Transforming into a Saint

St. Justin Popovich: Life according to the Gospel . . . is the natural and normal life for Christians. . . .

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“Life according to the Gospel, holy life, Divine life, that is the natural and normal life for Christians. For Christians, according to their vocation, are holy: That good tidings and commandment resounds throughout the whole Gospel of the New Testament1. To become completely holy, both in soul and in body, that is our vocation2. This is not a miracle, but rather the norm, the rule of faith. The commandment of the Holy Gospel is clear and most clear: as the Holy One who has called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of life (1 Peter 1:15).”

— St. Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith & Life in Christ“Introduction to the Lives of the Saints”

1cf. 1 Thes. 4:3,7; Rm. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1-18, 2:19, 5:3, 6:18; Phillip. 1:1, 4:21-22; Col. 1:2-4, 12, 22, 26; 1 Thes. 3:13, 5:27; 2 Tim. 1:9; Phlm. 5:7; Heb 3:1, 6:10, 13:24; Jude 3.

2cf. 1 Thes 6:22-23.

St. John of Kronstadt: It is remarkable that, however, much we trouble about our health . . .

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“It is remarkable that, however much we trouble about our health, however much care we take of ourselves, whatever wholesome and pleasant food and drink we take, however much we walk in the fresh air, still, notwithstanding all this, in the end we sicken and corrupt; whilst the saints, who despise the flesh, and mortify it by continual abstinence and fasting, by lying on the bare earth, by watchfulness, labours, unceasing prayer, make both their souls and bodies immortal. Our well-fed bodies decay and after death emit an offensive odour, whilst theirs remain fragrant and flourishing both in life and after death. It is a remarkable thing: we, by building up our body, destroy it, whilst they, by destroying theirs, build it up – by caring only for the fragrance of their souls before God, they obtain fragrance of the body also.”

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

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St. Porphyrios: . . . A person can become a saint anywhere. . . .

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“It is a great art to succeed in having your soul sanctified. A person can become a saint anywhere. He can become a saint in Omonia Square*, if he wants. At your work, whatever it may be, you can become a saint through meekness, patience, and love. Make a new start every day, with new resolution, with enthusiasm and love, prayer and silence — not with anxiety so that you get a pain in the chest.”

— St. Porphyrios, Wounded by Love

* Omonia Square: the commercial center of Athens, also synonymous with vice and corruption

St. John of Kronstadt: How is that all of nature . . . is so wisely arranged . ..

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“How is it that all nature, and everything in nature, is so wisely arranged, and moves in such wonderful order? It is because the Creator Himself directs and governs it. How is it that in the nature of man—the crown of creation—there is so much disorder? Why are there so many irregularities and deformities in his life?

Because he took upon himself to direct and govern himself, against the Will and Wisdom of his Creator.

Sinful man! give yourself up wholly, all your life unto the Lord your God, and all your life will move in wise, beautiful, stately, and life-giving order, and will all become beautiful as the lives of God’s Saints, who gave themselves up entirely to Christ their God, and whom the Church daily offers to us, as an example to imitate.”

–St. John of Kronstadt

St. Nectarios of Aegina: We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. . . .

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“We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. This can not all be cut out with one sharp motion, but patience, persistence, care and attention. The path leading to perfection is long. Pray to God so that he will strengthen you. Patiently accept your falls and, having stood up, immediately run to God, not remaining in that place where you have fallen. Do not despair if you keep falling into your old sins. Many of them are strong because they have received the force of habit. Only with the passage of time and with fervor will they be conquered. Don’t let anything deprive you of hope.”

— St. Nektarios of Aegina

St. Seraphim of Sarov: Fasting, prayer, alms, and every other good Christian deed . . .

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“Fasting, prayer, alms, and every other good Christian deed is good in itself, but the purpose of the Christian life consists not only in the fulfillment of one or another of them. The true purpose of our Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. But fasting, prayer, alms and every good deed done for the sake of Christ is a means to the attainment of the Holy Spirit. Note that only good deeds done for the sake of Christ bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Everything else that is not done for the sake of Christ, even if it is good, does not bring us a reward in the life to come, not does it bring the grace of God in this life. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘Whoever gathereth not with me scattereth’ (Matt. 12:30).

— St. Seraphim of Sarov, Conversation on the Goal of the Christian Life

Hieromartyr Onuphry Gagaluk: The acquisition of holiness . . .

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“The acquisition of of holiness is not the exclusive business of monks, as certain people think. People with families are also called to holiness, as are those in all kinds of professions, who live in the world, since the commandment about perfection and holiness is given not only to monks, but to all people”

— Hieromartyr Onuphry Gagaluk

St. Silouan the Athonite: The saints were people like all of us. . . .

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“The saints were people like all of us. Many of them came out of great sins, but by repentance they attained the Kingdom of Heaven. And everyone who comes there comes through repentance, which the merciful Lord has given us through His sufferings.”

+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Wisdom from Mount Athos: The Writings of Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938, XII.10

St. Porphyrios: What saves and makes for good children is . . .

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“What saves and makes for good children is the life of the parents in the home. The parents need to devote themselves to the love of God. They need to become saints in their relations to their children through their mildness, patience, and love. They need to make a new start every day, with a fresh outlook, renewed enthusiasm and love for their children. And the joy that will come to them, the holiness that will visit them, will shower grace on their children. Generally the parents are to blame for the bad behavior of the children. And their behavior is not improved by reprimands, disciplining, or strictness. If the parents do not pursue a life of holiness and if they don’t engage in spiritual struggle, they make great mistakes and transmit the faults they have within them. If the parents do not live a holy life and do not display love towards each other, the devil torments the parents with the reactions of the children. Love, harmony and understanding between parents are what are required for the children. This provides a great sense of security and certainty.”

— St. Porphyrios

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