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Blessed Father Seraphim Rose (1934 - 1982)

Nothing to do with sleek businessmen, fast food chains or investment schemes. And many Russian Christians will recognize him right away: few Christian stores or church book counters would not carry translations from Fr. Seraphim Rose.

It should be noted, however, that his apostleship — to Russia or to any other nation into whose languages his works are translated — did not emerge until he finished his earthly sojourn: he died in September, 1982 at the age of 48, and the twentieth anniversary of his untimely death is solemnly observed these days all over the globe. And here on earth he lived in a tiny Orthodox monastic community in the mountains of North California, constantly immersed into the church service cycle, into research, writing, editing and publishing work, translating treasures of Christian heritage into English, responding to letters from readers and inquirers, attending to the daily needs like gardening, firewood, truck engine and printing equipment, and praying in silence.

Who was he, that humble, reticent priest-monk? Eugene Rose before monasticism, younger son of a janitor, born in San Diego, CA, in his school and college years he had little involvement with, or interest for Christianity. But he had a bright, inquisitive mind and an honest heart, yearning for the truth — and that has made all the difference.

He studied Buddhism under Alan Watts in San Francisco and Chinese philosophy in the University of California, Berkeley, excelling in any field he touched and realizing at the same time that the full truth had to be found elsewhere… As he later recalled, “…a new idea began to enter my awareness: that Truth was not just an abstract idea, sought and known by the mind, but rather something personal - even a Person - sought and loved by the heart. And that is how I met Christ”. [...]

From "Remembering Fr. Seraphim" (Orthodox America, Aug.-Sep. 1982):
  • In conversation he was the proverbial “man of few words”. He had no interest in idle chatter, seldom expressed a personal preference for anything, and disliked fakery of all kinds, often speaking of the “Disneyland mentality” of America which was making it impossible for people to seek and find the truth (Such aversion to Disney, in those years ostensibly innocent, seemed strange to many - but soon the cat will be out of the bag, and in 1996 American Christians will begin boycotting Disney – ed.).

    He worried about the fact that most of us were “unconscious”: we were so abysmally ignorant of the great truths of our Faith… “Be awake, aware, informed!...” - he would plead, - “Don’t keep Orthodoxy to yourself as though it were some private treasure. Share it!”

  • Fr. 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: “Never excuse yourself. If you must, or think you must, give way to a weakness, then be certain to 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, Fr. 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 a well-known phrase: “It is later than you think!”

  • The death of Fr. Seraphim produced a spiritual phenomenon untold of in our times. Lying in state in a crude wooden coffin in the humble monastery church, not only did the body remain soft and life-like in the summer heat, but so comforting was his face that one could not bear to cover it, in the traditional monastic way. Even children could hardly move away from the coffin, since the body brought such internal peace and suggested such love. Everyone was aware that, in our times, among us, a holy man had left in his body a phenomenon that challenges science and our hearts.
From "God’s Revelation to the Human Heart" by Fr. Seraphim (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1987):

"...Is there a special organ for receiving revelation from God? Yes, in a certain sense there is such an organ, though usually we close it and do not let it open up: God’s revelation is given to something called a loving heart. We know from the Scriptures that God is love; Christianity is the religion of love (you may look at the failures, see people who call themselves Christians and are not, and say there is no love there; but Christianity is indeed the religion of love when it is successful and practiced in the right way)… If you ask anyone who knew Archbishop John what it was that drew people to him - and still draws people who never knew him - the answer is always the same: he was overflowing with love; he sacrificed himself for his fellow men out of absolutely unselfish love for God and for them. This is why things were revealed to him which could not get through to other people and which he never could have known by natural means. He himself taught that, for all “mysticism” of our Orthodox Church that is found in the Lives of the Saints and the writings of the Orthodox Elders, the Orthodox faithful always has both feet firmly on the ground, facing whatever situation is right in front of him. It is in accepting given situations, which requires a loving heart, that man encounters God. This loving heart is why anyone comes to a knowledge of the truth...

The opposite of the loving heart that receives revelation from God is cold calculation, getting what you can out of people; in religious life, this produces fakery and charlatanism of all descriptions. If you look at the religious world today, you see that a great deal of this is going on: so much fakery, posing, calculation, so much taking advantage of the winds of fashion..." [...]



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Readings:

Atop Mount Yolla Bolly. October 11, 1981 - Copyright © The B ... Baptizing a local 'American Convert' (August, 1980) - Copyri ... Bl. Seraphim with Fr. Deacon (now Priest) Vladimir Anderson ... Blessed Seraphim at his ordination to the presbytery with Bi ... Blessed Seraphim in 1981. This is not a portrait, but was ai ...
Blessed Seraphim lecturing on the 'Orthodox Revival in the S ... Blessed Seraphim lecturing on the 'Orthodox Revival in the S ... During the baptismal procession at the old Saints Adrian and ... From L. to R - Fr. Herman, Fr. Deacon (now Priest) Vladimir ... Giving a Bible Study to a group of young converts at the hom ...
Lecturing on 'Putting Lent into Practice' at the Saint Herma ... Picture (1) - Copyright © The Blessed Seraphim Hermitage Picture (2) - Copyright © The Blessed Seraphim Hermitage Procession with the Kursk 'Root' Icon of the Mother of God - ... Reading a copy of Nikodemos - Copyright © The Blessed Seraph ...
Serving Divine Liturgy during Bright Week on the spot where ... Serving the Litya with Fr. Deacon (now Priest) Vladimir Ande ... Serving with Fr. Deacon Andrei, sermonizing during the All N ... Translating a lecture by Archbishop Anthony at the Saint Her ... Translating a lecture by Archbishop Anthony at the Saint Her ...
Fr. Seraphim Rose





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