"Agatha, holding Prokhor (later to be St Seraphim of Sarov) in her arms, gingerly stepped over the puddle where it was narrowest. The air was very clear, very still and cool. Drooping branches of silver birch hung motionless; their leaves shone emerald bright. Straight ahead, two perfect rainbows gleamed on a dark blue, fathomless sky. Birds chirped gaily.
From behind one of the trees, there stepped a ragged figure drenched to the bone and, apparently, not minding it. Slight of build, young, pale, unkempt, unshaven, unwashed, and untidy, he looked at Agatha with a wild fixed stare. Her heart gave a great leap. It was Grisha the Fool. She had always feared him. 'Back at last from your long pilgrimage, Grishá,' she remarked in a flat voice holding Prokhor tighter. But he was in no mood to listen, 'Do not let the fire scorch your flesh, your pale cool flesh,' he shouted. 'Put it down, let it be woman! Once it was yours to hold and tend, it is yours no longer. Let it be! The flame shall rise, as rise it must, rise to its Creator, One in Three and Three in One. The flaming prayer shall rise, and Grace will rain down upon the world of sin. Put it down, put it down, woman!" From Flame in the Snow p.25-26, by Julia de Beausobre, Templegate Publishers 1996.
“There are people who are mocked by all, despised by all, who are sometimes abhorred by even the most lost person. Homeless, destitute, wretched in appearance, tormented by hunger and thirst, they wander amidst cold and self-satisfied people. Cold, hunger, eternal mockeries, contempt, and complete loneliness - this is the lot of these people. The world considers them mad, stupid, pathetic people who have neither reason nor shame. Only the simple soul of the believers among the people regards them with compassion and calls them "little blessed ones," God's people; and the rare, tender and noble heart will feel the greatness of spirit in them and the unearthly beauty of their souls. Such are these ones. These are the Fools-for-Christ." St Bishop Martyr Nikodim of Belgorod in his 'National Ascetics of the 18th and 19th Centuries' (1906-1910) [Russian] as quoted by Abbott Herman of St Herman Serbian Orthodox Monastery, Platina CA 1998 Calendar.
These blessed ones despise all the glory of man and embracing their suffering, resolutely and with courage, live their lives determined to follow with their actions the teaching of the Church Fathers; "The beginning of freedom from vainglory is the custody of the mouth and love of being dishonored ; the middle stage is a beating back of all acts of vainglory in thought, and the end (if there is an end to an abyss) consists in doing those things in the presence of others which bring us dishonor, without feeling grief therefrom". St John Climacus in 'The Ladder of Divine Ascent'p.137, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1979
"In the rush of fervent and boundless love for their Saviour and Lord Jesus, they cast away everything: glory, wealth and worldly happiness; and, having cast away all, they devote themselves exclusively to the concerns of salvation. And the labour of salvation is terribly difficult. Many labours and much patience are needed in order to reach the calm refuge. A great and uninterrupted struggle with one's passions, and with evil and malicious spirits lies before him who seeks salvation. The ascetic labour of the Fools is one of the forms of this struggle. Here, at the very root and by the most powerful means, the passions are defeated. Pride is trampled upon by disgrace; vainglory by madness; self-love, love of pleasure and predilection for things by complete renunciation of everything and extreme animosity for the flesh, for example: by hunger, cold, thirst, and other means which mortify the passionate flesh. Thus with the Fools, under the appearance of an insane and disorderly life, a persistent, reasonable and orderly struggle with sin goes on. For this they assume the appearance of the mad and foolish, to hide from people this uninterrupted struggle, to hide from people also this flaming love. Jealously guarding their treasure, they allow themselves strange actions and behaviour, unintelligible words and ways of speaking. Much of this seems to others sinful, but the heart of the fool is far distant from sin.
Often, while with pretence portraying some passion, they graphically demonstrate all the foulness of sin, and these, so to speak, "negative lessons" benefit both the Fools themselves and those who see them, much more than dry, affirmative admonitions. The actions of the Fools which seem sinful are always directed to one goal - salvation of the soul, both their own and their neighbours'. Much greatness of spirit, unbending will and purity of heart is necessary in order to preserve love for Jesus Christ always alive and fresh in this heavy labour of foolishness, under the appearance of insanity, amidst all kinds of animosity and deprivation.
Yet this struggle and love do not remain without response. The Lord often glorifies Fools with extraordinary gifts of grace, and then their sublime faith, their most tender hope and infinitely warm love for Christ the Saviour are revealed for all. But, even when they have been filled with God's gifts after the soul-cleansing struggles of foolishness, the Fools continue to bear their former struggle; and this is essential to them in order to preserve these gifts of grace, essential in order to vanquish the devil who is ceaselessly waging war, to vanquish him by humility and patience. The Lord, seeing the patience of His servants, grants them continually greater and greater consolations. Indeed, such is the meaning and significance in the Fools' work of salvation. Their ascetic struggle is the path of salvation before the eyes of the whole world, amidst people and under the burden of their pressure. The way is not made easier by anything external, but only by the all-effecting grace of God. This is a path most arduous, but by this path quite a few of those who sought the Lord have come to Him; and on this thorny path shine various stars, both small and great.” St Bishop Martyr Nikodim of Belgorod in his 'National Ascetics of the 18th and 19th Centuries' (1906-1910) [Russian] as quoted by Abbott Herman of St Herman Serbian Orthodox Monastery, Platina CA 1998 Calendar.
"An Angel on earth, and stranger to all earthly things, thou madest a tree thy dwelling like an eagle's nest, whence, O David, thou didst soar up to Heaven, where thou didst find that Tree which in Eden we lost of old. Remember us all, who keep thy memory". Kontakion to St David of Thessaloniki.