumbling that are so common during illnesses. Lord Jesus Christ had suffered the most oppressive illnesses and pains 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 liturgy. Sundays and holidays consecrate by all means to good deeds. In church remember always that you are in the presence of God, His Angels and all the Saints. The rest of the day after liturgy devote to spiritual reading and other deeds of piety and love. Consecrate your Namesday and your Birthday especially to good deeds. Every year and every month make a strict examination of your conscience. As often as possible confess and take communion. Always come to communion with real hunger and thirst of your soul, with contrition of heart, with devotion, humility, with belief, hope and love. As often as possible think of the passions and death of Jesus Christ, imploring Him to cover your sins with His merits and accept you into His Kingdom. Always keep the name of Jesus on your lips, in your mind and your heart. As often as possible think of the Great love to you of the Lord God, praised and worshiped in Trinity, so that you yourself would love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your strength. Doing that, you will lead a peaceful life on earth and a blessed one in Heaven for ever and ever. May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Blessings

From Russian Convent of Our Lady of Vladimir
San Francisco, California

1956

Share:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS