There are people who make the history of this or that people; but for these people the history of these countries would have been senseless
Can you imagine the history of France without Joan of Arc? At that, the key figures in the history of a country are not necessarily the authors of remarkable doings: it is enough for them to live and add sense to the course of life with their living.
As for Orthodox Russia, Reverend Seraphim of Sarov is this kind of a man. There are just few people who can stand side by side with him, and he seems to be the only man whose importance in the religious history of the Russian people was that great. The outward biography of Seraphim, a son of a merchant from Kursk is astonishingly eventless. He spent a great part of his life near and in the Sarov hermitage.
However, it was in the old monk Seraphim and in the years of his personal deed that the inmost heart of Russia lived.
What is the main significance of Reverend Seraphim?
First of all, the significance of the man is in his teaching. It was Reverend Seraphim of Sarov who reminded the people the main truth of Christianity lost by many people because of the outward understanding of the religion as a code of rules and moral instructions. The main objective of the life of a Christian is acquisition of the Holy Spirit.
The main objective of living is communication of a human with God and becoming closer to God. According to Seraphim of Sarov, all other achievements in the human life are nothing in God's eyes if the two above mentioned objectives are not achieved.
Reverend Seraphim of Sarov says: "People were told to go to church, pray to God and observe the commandments - this is the main objective of a Christian man's living. I'll try to explain what the objective is in fact.
Although prayer, fast, vigil and other Christian doings are good by themselves, but the objective of the Christian living is not only fulfillment of the things; all the things serve important means for attainment of the objective. The actual objective of the Christian life lies in acquisition of the Holy Spirit."
For centuries Orthodox Russia, as a spiritual and church whole was living with this perception of the objective; and this is why it was called Holy Russia. That was not just a haughty assertion of the spiritual superiority, but recognition of the fact that a Russian man truly devoted to the church wanted to become saint and he actually became saint. When people popularizing different views wanted to create the Kingdom of heaven on Earth, Orthodox Russians were creating Russia in the heaven.
Reverend Seraphim of Sarov observed the Holy Russia when it was substituted with the Christian ideal of the empire in the state and public life.
The second meaning of Seraphim of Sarov is in the very fact of his life and his personal deed at a definite moment and in a definite place. It might seem that under Peter the Great and his successor Catherine the Great the spiritual life of Holy Russia was interrupted by the "regular state." It seemed that acquisition of the Holy Spirit was then possible only through emigration abroad, to the territories under the jurisdiction of a Turkish sultan, not Russia's non-Christian tsar.
Reverend Seraphim of Sarov proved it was not so. He demonstrated that it might happen even in a laicized society. In the image of Seraphim of Sarov Russia passed through its spiritually dark centuries and triumphed; though at the end of the empire, but it triumphed during the reign of Nicolas II who restored the rights of Holy Russia and made the glorification of Reverend Seraphim of Sarov the culmination of his reign.
Indeed, after Nicolas II a period of disorders hit Russia when the Russian people often committed incredibly bad things. It is astonishingly mystical that a nuclear center called Arzamas-16 appeared in the place where the city of Sarov stood. Arzamas-16 was a nuclear heart of the Soviet civilization. Some people considered it to be an outrage and other though it was the start of something new. Nowadays, Orthodoxy and the atom are experiencing their problem moments and seek support of each other. It is not accidental that many of physicians from Sarov are believers. Today Russia's external and internal bases seem to be broken.
The third significance of Reverend Seraphim of Sarov for the Russian history is that the man is saint for us not only from the point of view of the past but also of the future. If we follow Seraphim's prophecy, it means that Holy Russia has not only its past but also its future. Seraphim of Sarov is some kind of measure for the Russian history.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea