Turn From the Temporal to the Eternal!

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk on life with God

St. Tikhon, bishop of Voronezh and Zadonsk and recluse, was a great Russian spiritual writer. He had to live during the time of the godless “enlightenment” of the eighteenth century, and he saw how the ulcer of unbelief was eating away at people’s hearts and minds. His soul ached for the world, although he had left the world. And his words were directed to the world—which means to all of us.

We offer our readers this collection of sayings by St. Tikhon of Zadonsk on spiritual life.

    

Believe, know, and think, that God is invisibly with you everywhere. And no matter what you do or think, He sees everything; and no matter what you say, He sees everything. Strive always to see Him with faith before you. From this will come the fear of God, good will and reverence toward Him, and carefulness in words, deeds, and thoughts—just as in the presence of your own father you should not dare to say or do anything empty. Woe to him who commits outrage before the face of God and does not reverence Him.

***

Do you wish to see a miracle every day? Strive every day to contemplate the incarnation and sufferings of Christ.

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Being with God means that every place is your home and fatherland. Without God, even your own home and fatherland are exile and captivity.

***

I see how wisely Thou hast created all things, how wisely Thou dost rule them all. And because of this I learn from everything, from my fortune and misfortune, committing myself to Thy most wise and wondrous Providence. All is sent from Thee to me for good, as from the source of all good things, so that I might become blessed. If Thou shouldst exalt me, it is good for me! It Thou shouldst humble me, it is good for me! It Thou shouldst make me joyful, it is good for me! If thou shouldst bring me sorrow, it is good for me! Glory to Thee, O God, for all things! For Thou doest all of this to in order to make me blessed.

***

A mind that is darkened by the lust of this world cannot contain God’s enlightenment.

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Remember: We cannot know God without God, and the more one knows God, the more he humbles himself, and fears and loves Him.

***

A person can destroy himself and does destroy himself, but he cannot save himself. We ourselves can do evil and sin, but we cannot do good without God.

On patience

Lift the eyes of your mind to the heavenly abodes and observe all those who live there. You will not find a single one who did not come there but by the path of patience.

***

Whoever wants to be a partaker of the eternal kingdom with Jesus should be a partaker also of His suffering, and His patience.

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Christian victory consists not in revenge, but in meekness and patience.

On the Kingdom of Heaven

Our life in this world is nothing other than a journey to the future age.

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We are not created for temporal life, but for eternal life. For it we are called by God’s word and renewed by holy Baptism.

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If you want eternal salvation to be your main work, live amidst this world like a stranger and pilgrim.

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Turn in your mind and heart to heaven and eternity, and you will not be caught by the devil. The higher a bird flies, the less danger it is in; but when it descends downward to the earth it can easily be caught or shot.

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On prayer

Prayer is for the grieving like a cool breeze in a heat wave.

***

Prayer does not only consist of standing and bowing bodily before God, and reading written prayers—even without this one can pray at any time and in any place, in mind and spirit. As you go, as you eat, lying down, on the road, sitting at the table, doing any work, with people and in solitude you can turn your mind and heart to God and thus ask for His help and mercy. God is everywhere and in any place; the doors are always open to Him and access is easy, unlike with a man. And everywhere and always, through His love for mankind He is ready to hear and help us.

***

Faith is strengthened and increased through prayer, like a tree: the more it is watered, the more it grows. God’s grace descends upon the one who prays like a gentle rain and bedews his soul, and makes him fruitful for the doing of good works.

***

With what hope will you pray to God when you yourself do not hear the prayers of people like yourself? How will you ask along with the others in church, “Grant this O Lord!” when you yourself do not give anything to the poor, although you are able to give? With what lips will you say, “Hear me O Lord,” when you yourself do not hear the poor man; or more precisely, Christ Himself in that poor man, crying out to you? With what hope will you stretch forth your hands to your Creator when you turn away another just like you, with outstretched hands?

***

The abandonment of prayer is proof of the lost faith. Prayer is the Christian weapon against our enemy the devil and all other enemies. Whoever has abandoned this weapon has to abandon the fight, and submit to the enemy.

***

Just as the body is strengthened daily with food so that it will not grow weak and thus perish, so does the soul need to be strengthened every day with the spiritual food of God’s word, so that the soul might not wither from hunger and weaken, and so perish.

Read sacred books always, and learn from them the pious Christian life; and do not let a day go by without reading. Pray to God that He would grant you to understand what you read. The enemy is conquered by the reading of books.

***

Turn away from vanity and self-deception, and turn to the truth! Turn away from sin and the world and turn to God! Turn away from the temporal to the eternal! Having rejected empty activities and pleasures, take up the word of God, hold fast to this saving, life-creating word—it will enlighten you and guide you to eternal blessedness.

***

    

My beloved! Ceaselessly remember, ever recall the hour of your death. This hour is terrible not only for sinners, but even for saints. The saints led their whole lives in the contemplation of death… from a contrite heart, from a pained heart they poured out the warmest and ceaseless prayers to God for mercy.

***

Descend to hell in your mind, so that you will not descend to it later in soul and body.

***

The time of our life continually goes by. We cannot return the time that has passed. The past and the future are not ours—only what now have is ours. We do not know our end. Thus, always, at every hour, we should be ready to depart if we want to die blessedly. As [a Christian] wants to be at his death, so should he strive to be at every time of his life; for he knows not in the morning whether he will live till evening, or in the evening whether he will live till the morning.

On love of neighbor

If you love God, then you have to love those whom God loves, because when we love someone we also love those whom our beloved one loves.

On sins

We see in others the sins we have in ourselves.

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To sin is human, but to persist stubbornly in sin is diabolic.

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The devil has no greater ease of access than to one who lives in idleness and sloth.

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Brief is the sweetness of sin, but eternal death is its consequence.

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If we shall cut off our thoughts we will also cut off sin. Sin comes from thoughts like a tree comes from a root, or a fruit from a seed. Cut off the root and there will be no tree; crush the seed and the fruit will not grow.

***

It is safer to not allow the enemy (sin) into the house than to have to fight with it after allowing it in.

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Just as the larger the tree is the harder it is to pull it out of the ground, so it is with sin—the stronger and more established a sinful passion is, the harder it is for a person to free himself from it.

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No one is dearer to the devil than a drunken man, because no one so fulfills his will as a drunkard.

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Fornication is a poison that kills the soul.

On Christian life

He who truly loves God will stay away from what is displeasing to Him, and will try to do what is pleasing to Him.

***

The person who loves God abides with his feet on earth but his heart in heaven, his body on earth but in spirit in heaven; he lives with people, but his spirit stands before his beloved God and worships Him.

***

We are comforted and rejoice when the doctor heals our ailing body, albeit with bitter and cruel medicines; we are grateful to him and give him pay. Every more so should we rejoice and thank God from our hearts when He heals our soul’s infirmities through sorrows and afflictions.

***

God does not allow us to have any temptations beyond our strength. The craftsman taps a crystal or glass vessel lightly so that it will not be shattered, but he beats the silver and copper. So are the weaker ones allowed lighter temptations, while the stronger are allowed more difficult ones.

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God Who places the cross upon us will help us carry it.

***

The cross and various sorrows are the Christian banners, under which the Christian fights for the sake of his King, crucified on the Cross.

***

When a father leaves his son without punishment and allows him to live according to his own will, then it is obvious that he has rejected him. Thus, when God leaves a person without punishment it is a sign of rejection from His mercy—and that person has nothing left but to endure God’s eternal wrath.

***

If you consider it better that there is eternity, and imagine in your mind how terrible it is to lose eternal glory and end up in the fires of gehenna, at which even the demons tremble, you will choose to endure all kinds of suffering and afflictions, and you will thank God for His merciful, fatherly punishment.

On true love

Such is true love—to love without any desire for gain and do good without any hope of reward.

***

A clear sign of Godly love is heartfelt joy over God. For we rejoice in what we love. So also Godly love cannot be without joy.

On humility

The path of humility is low, but it leads to a high homeland—to heaven. If you want to reach this homeland, go by this path.

***

Truly, the humble man cannot be upset and angry due to reproach, because he considers himself worthy of all humiliation.

On upbringing

Many parents who love their children blindly do not want to punish them for their misdeeds, but later, when these children grow up to be immoral, those parents understand their error in not having punished their children when they were still little. Christians should emulate the Heavenly Father and love and punish their children. Those who were not punished in their youth remain in their adulthood like wild, unbroken horses, not good for anything. Therefore, O Christian, love your children in a Christian manner and punish them, so that they would become well-functioning and good.

On riches

The rich man is not the master of the riches given to him by God, but rather the steward who must in time give an answer to the Lord for what He has given him.

***

It is better to live in poverty than in unrighteous wealth.

On sickness

Although sickness torments your flesh, it saves your soul.

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Health of body opens the doors to many lusts and sins, but frailness of body closes them.

On persecutions

There is no true home and fatherland in this world for the pious soul, everywhere only banishment and exile.

***

Let the whole world hate me whenever it wishes, and do to me as it likes, if only God would love me and support me in His mercy.

