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Posts tagged ‘Ancient Book’

Teachings of Seraphim 20

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Part 20. Acquiring the Holy Spirit

 

(From the Saint’s Conversation with Motovilov)

The true goal of our Christian life consists of acquiring God’s Holy Spirit. Fasting and vigil, prayer, mercy, and every other good deed performed for Christ — are means for acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. Only deeds performed for Christ give us the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Some say that the foolish virgins lacking enough oil in their lamps is meant to be understood as a lack of good deeds (see Mt. 25:1-12). Such an understanding is not completely correct. How could there have been a lack of good deeds when they, though foolish, are still called virgins? For virginity is the highest virtue, as a state equal to the angels, and could by itself serve in place of all other virtues.

I, the wretched, think that they did not have enough of the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God. These virgins, because of their spiritual injudiciousness, supposed in performing good deeds that it is only necessary to do good works to be a Christian: “We performed a good deed and thus did God’s will.”Whether or not they had received the grace of the Holy Spirit, whether they had attained it, they did not even bother to find out … But, this acquiring of the Holy Spirit is in fact that oil which the foolish virgins lacked. They are called foolish because they forgot about the essential fruit of virtue — the grace of the Holy Spirit — without which there is no salvation for anyone and cannot be. For “through the Holy Spirit every soul is quickened, and through its purification, it is exalted and illumined by the Triune Unity in a Holy mystery.”The Holy Spirit Himself settles in our souls, and this occupation of our souls by Him, the All-Ruling, and this coexistence of our spirit with His One Trinity, is granted only through the diligent acquiring, on our part, of the Holy Spirit, which prepares, in our soul and body, the throne for the coexistence of God the All-Creator with our spirit, by the immutable word of God: “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and ye shall be my people”(Leviticus 26:12).

This is the very oil in the lamps of the wise virgins, which burned brightly and steadily; the virgins with these burning lamps could await the Groom coming at midnight, and enter the chamber of joy with him. The foolish ones, seeing their lamps going out, though they went to the market to buy oil, did not manage to return in time, for the doors were already locked.

The market is our life; the doors of the bridal chamber — locked and not permitting entrance to the Groom — human death, the virgins wise and foolish, Christian souls; the oil, not deeds, but the grace of the All Holy Spirit of God received through them, transforming from decay to incorruption, from emotional death into spiritual life, from darkness to light, from the manger of our existence, where our passions are tied like beasts and animals, into a church of God, into the all-lighted chamber of eternal joy in Jesus Christ.

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Teachings of Seraphim 19

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Part 19. The Light of Christ

In order to accept and perceive the light of Christ in one’s heart, it is necessary to divert oneself from the external as much as possible. First, by cleansing the soul with penitence and good deeds with true faith in the Crucified; then, by closing the physical eyes, it is necessary to immerse the mind in the heart and appeal to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ continually. Then, by measure of our zealousness and fervour of spirit for the Beloved (Lk. 3:22), a person with the calling of this name finds delight, which arouses a thirst toward greater enlightenment.

When a person internally contemplates the eternal light, his mind becomes clean and free of any sensory notions. Then, by being completely immersed in the contemplation of uncreated beauty, he forgets everything sensory, does not want to see even himself, but desires to hide in the heart of the earth, if only not to be deprived of this true good God.

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Teachings of Seraphim 18

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Part 18. The Active and the Contemplative Life

 

A person consists of a soul and body, and therefore his life’s path should consist of both physical and spiritual activities — of deeds and contemplation.

The path of an active life consists of fasting, abstinence, vigilance, kneeling, prayer and other physical feats, composing the strait and sorrowful path which, by the word of God, leads to eternal life (Mt. 7:14).

The contemplative life consists in the mind aspiring to the Lord God, in awareness of the heart, focused prayer and in the contemplation of spiritual matters through such exercises.

Anyone desiring to lead a spiritual way of life must begin with the active life, and only later set about the contemplative, for without an active life it is impossible to lead a contemplative one.

An active life serves to purify us of sinful passions and raises us to the level of functioning perfection; at the same time it clears the way to a contemplative life. For only those cleansed of passions and the perfect can set out on that other life, as can be seen from the words of the Holy Scriptures: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”(Mt. 5:8), and from the words of Gregory the Theologian: “Only those who are perfect by their experience can without danger proceed to contemplation.”

