Tuesday 6 July 2010

Fr Seraphim Rose on the spiritual poverty of our times

"I must tell you first of all that, to the best of our knowledge, there are no startsi today—that is, truly God-bearing elders (in the spirit of the Optina elders) who could guide you not by their own wisdom and understanding of the Holy Fathers, but by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. This kind of guidance is not given to our times—and frankly, we in our weakness and corruption and sins do not deserve it.

"To our times is given a more humble kind of spiritual life, which Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov in his excellent book The Arena (do you have it?) calls life by counsel—that is, life according to the commandments of God as learned in the Holy Scriptures and Holy Fathers and helped by those who are elder and more experienced. A starets can give commands; but a counsellor gives advice, which you must test in experience.

"We do not know of anyone in particular who would be especially able to counsel you in the English language. If this is really needful for you, God will send it to you in His time, according to your faith and need, and without your making too deliberate a search for it."

From a letter excerpted at: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/frseraphimspeaks.aspx

Comment: The modern lack of guidance from an 'enlightened' elder, in direct lineal discipleship with the greats of the past, is a feature of many aspects of contemporary life including science and medicine; and something which is likely to get worse.

Then the aspirant must remember and accept that "To our times is given a more humble kind of spiritual life"; also a more humble scientific life, or life as a physician or surgeon.

The modern heroism is then to accept humility, and not to strive for an impressive status which can only be fake.