Blessed Seraphim told those followers who strove
to take excessive feats upon themselves that not complaining and humbly bearing
insults are our "verigi" and our hair shirt. (The word verigi
in Russian means iron chains and various weights. A hair shirt is clothing made
of thick, very coarse wool; some ascetics wore these things to burden their
It is not necessary to undertake feats beyond
oneís strength. Instead, one must try to keep our friend ó our body ó right and
capable of performing virtues. One must follow the middle route, turning
neither to the right hand nor the left (Prov. 4:27), giving the spirit the
spiritual, and the body the physical things necessary for maintaining temporal
life. One should also not refuse that which society legally demands, according
to the words of the Gospel: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things
which are Caesarís; and unto God the things that are Godís" (Mt.
One should condescend to oneís soul in its
infirmities and imperfections, endure oneís deficiencies as we bear the
failings of others, not become lazy, and continually urge oneself to be better.
If you have eaten too much food or done anything
else related to human weakness, do not be upset. Do not add injury to injury,
but, urging yourself to correction, courageously try to keep spiritual peace
according to the words of the Apostle: "Happy is he that condemneth not
himself in that thing which he alloweth" (Rom. 14:22). This same
meaning is contained in the words of the Saviour: "Except ye be
converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom
of heaven" (Mt. 18:3).
Any success in any area we must assign to the Lord
and say with the prophet: "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto
thy name give glory" (Ps. 115:1).
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