Some people call Diveyevo the spiritual center of the world, making Paris look merely like a big village. Without doubt, such an exceptional significance of the St Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery is explained by the prophecies of the Sarov saint, saying that the Antichrist himself will not be able to cross the dike of the Mother of God, encircling Her fourth and last dominion on earth. When you come here, the sight of the two giant cathedrals, overshadowed by the miraculous bell tower, invariably directs your thought towards New Jerusalem. Indeed, Diveyevo with its many fruit trees and a variety of flowers, surrounding people of all ages, ranks and estates, gathered here to purify, renew and sanctify their souls, can be called a projection of that heavenly city.
The Venerable Seraphim, the landlord of Diveyevo, who humbly called himself a “lackey of the Mother of God” appears surprisingly close to every pilgrim. Despite him being invisible, his gracious presence is felt everywhere. By the end of the first day at the monastery, a visitor gets the impression that the venerable has delved into all the little things in his life, showing touching courtesy and concern for his everyday needs, not to mention the spiritual consolation. Great is St Seraphim’s favour before God! I will tell you about one small miracle that happened to me and forever warmed my heart with devout reverence for the Sarov saint.
From a young age I never parted with a golden cross, bequeathed to me by an old acquaintance who had long passed into another world. The seal on its reverse was made before Patriarch Nikon and contained the initial words of the familiar prayer, quoted in its “old believer” version: “May God arise, may his enemies be scattered.” Alas, as it sometimes happens, my cross vanished from my chest just as I was preparing to swim in the famous Sarov spring near the Satis river. My grief was great. Never in life had I lost my great relic, and it was difficult for me to part with it already being a priest, especially in a place like Diveyevo. Early in the morning, before the Divine Liturgy, I searched my entire cell in the monastery hotel, shaking up all my possessions — the cross was nowhere to be found. Crawling up and down all the pathways leading to the temple was also of no avail! Having somewhat consoled myself with the divine service I resigned to the loss and decided to take it calmly. It was apparent to me that the Reverend himself must have needed my golden cross for unknown purposes. After the service, I was about to leave the church, when suddenly a thin young man approached me. He looked like one of the many students coming on pilgrimage.
Student: Father, may I ask you a question?
Priest: Yes, go ahead.
Student: The thing is, I found a gold cross yesterday. (At these words, I sighed and became all ears). And now my soul is tormented by bewilderment. I have three possible options, how to dispose of it…
Priest: You must be from the Mechanics and Mathematics Faculty of Moscow State University?
Student: I am actually. How do you know, father?
Priest: This is a “professional secret”, so to speak.
Student: So, first I thought of putting the cross back where I found it.
Priest: And where was that if I may ask?
Student: In front of the Nativity Church. It was laying in the dust on the road where the procession passes on its way back from the dyke of the Mother of God.
Priest: I have to say that putting a relic in the mud is impious, to say the least…
Student: This is exactly what made me reject this option. It would be possible however to give the cross to the sisters of the monastery.
Priest: And what is the third option?
Student: A thought came to me that, perhaps I might keep it for myself?
Priest: Is it possible for me to have a look at the find? The reason for me asking is that just yesterday I lost my pectoral cross, which is very dear to me.
The young man opened his palm, and I saw my old cross, sparkling with golden rays in the student’s quivering fingers.
Priest: Option four is the only right one!
I exclaimed that joyfully, taking the precious find from my benefactor’s hands and clasping him in a strong priestly embrace. At the same moment I saw the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov depicted on a large life-size icon. He looked at me with his soulful gaze, both stern and joyful. His right hand was pressed to his heart. On the spur of the moment, my soul turned to the servant of the Mother of God with a warm prayer: “Reverend Father Seraphim! Thank you! For you yourself claimed my cross for the holy purposes known to you and returned it to me, for no one ever leaves you without being comforted in your holy monastery.”
The sacred silence and the joy filling my heart testified to me that the Venerable heard the voice of my soul.
P.S. It was much later that I began to calculate the “worldly” likelihood of the student, with his analytical thinking, choosing me out of the hundreds of humble pilgrims visiting the patrimony of the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov, the Wonderworker of All Russia.
Whatever the hypothetical probability, I cannot call this story anything other than a miracle…
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds