This Extremely Popular Priest's Explanation for Why Divorce Happens May Surprise You

A smile - softness, natural brightness, kindness and, what is the most important, the warmth of love – always has a positive result when we are talking with a person who is acting against our wishes

Fr. Artemy Vladimirov is a very prominent priest in Russia, especially popular among Moscow's English-speaking population for his intelligence and perfect command of the English language.

He has a strong internet presence, travels regularly to the US to lecture, and published a book in English in 2010, called Bright Faithwhich aims to introduce Orthodox Christian spirituality to Westerners. (You can see all the articles we have published about him here)

Fr. Artemy is very soft-spoken, a rather unusual phenomenon in Russia, where forceful priests who often speak bluntly and directly are more the rule than the exception. Meanwhile, he often uses symbolic and poetic language, betraying his literary background, so his style is not for everyone (Let us know what you think of it in the comments!). 

Yet under his gentleness hides a powerful mind. 

In this video, he talks about how smiling more has the power to change our lives, improve our marriages, and even save our souls. 


Dear friends,

We are together again. And I confess, it is as if I can hear accusations from my audience: “Father, why do you always talk about small things? Why not to talk about the future of petrodollar? Or reveal the secret strings of world politics? Should Russia wait for the Lord’s Annointed One? How do we defeat corruption?

Dear friends, God willing, we’ll discuss these important things as well. At the same time, a priest is not ‘all-in-one’, we are not the Pope who suggests his infallibility ex cathedra. But even he knows the limits of his competence.

Being a man of pen and ink, a teacher and an educator, I’m sure that History will free me from accusations. Unable to embrace unembraceable, I’m willing to concentrate on small details which can be rewarding to us.

Today I’d like to talk about a smile. The smile, which is the beginning of friendship, like an ocean begins from a river. Living in Russia, we are not used to smiling a lot. “Life is so hard”, priests say trying to excuse a gloomy face. Yes, life is not all honey and I guess in the West as well.

But whose life is easy nowadays? But we can learn some lessons from well-mannered people because a smile naturally changes time and space if it comes from the bottom of your soul it affects subtly the speaker.

Smiles makes this world richer, brighter, all-round. Smiles can join souls with invisible golden threads.  Maybe I have made it all up? Let’s refer to a Fyodor Tutchev, a famous poet, philosopher and master of psychology. I take the poem that came from under the feather July 28, 1852 “The Sun Is Bright, The Waters Shimmer” (English translation (c) St. Sol)

The sun is bright, the waters shimmer,

The smiles and life're in everything,

The trees rejoice, extol, and shiver,

While bathing in blue heaven stream.

The trees intone, the water shimmers,

With love the air is imbued,

The thriving world of nature glimmers,

It's full of life, it feels renewed.


Yet even in excessive rapture

No ecstasy is stronger than

A single smile, emotion captured

In jaded soul that stirred a man...

The poet is delighted with a smile of a beautiful lady who might have been suffering hard, had some sorrows . But when she smiles gently and quietly, everything transfigures and the poet’s soul comforts. A smile like a ray of sunshine on the face of the lady contrasts here with “feast for the eyes” that the poet is observing in spring. The lights reflect in the sky-blue sea. Trees are moving from light wind and the leaves are trembling like alive. The trees seem to swim in the air with their soft crowns. The air is full of odour. The world of nature is in bloom.. Life reigns in the spring.

But all this splendour of the Lord’s world fades in comparison to one tender smile of jaded soul.

I'm not lyric and poetic enough like Fyodor Tutchev. I’d like to talk about a smile in general, not connected with the tender poet and the lady.

We are priests of the 20 century and are in a middle of life and we notice conflicts between husbands and wives, mothers and children. Why? Because modern people are surprisingly cold-hearted. A mother is trying to come up with something from her naughty youngsters, criticizing them, she is frowning, her words become sharp. Yes, she wishes them the best, she prays for the peace and order, but she is breaking this peace herself, rocking the boat.

But a smile, softness, natural brightness, kindness and, which is the most important, the warmth of love – they always have positive result when we are talking with a person who is acting against our wishes.  “in the spirit of meekness», as the Apostle Paul teaches, we wish to restore the one who had a fault.

Why do people get divorced? The lack of culture and upbringing, mask of death or grimace of irritation. Because we look at each other from under our eyebrows.

But we only need to smile and say, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you”.

“Let’s join our hands, dear friends, not to fall apart  one by one”

The unity of smiling people is splendid.

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