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Saint Seraphim of Sarov and his bear

Parish Leaflet: Teachings of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, Part 2

Love for God

He who has acquired perfect love for God goes through this life as if he did not exist. For he considers himself a stranger to all that is visible and awaits with patience that which is unseen. He is completely transformed into love for God and has abandoned all worldly attachments.


Parable of the Good SamaritanHe who truly loves God considers himself a wanderer and newcomer on earth, for in him is a striving towards God in soul and mind, which contemplates Him alone.


As for care of the soul, a person in his body is like a lighted candle. The candle must burn out, and a person must die. But as our soul is immortal, so our cares should be directed more toward the soul than the body: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) for which, as is known, nothing in the world can serve as ransom? If the soul alone is worth more than all the world and the worldly kingdom, then the Kingdom of Heaven is incomparably more precious. We consider the soul as most precious for the reason stated by Macarius the Great, that God did not desire to bond and unite His spiritual essence with any visible creation except man, whom He loves more than any of His creations.


Love for Neighbours

One must behave affectionately toward one’s neighbors, not showing even a hint of offense. When we turn away from a person or offend him, it is as if a rock settles on our heart. One must try to cheer the spirit of an embarrassed or dejected person with words of love.


When you see a brother sinning, cover him, as counselled by St. Isaac the Syrian: “Stretch out your vestment over the sinner and cover him.”



Saint Peter The Tax CollectorIn our relations with our neighbours we must be equally pure towards everyone in word as well as in thought; otherwise, we will make our life useless. We must love others no less than ourselves, in accordance with the law of the Lord: “Thou shalt love … thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27). But not so much that our love for others, by extending past the boundaries of moderation, diverts us from fulfilling the first and main law of love towards God, as our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).


It is necessary to be merciful to those wretched and wandering. The great lightgivers and Fathers of the Church took great care concerning this. In relation to this virtue we must try by all means to fulfil the following law of God: “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful,” and, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” (Luke 6:36; Matthew 9:13). The wise heed these saving words, but the foolish do not heed them. For this reason, the reward is also different, as is said: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).


The example of Peter the Breadgiver[1], who, for a piece of bread given to a beggar, received forgiveness for all his sins (as was revealed to him in a vision) may prompt us to be merciful to our neighbours — for even a small alms may contribute to the obtaining of the Heavenly Kingdom.



[1] St. Peter the Tax Collector: St. Peter was the principal tax collector in Africa. He was a cruel and unkind person. Once he threw a piece of bread at an indigent beggar who was persistently begging alms. That night, Peter dreamed that he saw himself dead, and the Angels weighing his actions in the scales of God’s Judgment. There was nothing to put on the side of good deeds except the piece of bread thrown out of annoyance at the poor man; however, even that was able to stop the side holding his corrupt deeds from sinking down. Peter understood the meaning of his dream; he repented, and completely changed his way of life. He gave generously to the needy, and fed and clothed many.Giving alms must be done with a spiritually kind disposition, in agreement with the teachings of St. Isaac the Syrian: “If you give anything to him who asks, may the joy of your face precede your alms, and comfort his sorrow with kind words





  1. Parable of the Good Samaritan
  2. Saint Peter the Tax Collector