St. Anthony of Optina (+1865) was the brother of St. Moses, a co-founder of the famous monastery and skete in Russia. St. Anthony spent most of his monastic life as Abbot at the St. Nicholas Monastery in Maloyaroslavets near Kaluga and spent his retirement at Optina, where he had continued his monastic struggles after beggining them in the Roslavl Forests.
The following letter is a saint’s encouragement to a young man to remain faithful to his vocation. It comes from Elder Anthony of Optina by Fr. Clement Sederholm (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1994):
Concerning your father’s request that you not avoid your assignment in the civil service, you should consider such praiseworthy advice of your father as holy and follow it, but only if you have consigned yourself once and for all to life in the world. One must prefer God’s calling above all advice, according to the word of St. David: Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts (Ps. 94:8). For Our Lord is so full of lovve for mankind and so merciful to our unworthiness that He will that all be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, and calls everyone to the heavenly supper to reign together with Him, which regin will have no end. But those called were so foolsih and so ungrateful that, as each one engaged himself in some affair, HE began to reject all of them. They were all busy for one or another reason, and had some ecuse to refuse such as taking a wife, possessing a village, buying a yoke of oxen. You, my beloved, have neither wife, nor village, nor oxen. You are still free; therefore, you have no reasons to excuse yourself, for you should, according to the word of St. Symeon the New Theologian, “have no desire to keep the slightest attachment to this world, not even for good motives, for in fact they would only be silly pretenses. When you have been called, obey instantly, for nothing pleases God so much as our swift response.” The word “called” refers to being called to God; for He alone enlightens mankind, grants him understanding calls him to the path of salvation. (p. 233).
Our Lady of Vladimir, pray for us!
St. Anthony of Optina, pray for us!