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Offline Asteriktos

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Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« on: August 06, 2003, 07:20:04 PM »
Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
A Short Examination of Fr. Seraphim's Views on The Modern West And Its Relation to Orthodoxy


Introduction
"Our every word must be carefully considered, for in every word the truth is at stake." - Fr. Seraphim Rose [1]

It is fitting that we should begin an examination of Fr. Seraphim's thoughts on the contemporary (18th-21st century) Western world with the above note of caution. Truly what we Orthodox have to share with the western world is of vital and eternal importance, and we must not take our task lightly (cf Matt. 12:36). We must go past our opinions, and taking up the tradition of our fathers, devote our every word to the Truth incarnate, so that those who wish to test our words with a hammer as with a tuning fork will find our words to ring sweetly and accurately.

Now, when considering the words of truth as found in the works of Fr. Seraphim Rose, we have an admittedly difficult task. Fr. Seraphim appears to make differing, and sometimes even contradictory, statements; he seems to argue in defense of something in one place, and against that very same thing in another place. And there is always, of course, the chance of totally misunderstanding the point that Fr. Seraphim was trying to make altogether. It is hard for ordinary men to understand the spirit and depth of the likes of a Fr. Seraphim. Still, since the truth is at stake, we will at least make a small attempt at examining his words.


The State of the West Today
Fr. Seraphim had much to say about the condition that the west found itself in at the time that he was writing, though it is difficult to recognize precisely what he thought without reading much of his published work. Fr. Seraphim sometimes says things that seem incredible to us, but one must understand in what context he says things, and what underlying premises he is standing on as he speaks. Two of the most important (though sometimes unspoken) premises on which Fr. Seraphim stood are: 1) Orthodox Christians should look to the teachings and lives of saints when trying to understand truth; and 2) the end is near, and antichrist will soon appear.

It is true that Fr. Seraphim did not get to finish his planned book "The Kingdom of Man and the Kingdom of God," but he did write numerous essays, letters, and other books that thoroughly document (when taken as a whole) what he believed about the contemporary west and western man. The book "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the future," for example, "is about the 'spirituality' of Ecumenism, the chief heresy of the 20th century" [2] which the west has had to deal with. In this book Fr. Seraphim describes many phenomena (mostly in the west) that he links with the coming of antiChrist.

In another book, "Nihilism," Fr. Seraphim traces the failure of the western world as nihilism has developed and gone through various stages, finally arriving at a state where "the Revolution has captured the 'spirit of the age,' and to go against this powerful current is more than modern men can do" [3] Fr. Seraphim believed that Orthodox Christians today were just too ill-equipped, and there just wasn't enough time, to do what the early Church did when it transformed entire cultures. Fr. Seraphim is not saying that no one can be saved, but he does believe that the west as a whole is a lost cause, and that the most we can do is "snatch a few out of the fire" (cf Jude 23). He did not see attempts at reaching those in the west entirely pointless and worthless, but he did believe that the "nihilist rebellion has entered so deeply into the fibre of our age that resistance to it is feeble and ineffective". [4]

Fr. Seraphim believed that the coming of antichrist was very near, and that "at the present moment of man's spiritual history--a moment, admittedly, of crisis and transition--a dead God, a great void, stands at the center of man's faith." [5] "Men seem to have become too weak to face the truth." [6] The 20th century was, in Fr. Seraphim's view, the "age of superstition". [7] Though we had not quite gone over the cliff yet, certainly we were heading for one and it was clear to Fr. Seraphi that "the age of the 'rebel'" was at hand." [8]

Fr. Seraphim affirmed the teaching of Archbishop Averky that "we live in the age of the Apostasy, the falling away from true Christianity, when the 'mystery of iniquity' has entered its final stage of prepersation for the 'man of sin,' Antichrist (2 Thes. 2:3-12)." [9] What was perhaps most frightening to Fr. Seraphim was that it was not only the secular west that had fallen into corruption and error, but that Christians--and even Orthodox Christians--had, for the most part, fallen as well: "'The antichrist is not to be (primarily) found among the great deniers, but among the small affirmers--among the 'Christians' whose 'Christ' is only on the lips, among the 'religious' whose 'religion' easily accommodates itself to the world, among the prophets of a 'new' age of 'spiritual renewal' who seek this renewal in the 'Kingdom of this world' and not above'" [10]

