St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
872 N. 29th St. Boise, ID
an American parish of the Russian Orthodox Church
Not Enough Love

“Holiness is nurtured in the family” — Igumen Michael (Semenov)

The workshop of holiness is born from the spirit of the family. The Lord could have appeared in the world any way He wanted; He didn’t even need a father in the flesh, but He was incarnate in a family, and, as it is said, was obedient to His parents (Lk. 2:51).

Thus in Rus’, from time immemorial, children received their moral upbringing, the rudiments of holiness, precisely in the family. When you go on pilgrimage to Greece, to Cyprus, you can see how very carefully the Greeks pass on their traditions from one generation to the next.

Unfortunately, this continuity was broken here during the decades of godless rule. They tried to shift the focus of attention from the family to some more vague class, collective principles. The mother was removed from the family: Alright, they said she was occupied with “socially useful work,” as if birthing and raising children isn’t the main “benefit of society!”

We have to revive our traditions.  We don’t have to seek holiness somewhere else. The Kingdom of God is within you (Lk. 17:21), says the Lord.

Let’s say someone who was a military man his whole life gets tonsured, and he continues to develop all his relationships in the monastery by commanding everyone! He simply can’t do it any other way. If someone else worked most of his life as an accountant, then after taking his vow of poverty, he will extend this accounting, accountability attitude to his novices.

That’s the problem. We must withdraw ourselves for the Lord to act in the Church—to live according to the Gospel, and no other way. In this is the cross.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Acquiring love is, first of all, a matter of purifying the heart; and second, of the work of the Spirit of God in our hearts: And renew a right spirit within me (Ps. 50:12). We are purified by grace! And it is given only by humility.

The conclusion is that we must humble ourselves, not praise ourselves—which is very conducive to these “socialist competitions,” who did what—but self-reproach. Without humility there is not and cannot be true Christian love. In love is holiness.

Creating the angelic and human world, the Lord created it not according to law, not out of necessity, but solely out of love. It is to this exclusivity of life for the sake of love that Christian communities, whether they be parochial or monastic, are called to return. Otherwise, as Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) said, what excuse do we have?