Preserving Peace of Soul

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From the teachings of St. Seraphim of Sarov

One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not to be disturbed by offenses from others; for this one must in every way strive to restrain anger and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings.

And therefore we must bear offenses from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offenses seem to concern not us, but others.

Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it a dwelling for God Himself.

An example of such angerlessness we see in St. Gregory the Wonderworker, from whom a certain prostitute in a public place asked recompense, as if for a sin he had committed with her; and he, not becoming in the least angry with her, meekly said to a certain friend of his: give her quickly the sum she demands. The woman had no sooner taken the unjust recompense than she was subjected to the attack of a demon; and the Saint drove the demon out of her by prayer.

If, however, it is impossible not to be disturbed, then at least one must strive to restrain the tongue, according to the Psalmist: I was troubled, and spoke not (Psalm 76:4 LXX).

From the Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 1

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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5 responses to “Preserving Peace of Soul”

  1. fatherstephen Avatar

    The photograph at the top was taken by me last February overlooking the entrance valley in Zion national park. The vantage point from which the shot is taken is about an hour’s hike up the cliffs. A very quiet place.

  2. Athanasia Avatar

    Fr. Stephen, how I found your blog, I do not know but I am glad I did. Most of it I don’t understand but that may be to fuzziness due to illness. :o)

    However, I deeply appreciate St. Seraphim of Sarov’s words. Since anger is something I struggle with, as do most people in the world, of which 90% don’t realize they have a “struggle” I wonder how “one must in every way strive to restrain anger and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings”.

    It is my experience that the anger I’ve held, I’ve turned inward, thus moving into depression. So obviously there is a difference in restraining anger vs. turning it inward. I hope that someday God gives me His grace to understand this. Until then…Zoloft is the answer.

    Thank you for this blog. I shall visit often.

  3. fatherstephen Avatar

    Athanasia,

    There are many things I don’t understand either – whatever helps I’m glad. I agree with you about anger. I think there are “wounds” in our souls (or however one might express it) that make anger more than just one thing, and certainly more than a simple thing. Turning it inward, in the sense you mean is not the same thing as restraining anger that St. Seraphim mentions.

    Working at forgiveness of others – which can be a very deep work depending on our experience of life – is probably one of the more important things to do in being healed of anger, and depression. And I agree that there are times that medication is absolutely appropriate.

    Glad you found the blog.

  4. Athanasia Avatar
    Athanasia

    You make a very interesting and distinctive point I had not thought about before. That *forgiveness* of another is most important in healing of anger. That will be my contemplation for the remainder of the day.

    I guess since forgiveness is born out of love, then when we love someone, we cannot be angry with them, thus not harbor it or take it inward.

  5. fatherstephen Avatar

    Interestingly, St. Paul said, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” so I suspect that we do far more easily forgive those we love. But, of course, the whole thing can get very complicated – because the human heart is not nearly as straightforward as you might think.

    But it’s a good place to begin – rather than just repressing anger.

    A wise priest once suggested to someone that they needed to forgive someone else. The person replied, “I don’t think I can.” He asked, “But do you want to?” She replied, “I’m not even sure I want to.” He then asked, “Well, do you want to want to?” She said, “Yes, I can want to want to.” And that was where she had to begin. God is good and will help us wherever we are.

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