In Fr. Seraphim's view (quoting the words of Archbishop Avkery), Christianity today is a "'frightful, cheerless picture of the most profound religious and moral decadence'. The temptation of wordly comfort and presperity drives God away from the soul... Therefore, the whole order of today's life in the so-called 'free' countries, where there is no open bloody persecution against faith, where everyone has the right to believe as he wishes, is an even greater danger for the soul of a Christian (than open persecution), for it chains him entirely to the earth, compelling him to forget about heaven." [11] Fr. Seraphim concludes in another place: "The life of self-centeredness and self-satisfaction lived by most of today's '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." [12]

All that has been said thus has to do with the secular west. It is true, the secular aspects of the west can and do have an effect on religion in the west (and even an effect on Orthodoxy); yet, for the most part, the origin, methods, and goals of the above corruption(s) are of a secular nature. However, as we read the works of Fr. Seraphim we find that there is also a seperate debate regarding the western religious groups and the effect they have had (and are having) on Orthodoxy. When there is a failure to discern whether Fr. Seraphim is talking about the secular west (e.g., American culture), or religions that are from the west (e.g., Roman Catholicism), much confusion can occur.


Orthodox Saints Corrupted by the West?
During the time in which Fr. Seraphim was writing, there were numerous people in the Orthodox Church insisting that the Church and some of her saints had been corrupted by western influences. To disagree with those who saw corruption was not an easy thing, and sometimes got you labeled as being  "under heavy Latin-Scholastic-Hellenistic influence," and "in a state of spiritual delusion'" [13] Apparently, some found a corrupting foreign influence in not only Fr. Seraphim, but also in Saint Mark of Ephesus, Saint John of San Francisco, Saint John of Kronstadt, Saint Nektarios of Pentapolis, Saint Theophan the Recluse, Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov, Met. Philaret of Moscow, and many others [14]

Fr. Seraphim noted that many of these finger pointing theologians had "an elitest philosophy," and that they believed that those under any kind of "western influence" did not "'really understand' Orthodox doctrine." Those perceived to be under a "western influence" included many of the recent saints and fathers of Orthodoxy. Saint Theophan the Recluse was especially singled out "because he used some expressions borrowed from the West, and even translated some Western books (even while changing them to remove all unOrthodox ideas)". [15]

To these charges of corruption, Fr. Seraphim responded as follows: "Fr. Michael Pomazansky... and other good theologians will readily admit that there were such 'Western influences' in the theological texts of the latter period of the Russian (and Greek) history--but they never touched the heart of Orthodox doctrine. To say otherwise is to admit that Orthodoxy was lost(!) in these last centuries, and only now are young 'theologians'... 'finding' again the Orthodoxy of the Fathers." [16] Fr. Seraphim said that "the very notion of 'Latin captivity' is played up by Fr. Schmemann and his colleagues precisely with the aim of destroying the idea of the continuity of tradition throughout the centuries... Do not all into that trap!" [17]

Fr. Seraphim admitted that "There are great theologians of the past several centuries who used expressions one might like to see improved," but quickly added that this "does not mean that they are in 'Latin captivity' or should be discredited." These Orthodox saints did not use the western expressions in the same way that the heterodox do, and so Fr. Seraphim believes that "the issue is not a very important one". [18]

Fr. Seraphim walked the fine line between reverencing the saints and being willing to look at their works and recognize mistakes. So while Fr. Seraphim highly valued the saints, he did not totally accepted everything that they wrote as though it was perfect. He admitted, for example, that "Some of the Orthodox textbooks of recent centuries have taught certain doctrines with a partially Western (especially Roman Catholic) vocabulary and slant, and have failed to properly appreciate some of the profoundest Orthodox Fathers, especially of more recent times (St. Symeon the New Theologian, St. Gregory Palamas, St. Gregory the Sinaite)." [19]

However, there is a big difference between having criticisms (as Fr. Seraphim had), and seeing "western corruption" in perfectly Orthodox texts and then essentially dismissing them out of hand. Fr. Seraphim did not disagree with the idea that we should read the works of the modern saints while always making sure that these were within the range of tenable orthodox positions. Fr. Seraphim was rather reacting to the unnecessary criticizing and absurd slandering of saints when these saints were speaking in an acceptable Orthodox way.

