Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Saint Seraphim of Sarov, a great ascetic of the Russian Church, was born on July 19, 1745.
His parents, Isidore and Agatia Moshnina, were a wealthy merchant family.
His father was a merchant and towards the end of his life he began construction of a cathedral in Kursk, which he never got to see finished. His son Prochorus, the future Seraphim, remained in the care of his widowed mother who raised him in the faith. . After her husband’s death, Agatia Moshnina continued the construction of the cathedral.

Saint Seraphim drew closer to God through several events that miraculously saved him from death.
The first happened when he was 7 years old, when the child fell from the scaffolding of the bell tower, which belonged to the cathedral started by his father, from a height of seven floors, without suffering anything. Horrified, the mother ran to him and found her son unharmed.
The boy could have died, but God spared the life of this future star of the Church.

At age 10, an unknown illness brought him to the brink of death. Then he dreamed of the Mother of God, who promised to visit him and heal him. In prayer, the Saint’s mother also received the words of the Mother of God in a dream. And indeed, a few days later, the icon of the Mother of God passed in a procession through the streets of Kursk. When the icon reached the house, a torrential rain broke out and the procession stopped. Then the mother went out with the sick child, who, touching the icon, was immediately healed.

The inclination towards spirituality manifested itself early.
Even in his teenage years, Prohor – as his baptismal name was – lived mostly secluded, in solitude, immersed in reading holy books. Endowed with an excellent memory, he quickly learned to read and write. From childhood he loved to attend church services and read both the Holy Scriptures and the Lives of the Saints together with his student colleagues. Most of all, he liked to pray and read the Holy Gospel when he was alone; He made plans to dedicate his life entirely to Christ and enter a monastery. His mother was not against this decision and blessed him on his way to monasticism, giving him a brass cross that the young man had worn on his chest all his life.

Prochorus set out on foot with other pilgrims from Kursk to Kiev to venerate the Saints of the Caves. Prochorus visited Father Dositeus (in fact, it was a woman – Daria Tyapkina), who gave him blessing to retire to the monastery in the wilderness of Sarov and there to earn his salvation. Passing by his parents’ house, Prochorus said goodbye to his mother and relatives. At the age of 19, with his mother’s blessing, he went to the Sarov monastery, where he entered the monastery, being quickly accepted and loved by the monks because of his gentleness and kindness.

On November 20, 1778, he arrived in Sarov, where Father Pahomije was abbot. He received him and gave him to the care of Father Joseph, who put him to many obediences in the monastery: he was a servant in the father’s cell, made bread and press, and worked in carpentry. The young man did his obediences with zeal and zeal, as if serving the Lord Himself. By constant work he avoided acedia (sorrow), which he considered, as he would later say, “the gravest temptation of novice monks.” This is healed through prayer, refraining from boring conversations, hard work, reading God’s Word, and patience, because acedia is nourished by smallness of soul, neglect and idle talk.”


With the blessing of Abbot Pachomios, Prochorus abstained from food on Wednesdays and Fridays and went alone to the forest where he practiced the Jesus Prayer. After two years as a novice, Prochorus fell ill with dropsy, his body began to swell and he suffered terribly. His mentor, Father Joseph, and the other parents loved Prochorus and cared for him. The illness lasted him about three years, during which time they did not hear a word of discontent from his mouth. Fearing for his life, his parents wanted to call a doctor to consult him, but Prochorus did not agree, telling them: “Holy Father, I have entrusted myself entirely to Him who is the true Doctor of soul and body, to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Most Pure Mother.”

Then he asked to be read a health molift. While the rest of the fathers prayed in church, Prochorus had a vision in which the Mother of God appeared to him along with the Apostles Peter and John. Pointing to the sick monk, the Mother of God said to St. John: “This is one of us,” then she touched the monk to one side with her staff and immediately the liquid gathered in his body began to come out through the incision made by the Most Pure. After finishing the mosque, the brothers found Prochorus healed, with a single scar as a sign of the miracle that had come true.

Shortly after, an infirmary was built in place of the apparition of the Virgin Mary. One of the chapels was dedicated to Saints Zosima and Savatius of Solovki (April 17). St. Seraphim built with his own hands the holy table in the altar of the cypress wooden chapel, always receiving the Holy Mysteries in that church.

After eight years of novitiary at the monastery of Sarov, Prochorus was tonsured with the name Seraphim, a name that reflected his lively love for the Lord and his unquenchable desire to serve Him. A year later, Seraphim was appointed hierodeacon.

With a zealous spirit, he served in the church daily, praying constantly, even after the services were over. The Lord allowed him to see visions during church services, often seeing angels ministering with priests.
During the Divine Liturgy on Great and Holy Thursday, served by Abbot Pachomios and Father Joseph, St. Seraphim had another vision. After the introduction to the Holy Gospel, Hierodeacon Seraphim pronounces the words: “O Lord, save those who fear you, and hear us,” and then raises the quadruple saying, “Forever and ever.” Suddenly he was blinded by a brilliant light, and looking up, he saw our Lord Jesus Christ entering from the west side of the church, surrounded by the disembodied Powers. Arriving at the pulpit, the Lord blessed all the prayers and entered his icon to the right of the altar doors. St. Seraphim, caught up in spirit after this miraculous vision, could not utter a word and could not move. The others took him by the hand to the altar where he remained motionless for another three hours, his face changed from the divine grace that descended upon him. Recovering, he explained to the confessor: “I was overwhelmed by a blinding light, like a ray of sunshine. When I turned my eyes to this exceedingly beautiful light, I saw our Lord Jesus Christ in His glory, having the appearance of a son of man, surrounded by heavenly hostiles: angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim. As for me, I received a special blessing.”

After this vision, the saint’s aspiration grew. During the day he worked in the monastery and at night he prayed in his cell in the forest.

In 1793, Hierodeacon Seraphim was ordained a priest, celebrating Holy and Divine Liturgy every day. After the death of Abbot Pachomios, St. Seraphim received a blessing from the new abbot of the monastery, Father Isaiah, to retreat to a place in the forest, 5 km away from the monastery, which he named “Mount Athos” and where he devoted himself to solitary prayer. He went to the monastery only on Saturdays, before the all-night vigil, and returned to his cell in the woods after Sunday Mass where he took communion with the Holy Mysteries.

The hermit Seraphim spent his time with ascetic endeavors. His prayer practice was based on those ordained by St. Pachomius for ancient desert monasteries. He carried the Holy Gospel with him at all times, reading the entire New Testament in a week. He also read from the Holy Fathers and the Holy Services. The saint learned by heart many of the church hymns he sang while working in the forest. Around the cell he set up a garden and a beehive. He fasted very harshly, eating once a day except Wednesday and Friday when he ate nothing. On the first Sunday of Lent he did not eat anything until Saturday, when he received the Holy Mysteries.

The Holy Father was sometimes so immersed in the ceaseless prayer of the heart that he remained motionless, seeing or hearing nothing around him. From time to time he was visited by the monk Mark the Silent and Archdeacon Alexander who also lived in the wilderness. They often found him in contemplation and quietly withdrew so as not to disturb him.

In the summer heat, the righteous hermit used to pick moss from a swamp to fertilize the garden, and when mosquitoes stung him badly he could bear it by saying to himself, “The passions are killed by suffering and pain.”

His loneliness was often disturbed by monks and laymen who sought him for advice or blessing. With the abbot’s blessing, the hermit forbade women to visit him, after which, receiving a sign from God that his wish was being heard, he finally refused to receive any more visitors. Through his prayers, the path to his cell was covered with large branches that fell from neighboring ancient firs, blocking all access. Only birds came to him and wild animals in whose company he lived like Adam in Paradise.

As the ecclesiastical scholar and his biographer, Prof. Sergei Nile, writes, the Saint found God in the simplicity of flowers, in the animals and in the bird of the forest, with whom he knew how to converse in their language. Gentle and patient, he tamed wolves and bears, snakes and jivinas, rabbits and foxes, all gathered around the hut, as in Adamic times, as testified by those who visited Anahoret. “At midnight,” says Father Joseph, “you saw all kinds of bears and other animals at his door. When he finished his prayers, he came out of his cell and began to feed them.” Father Alexander, another eyewitness, asked him out of curiosity how that piece of dry bread, which was always in Father Seraphim’s purse, could satiate so many animals. Smiling, the father replied that “everything precious is little and everything that is little is much”, at which point he approached him, as a confirmation, a huge bear holding a honeycomb in its paws. The priest thanked him, after which he handed out the honeycomb to the guest, as required by the law of peasant hospitality.

