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Paper from 2004 Seminar in honour of Father Seraphim of Platina

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  • Father Joachim
    Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose): A Guide to Orthodox Christian Life By Father James Carles A lecture given at a seminar to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2005
      Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose): A Guide to Orthodox Christian Life
      By Father James Carles

      A lecture given at a seminar to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of
      the repose of Father Seraphim
      of Platina, held at All Saints of Russia Russian Orthodox Church,
      Croydon NSW, on 26 August 2004

      Vladika, Fathers, brothers & sisters:

      We have just prayed for the repose of the soul of the late and ever-
      memorable Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, an American convert to Orthodox
      Christianity who has become - somewhat improbably - one of the great
      figures of 20th century Russian Orthodoxy. We will shortly hear
      Vladika Hilarion's personal recollections of Father Seraphim. It is
      my view that Father Seraphim remains, even 22 years after his blessed
      repose, of significant importance to us as we try and live our lives
      as Orthodox Christians. That is why I wish to present him to you
      tonight as a trustworthy guide to Orthodox Christian life.

      Before we come to Father Seraphim, however, we need to set down some
      definitions and draw out some assumptions. It is only by doing this
      that we can make a reasonable assessment of Father Seraphim as a
      spiritual guide. We need to have some criteria to test my conclusion
      What we mean by a guide is, I think, clear: someone who, with
      knowledge and experience, shows the way, without which the way would
      be far more difficult. A really good guide, however, is one who
      understands what those he is guiding are looking for on the way, who
      can enter into their journey and help them get the most from it. He
      has more than just technical competence; he has a heart for the
      Orthodoxy, or Orthodox Christianity, is something that we generally
      feel we know the meaning of. Nevertheless, I'd like to offer you a
      definition of it, too. The word "orthodoxy" comes from two Greek
      words (and I ask you to forgive my poor pronunciation), ïñèï and
      äïîá. Ïñèï is usually rendered in English as "straight" or "right",
      and äïîá is conventionally given two meanings, "glory" (or "praise")
      and "opinions". Perhaps a clearer way of saying "straight" or "right"
      would be "faithful" or "fitting". Building on this, I put it to you
      that Orthodox Christianity is that way of following Christ that
      claims to have faithful teaching and fitting worship. It has teaching
      that is faithful to God's revelation and to Christian experience, and
      worship that is fitting for the God worshipped, and the person
      Orthodox Christian life, then, is the life that is filled and formed
      by faithful teaching and fitting worship. We shall see that Father
      Seraphim, from the time of his conversion, lived a life like this,
      and that the knowledge and experience he gained, together with his
      example, can help us. Let us now then examine his Orthodox Christian
      life, reflecting as we go on how we ourselves may live the same sort
      of life.

