Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Homily for 8/1/10 - St Seraphim - Christ is Risen

Expand Messages
  • Fr David Moser
    St Seraphim, to whose memory our parish is dedicated, was primarily a man of prayer. This characteristic, in and of itself, is something that should stand as
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2010
      St Seraphim, to whose memory our parish is dedicated, was primarily a
      man of prayer. This characteristic, in and of itself, is something that
      should stand as an example and inspiration for us all. When we pray, we
      know that we do not pray alone but that such an accomplished master of
      the art of prayer prays with us.

      St Seraphim, known in the world as Prokhor, was born into a merchant
      family in Kursk. His life is full of miraculous interventions which
      preserved his life including being healed from a serious illness during
      an unexpected visitation of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Virgin Mary. His
      demeanor as a young man also indicated the course that he would follow
      in his adult life. His young life revolved around working, praying and
      reading, especially spiritual books. He sought out friends who had
      similar interests to his and was attracted to adults who could talk with
      him about spiritual topics. His mother saw this tendency in her son and
      did not discourage it or place any hindrance in the path of her son. As
      a young man of 17 he revealed his desire to enter monastic life to his
      mother and she was not at all surprised. Although he was a great help to
      her in the family business, she willingly gave him her blessing to
      pursue the life to which she knew he was called.

      Prokhor in company with his likeminded friends traveled to the caves
      monastery in Kiev, the heart of Russian monasticism. There he sought out
      the clairvoyant elder Dositheus who recognizing the destiny of the
      future saint sent him to the monastery of Sarov there to work out his
      salvation. From Kiev, Prokhor returned to his mother’s home where he
      remained for a time but finally, again with her blessing, set off for
      the Sarov monastery.

      The monastic life of the young novice Prokhor was marked by his diligent
      labor of obedience in all things as he worked to set aside his self will
      and break his worldly pride. Even later in life, St Seraphim would
      instruct the nuns of Diveevo convent, “Remember always, obedience
      surpasses everything. It surpasses fasting and prayer! And we should not
      only not refuse it, but we should run to meet it!” In due time the
      novice Prokhor was tonsured into monastic life and given the name
      Seraphim. He was shortly thereafter ordained to the diaconate. During
      the time of his diaconate, the Saint was first given the spiritual care
      of the Diveevo convent. This convent would become the receptacle of his
      spiritual heritage and a gift to the world. Even today his relics rest
      there. After about 7 years as a Hierodeacon, St Seraphim was ordained to
      the priesthood. Within the year, the abbot of Sarov monastery, Fr
      Pachomius, died. St Seraphim had been close to the abbot and as parting
      gift, received from him the blessing to live in seclusion. Thus began
      the time of his life when St Seraphim perfected the art of prayer in
      himself, spending long periods of time completely shut off and separated
      from the world but fervently turning himself constantly to stand in the
      presence of God.

      One of the many remarkable circumstances of the personality of St
      Seraphim that appeared during this time is that he would greet his
      visitors with the Paschal, “Christ is Risen!” no matter what time of
      year. This was not an affectation that he adopted to appear spiritual.
      The Saint, as a result of the time spent in prayer and in striving to
      stand before the throne of God, began to see the spiritual world with a
      clarity that few of us ever achieve. Once a year, when the Paschal
      season approaches, we all engage in the collective exercise of self
      denial, ascetic labor, and intensified prayer that is Great Lent. For
      just these few weeks we enter into the same intensity of life that St
      Seraphim lived continually. When we approach the feast of the
      resurrection of our Lord, we begin to get a sense of the great joy and
      brightness of that great event in the history of the world, indeed in
      the history of the universe – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This joy
      we sense in the hymns even of Holy Friday. That joy builds in us until
      it erupts in the explosion of joy at the matins of Pascha and we begin
      to shout to one another the Paschal greeting “Christ is Risen, Truly He
      is Risen!” We experience in that brief moment and for some time
      thereafter the joy of the Resurrection for we have come face to face
      with the Risen Lord.

      St Seraphim, because of the constant state of prayer in his heart, stood
      in the presence of the Risen Christ, directly experiencing the joy of
      the Resurrection every moment of every day. His greeting, “Christ is
      Risen, my joy” was not a calculated affectation, but a genuine and
      spontaneous expression of his constant experience of the presence of the
      Risen Christ. He lived constantly in the joy of Pascha that the rest of
      us experience only on the feast and even then maybe only once or twice
      in our lives.

      It is a great blessing to see the results of a life dedicated so
      completely to Jesus Christ, however, we cannot all enter into such a
      deep life of prayer, we cannot all flee from the world as did the saint.
      Does this mean that we are somehow failing or lacking, that perhaps we
      cannot be saved at all, due to the circumstances of our lives. Of course
      not. We must recall the words of the Holy Apostle who likens the Church
      to a body. He says that “the body is not one member but many” … “if the
      ear should say, ‘because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,’ is
      it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would
      be the hearing…” “But now God has set the members, each one of them in
      the body just as He pleased.” … “God composed the body … that there
      should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the
      same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members
      suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice
      with it. Now you are the body of Christ and members individually” (1Cor
      12: 12-27) Saint Seraphim is one part of the Body and we are other parts of the Body – and it is necessary
      that we have such parts as he, those who are called to be masters of the
      art of prayer, to live on this earth as though in heaven. At the same
      time he has called many others: rulers, laborers, craftsmen, husbands,
      wives, children, monks, laymen, clergymen and so on. We are all together
      part of the body of Christ and so we give what we have to Christ and we use
      what He gives us to His glory. St Seraphim, and the other saints who
      lived lives of such deep and profound prayer stand beside us as we pray
      and they join their prayers to ours to make our prayers more effective,
      more powerful, more beautiful. And when we cannot pray due to the
      necessities of our lives, St Seraphim continues to pray for us so that
      we are never left without prayer. When our eyes are clouded by the world
      and we are unable to see God clearly, St Seraphim tells us what he sees
      so that we do not despair and are reminded of the joy of the Lord. He is
      part of us and his prayers, his struggle, his spiritual vision and so on
      are ours as well. He does not forsake us, running on ahead, but rather
      he is constantly reaching back, lifting us up, helping us, pulling us
      along, encouraging us, strengthening us and waiting for us so that we
      might all enter into our reward together, for we are all members of the
      one and same body in Christ.

      Today we celebrate the feast of St Seraphim, a day to honor his memory.
      Today we not only remember St Seraphim, but we also recognize that he
      remembers us. Today, he prays for us; today, he lifts us up; today, he
      encourages us; today, he says to us, “Christ is Risen, my joy!” We are
      all part of the one Body of Christ and together we will enter into the
      Kingdom of God. St Seraphim is our particular helper, guide and
      shepherd, bringing us with himself, into that Kingdom, all the while
      reminding us of the joy that awaits us, his eyes fixed on the goal and
      describing what he sees, he encourages us with the cry, “Christ is
      Risen, my joy!”

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.