Saint Seraphim of Sarov On Acquisition of the Holy Spirit
Saint Seraphim of Sarov was born in 1759, in city
of Kursk. His parents were pious Orthodox Christians, examples of
true spirituality. At the age of ten, Seraphim was miraculously healed from a
serious illness by means of the Kursk icon of the Theotokos. As a boy, he immersed himself in
church services and church literature. He began monastic life at the hermitage
of Sarov at the age of nineteen. He was tonsured as a monk when he was
twenty-seven, and soon afterwards was ordained a deacon. The intensity and
purity of Seraphim's participation in the Divine services are evident as he was
allowed to see angels, and during the liturgy on Holy Thursday, he saw the Lord
At thirty-four, Seraphim was
ordained as a priest, and was assigned as the spiritual guide of the Diveyevo
convent. At this time, he also received a blessing to begin life as a hermit in
the forest surrounding Sarov. He lived in a small cabin, devoting himself
entirely to prayer, fasting, and the reading of the Scriptures and the Holy
Fathers. Seraphim would go to the monastery on Sundays to receive Holy
Communion; and then return to the forest.
In 1804, Seraphim was attacked by robbers and
almost beaten to death. Permanent injuries sustained from this attack caused
him to always be bent over and the need of a staff to walk. After this event,
the Saint began more fervent prayers, incessant for a thousand days and a
thousand nights; spending the better part of his time kneeling on a stone near
his cell crying out, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." He then spent three years in absolute silent seclusion. Obeying the request of the
elders of the monastery, Seraphim returned to the monastery in 1810, but
continued to live in prayer, and silent seclusion for another ten years. In
obedience to a heavenly vision, Seraphim ended his silence and began to speak
for the benefit of others. The Saint greeted all who came to him with a
prostration, a kiss, and the words of the Pascha greeting: "Christ is Risen!" He called everyone, "my joy." In
1825, he returned to his forest cell, where he received thousands of pilgrims
from across Russia. Granted the gift of clairvoyance, the wonder-working
Saint Seraphim of Sarov gave consolation and guidance to all. Saint Seraphim
died on January
2, 1833, while kneeling before an
icon of the Theotokos.
An example of the grace of the Holy Spirit at work
within the life and words of Saint Seraphim has been preserved for us. In
November of 1831, a pious Orthodox Christian named Nicholas Motovilov met with
Saint Seraphim, and recorded his conversation. The notes by Motovilov were
transcribed and published by Sergius Nilus, who wrote the following
This revelation is undoubtedly of worldwide
significance. True, there is nothing essentially new in it, for the full
revelation was given to the Apostles from the very day of Pentecost. But now
that people have forgotten the fundamental truths of Christian life and are
immersed in the darkness of materialism or the exterior and routine performance
of "ascetic labors," St. Seraphim's revelation is truly
extraordinary, as indeed he himself regarded it.
"It is not given to you alone to understand
this," said St. Seraphim towards the end of the revelation, "but
through you it is for the whole world!" Like a flash of lightning this
wonderful conversation illumined the whole world which was already immersed in
spiritual lethargy and death less than a century before the struggle against
Christianity in Russia and at a time when Christian faith was at a low ebb in the West. Here God's Saint appears before us in
no way inferior to the prophets through whom the Holy Spirit Himself spoke.
We record everything word for word without any
interpretations of our own.
The Aim of the Christian
"It was Thursday," writes Motovilov.
"The day was gloomy. The snow lay eight inches deep on the ground; and
dry, crisp snowflakes were falling thickly from the sky when St. Seraphim began
his conversation with me in a field near his hermitage, opposite the river
Sarovka, at the foot of the hill which slopes down to the river bank. He sat me
on the stump of a tree which he had just felled, and squatted opposite me.
"The Lord has revealed to me," said the
great elder, "that in your childhood you had a great desire to know the
aim of our Christian life, and that you have continually asked many great
spiritual persons about it."
I must admit, that from the age of twelve this
thought had constantly troubled me. In fact, I had approached many clergy about
it, however their answers had not satisfied me. This
could not have been known to the elder.
"But no one,' continued St. Seraphim, 'has
given you a precise answer. They have said to you: "Go to church, pray to
God, do the commandments of God, do good - that is the aim of the
Christian life." Some were even indignant with you for being occupied with
such profane curiosity and said to you, "Do not seek things which are
beyond you." But they did not speak as they should. Now humble Seraphim
will explain to you of what this aim really consists.
"However prayer, fasting, vigil and all the
other Christian practices may be, they do not
constitute the aim of our Christian life. Although it is true that they serve
as the indispensable means of reaching this end, the true aim of our Christian
life consists of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for
fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done for
Christ's sake, are the only means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. Mark my
words, only good deeds done for Christ's sake brings us the fruits of the Holy
Spirit. All that is not done for Christ's sake, even though it be good, brings neither reward in the future life nor the
grace of God in this life. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ said: "He
who does not gather with Me scatters" (Luke ). Not that a good deed can be called anything but
gathering, even though a deed is not done for Christ's sake, it is still
considered good. The Scriptures say: "In every nation he who fears God
and does what is right is acceptable to Him" (Acts ).
"As we see from another sacred narrative, the
man who does what is right is pleasing to God. We see the Angel of the Lord
appeared at the hour of prayer to Cornelius, the God-fearing and righteous
centurion, and said: "Send to Joppa to Simon the Tanner; there you will
find Peter and he will tell you the words of eternal life, whereby you will be
saved and all your house." Thus the Lord uses all
His divine means to give such a man, in return for his good works, the
opportunity not to lose his reward in the future life. But to this end, we must
begin with a right faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who came
into the world to save sinners and Who, through our acquiring for ourselves the
grace of the Holy Spirit, brings into our hearts the Kingdom of Godand
opens the way for us to win the blessings of the future life. But the
acceptability to God of good deeds not done for Christ's sake is limited to
this: the Creator gives the means to make them living (cf. Hebrews. 6:1). It
rests with man to make them living or not. That is why the Lord said to the
Jews: "If you had been blind, you would have had no sin. But now you
say 'We see,' so your sin remains" (John ). If a man like Cornelius enjoys the
favor of God for his deeds, though not done for Christ's sake, and then
believes in His Son, such deeds will be imputed to him as done for Christ's
sake. But in the opposite event a man has no right to complain, when the
good he has done is useless. It never is, when it is done for Christ's sake,
since good done for Him not only merits a crown of righteousness in the world
to come, but also in this present life fills us with the grace of the Holy
Spirit. Moreover, it is said: "God does not give the Spirit by
measure" (John -35).
