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Saint Seraphim of Sarov and his bear

Parish Leaflet: Teachings of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, Part 4

Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax CollectorPatience and Humility

It is necessary always to be patient and to accept everything that happens, no matter what, with gratitude for God’s sake. Our life — is a minute compared to eternity. And for this reason “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

 

Bear the insults of your enemy in silence, and open your heart only to the Lord. Try in any way possible to forgive those who humiliate you or take away your honour, by the words of the Gospel: “Of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again” (Luke 6:30).

 

Feats

When people curse us, we must consider ourselves unworthy of praise, imagining that if we were worthy, everyone would be bowing down to us. We must always, and before everyone, humble ourselves, according to the teachings of St. Isaac the Syrian: “Humble yourself and you will see the glory of God within yourself.”

 

Icon of St. Simeon Stylites in the church of Saint Georgy Volkovski, Tetovo, Macedonia, cca 1859, work attributed to Dicho ZografBlessed Seraphim told those followers who strove to take excessive feats upon themselves that not complaining and humbly bearing insults are our “verigi” and our hair shirt. (The word verigi in Russian means iron chains and various weights. A hair shirt is clothing made of thick, very coarse wool; some ascetics wore these things to burden their body.)

 

It is not necessary to undertake feats beyond one’s strength. Instead, one must try to keep our friend — our body — right and capable of performing virtues. One must follow the middle route, turning neither to the right hand nor the left (Proverbs 4:27), giving the spirit the spiritual, and the body the physical things necessary for maintaining temporal life. One should also not refuse that which society legally demands, according to the words of the Gospel: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

 

One should condescend to one’s soul in its infirmities and imperfections, endure one’s deficiencies as we bear the failings of others, not become lazy, and continually urge oneself to be better.

 

If you have eaten too much food or done anything else related to human weakness, do not be upset. Do not add injury to injury, but, urging yourself to correction, courageously try to keep spiritual peace according to the words of the Apostle: “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (Romans 14:22). This same meaning is contained in the words of the Saviour: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

 

Any success in any area we must assign to the Lord and say with the prophet: “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory” (Psalm 113:9).

 

Prophet Job the Long-Suffering

 

Illnesses

One elder, suffering from dropsy, told this to the brethren who came to him, desiring to heal him: “Fathers, pray, that my inner person is not subjected to a similar illness. But concerning the present illness, I ask God that he not suddenly relieve me of it, “for though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).The body is the handmaid of the soul, and the soul — its queen. Therefore it often happens that by the mercy of God our body is debilitated by illnesses. Passions weaken because of illnesses, and the person becomes well. Sometimes bodily illness itself is born of passions. To bear illness with patience and gratitude is regarded as a feat and even more than one.

 

Purity of Heart

We must continually protect our heart from unclean thoughts and impressions, according to the words of the author of the book of Proverbs: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

 

Purity is born within the heart from extended safekeeping of it, to which the vision of the Lord has access, according to the assurance of eternal Truth: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

 

We should not reveal unnecessarily what is best in the heart, for only then does that which has been accumulated remain in safety from enemies visible and invisible when it is kept as a treasure in the innermost heart. Do not open the secrets of your heart to everyone.

 

 

Illustrations:

  1. Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
  2. Icon of St. Simeon Stylites in the church of Saint Georgy Volkovski, Tetovo, Macedonia, cca 1859, work attributed to Dicho Zograf
  3. Prophet Job the Long-Suffering

Header: Saint Seraphim of Sarov with his bear

 

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