If it is impossible to find a mentor who is able to direct us on the path to a contemplative life, then in that instance we must be guided by the Holy Scriptures, for the Lord Himself commands us to learn from it, saying: “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life”(John 5:39). One should not abandon the active life even when a person has so excelled in it that he has reached the contemplative, for the active life assists the contemplative and uplifts it.

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Teachings of Seraphim 17

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Part 17. Sorrow

 

When the evil spirit of sorrow seizes the soul, then, by filling it with bitterness and unpleasantness, it does not allow it to pray with necessary diligence; it disrupts the attention necessary for reading spiritual writings, deprives it of humility and good nature in the treatment of others and breeds aversion to any discussion.

For the sorrowful soul, by becoming as if insane and frenzied, can neither accept kind advice calmly, nor answer posed questions meekly. It runs from people as if from the perpetrators of its embarrassment, not understanding that the reason for its illness — is within it. Sorrow is the worm of the heart, gnawing at the mother that bore it.

He who has conquered passions has also defeated sorrow. But one overcome by passions will not avoid the shackles of sorrow. As an ill person can be identified by the color of his face, so is one overcome by passions distinguished by sorrow.

It is impossible for one who loves the world not to feel sorrow. But he who despises the world is always cheerful. As fire purifies gold, so sorrow in God — penitence — purifies the sinful heart.

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Teachings of Seraphim 16

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Part 16. Excessive Care about Worldly Matters

 

Excessive care about worldly matters is characteristic of an unbelieving and fainthearted person, and woe to us, if, in taking care of ourselves, we do not use as our foundation our faith in God, who cares for us!

If we do not attribute visible blessings to Him, which we use in this life, then how can we expect those blessings from Him which are promised in the future? We will not be of such little faith. By the words of our Saviour, it is better first to seek the Kingdom of God, for the rest shall be added unto us (see Mt. 6:33).

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Teachings of Seraphim 15

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Teachings of Seraphim

 
Part 15. Identifying Movements of the Heart

 

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

Having accepted anything Godly, the heart of a Christian does not demand outside persuasion that it is from the Lord, but becomes convinced through the act itself that this acceptance is something heavenly, because he feels the spiritual fruits in himself: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

But if the devil were to transform himself even into an angel of light (see 2 Cor. 11:14), or presented thoughts of the worthiest appearance, the heart still would feel some sort of doubts, trouble in its thoughts and disturbance of feelings. The devil is like a lion, hiding in ambush (Ps. 9:29). He secretly sets out nets of unclean and unholy thoughts. So, it is necessary to break them off as soon as we notice them, by means of pious reflection and prayer.

During the singing of psalms, feats and great vigilance are demanded for our mind to be in conformity with our heart and lips; for otherwise stench is added to the incense in our prayers. For the Lord disdains a heart with unclean thoughts.

Let us continually, day and night, fall before the face of the goodness of God with tears, that He purify our hearts of any evil thought, so that we might worthily bring Him the gifts of our service. When we do not accept the evil thoughts put in us by the devil, we perform a good deed.

The unclean spirit has a strong influence only on the passionate; but those purified of passions he touches only indirectly and externally. A person in his youth cannot avoid being disturbed by physical thoughts. But he must pray to the Lord God, that the spark of depraved passions dies out at the very beginning. Then the flame within him will not become more intense.

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Teachings of Seraphim 13

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Part 13. Feats

Blessed Seraphim told those followers who strove to take excessive feats upon themselves that not complaining and humbly bearing insults are our “verigi” and our hair shirt. (The word verigi in Russian means iron chains and various weights. A hair shirt is clothing made of thick, very coarse wool; some ascetics wore these things to burden their body.)

It is not necessary to undertake feats beyond one’s strength. Instead, one must try to keep our friend — our body — right and capable of performing virtues. One must follow the middle route, turning neither to the right hand nor the left (Proverbs 4:27), giving the spirit the spiritual, and the body the physical things necessary for maintaining temporal life. One should also not refuse that which society legally demands, according to the words of the Gospel: “Render therefore to Caesar those things which are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

One should condescend to one’s soul in its infirmities and imperfections, endure one’s deficiencies as we bear the failings of others, not become lazy, and continually urge oneself to be better.

If you have eaten too much food or done anything else related to human weakness, do not be upset. Do not add injury to injury, but, urging yourself to correction, courageously try to keep spiritual peace according to the words of the Apostle: “Happy is he that condemns not himself in that thing which he allows” (Romans 14:22). This same meaning is contained in the words of the Saviour: “Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Any success in any area we must assign to the Lord and say with the prophet: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory” (Psalm 115:1).

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