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Praying the Rosary: attributed to St Seraphim?


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#21 Kosta

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 05:27 AM

Many writings of St. Nikodemos have been criticized for its latin corruptions. The only thing dating to the 8th century on the Rosary is the number 150. The amount of psalms in the vulgate. There is no greek tradition nor any strong russian tradition of a 150x repititious prayer to the Theotokos.

#22 Mary Lanser

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 04:25 PM

Many writings of St. Nikodemos have been criticized for its latin corruptions. The only thing dating to the 8th century on the Rosary is the number 150. The amount of psalms in the vulgate. There is no greek tradition nor any strong russian tradition of a 150x repititious prayer to the Theotokos.


Does this mean that the rosary of St. Seraphim should be dis-credited or prohibited?...from your point of view, I mean?

Also do you know an answer to my question concerning the assertion that Orthodox faithful can practice a form of lectio divina?

M.

#23 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 04:47 PM

Lectio divina is not something I have ever heard mention of in Orthodoxy, and I know almost nothing of it. 'Spiritual reading' is a term I have heard but not in the same sense as lectio divina.

I have seen no incontrovertible evidence that St Seraphim used a rosary in the Catholic sense; comments about this say things like 'it is said . . . ' I have been to Diveyevo twice and seen all the secondary relics of St Seraphim and did not see anything like a rosary but only the Russian chotki. Whether it matters I leave for others to say.

Forgive me a sinner.

#24 Mary Lanser

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 05:49 PM

Yes. I've never heard of or seen a set of beads from any EO or OO source, like the western conventional rosary or dominical rosary. I have a red chotki that I use to pray repetitive prayers to the Mother of God, and use a monastic green one for the Prayer of the Heart. Its funny how things get organized in a prayer life. Using a western rosary with St. Seraphim's prayer cycle doesn't make sense to me.

WRT Lectio divina, perhaps it was because I posed the question to monks that I received the response that I did. I don't know. But they did not seem concerned by the question and responded positively saying that meditative reading of Scripture was common to them.

M.

#25 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 06:08 PM

I think the Orthodox shy away from reading scripture without consulting patristic commentaries - if we are our own guide we are likely to lose our way.

#26 Father David Moser

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 08:23 PM

Using a western rosary with St. Seraphim's prayer cycle doesn't make sense to me.


I just went back and read the original article posted in the first entry of this discussion. The so called "rosary" actually has nothing at all to do with St Seraphim. He simply reminded one of his spiritual children of the practice of reciting 150x the prayer to the Virgin (similar to the practice of reciting the Jesus prayer) "Hail Mother of God and Virgin" (which I would almost bet is a mistranslation of "Rejoice Unwedded Bride" or possibly "Rejoice, Theotokos, unwedded bride" - a version of the refrain from the akathist). The actual "rule" that is quoted there is drawn from a general piece of pastoral advice: "If, being unaccustomed to it, it is difficult to master one hundred and fifty repetitions daily, say it fifty times at first. After every ten repetitions say the "Our Father" once and "Open unto us the doors of thy loving-kindness" This advice was given by an "Elder Zosima" to his spiritual son, Father Alexander Gumanovsky. The Elder also was known to a Bishop Seraphim Zvezdinsky and it was this bishop Seraphim who took the elder's advice and expanded it into this rule which he then had one of his own spiritual children write out. So the so called "rosary of St Seraphim" has actually almost nothing to do with St Seraphim and is rather the result of two further interpretations (that of Elder Zosima and then of Bishop Seraphim) of a practice that was known in the time of St Seraphim's life.

I don't actually know who this Fr Alexander is nor do I know who this Bishop Seraphim is. In order to really evaluate the place of this "rosary" in the Orthodox Church, I think that at least we would have to know who these people are.

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#27 Mary Lanser

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:17 PM

I don't actually know who this Fr Alexander is nor do I know who this Bishop Seraphim is. In order to really evaluate the place of this "rosary" in the Orthodox Church, I think that at least we would have to know who these people are.

