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Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina Speaks

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  • Stephen/Στέφανος
    Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina Speaks Excerpts from His Writings Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), co-founder and co-editor of The Orthodox Word and co-founder
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2006
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      Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina Speaks
      Excerpts from His Writings


      Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), co-founder and co-editor of The Orthodox Word
      and co-founder of the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood and Monastery at
      Platina, California, reposed in the Lord on September 2, 1982 n.s. Born
      in 1934 in California, he was raised in a typical American Protestant
      family. He graduated from Pomona College in the Los Angeles area, and
      later received his M.A. in Chinese (Mandarin) from the University of
      California at Berkeley.

      He first encountered true Orthodoxy as a result of the lecture of
      newly-graduated Jordanville seminarian Gleb (Abbot Herman) Podmoshensky
      in 1961. By 1963 the establishment of the St. Herman of Alaska
      Brotherhood, as a missionary endeavor toward the conversion of
      English-speaking people, under the aegis of Blessed Archbishop John
      (Maximovitch) (+1966) had been decided upon. The Brotherhood began with
      headquarters on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco next door to the
      Cathedral, which was then in process of construction. The Orthodox Word
      began publication with the January-February issue of 1965. The first
      issues were handset and printed on hand-operated and hand-powered press.
      In addition to the publication of the magazine, an icon and book store
      was operated. Father Seraphim, with his modest smile and meek manner,
      was there to greet customers and answer questions, and let his light shine.

      By 1967, in pursuance of long-range and long-standing plans, search
      began for a suitable location for a skete, so that full-fledged
      monasticism could be undertaken. Vladika John having reposed in 1966,
      the Brotherhood now had a heavenly patron to assist them in all their
      righteous endeavors. After considerable searching throughout northern
      California, the present location of the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery
      was decided upon. Living quarters and the printing shop were made ready
      so that the two-hundred and-fifty-mile move northward from San Francisco
      was accomplished by Dormition of 1969. For one year the two members of
      the brotherhood labored in solitude and silence before they received
      tonsure to the Small Schema in October of l970. In the previous August
      of 1970, St. Herman of Alaska had been glorified in the Cathedral of the
      Holy Virgin the Joy of All Who Sorrow, in San Francisco. The Brotherhood
      had labored long and tirelessly to bring this about, and to make known
      the wonders worked by St. Herman, and his importance for the Orthodox
      Church, especially in America.

      Father Seraphim belonged to that rare species, the ascetics. His labors,
      who can tell? Perhaps only Abbot Herman. But others have been witnesses.
      Many were the nights when his attention could be had only with
      difficulty, because he was so enrapt in the Jesus Prayer even while at
      table. He demonstrated the virtues as few people in our time are capable
      of doing. He believed implicitly in the teaching of the Fathers that
      obedience to ones spiritual father and director must be given without
      question. He seldom ever allowed himself to become aroused enough for
      one to call it anger.

      He built a small hut, approximately 6 x 10 feet, on the mountainside, so
      that he had a refuge from ever-increasing numbers of visitors. For seven
      years he was blessed to enjoy this refuge, where he prepared many
      articles for publication, where he prayed and prepared himself to leave
      this world, where he was indeed a stranger and a pilgrim, and to enter
      his heavenly homeland. He was ordained hierodeacon in January 1977 and
      was raised to the rank of hieromonk on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers
      the same year, so that after eight years of desert-dwelling he and Abbot
      Herman were able to celebrate the Holy Mysteries.

      Father Seraphim was an inspiration for thousands of people. He gave some
      of the most inspiring sermons ever uttered in the English language. His
      constant counsel was: Censure yourself. Never excuse yourself. If you
      must, or think you must, give way to a weakness, then be certain that
      you recognize it as a weakness, and a sin. But see your own faults and
      condemn not your brother! During the latter portion of his life, Father
      Seraphim continually emphasized the need for spiritual attentiveness in
      preparation for struggles to come. He seemed to have an awareness, a
      foreknowledge, of apocalyptic times ahead. His message was conveyed in
      the well-known phrase: It is later than you think.

      Writing both in Russian and English, Fr. Seraphim was able to produce a
      torrent of articles and books in a relatively short span of time—only
      17 years—covering every conceivable subject of interest and importance
      to the Orthodox reader, including lives of saints, Divine services,
      contemporary problems, and theology. He also translated many works,
      making them available in English for the first time—incomparable
      service to English-speaking Orthodox Christians.

