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From the Holy Fathers, I September 29, 2007

Posted by Seraphim in Patristics.
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If a person places all his hope in his works, and turns to God in prayer only when unforeseen misfortunes befall him, then he, seeing that he lacks the means of averting them in his own abilities, begins to hope for help from God — but such a hope is trivial and false.

True hope seeks the one Kingdom of God and is sure that everything necessary for this mortal life will surely be given. The heart cannot have peace until it acquires this hope. This hope pacifies it fully and brings joy to it. The most holy lips of the Saviour spoke about this very hope: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).
–St. Seraphim of Sarov

How often do each and every one of us turn first to our own powers or the powers of others, rather than hoping in God? How often do each and every one of us entreat the help of God only when our material efforts begin to look uncertain?

As our holy father Seraphim clearly points out, this is not the true hope of Christians. True hope, he says, is a complete focus on the world to come, with trust that everything necessary for our callings will be provided for us.

We attain this hope by giving “glory to God for all things,” in the words of St. John Chrysostom. To acquire the true hope of which St. Seraphim speaks, we must give thanks to God and entreat his blessing for every action we take, before and in place of any reliance we might make on our own strength. We must strive to see Christ in all things, to see with spiritual eyes that the Lord guides us and cares for us at all times. When we see and seek Christ at all times, the world and the flesh can no longer trouble us. This is why those who possess true hope have peace in their hearts, as St. Seraphim says.

In our hearts should be an attitude like St. Patrick’s, in his famous Breastplate prayer:

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left.

Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the ship’s deck.

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Here we see the pervasiveness of St. Patrick’s consciousness and pursuit of Christ. Here, too, we see the melding of faith, hope, and charity. The belief that Christ blesses us in all things stems from faith. The reliance on that belief, the casting aside of worries into Christ and reliance on Christ in place of material strength, stems from hope. The resulting humility and reverence toward all things as coming from the infinite mercies of God stems from charity.

Let us emulate the example of these blessed lovers of God, beholding Christ in all we see, including Christ in all we do, and trusting Christ in all that happens.