Pastoral Instruction

55 Maxims

— Fr. Thomas Hopko

1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything

2. Pray as you can, not as you think you must

3. Have a keepable rule of prayer done by discipline

4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times each day

5. Repeat a short prayer when your mind is not occupied

6. Make some prostrations when you pray

7. Eat good foods in moderation and fast on fasting days

8. Practice silence, inner and outer

9. Sit in silence 20 to 30 minutes each day

10. Do acts of mercy in secret

11. Go to liturgical services regularly

12. Go to confession and holy communion regularly

13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings

14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings to a trusted person regularly

15. Read the scriptures regularly

16. Read good books, a little at a time

17. Cultivate communion with the saints

18. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race

19. Be polite with everyone, first of all family members

20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home

21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby

22. Exercise regularly

23. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time

24. Be totally honest, first of all with yourself

25. Be faithful in little things

26. Do your work, then forget it

27. Do the most difficult and painful things first

28. Face reality

29. Be grateful

30. Be cheerful

31. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small

32. Never bring attention to yourself

33. Listen when people talk to you

34. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are

35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary

36. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly

37. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis, figuring things out

38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance

39. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine

40. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise

41. Don’t compare yourself with anyone

42. Don’t judge anyone for anything

43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything

44. Don’t defend or justify yourself

45. Be defined and bound by God, not people

46. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully

47. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty

48. Do nothing for people that they can and should do for themselves

49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice

50. Be merciful with yourself and others

51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath

52. Focus exclusively on God and light, and never on darkness, temptation and sin

53. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy

54. When you fall, get up immediately and start over

55. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame