After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


The Hundredth Issue of The Orthodox Word

Remembering Fr. Seraphim
September 2, 1982†

In his introduction to the 100th issue of The Orthodox Word  Fr. Seraphim pauses to sum up his work of his past 18 years; his repose was less than a year away.  This is a double issue [100-101], and it is the last issue for which he composed.  The introductory article can rightly be called his farewell article, and this issue can rightly be called his farewell issue.  It emphasizes the reality that the times we are living in now are the end times  There was then [and now more so] a pervading lack of awareness of this reality.  

On the front cover is a fresco from Mt. Athos: "And there arose a smoke out of the pit ... and there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth" [Apoc.9:2-3]  The inside front cover has a photo of Archbishop Averky, fully vested, with the Cross in his right hand and his staff in his left.  Archbishop Averky was one of the very few who recognized and taught that we are in the times of apostasy.  This is a great part of the spiritual vision preserved by the ROCOR and mentioned by Fr. Andrei in his homily posted a few posts back on this blog.  In this introductory article we see, again, Fr. Seraphim shared this vision fully; he was loyal to ROCOR and her hierarchs and his legacy from St. John, his spiritual father, [who was intensely loyal to ROCOR];  he was not headed towards world Orthodoxy which he says in this farewell article was already irreversibly in apostasy, while at the same time saying that super-correctness is a dangerous temptation.  He continuously pointed and re-pointed to the misunderstood and invisible Royal Path.

Sept-Dec 1981

-The Hundredth Issue of The Orthodox Word
-The Saint Herman Pilgrimages
-The Future of Russia and the End of the World by Hieromonk Seraphim
-Archbishop Averky: His Significance for the Ecumenical Orthodox Church
-Translator's Introduction to Archbishop Averky's Commentary on the Apocalypse
-The Apocalypse of St. John: An Orthodox Commentary by Archbishop Averky
-The Apocalypse: Chapter One by Archbishop Averky


Standing for True* Orthodoxy

 in an Apocalyptic Age

*Back then the term "true" had not yet
been taken by the super-corrrect.  By "true"
Orthodoxy, Fr. Seraphim is referring to the
Royal Path of the ROCOR of those days.

May the Lord bless the preaching of The Orthodox Word.  May this preaching serve for the strengthening of true Orthodox faith and Christian life in North America, with the help and prayers of Blessed Father Herman of Alaska, whose sanctity was manifested on this continent, and the Aleut Martyr Peter, who suffered martyrdom in San Francisco.
Archbishop John
Epiphany of the Lord, 1965

In February, 1965, the first issue of a new Orthodox periodical appeared.  Blessed by a holy man of our times, Archbishop John Maximovitch, and given by him the name The Orthodox Word, this periodical took as its mission to give Orthodox Christians to eat of the living word of true Christianity.  Its emphasis from the very beginning was on traditional Orthodox piety and teaching, leading to its rejection in some Orthodox circles as "out-of-date" in its acceptance of "old-fashioned" piety [saints, relics, miracles, etc.] and "fanatical" in its often outspoken opposition to ecumenism, Sergianism, and other modern currents in 20th century Orthodoxy.

In time the publishers of this periodical, the lay Brotherhood of St. Herman of Alaska in San Francisco, moved to the forested mountains of northern California, becoming a monastic brotherhood just at the time of St. Herman's glorification [1970] and continuing its activity in accordance with the wish expressed by Archbishop John before his repose that it be a monastic community far from the world and its passions but at the same time missionary in emphasis.  With its increased publication activity in both English and in Russian, its missions in several towns of northern California and Oregon, and its pilgrimages for the Orthodox faithful [see article below], the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery, in its humble way, has tried to fulfill this testament of Archbishop John.

The Brotherhood of St. Herman was born in the bosom of the Russian Church Outside of Russia and has fully lived the life of this Church in the 18 years of its existence.  Thus, The Orthodox Word in its pages has reflected the confession of true Orthodoxy to be found in the "Sorrowful Epistles" of Metropolitan Philaret, the Chief Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, and other warnings directed to the local Orthodox Churches against the departures from Orthodoxy which have become ever more noticeable in recent years; it has spread information about the saints glorified by the Russian Church Outside of Russia in these years:  St. John of Kronstadt 1964, St. Herman of Alaska 1970, St. Xenia of Petersburg 1978, and the New Martyrs of Russia 1981, seeing in these glorifications one of the obvious signs of the vitality of Orthodoxy even in these spiritually dormant times; it has followed with love and sympathy the persecutions and Orthodox awakening in much suffering Russia, which have become especially noticeable precisely in these years and have been one of the chief sources of inspiration for genuine spiritual life among the Orthodox of the free world who are able to respond with their hearts to these events.

The witness of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in these years has been largely a lonely one. There are has been some response to it from Orthodox Christians of other jurisdictions, but almost entirely on an "unofficial" level.  The progress of modernism and outright apostasy in these jurisdictions has been lamentable, and it seems irreversible; a silent minority of priests and faithful in some of these jurisdictions, especially in America, does indeed look sympathetically to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia as a center of the battle to preserve true Orthodoxy today although there is little agreement among them on specific ways in which to express this sympathy.  The Church Outside of Russia, and The Orthodox Word, will undoubtedly have more influence on such strugglers in the future, as the path of apostasy comes closer to its goal of another false union with Rome and the other Western confessions.  Up to now, however, this influence has been mostly limited to inspiring an increased respect among those of other jurisdictions for traditional Orthodoxy piety and dogmatic teaching.

