Thursday, April 29, 2010

Living Icons, Chapter 2

The brief survey of the life of St Seraphim of Sarov that makes up chapter two of Living Icons bears with it no real surprises, although we are told that "St Seraphim is a key to the more open and creative understanding of the path of the gospel, the life of communion in God. We are also told that he was one who was "breaking the molds, transcending the boundaries." I am not, however, convinced that this is indeed the case. Certainly he had his own unique characteristics as monk, priest, and saint – but none of this, I'm fairly sure, was meant in any way to be a challenge to the institutional Church. His presence in this book still baffles me. I'd also have to object to the statement that St Seraphim "lived in one of the worst periods of church life in Russia." Certainly the Synodal period was bleak in certain canonical and political regards, but every commentator on the period is quick to note that it was also full of saints. Altogether, a rather odd beginning to the book.

4 comments:

David.R said...

Christ is risen!
I think that the reason to include St Seraphim in this collection is probably (I have not read nor intend to read the book), because anyone who sees the name of St Seraphim associated with the others will wander what is there in common between St Seraphim and the others. I think the author is going to have a very tough time proving that St Seraphim belongs to the same group as the others in any way, other than the fact that they all profess the Orthodox faith. Perhaps it is just a marketing trick?
Granted that they are all very interesting personalities (one of my pending projects is to examine Fr Alexander Men's life and writings closely).
If Fathers Florovsky, Lossky and Sophrony were included I would definitely buy the book.

Nicholas Park said...

The Synodal period is really not that unique in the history of the Church. The outward side of Church organization has always been a part of the world, and influenced by the spirit of the world to varying degrees. But the inward life of the Church remains, as a golden thread running throughout history. And the representatives of that inward life sometimes came into conflict with the power figures of their days. I think it will be difficult to argue that the other people in this book are a continuation of that same golden thread, if only because they and the school they represent do not enter into this conflict, but rather follow the power figures of their day in making accommodation to this world.

St. Seraphim is also quoted as saying that he who does not fast is not a Christian.

David.R said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Athanasia said...

A flag goes up the pole when I read words like, "...is a key to the more open and creative understanding of the path of the gospel..." The first thought I have is, "What does the writer mean by 'more open' and 'creative'?" I often interpret that to mean, "liberal." Probably an unfair judgement of mine but that's the baggage I've carried in from the past.