Rules for Pious Life
By Archbishop Platon of Kostroma
[Archbishop Platon of Kostroma lived in 19th century Russia. This
article codifies the teachings of the Desert Fathers into guidelines we
can follow today.]
Force yourself to get up early and on a set schedule. As soon as you
wake up, turn your mind to God: make the Sign of the Cross, and thank
Him for the night that has passed and for all His mercies towards you.
Ask Him to guide all your thoughts, feelings and desires, so that
everything you say or do will be pleasing to Him.
As you dress, recollect the presence of the Lord and of your Guardian
Ask the Lord Jesus Christ to put on you the robe of salvation.
After washing yourself, get down to morning prayers. Pray kneeling,
with concentration, and with reverence and meekness, as is proper before
the eyes of the Almighty.
Ask Him to give you faith, hope, and charity, as well as calm
strength to accept all that the coming day may bring to you - its
hardships and troubles.
Ask Him to bless your labors. Ask for help: to accomplish some
particular task that you face; to steer clear of some particular sin.
If you can, read something from the Bible, especially from the New
Testament and the Psalms. Read with intent to receive some spiritual
enlightenment, inclining your heart to compunction. Having read a
little, pause and reflect on what you read, and then proceed further,
listening to what the Lord suggests to your heart.
Try to devote at least fifteen minutes to spiritually contemplate the
teachings of the Faith and the profit to your soul in what you have
Always thank the Lord that He did not leave you to perish in your
sins, but cares for you and in every possible way leads you to the
Start every morning as if you had just decided to become a Christian
and to live according to God's commandments. As you enter upon your
duties, strive to do everything towards the glory of God.
Start nothing without prayer, because whatever we do without prayer
later turns out to be futile or harmful. The words of the Lord are true:
"Without me, you can do nothing."
Imitate our Savior, Who labored helping Joseph and His most pure
Mother. While working, keep a good spirit, relying always on the Lord's
help. It is a good thing to repeat unceasingly the prayer: "Lord
Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."
If your labors are successful, give thanks to the Lord; if they are
not, place yourself in His will, for He takes care of us and directs
everything towards the better. Accept all hardships as a penance for
your sins - in the spirit of obedience and humility.
Before every meal, pray that God will bless the food and drink; and
after the meal give thanks to Him and ask Him not to deprive you of
spiritual blessings. It is good to leave the table feeling a bit hungry.
In everything, avoid excess.
Following the example of Christians of old, fast on Wednesdays and
Do not be greedy. Be content having food and clothing, imitating
Christ Who became impoverished for our sake.
Strive to please the Lord in everything, so that you will not be
reproached by your own conscience. Remember God always sees you, and so
be carefully vigilant concerning the feelings, thoughts and desires of
Avoid even the smallest sins, lest you fall into greater ones. Drive
away from your heart each and every thought or design that moves you
away from the Lord. Strive especially against unclean desire; drive it
out of your heart like a burning spark fallen on your coat. If you do
not want to be troubled by evil desires, meekly accept humiliation from
Do not say too much, remember that for every spoken word we will give
account before God. It is better to listen than to talk: in verbosity it
is impossible to avoid sin. Do not be curious to hear the news, which
only entertains and distracts the spirit.
Condemn no one, but consider yourself to be worse than everyone else.
The one who condemns another is taking another's sins onto himself; it
is better to grieve about the sinner, and pray that God will correct him
in His own way. If someone does not listen to your advice, do not
dispute with him. But if his deeds are a temptation to others, take
appropriate measures, because their good, being many, must carry more
weight than his, being only one.
Never argue or make excuses. Be gentle, quiet and humble; endure
everything, according to the example of Jesus. He will not burden you
with a cross that exceeds your strength. He will also help you carry the
Cross that you have.
Ask the Lord to give you the grace to fulfill His holy Commandments
as well as you can, even if they seem too difficult to keep. Having done
a good deed, do not expect gratitude, but temptation: for love towards
God is tested by obstacles. Do not hope to acquire any virtues without
suffering sorrows. In the midst of temptations do not despair, but
address God with short prayer: "Lord, help... Teach me to... Do not
leave... Protect me... " The Lord allows temptations and trials; He
also gives the strength to overcome them.
Ask God to take away from you every thing that feeds your pride, even
if it will be bitter. Avoid being harsh, gloomy, nagging, mistrustful,
suspicious or hypocritical, and avoid rivalry. Be sincere and simple in
your attitude. Humbly accept the admonitions of others, even if you are
more wise and experienced.
What you do not want done to you, do not do to others. Rather, do for
them what you wish to be done for you. If anyone visits you, be tender
towards him, be modest, wise, and, sometimes, depending on the
circumstances, be also blind and deaf.
When you feel slack, or a certain coolness, do not leave off the
usual order of prayer and pious practices which you have established.
Everything that you do in the name of the Lord Jesus, even the small and
imperfect things, becomes an act of piety.
If you desire to find peace, commit yourself completely onto God. You
will find no peace until you calm down in God, loving Him alone.
>From time to time seclude yourself, following the example of
Jesus, for prayer and contemplation of God. Contemplate the infinite
love of our Lord Jesus Christ, His sufferings and death, His
Resurrection, His Second Coming and the Last Judgment.
Visit the church as often as possible. Confess more often and receive
the Holy Mysteries. Doing so you will abide in God, and this is the
highest blessing. During Confession, repent and confess frankly and with
contrition all your sins; for the unrepented sin leads to death.
Devote Sundays to works of charity and mercy; for example, visit
someone who is sick, console someone who is in sorrow, save one who is
lost. If anyone will help the lost one turn towards God he will receive
a great reward in this life and in the age to come.
Encourage your friends to read Christian spiritual literature and to
participate in discussing spiritual matters.
Let the Lord Jess Christ be your teacher in everything. Constantly
address Him by turning your mind to Him; ask yourself: what would He do
in similar circumstances?
Before you go to sleep, pray frankly and with all your heart, look
searchingly at your sins during the past day. You should always compel
yourself to repent with a contrite heart, with suffering and tears, lest
you repeat past sins. As you go to bed, make the Sign of the Cross, kiss
the cross, and entrust yourself to the Lord God, who is your Good
Shepherd. Consider that perhaps this night you will have to appear
Remember the Lord's love towards you and love Him with all your
heart, your soul and your mind.
Acting in this way, you will reach the blessed life in the Kingdom of
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Guidelines for Pious Living
We all want to do things that would please God. But, we often fail to do that as the
worldly thoughts and passions encompass us. As a result, we lose the inner peace and tranquility that is given to those who
are in communion with God. Regular practice is needed to keep off
the evil and stay in communion with God. Here are some
practical suggestions that would help us to reach this goal.