55 Maxims

These maxims, compiled by Father Thomas Hopko of Blessed Memory are a useful, simple summary and guide for living the Christian life.

1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.

2. Pray as you can, not as you think you must.

3. Have a keepable rule of prayer done by discipline.

4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times each day.

5. Repeat a short prayer when your mind is not occupied.

6. Make some prostrations when you pray.

7. Eat good foods in moderation and fast on fasting days.

8. Practice silence, inner and outer.

9. Sit in silence 20 to 30 minutes each day.

10. Do acts of mercy in secret.

11. Go to liturgical services regularly.

12. Go to confession and holy communion regularly.

13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings.

14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings to a trusted person regularly.

15. Read the scriptures regularly.

16. Read good books, a little at a time.

17. Cultivate communion with the saints.

18. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.

19. Be polite with everyone, first of all family members.

20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.

21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.

22. Exercise regularly.

23. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.

24. Be totally honest, first of all with yourself.

25. Be faithful in little things.

26. Do your work, then forget it.

27. Do the most difficult and painful things first.

28. Face reality.

29. Be grateful.

30. Be cheerful.

31. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.

32. Never bring attention to yourself.

33. Listen when people talk to you.

34. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.

35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.

36. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.

37. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis, figuring things out.

38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.

39. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.

40. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.

41. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.

42. Don’t judge anyone for anything.

43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.

44. Don’t defend or justify yourself.

45. Be defined and bound by God, not people.

46. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.

47. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.

48. Do nothing for people that they can and should do for themselves.

49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.

50. Be merciful with yourself and others.

51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.

52. Focus exclusively on God and light, and never on darkness, temptation and sin.

53. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.

54. When you fall, get up immediately and start over.

55. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.

St. Seraphim of Sarov: Hope

All who have firm hope in God are raised up to Him and are enlightened by the radiance of the Eternal Light. If a man has no care what-so-ever for himself because of love for God and virtuous deeds -knowing that God will take care of him- such hope is true and wise. But if a man takes care for is own affairs and turns with prayer to God only when unavoidable misfortunes overtake him and he sees no way of averting them by his own power (only then beginning to hope in God’s help), then such hope is vain and false. True hope seeks God’s Kingdom alone and is convinced that everything earthly (that is necessary for this transitional life) will be given without fail. 

The heart cannot have peace until it acquires this hope. It gives peace to the heart and brings joy to it. Concerning this hope, the most venerable and holy lips of the Savior have said, “come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). That is, “have hope in Me, and you will have relief from your labor and fear”.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke, it is said of Symeon: “and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). And, he did not kill his hope, but awaited the desired Savior of the world- and joyfully taking Him into his arms, said, “Lord, now let Thou Thy servant depart into Thy Kingdom, which I have desired, for I have obtained my hope: Christ the Lord”.