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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






A Complete Conversion


Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote of himself in the third person:

Not too many years ago [this was written 1978] the Abbess of a convent of the Russian Orthodox Church, a woman of righteous life, was delivering a sermon in the convent church on the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God. With tears she entreated her nuns and the pilgrims who had come for the feast to accept entirely and wholeheartedly what the Church hands down to us, taking such pains to preserve this tradition sacredly all these centuries -- and not to choose for oneself what is "important" and what is "dispensible"; for by thinking oneself wiser than the tradition, one may end up by losing the tradition. Thus, when the Church tells us in her hymns and icons that the Apostles were miraculously gathered together from the ends of the earth in order to be present at the repose and burial of the Mother of God, we as Orthodox Christians are not free to deny this or to reinterpret it, but must believe as the Church hands down to us, with simplicity of heart.

A young Western convert who learned Russian was present when this sermon was delivered. He himself had thought about this very subject, having seen icons in the traditional iconographic style depicting the Apostles being transported on clouds to behold the Dormition of the Theotokos; and he had asked himself the question: are we actually to understand this "literally," as a miraculous event, or is it only a "poetic" way of expressing the coming together of the Apostles for this event ... or perhaps even an imaginative or "ideal" depiction of an event that never occurred in fact?  (Such, indeed, are some of the questions with which "Orthodox theologians" occupy themselves in our days.)  The words of the righteous Abbess therefore struck him to the heart, and he understood that there was something deeper to the reception of Orthodoxy than what our own mind and feelings tell us.  In that instant the tradition was being handed down to him, not from books but from a living vessel which contained it; and it had to be received, not with mind and feeling only, but above all with the heart, which in this way began to receive its deeper training in Orthodoxy.