Saint Innocent Enlightener of Alaska, Metropolitan of Moscow
We were created to live on earth unlike animals who die and disappear with time, but with the high purpose to live with God —not for a hundred years or so—but for eternity!
Adam lived in the most beautiful garden (named Eden or Paradise), planted by God, and there he enjoyed all the blessings of life. His soul was filled with awareness of the Divine presence, and he loved his Creator with his whole heart. Adam was in Paradise, and Paradise was within him.
When God appeared to Adam right after he had sinned, Adam, instead of repenting and promising obedience henceforth, began to justify himself and to blame his wife. Eve in turn blamed the serpent for everything. And so it was that sin became a part of human nature, deeply injuring it because of the lack of repentance of Adam and Eve. Having lost Paradise within himself, Adam became unworthy of the external Paradise and was therefore banished from it.
What would have happened to us and to all of mankind if Jesus Christ in His mercy had not come to redeem us?…By His way of life Christ showed us how to live to attain salvation. And He also assists us constantly in everything good. By His most precious blood Jesus washed away our sins and made of us children of God, who were slaves of passions and the devil… Jesus Himself constantly helps us along the way, so to speak, leading us by the hand. It only remains for us not to oppose Him, not to be obstinate, but to surrender ourselves to His will. So you can see how much Jesus Christ loves us and what great blessings He is bestowing upon us!
The road into the Kingdom of Heaven was made by the Lord Jesus Christ, and He was the first one who travelled it. The Bible teaches that only he who follows Jesus can reach His Kingdom… if you truly wish to follow Jesus Christ, He will show you the way into the Kingdom of Heaven and will help you along each step.
Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me (Mark 8:34).
Blessed is he who carries his cross with prudence and humility, because God will never allow such a person to perish but will guide and strengthen him with His Holy Spirit…He is always with you and invisibly sustains you, even when you forget Him. If you bear your cross with perseverance and seek comfort only from Him, then He, through His mercy, will not abandon you but will touch your heart and will impart to you the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
…a disciple of Christ must follow Him. Why did God not make the path to the Kingdom of Heaven light and pleasant? Only God knows. Who would question His divine wisdom? He saw that the narrow path is what we need! We who are below see only bits and pieces, but He, Who is above all creation, sees our lives from the standpoint of eternity.
O merciful Lord! How great is Thy love for us. a righteous person can be as happy in a shack as in a palace. When our heart is filled with the Holy Spirit, wherever we may find ourselves, there we will always feel joy, since Paradise is within us.
If Jesus Christ, our Great Benefactor, had not given us help every step of the way, no one could have reached salvation. Even the Apostles, when left to themselves, were unable to follow Jesus and faintheartedly dispersed. But when on Pentecost they received help from above, they joyfully followed His path, and then neither dangers nor difficulties nor death itself could discourage them.
What is this help given by Jesus Christ to Christians? This help is the Grace of the Holy Spirit. God’s grace surrounds us, and with it the Lord draws us to Himself. All who wish can receive this help and become filled with it.
The Holy Spirit, being God, equal to the Father and the Son, is the source of life and strength. He gives to believers wisdom, inner peace and inspiration, not according to their merits but for Jesus Christ’s sake.
O Holy Spirit, All-powerful God;
Gracious Comforter and Almighty Defender;
Giver of Wisdom, and Light of Revelation;
Who by Thy descent didst bring
the uttermost parts of the world
to the only true knowledge of God:
Do Thou come down even upon us,
who grieve Thee always,
to enlighten and sanctify us,
to heal and comfort us
with Thine abiding comfort.