On Acquiring Humility- By: St. Ambrose of Optina

St. Ambrose of Optina

As in all things to the good, God is prepared to help man acquire humility.  Yet man himself must take care of himself.  The Holy Fathers say “render up blood and receive spirit.”  This means, struggle even to the point of giving up your blood, and you will receive a spiritual gift.  While you seek after and ask for spiritual gifts, you are unwilling to shed your blood.  That is, you want everything, but do not want to be bothered or disturbed by anyone.  But can one ever acquire humility living a life of tranquility?  Humility consists of seeing oneself as the worst of all, not only of people, but even of dumb beasts, even the evil spirits themselves.  And then, when people disturb you, you are aware that you cannot stand it, and that you become angry with people; involuntarily, you then will consider yourself to be a bad person…  If in the process you regret being bad, and  reproach yourself as incorrigible, if you truly repent of this before God and your spiritual father, then you will already be on the path to humility.  But were no one to bother you, were you live in tranquility, how could you become conscious of your badness?  If they are trying to demean you, they want to humble you. You yourself are asking God for humility.  Why then should you lament over people?



1 Response to “On Acquiring Humility- By: St. Ambrose of Optina”

  1. 1 Dena June 18, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Boy is that an eye-opener or what? The past year has driven me NUTS and it sounds exactly like what you just wrote here. I’m a Christian, Non-Denominational or Independent Pentecostal and I’ve had days the last year I’ve just wanted Jesus to get me out of here like I couldn’t stand what seemed to be coming straight at me. I’ve felt very scared at times. Concerned about my personal and political freedom.

    I think it’s given me a little insight into the intense emotional distress most Eastern, Central, and Russian Orthodox have been through. I’ve felt called to work in that region alongside the Orthodox Church. All I want to see is folks come to Christ, the church He wants them in that’s between them and the Lord.

    I do however think that the Orthodox Church needs to change some of their approach- I’m praying about this, I’m not here to start anything divisive, just know I’m praying for you all. I know that folks have been through a lot. Life can be rough as a Christian in a country where the government mistreats folks- that’s no fun!

    I’ve mainly prayed about shoring up what ever you need to shore up against the onslaught of weird stuff that seems to come out of the Orthodox, Catholic, and yes I hate to say it, the Protestant Christian worldviews. Including the political malarkey or silliness from say, Communists who really tried to mess you all up. I’ve also prayed just that you’d be able to live in peace with the respective governments let’s face it, some parts of the Orthodox world are very scary politically as well as spiritually.

    This article however hit ME right between the eyes (do you always use a 2×4 over there? I’m guessing it’s because I’m in ministry as well. Not easy when you’re female (I’m married and there’s guidance.) We are both called. Thanks for the teachings you provide, it gives me insight on things.

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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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