Without Christ We Are Nothing

Saint Sophia Cathedral
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Topic of the Week – Without Christ We Are Nothing

“…We want to be Christians without Christ, without spiritual sorrow, without lifting the difficult cross, and would rather walk along the wide road. Such false Christians, when you speak to them about a hard and impoverished life, about sacrifice, about asceticism, reply that Christ does not want such things, and that such things are antics….. Whoever loves Christ and His Gospel, loves that which is worth loving above everything else. In Christ they can find all worthwhile things: love (agape), humility, pain, gentleness, spiritual sorrow and spiritual joy–which are both sweet when done in the name of Christ….

Excerpted from Are We Christians Without Christ?

We possess a true barometer which shows the rise and fall of our spiritual life—that is, our heart. It may also be called a compass, by means of which we are guided in our voyage over the sea of this life. It shows us whither we are going—to the spiritual east, to Christ; or to the spiritual west, the dark power that has the power of death—the Devil. Only watch this compass attentively; it will not deceive, and will show you the true way. “If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God”—that is, we are drawing nigh to the east….

When your heart inclines to evil, and the evil one begins to undermine your heart, so that it is completely removed from the rock of faith, then say to yourself inwardly: “I know of my spiritual poverty, my own nothingness without faith. I am so weak, that it is only by Christ’s name that I live and obtain peace, that I rejoice and my heart expands, whilst without Him I am spiritually dead, I am troubled, and my heart is oppressed; without the Lord’s Cross I should have been long since the victim of the most cruel distress and despair. Only Christ keeps me alive: and the Cross is my peace and my consolation.” 

Excerpted from My Life in Christ, by Saint John of Kronstadt

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Christ the Great High Priest

Adult/Family:“… Even the saints of God were at times seized with diabolical despair and despondency. What, therefore, can we sinners expect? … We must continually turn to God and be every moment with Him, in order that we may not be besieged with the wrath and despondency of the enemy. There are other means besides of escaping from them–the broad way of the world; only if you give yourself up to worldly pleasures, despondency will leave you for a time, at least while the pleasures last. But afterwards you will be captivated by these pleasures; they will become a necessity to you, and you will find comfort and joy in them, and in them alone; but may God preserve every Christian from finding his only way of escape from the despondency of the Devil through such means! It is better to walk in the narrow path, to patiently bear despondency, and to seek frequent help and deliverance from the Lord Jesus Christ, Who always rejoices those laboring for their salvation for His sake, than to enter on the broad and smooth way of the world and purchase there, by means of the pleasures of the flesh, freedom from the spirit of despondency. By means of this spirit of despondency the enemy has driven many from the narrow path of salvation on to the broad, smooth path which leads to destruction….

When Christ is in our heart, we are contented with everything: what has been discomfort to us becomes the greatest comfort, what was bitter to us becomes sweet, poverty becomes wealth, our hunger is satisfied, and our sorrow turns into joy! But when Christ is not in the heart, then the man is not contented with anything, he does not find happiness in anything: neither in health nor in comfort, nor in ranks and honors, nor in amusements, nor in rich palaces, nor in a luxuriously served table covered with all kinds of viands and drinks, nor in rich attire—in nothing. Ah! how necessary for the man is Christ, the Life-giver and Saviour of our souls! How necessary it is for Christ’s sake—in order that He should dwell within us—for us to hunger and thirst, to sleep less, to dress more simply, and to bear everything with a quiet, peaceful, patient, meek spirit. The wicked fowler of our souls—the Devil, seeks at every moment to ensnare our souls; trying how he can wound us by some sin, by some passion; how he can implant some sinful habit or passion more firmly within us, so as to make the salvation of our soul as difficult as possible, so as to produce in us a coldness towards God, towards holy things, towards the Church, towards eternity, and towards mankind….

In educating, it is extremely dangerous to only develop the understanding and intellect, and not pay attention to the heart. We must, above all pay attention to the heart, for the heart is life, but life corrupted by sin. It is necessary to purify this source of life, to… direct all the thoughts, desires, and tendencies of the man through all his life. Society is corrupted precisely through the want of Christian education. It is time that Christians should understand the Lord, should understand what He requires of us; namely, a pure heart. “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Listen to His sweetest voice in the Gospel. The true life of our heart is Christ (“Christ liveth in me”)…. This should be our common problem: to bring Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith…. Men throughout all their earthly life see everything but Christ, the life-giver; this is why they have no spiritual life, this is why they are given to every passion: unbelief, want of faith, covetousness, envy, hatred, ambition, the pleasures of eating and drinking. It is only at the close of their life that they seek Christ through the Holy Communion, and even this out of crying necessity and as a custom usual amongst others. O Christ, our God, our Life and Resurrection! How low have we fallen in our vanity, how blind have we become! But how would it have been with us had we always sought Thee, had we always had Thee in our hearts? The tongue cannot express the bliss which those experience who have Thee in their hearts! Unto them Thou art strengthening food, inexhaustible drink, shining raiment, the sun, “the peace which passeth all understanding,” unutterable joy, and everything. Possessing Thee, all earthly things become dust and corruption….Modern, false education estranges from the true Light “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” and does not approach It. But without Christ all education is vanity….

The kingdom of life and the kingdom of death go side by side. I say go, because they are spiritual. The Chief of the first—that is of the kingdom of life—is Jesus Christ, and those who are with Christ are undoubtedly in the kingdom of life; the chief of the second—that is, of the kingdom of death—is the prince of the powers of the air — the Devil, with the spirits of evil subject to him, of which there are so many that their number far exceeds the number of all men dwelling upon earth. These children of death, the subjects of the prince of the air, are in constant stubborn warfare with the children of life—that is, with faithful Christians—and strive by every crafty means to win them over to their side, through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, because sin and crime are their elements, and through sins, if we do not repent of them, we pass over to their side; whilst those to whom sins form as through an every-day requirement, who drink in iniquity like water, are not disturbed by the spirits of evil, because they already belong to them as long as they live carelessly in regard to their souls. But as soon as they turn to God, acknowledging their sins, both voluntary and involuntary, the war bursts forth, and the hordes of Satan rise up and carry on an unceasing fight. You see by this how necessary it is to seek Christ, as the Chief of the kingdom of life, and the Conqueror of hell and death.

Every affliction and oppression arises either from want of faith or from some passion concealing itself within the man, or from some other impurity visible to the Almighty, and shows that the Devil is in the heart, and that Christ is not in the heart. Christ is the peace, the freedom, and the ineffable light of the soul…”

Excerpted from My Life in Christ, or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God, by Saint John of Kronstadt

Read also Are We Christians Without Christ?


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Middle School:

“…In all your works, either at home or at the place of your service, do not forget that all your strength, your light and your success are in Christ and His Cross; therefore, do not fail to call upon the Lord before beginning any work, saying: Jesus, help me! Jesus, enlighten me! Thus your heart will be supported and warmed by lively faith and hope in Christ, for His is the power and glory unto ages of ages.

Take care; do not forget, Christian; never lose hearty faith in Him Who is your invisible Life, your Peace, your Light, your Strength, your Breath; that is, in Jesus Christ. Do not believe your heart when it becomes gross, darkened, unbelieving, and cold from plenteousness of food and drink, from worldly distractions, or finally when you live by the intellect, and not by the heart; that is, when you exercise the intellect and neglect the heart, or, when you enlarge and adorn the net, leaving the fisherman himself in poverty and need; for the heart, comparatively speaking, is the hunter of fisherman whilst the intellect is the fisherman’s net….”

Excerpted from My Life in Christ, or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God, by Saint John of Kronstadt

High School:

“…What is the sign that a Christian man is near to Christ? The man who is near to Christ often turns with faith and love to Christ; often pronounces His sweetest name; often calls upon Him for help; often turns his eyes, thoughts, and heart towards Him. Christ the Lord naturally reveals Himself upon his lips and in his glance, because without Christ he is powerless, joyless. The man who is far from Christ seldom, very seldom, turns his thoughts toward Christ, and even then not with hearty faith and love, but only through some necessity, and as to a person who is little known to him, who does not rejoice him, does not delight his heart, and who has no attraction for him. This is why we see that those who are near to Christ do not let Christ out of their thoughts and heart; they live in Him; He is their breath, food, drink, dwelling—everything. Through the sweetness of His name and His beneficial touch they, so to say, cleave to Him with their whole being: “My soul hangeth upon Thee.” And in this cleaving they find unspeakable bliss, which the world does not know. Such are the signs by which it may be recognized who has found Christ and who has not yet found Him. Those who have not found Christ live in this life without hearty faith; they think and care more about worldly things—how to enjoy themselves, how to eat and drink pleasurably, how to dress exquisitely, how to satisfy their carnal desires, how to kill time, with which they do not know what to do, though time seeks them and, not finding them, quickly flies away before their eyes. Day flies away after day, night after night, month after month, year after year, until, finally, the last terrible hour strikes, and they hear a voice: “Stop, the course is finished; your time has been lost; your sins and iniquities have preceded you; they will fall upon you with all their power, and will crush you with their weight eternally….”


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