Tag Archives: St. Seraphim of Sarov

The Aquisition of the Holy Spirit – Step One: The Break with the World


The Break with the World:

Step 1: Renunciation

A friend of God is one who lives in communion with all that is natural and free from sin and who does not neglect to do what good he can. The self-controlled man strives with all his might amidst the trials, the snares, the noise of the world, to be like someone who rises above them.” St. John of the Ladder

Every Christian is called to a life of renunciation: ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it’ (Luke 9:23–24).

What we seek is what we once were, something we all know and have tasted: innocence… Thus St. John tells novices of the monastic life to look to infants as their example… ‘Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 18:3).”

Thirty Steps to Heaven, Vassilious Papavassiliou

“Do whatever you may. Speak evil of no one. Rob no one. Tell no lie. Despise no one and carrying no hate. Do not separate yourself from the church assemblies. Show compassion to the needy. Do not be a cause of scandal to anyone. Stay away from the bed of another, and be satisfied with what your own wives can provide you. If you do all this you will not be far from the kingdom of heaven.”

Those who enter this contest must renounce all things, despise all things, deride all things, and shake off all things, that, they may lay a firm foundation. A good foundation of three layers and three pillars is innocence, fasting and temperance. Let all babes in Christ begin with these virtues taking in their model natural babes. For you never find in them anything sly or deceitful.” St. John

“Christians renounce the world by living for something other than the world. By living thus, we become the light of the world.”

Thirty Steps to Heaven, Vassilious Papavassiliou

How does this step apply to our tendency to judge others? This month as part of my renunciation of the world I am going to be using the Apostles Fast to help me refrain from judging. I think this is one of the key ways in which I lose my footing and the grace of God, judging. I am not meek and lowly of heart or as a little child when I judge others or myself. There is an entire step of the Ladder devoted to slander or judgment, which we will delve into in a future podcast. For now let us look at how judging is worldly. What are the results of our judgments? Can we begin to renounce our judgments?

“For the guarding of peace of soul, it is also necessary to flee from judging others. By non-judgment and silence, peace of soul is preserved.” St. Seraphim of Sarov

My next podcast will be about Step 2 – Detachment.

Finally here is a wonderful passage about the difference between the spirit of this world and the Spirit of God:

‘Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God.’

(1 Cor. 2:12)

“The spirit of this world, my brethren, is the spirit of pride and brutality. The Spirit of God is a spirit of meekness and grace. God’s Apostle emphasizes that Christ’s followers have not received the spirit of this world but the spirit which is of God; that is, which proceeds from God the Father like a refreshing fragrance from flowers, flowing through the soul of a man, making it strong, radiant, peaceful, thankful and gentle.

Men are by nature good and gentle, Tertullian writes: ‘the soul of man is Christian by nature’, but is excited and enraged by the spirit of this world. The spirit of this world makes sheep and wolves, while the Spirit of God makes wolves into sheep.

The apostle adds that, ‘we have received the Spirit of God in order to know the things that are freely given to us of God’, that we might see, then, what is of God and what is not, and that we might feel the sweetness of that which is of God and the bitterness of that which is not of Him but of the spirit of this world. While man is outside his own nature, he finds the bitter sweet and the sweet bitter. But when by the Spirit of God, he returns to his true nature, he tastes as sweet as sweet and bitter as bitter.

Who can turn a man back to God? Who can heal a man of the poison of sinful bitterness? Who can teach him by experience to differentiate true sweetness from bitterness? No-one other than the Spirit, which is of God.

Therefore, we pray, my brethren, that God will give us His Holy Spirit, as He gave Him to his Apostles and saints. And when that Holy Spirit comes and abides in us, the kingdom of God has come to us, in which we are all sweetness, goodness, light, meekness and grace.

O Holy Spirit, thou Spirit of meekness and grace, come and abide in us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.”

St. Nicholai Velomirovic, The Prologue, May 20

Come and abide in us indeed!

Have a blessed start to the Apostles Fast!

