25 February 2012
In Fr. Seraphim's Defense
The subject of Eugene Rose dabbling with homosexual friendships prior to when he died in Holy Baptism to Christ has been raised on both the Paradosis and Euphrosynos Cafe forums this month [February 2012]. In Fr. Seraphim's defense we offer this testimony from Reader Daniel who knew Fr. Seraphim and the situation in those days there at Platina quite well.
People who love God recognize Fr. Seraphim as a true shepherd given to us by God. Many saints were former sinners prior to becoming Orthodox Christians. –jh 2/25/12
This remembrance is in regards to a current useless debate, among some, who never personally knew Fr. Seraphim but who only 'know' what others surmise at a distance about... him, about the possible 'homosexuality' of Fr. Seraphim, etc. It seems too, that the motive of some of these nay-sayers, is to discredit/defame/blacken Fr. Seraphim's person, and his spiritual writings, etc.
And, some of these in the worldly-Orthodox camp, refuse to accept sound Orthodox Patristic teachings.... which is what Fr. Seraphim was all about. As with the Toll-Houses, as with all that he studied and taught and lived, Fr. Seraphim never taught his own private views, he rather only taught others, what the Holy Fathers preached.
I personally had much contact with both Fr. Seraphim (born Eugene Rose), and more so, with Fr. Herman (born, Gleb Podmoshensky), both in San Francisco a bit before they founded their Platina monastery, and much more so, over a long period of years, up until Fr. Seraphim's passing, when they lived there at their monastery in northern California.
In those days, what I saw in Fr. Seraphim was a very sincere and somewhat severe ascetic, and an intellectual mind, a linguist who could read and pray and translate in many languages, so he didn't understand why everyone couldn't, a man with a very high IQ, and one truly engaging in a daily battle with his flesh (as we all are supposed to do, but few of us really do).
He was entirely dedicated to God and the Church. Especially, he was on a mission to learn and then share, Patristics, i.e., what the holy Fathers lived and taught.
Surely, his neglect for his body and his own health, were what lead to his early death. Of that I know.
I saw absolutely no signs at all, that he led any secret unspiritual life-style, though as it proved to be later on, Fr. Herman ...did.
One example: Someone who participated in a St. Herman Summer retreat, told me later, that when he and Fr. Seraphim walked alone, up the mountain from the monastery, he asked Fr. Seraphim's spiritual advice about his vexing homosexuality, to which Fr. Seraphim responded .....as a huge rattle snake made it's sudden appearance/rattling near them and ready to strike them, in the brush, "See that snake! ....just as we now must flee that snake, so FLEE homosexuality!" ...as they both ran from the spot...
(Hardly the words of a practicing homosexual, ...of one who condoned or excused it!)
Fr. Seraphim was always ...denying himself, in all ways ....sleep, hard physical labour, no heat in his tiny cell, etc, etc, etc.... and for monastics especially, that ALSO means, NO sexual excitement or 'activity', EVER, with anyone!
Even the entertainment of such lustful thoughts, is impossible. And THAT is what Fr. Seraphim practiced.
Anyone and everyone who ever knew him, or was close to him, WITNESSED what I relate here!
It was years later, when I did borrow that book by his non-Orthodox niece, that, "Seraphim Rose, The True Story and Private Letters" by Cathy Scott, that I learned much about his pre-Orthodox, early childhood and life.
Yes, in his early youth, (for whatever reasons ...anyone..... .develops/or may be born with/etc.- whatever sexual attractions to ANYONE of either sex, a very very complicated subject, i.e. human sexuality, etc. ..to say the least), the personal letters in that book do prove that he had such erotic love affairs with some other men. But, he outgrew that early phase of his life even before his encounter with Orthodoxy, in his Zen phase, when even in that spiritual discipline, pleasures of the flesh were unacceptable, and seen as an obstacle to spiritual advancement.
However, from all that I have known or learned or studied, about Fr. Seraphim, when he entered Orthodoxy, under the spiritual guidance of St. John Maximovitch, (to whom, he must have confessed his previous sins, before baptism), he radically changed completely and started his life long repentance and theosis.
Orthodox Eugene Rose, was a new man, a new creature in Christ. And, for the monastic who is dead to this world, in the spiritual realm, it doesn't matter whatsoever!.... what his former physical/sexual attractions were in his old life, –whether 'heterosexual' or 'homosexual' – he gives it all up for Christ, and to attain the Heavenly Kingdom, to gain that imperishable crown in the New Jerusalem. His life is one of DISPASSION, and unattachment to things of the body and of this corrupted fallen world. Fr. Seraphim was such a one.
But one of his heavy burdens, his albatross around his neck, was his weak and passion-filled monastic partner, Gleb (Fr. Herman) Podmoshensky, who from early childhood in chaotic communist-ruled Latvia, (where his father and other family members, died martyric deaths at the hands of the Reds), had a confirmed homosexual self-identity, and... later on, he defended it as some sort of legitimate alternative life-style, (as the militant gays do today), indeed, he even recommended it, i.e. to become monastics, for all Orthodox males, who were 'gay', meaning that: they could still have such sexual relationships, WHILE also being Orthodox monastics, etc.
