St. Seraphim of Sarov the Wonderworker
Commemorated on January 2 and on July 19 (The translation of the Saint’s holy relics)
My joy, I beg you, acquire the Spirit of Peace.
“Oh, if you only knew what joy, what sweetness awaits a righteous soul in Heaven!
Always rejoice! You can’t do anything good from inner straining, but from joy – you can do anything.”
St. Seraphim of Sarov and the bear “Misha”
The life of the secluded desert-dweller, who had attained dispassion, was filled with unspeakable divine consolations with which God rewarded him. All creatures obeyed him. Animals from the woods streamed to his cell, and he fed them bread. He was asked where he was able to get enough food for them all. He answered that there was always enough food for them in the basket.
One day Matrona, one of the nuns, saw [Father Seraphim] sitting on a tree trunk in the company of a bear. Terrified, she let out a scream. The Staretz turned round and, seeing her, patted the animal and sent him away. Then he invited Matrona to come and sit beside him. ‘But’, Matrona relates, ‘hardly had we sat down when the animal returned from the wood and came and lay at the Staretz’ feet. I was as terrified as before, but when I saw Father Seraphim, quite unconcerned, treating the bear like a lamb, stroking him and giving him some bread, I calmed down. I looked at the father and was dazzled by the sight of his face which seemed to me full of light and like an angel’s. When I was wholly reassured the Staretz gave me a piece of bread and said: “You needn’t be the least afraid of him, he won’t hurt you.” So I held out the bread to the bear and, while he was eating it, it was such joy to be feeding him that I wanted to go on doing so. Seeing how much I was enjoying it, Father Seraphim said: “You remember the story of St Jerome feeding a lion in the desert? Well, here we’ve got a bear obeying us.” I exclaimed: “The sisters would die of fright if they saw such a sight!” “They won’t see it,” replied the Staretz. Then, “I’d be very sad if anyone killed him,” I went on. “Nobody will kill him and nobody except yourself will see him,” answered the father.’ Matrona was already rejoicing at the thought of telling the sisters about it but the Staretz, reading her thoughts, said to her, ‘No, my joy, you’re not to tell anyone until eleven years after my death. Then God will show you whom to tell.’
And so it happened: a day came when, some years after the father’s death, Matrona went past an artist’s studio in the monastery; he was working on a portrait of the father in the forest on a tree trunk. `0,’ she said, ‘you really must paint the bear!’ What bear?’ asked the artist in surprise. Then Matrona told him the story and remembered the Staretz’ words. Eleven years had gone by.
Two other sisters witnessed such a scene: Fr. Seraphim sat on a log, when suddenly out of the woods came an enormous bear on his hind legs. The nuns were quite startled. The Elder said: “Misha, why are you scaring the orphans? You’d better go and get some sort of consolation, or I won’t have anything to treat them to.” The bear returned in two hours bringing with him a fresh honeycomb, covered with leaves. The elder took the honey, gave him a piece of bread and bade him depart.
From St. Seraphim Wonderworker of Sarov and His Spiritual Heritage by Helen Kontsevich (St. Xenia Skete)
He who would be saved should ever have his heart disposed to repentance and broken. St. Seraphim of Sarov
St. Seraphim of Sarov, Let every superior always be as a wise mother to his subordinates.
St. Seraphim loved children as “flowers of paradise.”
Troparion, in Tone IV:
From thy youth didst thou love Christ, O blessed one; and, aflame with the desire to serve Him alone, thou didst struggle in the wilderness in unceasing prayer and labor; and with compunction of heart acquiring the love of Christ, thou wast shown to be the beloved favorite of the Mother of God. Wherefore, we cry unto thee: Save us by thy prayers, O our venerable father Seraphim.
Troparion — Tone 4
You loved Christ from your youth, O blessed one, and longing to work for Him alone you struggled in the wilderness in constant prayer and labor. With penitent heart and great love for Christ you were favored by the Mother of God. Therefore we cry to you: “Save us by your prayers, venerable Seraphim, our father.”
Glory …, Now & Ever …, The Troparion of the Fore-feast, In Tone IV:
Make ready, O Zebulon! Adorn thyself, O Nephthali! O River Jordan, leaping up receive thou the Master Who cometh to be baptized! Rejoice, O Adam, with our first mother! Hide not yourselves as ye did before in paradise; for He that beheld you naked hath appeared, that He may clothe you in your primal raiment. Christ hath appeared, desiring to make all creation new!
in Tone V; Spec. Mel.: “Rejoice, O life-bearing Cross …”:
Rejoice, converser with angels, O venerable Seraphim! Having lived piously on earth, thou didst teach the fear of the Lord unto the many that came to thee. Illumined by the grace of the all-holy Spirit, thou didst behold as present things which were to come, and hast filled many that were suffering in spirit with compunction and joy. Wherefore, we beseech thee: Pray to the Lord in behalf of them that honor thee!
Rejoice, most wondrous instructor of the erring, who wast vouchsafed to behold in the temple Christ the Lord with angels and archangels. And now, O venerable one, who in the heavens dost take unceasing delight in the vision of Him, do thou pray for us that keep thy memory in faith.
Rejoice, O venerable Seraphim, for thou hast commanded all to keep Christ’s true faith; and, yearning for the life on high, thou didst disdain wealth. And thou dost now behold the ineffable beauty of heaven and takest delight in the sweet hymnody of the angels. Wherefore, entreat thou the Lord, that He grant us peace and great mercy.
Glory …, in Tone VI:
O venerable father Seraphim, who can recount thy labors and sufferings? And what tongue can describe thy harsh life in the wilderness, thy vigils and fasting, yea, and thy life in seclusion, thy silence and unceasing prayer? Thou hast truly been shown to be the adornment of them that fast and a steadfast intercessor before God. Wherefore, we cry unto thee: Rejoice, a model of monastic life! Rejoice, great consolation amid misfortunes and sorrows, and fervent advocate for all! O venerable one, pray thou that our souls be saved!
SERAPHIMA’S EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES with English subtitles