I had read two books by Father Seraphim about thirty years ago, so I can't give you the quotes or specifics, but I do recall him saying some things about the Catholic Church, and to be honest I dislike elitism in any faith. Why not just exentuate our beliefs without mentioning another Church, because by doing so wouldn't you be denigrating it?
These and other comments lead me to wonder about your familiarity with the lives of the saints. In several posts you have rightly exalted St. Nektarios, but you have done so in order to attempt to draw a contrast to Fr. Seraphim in some ways. You recall (but without specific quotes) that Fr. Seraphim said things about the Roman Catholic Church that were denigrating, and this is one reason why you do not consider him a saint. What do you think, then, of what St. Nektarios said about the Roman Catholic Church? Do you know that he wrote an entire book on the Great Schism?
The saints, in their great love for mankind, earnestly desire the salvation of all. As such, they speak out about heresies which cut people off from the grace of God and which keep man from the possibility of theosis. Salvation is to be found only in the One Church, and that truth is defended by the saints not because they were elitist but because this is true. They could have kept silent about such truths, but doing so would only hinder people from leaving schisms and heresies to be united to the true Church which is the Ark of Salvation.
Since you do not seem to be familiar with St. Nektarios’ words concerning the Roman Catholic Church, here are some quotes from him that can be found in the book The Church Fathers on Love in Truth
, published in Thessalonika, Greece by “Orthodox Kypseli Publications”. St. Nektarios’ complete book on the Schism has not yet been translated into English:
St. Nektarios said… “Neither the Papist nor the Protestant church can be considered as the True church of Christ. The first was altered by a number of innovations and the accursed despotism (Primacy) due to which resulted the schism from the Orthodox. The same goes for the Protestants whose innumerable innovations lead to total anarchy and chaos. Only the Orthodox church maintained the teachings of Christ flawlessly without a single innovation. Only in the Orthodox church does unity exist. The unity which the Savior was petitioning from the Father saying, ‘Holy Father keep them in your Name those you gave me so they can be one just like we are one. (John 17:11…)’.” (p.20)
“Those that are not reborn by the divine grace in the only ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH, they do not consist of (comprise) any church, neither visible nor invisible.”
These are just a couple of quotes from St. Nektarios, but so many of our saints and fathers clearly and openly taught that Roman Catholics and Protestants have no sacraments, no theosis, and no salvation. Read St. Mark of Ephesus’ clear declaration that “Latins are heretics”, or the many words form St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain that Latins (Roman Catholics) are heretics and do not have true baptisms or sacraments, or the words of St. Paisius (Velichkovsky) to an Eastern Rite Catholic priest instructing him to enter the Orthodox Church lest he repose outside of the Orthodox Church and be counted among the unbelievers, or the words of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) in the article concerning the “Impossibility of Salvation for the Heterodox and Heretics”, or the scathing words of St. Justin (Popovich) of Chilije concerning heretical Roman Catholicism. Read what St. Theophan the Recluse wrote concerning Protestantism (from the book “Preaching Another Christ”), or what Elder Cleopa of Romania said concerning Protestantism (“The Truth of Our Faith”). None of the Orthodox saints or Fathers spoke of Roman Catholicism or Protestantism as in any way leading man towards salvation and theosis. In fact, they taught the exact opposite, and they did so with hope for the salvation of all in the Orthodox Church.
I read the interview by Father Damascene that was posted, and he's the one that said that Father Seraphim Rose spoke about himself quite often. The way I took it was that he spoke about his life before becoming a monk. As for the Elders Porphyrios and the Elder Paissios, I don't believe they ever spoke about their life before becoming monks. I never read anything about their childhood other than the Godfather of Elder Paissios was a saint. These two elders were also given a great many charisms, and there were times they would mention them, but if these things denoted pride in anyway, they wouldn't have the charisms would they?
I really cannot comment on your objections to Fr. Seraphim speaking about himself without a quote and a link so that I can see what was said and the context. As “jckstraw72” also suggested, the Life of Fr. Seraphim (which you say you haven’t read) does say the opposite; that Fr. Seraphim would not speak of his former life. You are correct that in general monastics are not to speak about their former life in the world. As I understand it, this is particularly the case when a monastic is young and inexperienced because such speech could encourage fantasy about one’s former life similar to the fantasies that the Israelites had of Egypt when they were passing through the desert. Such thought and speech is like putting one’s hand to the plow and looking back, and can lead to half-heartedness, a weakening of resolve, and possibly the abandonment of monastic vows and a return to the world. Refraining from such speech and thought helps a monastic understand that they have died to the world, they have abandoned their former lives, and they now live only for Christ.
Monastics (and non-monastics) are also not supposed to speak openly about their struggles, experiences, and progress as this could lead to pride and delusion. While this is the case, the lives of the saints are filled with examples of experienced saints speaking of their life in the world as well as their ascetic practices and experiences, with humility, if such words could be helpful and edifying to their spiritual children. You mention that you don’t believe that Elder Porphyrios or Elder Paisios spoke of their lives before becoming monks, but that is actually not true. In both of their lives you can find direct quotes from them where they tell stories from their childhood and their life before monasticism for the sake of instructing and edifying the listener. If you have the recently published (in English) book on Elder Paisios by Hieromonk Isaac, flip through the first part of the book regarding the Elder’s childhood and see how many stories are direct quotes from Elder Paisios about his childhood.
So, monastics may speak of themselves and their former life in a way that is prideful, sinful, and could lead to temptation; and monastics may speak of themselves in such a way that is humble and only for the purpose of helping a person in need. Without the quotes from Fr. Seraphim that you are referring to, I cannot comment more specifically on your allegations in this context.
In conclusion, I sincerely recommend that you familiarize yourself with the life of Fr. Seraphim and with the lives of the many glorified saints of our Church. There is so much to learn from them, and we should constantly strive to think, feel, believe, and act as they did. If our minds are in conformity with theirs, then our minds will be in conformity with Christ’s; and if our minds are in conformity with Christ’s, they will be in conformity with the minds of the saints and Fathers of the Church. Then we will understand what makes for true sanctity, and we ourselves will be well on our way towards theosis.