      Father Seraphim's life
      Father Seraphim's life is presented to us in great detail in three
      books. Two are biographies published by the Saint Herman of Alaska
      Brotherhood: `Not of this World: The life and teaching of Father
      Seraphim Rose, pathfinder to the heart of ancient Christianity', and
      a recent major revision of that book, `Father Seraphim Rose: His Life
      and Works'. The other is a biography written by Father Seraphim's
      niece and published by Regina Orthodox Press: `Seraphim Rose: The
      true story and private letters'. In addition, there is a lot of
      information in a volume of Father Seraphim's letters to Father Alexey
      Young, one of his spiritual children: `Letters from Father Seraphim:
      The twelve-year correspondence between Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) and
      Father Alexey Young'.
      Eugene Rose, as Father Seraphim was known before his tonsure as a
      monk, was born in 1934 on the US West Coast. His upbringing was in a
      protestant family, and he had an active faith as a teenager. He
      abandoned this while attending Pomona College, a prestigious tertiary
      institution in Southern California, from 1952-1956, aged 18-22. He
      studied philosophy, literature, and languages, including Chinese. He
      was influenced for a time by Alan Watts, a controversial Anglican
      priest who later left both the priesthood and the church, becoming in
      time the Dean of the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco.
      Attending graduate courses at the Academy, Eugene fell in with the
      whole movement and spirit of the age, of which San Francisco was the
      heart. Without focusing on the details, we can say that he was drawn
      into and experienced first-hand all of the deceptions and temptations
      of those times and of that particular place.
      At this point I should note in passing that a common problem
      experienced when looking at the lives of contemporary righteous ones
      is that those close to them often reinterpret their lives in light of
      what they later became, to see sanctity present from youth up. This
      is, in my view, the key fault of the Saint Herman of Alaska
      Brotherhood biographies. It is often profitable and encouraging to
      gain an understanding of what the righteous ones once were; how they
      struggled with sin, how their faith changed them, and how God worked
      in their lives. We should not be surprised if they struggle at times,
      or make mistakes. We will certainly find mistakes if we look deeply
      at Father Seraphim's life before his conversion; indeed, at any life,
      before conversion. Really, it is that that really explains
      conversion. We need, when looking at such lives, to keep God's grace
      in focus, if we are to learn something for ourselves.
      Eugene Rose first attended a Russian Orthodox service in 1956, aged
      22. It was three years before he became a Christian, two years more
      before he met the young man, Gleb Podmoshensky, the future Father
      Herman, with whom he would undertake his life's great labours, and
      another year again before he was received into the Orthodox Church,
      in 1962. Over these years he mastered the Russian language.
      In San Francisco, so much the centre of the age, the future Father
      Seraphim was also able to come into contact with some truly great
      Church figures, of which Archbishop Tikhon (Troitsky), the former
      cell-attendant of the now-glorified Elder Gabriel of Pskov & Kazan,
      is perhaps the best example. Many other great figures from Europe and
      China were there. He was able to converse in Chinese with Father
      Elias Wen and other Chinese Orthodox Christians in San Francisco.
      Most significantly, he later came into contact with the Holy
      Archbishop John (Maximovitch), who was to tonsure him a reader in
      1965. Through Gleb, Eugene would also come into contact with
      Jordanville's Holy Trinity Monastery, the heart of the Russian
      Orthodox Church outside Russia, and some of the great figures
      connected with it: Archbishop Averky, Father Michael Pomazansky,
      Professor Ivan Andreyev, and others. Gleb also linked him to Father
      Adrian Rymarenko, the future Archbishop Andrew, then living in New
      Diveyevo on the East Coast. My point here is that by various paths he
      came into contact with some of the best elements of the Russian
      Orthodox Church outside Russia.
      From early in his Orthodox Christian life, he began to participate in
      the services, reading and singing on the kliros. Later, lamenting the
      impoverishment of church life in these times, he would write of the
      spiritual life, "Let us therefore make maximum use of the limited
      opportunities we do have" (BPV p 20). He himself made the best
      possible use of the circumstances in which he found himself, mixing
      with and learning from those formed in a true Orthodox Christian
      spirit. In 1963, Eugene and Gleb formed a Brotherhood dedicated to
      the righteous Father Herman of Alaska, a saint then still
      uncanonised. A year later they opened a missionary bookstore, and
      immediately began to set a tone of traditional Orthodox Christianity
      for Russian & English-speakers alike. Eugene attended theological
      courses organised by Archbishop John and began to write articles for
