Wisdom…


by Saint Seraphim of Sarov
(Excerpts from the book: Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 1: St. Seraphim of Sarov)

One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not to be disturbed by offences from others; for this one must in every way strive to restrain anger and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings.

And therefore we must bear offences from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offences seem to concern not us, but others.

Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it a dwelling for God Himself.

An example of such angerlessness we see in St. Gregory the Wonderworker, from whom a certain prostitute in a public place asked recompense, as if for a sin he had committed with her; and he, not becoming in the least angry with her, meekly said to a certain friend of his: give her quickly the sum she demands. The woman had no sooner taken the unjust recompense than she was subjected to the attack of a demon; and the Saint drove the demon out of her by prayer.

If, however, it is impossible not to be disturbed, then at least one must strive to restrain the tongue, according to the Psalmist: I was troubled, and spoke not (Ps. 76:5).

In this case we may take as an example Sts. Spyridon of Trimithoundos and Ephraim the Syriam. The first bore and offence thus: When, at the demand of the Greek Emperor, he entered the Palace, one of the servants who had been in the Emperor’s chamber, taking him for a beggar, burst out laughing at him, did not allow him into the chambers, and then hit him on the cheek. St. Spyridon, being gentle, in accordance with the word of the Lord, turned the other to him also (Matt. 5:39). St. Ephraim, while fasting in the wilderness, was deprived of food by a disciple in this fashion: The disciple, carrying food to him, accidentally shattered the dish on the way. The saint, seeing the sorrowing disciple, said to him: Do not be sad, brother; if the food did not desire to come to us, then we will go to it. And he went, sat down beside the shattered dish and, gathering the food, ate it: so without anger was he.

And in what fashion to vanquish anger one may see from the life of St. Paisius the Great, who asked the Lord Jesus Christ, Who had appeared to him, to free him from his anger; and Christ said to him: If you wish to vanquish anger and rage together, desire nothing, neither hate anyone nor belittle anyone.

In order to preserve peace of soul, one must remove from oneself despondency and strive to have a joyful spirit and not a sad one, according to the word of Sirach: For sorrow has killed many, and there is no profit therein. (Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, 30:23).

When a man has a great insufficiency of those things needed for the body, it is difficult to vanquish despondency. But this, of course, is applicable to weak souls.

For the preservation of peace of soul one must likewise by every means flee from judgment of others. By not judging and by silence peace of soul is maintained: when a man is in such a state, he receives Divine revelations.

In order to free oneself from judging, one must take heed of oneself, not to accept outside thoughts from anyone and to be dead to everything.

For the preservation of peace of soul one must more often enter into oneself and ask: where am I?

At the same time one must watch that the bodily senses, especially sight, serve for the inner man and do not distract the soul by the means of sensuous objects: for they only receive grace-bearing gifts who have interior activity and are vigilant over their souls.

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