Thursday, November 28, 2013
Ten Christians Who Changed My Spiritual Life, Pt. 3: Fr. Seraphim Rose
To be sure, Rose's appearance is striking - especially for those of us used to the age of a religious identifying themselves with a lapel pin. Without a doubt, he is controversial even amongst Orthodox Christians for his work The Soul After Death, and honestly, I haven't read it. What interests me about his writing is not his more speculative side or interpretations of the Fathers, but his tremendous insight into the modern age in which we find ourselves.
His writing on this age of relativistic spirituality and hopeless skepticism is so incredibly relevant and insightful that it is a crying shame that he is not more read in the West than he is. My first encounter with his writings occurred around a year ago, when I nervously ordered a copy of a short book entitled God's Revelation to the Human Heart; at the time, I felt like a traitor for doing so.
But what I met with was a brief yet in-depth analysis and answer to the questions of why we study religion, why we search for truth, and how we know when we have found it. So much has stuck with me through my own journey, just from this book alone. Especially noteworthy is when he writes that "...for all the 'mysticism' of our Orthodox Church that is found in the Lives of the Saints and the writings of the Holy Fathers, the truly Orthodox person 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 one encounters God. This loving heart is why anyone comes to a knowledge of the truth, even though God has to break down and humble a heart to make it receptive..."1
Yes, he is controversial - so were Thomas Merton and Fr. Matta El-Meskeen in their own day too. I care little for that element, as most great Christians had some element of controversy in their lives or stirred the pot a little, and one is always free to take or leave what they disagree with. What I do care about is Truth, and Fr. Seraphim has proven to be a lamp on the Way.
1 - God's Revelation to the Human Heart, 28