On conscience

It is better to be consoled by conscience alone, though the whole world maligns us, than to have our conscience convict us, though the whole world praises us. It is better to endure the beating of our bodies than the beating of the conscience; it is better to accept all external afflictions than to have this one internal affliction.

***

There is no fiercer torturer than an angry conscience.

***

In a conscience tainted by sins even great sins are barely seen, just as in a sooty mirror one sees neither his face nor his defects.

***

The knowledge of oneself and one’s own sinfulness is the beginning of salvation, because the knowledge of one’s own poverty leads to the search for freedom, to be delivered from calamity.

***

Only those who do not want to repent and abandon their sins will be eternally condemned with the devil in hell; but to those who repent and abandon their sins will the doors of God’s mercy be opened.

On the Eucharist

Preparation for Communion consists not in only reading prayers, but in correcting the heart.

On the human heart

God will not visit the heart that is defiled with love of the world.

***

The heart is the beginning and root of all our actions. For no matter what we do, in thought or in deed, we do it with the heart: either good or evil… Therefore God demands our heart from us: “My son, give Me thy heart.”

A man has but one heart—when it seeks the temporal, it forgets about the eternal; when it turns to the eternal and immerses itself in it, it forgets about the temporal and does not care about it. In the heart there cannot be dual care—for both the temporal and the eternal; nor dual love—for both the temporal and the eternal. One of the two inevitably takes over: either the temporal, or the eternal.

On family

A husband and wife should consider the foundation of their love to be virtue and not passion; that is, when a husband sees some flaw in his wife, he should suggest [correction] with condescension, and the wife should submit to her husband in this. So also, when the wife sees some flaw in her husband she should tell him about it, and he is obligated to listen to her.

Miscellaneous

Blessedness consists not in much acquisition, but in peace of soul; not in having many possessions, but in being satisfied with what we have.

***

Rank or honor for the Christian is a yoke placed upon him that he has to bear to the glory of God’s name and for the benefit of his neighbor.

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Many desire to know what is going on in foreign countries, but they do not seek to know what is going on their own souls.

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Always remember eternity, and you will desire nothing in the world.

See also
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk: Victor Over Melancholy St. Tikhon of Zadonsk: Victor Over Melancholy
Elena Sapaeva
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk: Victor Over Melancholy St. Tikhon of Zadonsk: Victor Over Melancholy
“There’s nothing I can do about it; I’m in despair,” can often be heard even from those parishioners whose experience in the Church has already enabled them to cope with many other internal problems. Melancholy, defeatism, mood swings, chronic fatigue from self and circumstances—it seems this is characteristic of believers of modern times moreso than of any other. But it’s worth it to remember that the saints experienced the same feelings—several—for example, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk.
What does the Transfiguration of the Lord teach us? What does the Transfiguration of the Lord teach us?
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
What does the Transfiguration of the Lord teach us? What does the Transfiguration of the Lord teach us?
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
He who hearkens to the word of God does not hearken to man, but to God Himself; and he who does not hear the word of God and does not live according to the word of God, the same man God, Who speaks through His Word, does not hear. Let us listen to the Son of God, as the Heavenly Father exhorts us, and having laid aside all earthly cares, may every one take up his cross which will be given by Him, and follow after Him that He may guide us to His Heavenly Father.
In Memory of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk: In Memory of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk: "He Who Does These Things and Teaches Them Shall Be Called Great in the Kingdom of Heaven"
Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennyslvania
In Memory of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk: In Memory of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk: "He Who Does These Things and Teaches Them Shall Be Called Great in the Kingdom of Heaven"
Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania
"So brothers and sisters, let us listen to the holy Gospel, and look at St. Tikhon of Zadonsk and all the saints. I was searching in my heart and wondering if is there any saint we simply recognize for their teaching, because as we listen to the Gospel today, those who teach and do not do shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but those who do and teach, the doing before the teaching, and actually the doing is teaching—St. Paul talks about being living epistles—shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven."
St Tikhon the Bishop of Voronezh and Wonderworker of Zadonsk and All Russia St Tikhon the Bishop of Voronezh and Wonderworker of Zadonsk and All Russia St Tikhon the Bishop of Voronezh and Wonderworker of Zadonsk and All Russia St Tikhon the Bishop of Voronezh and Wonderworker of Zadonsk and All Russia
The saint lived in very simple circumstances: he slept on straw, covered by a sheepskin coat. His humility was so great that he paid no attention to the workers who laughed at him as he walked about the monastery, pretending that he did not hear it. He often said, “Forgiveness is better than revenge.”
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