The following is taken from the monthly newsletter of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Washington, DC …
On February 5, the day of commemoration of the Synaxis of New-martyrs and Confessors of Russia, Elder Ioann Krestiankin, at age 95 the oldest monastic of the Pskov Caves Monastery, and its spiritual director, an Elder fervently loved by all, reposed. He died several minutes after communing of the Holy Gifts of Christ. We present here to the readers of Parish Life instructions excerpted from three of Fr. Ioann’s letters to spiritual children:
Did you know that you do not get down from the Cross? You are taken down from it. And your Cross, if you courageously carry it to the end, will yield great spiritual fruit, transforming your soul, and nourishing your loved ones as well. The great difficulty is that the enemy of all mankind, who is irritated by your charitable acts of compassion, the beginnings of love, intensely opposes everything [you do]. And recognizing the machinations of the enemy, we do not have the strength or the skill to oppose him. Yet that is what we must do.
No one has ever found it painless to carry and ascend his Cross. Yet without the Cross, we cannot see Christ. We choose the Cross but once, and the rest of life is lived with what opportunity that Cross offers us.
No matter where we might go, our Cross will get no lighter. External sorrows may abate for a time, but it is then that inner ones, even more heavy and profound sorrows pile up on us.