Saint Ambrose of Optina

Feast Day: October 10th

The Life of Saint Ambrose: From all over Russia, people flocked to the Venerable Elder…



Apolytikion: We run to thee O Ambrose our Father, as to a healing spring. For thou dost truly instruct us on the path of salvation, preserving us from misfortune and calamity by thy Prayers, consoling us in sorrows of body and Soul, teaching above all by humility, patience and love. Pray to Christ, the Lover of mankind, and to our fervent intercessor that our Souls may be saved.

Kontakion: Having fulfilled the precepts of the Shepherd of shepherds, thou didst inherit the Grace of Eldership, having pity on all who run to thee with faith. Therefore we, thy children, cry out to thee in love: Holy Father Ambrose, Pray to Christ God that He would save our Souls.

Once, still being a young man in the world, Saint Ambrose of Optina walked in the forest. When he came to a spring, something mysterious happened: he started distinctly hearing words in the sound of the forest spring. “Praise God, keep God..”. It turned his life and he started seeking Grace. A Holy Elder, Prophet and Wonderworker, later he led many millions to Salvation.


“If you find that you have no love but desire to have it, do the works of love and the Lord will see your desire and effort and put love in your heart.”


“A continuously happy life produces extremely unhappy consequences. In nature we see that there are not always pleasant springs and fruitful summers, and sometimes autumn is rainy and winter cold and snowy, and there is flooding and wind and storms, and moreover the crops fail and there are famine, troubles, sicknesses and many other misfortunes. All of this is beneficial so that man might learn through prudence, patience and humility. For the most part, in times of plenty he forgets himself, but in times of various sorrows he becomes more attentive to his salvation.”


“God does not expect physical deeds from a sick person, but only patience with humility and gratefulness.”


“After Communion you should ask the Lord that you preserve the Gift worthily and that the Lord help you so that you do not turn backward, i.e., to your former sins.”


“If someone offends you, don’t tell anyone about it except your elder, and you will be peaceful. Bow to everyone, paying no attention whether they respond to your bow or not. You must humble yourself before everyone and consider yourself the worst of all. If we have not committed the sins that others have, perhaps this is because we did not have the opportunity – the situation and circumstances were different. In each person there is something good and something bad; we usually see only the vices in people and we see nothing that is good.”


“God does not create a cross for man. No matter how heavy a cross a man may carry in life, it is still just wood, from which man himself made, and it always grows from the soil of his heart.”


“Sinful thoughts continually disturb a man. But if he does not cooperate with them, then he is not guilty of them. One ascetic woman was besieged for a long time with unclean thoughts. When the Lord came and cast them away from her, she called to Him: ‘Where were you before now, O my sweet Jesus?’ The Lord answered: ‘I was in your heart.’ She said then: ‘How could that be? For my heart was full of unclean thoughts.’ The Lord said to her: “Know that I was in your heart, for you were not disposed to the unclean thoughts but strove rather to be free of them; and when you were not able to be free, you struggled and grieved. By this you prepared a place for Me in your heart.”


“When you see your body wasted through sickness, do not murmur against God, but say; “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”


“One man sinned but repented, and this continued all his life. Finally he repented and died. An evil spirit came for his Soul and said: ‘He’s mine! The Lord said, ‘No, no, he has repented! ‘But he repented and then sinned again,’ said the devil. The Lord said to him: ‘If you, being evil, would take him back after he repented to Me, then how can I not accept him if after sinning he has turned to Me in repentance? You forget that you are evil, and I am good.'”


“You cannot become passionless all at once. But every time you feel your sinfulness say: ‘Lord, forgive me!’ Only the Lord is able to put love into a person’s heart.”


“It is useless to accuse those around us and those who live with us of somehow interfering with or being an impediment to our Salvation and Spiritual perfection… Spiritual or emotional dissatisfaction comes from within ourselves, from inexperience and from poorly conceived opinions we do not want to abandon, but which bring on doubt, embarrassment, and misunderstanding. All of this tires and burdens us, and brings us to a sorry state. We would do well to comprehend the Holy Fathers’ simple advice: If we will humble ourselves, we will find tranquility anywhere, without having to mentally wander about many other places, where we might have the same, or even worse, experiences.”


