Orthodox America

  Towards a Pious Life

Platon, Bishop of Kostroma 

In the morning:

     Force yourself to get up early and at a definite time. Do not sleep more than seven hours, unless you have a special reason. As soon as you wake up, direct your thoughts to God and piously cross yourself, thinking of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ, Who died on the Cross for the sake of our salvation. Get up from your bed at once, get dressed and do not pamper yourself. While dressing remember that you are in the presence of the Lord and your Guardian Angel, think of the fall of Adam who, because of sin, deprived himself of the covering of innocence, and beg the Lord Jesus Christ for the blessing of being adopted by Him. Then begin immediately your morning prayer. Kneeling, pray attentively, with reverence and deepest humility as ought to be done under the watchful regard of the Almighty. Ask Him for faith, hope, love, and a blessing for the coming day. Ask also for strength to humbly accept His will and bear all burdens, difficulties, misfortunes, disasters, sorrows and illnesses of body and mind, through love for Jesus Christ. Firmly determine to do everything for the Lord, to receive everything from His Fatherly hand, and make a special resolution to do some particular good and to avoid some particular evil.

     Every morning spend at least a quarter of an hour briefly meditating on the truths of the Faith, especially on the incomprehensible mystery of Christ' s assumption of our flesh, on His awesome Second Coming, and on hell and paradise. Meditate in this way: "This maybe the last day of my life." Then do everything as you would if you were preparing to come before the justice of God. Thank the Lord for protecting you during the night, and thank Him that you are still alive and did not die in your sins. How many people in the past have come before the righteous judgment of God! And also thank God that you still have a time of grace and mercy and means of repentance and attaining to heaven.

     If time permits after your prayers and meditations, read some spiritual book. Read until your heart is made humble. After you have meditated sufficiently on a certain part, read further and listen carefully to what the Lord says to your heart. Then begin your work, and let your deeds and actions be for the glory of God. Remember that God sees you everywhere. He sees all your actions, doings, feelings, thoughts and desires, and He will generously reward you for all your good deeds. Do not begin anything without praying to God, because the things we do or say without prayer later prove to be either sinful Or harmful and reveal us in ways unknown to us.


During the day:

Without Me ye can do nothing.

     Entrust the success of your labors to God's grace. Fulfill all that is difficult for you as though it were a penance tot your sins--in the spirit of obedience and humility. While working, repeat brief prayers, especially the Jesus Prayer. If your work is being accomplished successfully, as your heart desires, thank the Lord; if without success-remember that this, too, God allows, and that He works everything for good.

     At dinner picture to yourself the image of Our Heavenly Father opening His hand to feed you; never omit prayers before eating. After dinner think of yourself as one of the five thousand miraculously fed by Jesus Christ. Thank Him from your heart and pray that He likewise not leave you without heavenly food --His word and His most precious Body and Blood. If you wish for a spiritually peaceful life, give yourself to God. You will not find any spiritual peace until you are satisfied with God alone, loving Him above all else. Always and in everything think of God and His holy love for us sinners. In everything try to fulfill God's will and to please Him. Do not care to be respected and loved by people in their sins. Keep a vigilant watch over your feelings, thoughts, motions of your heart and your passions; do not overlook ever, small things where your personal salvation is concerned.

    Do not dwell in idleness even for a short time. Seek to be constantly occupied with some kind of labor; he who does not labor does not deserve the name of man. Do everything in the name of Jesus Christ, and in this way all your actions will be deeds of piety, Flee even the smallest of sins, because one who does not depart from the smallest will unfailingly fall in to great and deep sins. If you do not want to be bothered by evil thoughts, humbly meet all offences and sufferings of soul and body, not only when they are to be expected, but at any time, in any place and under any circumstances. Banish from your heart as quickly as possible every thought which draws you away from God, especially lustful thoughts of the flesh. Brush them away as quickly as you would a burning spark which landed on your clothing.

     Say nothing without thinking .... Listen more than speak; in verbosity you will not escape sin. Beg God to give you blessing to be silent and to speak at the right time, Do not be curious about news; it diverts the spirit. If by words you are helpful to someone, acknowledge it as God's grace. When you are alone, examine yourself: have you become worse than before, have you committed any sins which previously you did not? If you sin, immediately beg God's forgiveness with humbleness and contrition of heart and, trusting in His mercy, hasten to repent before your spiritual father. Try to do good to all men--any kind of good and at any time you can, without calculating whether it will or will not be gratefully appreciated. 

(From the works of Platon, Bishop of Kostroma, in Orthodox Life, Nov.-Dec., 1960)