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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

St. Seraphim of Sarov - That is how the souls of the righteous depart

Near St. Seraphim’s cell was the cell of a monk called Paul who, being his neighbor, performed the duties of his cell attendant.When he went from the monastery to his near hermitage, St. Seraphim used to leave candles burning in his cell which he had lit from morning before the icons. Father Paul had often told him that burning candles might cause of fire. To this St. Seraphim always replied:
“While I am alive, there will be no fire, but when I die, my death will be revealed by fire.”
His prediction was justified.
On the 1st January 1833, Father Paul noticed that St. Seraphim went out of his cell three times in the course of the day to the spot which he had assigned as the place of his burial. In the evening he heard Father Seraphim singing in his cell the holy songs of the Easter Canon: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, ” “Shine, shine, New Jerusalem,” “O great and holiest Passover, Christ.”
About 6 in the morning on the 2nd January 1833, Father Paul, on leaving his cell to attend the early Liturgy, noticed in the ante-room near Fr. Seraphim’smell the of smoke. Having said the customary prayer he knocked at the door, but there was no answer. Then he went outside and tsomeone of the brethren who were passing by. One of them, the novice Anikita saw that various presents made of coarse linen which had been given to the Saint by zealous pilgrims and which we’re lying in great disorder on a bench together with some books, had begun to smoulder. They had probably been kindled by a fallen whose candle-stick was nearby.
It was dark outside; there was no fire in the cell, and the Elder himself was neither to be seen or heard. Meanwhile, he early liturgy in the hospital church was going on. They were already singing “It is truly meet”, when the young novice ran into the church and informed the brethren of what had happened. The monks hastened to St. Serphim’s cell. Father Paul and the novice John, wanting to know whether the Elder was resting, began to grope in the dark in his cell, and found the elder himself. They brought a lighted candle and saw that St. Seraphim was kneeling before the Icon of Our Lady of Compunction: He was in his usual white smock, bare-headed, with a brass crucifix hanging from his neck and with his arms crossed on his chest.
At first they thought that blessed Elder had fallen asleep and began to try wake him up, but there was no response. The great ascetic had already finished his earthly pilgrimage and was resting for ever in God. His eyes were closed. His face was animated by his last prayer.
With the blessing of the superior the monks lifted the Saint’s body and, having dressed him according to monastic regulations in a mantle in the adjoining cell of Hieromonk Eustace, they put him into the oaken coffin which he made with his own hands and carried him into the cathedral.
On the actual day of the Saint’s death Abbot Philaret of the Glinsky Monastery of the Mother of God (Province of Kursk) went out of the church after Matins and, glancing up at the sky, he was astonished to see an extraordinary light. Then the abbot saw in spirit that it was the soul of St. Seraphim ascending to the heavenly mansions, and he said to the brethren who were with him: “That is how the souls of the righteous depart. Father Seraphim has just passed away in Sarov.” 

(St. Seraphim of Sarov: A Spiritual Biography by Archimandrite Lazarus Moor. Chap XVIII The Last Year pp. 429-434)

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