Fr. Seraphim believed that there was room for minor crticism concerning some of the terminology, lack of theological precision, and neglect of some saints: this was a far cry from the extreme "western captivity" criticism that many theologians of Fr. Seraphim's time made. Fr. Seraphim was always quick to come to the aid of those whom he felt were being unfairly criticized. And so, Fr. Seraphim wrote an entire book on Blessed Augustine (who was being labeled a heretic by some), pointing out Augustine's errors but nonetheless affirming his status as a saint of the Church. Fr. Seraphim also helped defend those who were being attacked while still alive. So, though Archbishop Averky was attacked by some for being too influenced by the west, Fr. Seraphim commented: "he was a champion of Orthodoxy in our age," and also said that Archbishop Averky was an "upright and righteous ones" whose "teaching remains with us and can be our guiding beacon in the even darker days ahead." [20]

Fr. Seraphim was also quick to compliment those Saints who had made Orthodoxy understandable to western audiences without sacrificing theological precision. He says of Saints Theophan and Ignatius of Russian that "They were recent Orthodox Fathers in Russia who were thoroughly steeped in the spirit of the Holy Fathers," but yet "They spoke to people in the language of their times, a period very close to our 20th century." They were to be commended for expounding "Orthodox teaching in a way that can be understood by Western man". [21]

Fr. Seraphim pointed out that Bishop Ignatius had "read all the Western writers," [22] and this is of no small importance. Saint Ignatius is not only to be commended for answering the western audience in a way understandable to it, but also for having himself read western literature extensively. This echoes in more ways than one the early Greek Fathers and the way they approached pagan writings. "It is surely pride for us to think that we will read only the great 'Eastern' and 'mystical' books." [23]


State of Orthodoxy In Fr. Seraphim's Day
Father Seraphim spoke of the narrow path which Orthodox Christians were to follow, saying that Orthodoxy must neither stray to the right nor left. Because of some errors arising from some modern over-exaggerations, Fr. Seraphim believed that Orthodoxy needed to "return to the patristic path of moderation, a mean between extremes... what the Holy Fathers call the Royal Path." [24]

One of the over-exaggerations that caused the need for a correction was the super-correct mentality coming from "the right". While these "to the right" theologians were pointing their fingers at multitudes of others and crying "western corruption," Fr. Seraphim pointed out that it was really these finger-pointing theologians who were under Western influence. Fr. Seraphim said of one such theologian: "While accusing all who oppose his teaching of 'scholasticism,' the critic proves himself to be perhaps the most 'scholastic' of all" [25]

Fr. Seraphim also saw this western influence effecting those on "the left"; for example, he says of Father Alexander Schmemann that, "while pretending to set himself free from the 'Western captivity' which, in his ignorance of the true patristic tradition of recent centuries... has himself become the captive of Protestant rationalistic ideas concerning liturgical theology, as has been well pointed out by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, a genuine patristic theologian of today. " [26]

Fr. Seraphim was not saying that we should ignore the west, and certainly not those who were falling into western exaggerations (even as they were claiming to be free of western influence). He believed that "where there are errors, to be sure, we must strive to correct them; the 'western influences' of modern times must be combatted." [27] However, while Fr. Seraphim did not ignore those who had erred by going to far to the left or right of the royal path, he did use a great deal of caution when approaching their writings. One of the reasons for this was that Fr. Seraphim believed that we were all, to some extent, under "western influence" (except perhaps for saints, who have cleansed their nous and have a level of spiritual discernment far above the normal person).

Fr. Seraphim admitted that he had "a deep distrust of all of us who are writing on theological subjects today," and believed that "we are more under 'Western influence' than anyone before, and the less we are aware of it the more obnoxious our 'Westernism' becomes. Our whole cold, academic, and often disdainful approach to theology is so remote from the Fathers, so foreign to them. Let us admit this and try not to be so presumptuous (I speak for myself also)." [28]

Speaking of how so many had strayed to the left or right side of the path, and of how difficult it was for anyone to stay right in the middle of the road, Fr. Seraphim said: "In previous centuries, Western influences may have produced some theoretical formulations of doctrine that were wanting in preciseness; but today the 'Western captivity' surrounds and often governs the very atmosphere and tone of our Orthodoxy, which is often theoretically 'correct' but wanting in true Christian spirit, in the indefinable savor of true Christianity." [29]

It is not the religious groups such as the Roman Catholics, then, who are to blame for these modern deviations (as those who have strayed from the path believe) Rather, being in the center of the royal path and therefore having an unobstructed view, Fr. Seraphim was able to see what those who had strayed from the path couldn't: that it was our own laxness in living our faith that had caused the problems, and it was also the secular culture and the religious spirit of the west in general that was having a negative effect on Orthodoxy. Corruption stemming from Protestantism and Catholicism are existent, but they are negligible compared to the the damage cause by our own failures and that done by the secular west.