"That is it, your Godliness. Acquiring the
Spirit of God is the true aim of our Christian life, while prayer, fasting,
almsgiving and other good works done for Christ's sake are
merely means for acquiring the Spirit of God."
"What do you mean by acquiring?" I asked
St. Seraphim. "Somehow I don't understand that."
"Acquiring is the same as obtaining," he
replied. "Do you understand, what acquiring money means? Acquiring the
Spirit of God is exactly the same. You know very well enough what it means to
acquire in a worldly sense, your Godliness. The aim of ordinary worldly people
is to acquire or make money; and for the nobility, it is in addition to receive
honors, distinctions and other rewards for their services to the government.
The acquisition of God's Spirit is also capital, but grace-giving and eternal,
and it is obtained in very similar ways, almost the same ways as monetary,
social and temporal capital.
"God the Word, the God-Man, our Lord Jesus
Christ, compares our life with the market, and the work of our life on earth He
calls trading. He says to us all: "Trade till I come" (Lk. ), "buying up every opportunity, because the days
are evil" (Ephesians ). In
other words, make the most of your time getting heavenly blessings through
earthly goods. Earthly goods are good works done for Christ's sake that confer
the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, on us."
"In the parable of the wise and foolish
virgins, when the foolish ones ran short of oil, they were told: "Go and
buy in the market." But when they had bought it, the door of the
bride-chamber was already shut and they could not get in. Some say that the
lack of oil in the lamps of the foolish virgins means a lack of good deeds in
their lifetime. Such an interpretation is not quite correct. Why should they be
lacking in good deeds, if they are called virgins, even though foolish ones?
Virginity is the supreme virtue, an angelic state, and it could take the place
of all other good works.
"I think that what they were lacking was the
grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God. These virgins practiced the virtues, but
in their spiritual ignorance they supposed that the Christian life consisted
merely in doing good works. By doing a good deed they thought they were doing
the work of God, but they cared little whether they acquired the grace of God's
Spirit. These ways of life, based merely on doing good,
without carefully testing whether they bring the grace of the Spirit of God,
are mentioned in the patristic books: "There is another way which is
deemed good in the beginning, but ends at the bottom of hell."
"Anthony the Great in his letters to monks
says of such virgins: "Many monks and virgins have no idea of the
different kinds of will which act in man, and they do not know that we are
influenced by three wills: the first is God's all-perfect and all-saving will;
the second is our own human will which, if not destructive, neither is it
saving; and the third will is the devil's will - wholly destructive." This
third will of the enemy prompts man to do any no good deeds, or to do them good
out of vanity, or merely for virtue's sake rather than for Christ's sake. The
second, our own will, prompts us to do everything to flatter our passions, or
else it teaches us like the enemy, to do good for the sake of good and not care
for the grace which is acquired by it. But the first, God's all-saving will,
consists in doing good solely to acquire the Holy Spirit, as an eternal,
inexhaustible treasure which is priceless. The acquisition of the Holy Spirit
is, in a manner of speaking, the oil, which the foolish virgins lacked. They
were called foolish just because they had forgotten the necessary fruit of
virtue, the grace of the Holy Spirit, , without which no one is or can be saved,
for: "Through the Holy Spirit every soul is quickened and through
purification is exalted and illumined by the Triune Unity in a Holy
"The oil in the lamps of the wise virgins
could burn brightly for a long time. So these virgins, with their bright lamps
were able to meet the Bridegroom, who came at . With Him, they could enter the bridal chamber of joy. But
the foolish ones, though they went to market to buy more oil, when their lamps
were going out, were unable to return in time, for the door was already shut.
The market is our life; the door of the bridal chamber, which was shut and
barred the way to the Bridegroom is human death; the wise and foolish virgins
are Christian souls; the oil is not the good deeds, but the grace of the All-Holy
Spirit of God which is obtained through good deeds and which changes souls from
one state to another - such as, from a corruptible state to incorruptible
state, from spiritual death to spiritual life, from darkness to light, from the
stable of our being (where the passions are tied up like dumb animals and wild
beasts) into a temple of the Divinity, the shining bridal chamber of eternal
joy in Christ Jesus our Lord, the Creator, Redeemer and eternal Bridegroom of
"How great is God's compassion on our misery,
that is to say, our inattention to His care for us, when God says: "Behold,
I stand at the door and knock" (Rev. 3:20), meaning by "door"
the course of our life which has not yet been closed by death! Oh, how I wish,
your Godliness, that in this life you may always be in the Spirit of God!
"In whatsoever I find you, in that will I judge you," says the Lord.
"Woe betide us if He
finds us overcharged with the cares and sorrows of this life! For who will be
able to bear His anger, who will bear the wrath of His countenance? That is why
it has been said: "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation"
(Mk. ), that is, lest you be deprived of the Spirit of God, for
watching and prayer brings us His grace.
"Of course, every good deed done for Christ's
sake gives us the grace of the Holy Spirit, but prayer gives us this grace most
of all, for it is always at hand, as an instrument for acquiring the grace of
the Spirit. For instance, you would like to go to church, but there is no
church or the service is over; you would like to give alms to a beggar, but
there isn't one, or you have nothing to give; you would like to preserve your
virginity, but you have not the strength to do so because of your temperament,
or because of the violence of the wiles of the enemy which because of your
human weakness you cannot withstand; you would like to do some other good deed
for Christ's sake, but either you have not the strength or the opportunity is
lacking. This certainly does not apply to prayer. Prayer is always possible for
everyone, rich and poor, noble and humble, strong and weak, healthy and sick,
righteous and sinful.
"You may judge how great the power of prayer
is even in a sinful person, when it is offered whole-heartedly, by the'
following example from Holy Tradition. When at the request of a desperate
mother who had been deprived by death of her only son, a harlot whom she
chanced to meet, still unclean from her last sin, and who was touched by the
mother's deep sorrow, cried to the Lord: "Not for the sake of a wretched
sinner like me, but for the sake of the tears of a mother grieving for her son
and firmly trusting in Thy loving kindness and Thy almighty power, Christ God,
raise up her son, O Lord!" And the Lord raised him up.
