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The parable of the Prodigal Son speaks to us not only of sin and repentance but also of the forgiveness that God gives us. Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh

άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеprodigal-son-greek-1035426c93013c2e8d53002849e0886071_hdSunday of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)

Parable of the Prodigal Son
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
1967, 26 February

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

The parable of the Prodigal Son speaks to us not only of sin and repentance but also of the forgiveness that God gives us. When the prodigal son had come to his senses through suffering, privation, loneliness and rejection he set out to his father’s house, and his father, who had probably often looked out for his return, saw him from afar. The Gospel tells us that love and tenderness and pity filled his heart, “his son was dear to him” and without waiting for his son’s arrival the old man who had been deeply hurt by the young man’s sins and heartlessness ran to meet him, fell on his neck, embraced and kissed him.

Is that how we meet each other when we see from a distance someone coming from that far country to which all of us at some moment, frequently perhaps, get drawn by sin, a former friend, relation or acquaintance returning to us? Is that how we meet him? To begin with, is it often that our love is so unshakeable that we constantly go to the door of the house and look into the distance hoping for his return? And when we do see a person who once was close but has become estranged moving our way, are we often pierced to the heart by the old love and tenderness and pity? And do we often make the first move towards him without waiting for his repentance or words of regret, embrace him and try to console him for his own inconstancy in love and friendship? Do we not in fact more often behave like the son who had nothing to reproach himself with before his father? When that one returned from work in the fields and heard sounds of rejoicing in the house he asked a servant what it was about, and hearing that his younger brother who was starving had returned, he was unwilling to go in. His sinful brother through shame and fear had understood what he had done, and seeing the state he had reduced himself to had come from the far country to his father’s house uncertain how he would be received. But he, the righteous one was standing outside the house where there was rejoicing over the return to life of one who was dead, and waiting for his father to come and implore him, “enter into the common joy. I rejoice, the servants rejoice, your brother rejoices, partake of our joy.” But the righteous son rebukes his father saying that for all those years of work and virtuous living he had received no reward, whereas when that “son of yours” returned the father had slain the fatted calf. And the father says, “should we not have rejoiced when your brother came back?” But the elder son sees in the prodigal only the sinful son of his father whom he can no longer accept as a brother, though his father reminds him that if the prodigal also is his son, he must be the righteous one’s brother.

άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеFiul-cel-pierdut-10Again I say, does it often happen that we perceive someone who has sinned, not necessarily against us but done wrong in general as our brother? Do we not more often say “your son” with contemptuous rejection? Do we often admit that he is our brother all the same, he is dear to the father and should be infinitely dear to us? But no, we are like the son who thought himself virtuous because he was a good worker, although he remained alien to the spirit of his father’s house.

One further comment. The father did not allow his son to ask to become a servant; he could not take him as a servant but only as a son returned. And he told then to bring his original robe, not the best garment in the house but the one he used to wear before he became a stranger, before he shed it to dress up as a foreigner. When the son put on his former robe instead of his rags he felt it fit him snugly, and his father ordered then to bring him the ring, not just a ring, but the ring with which in older times a man sealed his letters. The father put complete trust in him. Why? Why did he not first demand proofs of his repentance? Because he knew that if his son had overcome shame and fear in order to come home his return was secure. But when a person, formerly a friend but who has hurt either us or someone dear to us, approaches us, are we ready to entrust ourselves to him, give him the old affection? No, and therefore the reconciliation is not permanent. That is why a person is so afraid of seeking reconciliation; he knows he will not meet the father but only false, humiliating virtue which says “you are not my brother even if my father does acknowledge you as his son”.

Let us consider this question of forgiveness, because soon it will be forgiveness Sunday and it might catch us unprepared. Amen.

A family man flooded with Taborian Light, He seen the “uncreated Light”. When the Grace of God is within us, then day is within our souls. Saint Paisius the Athonite – Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Your sins are my sins, St. Nikolai Velimirovic Bishop of Ochrid

Tone 3 Kontakion (from the Lenten Triodion)

I have recklessly forgotten Thy glory, O Father; and among sinners I have scattered the riches which Thou gavest me. And now I cry to thee as the Prodigal: I have sinned before Thee, O merciful Father; receive me as a penitent, and make me as one of Thy hired servants!

Tone 1 – ‘Lord, I have cried unto Thee…’

Brethren, our purpose is to know the power of God’s goodness,
For when the Prodigal Son abandoned his sin,
He hastened to the refuge of his Father.
That good man embraced him and welcomed him:
He killed the fatted calf and celebrated with heavenly joy!
Let us learn from this example to offer thanks to the Father who loves all people,
And to the Victim, the glorious Saviour of our souls!

