I recently came across this passage from St. Theophan the Recluse. The idea of everyday asceticism isn’t new:

There is a widely-accepted misconception among us that when one becomes involved in work at home or in business, immediately one steps out of the godly realm and away from God-pleasing activities. From this idea, it follows that once the desire to strive toward God germinates, and talk turns toward the spiritual life, then the idea inevitably surfaces: one must run from society, from the home—to the wilderness, to the forest.

Both premises are erroneous!

Homes and communities depend on concerns of daily life and society. These concerns are God-appointed obligations; fulfilling them is not a step toward the ungodly, but is a walking in the way of the Lord.

All who cleave to these erroneous premises fall into the bad habit of thinking that once they accept worldly obligations, they no longer need strive towards God.

I see that these misconceptions have trapped you also. Cast them aside and grasp the concept that everything you do, in and outside your home, concerning social life, as a daughter, as a sister, as a Muscovite—is godly and God-pleasing. There is an appointed commandment for everything in our lives. How can the fulfillment of commandments be displeasing to God? Your misconceptions truly make them ungodly, because you fulfill your daily tasks with an attitude contrary to the one God intended you to have.

You complete godly deeds in an ungodly manner. They are needlessly lost and tear your mind from God. Correct this and, from now on, approach daily matters with the knowledge that to fulfill them is a commandment. Administer them as administering God’s law.

Once you adjust yourself to this outlook, no worldly duty will distract you from God. Instead, it will bring you close to Him. We are all servants of our God. God has assigned to each his place and responsibilities, and He watches to see how each approaches his assignment. He is everywhere. And He watches over you. Keep this in mind and do each deed as if it were assigned to you directly by God, no matter what it is.

Do your housework in this manner: When someone comes to visit, keep in mind that God has sent you this visitor, and is watching. When you have to leave your house, keep in mind that God has sent you out on an errand, and is watching. Will you complete it as He wishes?

By orienting yourself to God at all times, your chores at home and responsibilities outside the house will not distract your attention from God, but, on the contrary, will keep you intent on completing all tasks in a God-pleasing manner. All will be performed with the fear of God, and this fear will keep your attention on God unswervingly.

To determine which duties inside and outside the family are God-pleasing, take the books in which these matters are discussed as your guides. Be careful to distinguish between concerns prompted by frivolity, passions, flattery and worldliness, from those that are correct, appropriate and honorable.

Of course, having expressed the firm determination to live in a God-pleasing manner, you will need no prompting to discriminate between godly tasks and ungodly ones.

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