Once, while he was working in the garden, three thieves stepped on him in search of money or valuable things. Although he had an axe in his hand and could have fought them, the saint did not fight back, remembering the words of the Lord: “Those who lift up the sword will perish” (Mt. 26:52). Throwing his tool down, he told the thieves to do what they wanted. Then the thieves beat him so hard that they left him more dead than alive. They wanted to throw him into the river but left him until they searched the cell for money, but finding nothing but icons and a few potatoes, they left. The monk regained consciousness, crawled to his cell and stayed that way all night.
The next morning he set out with great difficulty for the monastery, and the brothers, seeing him with so many wounds on his head, chest, ribs and back, were frightened. For 8 days he lay suffering from his injuries and the doctors who saw him were amazed that he was still alive after such a beating.
The hermit was not healed by any earthly doctor: the Queen of Heaven together with the Apostles Peter and John appeared to him and by the divine touch of the Blessed Virgin was healed. However, he could not straighten himself and remained bent on his back, being able to walk only with the help of a stick for the rest of his life. St. Seraphim had to stay for about five months at the monastery, after which he went back to the forest. He forgave his wrongdoers and prayed for them not to be punished.

Like Isaac the Syrian, St. Seraphim believed with all his might that love could not be ordained and measured. “A true heart is kindled with love for all creatures, for humans, for birds, for animals, and even for demons. In other words, for all creatures.” Like any saint, nothing evil touched him. Neither the vipers circling the house, nor the fangs of the wild.
A great faster, Saint Seraphim ate only dry bread. In time, he gave it up too, growing beets and potatoes for animals in the garden behind his cell, and for himself a grass called goatgrass. “I pick it up and put it in a small pot,” he says with a smile, “I add a little water and place it on the stovetop. All of a sudden, good soup is made. Then I dry it and in winter I feed on it, and the brothers wonder what goodies I eat. I gladden my body with goat weed, but I don’t tell anyone about my food.”

To drive away the wiles of the enemy, St. Seraphim intensified his struggles and began a new ascetic struggle, imitating St. Simeon the Pillar (September 1), namely, every night he climbed a huge rock in the forest or a small one in his cell and rested only very little. He stood or kneeled and prayed with his hands raised, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The saint prayed like this for 1,000 days and nights.
When, towards the end of his life, someone found the stone and brought it to him, the Saint said: “Simeon the Pillar stood 47 years on a pillar. Compared to him, what did I do?”

In 1807, Abbot Isaiah fell asleep in the Lord. St. Seraphim was asked to take his place, but he refused. He had lived in solitude for three years, completely cut off from the world, except for the monk who brought him mouths once a week. If he met a man in the forest, the saint would throw himself on his face until he passed away.
No one will ever know how he lived for years in fasting food and, especially, silence. He had knowingly cut off all ties to the world. Once a week, on Sundays, a monk brought him some food. Then the priest opened the door and, with bowed eyes, pulled out a tray on which the hermit had placed a piece of bread or some cabbage to show the monk what to bring the following Sunday.
His patience and the staggering power of his endless aspiration to the Divine led some of his brothers to affirm that his deed surpasses human powers. He attained that state of godliness which few hermits have attained in the entire history of the Christian Church. During prayer, his concentration became so intense that he remained motionless for a long time before spiritual icons and books, only ecstatically contemplating the glory of God. St. Seraphim gained peace of mind and joy in the Holy Spirit. He once said, “Acquire the spirit of peace and thousands of souls will be saved around you.”

Continuing to live in silence, he locked himself in his cell praying and reading. He was allowed to dine and receive communion in his cell. There, the saint ascended to the heights of spiritual purity and by the mercy of the Lord received the divine gifts of foresight and miracles. After five years of solitude, he opened the door of his cell to the other monks, but continued to use silence, teaching others by example.

