Fr. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina: Raising the Mind, Warming the Heart

Fr. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina

Fr. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina

The writings of the Russian philosopher Ivan Kireyevsky contain some basic ideas which are very apropos for us today. The usual argument between faith and reason, he wrote, is not correct. Reason is such a thing that it must be raised up to a higher level, and this is what the Orthodox Church tries to give. By itself, reason does not offer any more than an understanding of this two-dimensional, corporeal realm, with which most of the critics and scholars of the West are occupying themselves. There is something, however, above this. According to Western thinking, if you go “above” this, you usually have to deny reason and “jump into the dark.” In Orthodoxy this is not so, for the reason itself is so exposed to Truth that it begins to be elevated above itself.

The one thing that can save us is simplicity. It can be ours if in our hearts we pray to God to make us simple; if we just do not think ourselves so wise; if, when it comes to a question like, “Can we paint an icon of God the Father?” we do not come up with a quick answer and say, “Oh, of course it’s this way—such-and-such Council said so-and-so, canon number so-and-so.” And so either we, “knowing” that we must be right, have to excommunicate everyone else—in which case we have “gone off the deep end”—or else we have to stop and think, “Well, I guess I don’t know too much.” The more we have this second attitude, the more we will be protected from spiritual dangers.
Accept simply the faith you receive from your fathers. If there is a simple hearted priest near you, give thanks to God. Consider that because you are so complex, “intellectual” and moody, you should be able to learn much from him. The more you grow in Orthodoxy by reading and exposure to Church and contact with Orthodox people, the more you will be able to “feel your way” in the whole realm of Orthodoxy. You will begin to see the wisdom behind things and people you had dismissed before. You will begin to see that even if the people who are the “links” to the past are not consciously “wise,” nevertheless, God is guiding the Church. We know that He is with the Church until the end; there is no reason to “go off the deep end,” to fall into apostasy and heresy.
If we follow the simple path—distrusting our own wisdom, doing the best that we can, yet realizing that our mind, without warmth of heart, is a very weak tool—then what Kireyevsky talked about will begin to happen: an Orthodox philosophy of life will begin to be formed in us.

–Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina, Raising the Mind, Warming the Heart

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St. Poemen the Great

"A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable."

St. Gregory the Great

"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

"Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins."

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

“Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing your body or in reading written prayers….it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, with mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in a crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man’s. We can always say to Him in our hearts Lord , Lord have mercy.”

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The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind.

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