How to Save the Soul
by St. Theophan the Recluse
What does one say to the person who asks: "How can I save my soul?"
This: Repent, and being strengthened by the power of grace in the Holy Mysteries, walk
in the path of God's commandments, under the direction which the Holy Church gives you
through its God-given priesthood. All of this must be done in a spirit of sincere faith
which has no reservations.
What then is faith?
Faith is the sincere confession that God, Who is worshipped in, the Trinity, Who
created all things and provides for all, saves us who are fallen, through the power of the
death on the Cross of the incarnate Son of God, by the grace of the Most Holy Spirit in
His Holy Church. The beginnings of renewal, which are established in this. life, will
appear in all their glory in the future age, in a way that the mind cannot comprehend nor
the tongue express.
O our God, how great are Thy promises!
How then does one walk in the path of the commandments unswervingly?
This cannot be answered in one word, for life is a complex matter. Here is what is
a) Repent, and turn to the Lord, admit your sins, weep for them, with heartfelt
contrition, and confess them before your spiritual father. Vow in word and in your heart
before the face of the Lord not to offend Him further with your sins.
b) Then by abiding in God in mind and heart, endeavour to, fulfil in body the duties
and affairs which your station in life imposes upon you.
c) In this labor most of all guard your heart from evil thoughts and
feelingspride, vainglory, anger, judging of others, hatred, envy, scorn,
despondency, attachment to things and people, scattered thoughts, anxiety, all sensual
pleasures and everything that separates the mind and heart from God.
d) In order to stand firm in this labor, resolve beforehand not to: withdraw from what
you recognize to be necessary, even if it may, mean death. To achieve this, when you first
resolve to do so, offer your life to God in order to live not for your own sake, but for
e) A support for life in this manner is a humble offering of one's self to the will of
God, and not depending on one's self; the spiritual arena in which this life is
accomplished is patience or an unswerving stand in the ranks of redeemed life, with a
cheerful endurance of all the labors and unpleasantness that are linked with this.
f) A support for patience is faith, or the assurance that, working in this way
for God, you are His servant and He is your Master, Who sees your efforts, is gladdened by
them and values them; hope that the help of God which is ever protecting you, is always
ready and waiting for you, and will descend upon you in your time of need, that God will
not forsake you to the end of your life, and preserving you as one faithful to His
commandments here, among all temptations, He will lead you through death to His eternal
Kingdom; love, which meditates day and night upon the beloved Lord, In every way strives
to do only what is pleasing to Him, and avoids everything that might offend Him in
thought, word or deed.
g) The weapons of such a life are: prayers in church and at home, especially mental
prayer, fasting according to one's strength and the rules of the Church, vigilance,
solitude, physical labors, frequent confession of sins, Holy Communion, reading of the
Word of God and the writings of the Holy Fathers, conversations with God-fearing people,
frequent consultation with one's spiritual father about all the events of one's internal
and external life. The foundation of all these labors in measure, time and place is
wisdom, with the counsel of those who are experienced.
h) Guard yourself with fear. For this remember the enddeath, judgment, hell, the
Most of all be attentive to yourself: preserve a sober mind and an untroubled heart.
i) Set as a final goal the kindling of the fire of the spirit, so that the spiritual
fire will burn in your heart and, gathering up all your strength into one, will begin to
build your inner man and finally burn up the tares of your sins and passions.
Arrange your life in this manner, and with God's grace you will be saved.
From Orthodox Life, Vol. 27., No. 6 (Nov.-Dec., 1977), pp. 37-38. Translated by
Subdeacon Alexander Bohush from Trinity Leaflets, VoI. I, pp. 263-265, Jordanville,