ow, I asked Father Seraphim, "can I know that I am in the grace of the Holy Spirit? I do not understand how I can be certain that I am in the Spirit of God. How can I discern for myself his true manifestation in me?"
Father Seraphim replied: "I have already told you, Your Godliness, that it is very simple and I have related in detail how people come to be in the Spirit of God and how we can recognize his presence in us. So what do you want, my son?" I want to understand it well" I said. Then Father Seraphim took me very firmly by the shoulders and said: 'We are both in the Spirit of God now, my son. Why don't you look at me?" I replied: I cannot look, Batiushka, because your eyes are flashing like lightning. Your face has become brighter than the sun, and my eyes ache with pain."
Father Seraphim said: "Don't be alarmed, Your Godliness! Now you yourself have become as bright as I am. You are now in the fullness of the Spirit of God yourself, otherwise you would not be able to see me as I am." Then bending his head toward me, he whispered softly in my ear: "Thank the Lord God for his unutterable mercy to us! You saw that I did not even cross myself; and only in my heart I prayed mentally to the Lord and said within myself. 'Lord, grant him to see clearly with his bodily eyes that descent of thy Spirit which thou grantest to thy servants when thou art pleased to appear in the light of thy magnificent glory.' And you see my son, the Lord instantly fulfilled the humble prayer of poor Seraphim. How then shall we not thank him for this unspeakable gift to us both? Even to the greatest hermits, my son, the Lord God does not always show his mercy in this way. This grace of God, like a loving mother, has been pleased to comfort your contrite heart at the intercession of the Mother of God herself. But why, my son, do you not look me in the eyes? Just look, and don't be afraid! The Lord is with us!"
After these words I glanced at his face and there came over me an even greater reverent awe. Imagine in the center of the sun, in the dazzling light of its midday rays, the face of a man talking to you. You see the movement of his lips and the changing expression of his eyes, you hear his voice, you feel someone holding your shoulders; yet you do not see his hands, you do not even see yourself or his figure, but only a blinding light spreading far around for several yards and illumining with its brilliance both the snow-blanket that covered the forest glade and the snowflakes which besprinkled me and the great elder. You can imagine the state I was in!
"How do you feel now?" Father Seraphim asked me.
"Extraordinarily well;' I said.
"But in what way? How exactly do you feel well?"
I answered: "I feel such calmness and peace in my soul that no words can express it."
"This, Your Godliness," said Father Seraphim, "is that peace of which the Lord said to his disciples; 'My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you' (John I4:27). What else do you feel?" Father Seraphim asked me. 'An extraordinary sweetness" I replied.
And he continued: "This is that sweetness of which it is said in Holy Scripture: 'They shall be drunken with the fatness of thy house, and of the torrent of thy delight shalt thou make them to drink' (Psalm 36:8). And now this sweetness is flooding our hearts…. Mat else do you feel?" An extraordinary joy in all my heart."
And Father Seraphim continued: 'When the Spirit of God comes down to man and overshadows him with the fullness of his inspiration, then the human soul overflows with unspeakable joy, for the Spirit of God fills with joy whatever he touches. You my son, have wept enough in your life on earth; yet see with what joy the Lord consoles you even in this life! What else do you feel, Your Godliness?"
I answered: 'An extraordinary warmth.'
"How can you feel warmth, my son? Look, we are sitting in the forest. It is winter out-of-doors, and snow is underfoot. There is more than an inch of snow on us, and the snowflakes are still falling. What warmth can there be?"
I answered: "Such as there is in a bathhouse when the water is poured on the stone and the steam rises in clouds.' 'And the smell he asked me, "is it like the smell of a bathhouse?"
"No," I replied. "There is nothing on earth like this fragrance. When in my dear mother's lifetime I was fond of dancing and used to go to balls and parties, my mother would sprinkle me with the scent that she bought at the best shops in Kazan. But those scents did not exhale such fragrance.'
And Father Seraphim, smiling pleasantly, said: I know it myself lust as well as you do, my son, but I am asking you on purpose to see whether you feel it in the same way. It is absolutely true, Your Godliness! The sweetest earthly fragrance cannot be compared with the fragrance that we now feel, for we are now enveloped in the fragrance of the Holy Spirit of God.
Our present state is that of which the Apostle says, The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace in the Holy Spirit' (Romans I4:I7). Our faith consists not in the plausible words of earthly wisdom but in the demonstration of the Spirit and power (see I Corinthians 2A). That is just the state we are in now. Of this state the Lord said, There are some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power' (Mark 9: I). See, my son, what unspeakable joy the Lord God has now granted us!"
I don't know Batiuslika,' I said, "whether the Lord will grant me to remember this mercy of God always as vividly and clearly as I feel it now. 'I think,' Father Seraphim answered me, 'that the Lord will help you to retain it in your memory forever, or his goodness would never have instantly bowed in this way to my humble prayer and so quickly anticipated the request of poor Seraphim; all the more so, because it is not given to you alone to understand it, but through you it is for the whole world, in order that you yourself may be confirmed in God's work and may be useful to others. The fact that I am a monk and you are a layman is utterly beside the point. What God requires is true faith in himself and his only-begotten Son. In return for that the grace of the Holy Spirit is granted abundantly from on high. The Lord seeks a heart filled to overflowing with love for God and our neighbor; this is the throne on which he loves to sit and on which he appears in the fullness of his heavenly glory. Son, give me thine heart (Proverbs 23:26; see Matthew 6:33), for in the human heart the Kingdom of God can be contained."