Sts Barsanuphius the Great and John

Today on the church calendar we commemorate the Ven. Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet (6th Century).  In their collection of sayings, we find the following two comments offering us spiritual guidance:

Labor to acquire thanksgiving toward God for everything, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and then you will find peace.

Guidance Toward Spiritual Life: Answers to the Questions of Disciples

[While we are accustomed to giving thanks to God for all the blessings we have received, we actually are told by St Paul to give thanks to God at all times, not just in happy or prosperous circumstances. “… give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In the above quote these two saints are telling us to acquire that spiritual gift of being thankful for everything. If we nurture a grateful heart and always are thankful to God no matter what circumstances we are in, we are told we “will find peace.” ]

The second quote from the two saints considers a different issue:

A certain Christ-loving man asked the same Elder: Should one be curious about the Divine Mysteries? And is a sinner who approaches them condemned as unworthy?


When coming into the holy temple to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and when receiving Them, pay heed to yourself that you unfailingly believe the truth of this (Sacrament). But as to how this happens, do not be curious, as it has been said: ‘Take, eat, This is My Body and Blood.‘ The Lord gave them to us for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22). We have hope that he who believes thus will not be condemned, but he who does not believe is already condemned. And thus, do not forbid yourself to approach, condemning yourself as a sinner, but recognize that a sinner who approaches the Savior is vouchsafed the remission of sins. (Saints Barsanuphius & John, GUIDANCE TOWARD SPIRITUAL LIFE, pp 94, 111)


[There is a piety that says if you are unworthy for any reason then don’t approach the chalice for Holy Communion. Some forms of this piety oppose frequent Communion. These two monastic saints advise us to come to Communion even when we know we have sinned because it is for sinners that Christ came into the world and it is for sinners that He died on the cross. We approach the chalice not because we are worthy but because we are aware that we are sinners in need of God’s mercies and healing. The reality is we approach the chalice as sinners and because we are sinners, not as the righteous or because of our righteousness. This of course doesn’t mean that we can just intentionally keep sinning even if we go to Communion, but rather that we always should approach the chalice with the self-knowledge that we are sinners not because we are holy but because we need healing and forgiveness from God. Receiving Communion reminds us of our sinfulness and constant need to repent.]