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On the 100th Anniversary of the Glorification of St. Seraphim of Sarov

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  • frmarkg
    http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/english/pages/news/may28.htm Epistle of the Synod of Bishops on the 100th Anniversary of the Glorification of St. Seraphim
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2003

      Epistle of the Synod of Bishops on the 100th Anniversary of the
      Glorification of St. Seraphim of Sarov

      To the Clergy & Flock of Our Russian Church Abroad,

      Beloved in the Lord


      Many of us, when discussing the darkness of mankind's contemporary
      vicissitudes, the evil, hatred, enmity, divisions and temptations
      which hold sway in today's world, consider that in all of this
      the "mighty of this world" are to blame, those who do not understand
      us, do not share our views. Observing events in the world, which
      everywhere suffers and is the object of malice, we love to point out
      the sins, errors and failings of those who surround us, our enemies,
      forgetting that folk wisdom tells us "to look to our own garden."
      Let us remember the Apostle Paul, who warned the early Christians
      that because of us believers many will not turn to God, will not
      come to the Church, because they will not see in us true followers
      of the risen Christ who shine with His holiness, love, humility,
      loving-kindness; who in their behavior, words and deeds would
      establish the kingdom of God in the midst of this sinful world. In
      our families and communities people do not see that they are
      supposed to be an example, a living and persuasive preaching of
      Orthodox Christianity, to enkindle the hearts of men, inspiring them
      to serve God. And in actual fact, if we look at our life, the life
      of the Orthodox man is far from resplendent with the virtues of the
      Gospel. Even though we may call ourselves Orthodox Christians, yet
      do we not strive to acquire within ourselves the spirit of Christ,
      the spirit of love, patience, peace, a good disposition, mutual help.

      Yet let us not despair, brethren and sisters, but let us, to the
      extent we are able, strive towards God, looking to the example of
      Saint Seraphim, the wonder-worker of Sarov, and let us try to lead a
      virtuous life, that men "may by [our] good works, which they shall
      behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (I Pet. 2: 12). It is
      obvious from the life of Saint Seraphim that he was an example of
      true Christianity. He lived as a witness to the resurrection of
      Christ, as one who knew the Resurrected One, and proclaimed this
      truth by his holy life, embodying in his way of life the words of
      the Apostle Paul: "Remember the Lord Jesus Who rose from the dead!"
      By his paschal joy in the resurrected Christ, his holiness of life,
      ascetic struggles and instructions he led many who were "alienated
      from the life of God" (Eph. 4: 18) to His grace, mercy and love. The
      saint always taught: "Acquire the spirit of peace (or, save
      yourself), and a thousand will be saved around you;" and he
      fulfilled these words in deed. One of the pastors of our Church has
      related how a certain engineer, a parishioner of his, was working
      for some firm where enmity and turmoil was rife among the staff, and
      he did not know what to do, how to withstand this temptation. Later
      he decided to pray, and results were immediately forthcoming: he not
      only grew calm himself, but all those with whom he came into contact
      grew calmer and sensed the sweet savor of his life, for there was
      within him a peaceful spirit and peaceful prayer. This is our plea:
      where there is darkness, where there is sorrow, where it is
      difficult for men to bear the cross of their life, we must be the
      light of Christ, His presence. This can be a modest candle, or it
      can be the light of the sun, like Saint Seraphim, of which his
      conversation with Motovilov bears witness "concerning the purpose of
      the Christian life;" but, in any event, we must exert ourselves,
      actively striving towards God, to be a light for the fallen world
      which surrounds us, illumining it and making it less evil and dark.
      We must never forget that, despite our sinfulness and unworthiness,
      we are still emissaries of God, and He is sending us into this
      world "which lieth in evil," that we may sanctify it, may bear unto
      men the spiritual joy over the victory of Life over death, and to
      give them heart.

      Fathers, brethren, sisters and children, dear in the Lord! With a
      sense of paschal celebration we greet all of you‹the children of our
      Church Abroad, all of our compatriots, both those with whom we are
      in communion and all those with whom we still hope for unity in the
      Truth‹on the remarkable jubilee of the centennial anniversary of the
      glorification of Saint Seraphim, which will be solemnly marked not
      only by the whole Church of Russia, but by the whole Orthodox world
      as well. The Apostle Paul writes: "Remember those who have the rule
      over you..." (Heb. 13: 7). Obeying this order, let us also comport
      ourselves during the festive divine services in our churches so as
      to honor with prayers and hymns the memory of our great Russian
      saint. Let us all try to study his life and meditate on his
      personality. It is clear that our praises are too inadequate to
      comprehend the full height of the glory he has with God and his full
      significance for us. Yet let us praise him, for this is essential
      and important for ourselves. It is important because, in honoring
      the saint, we, whether we intend to or not, compare our own life
      with his life; and clearly perceiving the acute difference between
      our life and his, we are moved, if only a little, to imitate him.
      And this brings great benefit to us, which the Apostle Paul also
      points out when he gives us the direct order, that when we remember
      our instructors, we imitate their faith and their life. And it
      should also be said that only such honor shown Saint Seraphim as is,
      according to the Apostle's command, joined with the imitation of his
      faith and piety, his active striving towards God, is fully
      consistent with our glorification of his memory.

      Celebrating during this time, so difficult for Russia and the whole
      world, the glorious centennial anniversary of the ecclesiastical
      glorification of Saint Seraphim, let us cry out from the depths of
      our hearts: "Save us by thy supplications, O Seraphim our venerable
      father!" (from the troparion). To him let us pray that Christ arise
      in the heart of each of us, so that it may become a Life-bearing
      Tomb in which the risen God-man will shine forth with divine light,
      the light of eternity. Let God arise also in the hearts of all the
      people of Russia! Let the enemies of God and our suffering homeland
      be scattered! Let Rus' rejoice and be glad in its risen Savior and
      in His saint, who calls the Russian nation to repentance, rebirth,
      return to its historical roots. May the Lord help us to take up his
      call: "Acquire the spirit of peace..." Let us listen, absorb this,
      and go forward.
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