Attain the Authentic Spiritual Life

Hieromonk James Deschene

By: Hieromonk James Deschene (Abbot of Christminster in Canada)

To live an authentic Orthodox spiritual life, one must be faithful to the basics: daily prayer, the sacraments, the ascetical disciplines of fasting, abstinence and almsgiving, and feeding the mind and heart with holy reading. All of this must be done within the context of a lively and faithful church life and under the guidance of one’s spiritual father or confessor. The essence of becoming holy is learning to become totally open to and submissive to God, utterly malleable to His will and His wise and gentle moulding of us into the saints He has created us to be. There are no gimmicks or shortcuts to this end – only the patient struggle each day to lay aside sin and all that keeps us from God, who is the true and only source of our joy and who seeks nothing more than to give us the fulness of His joy. But regrettably, we have so many ways of blocking and refusing His gift. We need His help even to stop resisting His help – that’s how messed-up we are. But God is good and full of mercy and loves us unfailingly. It is such foolishness to resist such goodness, but there you are – we’re fools!



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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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