Weary of fasting and prayer, Father looks like a garbled old man in his 50s. Not wanting to be haughty, he listened to the urging of the young monk, who brought him food. She didn’t want to leave him unanswered. Leaning on his staff, dragging his legs sick with varicose veins with difficulty, the father went to meet one of the most burdensome struggles – to return to the world and give up the silence of the forest, the air embalmed by resin, the small and singing creatures in the dwelling place of the trees, in exchange for the divine mission of spiritual guidance of people on the way of salvation.

The new abbot of the monastery, Father Nifon, together with the brother monks prayed to St. Nifon. Seraphim should come to officiate Sunday services at the monastery as before, or move to the monastery altogether. The saint chose the latter option because it was too difficult for him to travel to the monastery every Sunday. In the spring of 1810, he returned to the monastery after 15 years of living in the hermitage.
Why and under what circumstances the Saint interrupted this canon of silence, we will never know. He must have had the command from above. People needed word and strength. His prophecies were to reach the ears and souls of the tried. He had to go through the ages and announce the last time of correction, tears, and salvation.

At the age of 60, Seraphim was appointed abbot. Loaded with the holy gifts of the great divine powers, his name quickly spread throughout Russia, and thousands of pilgrims began to visit him, seeking the wise advice of the saint. The power of his understanding penetrated to the depths of the hearts of those who visited him, who received the answer before confessing his struggle. They all left with great joy and relief after the meeting with Saint Seraphim, who humbly confessed: “When someone comes to me, he comes as to a servant of God. What the Lord commands me as His servant, I say to him who desires to use himself. I work as He wants. I don’t have my own will.”

For many, the saint heals them through his spiritual powers, as Princess Sahaeva tells about her seriously ill son. Father Seraphim, before he began to pray for his health, told him: “You, my joy, pray and I will pray for you, but stay like this, without turning and looking away.” The patient stayed like this for a long time, but after a while he could not bear it anymore and looked to see what the parent was doing. Looking, he saw Father Seraphim standing in the air, praying, and, frightened by the unusual sight, cried out. After finishing his prayer, Father Seraphim approached the child and said, “Behold, now you will tell everyone that Father Seraphim prays in the air. The Lord will have mercy on you, but you shall not tell anyone about it until the day of my death.”

On November 25, 1825, Our Lady and two hierarchs commemorated on that day, Hieromartyr Clement of Rome and St. Peter, the archbishop of Alexandria, appeared to the saint in a vision and told him to give up isolation and devote himself to other people. The saint received the abbot’s blessing to divide his time between life in the forest and life in the monastery. He did not return to his old hermit cell, but retired to a place closer to the monastery, and its doors were open to both lay pilgrims and monks.

Father saw in people’s hearts and, as a doctor of souls, healed their bodily and spiritual infirmities through prayer and his gracious words. Those who came to St. Seraphim felt his boundless love and gentleness. At all times he greeted people with the words: “Rejoice, Christ is risen!” He especially loved children. Once a little girl said about him: “Father Seraphim looks like an old man, but in fact he is a child like us!”

The priest was often seen carrying a sack of stones with him, leaning on his stick. When asked why he did it, the saint humbly replied, “I try him as he tries me.”

In the latter part of his earthly life, St. Seraphim dedicated himself to the orphans of the Diveyevo monastery of nuns. While he was archdeacon, he accompanied the late father Pachomije to the community of Diveyevo where he met the abbess of the monastery, an ascetic – Mother Alexandra and Father Pachomije gave blessing to the saint to take care of the orphans of the monastery from then on. He was a true father to the sisters of the monastery, who searched him for any spiritual or material problem.

St. Seraphim also dedicated himself to improving the monastic life of the nuns of the Diveyevo monastery, saying that he personally did not give them advice, but the Mother of God helped them overcome all the problems of the monastery. His disciples and spiritual friends helped the saint to provide food for the inhabitants of Diveyevo monastery. Michael V. Manturov, cured by the monk of a serious illness, was one of the benefactors of the monastery, pledging himself to voluntary poverty, as advised by the saint. Elena Vasilievna Manturova, one of the sisters of the monastery, agreed to die in her brother’s place, out of submission to the saint, because he was still needed in earthly life.

Nicholas Alexandrovich Motovilov was also healed by the monk Seraphim. In 1903, shortly before the feast of St. Seraphim, the famous “Conversation of St. Seraphim of Sarov with N. A. Motovilov” was found and printed. Written down by Motovilov after the conversation in late November 1831, the manuscript was found hidden in an attic among piles of papers, where it had lain for nearly 70 years. The writing was found by the author S. A. Nilus, who was looking for information about the life of St. Seraphim. This conversation is a real treasure trove for Orthodox literature, which was born from Nikolai Motovilov’s desire to understand the purpose of the Christian life. St. Seraphim knew that Motovilov had been searching for this answer since his youth without finding satisfaction. The Holy Father told him that the goal of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit, explaining to him what are the great benefits of prayer and life in the Holy Spirit.
Motovilov asked the saint how we could know whether or not we had acquired the Holy Spirit. St. Seraphim spoke at length about how people come to have the Holy Spirit and how we recognize God’s spirit in us, but Motovilov wanted more. Then the father took him by the shoulders and said, “We are both now in the Holy Spirit, son. Why don’t you look at me?” Motovilov replied, “I cannot look at you, father, because your eyes light up like lightning and your face is brighter than the sun.”
St. Seraphim replied, “Do not be afraid, friend of God, now you are as bright as I am. It means that you are also in the light of the Divine Spirit, otherwise you would not be able to see me as such.” Then the saint assured Motovilov that the Lord would allow him to keep the memory of this experience all his life. “This was not done just for you to understand, but through you, for everyone.”

Everyone knew Saint Seraphim as a great ascetic and miracle worker. A year and 10 months before its celebration, on the Feast of the Annunciation, the saint was allowed another appearance of the Mother of God together with the two apostles and 12 other virgin martyrs (St. Barbara, Catherine, Thecla, Marina, Irina, Euphrosyne, Pelagia, Dorothea, Macrina, Justina, Juliana and Anisia). Our Lady spoke at length with the monk, entrusting the sisters of the Diveyevo monastery to her care. Finally, She told him, “Soon, beloved, you will be with us.” Mother Euphrosyne of the monastery witnessed the apparition of the Mother of God because Father invited her. In the last year of his life, one of those he healed saw the saint lifted up from the ground while praying, which was strictly forbidden to him by St. Seraphim to reveal it only after his death.

St. Seraphim grew weaker with his eyes and spoke more and more about his approaching “departure”. He knew the hour of his death and was preparing for the great passage. During this time he was seen standing next to his coffin, which he had placed in the antechamber of his cell and which he made himself. “My life is getting shorter. My body is dead in everything, but my spirit is as if it was born yesterday,” he said. Once again, the saint will be worthy of the visit of the Virgin Mary, which was a foreshadowing of his happy end: “Soon, my chosen one, you will be with us.” Overjoyed that his obedience had been lifted, he left his voluntary prison in his cell and went to the forest, heaven and his life.

The saint marked his own place where he wanted to be buried, near the altar of the Assumption Cathedral. On January 1, 1833, Father Seraphim came to the Church of Saints Zosimas and Savatius for the last time at the Divine Liturgy, where he took communion with the Holy Mysteries, after which he blessed the brothers and said goodbye, with the words: “Save your souls. Do not despair, stay awake. Today they are preparing for new crowns.”
On January 2, Father Paul, the saint’s helper, left at six o’clock in the morning for matins and smelled smoke coming from the saint’s cell. Father Paul used to leave candles burning in his cell and Father Paul was scared of something catching fire.
“In my lifetime there will be no fire,” he once said, “but when I die you will know, for a fire will be kindled.”
When they opened the door, they saw books and other things smouldering, and the saint was kneeling in front of the icon of the Mother of God, his hands crossed on his chest, his head uncovered, and the Gospel, which he used to read, in front of him. His face was quiet and serene. Slept? Slowly, the brothers wanted to wake him up. But his eyes never opened. On his knees before his Empress in heaven, he had fallen asleep forever.
His pure soul was taken by angels during prayer and brought before the Throne of Almighty God, whose faithful servant he had been all his life.

