St. Seraphim of Sarov sought the Holy Spirit as a hermit for several decades. He was beaten by robbers and his injuries left him bent over in need of a staff to walk. He was sought after and received thousands of pilgrims who recognized his holiness. Similar to St. Padre Pio he could read souls, and gave consolation and guidance to all who visitied him.
In 1831, a pious Orthodox Christian named Nicholas Motovilov met with St. Seraphim and transcribed the conversation. Here are some of the quotes that I highlighted in my Kindle version. I refer to Nicholas as "Pilgrim" below.
Come Holy Spirit and let us learn how to receive you and dwell with you in the Kingdom of God inside our own souls!
. . . (T)he true aim of our Christian life consists of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God.
. . . (W)e are influenced by three wills: the first is God's all-perfect and all-saving will; the second is our own human will which, if not destructive, neither is it saving; and the third will is the devil's will - wholly destructive.
But if we are not in the Spirit, we must discover why not and what reason our Lord God the Holy Spirit has willed to abandon us. . . . We must attack the enemies that drive us away from Him until even their dust is no more.
. . . (W)e do not seek the grace of God and in the pride of our minds, do not allow it to dwell in our souls. That is why we are without true enlightenment from the Lord, which He sends into the hearts of men who hunger and thirst wholeheartedly for God's righteousness or holiness.
Then on the day of Pentecost He solemnly sent down to them in a tempestuous wind the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire which alighted on each of them and entered within them and filled them with the fiery strength of divine grace which breathes as with dew and acts with gladness in souls who partake of its power and operations (Acts 2). And this same fire-infusing grace of the Holy Spirit which is given to us all, the faithful in Christ, in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, is sealed by the Sacrament of Chrismation on the chief parts of the body as appointed by the Holy Church, the eternal keeper of this grace.
. . . (H)asten to offer true repentance for all . . . sins and . . . practice the virtues which are opposite to the sins committed. Then through the virtues practiced for Christ's sake, (you) will acquire the Holy Spirit Who acts within us and establishes in us the Kingdom of God.
The fact that I am a Monk and you are a layman is utterly beside the point. What God requires is true faith in Himself and His Only-begotten Son. In return for that the grace of the Holy Spirit is granted abundantly from on high. The Lord seeks a heart filled to overflowing with love for God and our neighbor; this is the throne on which He loves to sit and on which He appears in the fullness of His heavenly glory. "Son give Me thy heart," He says, "and the rest I Myself will add to thee (Prov. 23:26; Matt. 6:33)," for in the human heart the Kingdom of God can be contained.
(B)y consoling one another with mutual love, we may lighten the sorrowful and narrow way of our journey to the heavenly country (Gal 6:2). . . . The Lord God has led us out to work and has given us the gifts of His grace in order that, by reaping the ears of the salvation of our fellow-men and bringing as many as possible into the Kingdom of God, we may bring him some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold.
(Jn. 14:12,16; 16:24) Thus, my son, whatever you ask of the Lord God you will receive, if only it is for the glory of God or for the good of your neighbor, because what we do for the good of our neighbor He refers to His own glory (Matt. 25:40).
The Ever-Virgin Mary Mother of God, who crushes the head of the serpent in herself and in all the human race, a constant mediatress with her Son and our God, and an invincible and persistent intercessor even for the most desperate sinners. That is why the Mother of God is called the "Plague of Demons," for it is not possible for a devil to destroy a man so long as man himself has recourse to the help of the Mother of God.
Grace is Light
The Spirit of God reminds us of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and always acts triumphantly with Him, gladdening our hearts and guiding our steps into the way of peace, while the false, diabolical spirit reasons in the opposite way to Christ and its actions in us are rebellious, stubborn, and full of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
How Can I know that I am in the grace of the Holy Spirit?
"All things are simple to those who find knowledge." (Prov. 8:9) The trouble is that we do not seek this divine knowledge which does not puff up, for it is not of this world. This knowledge . . . is full of love of God and for our neighbor builds up every man for his salvation. . . . (T)he holy Apostles were consciously aware of the presence in themselves of the Spirit of God. "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us (Acts 15:28)."
Holy Spirit Reveals Himself
Thank the Lord God for His unutterable mercy to us! You saw that I did not even cross myself; and only in my heart I prayed mentally to the Lord God and said within myself: "Lord, grant him to see clearly with his bodily eyes that descent of Thy Spirit which Thou grantest to Thy servants when Thou are pleased to appear in the light of Thy magnificient glory." . . . . This grace of God, like a loving mother, has been pleased to comfort your contrite heart at the intercession of the Mother of God herself.
- Pilgrim: I feel such calmness and peace in my soul that no words can express it. . . .
St. Seraphim: And to those people whom the world hates but who are chosen by the Lord, the Lord gives that peace which you now feel within you, the peace which . . . passes all understanding (Philippians. 4:7).
- Pilgrim: (I feel) an extraordinary sweetness.
St. Seraphim: . . . (T)his sweetness is flooding our hearts and coursing through our veins with unutterable delight. From this sweetness our hearts melt as it were, and both of us are filled with such happiness as tongue cannot tell.
- Pilgrim: (I feel) an extraordinary joy in all my heart.
St. Seraphim: When the Spirit of God comes down to man and overshadows him with the fullness of His inspiration, then the human soul overflows with unspeakable joy, for the Spirit of God fills with joy whatever He touches. . . . The Lord speaks in his Gospel . . . . "In the world you will be sorrowful; but when I see you again, your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you (Jn. 16:21-22)." Yet however comforting may be this joy which you now feel in your heart, it is nothing in comparison with that of which the Lord Himself (said through St. Paul) . . . "Joy eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for them that love Him (1 Cor. 2:9)." Yet see with what joy the Lord consoles you even in this life!
- Pilgrim: (I feel) an extraordinary warmth.St. Seraphim: There is more than an inch of snow on us, and the snowflakes are still falling. What warmth can there be? This warmth is not in the air but in us. It is that very warmth about which the Holy Spirit in the words of prayer makes us cry to the Lord: "Warm me with the warmth of the Holy Spirit!" And so it must be in actual fact, for the grace of God must dwell within us, in our heart, because the Lord said: "The Kingdom of God is within you (Lk. 17:21)." By the Kingdom of God the Lord meant the grace of the Holy Spirit.
- Pilgrim: There is nothing on earth like this fragrance.St. Seraphim: The sweet earthly fragrance cannot be compared with the fragrance which we now feel, for we are enveloped in the fragrance of the Holy Spirit of God.
is now within us, and the grace of the Holy Spirit shines upon us and warms us from without as well. It fills the surrounding air with many fragrant odors, sweetens our senses with heavenly delight and floods our hearts with inutterable joy. "The Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17)." . . . . Of this state the Lord said: "There are some of those standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the Kingdom of God come in power (Mk. 9:1)."
I have now told you and given you a practical demonstration of all that the Lord and the Mother of God have been pleased to tell you and show you through me, poor Seraphim. Now go in peace. The Lord and the Mother of God be with you always, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. Now go in peace.
Pilgrim: And during the whole of this time, from the moment when Father Seraphim's face became radiant, this illumination continued; and all that he told me from the beginning of the narrative till now, he said while remaining in one and the same position. The ineffable glow of the light which emanated from him I myself saw with my own eyes.
May the Holy Spirit renew us from within by his Presence and Sanctifying Grace! Amen.