      the diocesan journal. He & Gleb began to print their own
      journal, `The Orthodox Word', with the specific intention of
      providing English-speaking people with the sources of Orthodoxy. It
      was, as described in one of the SHB Lives, "carefully presented
      relevant material in a traditional context which was at the same time
      accessible to contemporary readers… a blending of ancient and modern
      materials" (L&W p294). Researching, reading, selecting material, and
      translating, he immersed himself in the writings of the Holy Fathers
      and Orthodox spiritual teachers, filling and forming his own heart
      and mind whilst at the same time assisting others.
      The production of the journal showed the brothers something of great
      importance. The young men's desire was very much that Archbishop John
      would constantly read over things and approve them before
      publication. But Archbishop John declined to do so, asking, "Weren't
      you taught that…each Christian is himself responsible for the
      fullness of Christianity? (L&W p296). In this, Archbishop John showed
      himself to be a wise guide indeed, one that was prepared to stand
      back and allow those under his guidance to develop and mature,
      themselves growing in wisdom and independence. Thus taught, Father
      Seraphim would make this the healthy basis of all his pastoral
      relationships. We ourselves, clergy and laity alike, must learn from
      this, resisting the temptation to have others do our thinking, or to
      restrict the growth of those around us.
      Eugene was greatly blessed to become close to Archbishop John,
      working with him on many church projects, including the serving of
      English-language liturgies at the San Francisco Cathedral. Saint John
      had asked him to become a priest-monk at the cathedral but Eugene
      declined, indicating that he wished to be a monk away from the world.
      When Saint John died, Eugene recorded in his chronicle the importance
      of following their mentor's devotion to the saints by knowing their
      lives, reading them for spiritual nourishment, speaking of them and
      writing about them and – most importantly – praying to them (L&W
      p324). He was to assist others immensely in this regard, preparing
      beautiful books of the lives of saints and righteous ones,
      translating services, and even composing them (L&W p1097).
      He also reflected on Saint John's trust in God and the way he lived
      entirely by such trust, identifying this as perhaps the key lesson to
      There is some evidence that Eugene was encouraged to attend the
      Jordanville Seminary and prepare for ordination, perhaps even to the
      episcopate, but that he resisted this (L&W p332).
      By 1967, their bookstore had become a significant missionary
      presence. But this same year the brothers purchased land for a skete,
      a great distance from San Francisco. Also in this year, he began to
      fulfil the entire liturgical cycle every day without failure,
      continuing to do so until the end of his life. We see in this that he
      not only filled and formed his mind with the formal theological
      writings of the Holy Fathers, but that he also filled and formed his
      heart with the beautiful cycle of Divine Services composed by them,
      and with reading from the Holy Scriptures.
      The brothers moved to their skete in 1969. At the skete they lived a
      life of prayer, simplicity, poverty and struggle. They set the tone
      by the Divine services, connecting themselves to the tradition of the
      desert-dwellers. It is interesting to note how the decision the move
      to the wilderness forced them to confront themselves spiritually, the
      absence of the hustle and bustle of a big city parish no longer a
      distraction. In a way it was a strategic spiritual move, allowing
      them to keep their own Orthodox Christian lives clearly in focus,
      truly laying aside all earthly cares.
      In 1970 they were tonsured. At this point Eugene took the monastic
      name Seraphim and Gleb, the name Herman. They laboured steadfastly at
      the skete, praying, writing, translating and printing. Both editions
      of the SHB biographies have a beautiful chapter entitled `An Orthodox
      Corner of America', and I recommend it to you. It describes what
      Fathers Seraphim and Herman built there in the wilderness, and is
      truly inspiring.
      First of all, they tried to have it so that everything around them
      turned their thoughts to the life in Christ. Buildings, places,
      natural formations were all named for places in Holy Russia, or the
      Holy Land, or in the other Orthodox lands. They had sketes and open-
      air chapels dedicated to various saints, and to which they made
      processions on the day of that particular commemoration, singing the
      services there. Their lives were organized around the Divine
      Services, even in the days before ordination when Liturgy was served
      only rarely. They had various festive traditions, some from Russia
      and some of their own. They had a good habit of prayer, fulfilling a
      rule each day.
      In 1976 Father Seraphim was ordained deacon, and in 1977, priest. He
      then began the labour of pastoral and liturgical service that he
      carried out until his untimely death in 1982, at the age of only 48:
      serving, preaching, baptizing, teaching, and giving guidance.

