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st barsanuphius of optina

February 8, 2017 + On Avoiding Church Services

St. Barsanuphius of Optina (1845-1913)

St. John Climacus was asked if there are reliable signs by which it's possible to know whether a soul is drawing near to God or moving away from Him. After all, regarding ordinary things there are clear signs as to whether they're good or not. When, for instance, cabbage, meat or fish begins to rot, it's easy to notice it, since the rotting object begins to give off a foul odor, the color and taste change, and its external appearance witnesses to its deterioration. Well, and what about the soul? After all, it's bodiless and can't give off a bad smell or change its appearance. To this question the Holy Father replies, "A sure sign of the deadening of the soul is the avoidance of church services."

January 14, 2015 + Moral Law and an Unmistakeable Standard

by St. Barsanuphius of Optina

He Who transcends all understanding, and so remains unintelligible, is nonetheless believed to exist among things intelligible. Now, because He, the pre-eternal and supra-essential Being, is by nature the author of all good things (having created the universe out of nothingness, and bringing it into completion through reason and perfecting it through His life-giving Spirit), He has willed to set boundaries by means of certain limits and laws ...

In man, He has planted the seeds of a rational faculty which is inherently critical, and as a further aid He has bestowed upon him, as it were, a command which is called moral law. Consequently, man, being directed by such law toward an unmistakable standard, vigorously sets himself apart from all evil – since evil is a deviated from the rectitude of moral law – and rationally pursues every good and every virtue; for this, indeed, is the object of moral philosophy: namely, the good.

January 7, 2015 + Homily on the New Year

by St. Barsanuphius of Optina

I greet all of you gathered here with the New Year. I congratulate you with the joys that I hope the Lord might send you in the coming year. I congratulate you also with the sorrows that will inevitably visit you this year: perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, or in the near future. Incidentally, do not be confused by sorrows or fear them. Sorrows and joys are closely bound up with each other. This may seem strange to you, but remember the words of the Savior: A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world (Jn. 16:21).Day turns to night, and night turns to day, bad weather turns to good; so also does sorrow turn into joy, and joy into sorrow.

The Apostle Paul pronounced threatening words against those who do not endure any punishment that comes from God: If you are left without punishment, you are illegitimate children. Do not be depressed; let those be depressed who do not believe in God. For them, of course, sorrow is onerous, because they know only earthly pleasures. But people who believe in God should not despond, because through sorrows they receive the rights of sons, without which one cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

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