The history of The Orthodox Word has been inextricably bound up with the convert movement in the Church Outside of Russia [as opposed to the isolated individuals who may have joined themselves to her before 1965 or so].  The Orthodox Word has tried to give these converts inspiration and encouragement in their struggle to preserve the Faith, as well as a truly Orthodox orientation to Christian teaching and spiritual life.

However, the growth of this convert movement in the Church has led to a serious problem, which is especially to be observed in America, which, as Solzhenitsyn has well noted, places undue emphasis on outward legalistic norms in daily life.  A great weakness of us converts [by which we mean not only those newly converted to the faith, but also those coming from other jurisdictions to the more "old-fashioned" Russian Church Abroad, as well as those who are "born Orthodox" but only come back to the faith after a period of rebellion or indifference] is our tendency to criticize, to over-emphasize the mind and under emphasize the heart.  This tendency, which often becomes a habit which is very difficult to uproot, leads to disagreements and suspicions among  Orthodox Christians who should be one of mind in their battle for traditional Orthodoxy.  And so it is that, especially in the past several years, a number of converts to the Russian Church Outside of Russia have followed the path of criticism so far that they have found the bishops of this Church also to be "not Orthodox enough," and they have left the Church to pursue their elusive goal of "super-correctness" in some other jurisdiction, or in a new grouping of their own creation.  This path is a danger to others also who still remain in the Church.

In a sense, the battle which must be waged against this spirit of criticism is a sign of "growing pains" among Orthodox converts.  In 1965 there was not enough awareness of Orthodoxy to produce such a temptation of "super-correctness"; but now that this temptation has become a reality, those who wish to preserve the spirit as well and the letter of Orthodoxy will have to go deeper into the experience of the faith.  The Orthodox Word which has helped to produce the increased awareness of Orthodoxy today, will continue to present the basic sources of Orthodoxy that can lead this awareness in the true path of Christian Faith that is heartfelt, sober, and fruitful.  With regard to outward questions of jurisdictions, canons, definitions -- it is, of course, our bishops who as always must be our guides.

The times ahead, more perhaps than ever before in the Church's history, are a time of what St. Gregory the Theologian well called "suffering Orthodoxy."  We truly live in the apocalyptic times: atheism is conquering the public sphere of the whole world, false religion increases as never before and captures many of those who awaken from the sleep of unbelief, the ecumenical movement draws nearer its goal of a false world church [the harlot of the Apocalypse], and the spirit of the coming of Antichrist begins to place its seal everywhere.  Those who would be faithful to Christ in these terrible times must be prepared for sufferings and trials which will truly test the faithfulness of our hearts to Him.

And yet, greater than these sufferings and the prince of this world who will inflict them upon us is He Who has promised to be with us even to the end of the age {Matt.28:20].  The witness  of the New Martyrs of Russia, of those persecuted there even now, and of the profound  and only true Christianity which alone can penetrate the hearts of men who thirst for truth even in these evil times.  It is to this reality of true Orthodox Christianity that The Orthodox Word will continue to be dedicated, with the help of God and His Saints.  Amen.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Helen Kontzevitch:

"Just before awakening on the morning of September 2, 1982, when Fr. Seraphim was dying, I saw a dream. I was in the company of a priest unknown to me, who was reprimanding me for my sins. He told me I must never take offense at anyone. Together we entered a large, palatial hall. At the end of this hall a man was standing on a raised platform and signing. It was difficult to see him well because of the distance. In a most beautiful voice, he was singing the Magnification, 'My soul doth magnify the Lord…' I said, "I don't hear well.' The priest urged me to go closer and I took several steps forward. Then I began very clearly to hear the singing. The singer was a tenor with a voice like Fr. Seraphim's whose singing I had heard years ago in the San Francisco Cathedral. That was in the early '60's. Standing in the cliros, he alone sang the entire Matins service from beginning to end. Never in my life had I heard more prayerful singing. My soul was uplifted to the heights… Now in my dream, I heard that same incomparable singing. It was the same voice, but it sounded like that of an angel, a dweller of paradise. This was heavenly, unearthly singing.
"Waking up, I understood that there was no hope for Fr. Seraphim's recover.
"Having the greatest admiration for the newly-reposed Fr. Seraphim, and valuing highly his achievements before God, I would like to write a few words about an attribute of his which is most dear and close to my heart. This is his faithfulness to genuine Orthodoxy. He did not have the slightest divergence with the teaching of the Church; he did not hold any personal opinions. My late husband, Ivan M. Kontzevitch, was the same, having several university degrees and, towards the end of his life, completing theological academy. It never entered his mind to sin against the teachings of the Church.
"The teaching of the Orthodox Church is not a product of the minds of the deliberations of the great Fathers of the Church. The Holy Spirit Himself inspired them with this teaching. It is for this reason that Orthodoxy is unshakable. Every offense against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:31-32). Faithfulness to Orthodoxy in our difficult and troubled times is of great value. Fr. Seraphim was a burning and illuminating lamp. He left us his light in his writings. Glory to God for all things."

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