The spiritual principles of St. John of Kronstadt

In “My Life in Christ” definite spiritual principles can be discerned thought the book. They could be summarised like this.

Oneness and simplicity are an important aspect of the nature of God. Therefore, for human beings, simplicity equals strength and nearness to God. What is material is by nature complex and weak. What is spiritual is by nature simple and strong.

When they actually express the inner spirit, words have great power and do not differ from action. This characterises human as well as purely spiritual beings. The human spirit breathes only in the Holy Spirit, who is its atmosphere. Without the Holy Spirit, the human spirit becomes morally corrupt and disintegrates. A materialistic attitude to life is incompatible with the presence of the Spirit of truth.

Words can convey the reality they express, and the scriptural Word of God can therefore convey the Lord himself. Because of its divine power, the Word of God must be believed and obeyed And. Faith is the way to receive the Word of God and is also what gives strength to the human word. Teaching is essentially conveying the Word of God with its power. Spiritual fatherhood resides in teaching the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God and liturgical texts are breathed by the Holy Spirit. But it is important also to pray in one’s own words with the power of faith. Just as we are destined to share the life of God, so our words are meant to be spoken from our spirit united to the Holy Spirit.

The human spirit knows God and the devil through experiencing peace, expansion, bliss on the one hand; and turmoil, oppression and torture on the other. Freedom from evil spirits and communion with God come through faith in the Cross and Blood of Christ. When approached with faith, the sign of the Cross and Communion have limitless power and give the peace of God.

By strengthening the faith of people, they can be brought to holy communion for the genuine healing of soul and body. If the human spirit truly receives the Lord’s words. “This is my Body; this is my Blood, shed for the remission of sins,” in communion God is truly imparted to man and man unites himself to God.

Sin has been nailed to the Cross by the Saviour and every sin can be nailed to the Cross through repentance and faith.

By faith God must be personally known as loving Father, as crucified and risen Lord, as the Spirit who accomplishes the Word.

Person live by the gift of themselves through love. God gives himself, his own divine life to us Christians. Therefore we must respond by giving all we have to each other. Especially to the poor so that there is no human injustice. But giving must not be done carelessly, without consideration for the person’s real needs.

The Church, the Body of Christ, is one and experiences her unity within the Holy Spirit. All Christians in heaven and on earth share the same life in the Holy Spirit and therefore communicate spiritually through the Holy Spirit. The Mother of God, the Saints and all the angels are close to us and we can talk to them through the Holy Spirit.

The Psalter

Even if the Psalter receives considerable attention in our lives through the daily reading of kathismata and the hours, there remains the danger that it influences only very little our daily practical life and the deep attitudes of our hearts.

In his spiritual diary entitled “My Life in Christ”, Saint John of Kronstadt (1829-1908) frequently refers to verses from the psalms and uses them as spiritual weapons in two ways. Weapons against the devil’s attempt to separate each one of us from the felt presence of God, and weapons against disregarding the commandments of God.

Saint John of Kronstadt immediately widens our horizons. With some amazement, as we read his reflections we become aware of so many aspects of life where the presence of the Lord is a matter of life and death. And yet until then we had never thought of it. Similarly we become aware of so many moral demands which God makes on us and which had remained a matter of complete indifference to us.

Like the reading of the psalter, an acquaintance with these texts by Saint John of Kronstadt are unlikely to lead to any substantial changes in our lives, unless we take time to consider simple concrete situations of everyday life where both the psalm verses and their commentary apply for us.

Some of this can only be done privately by each individual Christian, prayed about and eventually brought out in confession and discussed with one’s spiritual father.

Side by side with this personal approach, Bible study groups and the parish as a community would be greatly enriched if they also took those texts to heart. No community can change if its individual members are not concerned to change personally. Bu ıt for any individual to make spiritual headway can be dependent on the direction of the community around them.

In particular, the community provides the mutual backing needed to keep a vivid sense of the Lord’s presence. To create a social awareness of the demands that the Lord makes on Christians and of which society is totally unconscious. To encourage faith in the Lord’s desire to answer the prayers of both individuals and communities.

Saint John of Kronstadt’s thoughts on the psalter illustrate the general principles of his spiritual teaching. To benefit fully from the reading of his thoughts on the psalms, it is useful to start by reminding oneself of the basic principles of the Christian life as Saint John of Kronstadt sees them.

The Psalms

PSALM 2: 11 “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.”

Lord, do not allow for one moment that I should do the will of your and my enemy, the devil. But, grant that I may continually do your will, and do only the will of my God and ˚ my King, by whom all kings reign. Grant that I may always obey you, revere you truly and firmly.

PSALM 7: 9 “O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts.”

With what are our hearts occupied? God, “who searches minds and hearts,” sees what each one of us has in his heart, to what it is attached during the greater part of life. And if the Lord had given us the ability to see all the depths of the human heart, then our eyes would have turned away with horror from the mass of impurities inside it. Adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, pride and others. What abomination we would have seen. The abomination of ingratitude to God, of forgetfulness of God, of unbelief, of little faith, of manifold attachment to earthly things often the most absurd ones, of carelessness for heavenly things, of our own lot after death, of inattention and neglect of the Church, of her services, rites and institutions, of contempt for the clergy who represent religion and the Church, and every other. ? abomination.

If you wish to correct anyone of his faults, do not think of correcting him solely by your own means. You would only do harm by your own passions. For instance by pride and the irritability arising from it. But, “cast your cares on the Lord” (Psalm 55:22) and pray to God “who searches minds and hearts,” with all your heart, that he himself will enlighten the mind and heart of that man. If he sees that your prayer breathes love, and it really comes from the depth of your heart, he will infallibly fulfil the desire of your heart, and you yourself will soon tell, seeing the change that has taken place in him for whom you have prayed, that it is the work of “the right hand of the Most High”(Psalm 77:10)

When you pray, either aloud or within yourself for others - for instance, for the members of your household or for strangers, even though they may not have asked you to do so - pray for them with the same ardour and zeal as you would pray for yourself. Remember the commandment of the Law @. “love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18 Matthew 19:19 and 22:39). Observe this rule on all occasions, that is, love your neighbour as yourself. Do not try to deal cunningly with the Lord, “who searches minds and hearts” (Jeremiah 11:20 Revelation 2:23 Psalm 7:9), lest he should despise your prayer as vain and lying.

Psalm 12: 6,8 “The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honoured among men.”

We must not doubt in the truth of the Gospel a and of the liturgical texts. Everything that is in the Gospel and in the Church is the breathing of the Spirit of truth, the ‘silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times,’ life, peace and spiritual sweetness. Woe to him who doubts. The lying spirit will darken, oppress and plunge him into despondency and affliction. This is from experience.

Sometimes during prayer the intellect becomes puffed up and the words of the prayer do not find a place in it on account of its carnality and falsehood. But, still the words of the prayer are spirit and truth, the molten silver, proceeding from the soul, burning with faith and love, ‘refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.’ “the Ungodly walk around them” (Septuagint version) not going into the depth of their meaning.