by Abbot Nikon
Written in the 50s and 60s these letters provide a contemporary distillation of the age-old wisdom of the Church, at once simple and profound, instructing the reader in the fundamentals of the Christian struggle.
A few select quotes from the book:
"Recognize your sinfulness, your indebtedness before God . . . submit yourself totally to God's good will . . . endure sorrows without murmuring . . . place all your hope for salvation on God's mercy and not on the 'correctness' of your deeds . . . fear a high opinion of yourself . . . only through humility does a person become as one spirit with the Lord."
"There are only two choices -- either a person succumbs to the passions and betrays Christ, preferring the world and the life it offers, or he fights and suffers, and through this process spiritually matures."
"Whoever gains the ability to see his own sinfulness sees not individual sins [only], but the complete distortion of his soul which constantly exudes all manner of evil; what's more, he sees that even his good deeds are saturated with the poison of sin. When a man sees this clearly, and likewise becomes convinced after a thousand incidents that he cannot heal the leprosy of his soul on his own, then he will genuinely (not artificially) humble himself, will stop judging others, and no longer take offense when his feelings are hurt."
"Insufficiency in fulfilling the commandments is compensated by contrition of heart. I even dare say that this contrition of heart, tears of the heart over transgression of the commandments, is of greater value than their fulfillment according to one's self will. For the latter leads to high-mindedness and pride, and all the good is thereby destroyed, whereas contrition of heart replaces (by God's mercy) "doing" [of the commandments] and keeps a person in humility, without which all spiritual toil is vain and can even lead to perdition."
"Do not think that a spiritual father feels aversion upon hearing the confession of sins. On the contrary, if there is real contrition, then he feels a sense of mercy and love for his repenting spiritual child. That is certain. This state of the spiritual father is proof that the Lord forgives the penitent and accepts him with love into His company, just as He did the prodigal son."
"When a person is standing on the brink of an abyss, it is easy to push him over and make him fall. But when he is far away, he must be dragged to the abyss and in the meantime he can call for help. For this reason it is always best to keep away from places where one can easily fall into sin."
Paperback, 132 pages