Letter to a prisoner.

Knowing the true nature of things, and therefore, having salvation with Thanksgiving.

 

11/23/2017, Thanksgiving morning.

 

Title: PortraIT  of Fr Seraphim and a young kid - Description: http://www.orthodox.net/photos/prison-ministry/portrait-of-fr-seraphim-with-a-kid_2017-11-23.jpg

Portrait of Priest Seraphim and Ellie, and the picture upon which it is based.

 

Dear in Christ …: I love the picture! I have printed it out.

 

I love even more that you're at the … unit now! Slava Bogy! Now, we need to ask God if …. can get up from the … unit to the … unit. That would really make me very happy.

 

Please write a I-60 to the chaplains. Ask to be laid in for the Orthodox service it is on the … and the … Wednesday from … to …. The … Wednesday in December which is coming up real soon; I will celebrate divine liturgy. If you want please say the preparation prayers for communion and be ready for confession before the liturgy. It will be a very happy day for me to be able to give you communion.

 

I told … at the … unit that you are now at the Michael unit, he was very excited. He's very fond of you.

 

I don't know what else to tell you right now my friend. Today is Thanksgiving Day. We had a beautiful liturgy this morning. The word Eucharist actually means "Thanksgiving". So, we had the Eucharist service, with some other special prayers of thanksgiving to God.

 

We read 2 Gospels this morning, one was about the 10 lepers who were cleansed and only one came back to give thanks to God and he was a Samaritan. The other was where Christ was telling the people that just because somebody dies in a sudden way doesn't mean that they are actually sinful. He talked about the time when the tower of Siloam on fell on people and 18 died and also when Pilate mixed the blood of some men from Galilee with the sacrifices in order to punish them. I guess he killed them first.

 

I saw a connection between these two Gospels. It seems to me that in order to give thanks we must first have put in the work. We must be struggling to live according to the commandments, praying, fasting, forgiving our brother, and especially forgiving and praying for our enemy. If we just look at the external things in life then will always be mad about stuff, but there is an inner life in everything. If we see the inner life, we see God working in our life even if it doesn't appear to others that He is. For instance, somebody could say, well …’s in prison for years and years and years God has forgotten him. But that's not true at all. And not only has God not forgotten you but he brought to you to his church in prison, and I’ll never forget you and I will pray for you until I die. … loves you very much and prayers for you. … loves you very much and he prays for you when he's doing well. And if you're still alive when I die then I hope I'll be able to pray for you when I'm dead as well. That would mean that I'm in the kingdom.

 

I kind of have a little hobby. I like to find different ways to say what salvation is. Of course, my favorite one is that we would know God. That comes from my favorite Bible verse in John 17:3, "And this is eternal life that they may know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent". Of course, to know God we have to become like him and we have to be united with him.

 

 I think another way to describe salvation is to have peace in our heart. Of course, God is peace. So, if we have peace in our heart we have God in our heart and we are united to God.   If we have peace in our heart with God in our heart, then we have completely conquered sin which was the whole purpose of the incarnation – to allow man to completely overcome sin.

 

Another way is that we know the true nature of things. That's what these two Gospels remind me of today. One of these Gospels taught explicitly the most of the time we do not know the true nature of things and causes us to sin. The other showed a man who was considered a stranger by the Jews, and arch-heretic, a dog, who understood the true nature of things and that God healed him and he had no need to go to the temple to worship God when he had just left him standing and so he returned to worship Him.

 

Too often (almost most of the time!), we sinful humans look at things and do not understand what they mean. We see somebody and think they are terrible and sinful when actually they pray with tears at night and God hears their prayers. We see somebody that we think is good actually they have terrible secrets in their life. We see something that happens and we think it means this, or another thing and it means that. We complain too much, not understanding that God is helping us in everything that happens in our life. Only God knows all things. He knows why everything happens. If we are united with God, then we know the things of God which means we know why things happen we know what is really true and what is really false. If we know the truth of things, then we would be continually giving thanks to God.

 

I'm really sorry, my brother and good friend, that your family is not contacting you. I can't pretend that I understand what that feels like completely but I have an idea. I think the only way really understand something is to experience it.

 

There's some really good guys at the … unit. I think that you will be much happier there. I'm ecstatic that I will be able to see you twice a month now.

 

I guess I'll stop now, and send this now and hope that you will get it on Friday. Of course, there may not be many people at the prison on Friday since they might give people extra time off, so maybe you won't get this until Monday. Remember to send the I–60. May God help you in all things your letter and your picture made me very happy and I showed it to Marina and she was very happy too.

 

…….

 

SEEK GOD daily. But seek Him in your heart, not outside it. And when you find Him, stand with fear and trembling, like the Cherubim and the Seraphim, for your heart has become a throne of God. But in order to find God, become humble as dust before the Lord, for the Lord abhors the proud, whereas He visits those that are humble in heart, wherefor He says: "To whom will I look, but to him that is meek and humble in heart?" St Nektarios of Aegina

"Oh, if you only knew what joy, what sweetness awaits a righteous soul in Heaven! You would decide in this mortal life to bear any sorrows, persecutions and slander with gratitude. If this very cell of ours was filled with worms, and these worms were to eat our flesh for our entire life on earth, we should agree to it with total desire, in order not to lose, by any chance, that heavenly joy which God has prepared for those who love Him." St. Seraphim of Sarov

"The misfortune of monasteries nowadays is that people come here with weak wills". Archiamandrite Seraphim, "Every day Saints and other stories" page 53

You are a monk... All that we wanted from you was just one thing, the main thing: repentance and prayer. Instead of that, you gave us this woodwork..." The Mother of God speaking to Hieromonk Gabriel, later great schema monk Melchisedec, in a vision.  "Every day Saints and other stories" page 77

Let us ask the important question, “What is faith?” Faith, as the scripture says elsewhere, is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) In practical terms this means that faith is the confidence that we have in something or someone that is beyond our control and our understanding and that confidence is such that we can anchor our hopes and expectations to it. Faith is not just believing; it is acting on that belief and in harmony with it. Faith then becomes the basis for how we act and the choices that we make in our lives. From "Law and Grace", a homily on Gal 2:16-20, by Protopriest David Moser, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/

The God-man is each and every aspect of Orthodoxy, for He infinitely magnifies man.

He elevates him to God; He makes him a god by grace. And He did this without reckoning man less than God, but filled man with all divine perfections. The God-man has glorified man as no other has. He has given him life eternal, Truth eternal, Love eternal, Justice eternal, Joy eternal, Goodness eternal, Blessedness eternal. Man has become divine majesty through the God-man. While the God-man is the fundamental truth of Orthodoxy, the fundamental truth of every heterodoxy is man, or fragments of his being--reason, the will, the senses, the soul, the body, expertise. + St.Justin Popovich