      Father Seraphim accomplished more for the glory of God and the spread of
      true Orthodox Christianity than any other person born on the American
      continent. May God grant him rest with His saints, where the light of
      His countenance shall visit him. And may his memory be eternal!

      Rassophore-monk, Reader Laurence

      (Fr. Seraphims first godchild)

      + + +

      The following letter was written by Hieromonk Seraphim in response to a
      question concerning spiritual guidance.

      Dear brother in Christ:

      Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you for your letter. I
      appreciate the seriousness of what you have written, and I will reply
      with the same seriousness.

      I must tell you first of all that, to the best of our knowledge, there
      are no startsi today—that is, truly God-bearing elders (in the spirit
      of the Optina elders) who could guide you not by their own wisdom and
      understanding of the Holy Fathers, but by the enlightenment of the Holy
      Spirit. This kind of guidance is not given to our times—and frankly,
      we in our weakness and corruption and sins do not deserve it.

      To our times is given a more humble kind of spiritual life, which Bishop
      Ignatius Brianchaninov in his excellent book The Arena (do you have it?)
      calls life by counsel—that is, life according to the commandments of
      God as learned in the Holy Scriptures and Holy Fathers and helped by
      those who are elder and more experienced. A starets can give commands;
      but a counsellor gives advice, which you must test in experience.

      We do not know of anyone in particular who would be especially able to
      counsel you in the English language. If this is really needful for you,
      God will send it to you in His time, according to your faith and need,
      and without your making too deliberate a search for it.

      Since you have written me, I will venture to give you a word or two of
      general advice, based upon what you have said in your letters, as
      derived from the experience of our small monastic community and our
      reading of the Holy Fathers.

      1) Learn first of all to be at peace with the spiritual situation which
      has been given you, and to make the most of it. If your situation is
      spiritually barren, do not let this discourage you, but work all the
      harder at what you yourself can do for your spiritual life. It is
      already something very important to have access to the Sacraments and
      regular church services. Beyond this you should have regular morning
      and evening prayers with your family, and spiritual reading—all
      according to your strength and the possibilities afforded by your
      circumstances.

      2) Among spiritual writings you should read especially those addressed
      to people living in the world, or which give the ABCs of spiritual
      life—such as St. John of Kronstadts My Life in Christ, St. Nikodemos
      Unseen Warfare, the Lives of Saints in general, and Bishop Ignatius
      Brianchaninovs The Arena (this book, while addressed to novices, is
      suitable for laymen insofar as it gives in general the ABCs of spiritual
      life as applied to modern times).

      3) To help your spiritual growth and remind you of spiritual truths, it
      would be good to keep a journal (the hardbound record books sold in
      stationery stores are good), which would include excerpts from the
      writings of spiritual books which you find especially valuable or
      applicable to you, and perhaps comments of your own inspired by reading
      and reflection, including brief comments on your own shortcomings which
      you need to correct. St. John of Kronstadt found this especially
      valuable, as can be seen in his My Life in Christ.

      4) Dont criticize or judge other people—regard everyone else as an
      angel, justify their mistakes and weaknesses, and condemn only yourself
      as the worst sinner. This is step one in any kind of spiritual life.

      I offer this for whatever help it may be to you. I would be glad to try
      to answer any specific questions you might have, especially on the
      teaching of the Holy Fathers, almost all of which we have access to in
      Russian-language editions.

      Asking your prayers,

      With love in Christ,

      Seraphim, monk

      >From Living Orthodoxy, Jan.-Feb., 1984.

      + + +

      The life of self-centeredness and self-satisfaction lived by most of
      todays Christians is so all-pervading that it effectively seals them off
      from any understanding at all of spiritual life; and when such people do
      undertake spiritual life, it is only as another form of
      self-satisfaction. This can be seen quite clearly in the totally false
      religious ideal both of the charismatic movement and the various forms
      of Christian meditation: all of them promise (and give very quickly) an
      experience of contentment and peace. But this is not the Christian ideal
      at all, which, if anything, may be summed up as a fierce battle and
      struggle.