"You see, your Godliness! Great is the power
of prayer, and it brings most of all the Spirit of God, and is most easily
practiced by everyone. We shall be happy indeed if the Lord God finds us watchful
and filled with the gifts of His Holy Spirit. Then we may boldly hope "to
be caught up . . . in the clouds to meet the Lord in the
air" (1 Thess. ) Who is coming "with great power and glory" (Mk.
) "to judge the living and the dead" (1
Peter 4:5) and "to reward every man according to his works" (Matt.
"Your Godliness deigns to think it a great
happiness to talk to poor Seraphim, believing that even he is not bereft of the
grace of the Lord. What then shall we say of the Lord Himself, the
never-failing source of every blessing both heavenly and earthly? Truly in
prayer we are granted to converse with Him, our all-gracious and life-giving
God and Savior Himself. But even here we must pray only until God the Holy
Spirit descends on us in measures of His heavenly grace known to Him. And when
He deigns to visit us, we must stop praying. Why should we then pray to Him,
"Come and abide in us and cleanse us from all impurity and save our souls,
O Good One," when He has already come to us to save us, who trust in Him,
and truly call on His holy Name, that humbly and lovingly we may receive Him,
the Comforter, in the mansions of our souls, hungering and thirsting for His
"I will explain this point to your Godliness
through an example. Imagine that you have invited me to pay you a visit, and at
your invitation I come to have a talk with you. But you continue to invite me,
saying: "Come in, please. Do come in!" Then I should be obliged to
think: "What is the matter with him? Is he out of his mind?"
"So it is with regard to our Lord God the
Holy Spirit. That is why it is said: "Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth" (Ps.
45:10). That is, I will appear and will continue to appear to everyone who
believes in Me and calls upon Me, and I will converse with him as once I
conversed with Adam in Paradise, with Abraham and Jacob and other servants of
Mine, with Moses and Job, and those like them.
Many explain that this stillness refers only to
worldly matters; in other words, that during prayerful converse with God you
must "be still" with regard to worldly affairs. But I will tell you
in the name of God that not only is it necessary to be dead to them at prayer,
but when by the omnipotent power of faith and prayer our Lord God the Holy
Spirit condescends to visit us, and comes to us in the plenitude of His
unutterable goodness, we must be dead to prayer too.
"The soul speaks and converses during prayer,
but at the descent of the Holy Spirit we must remain in complete silence, in
order to hear clearly and intelligibly all the words of eternal life which he
will then deign to communicate. Complete soberness of soul and spirit, and
chaste purity of body is required at the same time. The same demands were made
at MountHoreb, when the Israelites were told not even to touch their
wives for three days before the appearance of God on Mount Sinai.
For our God is a fire which consumes everything unclean,
and no one who is defiled in body or spirit can enter into communion with
The Acquisition of Grace
"Yes, father, but what about other good deeds
done for Christ's sake in order to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit? You
have only been speaking of prayer."
"Acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit also by
practicing all the other virtues for Christ's sake. Trade
spiritually with them; trade with those which give you the greatest profit.
Accumulate capital from the superabundance of God's grace, deposit it in God's
eternal bank which will bring you immaterial interest, not four or six per
cent, but one hundred per cent for one spiritual ruble, and even infinitely
more than that. For example, if prayer and watching gives you more of God's grace, watch and pray; if fasting gives you much of the
spirit of God, fast; if almsgiving gives you more, give alms. Weigh every
virtue done for Christ's sake in this manner.
"Now I will tell you about myself, poor
Seraphim. I come of a merchant family in Kursk. So when I was not yet in the monastery
we used to trade with the goods which brought us the greatest profit.
Act like that, my son. And just as in business the main point is not merely to
trade, but to get as much profit as possible, so in the business of the
Christian life the main point is not merely to pray or to do some other good
deed. Though the apostle says: "Pray without ceasing" (1
Thess. ), yet, as you remember, he adds: "I would rather
speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand words with a
tongue" (1 Cor. ). And
the Lord says: "Not everyone who says to Me:
Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he who does the will of My Father" (Mt.
), that is he who does the work of God and, moreover, does
it with reverence, for "cursed is he who does the work of God
negligently" (Jer. 48:10). And the work of God is: believe in God and
in Him Whom He has sent, Jesus Christ (John 14:1; ). If we understand the commandments of Christ and of the
Apostles aright, our business as Christians consists not in increasing the
number of our good deeds which are only the means of furthering the purpose of
our Christian life, but in deriving from them the utmost profit, that is in
acquiring the most abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit.
"How I wish, your Godliness, that you
yourself may acquire this inexhaustible source of divine grace, and may always
ask yourself: Am I in the Spirit of God, or not? - there
is nothing to grieve about. You are ready to appear before the awful judgment
of Christ immediately. For "In whatsoever I find you, in that will I judge
you." But if we are not in the Spirit, we must
discover why not and what reason our Lord God the Holy Spirit has willed to
abandon us. We must seek Him again and must go on searching until our Lord God
the Holy Spirit has been found and is with us again, through His goodness. We
must attack the enemies that drive us away from Him until even their dust is no
more, as the Prophet David has said, "I will pursue my enemies and
overtake them; and I will not turn back till they are destroyed. I will crush
them and they will be unable to stand; they will fall under my feet" (Ps.
"That's it, my son. That is how you must
spiritually trade in virtue. Distribute the Holy Spirit's gifts of grace to
those in need of them, just as a lighted candle burning with earthly fire
shines itself and lights other candles for the illumining of all in other
places, without diminishing its own light. If it is so, with regard to the
earthly fire, what shall we say about the fire of the grace of the All-Holy
Spirit of God? For earthly riches decrease with distribution, but the more the
heavenly riches of God's grace are distributed, the more they increase in the
one who distributes them. Thus the Lord Himself was
pleased to say to the Samaritan woman: All who drink this water will be
thirsty again. "But whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will
never be thirsty any more; but the water that I shall give him will be in him a
spring of water leaping up to eternal life" (John -14)."
The Presence of the Holy Spirit
"Father," said I, "you speak all
the time of the acquisition of the grace of the Holy Spirit as the aim of the
Christian life. But how and where can I see it? Good deeds are visible, but can
the Holy Spirit be seen? How am I to know whether He is with me or not?"
"At the present time," the elder
replied, "Owing to our almost universal coldness to our holy faith in our
Lord Jesus Christ, and our inattention to the working of His Divine Providence
in us, and to the communion of man with God, we have gone so far that, one may
say, we have almost abandoned the true Christian life. The testimonies of Holy
Scripture now seem strange to us; when, for instance, by the lips of Moses the
Holy Spirit says: "And Adam saw the Lord walking in Paradise" (cf.
