A Primer for the Christian Life Part 1
A Primer for the Christian Life Part 1

Wisdom of Hieroconfessor Alexander of Omsk

Hieroconfessor Alexander of Omsk served the faith in Russian during the long night of Bolshevik oppression.   He was constantly, physically and mentally, persecuted by the authorities but remained strong in the Faith.  This guide is a simple plan to lead a spiritual life.  We are breaking it in three parts to allow for proper consideration of the many points. 

1. As soon as you awaken, cross yourself. Try to think about God before anything else.

2. Do not begin your daily tasks without having said your rule of prayer.

3. Throughout the day, regardless of what you are doing or where you are, repeat short prayers. Prayers are the soul’s wings. Prayer makes the soul God’s throne. The power in a spiritual man comes entirely from prayer.

4. If you want God to hear your prayer, do not wag your tongue, but pray with your heart.

5. Sincerely greet everyone you meet in the morning.

6. If the enemy robs you of attention and compunction during prayer, do not desist. He who forces himself to pray when his soul is dry stands higher than the man who prays with tears.

7. Your mind and heart should be intimate with the New Testament. Study the New Testament constantly. Do not invent your own interpretation of it, but learn its meaning from the Holy Fathers and from your own spiritual Father.

8. Drink Holy Water with thirst and longing, so that you may be sanctified, body and soul.

9. Repeat constantly, or at least hourly, the Angel’s greeting to the Queen of Heaven:

Rejoice, Virgin Theotokos,
Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.

10. During your free time read the Holy Fathers and the teachers of the spiritual life. If you do not have their books, borrow them from someone who does.

11. In dangers and trials read the Psalter and the Paraklesis, that is, the Supplicatory Canon to the Most Holy Theotokos, which begins, ‘By many temptations am I distressed.’ The Queen of Heaven is a fervent intercessor for Christians.

12. When demons loose their arrows at you, when you are threatened by sin, chant hymns of Holy Week and Holy Pascha, or read the Canon and Akathist to Sweetest Jesus, and the Lord will enlighten your mind and loose your shackles.

13. If circumstances prevent you from singing and reading, then, at the moment of temptation, remember the Name of Jesus, stand noetically before the Cross, and tears will bring healing.

14. Observe fast days, but remember that God is not pleased with mere abstinence of the belly. He wants our hearts to renounce the passions.

15. The man determined to lead a spiritual life must understand that he is sick, that his thoughts are in error, that his will is more inclined to evil than to good, and that his heart is defiled by boiling, seething passions. The goal of the first stage of spiritual life is to restore a measure of health to the soul.

16. Spiritual life is an unending, never-abating war with the enemies of our salvation. Never let your soul fall asleep. Your spirit should always be alert. In this battle you must never tire of calling upon your Savior for help.

17. Be watchful, lest you consent to the sinful thoughts assailing you. Never allow conjunction between them and your mind. If you give assent to such thoughts, you have already sinned.

18. If you are heedless, then you will certainly perish.

19. Ask the Lord to grant you fear of God. Oh, how blessed are they who ever tremble before the Lord!

20. Give God your whole heart without reservation and you will experience Paradise on earth.

* Image of Valaam Monastery from orthochristian.com

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