It was not Catholic or Protestant terminology that Fr. Seraphim was worried about, but our own slackness and failure to watch for antiChrist, who was (in his view) coming very soon. "Orthodox Christians live today in one of the great critical times in the history of Christ's Church. The enemy of man's salvation, the devil, attacks on all fronts and strives by all means not merely to divert believers from the path of salvation shown by the Church, but even to conquer the Church of Christ itself, despite the Saviour's promise (Matt. 16:18 ), and to convert the very Body of Christ into an "ecumenical" organization preparing for the coming of his own chosen one, Antichrist, the great world-ruler of the last days." [30]

Fr. Seraphim further says: "Our times are much like those of St. Mark of Ephesus in the 15th century, when it seemed that the Church was about to be dissolved into the impious Union with the Latins. Nay, our times are even worse and more dangerous than those times; for then the Union was an act imposed by force from without, while now the Orthodox people have been long prepared for the approaching "ecumenical" merger of all churches and religions by decades of laxness, indifference, worldliness, and indulgence in the ruinous falsehood that "nothing really separates us" from all others who call themselves Christians." [31]

of course, Fr. Seraphim did not have only negative things to say about Orthodoxy. His missionary fervor and tireless attempts to reach Russian and English speaking peoples are, in themselves, sufficient proof that Fr. Seraphim did not believe that all was lost. The issue was not if the west as a whole could be saved (Fr. Seraphim believed that it could not be), but rather, the issue was how many individuals could be saved from the quicksand that everyone was stuck in.

Fr. Seraphim said that: "The full dimensions of the True-Orthodox protest against 'ecumenical Orthodoxy,' against the neutralized, lukewarm Orthodoxy of the apostasy, have yet to be revealed, above all in Russia. But it cannot be that the witness of so many martyrs and confessors and champions of True Orthodoxy in the 20th century will have been in vain." [32] He said in another place that the "positive missionary fervor" that he saw was "a very good sign". [33] According to Fr. Seraphim, "the great question of our times for all Orthodox Christians to face is a momentous one: the Church will remain, but how many of us will still be in it, having withstood the devil's mighty attempts to draw us away from it?" [34]


Conclusion
Fr. Seraphim believed that "we should all be humble and not think much of our own 'theology'" since "we are all perhaps under 'Western influences' of various sorts." [35] He believed that "an Orthodox awakening would be much to be desired in our days," and that "the true and fervent Orthodox Christian life is indeed rarely to be seen." "For too many," Fr. Seraphim said, "Orthodoxy has become simply a matter of membership in a church organization or the 'correct' fulfillment of external rites and practices." [36]

Fr. seraphim understood that the "Orthodox Christian standard [is] by its very nature radical to the modern consciousness." [37] And he cautioned: "The success of counterfeit spirituality even among Orthodox Christians today reveals how much they also have lost the savor of Christianity and so can no longer distinquish between true Christianity and pseudo-Christianity. For too long have Orthodox Christians taken for granted the precious treasure of their Faith and neglected to put into use the pure gold of its teachings." [38]

It was this loss of contact with the very spirit of Orthodoxy that Fr. Seraphim was speaking of when he spoke against "western influence". It was not those who used western terms, categories, and literary styles that were (necessarily) under western corruption or in western captivity. Oddly enough, it was those people who were attacking others for their supposed "western corruption" that were really being most effected by some of the most unhealthy aspects of the west. [39]

Fr. Seraphim believed that one could both use western language and also remain faithful to the orthodox spirit. In the 18th and 19th century Russia both usage of western language and literary styles, and a return to a more faithful Orthodox practice and teaching, was happening. Fr. Seraphim saw no contradiction in this, and didn't find it particularly odd. Fr. Seraphim did not believe that Catholicism and Protestantism were totally without truth, he saw them only as being hopelessly incomplete. [40] In his view, so long as one stays faithful to the Orthodox faith, there is nothing to prevent one from using certain terms and literary styles used by Protestants and Catholics.

Fr. Seraphim said that "A well-balanced Orthodoxy... can easily take any foreign influences that come and straighten them out, make them Orthodox" [41] As mentioned previously, an application of this principle can be seen in the lives of Saints Ignatius and Theophan, who: "spoke to people in the language of their times... a period very close to our 20th century. All the temptations of our times were known to them, especially to Bishop Ignatius, who read all the Western writers, was himself an engineer, and knew all the latest theories of mathematics and calculus."

