Spiritual Inheritance of Sarov Programme - Overview
Our Spiritual Inheritance of Sarov Programme has chosen to focus on the life and living tradition of St Seraphim of Sarov, because his life touches directly major issues with which we all live today:
- The gift of life, of nature, and lifestyles threatening existence
- The power of creativity, birth, and threat of death through man's inhumanity to man
- The potential of human beings to be filled with light, or diminished in darkness
The place on our Earth where Seraphim dwelt, Sarov, deep in Russia's forest, from where the light of Christ, shining within him, has since shone, was the same place chosen by the soviet regime for building the largest nuclear bomb the world has yet seen.
Why this Programme is important
Through his witness, St Seraphim offers the opportunity to connect a larger Christian world with its own roots deep in the earth, with its own promise of living in harmony with all creatures, with its own power to become bearers of light, and with the Christian revival, taking place in Russia since the fall of communism, the greatest persecution of Christians of all time.
Western Christianity has many blind spots; listening to another kind of wisdom can help it to meet the challenges of a new world, rediscover and live an integrative and transfigurative faith. The living witness of St Seraphim and the living tradition that arises from his presence grows daily wherever his story is told. Hearers are caught up and inspired through his life, souls are healed, lives take on new meaning and direction. Across the social classes, from illiterate people to high achievers and across the generations, from youngest child to wisest elder, wherever the saint's story is told there is a new beginning, inspiration, renewed life.
We aim to bring the witness and inspiration of Saintly Lives beginning with the witness of St Seraphim to as many people as we can.
The Land of St Seraphim
This extraordinary land, a land of Spirituality and Science, is establishing a new identity a land where theology and science meet. Our first conference, Theology and Life drew together colleagues from the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre, Sarov Institute of Physics and Technology, The University of Nizhni Novgorod, the Archive Commmittee, Priests and nuns of the Diocese of Nizhni Novgorod and representatives from the media.
Saint Seraphim (1754 -1833), who was canonised in 1903, became a focal point for the Bolshevik attack on religion. However the saint's power was not abated. On the return of the saint's relics to the region in 1991, millions of Russians lined their route.
Eye witness testimony of events prior to the revolution still exists, as does testimony of the saint's influence during years of persecution, testimony of those imprisoned in Sarov labour camps, faith frequently touched by St Seraphim's presence. Those who were alive in the early years of the twentieth century are today in their very senior years. Remarkable testimony and related data of this era is also contained in manuscript sources, sources which are deteriorating rapidly. These critical records of the greatest persecution of Christians in history is an invaluable resource. However the task of preserving this material is time limited.
OUR OBJECTIVE is to chronicle, before it is too late, firsthand accounts of people whose lives have been touched by St Seraphim of Sarov and to create selected reserve collections of related data held in the regions archives.
Through a programme of research, education and publication we aim to create a substantial learning community with access to a multi-media visual history archive (bi-lingual) and learning database, with centres of study both in Russia and in the UK. This task, of vast significance for this region of Russia, for the Orthodox World, and for Global Christianity, will benefit seekers of truth, students in schools and colleges, historians, theologians, anthropologists, broadcasters and researchers in a wide range of disciplines in Russia and the West.
St Seraphim appeals to Christians of all denominations, East and West. With his closeness to the created world, beyond Orthodox and Christian boundaries, he appeals to a longing that many have for a closer relationship with all creation. This programme provides an opportunity to hold a focus on this.