A Primer of Spiritual Life

Saint Sophia Cathedral
Online Resources for our Religious Edification

Topic of the Week:  A Primer of Spiritual Life

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, most of us are far from even beginning to fulfill these precepts… nevertheless accept from me, sinful Aleksander,  this Primer of Spiritual Life.”

What follows are some excerpts from the Primer of Spiritual Life, by Father Aleksander Orlov of Omsk. The entire Primer was recently published here Sept 22-Oct 19, 2020 Daily Meditations by Papa Demetri. [Comments in parentheses added by Papa Demetri.]


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.

11) In dangers and trials [like what is happening now: coronavirus, storms, fires, violent and/or demeaning protests] 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. [I recommend that all Orthodox Christians read at least one Psalm a day and read that Paraklesis at least once a week. We all need to get closer to our Most Beloved Panagia, who loves us so very much!] 
16) Spiritual life is an unending, never-abating war with the enemies of our salvation. Never allow your soul to 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 [or as Saint Paisios the Athonite teaches us: Do not build runways for them to land in your heart.”]
57) Never forget the Divine judgment and requital are at hand.



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

2) Do not begin your daily tasks without having said your rule of prayer.5) Sincerely greet everyone you meet in the morning.
37) Call upon your Guardian Angel everywhere and always. [Each one of us was blessed with one, from God, during our Baptism.] 
42) Before you go to sleep, make peace with all, prostrating yourself before anyone you have offended.

45) Cross yourself before you go to sleep.

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Middle School:

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

3) Throughout the day, regardless of what you are doing or where you are, repeat short prayers[Especially, the Jesus Prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me’ and also ‘Most Holy Theotokos, save us.’] Prayers are the soul’s wings. Prayer makes the soul God’s throne. The power in a spiritual man comes entirely from prayer.
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. [The lives of the Saints are also great reads.]
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.

22) Make a commemoration list for yourself and pray for all the living and the dead you know, for those who hate or offend you, for those who have suffered for the Faith in our time, and for those who have no one to pray for them.

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High School:

21) You must continuously strengthen your faith by recourse to repentance [Metanoia] and prayer and by contact with persons who themselves have profound faith [or who, at least, are struggling, like you, to have more faith and surrender more of their will to Christ.]

34) Do not be obsessed with yourself like a hen with an egg she has just laid, but take thought for you neighbor.

54) Sorrows, difficulties, illnesses – all these bring us closer to God: therefore, do not complain about them and do not fear them.

55) No one has ever reached Heaven by a life of pleasure and unbroken happiness.


A Message from Maria Spanos

I am passionate about our Orthodox Christian faith and seek to help others learn as much as they can about it. My purpose here is to share online resources that help strengthen our relationship with Christ and bind us closer to His Church. I believe they are invaluable in learning about our precious Orthodox Tradition, and are a great aid for teaching family members, friends and others about Orthodoxy. ~Maria

Two of my favorite quotes:

“A true Christian behaves in this life so that it may be a preparation for the future one and not only a life here below. In his actions, he does not think what will be said of him here but of what will be said there in heaven; he represents to himself that he is always in the presence of God, of the angels and all the saints, and remembers that someday they will bear witness of his thoughts, words, and deeds.”  — Saint John of Kronstadt


Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.”
— St. Theophan the Recluse