"Knowing the present situation and the whole Western wisdom, they set forth the Orthodox teaching for these times and answered all kinds of arguments. Bishop Ignatius, for example wrote a volume on hell and the state of the soul after death, elucidating Orthodox teachings in a way that can be understood by Western man. These Fathers, as well as others who have read them and followed them, hand down Orthodoxy to us in a very accessible way." [42]

It was against laxness and indifference that Fr. Seraphim stood against-- the corruption of the secular west was much more important in Fr. Seraphim's mind than corruption coming from western religions. Likewise, It was not western ways of speaking, such as that historically used by Roman Catholics and Protestants, that Fr Seraphim was against. Rather, he was against using vague, ecumenically toned language that would be sacrifice truth for unity. So long as words and literary styles were filled with an Orthodox content, it wasn't particularly important to Fr. Seraphim whether this was accomplished with tradition Orthodox language, or language that has hitherto been foreign to Orthodoxy.

Archbishop John of San Francisco had a vision which Fr. Seraphim seemed to share: "the revival of Western Orthodoxy, not by way of the establishment of 'dependencies' of Eastern Churches, but throught he reestablishment of local Western Churches, generated from ancient, deep-seated, indigenous orthodox Christian roots" [43] For this to happen, though, both of these spiritual giants realized that, truth would have to be sought with life-changing eagerness, and that pride would have to be combatted ceaselessly: for only then would Orthodoxy have any effect on people in the western world.

Fr. Seraphim said that "outside of genuine Orthodoxy the darkness only grows." [44] We must, as Orthodox Christians, make sure that the darkness grows in spite of our efforts, and not because of them. Fr. Seraphim said: "It's later than you think," but we might also add: "therefore make every effort you can to reach those who are still in the darkness. But first, make sure that you yourself are on the royal path."





Footnotes
[1] Monk Damascene Christensen, Not of This World: The Life and Teachings of Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Father Seraphim Rose Foundation, 1993), p. 277
[2] Fr. Seraphim Rose, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, (Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1999), p. xix
[3] Fr. Seraphim Rose, Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age, (Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1994), pp. 95-96
[4] Ibid., p. 66
[5] Ibid., p. 70
[6] Ibid., p. 99
[7] Not of This World, p. 147
[8] Nihilism, p. 67
[9] Archbishop Averky & Father Seraphim Rose, The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity, (Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1985), p. 19
[10] Not of This World, p.150
[11] The Apocalypse, p. 20
[12] Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, p. 187
[13] Fr. Seraphim Rose, The Soul After Death, (Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1980), p. 229
[14] Ibid., pp. 227-260; Fr. Seraphim Rose, Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church, (Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1996), pp. 84, 94; Not of This World, pp. 501, 503
[15] Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church, pp. 26-27
[16] Not of This World p. 501
[17] Ibid., p.502
[18] Ibid., p.502
[19] Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church, p.83
[20] The Apocalypse, pp. 19, 23; Fr. Seraphim may even consider Archbishop Averky on the same level as the Saints of the Church, but the text is too muddy to say definitively one way or the other.
[21] Fr. Seraphim Rose, Orthodox Life and Practice: Raising the Mind, Warming the Heart (From a talk at the Saint Herman Monastery in 1977)
[22] Ibid.
[23] Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church, p.97
[24] Fr. Seraphim Rose, The Royal Path: True Orthodoxy in an Age of Apostasy (Originally published in: The Orthodox Word, Sept.-Oct., 1976 (70), 143-149)
[25] The Soul After Death, p. 257
[26] Father Seraphim Rose, The Holy Fathers: Sure Guide To True Christianity
[27] Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church,p.86
[28] Ibid., p.98
[29] Ibid., p.88  
[30] The Royal Path
[31] Ibid.; cf Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, pp. xxiii-xxiv
[32] The Royal Path
[33] Orthodox Life and Practice
[34] The Royal Path
[35] Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church, p. 95
[36] Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, pp. 181-182
[37] Not of This World, p. 127
[38] Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, p. 189
[39] cf Not of This World, pp. 496-509
[40] Ibid., p.126
[41] Ibid., p. 502
[42] Ibid., pp. 458-459
[43] Ibid., p.295
[44] Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, p. 184



Postscript--If anyone has any resources from an Orthodox perspective concerning usage of western terms or literary styles/devices, or just comparisons of rhetorical approaches, please say so :) I'm especially interested in studies on those who used western terminology, such as Saint John of Kronstadt, Saint Theophan the Recluse, etc.  In any event, I'm going to attempt studies of my own on Saint Basil and Saint Gregory sometime in the probably distant future (whenever I get down reading their extant works and rereading the pertinent sections... which will be a while from now! ;) )
« Last Edit: August 06, 2003, 07:21:14 PM by Paradosis »