      Orthodox Christians! Hold fast to the grace which you have; never let it
      become a matter of habit; never measure it by merely human standards or
      expect it to be logical or comprehensible to those who understand
      nothing higher than what is human Let all true Orthodox Christians
      strengthen themselves for the battle ahead, never forgetting that in
      Christ the victory is already ours.

      Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, St Herman of Alaska
      Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 1979.

      + + +

      ...Orthodox Christians of these latter times are indeed spiritually
      sleeping and desperately need to be awakened by a trumpet of the Spirit
      like Saint Symeon [the New Theologian]. Those who are Orthodox by birth
      and habit are not those who will inherit the eternal Kingdom of Heaven;
      they must be awakened to the conscious fulfillment of Christs
      commandments and a conscious reception of God's Holy Spirit, as Saint
      Symeon so eloquently taught.

      ...For Saint Symeon, as for all true Orthodox Christians, theology is
      life; the true words of God which speak to the Christian heart, raise it
      from its sloth and negligence, and inspire it to struggle for the
      eternal Kingdom, which may be tasted in advance even now in the life of
      grace which God sends down upon His faithful through His sanctifying
      Holy Spirit.

      Preface to The Sin of Adam and our Redemption: Seven Homilies by Saint
      Symeon the New Theologian; St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA,
      1979.

      + + +

      We must not deceive ourselves: the life of the desert-dwellers of the
      Northern Thebaid is far beyond us in our time of unparalleled spiritual
      emptiness. In any epoch the monastic life is limited by the kind of life
      which is being led in the world. At a time when daily Orthodox life in
      Russia was both extremely difficult and very sober, monasticism could
      flourish; but in our time when ordinary life has become abnormally
      comfortable and the world-view of even the best religious and
      intellectual leaders is shockingly frivolous, what more is to be
      expected than that luke-warm spirituality with comfort with which bold
      voices from inside Soviet Russia even now are reproaching the free West?

      Everywhere today the disease of disbelief has entered deeply into the
      minds, and most of all the hearts, of men. Our Orthodoxy, even when it
      is outwardly still correct, is the poorest, the feeblest Christianity
      there has ever been And still the voice of the Northern Thebaid calls
      us—not, it may be, to go to the desertbut at least 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, even when they center about some institution
      or leader of the church organization; to be first of all a citizen of
      the Heavenly Jerusalem, the City on high towards which all our Christian
      labors are directed, and only secondarily a member of this world below
      which perishes.

      Epilogue to The Northern Thebaid, St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood,
      Platina, CA, 1975.

      + + +

      The time of the end, though it seems to be near, we do not know. However
      close, it is still future, and in the present we have only the same
      age-old fight against the unseen powers, against the world, and against
      our own passions, upon the outcome of which our eternal fate will be
      decided. Let us then struggle while it is still day, with the time and
      the weapons which our All-merciful God has given us!

      Truly, we are far more in need today of a return to the sources of
      genuine Orthodoxy than Blessed Paisius was! Our situation is hopeless!
      And yet God's mercy does not leave us, and even today one may say that
      there is a movement of genuine Orthodoxy, which consciously rejects the
      indifference, renovationism, and outright apostasy which are preached by
      the world-famous Orthodox theologians and hierarchs, and also hungers
      for more than the customary Orthodoxy which is powerless before the
      onslaughts of a world refined in destroying souls.

      Many young people today are seeking gurus and are ready to enslave
      themselves to any likely candidate; but woe to those who take advantage
      of this climate of the times to proclaim themselves God-bearing elders
      in the ancient tradition—they only deceive themselves and others.

      Our times, above all, call for humble and quiet labors, with love and
      sympathy for other strugglers on the path of the Orthodox spiritual life
      and a deep resolve that does not become discouraged because the
      atmosphere is unfavorable. We Christians of the latter times are still
      called to work persistently on ourselves, to be obedient to spiritual
      fathers and authorities, to lead an orderly life with at least a minimum
      of spiritual discipline and with regular reading of the Orthodox
      spiritual literature which Blessed Paisius was chiefly responsible for
      handing down to our times, to watch over our own sins and failings and
      not judge others. If we do this, even in our terrible times, we may have
      hope—in God's mercy—of the salvation of our souls.

      Introduction to Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky, by Schema-monk
      Metrophanes; St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 1976.

