Archpriest Sergiy Baranov

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Iveron Monastery of Orsk



In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

If a person saw God, he or she would have been in such an awe, in such an extraordinary state, that if someone told him some news, he would not hear it. People would ask him what was going on in politics or economics, or even they would ask if he had eaten anything that day, he would not remember whether he had eaten or not. He would have even forgotten his last name. This is the great admiration a person would have on seeing God.  

However, there is one more state. It is when a person sees his or her fall in all its depth and feels a deep pain, to the bottom of his heart.  At this moment, if someone asks, “Have you eaten something?” he would have answered, “I do not remember. I am so sorrowful, I do not remember anything.” This is because he has an acute vision of his worthlessness, which overwhelms everything. “Let’s go for a walk,” “let’s have some rest,” “let’s have some meal,” “you know,” “you see,” nothing is important for him, as he has a great sorrow deep down in his heart. 

I am telling you about these two visions: when a person sees God and forgets about everything and when a person sees himself, in all the depth, unadorned, without hypocrisy, in the raw. In both cases, he would have forgotten anything because these are so strong feelings, just as a blow on one’s head. He forgot everything. People ask him and have no reaction from him. 

Many people who come to church become obsessed with the idea to see God. This vision is impossible without the other vision. Before a person sees his worthlessness, the vision of God will be dangerous for him. It will deprive him of eternity. This is because people are gravely sick, sick with vanity through and through, in every cell. If he suddenly sees God, his vanity will simply tear him apart, he will burst and go mad.  

We all move towards God, but without passing through this first point to the depth, to the very truth, the highest vision will be devastating for us. We all move towards God, but we should pass this point of repentance. This is how the highest will be safe for us, so no one above shows us the depth of ourselves. The deep vision of ourselves will always bring us down to earth. 

Often Christians want to skip this first point and fly up high at once. You know, the reason, among all the others, why people need a spiritual guide? To give a pull at the leg, when you fly up without having repented. Sometimes, one should pull very hard, and the person will fall and hurt himself and ask in amazement, “I wanted to fly to God and you pulled me by the leg. And you were so rude and cruel that I bumped and hurt myself.” 

I remember, when we were young priests, our spiritual guide told us, “It is better to lose your leg or hand, or, as the Lord says in Gospel, an eye, than to lose your soul through vanity, through your pride.” It is better to lose your hand or leg than your eternal life. 

You should not go to the Kingdom of Heaven by the way round. This will be a great mistake; a great and, perhaps, irrevocable mistake. Because there is nothing that will help a deluded and proud person, who has a stable self-opinion as of someone spiritual. This happens because he would not listen to anyone. There is a definition given by the Holy Fathers. They explain shortly how vanity develops. First, a person says during an obedience, “I do not care about my superior.” Then he will say, “I do not care about my spiritual guide.” And then, there will be, “I do not care about the Bishop.” And then, “I do not care about the Patriarch.” Finally he will say, “I do not care about Apostle Paul. He was a human too.” In the end, he will say, “I do not care about Christ.” That’s it. Amen. The end. There is no way back. If he reaches this point, there is no way back.   

We want to see Christ very much and we are eager to see the Uncreated Light. But the Uncreated Light is unreachable without immersion into a deep darkness. The deep darkness of our worthlessness, shame, filth, and corruption. Those who do not immerse in it will not find it possible to ascend to Christ. There is no other way. Do not try to deceive God or yourselves. Do not elude or skip it. There is no other way. 

Sweetest Jesus, save us!

Glory to Thee our Lord! Glory to Thee our Lord! Glory to Thee our Lord!