Hypo-Ortho

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2003, 10:42:46 PM »
Good job, Justin.  The only thing I have a problem with is, IMHO, the unjustifiable elevation of Fr. M. Pomazansky over and against the ever-memorable Father Alexander Schmemann.  It's kind of like "ROCOR's much superior Pomazansky theology vs. OCA's decidedly inferior Schmemann theology," and that kind of unfair, one-sided diatribe just ain't good for Orthodox Church unity.   :'(

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2003, 10:23:26 AM »
I must admit that I'm not a big a supporter of Schmemann (I definately don't think he's a saint... if any American theologian from the 20th century other than Fr. Seraphim was, I'd say it'd be Fr. Georges Florovsky... but then my opinion as to whether he's a saint is really irrelevant! :) ). On the other hand, I think I'd agree with you hypo, I don't particularly understand the elevation of Fr. Michael to the degree that Fr. Seraphim elevates him. Fr. Seraphim actually said a number of things that wouldn't sit well with many in the mainstream of Orthodoxy today, though they're little heard about. In his introduction to the translation of the Vita Patrum of Saint Gregory, for example, he says that all of the American seminaries except for Jordanville are "modernist". I guess most people (even saints) sometimes say things we wouldn't think they would.

According to the Not of This World biography, Fr. Seraphim softened his stance a bit as he saw the negative effects ROCOR's reclusion was causing, and I think that's an accurate observation. Perhaps he even saw the effects this reclusion had had on himself, when he considered the way he had judged certain groups and people (both inside and outside ROCOR). I suppose that we all, over the course of our life, need to learn to "be humble and not think much of our own 'theology'" (as Fr. Seraphim said in 1978, 4 years before his death).
« Last Edit: August 07, 2003, 10:28:46 AM by Paradosis »

Offline Anastasios

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2003, 10:30:15 AM »
Granted we all know what everyone thinks of HC and SVOTS but why did Fr. Seraphim think St. Tikhon's is modernist?

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2003, 10:31:52 AM »
He didn't say, from what I recall (I read the introduction while I was staying at a Romanian-OCA monastery in Ellwood City, PA -- I don't have a copy of my own yet, so I can't check right now)
« Last Edit: August 07, 2003, 10:32:28 AM by Paradosis »

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2003, 10:57:54 AM »
Just for fairness's sake, I read Not of this World and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I didn't always agree with the fathers' take on things but when I didn't I just said well that's how they saw things and took the book for its totality, which was positive.

It was inspiring to me that people turned their lives around in the matter that the Platina fathers did.  I only wish that they had not fallen under the spell of Met. Pangratios for awhile.

I myself prefer things Greek but the Russian style practice they employeed is equally Orthodox and edifying.

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Offline Asteriktos

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2003, 11:12:18 AM »
This wasn't the quote I was thinking of, but someone at another forum brought the following to my attention:

Quote
...of all the Orthodox seminaries in the free world, it is doubtful that any save the Russian-language seminary at Holy Trinity Monastery (Jordanville, New York) will even attempt to give him an education in genuine Orthodoxy. - Introduction to Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky: The Man Behind the Philokalia

There are more of these types of quotes at the link provided, for those who want to read it.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2003, 11:14:52 AM by Paradosis »

Hypo-Ortho

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2003, 11:29:40 AM »
This wasn't the quote I was thinking of, but someone at another forum brought the following to my attention:

Quote
...of all the Orthodox seminaries in the free world, it is doubtful that any save the Russian-language seminary at Holy Trinity Monastery (Jordanville, New York) will even attempt to give him an education in genuine Orthodoxy. - Introduction to Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky: The Man Behind the Philokalia
<skip>

IOW, Justin, it is necessary to know the Russian language to gain an education in (gulp!) GENUINE Orthodoxy? ::)  Oh, brother! :o

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2003, 11:37:44 AM »
I think Fr. Seraphim's point was that only Jordanville is still teaching Orthodoxy as it should be taught, and that it happens to be a Russian-speaking seminary. I didn't take the "Russian language" part as something that Fr. Seraphim was focusing on or deemed important, I think he was just adding it for informational purposes. Then again, I could be wrong. Either way, I think that Fr. Seraphim read his eschatological views into how he saw the world. Fr. Seraphim believed that the antichrist was upon us, that the end was very near, and therefore many in Christianity and Orthodoxy had already gone into apostasy--so it wasn't that big of a leap to say that true Orthodoxy was only being taught by one seminary.

