Teaching of Spiritual Benefit for All Orthodox Christians

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Let us take care, brothers and sisters, for the eternal, bright life that the Lord, in His mercy, grants us freely; and let us withdraw from the pleasures of this temporary and sinful life as from the venomous mouth of a serpent, not even touching them.

The Lord God has prepared Heaven and is calling us: And we, pleasing this body with sleep, drink, food, and sinful pleasures, renounce the Kingdom of Heaven and Him Who calls us to it. He has made a marriage for his son, that is, the Kingdom, And sent forth his servants to call them (Mt. 22:2-3), that is, the Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs. And we refuse, saying: I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come, or: I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; and we also say: I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it (Lk. 14:18-20); and for other worldly matters we renounce eternal life.

Do we not hear what the Lord says: Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on… Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?... Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, and take no care for anything (Mt. 6:25-26, 28). Hearing this, brethren, let us rise up now, let us make haste, let us immediately set out on the narrow path that leads us into the Kingdom of Heaven; let us commit our body to labors and ascetic feats, to prayer, to abstinence and frequent prostration.

For it is said: The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Mt. 11:12). Why do we not pity ourselves then when, pleasing the devil with our laziness and weakness, we deprive ourselves of eternal life? Let us rouse ourselves, brethren, let us exert effort in this brief and fleeting age! What good to us is this decaying body?

Were we to burn in fire here, it would only be unto death; and we would reign eternally in glory with the Lord there. But I do not say that we should cast ourselves into fire. God forbid! But let us labor to mortify our body. For the Lord said: Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit (Jn. 12:24). Here He made it clear: If you don’t mortify your body, you can’t bear the fruits of Heaven. For he that hateth his life in this … adulterous and sinful … world, said the Lord, shall find it in that world (Jn. 12:25, Mk. 8:38, Mt. 10:39).

Hearing this, my friends, let us rouse ourselves to the attainment of everlasting life, leaving this temporary and transitory life behind. The Apostle Paul says: I have fought a good fight (2 Tim. 4:7). You may say: “I can’t labor, I’m weak.”—Strive according to your strength, as you’re able, and the Lord, seeing your labor, will help you in other good deeds as well. Thus, let us labor in this world!

Is our life great? Twenty years, sixty, or a hundred. Do we have much time to labor? And yet, those who have labored but a little here will reign forever there in Heaven. Likewise, those who have lived in pleasures here but a little, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage (Mt. 24:38), will be tormented there. Let us rouse ourselves and move quickly: For Christ calls: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Mt. 11:28). Let us open our ears and the eyes of our hearts and let us listen, brethren, to this voice: It is not a man who speaks, but the King of kings and Lord of all.

So, let us direct our mind there and let us live here according to Divine wisdom, in fasting, in prayer, in labor, in hymnody; mourning our sins, having God ever before our eyes, and contemplating the day of our death; and let us not languish, but as we began, so let us finish. For the Lord said: “As I find you, so shall I judge you.”1 Let us take this word to heart. Let us not grow weak before death: For we know not the hour of our death—and the soul of each of us shall be taken and condemned to eternal fire. But if that hour comes and finds our souls prepared, then we will reign unto endless ages, in Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom is due glory with the Father and the All-Holy, Good, and Life-creating Spirit, unto the ages of ages. Amen.

St. Hilarion of Kiev
Translation by Jesse Dominick



1 St. Justin Martyr relates these words of the Lord in his Dialogue With Trypho 47.

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