MOSCOW: October 29, 2009
Sretensky Monastery Publishes a Russian Translation of the Book
Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Work
From the Editors: The following is Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff’s foreword to the book Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Work, by Hieromonk Damascene (Christensen), published by Sretensky Monastery, Moscow:
The fate of the Orthodox missionary, Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose, 1934-1982), is noteworthy. Born to a Protestant American family, and following a spiritual search, he came to Orthodoxy in 1962, and in 1972, he received the monastic tonsure and was given the name of St Seraphim of Sarov. Granting himself not the least of indulgences, he undertook the incomparable podvig of serving the Orthodox faithful. Dozens of articles and several books were produced during the few years given to Fr Seraphim: his works included Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future (1975); The Soul After Death (1980); The Future of Russia and the End of the World (1981) and The Holy Fathers: Sure Guide to True Christianity (1983, published posthumously). Some of Fr Seraphim’s writings about the Church in the atheist Soviet state may have seemed harsh, but they were never devoid of hope. He was of one mind with his spiritual father, “The Apostle of Russia Abroad,” St John (Maximovich, 1896–1966), who harbored undying belief in the grace-filled power of the prayers of thousands of servants of the faith in Christ. He felt that “the Russian Church outside of the homeland is not spiritually separated from her suffering Mother. They pray or her, preserve her spiritual and material wealth and in due time will unite with her, when the reasons for division fade away.”
The greatest of Fr Seraphim’s contributions was his oft-repeated call to Orthodox Christians to follow “the royal path,” to proceed along a deliberate, middle path, avoiding both extremes: on the right, unmitigated rigor, a tendency towards fanaticism, and on the left, leaning towards weakening, leading to modernism and ecumenism. He writes: “We may say that the ‘royal path’ of true Orthodoxy today is a mean that lies between the extremes of ecumenism and reformism on the one side, and a ‘zeal not according to knowledge’ (Romans 10:2) on the other. True Orthodoxy does not go ‘in step with the times’ on the one hand, nor does it make ‘strictness’ or ‘correctness’ or ‘canonicity’ (good in themselves) an excuse for pharisaic self-satisfaction, exclusivism, and distrust, on the other. This true Orthodox moderation is not to be confused with mere lukewarmness or indifference, or with any kind of compromise between political extremes.”
A quarter century has passed since the repose of Fr Seraphim. We have seen great changes during this time. The Russian people can now freely and openly confess the faith of their fathers. In 2000, the Local Council [Pomestny Sobor] of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified the host of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who accepted suffering in the years of persecution, with the name of Christ on their lips. And in 2007, after an eighty-year division, the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarchal Church and Church Abroad, reunited.
In 2005, the Brotherhood of St Herman of Alaska in California published Hieromonk Damascene’s book Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Work. Now this book, in a translation by Sergei Fonov, is available in Russian.
Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff
Holy Transfiguration Cathedral
Los Angeles, CA