It's also important to remember that he was talking about genuine Orthodoxy in seminaries, here, and is not saying that Jordanville is the only Orthodox place on earth. Fr. Seraphim praised people outside ROCOR (he even praised MP priests! for which he got no small amount of rebuke). He wasn't saying that all of Orthodoxy except Jordanville was apostate, but rather that apostasy had grown to such an extent that genuine Orthodoxy was hard to find, and the only theological school that he knew of that taught it was Jordanville.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2003, 11:48:22 AM by Paradosis »

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2003, 12:04:49 PM »
Paradosis<<Fr. Seraphim praised people outside ROCOR (he even praised MP priests! for which he got no small amount of rebuke).>>

How generous of him!  

I genuinely liked the late Fr. Seraphim too.  I read much of what he wrote (his "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future" was my daily staple for quite a while) and even read the details (with photos) of his funeral in the Jordanville publication, "Orthodox Life.".  But we have no Pope in Orthodoxy, and neither Fr. Seraphim nor +Abp. AVERKY for that matter are considered infallible.

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Offline Asteriktos

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2003, 12:32:17 PM »
When did someone say they were infallible? I don't even consider Fr. Seraphim (or Archbishop Averky, for that matter) to be a saint, much less infallible (which would be an impossibility).  ???

And it wasn't "generous," it was merely an example that showed that Fr. Seraphim was not as closed-off and anti-everyone-but-ROCOR as some of his comments might lead some people to believe.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2003, 12:36:06 PM by Paradosis »

Hypo-Ortho

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2003, 12:48:08 PM »
When did someone say they were infallible? I don't even consider Fr. Seraphim (or Archbishop Averky, for that matter) to be a saint, much less infallible (which would be an impossibility).  ???

And it wasn't "generous," it was merely an example that showed that Fr. Seraphim was not as closed-off and anti-everyone-but-ROCOR as some of his comments might lead some people to believe.

Sorry if I misunderstood, Justin.  That was the "tone" I was somehow receiving (and possibly misperceiving) from your post. I never thought of Fr. Seraphim as being so sectarian.

I do have friends (and even a tonsured-Reader godson) in the ROCOR, but I have to honestly say that I've met both kinds there: the extremely sectarian "ROCiE" types and the more enlightened types, as well as those in the middle between the two types (whom I like best!).  Again, I apologize if I misundertood your post.

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2003, 01:19:40 PM »
I'm sure it was my fault, I always have to say things two and three times before I get them to say what I mean (hence the reason the majority of my posts have at least one edit, hehe). I definately agree that there is some variety in positions in ROCOR (in fact, we had a thread on that over at the Cafe not too long ago).

Offline Linus7

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Re:Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2003, 12:38:43 PM »
Interesting thread. I have read Fr. Seraphim Rose's Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future. I got a lot out of it, although it is somewhat dated now. Unfortunately, I loaned it to a friend who has not yet returned it!

I also read Archbishop Averky's The Apocalypse In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity, which was translated from the Russian by Fr. Seraphim and features an introduction and a brief life of the author by him.

I guess every generation of Christians has expected the Antichrist to appear at any moment; ours is no different. I am wary of that. It is quite possible that the world will go on for thousands of years before the end comes.

Yet it does seem that evil is growing in strength and with it the technology that could make possible the sort of world domination that is predicted for the Antichrist. Humanism, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the rise of modern liberal democracies have all set the stage for the "great falling away" (Or perhaps they are the "great falling away"?) that must precede the coming of the Antichrist. For now we have the kind of pluralism necessary for the creation of the super-religion that will proclaim the Man of Sin the "Messiah."

In the intro to The Apocalypse, Fr. Seraphim quotes Archbishop Averky in quoting St. Theophan the Recluse: "Although the name of Christian will be heard everywhere, and everywhere there will be churches and church services, all this will be only an appearance, while within there will be a true apostasy" (p. 20).

Who can deny that that is the case today?
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Offline Sabbas

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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2004, 05:58:44 PM »
I don't think anyone can deny that such is the case today. Why belabor the obvious? Things have gotten so much worse since Hieromonk Seraphim died that I can't imagine what he would be writing if he had lived.
I have read Fr.Seraphim: His Life and Works, which all converts should read, but first I read Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution in the Modern Age which really spoke to me as I myself was a Nihilist for many years before coming to Orthodoxy. His book Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future I also found close to me because I had dabbled in meditation and Eastern spirituality when I was an adolescent.
I venerate Hieromonk Seraphim in my own life because I feel close to him and need his help. When you have given yourself over to the lies of the Modern West and been left with nothing but pain, regret, and bad memories it becomes difficult to believe you can ever really get yourself on the narrow road. Hieromonk Seraphim, along with Ss. Cyprian and Augustine, did just that.

