“Now see, young man, that you don’t let me down.”
In August of 2007, my wife and I took a tour of the Golden Ring.1 We travelled to the museums, monasteries, and churches. Not as pilgrims, but just to raise our cultural level. We always regarded the Church with respect, considered ourselves Orthodox, but we had no more than a vague understanding of Christianity, taken mainly from western films.
At forty years of age I thought that Christians believed in a Single God—Jesus Christ. I was even slightly preoccupied with the question: Where did God the Father go after the resurrection of the Son? I heard something about the Trinity, which was mixed up in my head with Andrei Rublev, the angels, and Abraham. I had also heard of the Holy Spirit but it just didn’t fit into my concept of Christianity, although I read the Gospels— three from start to finish and half of John. The last one seemed awfully complicated, and I didn’t have the werewithall.
Well, of course I knew how to behave in church, just like any Orthodox person. I walked in, crossed myself, and bought some candles—one for the dead, another for the Mother of God, a third for God, and a fourth for the saint. You light a candle, place it in the candle stand, cross yourself, ask the Mother of God for family happiness, God for defense against your enemies, the Crucifix for help for your relatives in the other world, and the saint—something for yourself.
My life at the time was more or less successful. A loving wife, children, a good job, material prosperity, vacations on sunny beaches and in beautiful cities. Everything was fine. My wife unexpectedly got the inclination to skip the Canaries and ride along the Golden Ring instead. We had never been there; let’s go and partake of our own culture. Off we went.
Well, among the other places of interest we were taken to the Monastery of the Resurrection in the town of Uglich. They lead us off the bus, told us about when it was founded, when it was closed, and when it was restored, and then took us to the monastery church. It was a plain building, with whitewashed walls. It looked more like a peasant hut than an Orthodox church.
I looked, and on the wall hung two large icons—one of St. Seraphim of Sarov, and one of some other elderly man. Although I knew nothing about the Holy Trinity I knew and respected St. Seraphim. I looked at the saints and suddenly and unexpectedly felt I could trust them. I wanted to go up and ask a secret wish. An inexplicable conviction arose that if you ask they will give it to you.
Because my life was more or less successful I had allowed myself to grow a respectable beer belly, a double chin, and fat cheeks. I drank a lot of expensive alcohol, chased by an abundance of caloric appetizers—mostly meat. This caused me problems with physical exercise. I dreamt of going to the gym and dropping extra weight but my corpulent body resisted and held me back.
So now I looked at St. Seraphim and the second elder and asked them, “Help me to start going to the gym; I want to get in shape and be strong, I don’t want this oncoming flabbiness. Give me a push, give me the opportunity to make the first step, and I won’t let you down.”
I don’t know how to explain this, but they looked at me sternly and I heard the answer: “Look, young man, you promised not to let me down.”
Young man? At age forty? Why “young man”? “Of course I promise,” I said. “You just give me a push, help me out.”
I left the church fully expecting a wave of unprecedented physical energy, but nothing happened. I did not become stronger or more energetic the next day either, nor the next week, nor the next…
A month later I quit drinking. I woke up one morning after the usual drinking bout and understood that I will not drink anymore. That’s enough. I’d drunk my fill. Of course I was sure that this caprice would pass by evening. It wasn’t the first morning I had resolved to stop drinking, and by that time I had a lot of experience. But it didn’t pass. Two days later, lost in my guesses as to what had happened to me, I suddenly remembered Father Seraphim’s stern look and his demand that I not let him down.
Now I haven’t drunk for six years, I go to the gym and the pool, have a better physique and have shed a number of ailments. I am not drawn to alcohol in the least, and this is without any effort on my part. It’s an ordinary Miracle.
But most importantly, my wife and I now believe in the Trinity One in Essence and Undivided; we know what repentance is, we receive Holy Communion, and after three decades of living together we have been married sacramentally in the church.
Thanks to the prayers of St. Seraphim I now know that my life was not successful at all, but to the contrary I had spent the greater part of it drinking and eating, but I am not offended at the saint for letting me know this.
I thank you Father Seraphim, for your prayers for this forty-year-old teenager, which saved his life!
I feel warm! Warm!
In the summer of 2013 my mother’s friend came to visit us. For about two months she was unable to cure a bad cough. Her “hack-hack” carried throughout the apartment. It is worth noting that this lady was a Tatar Muslim. During our conversation, between her coughing bouts, she took an icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov and pressed it to her chest. “Help me, please!” she said beforehand.
“I feel warm! Warm!” she said, now afterward. Her surprise knew no bounds—the warmth was so strong that the icon left a red mark on her chest. That is how Father Seraphim helped a person in need, and also strengthened our faith. Wondrous is God in His saints!
Despair overwhelmed my soul
The holy wonderworker and God-pleaser: great are his miracles! I always ask him to strengthen my faith. I always ask him to confirm me in the faith and understanding of God’s will. I did time in a penitentiary in Nizhny Novgorod province, and at times despair overwhelmed my soul.
Once it became very hard; I was in the hospital and the brothers of a local church brought me oil blessed on the saint’s relics. I made the sign of the cross with it on my forehead and prayed. The saint’s example of praying on the rock2 always gave me strength. I recovered, was released before the end of my term, and haven’t backslidden for five years now. I live and labor, and glory be to God, although things are not problem-free it is not that outer darkness that I had before. Glory be to God. Rejoice, holy God-pleaser Seraphim!!!
My wife and I were unable to have children for a long time
For me, St. Seraphim of Sarov is one of the greatest saints! I feel his wonderworking help every time I turn to him with prayer. My wife and I were unable to have children for a long time. Our relationship was not working out.
In 2012 we took my mother-in-law to Diveyevo, and she is not a religious woman. Well, we went to all the holy places. We immersed ourselves in all the holy springs and venerated St. Seraphim’s relics. And a miracle occurred. No more than a month went by before my wife got pregnant. Now our daughter Nastenka was born—a strong, healthy child.
I continue to go to Diveyevo alone, with pilgrimage groups by bus, because my wife is breastfeeding. But when Nastenka gets bigger the whole family will definitely continue to visit Diveyevo. That is our St. Seraphim of Sarov—a great wonderworker! May the Lord help us all!