“Read the book in the morning for a quarter of an hour before work, and then think all day what you have read.”


“In our Spiritual life something that is very good is explained wisely at the proper time. Ask for forgiveness at the proper time in order to reconcile your own Soul and to give this opportunity to others as well. It is not in vain written in the psalms: Seek peace and pursue it (Ps. 33:15).”


“How to live?”, people would ask this important question to the Elder. And would get the witty answer, “To live – not to bother, not to condemn anyone, not to annoy anyone, and my respect to all.”


“Take great care of your children. We live at a time when much freedom is given to the expression of thought, but little care is taken that thoughts should be founded on truth. Teach them to love truth.”


“You must not be greatly troubled about many things, but you should care for the main thing preparing yourself for death.”


“Our Salvation, according to Saint Peter Damascene, is located between fear and hope, so that we do not have self-confidence and do not despair, but with blessed hope in the mercy and help of God, we strive to conduct a life in fulfillment of the Divine Commandments.”

“We must begin with thanksgiving for everything. The beginning of joy is to be content with your situation.”

“The Lord begins to reveal His power when a person sees that all human means for providing help to the person in need are feeble.”

“The ancient Christians were tempted by the enemy with torment, and the current with diseases and thoughts.”

“Where there is simplicity there are 100 Angels, but where there is cunning there is not even one.”

“Sins are like walnuts, you split the shell, and it’s hard to dig out the grain.”

“A cross that you have begged for is hard to bear- better to devote ourself to God’s will in simplicity.”

“Sinful thoughts continually disturb a man. But if he does not cooperate with them, then he is not guilty of them.”

“The Lord will deliver you from all improper thoughts; just humble yourself.”

“We avoid the eyes of men and in God’s presence we commit sin. We know God to be the judge of all, and yet in His sight we sin.”

“One does not need days and years for true repentance, but one moment.”

“You should look downward. Remember: you are Earth and you will return to the Earth.”

“Giving advice is like throwing stones from the bell-tower, and taking one’s advice is like carrying the stones up to the top of the bell-tower.”

“If you do good, you must do it only for God. For this reason you must pay no attention to the ingratitude of people. Expect a reward not here, but from the Lord in Heaven. If you expect it here it will be in vain and you will endure deprivation.”

“During Prayer you must strive to reject all thoughts and, not paying them any attention, continue the Prayer. If the attack of thoughts greatly increases, again you must implore God’s help against them.”

“If we partake of the Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ with faith and not condemnation, then all of the snares of our spiritual enemies, who harass us, will become ineffectual and useless. We partake without condemnation, firstly, when we approach the Mysteries with sincere and humble repentance and confession of our sins, with the firm resolve not to return to them, and secondly, when we approach without the remembrance of wrongs, having become reconciled in our heart with all those who have grieved us.”

“Boredom is the grandson of depression, and laziness is the daughter. To send her away, labor actively – do not be lazy in Prayer, then boredom will pass and zeal will come. And if you add to this patience and humility, then you will escape much evil.”

“There are three degrees of humility: the first, to submit to your superiors and not to behave arrogantly to your equals; the second, to submit to your equals and not to behave arrogantly to your inferiors; and the third, to submit to your inferiors, considering yourself equal to animals and unworthy of associating with humans.”

“Why is it hard to believe that Mary gave birth in a way contrary to the law of natural birth and remained a virgin, when contrary to the law of nature the sea looked at Him and fled, and the waters of the Jordan returned to their source (Ps. 113:3). Is it past belief that a virgin gave birth when we read that a rock issued water (Ex. 17:6), and the waves of the sea were made solid as a wall (Ex. 14:22)? Is it past belief that a Man came from a virgin when a rock bubbled forth a flowing stream (Ex. 20:11), iron floated on water (4 Kings 6:6), a Man walked upon the waters (Mt. 14:26)? If the waters bore a Man, could not a virgin give birth to a man? What Man? Him of Whom we read: the Lord shall be known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day; and they shall offer sacrifices, and shall vow vows to the Lord, and pay them’ (Is. 19:20). In the Old Testament a Hebrew virgin (Miriam) led an army through the sea (Ex. 15:21); in the New testament a king’s daughter (the Virgin Mary) was chosen to be the heavenly entrance to Salvation.”