      The lessons for us
      All of this, then, is a broad summary of Father Seraphims' life as an
      Orthodox Christian. We've drawn out some lessons along the way. But
      what other lessons are there for us in this, and how is it that he is
      a guide for us?
      A guide needs good preparation, and this above all is evident in
      Father Seraphim's life. All of the necessary preparations for his
      journey were made. What guide would set out without first taking
      advice, learning the route, obtaining maps and provisions? Poor
      preparation increases the risks in any journey. Let us look at his
      preparation, and the way in which risk was minimized.

      A Christian foundation
      In becoming a Christian, Father Seraphim had come to understand and
      accept that Christ Himself was Life and Truth, and that it was only
      through Christ that he could be saved. This is important. He had this
      basic Christian foundation. All of us, however it is that we find
      ourselves within the Church – whether by birth or marriage or
      conscious conversion - must establish the same foundation in our own
      He once said to Father Alexey Young, "If you do not find Christ in
      this life, you will not find him in the next" (L&W p820). He
      understood and lived in the light of this understanding that the
      Christian life is a personal relationship with Christ or it is
      nothing. No amount of external observance would help if that was
      missing. He said something very sobering in this regard, and we would
      all do well to heed his words: "The keeping and confession of
      Orthodox dogmas is always to be found in true faith in Christ, but
      the true faith of Christ is not always to be found in the confession
      of Orthodoxy… The knowledge of correct dogmas is in the mind and it
      is often fruitless, arrogant and proud… The true faith in Christ is
      in the heart, and it is fruitful, humble, patient, loving, merciful,
      compassionate, hungering and thirsting for righteousness; it
      withdraws from worldly lusts and clings to God alone, strives and
      seeks always for what is heavenly and eternal, struggles against
      every sin, and constantly seeks and begs help from God in this" (L&W
      Father Seraphim hungered and thirsted after righteousness. He
      withdrew far from the worldly lusts of his youth. He clung to God and
      trusted in God, striving for eternal and heavenly things. He had a
      relationship with Christ, and he was transformed by it.
      It is in this context that we can understand Father Seraphim's
      insistence on a "Catacomb Christianity". By this he did not mean some
      kind of independent, do-what-you-like, underground Orthodoxy, the
      kind of Orthodoxy that found a foothold in the SHB and those who
      followed it after Father Seraphim's death. He was looking not for
      independence, but for a "Catacomb mentality", faithfulness to the
      heart of the Orthodox Christian faith: the struggle for repentance,
      and living the life in Christ. He understood with crystal clarity how
      it was that the external glory of Orthodoxy, a treasure though it is,
      and all part of the inheritance that should fill and form us, could
      nevertheless become an obstacle to the Christian life, if allowed to
      become an end in itself. This is the clear answer to those
      protestants and sectarians who criticise the externals of our
      Christian life: these things help us, but without them, the path is
      the same. By keeping our eyes on the heart, we will not be cast off
      course if and when we lose the outer things. We will stay firm
      because we have built on the rock, and not on sand.
      Something most instructive is Father Seraphim's advice to Father
      Alexey Young when the latter, then still a layman, had contact with a
      group of Old Believers, and was most impressed by them. He says two
      things of extraordinary importance. Firstly, he says that "For an Old
      Believer to become Orthodox there must be an awareness that the
      externals they preserve are not of the essence of Orthodoxy" (FAY p
      136). And secondly, that the battle of the Old Believers "to keep
      their traditions is not the same battle as we have to keep alive the
      spirit of Orthodoxy… the preservation of old customs isn't going to
      help when the spirit is gone" (FAY p151). These may seem like hard
      words. But the point is not to dismiss those who follow the Old Rite;
      he broaches a risk that exists as much for us as for them: the risk
      that we mistake the outward forms for the heart.
      Father Seraphim had an immense love for the Holy New Martyrs and
      Confessors of Russia precisely because they maintained the heart of
      their faith in the most trying of circumstances, even the complete
      absence of the outward forms of Orthodoxy. He presents them so
      lovingly, with such regard for their honesty and faithfulness. But he
      also shows how they had put down solid Christian foundations in their
      lives. He shows how groups of priests and bishops, in prison, shorn
      of hair and beards and deprived of outward finery and church vessels
      and items, could still gather together with joy, quietly singing to
      themselves from memory – from memory! – the festive services. He
      shows how they had taken up the Orthodox inheritance, the saving
      tradition that is the experience of the Orthodox throughout the ages,
      and given it expression in their lives. They gave expression to an
      Orthodoxy that was not just of the mind, but also of the heart.
      This brings us to the next aspect of Father Seraphim's preparation:
      the nourishment of his Christian life at the sources.

