st seraphim of sarov
by St. Gregory Thaumaturgus the Wonderworker
Homily 1: On the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary
“Today are strains of praise sung joyfully by the choir of angels, and the light of the advent of Christ shines brightly upon the faithful. Today is the glad spring-time to us, and Christ the Sun of righteousness has beamed with clear light around us, and has illumined the minds of the faithful. Today is Adam made anew, and moves in the choir of angels, having winged his way to heaven. Today is the whole circle of the earth filled with joy, since the sojourn of the Holy Spirit has been realized to men. Today the grace of God and the hope of the unseen shine through all wonders transcending imagination, and make the mystery that was kept hidden from eternity plainly discernible to us. Today are woven the chaplets of never-fading virtue. Today, God, willing to crown the sacred heads of those whose pleasure is to hearken to Him, and who delight in His festivals, invites the lovers of unswerving faith as His called and His heirs; and the heavenly kingdom is urgent to summon those who mind celestial things to join the divine service of the incorporeal choirs. Today is fulfilled the word of David, Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad. The fields shall be joyful, and all the trees of the wood before the Lord, because He comes. David thus made mention of the trees; and the Lord's forerunner also spoke of them as trees that should bring forth fruits meet for repentance, or rather for the coming of the Lord. But our Lord Jesus Christ promises perpetual gladness to all those who believe in Him. For He says, I will see you, and you shall rejoice; and your joy no man takes from you. Today is the illustrious and ineffable mystery of Christians, who have willingly set their hope like a seal upon Christ, plainly declared to us. Today did Gabriel, who stands by God, come to the pure virgin, bearing to her the glad annunciation ...”
by St. Simeon The New Theologian
… If you ignore these things, my beloved one, don’t put yourself in despair, saying, ‘I have not seen these things, nor can I ever know them; I will never have the power to reach and rise up to the height of this knowledge, contemplation and cleanness’. Don’t you say, again, ‘Because, if someone won’t become like this, to ware in himself the Christ as God in this life already, and see the Christ himself and whole, and take Him to dwell in himself, one won’t enter in His Kingdom, of what use is it to me to fight, even a little, or even to lose the current pleasures?’ Don’t say this; don't even think about it, but if you wish, listen to my advice and I will announce you the way of salvation, with the help of the Grace of the all-holy Spirit.
First of all, believe with all your soul that whatever we said according to the divine and god-inspired Scriptures, are all true, and that whoever believes in the Son of God has to become this, because He granted us power to become sons of God, and if we want it, nothing can stop us. (...)
For it is certain, that if you won’t believe in these, that they happen indeed this way, you won’t ask for them to happen at all, and if you won’t ask you won’t receive. Because He says, "Seek, and ye shall find, ask, and it shall be given you" (Matt. 7.7). If you believe, follow the divine Scriptures and do what they say and you will find everything without exception as it is written - rather, you will find much more than what is in the godly Scriptures. And what are these? ‘What eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man’, the gifts ‘which God hath prepared for them that love him’ (1 Cor. 2.9). These gifts, if you believe with certainty, as we said, you will see, without any doubt at all, just as Paul, so you too - and not only this, but you will also hear ineffable words, since, as you understood, you will be seized to Paradise, even now. Which Paradise? Where the thief entered together with the Christ, and there now remains.
from the "Moral Speeches"—Excerpts from Speech 3
by St. Seraphim of Sarov, The Reasons Why Jesus Christ Came into the World
The reasons why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world are these:
- The love of God for the human race: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16).
- The restoration in fallen humanity of the image and likeness of God, as the holy Church celebrates it: "Man who, being made in the image of God, had become corrupt through sin, and was full of vileness, and had fallen away from the better life Divine, doth the wise Creator restore anew" (First Canon of Matins for the Nativity of Christ).
- The salvation of men’s souls: "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).
And so we, in conformance with the purposes of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, should spend our life in accordance with this Divine teaching, so that through it we may obtain the salvation of our souls.