      + + +

      As to the fatalism of those who believe that man must be a slave to the
      spirit of the age, it is disproved by the experience of every Christian
      worthy of the name, for the Christian life is nothing if it is not a
      struggle against the spirit of every age for the sake of eternity.

      man's freedom has been given him to choose between the true God and
      himself, between the true path to deification whereon the self is
      humbled and crucified in this life to be resurrected and exalted in God
      and eternity, and the false path of self-deification which promises
      exaltation in this life but ends in the Abyss. These are the only two
      choices, ultimately, open to the freedom of man; and upon them have been
      founded the two Kingdoms, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man,
      which may be discriminated only by the eye of faith in this life, but
      which shall be separated in the future life as Heaven and Hell. It is
      clear to which of them modern civilization belongsThe old commandment of
      Thou shalt, says [Nietzsches] Zarathustra, has become outmoded; the new
      commandment is I will.

      In the Christian life, the old self with its constant I will must be
      done away with and a new self, centered in Christ and His will, be born.

      Christian compromise in thought and word and negligence in deed have
      opened the way to the triumph of the forces of the absurd, of Satan, of
      Antichrist. The present age of absurdity is the just reward of
      Christians who have failed to be Christians.

      It is futile, in fact it is precisely absurd, to speak of reforming
      society, of changing the path of history, of emerging into an age beyond
      absurdity, if we have not Christ in our hearts; and if we do have Christ
      in our hearts, nothing else matters.

      "Subhumanity: The Philosophy of the Absurd" in The Orthodox Word,
      Platina, Sept.-Oct. 1982.

      + + +

      Looking at Orthodoxy, at its present state and its prospects in the
      period before us, we may see two opposed aspects. First of all, there is
      the spirit of worldliness which is so present in the Orthodox Churches
      today, leading to a watering-down of Orthodoxy, a loss of the difference
      between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy. This worldliness has produced the
      Ecumenical movement, which is leading to the approaching Unia with Rome
      and the Western confessions—something that may well occur in the
      1980s. In itself, this will probably not be a spectacular event: most
      Orthodox people have become so unaware of their faith, and so
      indifferent to it, that they will only welcome the opportunity to
      receive communion in a Roman or Anglican church. This spirit of
      worldliness is what is in the air and seems natural today; it is the
      religious equivalent of the atheist-agnostic atmosphere that prevails in
      the world.

      What should be our response to this worldly ecumenical movement?
      Fortunately, our bishops of the Russian Church Outside of Russia have
      given us a sound policy to follow: we do not participate in the
      Ecumenical Movement, and our Metropolitan [Philaret] has warned other
      Orthodox Christians of the disastrous results of their ecumenical course
      if they continue; but at the same time our bishops have refused to cut
      off all contact and communion with Orthodox Churches involved in the
      Ecumenical Movement, recognizing that it is still a tendency that has
      not yet come to its conclusion (the Unia with Rome) and that (at least
      in the case of the Moscow Patriarchate and other churches behind the
      Iron Curtain) it is a political policy forced upon the Church by secular
      authorities. But because of this policy, our Church suffers attacks both
      from the left side (from ecumenists who accuse us of being uncharitable,
      behind the times,and the like) and from the right side (by groups in
      Greece that demand that we break communion with all Orthodox Churches
      and declare them to be without grace).

      Indeed, if one looks at the state of the Orthodox Church in Greece, we
      can see that the Ecumenical Movement has produced a reaction that has
      often become excessive, and sometimes is almost as bad as the disease it
      seeks to cure. The more moderate of the Old Calendarist groups in Greece
      has a position similar to that of our Russian Church Abroad; but schism
      after schism has occurred among the Old Calendarists over the question
      of strictness. A few years ago one of these groups cut off communion
      with our Russian Church Abroad because our bishops refused to declare
      that all other Orthodox Churches are without grace; this group now
      declares that it alone has grace, only it is Orthodox. Recently this
      group has attracted some converts from our Russian Church Abroad, and we
      should be aware that this attitude is a danger to some of our American
      and European converts: with our calculating, rationalistic minds it is
      very easy to think we are being zealous and strict, when actually we are
      chiefly indulging our passion for self-righteousness.