Gen. 3:10), or when we read the words of the Apostle Paul: "We went to
Achaia, and the Spirit of God went not with us; we returned to Macedonia, and
the Spirit of God came with us." More than once in other passages of Holy
Scripture the appearance of God to men is mentioned.
"That is why some people say: "These
passages are incomprehensible. Is it really possible for people to see God so
openly?" But there is nothing incomprehensible here. This failure to
understand has come about because we have departed from the simplicity of the
original Christian knowledge. Under the pretext of education, we have reached
such a darkness of ignorance, that the things the
ancients understood so clearly, seem to us almost inconceivable. Even in
ordinary conversation, the idea of God's appearance among men did not seem
strange to them. Thus, when his friends rebuked him for blaspheming God, Job
answered them: "How can that be when I feel the Spirit of God in my
nostrils?" (cf. Job 27:3). That is, "How can I blaspheme God when the
Holy Spirit abides with me? If I had blasphemed God, the Holy Spirit would have
withdrawn from me; but look! I feel His breath in my nostrils."
"It is said that Abraham and Jacob saw the
Lord and conversed with Him in exactly the same way, and that Jacob even
wrestled with Him. Moses and all the people with him saw God, when he received
the tablets of the law on Mount
Sinai from God. A pillar of cloud
and a pillar of fire, or in other words, the evident grace of the Holy Spirit,
served as guides to God's people in the desert. People saw God and the grace of
His Holy Spirit not during sleep, in dreams, or in the excitement of a
disordered imagination, but truly and openly.
"We have become so inattentive to the work of
our salvation, that we misinterpret many other words
in Holy Scripture as well, all because we do not seek the grace of God and in
the pride of our minds, do not allow it to dwell in our souls. That is why we
are without true enlightenment from the Lord, which He sends into the hearts of
men who hunger and thirst wholeheartedly for God's righteousness or
Many explain the part in the Bible, "God
breathed the breath of life into the face of Adam" the first-created,
who was created by Him from the dust of the ground, it must mean that until
that moment there was neither human soul nor spirit in Adam, but only the flesh
created from the dust of the ground. This interpretation is wrong, for the Lord
created Adam from the dust of the ground with the constitution which the holy
Apostle Paul describes: "May your spirit and soul and body be preserved
blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. ). And all these parts of our nature were created from the
dust of the ground, and Adam was not created dead, but an active being like all
of God's animate creatures living on earth.
The point is, that if the Lord God had not
breathed afterwards into his face, this breath of life - that is, the grace
of our Lord God the Holy Spirit Who proceeds from the Father, rests in the Son
and is sent into the world for the Son's sake - Adam would have remained
without the Holy Spirit within him. It is the Holy Spirit who raised Adam to
Godlike dignity. However perfect, he had been created and superior to all the
other creatures of God, as the crown of creation on earth, he would have been
just like all the other creatures, though they have a body, soul and spirit,
each according to its kind, do not have the Holy Spirit within them. But when
the Lord God breathed into Adam's face the breath of life, then, according to
Moses' word, "Adam became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7), that is,
completely and in every-way like God, and like Him, forever immortal. Adam was
immune to the action of the elements to such a degree that water could not
drown him, fire could not burn him, the earth could not swallow him in its
abysses, and the air could not harm him by any kind of action whatever.
Everything was subject to him as the beloved of God, as the king and lord of
creation, and everything looked up to him, as the perfect crown of God's
creatures. Adam was made so wise by this breath of life, which was breathed
into his face from the creative lips of God, the Creator and Ruler of all, that
there has never been a man on earth wiser or more intelligent, and it is unlikely
that there ever will be. When the Lord commanded him to give names to all the
creatures, he gave every creature a name which completely expressed all the
qualities, powers and properties given it by God at its creation.
"As a result of this gift, of the supernatural
grace of God, which was infused into him by the breath of life, Adam could see,
understand the Lord walking in Paradise, comprehend His words, understand the
conversation of the holy Angels, the language of all beasts, birds and reptiles
and all that is now hidden from us the fallen and sinful creatures. All this
was so clear to Adam before his fall. The Lord God also gave Eve the same
wisdom, strength, unlimited power, and all the other good and holy qualities.
He created her not from the dust of the ground, but from Adam's rib in the Eden of delight, the Paradise which He had planted in the midst of the earth.
"In order that they might always easily
maintain the immortal, divine and perfect properties of this breath of life,
God planted in the midst of the garden the tree of life with fruits
endowed with all the essence and fullness of His divine breath. If they had not
sinned, Adam and Eve themselves as well as all their posterity could have
always eaten of the fruit of the tree of life and so would have eternally
maintained the vivifying power of divine grace.
"They could have also maintained for all
eternity the full powers of their body, soul and spirit in a state of
immortality and perpetual youth, and they could have continued in this immortal
and blessed state of theirs forever. At the present time, however, it is
difficult for us even to imagine such grace.
"But through the tasting of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil - which was premature and contrary to the
commandment of God - they learnt the difference between good and evil and were
subjected to all the afflictions which followed the transgression of the
commandment of God. Then they lost this priceless gift of the grace of the
Spirit of God, so that, until the actual coming into the world of the God-man
Jesus Christ, "the Spirit of God was not yet in the world because
Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39).
"However, that does not mean that the Spirit
of God was not in the world at all, but His presence was not so apparent. It
manifested only externally, and only the signs of His presence in the world
were known to mankind. Thus, for instance, many mysteries in connection with
the future salvation of the human race were revealed to Adam as well as to Eve
after their fall. For Cain, in spite of his impiety and his transgression, it
was easy for him to understand the voice which held grace and divinity, though
convicting words. Noah conversed with God. Abraham saw God and His day and was
glad (from John ). The grace of the Holy Spirit acting externally was also
reflected in all the Old Testament prophets and saints of Israel. Afterwards, the Hebrews established special prophetic
schools where the sons of the prophets were taught to discern the signs of the
manifestation of God or Angels, and to distinguish the operations of the Holy
Spirit from the ordinary natural phenomena of graceless earthly life. Simeon
who held God in his arms, Christ's grandparents Joachim and Anna, and countless
other servants of God continually often had various divine apparitions,
revelations and heard voices, which were corroborated by evident miraculous
events. Though not with the same power as in the people of
God, nevertheless the presence of the Spirit of God also acted in the pagans
who did not know the true God, because even among them, God found the chosen
people. For instance, there were the virgin-prophetesses called Sibyls
who vowed virginity to an unknown God, but to God, the Creator of the universe,
the all-powerful ruler of the world, as He was conceived by the pagans. Though
the pagan philosophers also wandered in the darkness of ignorance of God, yet
they sought the truth which is beloved by God. Because of this, God-pleasing
seeking, they could partake of the Spirit of God. It is said, that nations who
do not know God, practice by nature the demands of the law and do what is
pleasing to God (cf. Rom. ). The
Lord so praises truth that He says of it Himself by the Holy Spirit: "Truth
has sprung from the earth, and justice has looked down from heaven" (Ps.