Doxastikon in Tone Six

Loving Father, I have gone far from you, but do not forsake me, nor declare me unfitted for your Kingdom. The all-evil enemy has stripped me naked and taken all my wealth. I have squandered like the Profligate the graces given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and I cry aloud to you, ‘Make me as one of your hired servants, You who for my sake stretched out Your spotless hands on the Cross, to snatch me from the fearsome beast and to clothe me once again in the first robe, for You alone art full of mercy’.

St. Seraphim loved children as “flowers of paradise.”

Άγιος Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_021948d8bb43e1origSt. 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 and thousands shall be saved around you.

The name of St Seraphim of Sarov is surrounded by the aroma of holiness and grace, cultivated and harvested in the Russian land… The air of the Russian fields, forests, rivers and lakes gave him a certain tender coloration. The Russian joy for spring, joy for the Sun and for life is there. His name evokes something incomparably and inexplicably endearing and joyous, the joy of kindness, happiness and the blessedness of good.

St. Seraphim loved especially children. When the children would come to see him they would say: “Batushka! Batiushka!” He taught the blessedness of marriage, and loved children as “flowers of paradise.”

St. Seraphim was especially tender and affectionate with children.

Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_1Svjatojj_Serafim_Sarovskijj0_6333One time a little girl, Nadya Aksakova, visited the saint together with her parents, and when she grew up, she recorded her meeting with him. When Nadya and her family came to the saint’s cell, he wasn’t there, but had gone into the woods to pray. Nadya and her parents, together with some other children, went to look for him in the pine woods. The children went ahead, while the parents and other pilgrims followed.

Here is how Nadya herself describes the meeting: “The woods became thicker and blacker. Under the high arches of huge pines it became completely dark. The gloomy woods seemed terrifying. Luckily somewhere in the distance a ray of sun gleamed through the needled branches. We perked up, ran towards the light, and soon came to a green sunlit meadow . We looked – and there, near the roots of a pine tree, a small and thin old man was working, all bent down to the ground, deftly cutting the grass with his axe. Hearing a rustle in the woods, the old man quickly got up, quickly ran into the thicket and disappeared from our view.

We all cried out in unison: “Father Seraphim! Father Seraphim!”

Hearing the voices of children not far from him, Father Seraphim could not remain in his hiding place, and soon his head appeared over the high blades of the woodland grass. Placing a finger on his lips, he gazed upon us tenderly, as though entreating the children not to reveal his presence to the adults, and then, lowering himself onto the grass, he beckoned us to him.

Our little one, Liza, was the first to throw herself around the old man’s neck, pressing her soft face against his shoulder, which was covered by sackcloth.

“My treasures, my treasures,” – he whispered softly, pressing each one of us to his thin chest.

On the way back from his cell, little Liza, whom Father Seraphim had embraced first, came up to me and said: “Father Seraphim only appears to be an old man, but in reality he is a child like you and I, isn’t he, Nadya?”
From the life of Saint SeraphimΣεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_Преподобный Серафим Саровский_Sf-Serafim-de-Sarov_icon_Walk with St. Seraphim-walkingwithstseraphim1The 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 Saint 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!”  

Often, returning from a hard day’s work, the monks would be tired and too dejected to begin a long vigil of prayer. He would joke with them as they came into the choir, cheering them up so that they would go on. He used to say later when he was a spiritual father to many monastics, “The Lord wants people to be happy with Him; and to say an encouraging word, even if it is in Church, can hardly be a sin.”

“Ah, if you only knew what joy, what sweetness awaits the souls of the righteous in heaven, you would be determined during your life to bear any offenses, persecutions or slanders thankfully. If this entire cell were filled with worms, and if these worms ate our flesh throughout our entire lives, then with all our desire would we consent to bear it, just so that we were not excluded from the heavenly joys that God has prepared for those who love Him. There is no sickness nor sorrow, nor sighing; there is sweetness and joy unutterable, there the righteous shine like suns.… But if the Apostle Paul himself could not describe heavenly glory and joy, then what other human tongue could describe the beauty of the dwelling place wherein are established the souls of the righteous?’”

Άγιος Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_Sf.-Serafim-de-Sarov_1395384423_flxypmomsntc9cuHe told the same thing to A. P. Europkina, recalling to her the holy martyrs, the beauty of St. Theodosia and many others who dwell in unspeakable glory.

“Ah, my joy,” he exclaimed, “there is such blessedness that it is impossible to describe it.”

“His face,” she wrote later, “was uncanny … through his skin penetrated abundant light … his eyes expressed not only peace, but also a sort of extraordinary ecstasy. One can only suppose that even while speaking of this contemplation, he was in a state outside of visible nature—in heavenly realms.”

But now the time of reclusion was running out and nearing its end. The time had come for him to embark upon a new, higher ascetic labor—higher than anything else in the world—the labor of love, the service of saving human souls.

As soon as access was opened to the extraordinary God-pleaser, the crowds poured in.