      One Old Calendarist bishop in Greece has written to us that incalculable
      harm has been done to the Orthodox Church in Greece by what he calls the
      correctness disease, when people quote canons, Fathers, the typicon in
      order to prove they are correct and everyone else is wrong. Correctness
      can truly become a disease when it is administered without love and
      tolerance and awareness of ones own imperfect understanding. Such a
      correctness only produces continual schisms, and in the end only helps
      the Ecumenical Movement by reducing the witness of sound Orthodoxy.

      Conspicuous among Orthodox today—certain to be with us into the
      1980s—is the worldly spirit by which Orthodoxy is losing its savor,
      expressed in the Ecumenical Movement, together with the reaction against
      it, which is often excessive precisely because the same worldly spirit
      is present in it.

      There will undoubtedly be an increasing number of Orthodox converts in
      America and Europe in the coming decade, and we must strive that our
      missionary witness to them will help to produce, not cold, calculating,
      correct experts in the letter of the law, but warm, loving, simple
      Christians—at least as far as our haughty Western temperament will allow.

      Once Fr. Dimitri [Dudko] was asked about how much better off religion
      was in the free world than in Russia, and he answered: Yes, they have
      freedom and many churches, but theirs is a spirituality with comfort. We
      in Russia have a different path, a path of suffering that can produce
      real fruit.

      We should remember this phrase when we look at our own feeble Orthodoxy
      in the free world: are we content to have beautiful churches and
      chanting; do we perhaps boast that we keep the fasts and the church
      calendar, have good icons and congregational singing, that we give to
      the poor and perhaps tithe to the Church? Do we delight in exalted
      patristic teachings and theological conferences without having the
      simplicity of Christ in our hearts? Then ours is a spirituality with
      comfort, and we will not have the spiritual fruits that will be
      exhibited by those without all these comforts, who deeply suffer and
      struggle for Christ. In this sense we should take our tone from the
      suffering Church in Russia and place the externals of the Churchs
      worship in their proper place.

      Our most important task, perhaps, is the Christian enlightenment of
      ourselves and others. We must go deeper into our faith—not by studying
      the canons of Ecumenical Councils or the typicon (although they also
      have their place), but by knowing how God acts in our lives; by reading
      the lives of God-pleasers in the Old and New Testaments (we read the Old
      Testament far too little; it is very instructive); by reading the lives
      of Saints and the writings of the Holy Fathers on practical spiritual
      life; by reading about the suffering of Christians today and in recent
      years. In all of this learning our eyes must be on heaven above, the
      goal we strive for, not on the problems and disasters of earth below.

      Our Christian life and learning must be such that it will enable us to
      know the true Christ and to recognize the false Christ (Antichrist) when
      he comes. It is not theoretical knowledge or correctness that will give
      this knowledge to us. Vladimir Soloviev in his parable of Antichrist has
      a valuable insight when he notes that Antichrist will build a museum of
      all possible Byzantine antiquities for the Orthodox, if only they accept
      him. So, too, mere correctness in Orthodoxy without a loving Christian
      heart will not be able to resist Antichrist; one will recognize him and
      be firm to stand against him chiefly by the heart and not the head. We
      must develop in ourselves the right Christian feelings and instincts,
      and put off all fascination with the spiritual comforts of the Orthodox
      way of life, or else we will be—as one discerning observer of
      present-day converts has observed—Orthodox but not Christian.

      "Orthodox Christians Facing the 1980s", A lecture given at the St.
      Herman Summer Pilgrimage, Platina, CA, August 9, 1979.

      + + +

      The significance of the Catacomb Church does not lie in its correctness;
      it lies in its preservation of the true spirit of Orthodoxy, the spirit
      of freedom in Christ. Sergianism was not merely wrong in its choice of
      church policy, it was something far worse: it was a betrayal of Christ
      based on agreement with the spirit of this world. It is the inevitable
      result when church policy is guided by earthly logic and not by the mind
      of Christ.

      Introduction to Russias Catacomb Saints, by I.M. Andreyev, Platina, 1982.