When Fr. Herman openly said such bizarre things to a group at a St. Herman's Summer Pilgrimage at Platina, citing ....Greek or other indiginous/'native', Orthodox-cultural life, where, he claimed, such things were 'commonly accepted' by the local born-Orthodox rural villagers, Fr. Seraphim left the lecture in obvious and open disgust.
Such a defense, upset Fr. Seraphim greatly!, especially as both of the two, routinely confessed to each other their sins,... plus Fr. Seraphim was no dummy, and he could SEE the overt physical affection that his partner showed to some young male pilgrims to the monastery! (with the excuse of the Russian 3 kisses, etc. and prolonged hugging, all of which monastics, either monks or nuns, should NEVER do!), so Fr. Seraphim HAD to know of his partner's misdeeds, at least with some of them... which caused him constant grief and sorrow, and shame.
Fr. Herman, however, did most of his ....sexual liaisons outside the monastery, when he was on his... missionary journeys. At the monastery, he was more careful, especially so with Russian boys from San Francisco, as they might make big trouble for him down there in the Russian community... which did later happen with one young Basil.
But, with converts, Herman was bolder, as he could always claim that, 'What do you expect from crazy-converts!?' (i.e. they invent fantasies, etc.)
But as a true ascetic, Fr. Seraphim always blamed himself, not others. The ancient monastic rule is: "To be hard on oneself and easy on others". Fr. Seraphim always followed that. Fr. Herman did not.
From what was related to me, by a priest, very close to him, had Fr. Seraphim lived a bit longer than he did, he was planning on leaving Platina and his unrepentant/unstable partner and making or going to a new monastery somewhere else. I surmise, this being because of Fr. Herman's unrepentant/rebellious secret lifestyle .....the REAL reason Herman was defrocked (as I was a witness to) by our San Francisco ROCOR Archb. Anthony (Medvedev), though the official public reason was, 'for disobedience', (of which he was indeed guilty of, that's true enough), which was a cover-up, to protect the public image of the church, ...i.e., what bishops do –
Yet, unlike what the Catholic bishops have done or not done in their such cases, on orders from the Holy Synod, our Archb. Anthony DID finally defrock Herman, but with great reluctance and after giving Herman about 2 years or more to repent. Herman has never yet repented, but instead he led Platina into schism. So, can we find fault, now, with Fr. Seraphim, as by 'guilt by association'? ...i.e., was he co-guilty in the sins of his monastic partner?
I say, NO!
All the evidence that I know of, clearly shows Fr. Seraphim to have been a genuine spiritual giant, a valid model for us all. However,... he lived his early pre-Orthodox life, he spent the later and end larger Orthodox-Christian part of his life, as a true ascetic and a giant of a heroic Orthodox theologian.
Fr. Seraphim LIVED the theology.
These are a few things, that I KNOW of, not wild and salacious speculation as is coming from some others these days, of, my brief testimony – and which others close to Platina and Fr. Seraphim have shared with me, over the years.
But sadly, for those few... who are today aware of, or semi-aware of, Fr. Seraphim's monastic partner's sins and failings, ROCOR defrocked Abbot Herman,... I have seen a pathetic unChristian effort to besmirch and blacken Fr. Seraphim's name too, as if by his closeness to Herman, he too was guilty of the same secret sins of the flesh.
I KNOW such was not the case!
Fr. Seraphim and Herman Podmoshensky were/are two, VERY different people. Fr. Seraphim was the true self-abnegating ascetic, and poor Fr. Herman... just playing his own pompous deluded/in prelest, 'Holy Starets' role and his own version of the 'monk', often appointing himself, the spiritual guide of everyone, even when they never requested that of him.
Rd. Daniel Everiss
POSTSCRIPT: The dedicated monastic, gives up ALL physical/erotic/passionate 'attachments' to ANY other human being, no matter what sex they are!
His only love is agapia-love, as he must be above the flesh, not a prisoner of it's lusts.... which separate us from God. They are eunuchs of God! ...and that is what Fr. Seraphim Rose was, and how he left this world.
Memory Eternal Dear Father Seraphim, and PRAY TO GOD FOR US ALL! Amen and Amen!
I remember reading somewhere somebody who knew Fr. Seraphim said that when he was told about some sexual sin, he would say, "That's disgusting" and change the subject.
I've seen where a few have suggested that Fr. Seraphim "struggled" with the homo passion. Eugene was also a cigarette-smoking heavy-drinking gourmandizer. Did Fr. Seraphim "struggle" with these passions? There's no evidence. All evidence points to that he simply abandoned them. Homos should follow his example. Abandon sin, do not be tempted, just CHANGE THE SUBJECT and get on with the "one thing needful".
The niece, Cathy Scott, wrote her book immediately after Not of This World was published. It was suggested that maybe she was trying to get a free ride on the coat-tails of Not of This World. Out of respect for Fr. Seraphim, I refused to read the book. I don't care if she was a family member: a non-Orthodox person can not understand an Orthodox soul. Neither can anyone comprehend the dying that occurs in Orthodox Baptism unless they have experienced it.
You and I know Fr. Seraphim infinitely better than Miss Scott could even imagine.
From where do we think Miss Scott got the idea to write that book? Judging from all the Orthodox evolutionists who don't want to believe about the toll houses, who use Fr. Seraphim's dead past as an excuse to reject living Patristic teachings; I can well guess from where the idea comes...
∞ ∞ ∞
Added February 7, 2015:
∞ ∞ ∞