      Nourished at the sources
      It is in the introduction to a book on Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky
      that Father Seraphim best expressed this. He considered Blessed
      Paisius a saint of utmost importance for twentieth century Christians
      because "he redirected the attention of Orthodox Christians to the
      sources of Holy Orthodoxy which are the only foundation of true
      Orthodox life and thought". "It is these same sources", he
      wrote, "the Divine Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Fathers –
      which are the foundation of all genuine Orthodoxy in our own times"
      (BPV p13). He went on to say that "We must…read Orthodox spiritual
      texts, without which we will spiritually wither and die" (BPV p19).
      Father Seraphim had, as a child, attended protestant Sunday school,
      and the SHB Lives record that he "often surprised his parents with
      his knowledge of the Scriptures, which he quoted to them from memory"
      (L&W p11). This foundation, laid in childhood, was later built on, as
      he studied the Scriptures at the theological courses organized by
      Saint John. He was even then surprised at how little those around him
      knew the Scriptures (L&W p277). Reading them in the services each
      day, reading the commentaries of the Holy Fathers, he grew steadily
      in familiarity with the Scriptures. Saint Ignatius Brianchininov,
      himself a modern Holy Father greatly loved by Father Seraphim, wrote
      of the practice of the monks of old to have the Holy
      Scriptures "constantly before the eyes of the mind and… printed on
      the soul". Citing Saint Seraphim of Sarov, he says, "we should so
      train ourselves that the mind as it were swims in the Law of the Lord
      by which we must guide and rule our life" (`The Arena', p7). We see
      in the life of Father Seraphim evidence of this, and of a true love
      for the Holy Scriptures, committed to memory, and opened to him by
      the Holy Fathers.
      To Father Alexey he wrote, "Do you have a notebook for taking down
      quotes from the Holy Fathers in your reading? Do you always have a
      book of the Holy Fathers that you are reading, and can turn to in a
      moment of gloom? Start now – this is essential" (FAY p143).
      We have already observed that Father Seraphim was a man with a great
      love for the divine services of the Holy Orthodox Church. Writing to
      Father Alexey he said, "How moving are the services – a treasure
      which now seems to be disappearing from the face of the earth" (FAY
      p165). He emphasised to Father Alexey the singing of certain hymns at
      certain times, pointing out the way that the services shape and set
      the "tone" for Christian life (p105). He never missed the daily
      cycle, and one can read in the SHB Lives of he and Father Herman and
      their various novices and guests singing the services as they drove
      in their truck, or stopping in a mountain field to sing part of the
      Of the services and the remembrance of saints Father Seraphim
      wrote, "What relevance do the treasures of Orthodoxy have for this
      frightful world today? And the answer is always the same: This is the
      ark of salvation for us, and every struggle to preserve this for
      oneself helps others too" (FAY pp134-35).
      Father Seraphim had, as a layman, mastered Church Slavonic, had been
      tonsured a reader by Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco, and had
      obtained a position as a paid reader in the cathedral. He read and
      sang in church every day, laying down the foundations of his
      liturgical knowledge. As a layman and later as a monk, he had the
      opportunity to immerse himself in the liturgical life of the church,
      to be totally filled and formed by it. We might say that he had the
      circumstances of life that enabled that. But we nevertheless need to
      put ourselves in a position to benefit from the services in the way
      that he did. These days, one need not learn Church Slavonic, although
      it still helps. The great work of translating the Orthodox service-
      books into English has been largely accomplished, and it is possible
      to buy books and cassettes that make mastery of the service
      structures and melodies possible without a long apprenticeship in
      church. We must all reach deep into this treasury ourselves, putting
      it to work in our own lives. The services should not be left simply
      to specialists, choir singers and readers and clergy, but all of us
      must strive to learn troparia, kontakia, and other verses. What if we
      trust the preservation of these treasures to others, and they fail?
      Another source of Christian life for Father Seraphim was the Lives of
      saints. In this he faithfully followed Saint John. He wrote
      that, "Every Orthodox Christian [emphasis in original] should know
      the lives of the Fathers of the desert, which together with the Lives
      of the martyrs give us the model for our own life of Christian
      struggle…[of those] living the orthodox spiritual life to which every
      Orthodox Christian is called, according to his strength and the
      conditions of his life. Every Orthodox Christian should be inspired
      by their life of struggle far from the ways of the world" (NT p xi).
      As we have noted, he presented many Lives of saints to his readers.
      The Brotherhood prepared the first English-language calendar,
      incorporating many lesser-known saints of the universal Church. These
      things remain available to help us, together with volumes of saints'
      lives for reading each day, like the Prologue and the 12-
      volume `Lives of the Saints' of Saint Dimitry of Rostov.
      He saw all of tradition as having been preserved for us (BPV p 17).
      He asks the crucial question, the question each one of us should
      ask: "How can we make use of this holy inheritance in our own lives
      today?" The answer: "To keep alive the fragrance of the desert in our
      hearts: to dwell in mind and heart with these angel-like men and
      women and have them as our truest friends, conversing with them in
      prayer; to be always aloof from the attachments and passions of this
      life… to be first of all a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, the
      City on high to which all our Christian labours are directed, and
      only secondarily a member of this world below which perishes". "He
      who has once sensed this fragrance of the desert", he went on to
      say, "with its exhilarating freedom in Christ and its sober constancy
      in struggle, will never be satisfied with anything in this world" (NT
      pp 282-286)

