Sometimes, our life seems to be full, sometimes simple and sometimes bland and lacking. But these smaller worries and human passions are something to be left behind; instead, we should live for the real and most important thing.
Someone who calls himself a Christian should live like a Christian and act like one in all his deeds. But what does living as a Christian mean? One prominent ascetic of our time has said that in today's world it is not possible to live as a Christian, only to die as one. This is because of our external life and the new life in which we nevertheless have a part by virtue of Christ and His love are going in very different directions. Where the world tells us to take, God teaches us to give. The world urges us to spare and save, while God tells us to be generous.
We are all sensual and tend to give preference to dealing with other sensual people. Observe, for example, the shining eyes of a monastic sister talking to a young man. Would she show just as much enthusiasm when talking to an old man? Naturally, we understand this difference very well. However, we also realise the need to overcome the barrier of sensuality and to become spiritual, but I do not know how to do so. Yet this is our shared goal, as long as we have come to God.
If we have come to Church to ask God for a few more roubles on top of our current salary, or some additional living space in our flat, or a few more years of life, in God's eyes this would be asking for too little. Always ask for great things from the Great God. Monastics, for example, have set out to liberate themselves of all passions but have been making very limited progress so far. However, they will eventually succeed if they want it enough. Maybe not until their dying moment. We, too, should have a clear idea of our life goals. If we choose to mine the earth for worldly riches, we are absolutely free to do so. But what are we likely to gain from this, other than digging a grave for ourselves. There are no worldly riches to be found - no treasures, just ashes and bones. This choice leaves little to which to look forward other than a place in a graveyard or in a mass grave. Therefore, we all plead to God for the courage to aspire to the freedom of our spirit, to beauty and to the light that shines in all darkness. No one can teach us this but Christ alone. No man, however smart, fine or beautiful, can act as a model, for everyone is a liar (Psalms 116: 10, 11). But of Christ, we can rightly say: "What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalms 116:12,13).
So keep true to your heart and your mind and stand firm. Seek your inner freedom and beauty in Christ. Do not give up, even if you have fallen over under the burden of sin. God knows and accepts our desires, feelings and intentions. As long as we have a goal to strive for, there is no other path for us to take. We know too well that taking wide and well-paved paths quickly lead will quickly take us to a dead end. The way of Christ is narrow, but we know that it will take all of us to the Kingdom of Heaven. Our journey to this Kingdom starts in our hearts, when we exercise humility, genuinely accept God's will and carry our cross to the end.
May God save and protect all of us.
Saint Spyridon, much like our grandfather in heaven, is praying for us so we are not in need. He responds to our daily concerns and looks kindly upon us, even when we act up and do mischief.
To the monastics of the Convent of Saint Elisabeth, the New Year is an occasion to reflect on the value of the Lord's generous gift of time and making the best use of it so we can enter the Kingdom of Heaven