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Saint Seraphim of Sarov and his bear

Parish Leaflet: Teachings of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, Part 3

 

Fast

The leader of feats and our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, before setting out on the feat of redeeming the human race, fortified Himself with a lengthy fast. And all ascetics, proceeding to work for the Lord, armed themselves by fasting and did not set out on the path of the Cross without the feat of fasting. They measured the very success of their ascetism by their success in fasting.

 

 

Despite their fasting, and to the surprise of others, the holy fathers did not know weakness but always remained hearty, strong and ready for the task at hand. Illnesses were rare among them and their lives were extraordinarily prolonged.

 

During the time that the body of one fasting becomes thin and light, the spiritual life attains to perfection and reveals itself through miraculous manifestations. The spirit then performs its actions as if in a bodiless body. External feelings are as shut out, and the mind, renouncing the worldly, ascends to the heavenly and becomes completely immersed in the contemplation of the spiritual world. Yet not everyone can take upon himself strict rules of abstinence from everything, nor deprive himself completely of all that serves to relieve infirmities: “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matthew 19:12).

 

One should take enough food everyday to strengthen the body so that it can be a friend and helper to the soul in accomplishing virtues: otherwise, it can happen that through the exhaustion of the body the spirit can weaken. On Wednesdays and Fridays, particularly during the four Lenten periods, follow the example of the Fathers and take food once a day — and the Angel of the Lord will affix himself to you.

 

Non-Judgment and the Forgiveness of Offenses

The Prodigal son

 

It is not right to judge anyone, even if you have seen someone sinning and wallowing in the violations of God’s laws with your own eyes, as is said in the word of God: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). It is much better always to bring to memory the words of the apostle: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

 

One must not harbor anger or hatred towards a person that is hostile toward us. On the contrary, one must love him and do as much good as possible towards him, following the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you” (Matthew 5:44). If then we will try to fulfil all this to the extent of our power, we can hope that God’s light will begin to shine in our hearts, lighting our path to the heavenly Jerusalem.

 

 

 

Why do we judge our neighbours? Because we are not trying to get to know ourselves. Someone who is busy trying to understand himself has no time to notice the shortcomings of others. Judge yourself — and you will stop judging others. Judge a poor deed, but do not judge the doer. It is necessary to consider yourself the most sinful of all and to forgive your neighbour every poor deed. One must hate only the devil, who tempted him. It can happen that someone might appear to be doing something bad to us, but in reality, because of the doer’s good intentions, it is a good deed. Besides, the door of penitence is always open, and it is not known who will enter it sooner — you, “the judge”, or the one judged by you.

 

Penitence

Return of the Prodigal Son

 

One desiring salvation must always have a heart inclined towards penitence and contrition: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:19). With such a contrite spirit a person can avoid without trouble all the artful tricks of the devil, whose efforts are all directed towards disturbing the spirit of a person. By this disturbance, he sows tares (i.e., weeds), according to the words of the Gospel: “Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, ‘An enemy hath done this’” (Matthew 13:27-28). But when a person struggles to have a meek heart and to keep peace in his thoughts, then are all the wiles of the enemy powerless; for, where there is peace of thought, God Himself resides: “In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion” (Psalm 76:2).

 

We offend the greatness of God with our sinning throughout our entire lives, and so must always humbly ask the Lord forgiveness for our sins.

 

 

Illustrations:

  1. Our Lord Jesus Chris Tempted 
  2. Return of the Prodigal Son
  3. Return of the Prodigal Son

 

Source: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/SOS/teachings.shtml