      Embracing living tradition
      Father Seraphim learned with gratitude and joy from his beloved
      Russian Church outside Russia. In all things he strove to be a
      faithful son and pupil of the Church. Foreign to him was any idea
      of "shopping around" for traditions, taking something from one church
      and something from another, pasting together various customs and
      observances in a way completely removed from the living tradition of
      the church. Loving the Divine Services simply as he had received
      them, he avoided what we can term "liturgical archaeology",
      unearthing remnants long since set aside by the living Church. In his
      humility, he learned from those who had carried on the saving
      tradition, the experience of Orthodox Christians.

      Intellectually committed, not superficial
      It is worth noting that Father Seraphim clearly saw himself as a
      guide, in that he struggled to set a tone, to point people in the
      right direction. In his early days he was very much a zealot for
      Orthodoxy, lining up with the Greek Old Calendarists, including those
      that had entered the Russian church, to resist the "Paris school",
      ecumenism, the "charismatic revival", and modernism. He came to see,
      however, that taking a right position in relation to these things was
      not everything. He eventually saw that what he called "reformed
      Orthodoxy" was an Orthodoxy outside the living Orthodox tradition, a
      product of human logic (FAY p168). In this regard, one can see strict
      traditionalism and modernism as opposite sides of the same coin.
      Father Seraphim came to counter pose to this a right "tone", a "true
      tradition", a "fragrance" discernible in true Orthodoxy.
      Over and over again we hear Father Seraphim saying things like "Ours
      must be the orthodoxy of the heart, not just of the mind" (FAY p213).
      We shall not, he says, be judged for our ignorance of theology, but
      for not struggling on the path of salvation (FAY p?).
      In one of his letters to Father Alexey, Father Seraphim says that
      certain of the Greek Old Calendarists were "college boys playing at
      Orthodoxy" (FAY p297). They were more interested in playing games, in
      showing their cleverness, and in scoring points than in making a
      serious effort to be Christians. They may be Orthodox, the SHB Lives
      quip, but were they Christian? This is a good question, and yet
      another that we need to ask of ourselves. Are we Orthodox and
      Christian? We must be both if we hope to be saved.
      I've said that Father Seraphim saw himself as a guide. But we need to
      consider what sort of a guide he tried to be, given that there are
      all sorts of false guides around, "traditionalist" as well
      as "modernist". He wanted people to "live a true and inspired
      Orthodox life" (FAY p297), one, like his, nourished at the sources.
      He constantly emphasised the importance of thinking for oneself, and
      not leaving it to others (FAY p171). He stands against those elders
      who wish to be indispensable, striving to pass on what he himself had
      inherited, helping Orthodox Christians to be connected to a living
      tradition, yet strong and independent.
      "He believed and taught that spiritual work on oneself - the path to
      salvation – is hard work… spiritual struggle is neither easy nor
      quick, but requires a lifetime of daily commitment and concentration"
      (FAY p245).