A friend of God is one who lives in communion with all that is natural and free from sin and who does not neglect to do what good he can. The self-controlled man strives with all his might amidst the trials, the snares, the noise of the world, to be like someone who rises above them.” St. John of the Ladder

Every Christian is called to a life of renunciation: ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it’ (Luke 9:23–24).

What we seek is what we once were, something we all know and have tasted: innocence… Thus St. John tells novices of the monastic life to look to infants as their example… ‘Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 18:3).”

Thirty Steps to Heaven, Vassilious Papavassiliou

“Do whatever you may. Speak evil of no one. Rob no one. Tell no lie. Despise no one and carrying no hate. Do not separate yourself from the church assemblies. Show compassion to the needy. Do not be a cause of scandal to anyone. Stay away from the bed of another, and be satisfied with what your own wives can provide you. If you do all this you will not be far from the kingdom of heaven.”

Those who enter this contest must renounce all things, despise all things, deride all things, and shake off all things, that, they may lay a firm foundation. A good foundation of three layers and three pillars is innocence, fasting and temperance. Let all babes in Christ begin with these virtues taking in their model natural babes. For you never find in them anything sly or deceitful.” St. John

“Christians renounce the world by living for something other than the world. By living thus, we become the light of the world.”

Thirty Steps to Heaven, Vassilious Papavassiliou

How does this step apply to our tendency to judge others? This month as part of my renunciation of the world I am going to be using the Apostles Fast to help me refrain from judging. I think this is one of the key ways in which I lose my footing and the grace of God, judging. I am not meek and lowly of heart or as a little child when I judge others or myself. There is an entire step of the Ladder devoted to slander or judgment, which we will delve into in a future podcast. For now let us look at how judging is worldly. What are the results of our judgments? Can we begin to renounce our judgments?

“For the guarding of peace of soul, it is also necessary to flee from judging others. By non-judgment and silence, peace of soul is preserved.” St. Seraphim of Sarov

Finally here is a wonderful passage about the difference between the spirit of this world and the Spirit of God:

‘Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God.’

(1 Cor. 2:12)

“The spirit of this world, my brethren, is the spirit of pride and brutality. The Spirit of God is a spirit of meekness and grace. God’s Apostle emphasizes that Christ’s followers have not received the spirit of this world but the spirit which is of God; that is, which proceeds from God the Father like a refreshing fragrance from flowers, flowing through the soul of a man, making it strong, radiant, peaceful, thankful and gentle.

Men are by nature good and gentle, Tertullian writes: ‘the soul of man is Christian by nature’, but is excited and enraged by the spirit of this world. The spirit of this world makes sheep and wolves, while the Spirit of God makes wolves into sheep.

The apostle adds that, ‘we have received the Spirit of God in order to know the things that are freely given to us of God’, that we might see, then, what is of God and what is not, and that we might feel the sweetness of that which is of God and the bitterness of that which is not of Him but of the spirit of this world. While man is outside his own nature, he finds the bitter sweet and the sweet bitter. But when by the Spirit of God, he returns to his true nature, he tastes as sweet as sweet and bitter as bitter.

Who can turn a man back to God? Who can heal a man of the poison of sinful bitterness? Who can teach him by experience to differentiate true sweetness from bitterness? No-one other than the Spirit, which is of God.

Therefore, we pray, my brethren, that God will give us His Holy Spirit, as He gave Him to his Apostles and saints. And when that Holy Spirit comes and abides in us, the kingdom of God has come to us, in which we are all sweetness, goodness, light, meekness and grace.

O Holy Spirit, thou Spirit of meekness and grace, come and abide in us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.”

St. Nicholai Velomirovic, The Prologue, May 20

Come and abide in us indeed!

Have a blessed start to the Apostles Fast!

In Christ,

Veronica

Preserving Our Stillness and Joy, airing in May 2015 on OCN


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Preserving Our Stillness and Joy

It has been a while since I have recorded a podcast. The week before the weekend of The Cross, I contracted a terrible flu, which went viral and affected my brain! It was the most intense experience I have ever lived through. I had hallucinations for 10 days I went to the hospital twice. I did not sleep for most of those days and as time went on became quite innocent and about the age of a 3 year old!

