Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Conversation About Peace

Saint Seraphim feeding a bear outside of his hermitage (from lithograph The Way to Sarov, 1903) source:  Wikipedia

My apologies for the last post.  It was choppy and not well written.  I said what I wanted to say, but it still seems somewhat disjointed and overly wordy.  This post promises to be infinitesimally better because the crux of it is not written by me. Again, my apologies.

So, where were we?  Ah yes...acquiring peace.  And I mean real peace, not say-one-thing-but-really-feel-another bogus peace.  It is a peace that must be spiritually sown, grown and matured in the heart and not the head where we can and often deceive ourselves.  In the Orthodox Christian tradition, the source of this peace is none other than the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity.  When one has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, peace grows.  As the Aposte Paul, the eloquent and beautiful soul that he is, says in his letter to the Galatians 5:22-25 :
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Knowing this, the larger question that remains is: How does one then acquire the Holy Spirit in order to grow these fruits, like peace? You are not wrong by answering with the above verse "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Okay, but then, how is one to walk? TELL ME HOW TO DO IT!

Not to leave you in suspense any longer, I present to you this:  

A Wonderful Revelation to the World

The above links you to the famous conversation between St. Seraphim of Sarov, a monk, and the layperson (layperson is a regular person like you and me) Nicholai Motovilov.  I don't have the time, nor quite frankly, the talent to write about St.Seraphim other than to say that he was a beacon of light and of love. He is well-beloved by Orthodox Christians, and well-known among most traditional Christians and some "New Age" circles.  I highly recommend the biography written by Valentine Zander published by SVS Press, as well as some of his writings (which include the famous conversation from the link above) from theThe Little Russian Philokalia: Volume 1, St. Seraphim published by St. Herman Press.

I often thought to myself that outside of the Bible, if I could only have one spiritual book, it would be the one containing this simple conversation.  All you need to know about living and, more importantly, growing in the spiritual life is contained in this talk between an elderly sweet monk and this simple layperson.  No big words, no difficult theological concepts, none of that.  The only word you may need to know is "batiushka" which is a very endearing way of calling one "father".

After a quick google, I found a really well written (and short) biography of St. Seraphim written by Fr. James Coles on his blog last year.  You would do well in reading that post too found here.  Read what Fr. James wrote before you read the famous conversation link I posted above.  It will give you a much better idea of who St. Seraphim is.

And so dear reader, I leave you today with this from the "Wonderful Revelation":

“My joy, I beg you, acquire the Spirit of Peace. That means to bring oneself to such a state that our spirit will not be disturbed by anything. For one must go through many sorrows to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the way all righteous men were saved and inherited the Heavenly Kingdom….”

It's a lovely reflection as we drawer ever closer to Christmas.

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