      Guide to authentic orthodoxy
      The whole point I'm trying to make here is that Father Seraphim
      committed himself, mind, body and soul, to Orthodoxy. He invested in
      it totally; he put in, as we say, the "hard yards". He didn't learn a
      few lines or become Orthodox on a superficial level. On the contrary,
      there is nothing superficial about Father Seraphim. And it is on this
      level that we see his authenticity; he is not a guide to some sort of
      abstract "authentic" Orthodoxy, but a guide to being authentic, to
      being unsuperficial about being an Orthodox Christian. His Orthodoxy
      was something that he engaged with and that changed him. We have to
      understand this, or we will get things completely wrong, and Father
      Seraphim becomes just another "guru" whose quotes we learn and
      recite, thinking ourselves thereby "truly Orthodox".
      Guide to local orthodoxy
      We can see in Father Seraphim the beginning of a true "American
      Orthodoxy", one that grew naturally, not a contrived one. There was
      no attempt on his part to adapt Orthodoxy or reform it to fit
      American conditions, but rather the fullest possible expression of
      what he had received in the circumstances in which he found himself.
      This is something important. Amongst converts, especially, one can
      hear talk of "Australian Orthodoxy" or "American Orthodoxy". From
      Father Seraphim we learn the importance of simply and humbly learning
      from those who have preserved the faith for us. In doing so, and in
      striving to live our lives in an Orthodox Christian manner, filled
      and formed by faithful teaching and fitting worship, we will
      naturally develop an authentic local orthodoxy. We have to remember,
      however, that this is not an end in itself, but only one aspect of
      the path to salvation.

      You may recall that at the beginning of my lecture I said that Father
      Seraphim, from the time of his conversion, lived a life filled and
      formed by faithful teaching and fitting worship, and that the
      knowledge and experience he gained, together with his example, can
      help us. We have examined his Orthodox Christian life, drawing
      lessons from it. It may seem surprising that I've not mentioned his
      major works, books like `Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future'
      and `The Soul after Death', but my view is that his works are simply
      an expression of the life that he lived, and far from the most
      important aspect of his legacy. His life, to me, speaks volumes more
      than his published works.
      Father Seraphim wrote of Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky that his
      life "is of special value to us because it is the life of a holy
      father of modern times, one who lived like the ancients almost in our
      own day. All those deadly anti-spiritual currents which threaten now
      to enslave man completely… either existed already or were born in his
      lifetime. The spiritual climate of his times was very similar to our
      own; a number of our most pressing questions he answered for us. This
      virtual contemporary of ours struggled and was gloriously crowned,
      and God, seeing his labours, gave to him a hundredfold of spiritual
      fruits which are nourishing Orthodox Christians even to this day, and
      revealed in him the fount in modern times of the pure tradition of
      Russian Orthodoxy" (BPV pp17-18). These words, it seems to me, could
      equally be applied to Father Seraphim himself, a man whose Orthodoxy
      was intellectually rigorous, lived out, and above all, Christ-
      Blessed Paisius said that "solely by Orthodoxy of faith, without the
      diligent keeping of all Christ's commandments, it is not at all
      possible to be saved" (BPV p17). Father Seraphim understood this
      deeply, and wrote and spoke continuously of the need to "lead a true
      and inspired Orthodox life". May his example and prayers lead us to
      live such a life!
      Priest James Carles
      Umina Beach, August 2004

      · BPV - `Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky: The man behind the
      Philokalia', SHB, 1994
      · FAY - `Letters from Father Seraphim: The twelve-year
      correspondence between Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) and Father Alexey
      Young', Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, 2001
      · L&W - Hieromonk Damascene, `Father Seraphim Rose: His Life
      and Works', SHB 2003
      · NT - `The Northern Thebaid: Monastic Saints of the Russian
      North', Fr Seraphim Rose Foundation, 1995
      · SHB - Saint Herman Brotherhood
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