Saints are not fairy tales, they are not made up characters, they are not from a different planet, they are simple people just like us. I essentially realized this when I saw photos of Saint John of Kronstadt. I found him so interesting and at the same time strange. How come you can see photos of a saint? You can see icons of a saint or you can see him painted on the walls of a church, but how can you see photos from the life of that saint?
In my mind, saints are people who lived a long time ago, hundreds of years ago, whose lives I can read in the synaxaria, far from being simple people. Imagine my surprise when I saw those photos from the life of Saint John of Kronstadt, when I saw that he was a simple man just like us, when I read about his life and learnt that he was ill as a child, that he was a weak student and he did not stand out in any way, it was only then that I realized that saints are common people.
What a man he was and what a saint he became! Sought after by tens of thousands of people just like people used to seek after the Saviour Christ. They would come to Saint John of Kronstadt just like they were going to a healing spring in order to receive healing, thousands and thousands of people would come every day to confess their sins, to receive advice, to receive Holy Communion and listen to his sermons.
Anyone can become a saint, someone who lives in a block or a taxi driver or a teacher or a beggar… I, too, can become a saint. But do I want to become one?
What if one day I put my mind to becoming a saint, to asking God to help me so that I commit no sins. First I would make a plan and then ask the Lord Christ all throughout the day to give me the strength to keep to my plan.
Even if I will make mistakes that day, I will ask for forgiveness and start over again. A Christian is not someone who doesn’t fall, but someone who gets back up. What is important is for me to realize that the Lord is by my side, in my fall as well as in my joy. What is important is for me to learn how to always relate to Him, to always ask for His advice and His help, to learn not to be selfish because I can do nothing without Him.
Being a saint doesn’t mean not to make mistakes, but to always see your own sins and try to abandon them because he who sees his own sins is greater than he who raises the dead.
What would it be like if we were saints for a day?
‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
Translated by Claudia
We are all going to die eventually and we all owe God an explanation at the end of our lives. Each of us has to account for what we have done with this life that we received as a gift. Some of us received more, others less.
Some lived very well, some had a hard life. Whoever was given a lot, a lot will be required from him and whoever was given a little, a little will be required from him. God is just and kind and He will judge everyone depending on their life contexts, on the hardships and problems they encountered and He will demand each of us the best we could do under the circumstances.
At the end of the world, when all people since the beginning of time are gathered, when everything is revealed, when there are no more lying, secrets and arrangements, then God will pronounce sentence upon each one of us according to our deeds.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall sit on the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.And He shall set the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.
Then the King shall say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me,I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’
Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothed You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King shall answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to Me.’
Then He shall say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also shall answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He shall answer them, saying,‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25, 31-46)
The judging criteria are simple regardless of how many colleges we graduated, of the fact that some are drivers and other professors, of the fact that some were wealthy and others poor, some smart and others less smart, we all should have:
Being kind goes a long way!
Translated by Claudia