Exercises in Fulfilling the Commandments During Great Lent. Part 2

Part 1



Based on the Gospel commandments

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5: 3).

The extreme need for God, the realization that we are helpless without His grace—this is what I will make the root and foundation of my life, both spiritual and physical.

2. Blessed are those who mourn: for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).

I will make an effort to weep over my sins, to wash away the sins I have committed and avoid new ones. No tears? But even a single heartfelt sigh can be more valuable than tears (St. Paisios the Athonite).

3. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5: 5).

Today I will try not to spread any negativity and I will labor to soften my heart.

4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

I will strive all day to do what is pleasing to Christ with all honesty, strictness, and earnestness, never yielding or indulging myself.

5. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).

I will give my attention today to kindness and love, remembering that “God works on this frequency” (St. Paisios the Athonite).

6. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew 5: 8).

Today I will keep special vigilance over my heart and remember that not only impure thoughts, but also anger, condemnation, and other passions make up the impurities of the soul (St. Ambrose of Optina).

7. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the sons of God (Matthew 5:9).

Today I will be vigilant over the peace in my heart that stems from the certainty that I, at least consciously, do not allow anything that offends God or what is unpleasing to Him (St. Theophan the Recluse).

8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake (Matthew 5: 10–11).

I will meet all the temptations of this day with the assurance that everything works for good for them who love God. Therefore, I will not lose the peace of my heart.

9. Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is it to thee? follow thou me (John 21:22).

I will set my heart so that all my actions, words, and thoughts today will correspond to Christ. “So, whenever evil thoughts enter into our minds, we shall say as follows: I will not do it, because Jesus Christ does not like it. Whenever good thoughts come to mind, let us say to ourselves: I will do it because Jesus Christ loves it” (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin).

10. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19).

Today I will not allow myself to think about any sinful deed, word or thought, saying, “It’s nothing.” I won’t set a bad example to those who are near me.

11. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison (Matthew 5:25).

I will spend this day talking to my adversary, my conscience. I will force myself to finally hear what I avoid hearing. I will admit as wrong that which my heart supports so strenuously. I will try to either cut off everything that is wrong or, if it is impossible to correct it, to mourn it.

12. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

I will dedicate this day, whenever possible, to performing at least the smallest good to those who are hostile towards me. If it is impossible, I will pray for them with all my heart.

13. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore, thine eye be single, the whole body shall be full of light (Matthew 6:22).

I will pay special attention today to my mind, which is called the eye of the soul. I will cleanse all impure and unkind thoughts by instantly calling out to the Lord.

14. But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

I will ask myself: What does the Kingdom of God mean to me? Do I seek it within myself? And where does it stand for me? All day long I will put the words of Christ in the first place, while my own wishes, desires, or, I’d say, “our wish lists,” in the second place.

15. Judge not, that ye be not judged; For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (Matthew 7:1–2).

I will dedicate this day to generosity. By generously dedicating my time to my family, I will readily forgive all mistakes and errors and forbid myself any condemnation.

16. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye (Matthew 7:5).

When my neighbor’s sin of catches my eye, I will immediately think about myself and realize that this sin is mine, but mine is to a much greater degree.

17. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12).

“Lord, do unto me as I do unto my neighbors.” I will try to live this day in such a way that I can sincerely say this prayer in the evening.

18. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat (Matthew 7:13).

Today I will suppress my vanity in whichever way it manifests itself, remembering that even a little coercion can become truly priceless.

19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:19–20).

These fruits, “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22), I am supposed to bring to the Lord at least in their initial stages.

20. Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm (Matthew 8:26).

I will try to labor over my faith and hope today. I will fear neither inner disturbances nor outer storms.

21. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward (Matthew 10:42).

In the morning I will ask: “Lord, teach and reveal to me how I can serve my neighbors today.” I will link the whole day with a chain of small deeds, and will never be put off by their insignificance (Archimandrite John (Krestiankin).

22. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12).

I will try to spend the whole day today with cheerful and good-hearted exertion, never slacking in body or spirit.

23. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:29).

I will labor today to keep my heart in a meek and humble disposition. I will remember the words of the Venerable Silouan of Athos that any sorrow will sink in a humble heart like to the sea.

24. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matthew 12:36–37).

I will especially watch my tongue today, so that only good words come from me. I will especially protect myself from harsh words, rudeness, mockery and sarcasm, condemnation and gossip.

25. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (Luke 10:36-37).

I will dedicate this day to charity in the material and spiritual sense, and I will serve whoever needs me with patience and hospitality.

26. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15: 5).

Today I will try to say my morning prayers with particular zeal. Inviting Christ in my heart by the living faith and prayer (St. John of Kronstadt), I will try all day long to keep this unity by carefully observing all my words, thoughts and deeds.

27. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matthew 15: 29).

I will stand today at the doors of my heart with attention, and once the head of the serpent—a passion—appears from behind them, I will strike it with the name of the Lord. “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!”

28. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24).

I will face all the sorrows and tribulations of today with peace, thanking God for everything that I still consider particularly dispiriting to me.

29. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21).

Today I will pay increased attention to fasting—bodily and spiritual, as well as to a heartfelt and focused prayer.

30. Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).

I will try today, especially when I pray, to put aside my complexity and ambiguity and, no matter what, turn to God with the sincerity and simplicity of a child loved by the Father.

31. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Matthew 18:7).

I will look carefully—is there any temptation coming from me for my neighbor?

I will look carefully—am I the reason of any temptation for my neighbor? Do I set a bad example on a large or small scale? Could it be that I corrupt my neighbors, especially my loved ones, with indifference, coldness, insensitivity, mindlessness, condemnation, selfishness?

32. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses (Matthew 18:35).

Perhaps, beginning from Forgiveness Sunday, my heart has already been poisoned with the filth of resentment, anger, and spitefulness! The time is ripe to get rid of it, and I will dedicate this day, the last before the end of the Holy Forty Days, to remedy this.

33. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: (Matthew 22:11).

The days of the Holy Forty Days are over. I will dedicate my time today to a careful examination of my wedding garments; merely in eight days, I am to attend the wedding feast of the Risen Christ.

Did I make any large or small stains on them? I will cleanse them by repentance. Has the dust of unkind thoughts settled on them? I will cleanse it with repentance and sobering. Has it turned gray or faded from the coldness of my heart? I will cleanse it with repentance and heart-warming prayer:

“Thy Bridal Chamber I see adorned, O my Savior and I have no wedding garment that I may enter, O Giver of life, enlighten the vesture of my soul and save me!”

Vladimir Shishkin
Translation by Liubov Ambrose



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