|"Acquire the Holy Spirit and thousands around you will be saved"|
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."
– Psalms 14:1
I would like to share with you some of the teachings of St. Seraphim of Sarov, a Russian Orthodox monk who was born in 1759 in the city of Kursk and died and went to Heaven on January 2, 1833, while kneeling before an icon of the Theotokos (Mary, the Mother of God).
(Excerpts from a conversation of St. Seraphim with N. A. Motovilov)It is fashionable to say that God does not exist, or God is not necessary. And it is especially fashionable to say that organized religion is not necessary. And even that organized religion is a force of evil.
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.
At the present time, owing to our almost universal coldness to our holy faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and our inattention to the working of His Divine Providence in us, and to the communion of man with God, we have gone so far that, one may say, we have almost abandoned the true Christian life.
More than once in other passages of Holy Scripture the appearance of God to men is mentioned. That is why some people say: "These passages are incomprehensible. Is it really possible for people to see God so openly?"
But there is nothing incomprehensible here. This failure to understand has come about because we have departed from the simplicity of the original Christian knowledge. Under the pretext of education, we have reached such a darkness of ignorance that what the ancients understood so clearly seems to us almost inconceivable.
Those who believe these things may be disappointed to know that these ideas are not particularly new or modern. The quotes above from St. Seraphim are from 1831. And the passage from the Psalms is obviously much more ancient than that.
Those seeking novelty, or revolutionary thinking, or profound spirituality have no further to look than the Christian faith. Its message is still new and refreshing, profound and life-changing, deep and mysterious two thousand years after the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The message of Christianity is still relevant in an age of scientific idolatry. In fact even more relevant as science challenges the very essence of man's humanity. No better basis for a moral system has ever been discovered than the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But as St. Seraphim emphasizes, doing good deeds alone is not sufficient.
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.Here is what is missing in the common morality of this generation. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, "good intentions" turn the gifts of God into forces for destruction. Science reverts to paganism.
The utilitarian mindset of the modern world – that seeks to quantify goodness – indoctrinates us into thinking that God does not exist. The "fruits" of this thinking are now in clear evidence. The solutions to the problems facing modern man do not lie in a deeper application of scientific principles in order to "engineer" society. This approach only leads to eugenic solutions.
The most glaring example of this is the "choice" of destroying life in the womb in order to give a woman a better life, or spare a child a life of suffering, or to lessen the burden on the earth's resources. All of which are selfish reasons. This is akin to a modern practice of human sacrifice. The thinking seems to be that if we sacrifice the unborn on the altar of scientific rationalism, then the rest of us may be saved from destruction by an unseen Malthusian population bomb. The parallels to the ancient pagan practice of sacrificing infants in order to appease their gods and avert disaster are striking.
The only solution is to truly trust in Jesus. Christianity has been battling barbarism since its inception. Nothing has changed.