January 2nd is the feast of St. Seraphim of Sarov, the patron saint of my parish. It is the day he reposed (died) in the Lord in 1833. It's lovely how our celebration of his bright life comes right in the middle between Nativity and Theophany festivities, and in the dead of winter. Some pictures of Father Seraphim show him in a snowy forest, and many sayings of and about him talk about the warmth of prayer and of the Holy Spirit.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere we need all the heat we can get right about now. Most of us have been extra elated and/or exhausted by our holidays, leaving us vulnerable to emotional ups and downs. I know that in the last couple of years, the doldrums of January got a hold on me, but this year I intend to fortify myself and resist the downward pull by various means. When the earth is dark and cold it's clear how earthly, not heavenly, is my own self. But the Light of the World has come, and with some effort I hope to rest more constantly in the sphere of His brilliance.
I've been hunting around the Internet for more quotes from St. Seraphim to add to my treasures, and found on this blog a list of "Ten Counsels of St. Seraphim," of which the quotes on Despondency seem to the point:
Just as the Lord cares for our salvation, so the devil, the killer of men, strives to lead man to despondency.
When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: "What are you to us, you who are cut off from God, a fugitive from Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we trample on your head."
Father Seraphim spent many years alone in the forest, learning to pray and acquiring the Holy Spirit, after which he returned to the monastery where he spent many more years counseling and healing the crowds who lined up to see him every day. He "gave them the Lord" as I've heard people put it.
One meeting and conversation that Father Seraphim had with his friend N.A. Motovilov tells us quite a bit about him and is quoted at length here. Father Seraphim talked much about our need to "acquire the Holy Spirit Who acts within us and establishes in us the Kingdom of God."
That is certainly what I need. Even now, after much excitement and little sleep just in the last few days, I feel that earthy heaviness mocking my faith. But with God's help, and by the prayers of Saint Seraphim and all the saints, I hope to get the blood moving in my lazy soul, trample more often on that ugly head, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until I reach Springtime.