Words

Life

Category: St. Seraphim

I’ll Trade You…

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Prayer, fasting, vigil and all other Christian activities, however good they may be in themselves, do not constitute the aim of our Christian life, although they serve as the indispensable means of reaching this end. The true aim of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done for Christ’s sake, they are only means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. But mark, my son, only the good deed done for Christ’s sake brings us the fruits of the Holy Spirit. All that is not done for Christ’s sake, even though it be good, brings neither reward in the future life nor the grace of God in this. That is why our Lord Jesus Christ said: He who gathers not with Me scatters (Luke 11:23). Not that a good deed can be called anything but gathering, since even though it is not done for Christ’s sake, yet it is good. Scripture says: In every nation he who fears God and works righteousness is acceptable to Him (Acts 10:35).

“What do you mean by acquiring?” I asked Father Seraphim. “Somehow I don’t understand that.”

“Acquiring is the same as obtaining,” he replied. “You understand, of course, what acquiring money means? Acquiring the Spirit of God is exactly the same. You know well enough what it means in a worldly sense, your Godliness, to acquire. The aim in life of ordinary worldly people is to acquire or make money, and for the nobility it is in addition to receive honours, distinctions and other rewards for their services to the government. The acquisition of God’s Spirit is also capital, but grace-giving and eternal, and it is obtained in very similar ways, almost the same ways as monetary, social and temporal capital.

“God the Word, the God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, compares our life with a market, and the work of our life on earth He calls trading, and says to us all: Trade till I come (Lk. 19:13), redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). That is to say, make the most of your time for getting heavenly blessings through earthly goods. Earthly goods are good works
done for Christ’s sake and conferring on us the grace of the All-Holy Spirit. St. Seraphim’s Conversation with Motovilov

Using his analogy, we do not part with our money just because it is meant to be spent. We expect an exchange, even if we give it as a donation. We expect some improvement or maintenance to happen as a result. So when we fast and pray, our aim is to become more and more conformed into Christ’s likeness and to participate more in His Trinitarian Life, by the prayers of the Saints.

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The Distinction between Nature, Person and Will and the state of ever-being

by Andrea Elizabeth

From “The Disputation”, “First there is the distinction between Nature and the Principle of Existence on the one hand, and Hypostasis (Person) and Mode of Existence on the other. The second component is closely related, and this is the distinction within the Trinity of Three Unique Hypostatic (Personal) Modes of Willing of the one divine natural will, “according to good pleasure, according to Economy, and according to consent,” the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit respectively. Finally, the third component is the Triniadologic scheme of history implied by such triads as “Genesis, Kinesis, Stasis” and more especially by “Being, Well- or Ill-Being, and Ever- Well- or Ill- Being.” All men are truly resurrected in Christ to “ever-being”, but the state in “ever-well-being” or “ever-ill-being” that each will enjoy or suffer that resurrection depends upon their hypostatic mode of willing and existence in this life.”

I find the above last statement compatible with St Seraphim’s words here.

St. Seraphim of Sarov on the Three Wills

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Antony the Great in his letters to Monks says of such virgins: ‘Many Monks and virgins have no idea of the different kinds of will which act in man, and they do not know that we are influenced by three wills: the first is God’s all-perfect and all-saving will: the second is our own human will which, if not destructive, yet neither is it saving; and the third is the devil’s will—wholly destructive.’ And this third will of the enemy teaches man either not to do any good deeds, or to do them out of vanity, or to do them merely for virtue’s sake and not for Christ’s sake. The second, our own will, teaches us to do everything to flatter our passions, or else it teaches us like the enemy to do good for the sake of good and not care for the grace which is acquired by it. But the first, God’s all-saving will, consists in doing good solely to acquire the Holy Spirit, as an eternal, inexhaustible treasure which cannot be rightly valued. The acquisition of the Holy Spirit is, so to say, the oil which the foolish virgins lacked. They were called foolish just because they had forgotten the necessary fruit of virtue, the grace of the Holy Spirit, without which no one is or can be saved, for: ‘Every soul is quickened by the Holy Spirit and exalted by purity and mystically illumined by the Trinal Unity.'”

from Conversations of St. Seraphim with Motovilov