My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
Apolytikion of the Feast of Pentecost
Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast shown forth the fishermen as supremely wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them didst draw the world into Thy net, O Befriender of man, glory to Thee.
Kontakion of the Feast of Pentecost
Once, when He descended and confound the tongues, the Most High divided the nations; and when He divided the tongues of fire, He called all men into unity; and with one accord we glorify the All-Holy Spirit.
ON ACQUISITION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (PART II)
By Saint Seraphim of Sarov
[Please note: Saint Seraphim was born in 1759, in the city of Kursk. His parents were pious Orthodox Christians, examples of true spirituality. At the age of ten, St. Seraphim was miraculously healed from a serious illness by means of the Kursk holy 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 St. Seraphim's participation in the Divine services are evident as he was allowed to see Angels, and during the Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday, he saw the Lord Himself. At thirty-four, St. Seraphim was ordained as a priest, and was assigned as the spiritual guide of the Diveyevo Women's Monastery. 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 Holy Scripture and the writings of the Holy Fathers. Saint Seraphim would go to the monastery on Sunday's to receive Holy Communion, and then return to the forest.] (To be continued)
The Aim of the Christian Life
"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" (Revelation 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" (St. Mark 14:38), that is, lest you be deprived of the Spirit of God, for watching and prayer bring 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 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 wholeheartedly, 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 Thessalonians 4:17) Who is coming "with great power and glory" (St. Mark 13:26) "to judge the living and the dead" (1 Peter 4:5) and "to reward every man according to his works" (St. Matthew 16:27).
"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 coming?
"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 heal 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."
(Next: The Acquisition of Grace)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God