St. Seraphim of Sarov the Wonderworker
Commemorated on January 2 and July 19
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
Today we celebrate the day of St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of the most beloved, most glorious saints of the Russian Church. However, celebrating the saint’s day means, first of all—amazed as we are at his spiritual beauty—turning to him with the question: How can we follow your example? What can we do in order to learn what you learned, to become someone like you who lived for the glory of God, and after hundreds of years shine with eternal glory?
When he was asked one day, in what does a perishing sinner differ from a righteous man who is saving his soul, a saint, St. Seraphim answered: Only in his resolve… Our salvation is in our will, in our firmness, in the steadfastness of our resolve to be godly to the end. The Lord does not give His Spirit by measure, nor does He give His grace by measure; He gives everything, and He gives Himself. But we receive grace and make use of God’s gifts to the measure of our readiness to receive what He gives—and that means what He gives, and not what we want—and bring forth the fruit that He expects from us.
This would be enough for us to build our whole lives upon the example and words of St. Seraphim. Let each of us pose the question to ourselves: Do we want to be Christ’s? Do we want to be Godly? Do we want to be like those who inspire in us such reverence, such rapture, awe and love, and to whom we turn with our every need, our every pain, and with all our joy? If that is so, then we will in earnest hear, receive, and fulfill this commandment of St. Seraphim: To set out upon the path of the Lord with resolve. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness—only in the human weakness that gives itself to God with resolve to remain faithful to him in life and in death. Amen.
“True hope seeks the one Kingdom of God and is sure that everything necessary for this mortal life will surely be given. The heart cannot have peace until it acquires this hope. This hope pacifies it fully and brings joy to it. The most holy lips of the Saviour spoke about this very hope: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).”
The Elder saw into the hearts of people, and as a spiritual physician, he healed their infirmities of soul and body through prayer and by his grace-filled words. Those coming to St Seraphim felt his great love and tenderness. No matter what time of the year it was, he would greet everyone with the words, “Christ is Risen, my joy!” He especially loved children. Once, a young girl said to her friends, “Father Seraphim only looks like an old man. He is really a child like us.”
All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other…Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace.”
The Lord asks such a hypocrite: “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? (Mat. 7:4)
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”(Mat. 7:1-5).
In spite of our sinfulness, in spite of the darkness surrounding our souls, the Grace of the Holy Spirit, conferred by baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, still shines in our hearts with the inextinguishable light of Christ … and when the sinner turns to the way of repentance the light smooths away every trace of the sins committed, clothing the former sinner in the garments of incorruption, spun of the Grace of the Holy Spirit. It is this acquisition of the Holy Spirit about which I have been speaking.
You fill us with hope, Saint Seraphim, in the mercy of God and in the fruits of prayer. In His compassion, God has not abandoned us to the lies of this world or to the hatred of enemies. He guides our spiritual formation by sending His saints to show love, to overcome separation, and to heal wounds. Pray for us, Saint Seraphim, so that we may respond wholeheartedly to God’s provision, as we say: Alleluia.
O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Good One.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.