"So you see, your Godliness, both in the holy
Hebrew people, a people beloved by God, and in the pagans who did not know God,
there was preserved a knowledge of God - thus, my son, a clear and rational
comprehension of how our Lord God the Holy Spirit acts in man, and by means of
our inner and outer feelings, one can be sure that this is really the action of
our Lord God the Holy Spirit, and not a delusion of the enemy. That is how it
was, from Adam's fall, until the coming into the world of the Lord Jesus
Christ, in the flesh.
"Without this perceptible realization of the
actions of the Holy Spirit which had always been preserved in human nature, men
could not have possibly known for certain whether the fruit of the seed of the
woman who had been promised to Adam and Eve had come into the world to crush
the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15).
"At last the Holy Spirit foretold to St.
Simeon, who was then in his 65th year, the mystery of the virginal conception
and birth of Christ from the most pure Ever-Virgin Mary. Afterwards, having
lived by the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God for three hundred years, in
the 365th year of his life he said openly in the temple of the Lord that he
knew for certain through the gift of the Holy Spirit that this was that very
Christ, the Savior of the world, Whose supernatural conception and birth from
the Holy Spirit had been foretold to him by an Angel three hundred years
And there was also St. Anna, a prophetess, the
daughter of Phanuel, who from her widowhood had served the Lord God in the temple
of God for eighty years, and who was known to be a righteous
widow, a chaste servant of God, from the special gifts of grace which she had received.
She too announced that He was actually the Messiah Who had been promised to the
world, the true Christ, God and Man, the King of Israel, Who had come to save
Adam and mankind.
"But when our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished
the whole work of salvation, after His Resurrection, He breathed on the
Apostles, restored the breath of life lost by Adam, and gave them the same
grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God as Adam had enjoyed. But that was not all.
He also told them that it was better for them that He should go to the Father,
for if He did not go, the Spirit of God would not come into the world. But if
He, the Christ, went to the Father, He would send Him into the world, and He,
the Comforter, would guide them and all who followed their teaching into all
truth and would remind them of all that He had said to them when He was still
in the world. What was then promised was "grace upon grace" (John
"Then on the day of Pentecost He solemnly
sent down to them in a tempestuous wind the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues
of fire which alighted on each of them and entered within them and filled them
with the fiery strength of divine grace which breathes as with dew and acts
with gladness in souls who partake of its power and operations (Acts ch. 2).
And this same fire-infusing grace of the Holy Spirit which is given to us all,
the faithful in Christ, in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, is sealed by the
Sacrament of Chrismation on the chief parts of our body as appointed by the HolyChurch, the eternal keeper of this grace. It is said: "The
seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit." On what do we put our seals, your
Godliness, if not on vessels containing some very precious treasure? But what
on earth can be higher and what can be more precious than the gifts of the Holy
Spirit which are sent down to us from above in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism?
This baptismal grace is so great and so indispensable, so vital for man, that
even a heretic is not deprived of it until his actual death; that is, till the
end of the period appointed on high by the providence of God as a lifelong test
of man on earth, in order to see what he will be able to achieve (during this
period given to him by God) by means of the power of grace granted to him from
"And if we were never to sin after our
baptism, we should remain for ever saints of God, holy, blameless, and free
from all impurity of body and spirit. But the trouble is that we increase in
stature, but do not increase in grace and in the knowledge of God as our Lord
Jesus Christ increased; but on the contrary, we gradually become more and more
depraved and lose the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God and become sinful in
various degrees, and very sinful people. But if a man is stirred by the wisdom
of God, which seeks our salvation and embraces everything, and if he is
resolved for its sake to devote the early hours of the day to God and to watch
in order to find His eternal salvation, then, in obedience to its voice, he
must hasten to offer true repentance for all his sins and must practice the
virtues which are opposite to the sins committed. Then through the virtues
practiced for Christ's sake, he will acquire the Holy Spirit Who acts within us
and establishes in us the Kingdom
of God. The word of God does not say in vain: "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke
), and it "suffers violence,
and the violent take it by force" (Matt. ). That means that people who, in spite of the bonds of sin
which fetter them and (by their violence and by inciting them to new sins)
prevent them from coming to Him, our Savior, with perfect repentance for
reckoning with Him. They force themselves to break their bonds, despising all
the strength of the fetters of sin - such people at last actually appear before
the face of God made whiter than snow by His grace. "Come, says the
Lord: Though your sins be as purple, I will make you
white as snow" (Is. ).
"Such people were once seen by the holy Seer
John the Divine clothed in white robes (that is, in robes of
justification) and with palms in their hands (as a sign of victory), and
they were singing to God a wonderful song: Alleluia. And no one could
imitate the beauty of their song. Of them an Angel of God said: "These
are they who have come out of the great tribulation and have washed their robes,
and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:9-14). They
were washed with their sufferings and made white in the communion of the
immaculate and life-giving Mysteries of the Body and Blood of the most pure and
spotless Lamb - Christ - Who was slain before all ages by His own will for the
salvation of the world, and Who is continually being slain and divided until
now, but is never exhausted (in the Sacrament of Communion). Through the Holy
Mysteries we are granted our eternal and unfailing salvation as a viaticum to
eternal life, as an acceptable answer at His dread judgment and a precious
substitute beyond our comprehension for that fruit of the tree of life of which
the enemy of mankind, Lucifer, who fell from heaven, would have liked to
deprive the human race. Though the enemy and devil seduced Eve, and Adam fell
with her, yet the Lord not only granted them a Redeemer in the fruit of the
seed of the woman Who trampled down death by death, but also granted us all in
the woman, the Ever-Virgin Mary Mother of God, who crushes the head of the
serpent in herself and in all the human race, a constant mediatress with her
Son and our God, and an invincible and persistent intercessor even for the most
desperate sinners. That is why the Mother of God is called the "Plague of
Demons," for it is not possible for a devil to destroy a man so long as
man himself has recourse to the help of the Mother of God.
