Living an Orthodox Life: Ascetic Struggle

How to Save the Soul, by St. Theophan the Recluse

The Ascetic Podvig of Living in the World, by Archbishop Laurus.

Podvig. From The Veil, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Summer, 2005).

Towards a Fruitful Spiritual Life: Reasons Why Our Intention to Lead a Better and Holy Life Do Not Produce Results. From the Conversations of Metropolitan Gregory of Novgorod.

Is There Spiritual Life and Sanctity Today? A talk given by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Kyrillos, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Essex.

Establishing Good Habits. From an anonymous source.

On faith; and to those who say that those in the world cannot attain perfection virtues. To start with, a most profitable tale. By St. Simeon the New Theologian. From Writings from the Philokalia: on Prayer of the Heart.

Negligence, the Unsleeping Danger for the Orthodox Christian: from "The Plow", July 2003.

Asceticism and the Contemporary World, by Sergei Baikalov-Latyshev. This article especially treats the issue of asceticism in Eastern religions.

While There Is Time, by Metropolitan Augoustinos of Florina.

The Church of the Heart: Our Response to God's Presence, by Presbytera Juliana Cownie.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast on Patience and Endurance, excerpts from Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast.

On the Deadening of the Human Spirit: A Sermon on the Sunday of the Myrhh-Bearing Women, by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov.

A Letter to Thomas Merton, by Eugene [Fr. Seraphim of Platina] Rose. A critique of Merton's views on Christianity and "social mission," the Apocalypse, and Antichrist. A profoundly insightful work that is related to the ecumenistic spirit of our age and the true practice of Orthodox Christianity, which requires asceticism.

Death to the World Logo

Death to the World: The Last True Rebellion: a Web site providing links to many articles on death to the passions, living ascetically, and in general the writings of Fr. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina, especially on nihilism.

"Why Go to Church If I Have God In My Heart?", by Deacon Andrei Kuraev.

The Rule For Attending To Oneself For One Dwelling In The World: Written For A Certain Layman As a Result of His Desire To Live A Vigilant Life In The World, by St. Ignatii Brianchaninov.

How Should We Conduct Ourselves in the Morning?: Chapter 1 from How to Live a Holy Life, by Metropolitan Gregory of St. Petersburg (1784-1860).

How Should We Conduct Ourselves During Meals?: Chapter 6 from How to Live a Holy Life, by Metropolitan Gregory of St. Petersburg (1784-1860).

Introduction to the Philokalic Book of St. Gregory of Sinai. Covers a range of topics including prayer and fasting. From Elder Basil of Poiana Marului: Spiritual Father of St. Paisy Velichkovsky.

Rules of the Pious Life, by Platon, Bishop of Kostroma

Rules of Piety: the teaching of the Church on a number of issues related to Orthopraxis: fasting, church etiquette, prayer for the departed, holy water, etc. From the Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ (Old Rite) in Erie PA.

The Inward Mission of Our Church: Bringing About Orthodoxy, by the Blessed Father Justin Popovich.

The ascetics are Orthodoxy's only missionaries. Asceticism is her only missionary school. Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about. The development of asceticism...this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people. The parish must become an ascetic focal point. But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest. Prayer and fasting, the Church-oriented life of the parish, a life of liturgy: Orthodoxy holds these as the primary ways of effecting rebirth in its people.

Blessed Father Justin Popovich, from The Inward Mission of Our Church.

It is not advisable to undertake excessive feats but to do one's best to make our friend—our flesh—loyal and capable of performing virtues.

It is necessary to follow the middle path, 'turn not to the right hand, nor to the left.' (Prv., 4, 27): to give the spirit the spiritual nourishment, and the body—the bodily nourishment, which is needed for the maintenance of this temporary life. One should not reject the lawful demands of the public life, following the words of the Scripture: 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.' (Math. 22, 21)

One should be lenient towards the weaknesses and imperfections of one's own soul and endure one's own shortcomings as we tolerate the shortcomings of our neighbours, and at the same time not become lazy but impel oneself to work on one's improvement incessantly.

Whether you have eaten too much or you have done something else of this kind, because of the weakness of human nature, do not become indignant, do not add another harm to the harm which has already happened, but impel yourself manly to correct it and at the same time to preserve peace of soul, following the words of the Apostle: 'blessed is he that condemneth not himself....' (Rom. 14, 22). These words of the Saviour have the same meaning: 'Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' (Math. 18, 3)

A body which is exhausted by labour or illness should be fortified by moderate sleep, food and drink, without even taking into account what time of the day it is. Jesus Christ, immediately after He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead, ' he commanded to give her to eat.' (Lk., 8, 55)

We should refer any success in anything to God and say with the Prophet: 'Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory' (Ps. 115, 1).

Before the age of 35, that is, the middle of his life, man needs to undertake heroic efforts in order to preserve himself, but many at this age stray off the path of virtues, and become corrupted and follow their own wishes. Saint Basil the Great attests this (Homilies): many have collected a lot in their youth, but when they reached the middle of their life and the cunning spirits attacked them, they could not stand the tumult and lost everything they had collected.

In order not to experience such a transformation, one should examine oneself as one measured by ordeals and pay heed to oneself during one's entire life, following the words of Saint Isaac the Syrian: 'Everyone should weigh his life as if on the scale.' (Homily 40)

Chapter 13 "On Feats", from The Life and Teachings of Saint Seraphim of Sarov.