God teaches us that our soul is of more value than the whole world (Matthew 16:26).
We know that the city makes one want everything it offers, and this is contrary to the will of God. Christ wants us to desire the Kingdom of Heaven, and everything else will follow.
There is no desert, and the civilization is more and more developed. How should one lead a spiritual life when cities constantly grow and villages shrink? What helps in the spiritual life in a metropolis?
Here are the answers of modern Orthodox Christians who shared their experience of living according to the will of God in a big city. They say that several things are essential:
Paying Attention to Spiritual Life
It is easy to fall away from Christ if you do not pay attention to your thoughts, desires, and actions. The reading of Scripture is a top priority. One should pay attention to one’s spiritual life. Scripture will nourish ones’ heart and soul. It is essential to understand the interpretation of Scripture and understand how to apply it in one’s particular life. “Faith in oneself must be preserved and developed,” said Andrew, a programmer, who has learned the commandment of the Gospel: “In an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). Paying attention to one’s eyes, ears, and feelings is essential for purity of heart, faithfulness in marriage and chastity before marriage.
And most importantly, somehow one should love Jesus Christ and relate everything to Him: one’s every decision, every direction of thought, and even one’s every step.
Set Aside Time for Faith So As Not to Drown in the Bustle of the City
The Lord teaches us: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life” (Luke 21:34).
Vladislav, a Sunday school teacher, says it is important to quit smoking, to not drink alcohol or drink it as little as possible, not more than once a week and on non-fasting days. And do not deplete yourself of sleep and food as well as do not overindulge yourself.
Anna, a Christian student, shares that the city is full of bustle. It is a race from morning to night. And the noise … the noise which prevents a person from not only hearing God, but even from hearing himself. Therefore, one should set aside time to the Creator and one’s soul.
She quoted St. Ambrose of Optina: “We must live on the earth the same way a wheel turns: it touches the ground with just one point, while the rest of it is constantly striving upward; but we, as soon as we lie down on the ground, cannot get up.”
Anna advises, “You should always try to remember God. If you go somewhere, or cook, clean, or work, you should always pray and thank the Lord. It helps me a lot too.”
Vladislav says, “Offer concentrated prayer as often as possible.”
Maria agrees, “Do not give up morning and evening prayers. If you have some other prayer rule, it’s better to observe it. Pray before you start working and after you finish it.”
Sergei, a young web designer, is convinced that it is essential to believe that all events in life happen according to the will of God. “This way you remain calm, do not get irritated, you have prayer and your heart is light.”
External Manifestation of Christianity
Maria, a teacher, mother and a university researcher, shared, “It doesn’t matter where I am. But there are some practical points. When you see a church – cross yourself. When you pass an icon, including the ones in your house, cross yourself. We should try to always remember that God sees us and that we have a Guardian Angel, and we should constantly pray to them and thank them.”
A long-time practicing Christian believes that it is essential to work honestly and do good deeds for the glory of God.
Andrew, a Christian and a father of four children, says, “Try to maintain and strengthen your physical form and the purity of your body, because the body is the home of the soul. Taming the body is its training.”
Participation in the Sacraments
There is no spiritual life without the Church. She feeds us with spiritual juices. Through her we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Memory of Death
Tatiana believes, “When you remember that you are going to die, you see all of your sins, especially those that you have always hidden… It helps a lot to lead a penitent way of life.”
“I am an accountant and I know that everything has a deadline,” said one of the faithful “you have to make reports for everything. Regardless of the weather, entertainment, desire, relationships at work, the date will come and a report must be submitted. So, the time will come and you will have to answer for all of your sins, but I don’t know when it will come, so I need to be always ready, and there are a lot of distractions in the world. And you begin to live and think, why do something and what it will lead to.”
A woman from Philadelphia confesses, “First of all, I thank the Lord for everything that happens in life. I read a prayer of thanks, an akathist “Glory to God for Everything.” This helps me understand and accept all of the events of my life as a manifestation of the Divine love. I often don’t have someone to talk to, and then I understand the value of prayer as an opportunity to talk with the Lord.”
Faith in a big city is a victory over loneliness, over fear and weakness. Christians in a metropolis can be the keepers of the Tradition of the faith and church life. One should always be in the Church, that is remember that one is a Christian. And that means being faithful to Jesus Christ Crucified in body and soul.
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