Hieromonk Ioann of Sarov (conclusion)
The Sarov cloister, while reverentially keeping the memory of their founder and first superior the great ascetic, Hieroschemamonk Ioann, solemnly preserves, as a precious, never to be forgotten monument, his charter. This contains church order, the monastic rules and various spiritual testaments of which the most edifying is the following:
“I beg you, fathers and brothers and my beloved children, as your unworthy brother and servant, may we, for the sake of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave His life for our sins, start caring for our souls with tears and lamentation. Seeing our own laziness, weakness, and infirmity in everything that is good, may we afflict ourselves over that which passes away and struggle for future blessings so that we may not be condemned at the terrible Second Coming of the Lord for passing this life in laziness and negligence. How would we look with our own eyes on the great day of the Lord at the terrible face of Christ, shining brighter than the Sun, Who will be giving to the righteous unspeakable blessings, but sorrow and suffering to sinners? What can be more terrible, or what can be more lamentable than that sorrow and sadness, as Saint Ephraim says it, when we will see worldly men, who lived with wives, and children and worldly cares being granted the kingdom of Heaven, and ourselves, who have left everything, in other words, the father and the mother, the wife and the children and others, who are dear to us, and the whole world and everything sweet and dear in it, who have lived in sorrows and afflictions, who have struggled with bodily passions day and night, like with lions and snakes, being condemned along with publicans and sinners because of neglect, weariness and disobedience?
“We suffer this due to much ignorance since we leave what is great and most glorious and are seduced by what is bad and insignificant and for its sake. We fall away from the abundant love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for this reason, at the dreadful hour of death, we will suffer terribly as the ones, who are lazy and negligent, as Basil the Great says it.
“Furthermore, I think the great luminaries and spiritual fathers as well as the holy martyrs did not pass the enemy ordeals at the dreadful hour of death without torment. Therefore, brethren, if those, who are great and who labored much, expect suffering at the hour of death, how could we, who are passionate and wretched avoid that terrible torment? What forgiveness shall we receive, if we anger the Lord at every hour and live in pleasures and comfort, and do not want to care for the soul? We forget why and for what reason we have renounced the world and promised Christ to endure all sorrows and afflictions of the monastic life and to have Christ-like humility, obedience, and poverty.
“We do not even care about the small rule of ours either in the church or in the cell, as is required, nor about the piety on the monastery grounds. Nor are we careful when we partake food or drink, nor about clothes and footwear, nor about things we possess at the monastery and the cell without a blessing; but just live as laypeople, who are not concerned about salvation.
“We only think about what we consider most important, so we renounce the world in words and do nothing in deed. We do not fear the future torment, nor the dreadful hour of death, nor the fact that we will die in a not so distant hour, just like our fathers and brothers have, and will stand before the impartial judgment of Christ and answer for our lives, for the deeds, words and thoughts.
“Indeed, dreadful and unmerciful will the judgment be for the negligent and the lazy! If the righteous will be scarcely be saved, what will happen to the negligent and the sinner? For this reason, may we at least pay attention from now on to the Gospel commandments, to the Apostolic and Holy Fathers’ writings, also to what is written in the charter regarding the monastic life, and the traditions written there according to the Divine Scriptures.
“This service and the charter written by our unworthiness, is entrusted to you for the sake of your love for Christ God to be preserved forever; we wish this very much for you and all fathers and brothers in this holy habitation, and pray wholeheartedly to accept this rule and keep it for your benefit.”
Through the prayers of Hieromonk Ioann of Sarov may our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us. Amen!