Feast Day: March 21st
Troparion: As all-bright star of Russian land, you shone on Vyritsa highland Holy Monk Seraphim. And led by the power of Holy Spirit, you spiritually illumined our land with the light of your wonders. Therefore hurrying to your grave, we call with love, Pray to God Christ for salvation of our Souls.
Born in 1866, Baptised at two weeks old, named Basil after Saint Basil the New Confessor. He was educated and worked as a successful businessman, he married a woman named Olga, and they had a son named Nikolai.
“You never need to ask the Lord for anything Earthly. He knows better than us what is good for us. Always Pray: ‘I give, O Lord, myself, my children, and my friends and family over to Thy Holy Will.'”
When Nikolai grew up, both Olga and Vasily agreed to enter Monasteries. In 1920 they were both Tonsured to Monastacism, Vasily received the name Barnabas, and Olga received the name Christina. They were both later Tonsured to Great Schema, Monk Barnabas received the name Seraphim, and Nun Christina received the name Seraphima, both named after Saint Seraphim of Sarov.
“I was walking to the services at St. Nicholas’ Monastery through the forest trying to find the path. Suddenly I saw an Elder with a sack behind his shoulder and small axe. I asked him if he knew how to get to St. Nicholas’ Monastery and the Elder answered: ‘Let’s go, I will show you. I am going there myself.’ I looked at this Elder more closely and recognized St. Seraphim of Sarov in him and asked: ‘Batyushka, are you Father Seraphim?’ The Elder answered: ‘Yes, I am Seraphim’, and they continued to walk. Fr. Seraphim stopped near a small stump, sat on it, and put his sack and axe on the ground. I sat near him. Suddenly, from another side very unexpectedly appeared Father Barnabas and he sat near me so I was between both Elders, who were very joyful, and gave hugs and kisses to each other and started to talk, but I couldn’t understand what they talked about and awoke….”
Great was the strength of the Prayers of Saint Seraphim, healing both the Souls and bodies of people, helping everyone both Spiritually and practically. Saint Seraphim became very sick and he suffered greatly. Schemanun Seraphima and their twelve year old granddaughter Margarita, a novice, would often visit him and help care for him.
“May God’s Will be done for everything. Sickness is a school of humility, where you really learn about your weakness.”
“Always give thanks for everything, even for the afflictions, to the Lord and the Panagia.”
During the persectuion of the Orthodox Faith, Saint Seraphim did not heed to his great illness, but rather spent his time talking with people, Praying, and writing letters to encourage his Spiritual children.
“Now I always will be ill. While I can raise my hand to Bless people, I will be meeting with them.”
Below is a letter Saint Seraphim wrote to one of his Spiritual children, a Bishop, when he was in a Soviet prison.
This was from Me.
Have you ever thought that everything that touches you touches Me as well? For that which touches you touches the apple of My eye. You are dear in my eyes, precious, and I have loved you; therefore it is a particular pleasure for Me to educate you.
When temptations arise against you, and the enemy comes like a river, I want you to know – This was from Me. Your weakness needs My strength, and your safety comes from giving Me the opportunity to fight for you.
If you find yourself in difficult circumstances, among people who do not understand you, who do not take what you like into consideration, who alienate you – This was from Me. I am God, Who arranges circumstances. It was no accident that you find yourself in the place where you are; this is the place I have appointed for you. Did you not ask that I teach you humility? Well, then, look: I have placed you in precisely that place, in that school, where this lesson is learned. Your surroundings and those who live with you are only fulfilling My Will.
If you find yourself in financial difficulty, if you find it hard to make ends meet – This was from Me. For have your material means at my disposal. I want you to call unto me, for you to be dependent upon Me. My reserves are inexhaustible. I want you to be confirmed in fidelity to Me and to My promises. May it not be said to you in your need: “You did not believe in the Lord your God.”
Are you in a night of suffering? Are you separated from our loved ones and those close to your heart? This was from Me. I am the Man of suffering, Who has tasted affliction. I have allowed this so that you would turn to Me, so that in Me you would find Eternal comfort.
If you have been let down by your friend, to someone to whom you opened your heart – This was from Me. I allowed this disappointment to touch you so that you would know that your best friend is the Lord. I want you to bring everything to Me and to speak to Me. Has someone slandered you? Give this to me, and bring your Soul closer to Me, your Refuge, to hide from the “contradiction of the nations.” I shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.
If your plans have been destroyed, if you are downtrodden in Soul and tired – This was from Me. You made plans, and brought them to Me, so that I would Bless them. But I want you to leave Me in charge of the circumstances of your life, and then responsibility for everything will be Mine, for this is too difficult for you; by yourself you can not manage them, for you are only an instrument, and not the actor.
If unanticipated problems of life have visited you, and if despondency has seized your heart, then know – This was from Me. For I want your heart and your Soul to be always aflame before My eyes; to conquer faint-heartedness of the Soul in My Name.
If you do not hear from your dear ones and friends for a long time, and in your faint-heartedness fall into despondency and grumbling, know – This was from Me. By this anguish in your spirit, I test the strength of your faith in the surety of My promise and the strength of your boldness in Prayer for these dear ones of yours. Was it not you who entrusted them to the Protection of My All-Pure Mother? Was it not you who once entrusted their care to My providential love?
If serious illness, either temporary or incurable, has visited you, and has confined to your bed, then know – This was from Me. For I want you to know Me even more deeply in you bodily infirmities, so that you would not grumble over this trial sent to you, that you would not try to penetrate My plans through different means for the salvation of people’s Souls, but that you would uncomplainingly and submissively bow you neck under My goodness towards you.