      + + +

      The Orthodox Christian of today is overwhelmed to open Saint Gregorys
      Book of Miracles and find there just what his soul is craving in this
      soulless, mechanistic modern world; he finds that very Christian path of
      salvation which he knows in the Orthodox services, Lives of the Saints,
      the Patristic writings, but which is so absent today, even among the
      best of modern Christians, that one begins to wonder whether one is not
      really insane, or some literal fossil of history, for continuing to
      believe and feel as the Church has always believed and felt. It is one
      thing to recognize the intellectual truth of Orthodox Christianity; but
      how is one to live it when it is so out of harmony with the times? And
      then one reads Saint Gregory and finds that all of this Orthodox truth
      is also profoundly normal, that whole societies were once based on it,
      that it is unbelief and renovated Christianity which are profoundly
      abnormal and not Orthodox Christianity, that this is the heritage and
      birthright of the West itself which it deserted so long ago when it
      separated from the one and only Church of Christ, thereby losing the key
      to the secret which so baffles the modern scholar—the secret of true
      Christianity, which must be approached with a fervent, believing heart,
      and not with the cold aloofness of modern unbelief, which is not natural
      to man but is an anomaly of history.

      Introduction to Vita Patrum, by Saint Gregory of Tours, Platina, 1988.

      + + +

      We must not artificially isolate ourselves from the reality of todays
      world; rather, we must learn to use the best things the world has to
      offer, for everything good in the world—if we are only wise enough to
      see it—points to God, and we must make use of it. Too many people make
      the mistake of limiting Orthodoxy to church services, set prayers, and
      the occasional reading of a spiritual book. True Orthodoxy, however,
      requires a commitment that involves every aspect of our lives. One is
      Orthodox all the time every day, in every situation of life—or one is
      not really Orthodox at all. For this reason we must develop an Orthodox
      worldview and live it.

      "Living an Orthodox World-View", a lecture given at the St Herman Summer
      Pilgrimage, Platina, CA, August 1980; Orthodox America, Aug.-Sept. 1982.

      + + +

      Do not trust your mind too much; thinking must be refined by suffering,
      or it will not stand the test of these cruel times.

      Of course, one can always act wrong even on a clear conscience! But even
      that is not a fatal mistake as long as ones mind and heart remain open
      and one keeps first things first.

      How much our American Orthodoxy needs more heart and not so much mind! I
      dont know any answer for it, except more prayer and basic education in
      Orthodox sources.

      Orthodox Christians, surrounded by and already swimming in a sea of
      humanist-worldly philosophy and practice, must do everything possible to
      create their own islands, in that sea, of other-worldly, God-oriented
      thought and practice.

      Above all, may we all grow in spiritual understanding, not rational
      understanding—which I fear is the constant plague of all us poor converts!

      the two sides quote canons back and forth, when what is needed is love
      and understanding—and that statement, I realize, could have come
      straight from the lips of some ecumenist, which only shows how difficult
      the path of true Orthodoxy has become in our days.

      Good heavens! What is happening to people? How easily one gets dragged
      off the path of serving God into all kinds of factions and jealousies
      and attempts at revenge.

      How much hope there is for those who do not trust in themselves too much
      and are not overly-critical of others! And how little hope for those
      whose orientation is the opposite!

      psychological trials of dwellers in the last times will equal the
      physical trials of the martyrs. But in order to face these trials we
      must be living in a different world.

      I think aboutthat older generation that is now almost gone, and I want
      to weep for the young know-it-alls who have missed the point. But the
      understanding comes only through real suffering, and how many can do that?

      We must be open rather than closed with regard to the Moscow
      Patriarchate. The whole question of ecumenism and apostasy cannot be
      placed simply on the canonical-dogmatic-formal level, but must be viewed
      first spiritually!

      Its obvious that the zeal not according to knowledge is becoming a
      matter of some concern to [Metropolitan Philaret] and for many of our
      bishops, and Im afraid the solution to it, if any, wont be easy I think
      the quality needed is a certain deep humility of mind that enables one
      to accept other ways of looking at things, other emphases, as equally
      Orthodox with ones own.

      Try to remember that all real Christian work is localright here and now,
      between myself and God and my neighbor.

      Do you have a notebook for taking down quotes from Holy Fathers in your
      reading? Do you always have a book of Holy Fathers that you are reading
      and can turn to in a moment of gloom? Start now—this is essential!

      Now one cannot be a half-hearted Christian, but only entirely or not at all.

      Letters from Father Seraphim, Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society,
      Richfield Springs, NY, 2001.
      Many thanks to Mary Mansur, editor of Orthodox America, for permission
      to post these excerpts.
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