According to the words of the Savior: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house (Matt. 5:14). It was impossible to restrain the flood of people who came. Everyday there appeared in Sarov from 1,000 to 2,000 pilgrims.
Such a state of affairs could not but frustrate Abbot Niphon. “When Fr. Seraphim lived in the desert,” he said, “he closed off all access to himself by means of the forest, but now he is receiving everyone, so that I can’t even close the monastery gates until midnight.”

Many said to Fr. Seraphim: “Some are scandalized by you.”

“I am not scandalized, that many are helped, while others are scandalized,” the Elder responded calmly.
From St. Seraphim Wonderworker of Sarov and His Spiritual Heritage by Helen Kontsevich 5. RECLUSION (St. Xenia Skete)Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_01 (2)When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: “What are you to us, you who are cut off from God, a fugitive for Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we trample on your head.”

When a person accepts anything Godly, then he rejoices in his heart, but when he has accepted anything devilish, then he becomes tormented.”

Saint Seraphim of Sarov talks about the Holy Spirit with his friend and disciple Motovilov:
“When the Spirit of God descends on a man, and envelops him in the fulness of His presence, the soul overflows with unspeakable joy, for the Holy Spirit fills everything he touches with joy... If the first-fruits of futire joy have already filled your soul with such sweetness, with such happiness, what shall we say of the joy in the Kingdom of Heaven, which awaits all those who weep here on earth. You also, my freind, have wept during your earthly life, but see the joy which our Lord sends to console you here below. For the present we must work, and make continual efforts to gain more and more strength to attain ‘the perfect measure of the stature of Christ…’ Then this transitory and partial joy which we now feel will be revealed in all its fulness, overwhelming our being with ineffable delights which no one will be able to take from us.”
An extract from a booklet called “The Message of Saint Seraphim” by Irina Gorainov and published by Fairacres PublicationsΣεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_x_3f247aa2In order to keep spiritual peace, it is necessary to chase dejection away from oneself, and to try to have a joyful spirit, according to the words of the most wise Sirach: “Sorrow has killed many, but there is no good in it” (Sir. 30:25).

For the preservation of spiritual peace one should also in every way avoid condemning others. By non-condemnation and by silence spiritual peace is preserved. When a man is in such a state, he receives divine revelations. To escape from condemning, one should pay attention to oneself, receive no extraneous thoughts from anyone, and be dead to everything.


“When I am dead, come to me at my grave, and the more often the better. Whatever is in your soul, whatever may have happened to you, come to me as when I was alive and kneeling on the ground, cast all your bitterness upon my grave. Tell me everything and I shall listen to you, and all the bitterness will fly away from you. And as you spoke to me when I was alive, do so now. For I am living and I shall be forever.”

Venerable Father Seraphim, pray to God for us! Help us, teach us to acquire a spirit of peace, a spirit of love and humility, which thou hast acquired so abundantly that thou hast become a symbol of genuine Christ-like love for sinful mankind!Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_84_4773_12Tone 4 Troparion St Seraphim

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!”

Tone 1 (Oh, the marvelous wonder)

When you entered the Saróv wilderness, O venerable Seraphim,
then, completely stripping off your own will,
you showed yourself steadfast in every obedience.
You endured insults and dishonor, rejoicing;
you loved the blows and wounds from evil men,
for whom you also prayed, O holy monk.
And as we glorify your most honorable memory,
we pray you, O venerable father://
“Entreat the Lord to grant peace to the world, and great mercy to our

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
Tone 5

Rejoice today, all Orthodox Christians!
Celebrate with Russia and the monks of Saróv!
Come together, all faithful people;
glorify our holy father!
He is a pastor and teacher,
a divinely-wise guide of those who have gone astray;
the swift healer of the sick and wounded,
the great adornment of the Church.
Let us cry out and glorify him://
“Save us by your prayers, O holy Father Seraphim!”

Tone 5 (Rejoice, O life-bearing Cross)

Rejoice, O venerable Seraphim,
emulator of the Angels,
Living piously on earth, you taught the fear of the Lord to many who
flocked to you.
Illumined by the grace of the Holy Spirit,
you beheld the future as though it were the present,
and filled with joy and tender contrition many who were sorrowful in
Therefore, we entreat you://
“Pray to the Lord for those who honor you!”

Rejoice, most wonderful instructor of those who have gone astray:
you were counted worthy to see Christ in the temple
with Archangels and Angels!
And now, venerable Seraphim,
enjoying the sight of Him always in the heavens,//
pray for us who in faith honor your memory!

Rejoice, holy Seraphim, for you commanded all to preserve the true faith
of Christ,
and, conceiving a strong desire for the highest life,
you began to despise riches;
and now you behold the ineffable heavenly beauty
and enjoy the sweet singing of the Angels.//
Therefore, entreat the Lord to grant us peace and great mercy!