Letter to His Spiritual Children by Igumen Nikon (Vorobiev)
The Lord wants salvation to all people, but not all people in actual fact want it. All people want to be saved in word but, in deed, they reject it. How do they reject it? They do not reject it by their sins. There were many wayward sinners, such as thieves, Mary of Egypt, and others, but after they repented their sins, the Lord forgave them and granted them salvation. Perished are only those who commit sins and do not repent, but instead justify committing them. This is the worst and most pernicious thing to do.
The Lord says: ”I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” What do these words imply? According to the Word of God, there are no absolutely righteous people, none at all; all people commit sins. All people are sinners, and the more righteous man becomes, the more of his sins he is able to see. This is the purpose of the Lord’s coming – to call sinful people to repentance and through repentance bring to salvation those who will acknowledge their sins, confess them before God begging Him to forgive them. The Lord sweeps aside those who do not realize their sinfulness, who are being sly trying to justify their sins. Thus, the Lord, during his presence in the world, rejected Pharisees, who positioned themselves as an example of righteousness for other people to follow. This is a perilous state of mind. May God save every person from it.
St. Sisoy the Great asked angels who came to take his soul to pray and ask the Lord to give him some more time to live for repentance.
St. Pimen the Great said: ”Believe me, brothers, I will be flung where the Satan is.” And he (Pimen the Great) was able to raise the dead. In the same way, all other holy men would sincerely deplore their sins and their unpayable debt to God.
We, unlike them, out of our egoism, conceal our sins and justify ourselves, being sly and crafty, even when having one foot in the grave. Marisha, once again I ask you: look through your life, repent all you may find to be sinful; tearfully, like the Holy Church does, prostrating, ask the Lord, saying: ”Grant me to see my trespasses.” If people do not see their sins, this does not mean that they do not have them. This means that such people are not only sinful, but are also spiritually blind. If our spiritual father or anyone else accuses us of sins, we should not justify ourselves, but beg the Lord to reveal our sins to us and allow us to repent before our death and receive forgiveness here, on earth. I say again: if you do not realize your sins, this does not mean that you do not have them.
Self-justification and Pharisee-like behavior lead to the very bottom of the hell. Seek to be saved! May God bless you and Katya. Seek salvation for both of you. Don’t be doleful and hurry to make peace, if the enemy happens to deceive you.
Above all, try to preserve peace with those of your household, and whenever get distressed, hurry to ask and to give forgiveness. The enemy will try to break peace and keep you off apologizing. Pay no heed to him. Defeat him by appealing to Lord Jesus Christ for help – continue to say the Jesus Prayer until irritation, anger and spite are overcome. Keep praying to the Lord until He forgives you and until He restores peace in your soul. Peace at heart is the sign of God’s forgiveness.
So, try not to give in to irritation and anger, but once you did, ask forgiveness from neighbors and from God. Afterwards, try to attend morning and evening worships; if you pray alone, pray at least for fifteen minutes, saying prayers which you know and at the end – the Jesus Prayer. Say all prayers with awe and fear of God and with a feeling of hearty regret. Absent-minded praying is no praying, though the Lord accepts it from the beginners, yet learning how to pray. Be it as it may, but one day people must learn how to pray properly.
If you abstain from anger and preserve peace, your prayer will be proper, but if you are emotionally upset, ill-at-ease at heart, you won’t be able to pray.
Prayers said in anger are not acceptable to God. He would hand over such worshipers to unmerciful servicemen – to demons – who would lead them away from the spiritual “wedding” and prayer into the darkness of empty and at times dirty thoughts and intentions. This will happen unless we humble ourselves and appeal to God begging him from the bottom of our heart to forgive us and unless we, in our turn, forgive all other people; in short – unless we establish peace in our hearts according to the words: where there is peace of spirit God is present; but where there is no peace, the enemy and darkness, and burdens overwhelming our heart and other elements of the hell will reign.
Humbleness has power to collect our thoughts and ideas into thinking about God, while animosity, vanity and pride disperse thoughts. If we have our thoughts widely scattered, something must have gone wrong with our soul; the enemy must have gotten access to our soul, and our repentance and our prayer to God beseeching his assistance and forgiveness are overdue. We, likewise, should try to find out why this happened to us. Sometimes this happens – even in the absence of anger – because of excessive fussiness, attachment to worldly things, long talking about secular daily life and because of accusing other people. A good-natured, heartfelt and attentive prayer is the way to the Kingdom of God that is within us. If we cannot pray like this, then we must have displeased the Lord by something.
Be considerate towards yourself. Preserve peace and seek reconciliation without delay; as often as possible – always, according to the commandment – appeal to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, pour out all your trespasses and troubles before the Lord; act in compliance with your conscience – and you will feel good and receive salvation. No pains, no gains! Work for God, and you will be saved. Your life will be good here, and after death you will acquire blissful eternity. Pray for me.