If you have dreamed of performing some special deed for Me, and instead haven fallen onto a bed of sickness and weakness – This was from Me. Then you would have been immersed in your activities, and I would not have been able to attract your thoughts to Me, for I want to teach you My deepest thoughts and lessons, so that you would be in My service. I want to teach you to recognize that you are nothing. Some of My best co-workers are those who have been cut off from vital activity, that they would learn to wield the weapon of unceasing Prayer. Have you unexpectedly been called to occupy a difficult and responsible position? Go, place it on Me. I entrust these difficulties to you so that the Lord God would Bless you for this in all your deeds, on all your paths, in everything that will done by your hands. On this day I put into your hands a vessel of Holy oil. Use it generously, My children! Every difficulty that arises, every word that insults you, every obstacle to your work that could elicit in you a feeling of annoyance, every revelation of your weakness and inability, shall be anointed with this oil.
Remember that every obstacle is a Divine instruction. Every sting will be dulled when you learn to see Me in everything that touches you. Therefore place the word I have declared to you today in your heart: This was from Me. For this is not an empty matter for you – this is your life.
“Not what you want, but whatever God wants. Pray that He may show you His Will.”
“Even in the most difficult times, he who will occupy himself diligently with the Jesus Prayer will be able to be easily saved.”
“You are the joy of my heart Creator, God and my Father. My Soul burdened with sins longs for Heaven, where the afflictions and the illnesses will stop. Glory to the great God and Lord! Chant my spirit with joy, my heart longs for Your Holy Church, where is the Sweetest Lord Jesus!”
Saint Seraphim was very strict with himself practicing great asceticism with fasting, all-night vigils and Prayer. The Holy Elder did not eat any food on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and sometimes he even fasted for several days at a time. When he did eat, his food would include a portion of a Prosphora and some Holy Water. Other times he would eat only a portion of a potato, or some grated carrot. However, he did receive Holy Communion every day, and this was his imperishable food.
“Let them speak bad of us. And we will do our best to do good.”
Every time someone would open the door of the Cell of Saint Seraphim, they would find him on his knees crying and Praying with his arms raised to Heaven.
“Pray for the enemies. If you do not Pray, the flame of their anger and hatred for you only grows stronger, as if you pour oil into it like kerosene. Demons burn anger towards you in your enemies. If you do not Pray more furiously they will set more enemies on you. And only by our Prayer will the Lord drive the enemies away, the demons disappear and the malice stops.”
Wishing to imitate his Heavenly teacher Saint Seraphim of Sarov, the Holy Elder Seraphim undertook a podvig to Pray every day on a rock, on his knees, in the garden, before the Icon of Saint Seraphim of Sarov which he placed on a young apple tree near the rock. He did this during the time when he was greatly suffering from his poor health. He did this for ten years, Praying for the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church and the salvation of the whole world. When he was 72 years old, his relatives would help him walk to the rock, and even carry him there sometimes because he was unwell. He would agonisingly Pray here for as long as he could, sometimes one hour, or sometimes several hours.
“Imagine what’s happening today. Some mothers who resemble Herod in inhumaneness and harshness, slaughter their own innocent children.”
“There will come a time when not the persecutions but the money and the goods of this world will take people far from God. And many more Souls will be lost than in the time of the persecutions…”
“There will come a time when corruption and lewdness among the youth will reach the utmost point. There will hardly be any virgin youth left. They will see their lack of punishment and will think that everything is allowable for them to satisfy their desires. God will call them, however, and they will realize that it will not be possible for them to continue such a life. Then in various ways they will be led to God… That time will be beautiful. That today they are sinning greatly, will lead them to a deeper repentance. Just like the candle before it goes out, it shines strongly and throws sparks; with its light, it enlightens the surrounding darkness; thus, it will be the Church’s life in the last age. And that time is near.”
“There will come a time when not the persecutions but money and the goods of this world will take people far from God. Then many more Souls will be lost than in the time of the persecutions. On the one hand, they will be putting gold on the domes and will put the Crosses on them and, on the other hand, everywhere evil and falsehood will reign. The true Church will always be persecuted. They who want to be saved will be saved with illnesses and afflictions. The way in which the persecutions will occur will be very sly and it will be very difficult for one to foresee the persecutions. Dreadful will be that time; I pity those who will be living then.”
“Many times we become sick because we do not Pray before beginning our food and we do not seek from God to bless it.In olden times everything people did they did with Prayer. They Prayed when they plowed the Earth, in the sowing they Prayed; they also Prayed when they harvested the fruits. We today do not know who produces these things we are eating, and many times we do not know who is cooking our food. These people may be cursing and blaspheming, when they are cooking it. For this reason it would be good before eating our food to throw some Holy Water on it. All these things which we use for food are God’s gifts to people. Through them all of nature and the noetic world of Angels serve man. For this reason each time we sit down to eat, we should Pray with much diligence.”
The last years of his life saw Saint Seraphim bed-ridden. Early in the morning, he saw Our Most Holy Theotokos pointing up to the sky with her right hand. He Prayed the Akathists to Our Panagia, Saint Seraphim of Sarov, and Saint Nicholas. He then received Holy Communion and read the Psalter and Holy Gospel. In the evening he was helped onto a chair where he Prayed, and often asked those with him what time it was. At 2am he read the Prayer for the Departure of the Soul, then Crossed himself and said “Lord, save and have mercy on the whole world.” Then he gave his Soul into the hands of His beloved Lord Jesus Christ.
Below are some photos of the Holy Graves of Saint Seraphim of Vyritsa and Schemanun Seraphima. You can also see the large Cross on the wall which Miraculously is streaming Myrrh.
Read about the Miraculous appearance of the Crown of Thorns in the Icon below.