Father Seraphim asked for the following inscription to be placed on his tombstone: “After I am no longer among the living, come to my grave: the more often, the better. Whatever you have on your soul, whatever happens to you, come to me as if I were alive and, kneeling on the ground, pour out all your sorrow on my grave. Tell me everything and I will listen. Just as you spoke to me in life, so do you now. Because I live and always will be.”

St. Seraphim promised to intercede before the Good God for those who would remember his parents, Isidore and Agatia.
The relics of St. Seraphim are in Diveyevo. Sarov is now in an area where access is forbidden due to military installations. Diveyevo is east of Moscow.

Sarov Monastery is located in the Tambov Diocese of Temnikov County, 38 versts (one versta = 1,068 km) from the city of Temnicov, at the border of Nizhegorodsk and Tambov counties. The monastery is located at a distance of 400 versts from the city of Mosciva, 60 versts from the city of Arzamas, 170 versts from the city of Nizhny and 120 versts from the city of Muron in the Vladimir diocese. It is situated on a hill, in a forest, between two rivers – Sarovka and Latis – joining each other just below this monastery. The nearest village is at a distance of five versts from the monastery.
The geographical location of Sarov monastery is picturesque and delights the soul of any pilgrim.
Here the monastic regime was strict. Religious services were performed continuously and were served according to the monastic regulations of Mount Athos. The religious songs during the services that were performed here continuously filled your soul with an inexplicable power and conveyed a state of devotion to the inhabitants of this place, who glorified themselves through their deeds and efforts in the Lord.
About this monastery can be said that it was truly an exemplary monastery and famous for its external beauty, as well as the inner ones. She glorified herself through the life, struggles and teachings of her pious parents such as: the primate hieromonk John; his successor – Abbot Dimitrie; the venerable abbot Ephraim; the virtuous Father Pachomios; humble Isaiah; the zealous Father Pitirim; Venerable Joachim; the right Abbot Nifon; hermit Abbot Nazarius; Hieroshimahil Dorothy; Monk Mark; Hierochimonahil Seraphim and Hilarion; Hierodeacon Alexander and many needy worthy of remembrance. The deeds and teachings of these virtuous men have left deep marks on the souls of many godly Christians.
The inhabitants of this monastery were steadfast in their faith and service to God. They lived and struggled for salvation and for the spiritual beautification of their souls and the place where they spent their earthly life. The pious fathers devoted their entire lives to serving God body and soul, while being an example to follow for both their successors and godly Christians. They struggled in silence, lived in constant prayer, and being endowed with divine grace they had a precise and wise knowledge of the human soul. Like burning lamps they burned with pure flame, spreading Christ’s teachings to those who drew near to God through them, showing each one of them the right path to salvation.
Oh, how many virtues their souls have acquired! Oh, how much spiritual bravery their bodies had. They were steadfast in faith, in steadfast patience, in love for God and neighbor perfect, in prayer tireless, in self-control courageous, even in the painful struggle of separating soul from body they were strong and lively.
Pious parents, burning with steadfast faith, with fervent prayer gave their souls into the hands of the living God. Therefore, it is for the benefit of our souls to remember these pious fathers, to remember their guiding teachings that they left us as a testament sealed with love. It behooves us to honor their saving deeds performed for their spiritual benefit and for the benefit of the holy Sarov monastery.

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Teachings to the beginner monk
May 17th, 2007