Grace is Light
"And I must further explain, your Godliness,
the difference between the operations of the Holy Spirit Who dwells mystically
in the hearts of those who believe in our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ and
the operations of the darkness of sin which at the suggestion and instigation
of the devil, acts predatorily in us. The Spirit of God reminds us of the words
of our Lord Jesus Christ and always acts triumphantly with Him, gladdening our
hearts and guiding our steps into the way of peace, while the false, diabolical
spirit reasons in the opposite way to Christ, and its actions in us are
rebellious, stubborn, and full of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes
and the pride of life.
"And whoever lives and believes in Me will never die" (John
). He who has the grace of the Holy Spirit in reward for
right faith in Christ, even if on account of human frailty his soul were to die
for some sin or other, yet he will not die for ever, but he will be raised by
the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ "Whotakes away the sin of
the world" (John 1:29), and freely gives grace upon grace. Of this grace,
which was manifested to the whole world and to our human race by the God-man,
it is said in the Gospel: "In Him was life, and the life was the light
of men" (John 1:4); and further: "And the light shines in the
darkness; and the darknesshas never swallowed it" (John 1:5).
This means that the grace of the Holy Spirit which is granted at baptism in the
name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, in spite of man's fall into
sin, in spite of the darkness surrounding our soul, nevertheless shines in our
hearts with the divine light (which has existed from time immemorial) of the
inestimable merits of Christ. In the event of a sinner's impenitence this light
of Christ cries to the Father: "Abba, Father! Be not angry with this
impenitence to the end (of his life)." Then, at the sinners
conversion to the way of repentance, it effaces completely all trace of past
sin and clothes the former sinner once more in a robe of incorruption spun from
the grace of the Holy Spirit. The acquisition of this is the aim of the
Christian life, which I have been explaining to your Godliness.
"I will tell you something else, so that you
may understand more clearly what is meant by the grace of God, how to recognize
it and how its action is manifested particularly in those who are enlightened
by it. The grace of the Holy Spirit is the light which enlightens man. The
whole of Sacred Scripture speaks about this. Thus our Holy Father David said:
"Thy law is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths" (Ps.
118:105), and "Unless Thy law had been my meditation, I should
have died in my humiliation" (Ps. 118:92). In other words, the
grace of the Holy Spirit which is expressed in the Law, by the words of the
Lord's commandments, is my lamp and light. If this grace of the Holy Spirit
(which I try to acquire so carefully and zealously that I meditate on Thy just
judgments seven times a day) did not enlighten me amidst the darkness of the
cares which are inseparable from the high calling of my royal rank, whence
should I get a spark of light to illumine my way on the path of life, which is
darkened by the ill-will of my enemies?
"In fact the Lord has frequently demonstrated before many witnesses how
the grace of the Holy Spirit acts on people whom He has sanctified and illumined
by His great inspirations. Remember Moses after his talk with God on Mount
Sinai. He so shone with an extraordinary light that people were unable to look
at him. He was even forced to wear a veil when he appeared in public. Remember
the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor. A great light encircled Him, "and
His raiment became shining, exceedingly white like snow" (Mk. 9:3),
and His disciples fell on their faces from fear. But when Moses and Elijah
appeared to Him in that light, a cloud overshadowed them in order to hide the
radiance of the light of the divine grace which blinded the eyes of the
disciples. Thus the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God appears in an ineffable
light to all to whom God reveals its action.”
"But how," I asked Father Seraphim, "can I know that I am
in the grace of the Holy Spirit?"
"It is very simple, your Godliness," he replied. "That is
why the Lord says: 'All things are simple to those who find knowledge' (Prov.
8:9, Septuagint). The trouble is that we do not seek this divine knowledge which
does not puff up, for it is not of this world. This knowledge which is full of love for
God and for our neighbour builds up every man for his salvation. Of this knowledge the
Lord said that God wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the
truth (I Tim. 2:4). And of the lack of this knowledge He said to His Apostles: Are
you also yet without understanding (Mat. 15:16)? Concerning this understanding ,
it is said in the Gospel of the Apostles: Then opened He their understanding (Lk.
24:45), and the Apostles always perceived whether the Spirit of God was dwelling in them
or not; and being filled with understanding, they saw the presence of the Holy Spirit with
them and declared positively that their work was holy and entirely pleasing to the Lord
God. That explains why in their Epistles they wrote: It seemed good to the Holy Spirit
and to us (Acts 15:28). Only on these grounds did they offer their Epistles as
immutable truth for the benefit of all the faithful. Thus the holy Apostles were
consciously aware of the presence in themselves of the Spirit of God. And so you see, your
Godliness, how simple it is!"
"Nevertheless," I replied, "I do not understand how I can
be certain that I am in the Spirit of God. How can I discern for myself His true
manifestation in me?"
Father Seraphim replied: "I have already told you, your Godliness,
that it is very simple and I have related in detail how people come to be in the Spirit of
God and how we can recognize His presence in us. So what do you want, my son?"
"I want to understand it well," I said.
Then Father Seraphim took me very firmly by the shoulders and said:
"We are both in the Spirit of God now, my son. Why don't you look at me?"
I replied: "I cannot look, Father, because your eyes are flashing
like lightning. Your face has become brighter than the sun, and my eyes ache with
Father Seraphim said: "Don't be alarmed, your Godliness! Now you
yourself have become as bright as I am. You are now in the fullness of the Spirit of God
yourself; otherwise you would not be able to see me as I am."
Then, bending his head towards me, he whispered softly in my ear:
"Thank the Lord God for His unutterable mercy to us! You saw that I did not even
cross myself; and only in my heart I prayed mentally to the Lord God and said within
myself: 'Lord, grant him to see clearly with his bodily eyes that descent of Thy Spirit
which Thou grantest to Thy servants when Thou art pleased to appear in the light of Thy
magnificent glory.' And you see, my son, the Lord instantly fulfilled the humble prayer of
poor Seraphim. How then shall we not thank Him for this unspeakable gift to us both? Even
to the greatest hermits, my son, the Lord God does not always show His mercy in this way.
