From Talks & Homilies of the Elder Zosima

Elder Zosima is a character from the book “The Brothers Karamazov” By: Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Young man, do not forget to pray. Each time you pray, if you do so sincerely, there will be the flash of a new feeling in it, and a new thought as well, one you did not know before, which will give you fresh courage; and you will understand that prayer is education. Remember also: every day and whenever you can, repeat within yourself: “Lord, have mercy upon all who come before you today.” For every hour and every moment thousands of people leave their life on this earth, and their souls come before the Lord- and so many of them part with the earth in isolation, unknown to anyone, in sadness and sorrow that no one will mourn for them, or even know whether they had lived or not. And so, perhaps from the other end of the earth, your prayer for his repose will rise up to the Lord, though you did not know him at all, nor he you. How moving it is for his soul, coming in fear before the Lord, to feel at that moment that someone is praying for him, too, that there is still a human being on earth who loves him. And God, too, will look upon you both with more mercy, for if even you so pitied him, how much more will he who is infinitely more merciful and loving than you are. And he will forgive him for your sake.


2 Responses to “From Talks & Homilies of the Elder Zosima”

  1. 1 jennyjuliana December 12, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Thank you for this post! I never thought to pray, “Lord, have mercy upon all who come before you today,” even though it has occurred to me before going to bed that so many people were born today and so many people died today.


  2. 2 Peter O'Leary December 13, 2009 at 12:21 am

    It has always amazed me that Dostoyevsky projected such a near perfect man as the starets Zossima, and how Bros. Karamazov is such an eminently Orthodox novel.
    That Fyodor suffered such personal torment, a tough childhood, and a gambling addiction is testimony to his fallen nature. It bothers me that he is painted with the same brush as the nihilist Nietzsche by some. They couldn’t be more different.
    That he could expand a five minute conversation into a whole chapter shows the work of a great psychologist.
    While the Church may never venerate him, I’ll always hold a place in my heart for him. I wonder about those holy men that FD based the Elder Zossima on. I will hold those men in my heart as I pray.

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St. Mary of Egypt


St. Poemen the Great

"A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable."

St. Gregory the Great

"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

"Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins."

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

“Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing your body or in reading written prayers….it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, with mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in a crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man’s. We can always say to Him in our hearts Lord , Lord have mercy.”

St. John of Kronstadt

The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind.

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