Augustine Sokolovski

The summer commemoration of St. Seraphim (1754–1833) at the beginning of August is always a special day. A milestone, as Russian intellectuals of the past called their famous philosophical collection. This day is the beginning of the last summer month. This is a brief image of the last days. "Summer Sadness" is the title of a Lana del Rey song and a fitting image.

In one of the popular songs of the Soviet era, summer was called "little life." As if forgetting, in the optimism of that era, that life itself is small. Brevity is the sister of the earthly. “Our life is short,” is sung in the Latin hymn Gaudeamus Igitur. For a person, brevity is synonymous with small.

Seraphim was such a small holy man of great holiness. He was a new saint for our old time from God. For holiness is from God, only He - as St. Augustine said - " is forever old and forever young", for he is truly, infinitely different. In the image of His otherness, Seraphim was also different. Otherness is the biblical definition of holiness.

Seraphim was a contemporary of the French Revolution (1789), which turned the world upside down. Almost the same age as Napoleon (1769-1821), he lived at the same time as Pushkin (1799-1837). The greatest Russian poet of all times did not miss Seraphim in time, but never visited him personally.

“In is Lukomorye is a green oak tower, and to it with a gold chain bound, a learned cat whiles away the hours”. The words are filled with images of that world inaccessible to adults. In this world Seraphim lived, and the poet, not knowing, prophetically portrayed it. Seraphim simply replaced the "Pushkin cat" with a bear. An example of a reverse chronology of saints who, by the gift of grace, can live against time. The contemporary, as Giorgio Agamben writes, is out of time. Saints are poets of God.

Seraphim is the image of that genuine Russian Church, which in his time, as, indeed, always, was like the smallest of the matryoshka dolls, to get to which one would have to disassemble too many previous ones.

Seraphim was inaccessible to his contemporaries. It is a reminder of the time of the nineties of the twentieth century, when he was, as it were, re-canonized in the Russian Church. “The White Churches are now a thousand years old,” sang one Orthodox singer. What a revelation it was then!

Seraphim's relics were rediscovered and brought in a procession, becoming a sign of the beginning and end of that recent, but already lived era. Then people really turned to the Forgotten Christ and the Church, which seemed small. The Little Church of the Forgotten Christ - as once in history, once and for all, was convincing.

Life is given to be able to learn to say goodbye. Seraphim was such a teacher of parting with everyday life. Farewell to time, which steals time from a being consisting of time, whose name is man - one of the meanings of his and universal holiness.

Seraphim is available in symbols only. Oblivion - this sister of farewell - hid his biography from us. Perhaps, as in children's fairy tales, it hid her so as not to lose. A stone, a bear, a raspberry... Like Pushkin's "scientist cat" from “Lukomorye” and a golden chain of teachings and proverbs.

Seraphim is unforgettable even in his very monastic name. For so hardly anyone was called among the living. It is named after the Angel of the Flaming God. Seraphim is the smile of Christ, shining from the Heavenly Window. Neither time, nor circumstances, nor milestones of epochs have been able, and indeed were not able to make this smile forget.

The summer memory of St. Seraphim is in August. When, according to Andrei Platonov (1899–1951), you suddenly realize that summer is ending. Then you want to live on, so that summer comes again next year. In the image of the Kingdom of the Father, where the Lord and St. Seraphim - talk in joy with Seraphim’s bear and with those who are no longer with us, he drinks “new wine” with them (Matt. 24:29). My joy,” He says to them, “our Lord will soon return.”