This grace of God, like a loving mother, has been pleased to comfort your contrite heart
at the intercession of the Mother of God herself. But why, my son, do you not look me in
the eyes? Just look, and don't be afraid! The Lord is with us!"
After these words I glanced at his face and there came over me an even
greater reverent awe. Imagine in the center of the sun, in the dazzling light of its
midday rays, the face of a man talking to you. You see the movement of his lips and the
changing expression of his eyes, you hear his voice, you feel someone holding your
shoulders; yet you do not see his hands, you do not even see yourself or his figure, but
only a blinding light spreading far around for several yards and illumining with its
glaring sheen both the snow-blanket which covered the forest glade and the snow-flakes
which besprinkled me and the great Elder. You can imagine the state I was in!
"How do you feel now?" Father Seraphim asked me.
"Extraordinarily well," I said.
"But in what way? How exactly do you feel well?"
I answered: "I feel such calmness and peace in my soul that no words
can express it."
"This, your Godliness," said Father Seraphim, "is that
peace of which the Lord said to His disciples: My peace I give unto you; not as the
world gives, give I unto you (Jn. 14:21). If you were of the world, the world
would love its own; but because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world
hates you (Jn. 15:19). But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn.
16:33). And to those people whom this world hates but who are chosen by the Lord, the Lord
gives that peace which you now feel within you, the peace which, in the words of the
Apostle, passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). The Apostle describes it in this
way, because it is impossible to express in words the spiritual well-being which it
produces in those into whose hearts the Lord God has infused it. Christ the Saviour calls
it a peace which comes from His own generosity and is not of this world, for no temporary
earthly prosperity can give it to the human heart; it is granted from on high by the Lord
God Himself, and that is why it is called the peace of God. What else do you feel?"
Father Seraphim asked me.
"An extraordinary sweetness," I replied.
And he continued: "This is that sweetness of which it is said in Holy
Scripture: They will be inebriated with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make
them drink of the torrent of Thy delight (Ps. 35:8) . And now this sweetness is
flooding our hearts and coursing through our veins with unutterable delight. From this
sweetness our hearts melt as it were, and both of us are filled with such happiness as
tongue cannot tell. What else do you feel?"
"An extraordinary joy in all my heart."
And Father Seraphim continued: "When the Spirit of God comes down to
man and overshadows him with the fullness of His inspiration , then the human soul
overflows with unspeakable joy, for the Spirit of God fills with joy whatever He touches.
This is that joy of which the Lord speaks in His Gospel: A woman when she is in
travail has sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she is delivered of the child, she
remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. In the world you
will be sorrowful ; but when I see you again, your heart shall rejoice, and
your joy no one will take from you (Jn. 16:21-22). Yet however comforting may be this
joy which you now feel in your heart, it is nothing in comparison with that of which the
Lord Himself by the mouth of His Apostle said that that joy eye has not seen, nor ear
heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for them that love
Him (I Cor. 2:9). Foretastes of that joy are given to us now, and if they fill our
souls with such sweetness, well-being and happiness, what shall we say of that joy which
has been prepared in heaven for those who weep here on earth? And you, my son, have wept
enough in your life on earth; yet see with what joy the Lord consoles you even in this
life! Now it is up to us, my son, to add labours to labours in order to go from
strength to strength (Ps. 83:7), and to come to the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13), so that the words of the Lord may be fulfilled in us:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall grow wings
like eagles; and they shall run and not be weary (Is. 40:31); they will go from
strength to strength, and the God of gods will appear to them in the Sion (Ps. 83:8)
of realization and heavenly visions. Only then will our present joy (which now visits us
little and briefly) appear in all its fullness, and no one will take it from us, for we
shall be filled to overflowing with inexplicable heavenly delights. What else do you feel,
I answered: "An extraordinary warmth."
"How can you feel warmth, my son? Look, we are sitting in the forest.
It is winter out-of-doors, and snow is underfoot. There is more than an inch of snow on
us, and the snowflakes are still falling. What warmth can there be?"
I answered: "Such as there is in a bath-house when the water is
poured on the stone and the steam rises in clouds."
"And the smell?" he asked me. "Is it the same as in the
"No," I replied. "There is nothing on earth like this
fragrance. When in my dear mother's lifetime I was fond of dancing and used to go to balls
and parties, my mother would sprinkle me with scent which she bought at the best shops in
Kazan. But those scents did not exhale such fragrance."
And Father Seraphim, smiling pleasantly, said: "I know it myself just
as well as you do, my son, but I am asking you on purpose to see whether you feel it in
the same way. It is absolutely true, your Godliness! The sweetest earthly fragrance cannot
be compared with the fragrance which we now feel, for we are now enveloped in the
fragrance of the Holy Spirit of God. What on earth can be like it? Mark, your Godliness,
you have told me that around us it is warm as in a bath-house; but look, neither on you
nor on me does the snow melt, nor does it underfoot; therefore, this warmth is not in the
air but in us. It is that very warmth about which the Holy Spirit in the words of prayer
makes us cry to the Lord: 'Warm me with the warmth of Thy Holy Spirit!' By it the hermits
of both sexes were kept warm and did not fear the winter frost, being clad, as in fur
coats, in the grace-given clothing woven by the Holy Spirit. And so it must be in actual
fact, for the grace of God must dwell within us, in our heart, because the Lord said: The
Kingdom of God is within you (Lk. 17:21). By the Kingdom of God the Lord meant the
grace of the Holy Spirit. This Kingdom of God is now within us, and the grace of the Holy
Spirit shines upon us and warms us from without as well. It fills the surrounding air with
many fragrant odours, sweetens our senses with heavenly delight and floods our hearts with
unutterable joy. Our present state is that of which the Apostle says; The Kingdom of
God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom.
14:17). Our faith consists not in the plausible words of earthly wisdom, but in the
demonstration of the Spirit and power (cp. I Cor.2:4). That is just the state that we are
in now. Of this state the Lord said: There are some of those standing here who shall
not taste of death till they see the Kingdom of God come in power (Mk. 9:1). See, my
son, what unspeakable joy the Lord God has now granted us! This is what it means to be in
the fullness of the Holy Spirit, about which St. Macarius of Egypt writes: 'I myself was
in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.' With this fullness of His Holy Spirit the Lord has
now filled us poor creatures to overflowing. So there is no need now, your Godliness, to
ask how people come to be in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Will you remember this
manifestation of God's ineffable mercy which has visited us?"
