The Novo-Tikhvin Women's Monastery
 
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Site Updates:

30 August 2023
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story A book about general Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev appeared


24 November 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a talk by schema-archimandrite Abraham Invincible weapon appeared


29 August 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story The events of the sunny August appeared


13 June 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story Faithful for good. A monument to prince Dolgorukov, general Tatishchev, sailor Nagorny, and boatswain Sednev appeared



Hand-painted icons by the sisters of the Monastery

How does one learn the will of God? A talk by mother Domnika

Many want to know: what is the will of God? What should be done to fulfill it? To learn this, some go to see elders, others cast lots... Yet, there is a way to learn and fulfill it perfectly. Apostle Paul in his First epistle to the Thessalonians speaks about it briefly: "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

So what does God want from us? That we would give thanks for all things. Simple words, but they comprise great, all-encompassing doing. To give thanks for all things means to be constantly keeping one's connection to God. To give thanks for all things -- means to look at everything with a pure eye, to see God's gifts in all things. To give thanks for all things means to receive everything from God with trust and faith. And in this state, one can truly pray, one becomes capable of standing before God.

Thanksgiving is not simply when a person utters: "Glory to Thee, o God!", even though this, too, is good. Yet, true thanksgiving is something much deeper. Thanksgiving is a special state of the heart. And if a person is authentically seeking God, he is called to keep this state of mind at all circumstances: whether the Lord sends him good gifts or allows him to endure something sorrowful. At all times, in every situation one must watch lest thoughts of murmur and resentment enter his heart. This is what is called spiritual sobriety.

And when a person tries to spend the day in this way, then he arises to prayer with a light and cheerful soul, without the heavy burden of thoughts; with eagerness, desire, and readiness to meet God. If, however, a person is unaccustomed to bless the Lord for all things, he would continually encounter obstacles to his prayer; anything will be an obstacle.

Let's say, he happened to be next to a sluggish or a loud person, Ц and immediately disturbing thoughts beset him. Or there is a request coming his way Ц even more thoughts. It's raining, and again thoughts press against him. Something went wrong Ц a cascade of disturbing thoughts... In the evening, this man rises for prayer with a weary and faint soul, as if some monstrous burden is weighing upon it. When he attempts to pray with this burden, he succeeds little.

This is what elder Aemelianos says about this: "When we try to get rid of that which we are compelled to encounter in our life; when we try to change ourselves and to become better to start living a spiritual life only after we've succeeded at this; when we want to change our milieu, when we want nature to change, we fall into some of the greatest temptations. And we approach the end of our life not having fulfilled a single wish of ours, not having experienced a single mystery of the heavenly life. Spending life in this way, we in reality serve not the Lord but our own ego." Just look at how in a single piece of instruction the elder had described all the problems, all this futile struggle in which people engage instead of devoting themselves to their real work Ц that is, ceaselessly calling on the name of the Lord with the feeling of thankfulness and standing before God!

For instance, one thinks that he has been deprived of something in his life: e.g., he lacks good education or got insufficient love and attention while a child. Even one such thought, if a person turns his attention to it, can completely upset his spiritual life, and he lives then as a bird with an injured wing; loses his zeal for prayer and spiritual life. Why? Because his heart lacks the main thing Ц thankfulness.

And how many problems arise from one's dissatisfaction with himself and from thinking that he is incapable of leading a full-fledged spiritual life! Such thoughts are the chief cause of all challenges! A man cannot humble down and accept himself the way he is. And this causes a number of disturbing thoughts. So what does it mean to accept oneself? It means one has to be ready that some passion may manifest itself and not get dejected. Yet, to struggle at the same time. How does one struggle? St. Isaac the Syriac says that a twofold feat is needed for this: the external and the internal one. That means that, first of all, it is necessary to not manifest one's passion externally. Secondly, an inner feat is necessary. When thoughts besiege our minds, at this moment one has to turn to the Lord with special effort, to wholly collect one's mind and direct it into the words of prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!" And these are the two mites that any person can bring to the Lord and which the Lord receives with prayer.

It is very important for every person to realize what he is in reality and what he could bring to God Ц and to be bringing this from all his soul.

It also happens that a person thinks: if he were only to live in a different country, a different climate, he would have had a much easier time. Another person is upset because of someone's treatment of him: "My whole life would have been different if it weren't for that person!" And in a similar manner people turn over all kinds of thoughts in their minds: "If only I had different people near me. If only we had here mountains, the sea, and always sunny and warm. If only I had such and such a talent to be appreciated. How could I arrange for this?" People think that if they succeed in changing something around them or within themselves Ц only then the spiritual life will begin for them.

Yet, spiritual life for us begins not when everything falls in the right place from our point of view. Spiritual life starts when we try to thank God for all things: for the people near us, for all kinds of people; for any kind of weather; for the way we ourselves turned out to be, for the way God has created us; for our past Ц for all things. Even for the things that appear incomprehensible, wrong, or unpleasant Ц even for this, too, we can thank and bless God. Let us not look on ourselves only and say: "How miserable I am, how difficult it is for me, what a poor person I am... Why has all this befallen me?" On the contrary, let us remember that any circumstance is given to us so that we could make our heart even more open to the Lord. And if we do not fall into despondency but actually bless the Lord in our heart, then He will truly reveal to us that which our ear has not heard nor our eye has seen, nor what has come into our heart. This is why blessed Augustine urges us: "Bless God when He gives you good things; bless Him when He takes them away. He gives, and He takes away. Yet, He will not take Himself away from you, if you keep blessing Him."

This is the most important thing. The Lord will never take Himself away from us, if we keep blessing Him. For this sake we do bless Him at all circumstances Ц so that He would always be with us, would fill our hearts with Himself. Because He cannot enter our heart, while it is filled with something else, e.g., with a passion for something, with a desire, or grievance. Yet when we bless the Lord, we thereby abdicate from all this and purify our heart for Christ Alone. And He enters our heart and brings with Himself bliss that constitutes the meaning of our life. As elder Amelianos says: "Listen to what the prophet says: "Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in Thy name." The meaning of my life is the blessing, the praising of You. Otherwise I will simply cease to exist, stop living. When I begin glorify and praise You, then my life will acquire value Ц because it's going to revolve around You. "I will lift up my hands in Thy name" Ц I will lift up my hands in Your name, I will pray to You, I will turn to You. I will not have another god, I will not mount idols in my heart, I will not have thoughts or wishes, I will have nothing Ц neither internal nor external. You will be my only God, my only thought."

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