The Thinking 

Suffering and Purity of Heart

January 20, 2013


DANIEL S. writes:

I was today reading Fr. Seraphim Rose’s wonderful book God’s Revelation to the Human Heart and came across a few passages that I thought I should share. In the chapter on suffering Fr. Seraphim speaks about the Russian author and then anti-Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn and how his suffering in the gulag purified his heart and prepared it for Christ’s grace and revelation. He quotes Solzhenitsyn on what his suffering revealed to him as to the true nature of evil:

Gradually, it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties-but right through every human heart-and then through all human hearts…. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.

This quote comes from a passage in Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, to which Fr. Seraphim comments:

How much deeper is this observation than anything we in the West could say based on our own experience. It is deeper because it is based on suffering, which is the reality of the human condition and the beginning of true spiritual life. Christ himself came to a life of suffering and the Cross…

Earlier in the same chapter Fr. Seraphim observes that “our Faith actually is a suffering Faith; and in this suffering, something goes on which helps the heart to receive God’s revelation.”

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