brothers and sisters, we spoke of how people today often
forget the main goal that stands before each person, the
task of saving one's soul for eternity. This concern for
salvation must be the main objective for every person of
faith. The great teacher of Christian living--indeed in
the best sense, the wise man Saint Theofan the Recluse,
in his instructions and letters constantly repeated the
same thing: that not only a person who assumed vows of a
certain way of life--a monastic, a monk, a hermit--can be
saved, but he who lives in the world, who lives a temporal
life. He has the wherewithal for the salvation of his soul,
to save his soul and achieve a lofty level of Christian
A clear example of this was already shown. Let us remember,
for example, the great righteous man who raised the dead--Saint
Sysoi the Great. This was a man who in his younger years
went into the desert. There he lived until deep old age,
truly reaching the highest Christian perfection, so much
so, that he was able to raise the dead, and when lay dying,
his face shone like the sun, the room where his deathbed
stood was filled with a wonderful aroma, and all stood in
trepidation. Such a death was also bestowed upon another
great righteous man--Saint Philaret the Merciful. He was
no ascetic, and did not live in the wilderness. He was a
husband to his wife and father to his children, that is,
he lived an average life. Still, he achieved such a level
of spiritual perfection, that his death was like that of
Sysoi the Great, his face shone like the sun and the room
was filled with sweetness.
Saint Theophan the Recluse showed that the Lord places each
person in the best conditions for the salvation of his soul.
Of course, this is not to speak of those instances, when
a person lives a normal life, and then suddenly a Divine
word reaches his heart and his life, his attitude, changes.
But in general, when a person travels an average life's
path, as St. Theophan said, he can fully achieve salvation.
He must only turn his life completely into serving God,
the very life he already leads. The saint said this simply
and clearly: "One need only look at each thing one
does as an act first of all done for God, before God's all-seeing
eyes. View each action in this way. If you have a visitor,
if you meet someone, remember that God sent him to you.
Your conscience now bears the obligation to relate to the
person in the way dictated by Christian love. And so with
every thing we do, every little quotidian trifle should
be viewed as an opportunity to do it properly, so that it
would be pleasing to God." Such acts that please God
will gradually fill a person's life, and in the end, he
will seem no different from anyone else yet he will be standing
before the Face of God and serve the Lord God. Then his
eyes will begin to open, and he will become convinced, through
experience, that truly, the Lord sends everything for our
salvation and no meetings are chance meetings.
Today, the Church, for example, celebrated the Holy Apostle
Philipp the Deacon, not Philipp of the twelve (his holiday
is later, before Advent), but Deacon Philipp, who also performed
the apostolic service. The Lord inspired Philipp to walk
on a specific road. Philipp went. There he met with an Ethiopian
dignitary who was just then reading Holy Scripture and could
not understand the passage he was reading. Philipp approached
him, divinely inspired, and asked if he understood what
he was reading. He replied, "I cannot, unless someone
explain it to me." Then Philipp, at his request, sat
with him in his chariot and explained the passage to him.
The Ethiopian's soul began to burn with a mighty, light-filled
faith. As they neared a body of water, he asked "Here
is water, can I not be baptised here?" Philipp responded
that if he believed with all his heart, then he can. And
Philipp baptised him.
From the point of view of our daily, mundane life, it seems
that this was a chance meeting: this dignitary was going
his own way. Philipp went his way, maybe crossing his path,
and it seemed like a chance meeting, yet it turned out not
to be the case at all. By Divine Providence, this meeting
was destined so that the Church would receive a new believing
Christian, who later became a martyr.
And so, such examples show us that we must not say that
our daily circumstances give us no opportunity to save our
souls. Of course, one cannot close one's eyes to the fact
that life today is not the same as it was 70-80 years ago,
it has become more complicated, it has also become tainted,
to which the Apostle says: "But where sin abounded,
there did grace much more abound," that is, if sin
is increased, then for him who desires salvation, assistance
from the grace-filled power of the Lord is increased, strengthened,
so that the person is not crushed from all sides, so theat
his soul remains devoted to God and was saved.
This every Christian must remember. There are, of course,
drastic shifts in life, when a person's soul burns with
fervor, he asks for a new way of life, and he embarks on
this path, but this does not happen often, as you know.
But every person, in the circumstances of his own life,
can save his Christian soul if he looks upon his life and
his actions as service to the Lord God. Amen.
From the compendium Sermons and Teachings of Metropolitan
Philaret, v. II, (Russian Orthodox Youth Committee, New