"I don't know, Father," I said, "whether the Lord will
grant me to remember this mercy of God always as vividly and clearly as I feel it
"I think," Father Seraphim answered me, "that the Lord will
help you to retain it in your memory forever, or His goodness would never have instantly
bowed in this way to my humble prayer and so quickly anticipated the request of poor
Seraphim; all the more so, because it is not given to you alone to understand it, but
through you it is for the whole world, in order that you yourself may be confirmed in
God's work and may be useful to others. The fact that I am a Monk and you are a layman is
utterly beside the point. What God requires is true faith in Himself and His Only-begotten
Son. In return for that the grace of the Holy Spirit is granted abundantly from on high.
The Lord seeks a heart filled to overflowing with love for God and our neighbour; this is
the throne on which He loves to sit and on which He appears in the fullness of His
heavenly glory. 'Son, give Me thy heart,' He says, 'and all the rest I Myself will add to
thee (Prov. 23:26; Matt. 6:33),' for in the human heart the Kingdom of God can be
contained. The Lord commanded His disciples: Seek first the Kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you; for your heavenly Father knows
that you need all these things (Mat. 6:32,33). The Lord does not rebuke us for using
earthly goods, for He says Himself that, owing to the conditions of our earthly life, we
need all these things; that is, all the things which make our human life more peaceful and
make our way to our heavenly home lighter and easier. That is why the holy Apostle Paul
said that in his opinion there was nothing better on earth than piety and sufficiency (cp.
II Cor.9:8; I Tim.6:6). And Holy Church prays that this may be granted us by the Lord God;
and though troubles, misfortunes and various needs are inseparable from our life on earth,
yet the Lord God neither willed nor wills that we should have nothing but troubles and
adversities. Therefore, He commands us through the Apostles to bear one another's
burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). The Lord Jesus personally gives
us the commandment to love one another, so that, by consoling one another with mutual
love, we may lighten the sorrowful and narrow way of our journey to the heavenly country.
Why did He descend to us from heaven, if not for the purpose of taking upon Himself our
poverty and of making us rich with the riches of His goodness and His unutterable
generosity? He did not come to be served by men but to serve them Himself and to give His
life for the salvation of many. You do the same, your Godliness, and having seen the mercy
of God manifestly shown to you, tell of it to all who desire salvation. The harvest
truly is great, says the Lord, but the labourers are few (Lk. 10:2). The Lord God has
led us out to work and has given us the gifts of His grace in order that, by reaping the
ears of the salvation of our fellow-men and bringing as many as possible into the Kingdom
of God, we may bring Him fruitsome thirtyfold, some sixtyfold and some a
hundredfold. Let us be watchful, my son, in order that we may not be condemned with that
wicked and slothful servant who hid his talent in the earth, but let us try to imitate
those good and faithful servants of the Lord who brought their Master four talents instead
of two, and ten instead of five (Cf. Mat. 25:14-30).
"Of the mercy of the Lord God there is no shadow of doubt. You have
seen for yourself, your Godliness, how the words of the Lord spoken through the Prophet
have been accomplished in us: I am not a God far off, but a God near at hand (cp. Jer.
23:23), and thy salvation is at thy mouth (cp. Deut. 30:12-14; Rom. 10:8-13). I had not
time even to cross myself, but only wished in my heart that the Lord would grant you to
see His goodness in all its fullness, and He was pleased to hasten to realise my wish. I
am not boasting when I say this, neither do I say it to show you my importance and lead
you to jealousy, or to make you think that I am a Monk and you only a layman. No, no, your
Godliness! The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him in truth (Ps.
144:18) and there is no partiality with Him (Eph. 6:9). For the Father loves the
Son and gives everything into His hand (cp. Jn. 3:35). If only we ourselves loved Him, our
heavenly Father, in a truly filial way! The Lord listens equally to the Monk and the
simple Christian layman provided that both are Orthodox believers, and both love God from
the depth of their souls, and both have faith in Him, if only as a grain of mustard seed;
and they both shall move mountains. 'One shall move thousands and two tens of thousands'
(cp. Deut. 32:30). The Lord Himself says: All things are possible to him who believes (Mk.
9:23). And the holy Apostle Paul loudly exclaims: I can do all things in Christ Who
strengthens me (Phil. 4:13). But does not our Lord Jesus Christ speak even more
wonderfully than this of those who believe in Him: He who believes in Me, not
only the works that I do, but even greater then these shall he do, because I
am going to My Father. And I will pray for you that your joy may be full. Hitherto you
have asked nothing in My name. But now ask... (Jn. 14:12,16; 16:24).
"Thus, my son, whatever you ask of the Lord God you will receive, if
only it is for the glory of God or for the good of your neighbour, because what we do for
the good of our neighbour He refers to His own glory. And therefore He says: "All
that you have done unto one of the least of these, you have done unto Me" (cp. Matt.
25:40). And so, have no doubt that the Lord God will fulfill your petitions, if only they
concern the glory of God or the benefit and edification of your fellow men. But, even if
something is necessary for your own need or use or advantage, just as quickly and
graciously will the Lord be pleased to send you even that, provided that extreme need and
necessity require it. For the Lord loves those who love Him. The Lord is good to all men;
He gives abundantly to those who call upon His Name, and His bounty is in all His works.
He will do the will of them that fear Him and He will hear their prayer, and fulfill all
their plans. The Lord will fulfill all thy petitions (cp. Ps. 144:19; 19:4,5). Only
beware, your Godliness, of asking the Lord for something for which there is no urgent
need. The Lord will not refuse you even this in return for your Orthodox faith in Christ
the Saviour, for the Lord will not give up the staff of the righteous to the lot of
sinners (cp. Ps. 124:3), and He will speedily accomplish the will of His servant David;
but He will call him to account for having troubled Him without special need, and for
having asked Him for something without which he could have managed very easily.
"And so, your Godliness, I have now told you and given you a
practical demonstration of all that the Lord and the Mother of God have been pleased to
tell you and show you through me, poor Seraphim. Now go in peace. The Lord and the Mother
of God be with you always, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. Now go in
And during the whole of this time, from the moment when Father Seraphim's
face became radiant , this illumination continued; and all that he told me from the
beginning of the narrative till now, he said while remaining in one and the same position.
The ineffable glow of the light which emanated from him I myself saw with my own eyes. And
I am ready to vouch for it with an oath.