.. Reading Father Seraphim Rose of Platina

Father Seraphim Rose of Platina

5. In Step With Sts. Patrick and Gregory of Tours

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5. IMITATION SPIRITUALITY

Bishop Theophan the Recluse [+1894], when quoting some of the Holy Fathers, deliberately omitted many of the passages which dealt with the physical sides of prayer. He did this knowing that—even in his time, the 19th century—many people would take those physical aspects as the end and begin imitating without getting the essence. Therefore he just left those writings out of his published works. Now, however, many of them are being published in English and you can read how you are supposed to sit on a stool with your head down, etc. People begin to imitate; they begin to think "this is it! "—and it is a matter of fact that if you fast for a long time and do certain exercises, you begin to have all kinds of things happen to you. But that is not spiritual life. It is almost guaranteed, on the contrary, that it is the activity of demons. The spiritual life is much more serious, much more down-to-earth, and therefore that is not the place where you are supposed to find it first of all.

Usually one can spot people who are not serious and are imitating. We even have a story from the early history of our brotherhood.... In San Francisco there was one who got on fire with the idea of the Jesus Prayer. Next...
 

4. In Step With Sts. Patrick and Gregory of Tours

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4. AWARENESS

This brings us to some of the practical considerations concerning the qualities needed for being spiritually creative and fruitful. There are a few important things which come to mind. One thing is that we must see things the way they are; that is, not go off blind, acting blindly without knowing what's going on in the world. We must be aware that there is such a thing as apostasy, that there are many different kinds of people who call themselves Christians, that they are acting in different ways and some of them are definitely in conflict with each other and with us, and that it can't be that all of them are right and are on the right path. We can see historically how many different kinds of errors, wrong views, wrong kinds of actions got mixed in with Christian faith. We see the frightful modern revolutionary movement; that is, the movement totally away from religion, aiming towards a great world empire of atheism, a foreshadowing of which is seen in Communism. This is not just among the unbelievers or among those who don't believe in the Orthodox way, but even among Orthodox people. We look around and see that many Orthodox people are simply, totally worldly and do not think about the higher side of their Faith. They take it for granted. "It's all automatic. That's what has been handed down. There's always a priest somewhere. If he's not in this town, he's in the next one. He has sacraments and Holy Communion. We just go to him and get what we need and that's all.... You go home and you're satisfied..." Next...
 

3. In Step With Sts. Patrick and Gregory of Tours

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3. THE TIMELESS SPIRITUAL LIFE

All of this is the negative side we see surrounding us today, and it is a very real part of the atmosphere we breathe every day. On the other hand, we have the Orthodox Christian revelation; that is, the revelation of God to His Church. It has come down to us now these two thousand years, very richly, with many testimonies of Scriptures and Holy Fathers, giving us a definite spiritual outlook, a definite spiritual law of life. The spiritual life and its aim do not change from one time to the next. In fact, we know that from the very beginning, from the time when the Gospel was first preached until now, there are being gathered out of the world citizens of one kingdom, all going towards the heavenly kingdom. All these citizens will speak the same language, and know each other, because they have gone through the one, same Orthodox life, the same spiritual struggle, according to the laws of spiritual life.
The Holy Fathers spoke about the latter times as times of great weakness, in which there would not be the great signs which were performed in the early times of the apostles and in the desert by the first monks, when thousands of miracles were being worked, great Fathers were raising people from the dead, many supernatural events were occurring; and these very Holy Fathers said that this dazzling age of miracles would fade away, and in the end there would be almost nothing at all like that. In fact, those who would be saving themselves would seem totally indistinguishable from everybody else, except that they would somehow keep alive the struggle against all these temptations. Just keeping alive the spark of the true Christian Faith, without making miracles without doing anything out of the ordinary, would already make them, if they endured to the end, as great as or even higher than those great Fathers who worked miracles. Next...
   

2. In Step With Sts. Patrick and Gregory of Tours

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2. THE CONDITIONS OF MODERN LIFE

There are, of course, definite reasons for this. The conditions of the world today are quite different from what they were in the past. The whole phenomenon of the apostasy, of the falling away from the truth, means that people do not know how to accept the Gospel freshly. They have already heard about it and have been inoculated against it. Therefore, very few of them—when they hear the message of Orthodoxy—come.

Another thing in the air today that is different from earlier times is this "Mickey Mouse" atmosphere. It is the lack of seriousness that one sees in the air, in just everyday customs. For example, when people part, they say, "Take it easy"—the sort of thing that indicates: "Relax, take it easy, there's nothing important going on. Just go along with whatever happens." We used to say things like: "God be with you." "Goodbye" even comes from the word "God".

The young people of today are very much absorbed in the whole fantasy world of television. "Mickey Mouse's" place is even called Disneyland, Disney World. Our whole spiritual and sober outlook is affected by this—even religious views. Next...

 

1. In Step With Sts. Patrick and Gregory of Tours

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In Step With Sts. Patrick and Gregory of Tours

A Homily by Fr. Seraphim Rose of Platina

EDITOR'S NOTE: As an example of Fr. Seraphim's simple, down-to-earth approach to spiritual life, we present here a faithful transcription of one of his "unprepared" recorded talks. It was given on St. Patrick's day, March 17, 1977, to monks and pilgrims at the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery.

1. A PERSPECTIVE ON ST. PATRICK

THE CONFESSION OF ST. PATRICK is a very simple document about how he planned to serve God and a few of the trials and sufferings he went through. From what St. Patrick writes, we see that in his lifetime he did not have the universal glory that surrounds him today. He apparently did miracles and many people had great respect for him, but he still had difficulties with bishops and church people, and there was controversy over whether he was doing things the way he should be doing them. This shows us that even those who later become quite glorious have to go through—in their own lifetimes—the same struggles that each one of us must go through; and it's not seen until the end whether a person even saves his soul. Next...

   

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