WARNING

NOT EVERYTHING THAT

CALLS ITSELF ORTHODOX IS

TRULY ORTHODOX


The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."


blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham

joannahigginbotham@gmail.com

jurisdiction: ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel

who did not submit to the RocorMP union in 2007

DISCLAIMER



24 September 2014

Son of ROCOR

About Fr. Seraphim
by Joanna

Since Fr. Seraphim's death different people have been writing about him saying he was like this or like that.  The dead can no longer speak for themselves, the survivors often project their own thinking onto the departed one.  People see what they want to see, – it is our human tendency – and they speculate: 'oh, if he were alive he would want this', or 'if he were here he would do that'.

Our task is to try our best to see Fr. Seraphim as he really was.  I submit that Fr. Alexey Young and Fr. Damascene, who have done most of the talking about Fr. Seraphim, both see Fr. Seraphim through their own perspectives.  The fact that today both of them are in world-orthodoxy shows their perspectives are limited.  The way to see Fr. Seraphim as he really was is to read what he wrote, let him speak for himself – without censoring him, without reinterpreting him, without taking anything out of context.

To understand Fr. Seraphim in regards to jurisdictions we need to trace his path from the beginning.  Fr. Seraphim started in ROCOR under the wing of St. John Maximovitch who imparted to him a deep understanding of ROCOR and a deep loyalty to ROCOR.  From the beginning of his Orthodox life, Fr. Seraphim saw everything from the perspective of a solid hardcore member of ROCOR up to when God found him worthy to be buried in ROCOR.

He shared his experience, his path in Orthodoxy, step-by-step in his Orthodox Word magazines.  He shared what gave him spiritual strength (lives of saints, writings of Holy Fathers, services), and he shared his practical application of the Orthodox mindset to the times, history, prophesy, current events, church politics, and contemporary issues.  Fr. Seraphim left a trail that can be seen in the "Tables of Contents" of his Orthodox Word magazines:

Looking at the "Tables of Contents" as a whole, we see that Fr. Seraphim served a well-balanced palette of quality reading materials.  Nothing necessary was lacking.  Lives of different types of saints (confessors, ascetics, fools), prophesy, holy fathers, teachers, church news with commentary, synodal and hierarchal epistles, Church services.

In issue #3, May 1965, we see already Fr. Seraphim includes an English summary & explanation of the "First Statement of Metropolitan Philaret on the American Metropolia".  (American Metropolia a.k.a. OCA.)  In issue #7, January 1966, Fr. Seraphim translates from Russian, Metropolitan Philaret's "Appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Athenagoras".  Included in this issue is a translation of an article by a Greek monk on the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  Many other such articles continue to be published throughout the later magazines.  For example, in issue #35, November 1970 Fr. Seraphim translates an article by a highly regarded Jordanville seminary instructor on world-orthodoxy titled, "Renovated Orthodoxy".

Following his path we see that first Fr. Seraphim examined world-orthodoxy which is a catch-all for: apostasy, renovationism, and modernity (such as the new calendar).  The phenomenon of world-orthodoxy was something outside of ROCOR.  It is inside Orthodoxy, but outside of ROCOR.  A good summary is described well enough in the chapter "Renovationism" in NoTW.

Next along Fr. Seraphim's path, and soon later, in the early 1970s, he encountered the super-correct disease.  Fr. Seraphim recognized that the super-correct disease is the flip side of world-orthodoxy (renovationism).  Like 2 sides to the same coin.  World-orthodoxy and super-correct are really the same disease, but opposite manifestations of it.  Unlike world-orthodoxy which was outside of ROCOR (OCA, Antiochians, etc.), the super-correctness Fr. Seraphim encountered was inside ROCOR (Boston monastery).  Fr. Seraphim, being a loyal son of ROCOR, seeing super-correctness inside his own jurisdiction, was more greatly disturbed by it.  Because of this there is much material against the super-correct.  Another reason more materials appear against the super-correct disease is because materials against renovationism, being offensive to world-orthodoxy, have since been suppressed by Platina.  This gives a false impression, and contributes to the false presentation of Fr. Seraphim's true teachings.

World-orthodox try to tell us that Fr. Seraphim later rejected his earlier criticisms of world-orthodoxy.  But this is not so.  Fr. Seraphim taught we must stick to the Royal Path which is above both the diseases of renovationism and super-correctness.  Over and over in many different ways he said that we must soften our hearts without weakening our stand against the apostasy of world-orthodoxy.  He stated that zealotry (which is good and necessary) becomes fatal without the "feel" for Orthodoxy.  Fr. Seraphim soon realized he would have to give more emphasis to the necessity to include the "heart" aspect when defending the Church against renovationism, but he always remained strong against world-orthodoxy.  World-orthodoxy is not lacking in "heart" – but the undiscerning heart is also fatal, such "love" is distorted, so that both the super-correct and the world-orthodox have fatal heart disease.  A person who looks carefully at what Fr. Seraphim said, truly wanting to know what he actually said, will see this.  Looking carefully we can see that Fr. Seraphim's use of the word "heart" was not a sentimental or humanistic type of love, but rather a love for truth which includes a love for the Church and with it knowing and understanding what the Church is – that She is the bearer and care-taker of the truth.  She is, as the Theotokos, called "Mother", who bears the person Truth.

This understanding is lacking in both world-orthodox and in the zealots.  They are outside the Church, so they are outside the experience of the Church, and they only have a vague idea of the Church.

To understand Fr. Seraphim to any significant degree, we must see the Church as he saw it and particularly the Russian Church.   Fr. Seraphim's idea of the Church was clear, it was imparted to him by St. John Maximovitch.  Here are 3 essays that can help us see the ROCOR as Fr. Seraphim saw it, as St. John taught it:

http://rocorhistory.blogspot.com/2008/07/history-of-roca-by-st-john-maximovitch.html

http://rocorhistory.blogspot.com/2013/06/spiritual-and-moral-significance-of.html

http://rocorhistory.blogspot.com/2009/03/meaning-of-russian-diaspora.html


I maintain and assert that without a deep understanding of the Russian Church, it is possible to understand Fr. Seraphim.  (Same with understanding St. John S&SF.)  Therefore, world-orthodox (apostates) and zealots (schismatics) are unqualified to tell us about Fr. Seraphim, to speculate where he would be today if he were alive.

Platina's idea that the Orthodox experience goes beyond Fr. Seraphim is pure folly.  Fr. Seraphim made it to heaven.  What greater experience of our faith is there than that?  But Platina is off in another direction away from heaven, disregarding Fr. Seraphim's warnings, and accepting false elders and pseudo-saints.  They lack the ability to discern the Church, or else, if they had this discernment, then they would know that ROCOR is the Church (along with the other jurisdictions in communion with ROCOR).

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