Also I noticed someone asking about the apparent elevation of Fr.Mikhail Pomazhansky of blessed memory over Fr. Schmemann.

I think the main issue is the Fr.Schmemann seemed to view the development of the liturgy on a cause-effect basis rather than believing it was the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. This is why Schmemann was criticised by Hieromonk Seraphim.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2004, 05:59:39 PM by Sabbas »
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Offline TonyS

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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2004, 06:05:16 PM »

I think the main issue is the Fr.Schmemann seemed to view the development of the liturgy on a cause-effect basis rather than believing it was the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. This is why Schmemann was criticised by Hieromonk Seraphim.

Sabbas,

Can you cite any reference that "Fr.Schmemann seemed to view the development of the liturgy on a cause-effect basis rather than believing it was the guidance of God the Holy Spirit"?

TonyS

« Last Edit: December 17, 2004, 06:05:53 PM by TonyS »
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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2004, 06:31:33 PM »


Sabbas,

Can you cite any reference that "Fr.Schmemann seemed to view the development of the liturgy on a cause-effect basis rather than believing it was the guidance of God the Holy Spirit"?

TonyS



Fr Michael Pomazansky's article criticizing Fr Schmemann's Intro to Liturgical Theology is where Fr Seraphim probably got his idea from.

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Offline TonyS

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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2004, 07:30:55 PM »
Fr Michael Pomazansky's article criticizing Fr Schmemann's Intro to Liturgical Theology is where Fr Seraphim probably got his idea from.
Anastasios

Can you tell me which article this is and where it appears?
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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2004, 08:01:45 PM »


Can you tell me which article this is and where it appears?

Tony,

Here it appears online:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/pom_lit.aspx
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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2004, 11:50:48 PM »
I think the main issue is the Fr.Schmemann seemed to view the development of the liturgy on a cause-effect basis rather than believing it was the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. This is why Schmemann was criticised by Hieromonk Seraphim.

I actually like Fr. Seraphim, but I don't agree with this statement at all about Fr. Schmemann, to whom I am more devoted. I think it is a terribly untrue accusation; Fr. Schmemann could not have seen the Holy Spirit more active, alive, and holy in the Orthodox Church. I never would have understood how the Spirit works in the Church without reading Fr. Schmemann.

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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2004, 01:29:30 AM »


I actually like Fr. Seraphim, but I don't agree with this statement at all about Fr. Schmemann, to whom I am more devoted. I think it is a terribly untrue accusation; Fr. Schmemann could not have seen the Holy Spirit more active, alive, and holy in the Orthodox Church. I never would have understood how the Spirit works in the Church without reading Fr. Schmemann.

Marjorie

Fr Schmemann certainly did believe that the Spirit was at work in the Church, that is true.  But reading his Introduction to Liturgical Theology, I have to agree with Fr Michael's critique.  When I think of who is more representative of normative Eastern Orthodoxy, Fr Seraphim definitely was more representative.

At the same time, I am happy that Fr Schmemann worked so hard to build up St Vladimir's Seminary, introduce frequent communion, and generally work to renew the living Orthodox tradition.  Sometimes, however, his critiques of "traditional piety" were far off and biting.  Overall, I think he fits in the category of someone who had an immense positive impact, but who like all of us was mistaken on some points and as such should not always be cited as an authority figure.

Fr Seraphim, who I think will be glorified soon, had a few mistakes of his own; I don't always buy his theological methodology.  But his love of Christ was deep and his practice of Christianity was very traditional and rooted in the experience of Orthodoxy throughout the centuries.

It is interesting that Fr Thomas Hopko served the 20th anniversary liturgy for Fr Seraphim's repose.

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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2004, 02:42:33 PM »
Yes I recently had the "Orthodox Word" issue with Fr.Hopko's homily in it. His homily was very warm and caring toward Hieromonk Seraphim.

I also think Hieromonk Seraphim will be glorified soon, I even met, briefly, Fr. Paul Baba who served at St.Georges church in Cedar Rapids. He had a miraculous dream which is mentioned in the back of the new Fr.Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works. It's also suprising how highly venerated Hieromonk Seraphim is in Russia and by many people in America.
I even keep a copy of this little icon of Hieromonk Seraphim in my Jordanville Prayerbook at home
« Last Edit: December 18, 2004, 02:43:11 PM by Sabbas »
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Re: Father Seraphim Rose And The Modern West
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2014, 01:50:07 PM »
Russia was not completely holy. The dark side of Russian history is often suppressed by admirers of the Russian Orthodox Church.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm2EPX6W9s4