Seraphim of Sarov: By the Kingdom of God the Lord meant the grace of the Holy Spirit Tuesday, Jul 19 2016 

Seraphim_Sarovsky

And Father Seraphim, smiling pleasantly, said…:

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?

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

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Seraphim of Sarov: The Spirit of God fills with joy whatever He touches Monday, May 18 2015 

Seraphim_SarovskyWhen 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.

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Seraphim of Sarov: In the Fullness of the Spirit of God Sunday, Jun 8 2014 

Seraphim_SarovskyThen 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 pain.”

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.”

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Seraphim of Sarov: The True Aim of Our Christian Life Consists of the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit Thursday, Jan 2 2014 

Seraphim_SarovskyJanuary 2nd is the feast of St Seraphim of Sarov in the Orthodox Church.

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, these 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 11:23).

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 10:35).

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 God and 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.

[…] 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.

[…] 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 3:34-35).

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Seraphim of Sarov: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins and the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit Monday, Sep 23 2013 

Seraphim_SarovskyOn the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 15:1-13).

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.”

[…] 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 mystery.”

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 midnight.

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 our souls.

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…that in this life you may always be in the Spirit of God!

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Seraphim of Sarov: The Holy Spirit Acts Within Us and Establishes in Us the Kingdom of God Wednesday, Jan 2 2013 

Seraphim_SarovskyIf we were never to sin after our baptism, we should remain forever 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.

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 17:21), and it “suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12)….

People who – in spite of the bonds of sin which fetter them and which by their violence and by inciting them to new sins prevent them from coming to…our Savior – …force themselves to break their bonds, despising all the strength of the fetters of sin…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. 1:18).

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 (Rev..13:8), and Who is continually being slain and divided until now, but is never exhausted (in the Sacrament of Communion).

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Seraphim of Sarov: The Testimonies of Holy Scripture Now Seem Strange to Us Friday, Jul 27 2012 

Seraphim_SarovskyAt the present time…, 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).

[…] 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 holiness.

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Seraphim of Sarov: The Holy Spirit Dwells Mystically in the Hearts of Those Who Believe in Our Saviour Jesus Christ Friday, Jul 16 2010 

Seraphim_SarovskyAnd I must further explain…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 11:26). 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 “Who takes 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 darkness has 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 sinner’s 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 you.

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Seraphim of Sarov: At the Descent of the Holy Spirit We Must Remain in Complete Silence Sunday, Jul 11 2010 

Seraphim_SarovskyWhat 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.

I will explain this point to you 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[46]: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 Mount Horeb, 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 Him.

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Seraphim of Sarov: You Cannot Be Too Gentle Wednesday, Oct 14 2009 

Seraphim_SarovskyYou cannot be too gentle, too kind.

Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other.

Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives.

All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other.

We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves.

When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it.

That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others.

Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace.

Keep silent, refrain from judgment.

This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.

St Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833); H/T to Salt of the Earth and Mind in the Heart