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Unpublished Stories from the Life of Fr. Seraphim Rose


The story behind this text: My name is Gregory and around the years 2003-2006 I had the honor of spending time with, praying with and listening to the spiritual words of a truly humble man who loved Orthodoxy with all his heart. I speak of Dimitri Langeron, who lives with his wife Irene and their son Nicholas. Dimitri is Fr. Seraphim Rose's godfather and a most pious and God-loving man. Their house is filled with icons, some very old from Russia and in some rooms nearly half of the walls of the rooms are covered in icons. There is something very other-worldly about Dimitri and his family; something I can best describe as Old Worldish; remnants of the types of people who so rarely exist these days. They pray, they fast, they constantly speak about God and His Holy Church and I really don't know if I've ever heard them speak of anything else; besides of things concerning the necessities of life. They have a huge garden in their backyard (the size of a large house) and live in simplicity. I visited their home often over the course of these three years or so, as their son is mentally challenged and in their old age, they needed help in caring for him. I was paid by Easter Seals for this and the Langerons were pleased as they preferred someone who was Orthodox to help them. During one of these visits, Dimitri printed for me a text he had written about his godson, Fr. Seraphim Rose. If I remember correctly he had been asked to write it as an introduction for a book; but it either was never submitted by him or the author of the book perhaps chose a different introduction instead. I took this and read it, placing it for safe keeping in a three-ring binder. Now after at least a decade, I just recently rediscovered this work of his. I am sharing it for all those who love Fr. Seraphim Rose. I ask the prayers of all those who read this for Dimitri, Irene and Nicholas, who are all now very old and preparing to pass into eternity...

***

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness ..."
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

John Keats (1795-1821)

***

Eugene Rose was born in 1934, into an American Protestant family.

Beauty is what attracted Eugene, the future father Seraphim, to Russian Orthodox Christianity. What he called later “the savor of Orthodoxy.”

Beauty and the passionate search for truth—because, basically, Eugene had a philosophical mind. Besides a strong and penetrating intellect, which could get to the essence of things in a few sober words, he had a compassionate and loving heart. His encounter with Christ was not intellectual, but a leap of faith, an act of love pure and simple. This is how also he came to love Russia, the Russian people, the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile, and finally Czar Nicholas II, the martyr. He found Russians psychologically deeper and more sincere and warm in their relations with other people than Western men, and with a religious and mystical bent, a little like the Irish.

Eugene studied in Pomona College, CA, and at the University of California in Berkeley. He was a man of wide culture, very gifted in languages, conversant in French and German. Besides, he learned Chinese and Japanese. Later on, he easily picked up Russian and Church Slavonic. He also studied the sciences, excelling in natural sciences. He was recognized by his professors as an exceptionally brilliant student.

He loved music (especially Bach), opera, literature, poetry. In English literature, he liked Dickens. He loved nature and animals. He was athletically built, and enjoyed sports in college. He was a practical man who could fix automobiles, make repairs and build a house.

But soon Eugene became disillusioned with the emptiness of modern life, its flat materialism, and with the only Christianity he knew: Protestant and Catholic, which he felt, had lost its spirituality. He also saw that science and technology, wrongly used, were slowly destroying the natural beautiful fabric of life. Looking for truth in the East, he studied Chinese culture and religion, Taoism, Buddhism, Zen and the hedonistic teachings of Alan Watts (a former Episcopalian priest, who had rejected his faith in favor of Zen Buddhism).

After a while, he also became disillusioned with the Eastern religions, finding them shallow. He came close to atheism, sensuality, and actual rebellion against God. He also came close to total skepticism, this terrible state of the human mind doubting all, drawing nearer and nearer to total madness and self-destruction. This state is well described in the classical book of Pavel Florenskii, The Pillar and Foundation of Truth.


But a miracle occurred. Eugene came to the night service at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco. It was Easter, Russian Easter, so notoriously exuberant and full of joy. Here he experienced something of the original spirit of Christianity from the time of the Apostles. He was overwhelmed by the beauty of the service, by all he saw and heard. He said: "Now I am at home." He realized that he had found what he had been seeking all along. He experienced something neither intellectual nor aesthetic, but existential. And inside of him, there was burning, not a temporary exaltation, but a deep spiritual passion, a permanent determination to preserve no matter what, that was to last for his whole life. From then on, slowly, he became more and more engulfed in Orthodox Christianity. He changed gradually his mode of life, from worldly to ascetic.

This is when I met him in San Francisco. He became a very dear friend. I cannot forget his kind penetrating eyes, his smile, his sobriety, his calmness, his composure, his natural nobility. He was intense, but shy. He knew nobody among young Russian Orthodox intellectuals. I introduced him to my friends. We met very often. I read and translated to him classical texts of Russian spirituality. We had many discussions...


Read the full article here: http://www.orthochristian.com/81715.html


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