Orthodox America

  Spiritual Counsels of Saint Seraphim

    He who loves himself cannot love God. But he who, for love of God, does not love himself, loves God.

    A man who has taken upon himself to travel the path of internal mindfulness must have above all the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom. Upon his mind there must always be engraved these words of the prophet: Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice in Him with trembling (Ps. 2:11).

    Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, by the prayers of the Mother of God, have mercy on me a sinner; or one may have recourse directly to the Most Holy Mother of God, praying: Most Holy Mother of God, save us; or one may repeat the angelic greeting: Rejoice, Mother of God, Virgin... By such exercises in preserving oneself from dispersion and keeping peace of conscience one may draw near to God and be united to Him. For in the words of St. Isaac the Syrian: Without uninterrupted prayer we cannot draw near to God" (Homily 69).

    When at prayer in church it is profitable to stand with closed eyes in internal mindfulness, and to open your eyes only when you become downcast, or when sleep should weigh you down and incline you to doze; then you should fix your eyes upon an icon and the candle burning before it.

    Why one must always strive not to give oneself up to dispersion of thoughts: for through this the soul turns away from remembrance of God and love of Him through the working of the devil, as St. Macarius says: the whole concern of our enemy is this, to turn our thought away from remembrance of  God,

    We should thank the Lord for everything and give ourselves up to His will; we should likewise offer Him all our thoughts, words, and strive to make everything serve only His good pleasure.

    One should always endure any trial for the sake of God with gratitude. Our life is a single minute in comparison with eternity; and therefore, according to the Apostle, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18).

      Let us love humility and we shall see the glory of God.

      We should do works of mercy with a good disposition of soul, according to the teaching of St. Isaac the Syrian (Homily 80): If you give to one who asks, let the joy of your countenance precede your gift, and comfort his sorrow with good words.

      With one's neighbor one should behave kindly, giving not even the appearance of offending. When we turn away from a man or offend him, it is as though a stone were laid on the heart.

      One must strive to encourage the spirit of a disturbed or desponding man by a word of love.

      It is the mark of a wise soul when a man plunges his mind within himself and has activity in his heart. Then the grace of God overshadows him, and he is in a peaceful state, and by means of this also in a most peaceful state: peaceful, that is, with a good conscience; and most peaceful, for the mind beholds within itself the grace of the Holy Spirit, according to the word of God: And His place is in peace (Ps. 75:3).

    More than anything else one should adorn oneself with silence; for St. Ambrose of Milan says: I have seen many being saved by silence, but not one by talkativeness. And again one of the Fathers says that silence is the mystery of the future age, while words 

(From the Little Russian Philokalia; St. Herman Press)