After either the influence of others or in whatever other way you have come to this monastery, do not grieve, it is a divine search. If you keep what I tell you, you will save yourself and those around you who care for you. The prophet says, “I did not see the righteous forsaken, nor his seed asking for bread” (Ps. 36:25). Living in this monastery, keeping the commandments, sitting in the church to pay attention to all the services and to know all the order of the church, that is, the 7 church praises – to learn them, to remember them. If you are in your cell and you do not have “rucodely” (handiwork), then read from the holy books, especially from the Psalter. Strive to repeat a verse several times to remember everything. If he calls you to obey, say the prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
In prayer, gather your mind and unite it with your soul.
In the beginning, for a day, two or more, do this prayer only with your mind, paying attention to every single word. And later, when the Lord warms your heart with the warmth of His grace and unites it in you with your very breath in a spirit, then this prayer will flow into your being without ceasing and will always be with you, sweetening and nourishing you. This is the very prediction of the prophet Isaiah: “For the wound from you is healing for them” (Isaiah 26:19). And if you master within yourself this soul food, that is, the constant living with the Lord Himself, then why walk through your brother’s cell, even if you were called by some of them?
For if you don’t understand yourself, will you be able to understand what to teach others? Be silent, be silent continually, and always mention God’s presence and His name. Don’t go to anyone to talk, but be careful not to judge those who talk a lot and laugh. In this case, be deaf and dumb and let it all pass by your ears. Consider Stephen the New (Minei, November 20), who had ceaseless prayer, gentle habit, silent mouth, humble heart, true poverty and hermit agony, obedience without murmuring, worthy obedience, working patiently and laboriously and zealously.
Sitting at the table, do not look or judge who eats how much, but take heed of yourself, feeding your soul with prayer. At lunch eat, and at dinner restrain yourself.
Every night you must sleep four hours; If you are tired, exhausted, you can sleep a little during the day. Keep this unchanged until the end of your life, for it is necessary for the peace of your head. I, too, have kept this path since my youth. We don’t always pray to God for our spiritual rest.
If you see yourself like this, then you will not be sad, but healthy and cheerful. I tell you true that if you behave like this, then you will remain in the monastery until the end of your life.
Humble yourself and the Lord will help you to bring forth your justice and your judgment as your light upon men (cf. Mt 5:16).

Prophecies of St. Seraphim of Sarov

Of all the Russian saints, Seraphim of Sarov seems to have a special brilliance, of a spiritual stature incomparable to anyone and nothing. Ascetic, apostle and prophet of his nation, in 1902, when he was canonized, all Russia gathered in the Sarov Wilderness, in Diveevo, accompanying the procession of 24 archimandrites and priests dressed in golden vestments and gems, given by the Emperor himself. Those who participated in the procession say that at midnight, from the chests of those present burst, full of joy, in the middle of summer, the Easter hymns: “Christ rose from the dead”? The saint himself had prophesied all this 100 years ago. “In the middle of summer, Easter hymns will be sung in remembrance of me, but this joy will be short-lived. Tears and persecution will be your bread for nearly a century. Your life will be short then, and the angels will barely have time to gather souls from prisons and wars.” Full of prophetic anxiety, the Saint had clearly foreseen, as early as 1800, the fearful days that would come upon the Russians. “Much blood will flow, because some will rebel against the Tsar and his family (…) More than half a century will pass, and then the villains will raise their heads high. That will surely happen. Rivers of blood will redden the Russian land. Many nobles will be killed for the Emperor’s sake, but the Lord will not be angry to the end and will not allow the Russian land to be utterly destroyed.” To a close friend, the layman Motovilov, Father Seraphim said: “I believe, Daddy, that the eighth thousand years will pass. I think it will pass! And here’s what I’m going to tell you: it’s all going to pass and it’s going to end. And all monasteries will be destroyed, but for poor Seraphim, in Diveevo, the Bloodless Sacrifice and the hymns of the Resurrection will continue to be performed.”
Gentle and humble, Saint Seraphim of Sarov did not want to frighten anyone. It only announces the times to come, to give people time to repent and correct their sins.

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Teachings of Saint Seraphim of Sarov
March 17th, 2007

Teachings of Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Always remember, listening trumps all. It surpasses fasting and prayer! And not only must we not refuse it, we must run to meet it! We must endure any trouble that may come from the brethren without being troubled and murmuring.

The soul must be nourished and nourished by God’s Word. Most of all we should practice reading the New Testament and the Psalter. This should be done standing. From this reading comes enlightenment of the mind which is changed by a divine change. He who reads Holy Scripture receives a warmth that in solitude gives rise to tears, through which man is warmed again and again, filled with spiritual gifts, which give delight to mind and heart beyond all imagination.

Above all, this must be done in order to achieve peace of mind: “Much peace have they that love thy law and are not foolish.” (Ps.118,165). It is very helpful to read the entire Bible intelligently. For only by this exercise alone, besides other good works, will the Lord not deprive man of His mercy, but will multiply his gift of understanding.

Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should strive to always remember God and pray to Jesus Christ.