My doctors had no idea what was causing my altered mental status. I underwent all kinds of tests – none of which helped to indicate what was causing my altered mental status. Finally, they gave me an anti-viral IV and medicine to allow me to sleep, At 3 AM the following morning – I came back! Glory to God!

Had it not been for the grace of God, the sacraments of the church, my husband’s support and the prayers of many people – I am not sure I would be here today in my right mind. Glory to God for all things! It has taken me a while to recover my self and I am so thankful to be well and back to my life again celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord.

Therefore, I thought I would draw on our dear Saints to discuss how we can maintain or guard the sanctity and peace of our souls in times of distress.

My husband strove during our battle with the flu and I am sure demonic forces to keep me positive even in the face of my altered mental status by continually saying to me: “God is good. God brings good from everything. Glory to God for all things!” These simple phrases became one of my anchors while I waited for God to heal me.

What else can we do to maintain our inner stillness and joy, especially as we slowly re-enter the fallen world after Pascha or deal with very challenging experiences?

My resources for this podcast are:

St. Seraphim of Sarov

St Nicholai Velomirovic, The Prologue

The Gospel according to St. John

Let’s start with St. Seraphim of Sarov

“We must endeavor by every means to keep peace of soul. Do not be troubled by the insults of men. It is necessary at all costs to restrain oneself from anger, and by watchfulness over oneself, to keep the mind and heart from vain movement… For the guarding of peace of soul, it is also necessary to flee from judging others. By non-judgment and silence, peace of soul is preserved. When a man attains to such a state, he receives divine revelation. For a man to be able to keep himself from judging others, he must be vigilant over himself; he must not dare to receive vain thoughts from another, and must be as one dead before all that is of this world. We must tirelessly keep our hearts from vain thoughts and impressions (Prov. 4:23). By constant watchfulness over the heart, a purity of heart is born in which God is seen, according to the words of eternal truths: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’.” (Matt. 5:8).

St. Seraphim of Sarov

We spent all of Lent practicing ‘watchfulness over the heart’ – now we are asked to continue our watchfulness – in the spirit of the Resurrection. How do we do that?

This is what St. Nicholai has to say about the fears that can assail us:

‘Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen.’ (Rev. 1:17-18)

“Thus says the Lord Jesus to His beloved disciple John in a vision on the island of Patmos. Fear not–what? Fear not the persecution of the church by the pagans. Fear not the torturers who martyr My faithful on all sides. Fear not kings who raise up persecution against the Christians. Fear not the successors of the chief men of this world, who ridicule My humiliation and My death. Fear not the demons, who blind men by the passions so they do not see the truth that I brought on earth. Fear nothing!

Christ is Risen!

Lord, how do I not fear? When the whole world gathers to ridicule us to our faces, small in number and unretaliating as we are, how can we not fear?

Fear not, for I am the first and the last, Alpha and Omega, and all those armies of mockers against you are nothing but a transient whirlwind of corpses. I am from before time began, I am after time ends; before the beginning of all and after the fulfillment of all things created, I am. And they are all shut up in the one span of time, which I have measured out to every creature, and beyond that span they cannot exist.

Let us rejoice at this – Christ is Risen!

Fear not, for ‘I was dead; and behold, I am alive’. Do not even fear death. I am before death and after death. Death is my servant, and I sent death into the world to serve Me. I gave Myself into My servant’s hands for three days. Then I commanded him to let Me go–and, behold, I am alive. I am the ruler of death as of life. I am the ruler of time as of eternity. Fear not!

I am alive for evermore and you will be alive with Me; you, and all who remain faithful to Me and are unafraid will be alive with Me. I am Alpha and Omega.”

St. Nicholai Velomirovic, The Prologue, March 21

Christ is Risen!

O eternal and immortal Lord, grant that these Thy words may ever sound in the souls of Thy faithful people whenever persecution rises up against Thy Holy Church. Let us not fear, being held by the right hand of God. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St Nicholai Velomirovic, The Prologue, March 21

“I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Christ is Risen! Let us pray to our Risen Lord to deliver us from all our distress.

May you have a blessed completion of this Pascal Season, an awesome Ascension and Pentecost.

Christ is Risen!