St. Seraphim of Sarov


St. Seraphim of Sarov


Troparion of St. Seraphim, Tone 4

 


Thou didst love Christ from thy youth, O blessed one, and longing to work for Him alone thou didst struggle in the wilderness with constant prayer and labor.  With penitent heart and great love for Christ thou wast favored by the Mother of God.  Wherefore we cry to thee: Save us by thy prayers, O Seraphim our righteous Father.

 

Kontakion of St. Seraphim, Tone 2

 


Having left the beauty of the world and what is corrupt in it, O saint, thou didst settle in Sarov Monastery.  And having lived there an angelic life, thou wast for many the way to salvation.  Wherefore Christ has glorified thee, O Father Seraphim, and has enriched thee with the gift of healing and miracles. And so we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Seraphim, our righteous Father.

The days of the commemoration of St. Seraphim are August 1 and January 15 (July 19 and January 2 by the church calendar).


 

 

St. Seraphim (born with the name Prohor Moshnin) was born in 1759 to a merchant family in Kursk. At the age of 10, he became seriously ill. During the course of his illness, he saw the Mother of God in his sleep, who promised to heal him. Several days later there was a religious procession in Kursk with the locally revered miracle-working icon of the Mother of God. Due to bad weather, the procession took an abbreviated route past the house of the Moshnin family. After his mother put Seraphim up to the miracle-working image, he recovered rapidly. While at a young age, he needed to help his parents with their shop, but business had little appeal for him.  Young Seraphim loved to read the lives of the saints, to attend church and to withdraw into seclusion for prayer.  At the age of 18, Seraphim firmly decided to become a monk. His mother blessed him with a large copper crucifix, which he wore over his clothing all his life. After this, he entered the Sarov monastery as a novice.

 


His taking of the monastic vows occurred in 1786, when he was 27 years old. He was given the name Seraphim, which in Hebrew means "fiery," or "burning." He was soon made a hierodeacon. He justified his name by his extraordinarily burning prayer. He spent all of his time, save for the very shortest of rests, in church.  Through such prayer and the labors of religious services, Seraphim became worthy to see angels, both serving and singing in church. During the liturgy on Holy Thursday, he saw the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in the form of the Son of man, proceeding into the Church with the Heavenly host and blessing those praying. The saint could not speak for a long time after being struck by this vision.

 


In 1793, St. Seraphim was ordained a hieromonk, after which he served every day and received Holy Communion for a year. St. Seraphim then began to withdraw into the forest wilderness about five kilometers from Sarov Monastery. He achieved great perfection at this time. Wild animals — bears, rabbits, wolves, foxes and others — came to the hut of the ascetic. While living in this little hermitage of his, St. Seraphim once suffered greatly at the hands of robbers. Although he was physically very strong and was holding an axe at the time, St. Seraphim did not resist them. In answer to their threats and their demands for money, he lay his axe down on the ground, crossed his arms on his chest and obediently gave himself up to them. They began to beat him on the head with the handle of his own axe. Blood began to pour out of his mouth and ears, and he fell unconscious. They stopped beating him only when they had decided that he had died.  The only treasure which the robbers found in his cell was the icon of the Mother of God of Deep Emotion, before which he always prayed. When, after some time, the robbers were caught and brought to justice, the holy monk interceded on their behalf before the judge. After the beating, St. Seraphim remained hunched over for the rest of his life.

 


St. Seraphim took upon himself the feat of becoming an elder after a special vision of the Mother of God. He began to admit everyone who came to him for advice and direction. Many thousands of people from all walks of life and conditions began to visit the elder now, who enriched them from his spiritual treasures, which he had acquired by many years of efforts. Everyone saw St. Seraphim as meek, joyful, and pensively sincere. He greeted all with the words: "My joy!" To many he advised: "Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved." No matter who came to him, he bowed to the ground before all, and, in blessing, kissed their hands. He did not need the visitors to tell about themselves, as he could see what each had on their soul. He also said, "Cheerfulness is not a sin. It drives away weariness, for from weariness there is sometimes dejection, and there is nothing worse than that."

 


   "St. Seraphim is one of my favourite saints, because of his love and compassion for people.  Many times we grow impatient with one another and anger, hatred and envy all build up inside us, and we try to spread it around.  Life is really so simple, but we all have these expectations for everyone and we expect them to realize those expectations… and that’s why we have such impatience and anger and frustration against ourselves and each other.  Everyone is human; it’s inevitable that we are going to make mistakes no matter what.  St. Seraphim understood this and replaced expectations with compassion and love, and became like a child in his trustful and unquestioning acceptance of everyone.  Christ himself says, “Assuredly I say to you; unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt18:3)

 

Alexa Younes

Can-Am President

St. George Toronto, ON