In church, when you pray, it is helpful to sit with your eyes closed, with focused attention, and to open your eyes only when you are drowsy or when sleep creeps in and makes you doze. Then your eyes should be fixed on an icon and on the light of the lamp burning before it.

We must not undertake ascetic endeavors beyond our powers, but try to make our bodies faithful friends and worthy of the practice of virtues. We must go down the middle ground. We must be sympathetic to our spiritual infirmities and imperfections and be patient with our own defects as we have with the faults of others. But we must not idle, but we must strive for the improvement of our nature.

Every day you must surely sleep four hours at night – from ten in the evening to two at night. If you feel weak, you can also sleep during the day. Keep this rule permanently until the end of your life, because it is absolutely necessary for resting your head. I myself from my youth kept it rigorously. We always ask the good God for rest during the night and so you will not become powerless, but healthy and cheerful.

Not everyone can impose on himself a strict rule of asceticism in everything, or deprive himself of everything that would only reveal his weaknesses. Otherwise, through bodily exhaustion, the soul also weakens. In particular, on Fridays and Wednesdays, and especially during the four fasts, a meal must be eaten once a day, and the angel of the Lord will approach you. At lunch eat enough, at dinner be moderate.

But a body that is exhausted by penance and sickness must be strengthened by moderate sleep, moderate food and drink regardless of the length of time.

At all costs, we must try to keep peace of mind and not be troubled by offenses from others. Nothing is more precious than peace in Christ the Lord. The Holy Fathers always had a spirit of peace and, being blessed with God’s grace, lived long.

Obtain peace, and thousands of people around you will be saved. When a man is in a state of peace of mind, he can by himself give others the light necessary to enlighten reason. This peace, as a priceless treasure, our Lord Jesus Christ bequeathed to His disciples before death. (Jn. 14:27) The Apostle also said about her: “May the peace of God, which overwhelms every mind, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7) Introduce the mind into the heart and give work there with prayer; then God’s peace overshadows her and she is in a state of peace. We need to get used to treating insults from others calmly, as if their insults are not about us, but about someone else. Such a practice can bring us peace of heart and make it a dwelling place of God himself.

If it is impossible not to be troubled, then, at least, it is necessary to try to restrain your tongue, according to the words of the psalmist: “I was troubled and I did not speak” (Ps. 76:4) In order to maintain peace of mind, we need to avoid criticizing others at all costs. In particular, in order to maintain peace of mind, “acedia must be avoided” and strive to have a cheerful spirit and not sad. You must try to get out of this state as quickly as possible. Beware of the spirit of sorrow, for this gives rise to all evil. A thousand temptations arise because of him: agitation, anger, blame, dissatisfaction with one’s own fate, thoughts of fornication, permanent change of place.

Sometimes the evil spirit of sorrow takes possession of the soul and deprives it of humility and kindness towards brothers and gives rise to revulsion at any conversation. Then the soul avoids people, believing that they are at the origin of its disorder and does not understand that the cause of its disorder lies within itself. The soul full of sorrow and as if out of mind is unable to accept in peace the good advice brought to it or to answer humbly the questions put to it.

The first medicine with which man soon finds spiritual comfort is humility of heart, as St. Isaac the Syrian teaches. This disease is treated with prayer, abstention from speaking in vain, handiwork, according to one’s ability, reading God’s Word, and patience; for he is born of cowardice, idleness, and speech in the desert.

Whoever has conquered passions has also conquered depression. Cheerfulness is not sin. It banishes boredom; And out of boredom comes sorrow (acedia), and nothing is worse than this. It brings with it all. To say or do evil is sin. But to say a kind, friendly, or joyful word so that everyone feels in a good mood in God’s presence and not in a state of sorrow is not a sin at all.

If we disagree with the evil thoughts suggested by the devil, we are doing a good thing. During these attacks, you must turn with prayer to the Lord God so that the spark of evil passions will be banished from the very beginning. Then the flame of passion will no longer grow.

The body is the servant, the soul is the master. And therefore, God’s mercy is with us when the body is weak and exhausted by disease; For in this way the passions weaken and man becomes normal. But bodily sickness itself is something born of passions. Remove sin and sickness will go away.

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