Fr David Moser


http://www.pravoslav...nglish/7426.htm

This is a brief bio on Bishop Seraphim

#28 Father David Moser

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 11:07 PM

http://www.pravoslav...nglish/7426.htm

This is a brief bio on Bishop Seraphim


This would indicate that the "St Seraphim" of this rosary is not St Seraphim of Sarov, but the New Russian HieroMartyr Serpahim

Fr David Moser

#29 Mary Lanser

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 01:32 AM

This would indicate that the "St Seraphim" of this rosary is not St Seraphim of Sarov, but the New Russian HieroMartyr Serpahim

Fr David Moser


Might we think of an ultimate and penultimate source?

#30 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 02:00 AM

Perhaps if there was a stitch of evidence to connect them in that way, but I, for one, am not seeing it. That certain overzealous individuals are extrapolating evidence that is not really there seems more likely.

#31 Mary Lanser

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 06:38 PM

Perhaps if there was a stitch of evidence to connect them in that way, but I, for one, am not seeing it. That certain overzealous individuals are extrapolating evidence that is not really there seems more likely.


I trust you are quite right. In fact, given some of the critiques I've heard, you are being most reserved and gentle, as usual.

I was in part teasing with my comment.

It doesn't matter, to me, the attribution. It is a lovely reflective prayer. I don't use it often but I do use it.

M.

#32 Dennis Justison

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 07:18 PM

During my years in the Roman Church, praying the Rosary was a large part of my prayer life. The Psalms were also huge. The Rosary comforted me and formed me. THe first paragraph in the Imitation of Christ says, "Make it your aim to meditate on the life of Christ." I wanted to be a good Catholic and I knew the Rosary was about the life of Christ, so I prayed it every day.

MOving towards Orthodoxy has been a difficult journey and the Rosary has been one of the reasons. It was hard to let go of it even though I never really set out to do so. In fact, I did pray a Rosary just last week.

One difference though that to me is somewhat profound and highlights a difference between prayer in the East and West, is this: When I'd pray a Rosary or Psalms, it was more of a thing to do. Yes, it was relationship with God, but it was a conversation that had a beginnning and an end. Praying the Jesus Prayer these past couple years has shown me that prayer is something that is without beginning and end, it lasts, it permeates my being to the core. The Rosary has specific prayers and specific beginning and ending. Not so with the Jesus Prayer. Hence, prayer isn't something to do, something to check off the list, but rather it becomes who I am and reminds me whose I am.

Peace be to all.

#33 Kosta

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 09:25 AM

Does this mean that the rosary of St. Seraphim should be dis-credited or prohibited?...from your point of view, I mean?

Also do you know an answer to my question concerning the assertion that Orthodox faithful can practice a form of lectio divina?

M.


I believe the so-called Rosary of St Seraphim never was. The WRV has been known to bring up an obscure practise or patristic writing which seems to promote a western custom, then attemp to make it the norm within Orthodoxy. A decade ago they were gung ho in (re) introducing statues into the Orthodox church, even had John Behr make a statement to the effect that statues are equal to icons and can be venerated!

As far as lectio divina im not well versed into what this specifically entails , best you ask your priest.

#34 Father David Moser

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 03:34 PM

I believe the so-called Rosary of St Seraphim never was.


I quite agree with Kosta here. Also I suggest that we cease using the word "rosary" to describe this practice as there is too much "baggage" that comes with the word. It is, fact, a rule of prayer that is embellished upon saying one of the prayers to the Virgin with a prayer rope (chotki/kombuskini). Russian/English translators from the 19th and early 20th century - especially those with a western Latin background - liked to use the word "rosary" to describe the various practices of using the chotki with the Jesus Prayer or other short prayers. This made the practice more familiar to western readers who were already aware of the Latin rosary. The problem, of course, is that the discipline of the rosary is already well established and has a single meaning and it is rooted in Roman Catholic theological concepts. The Jesus Prayer, however, is much less defined - it is not a single "rule" - and it is not at all connected to the theological roots of the rosary. The two prayer rules are completely different in purpose and use and only the most superficial elements (e.g. the use of beads or a knotted rope) connects them.

Should the use of this prayer rule be discredited or prohibited? Not necessarily - but neither should it be promoted as a standard when it is nothing more than the personal practice of the New Hieromartyr Martyr Seraphim (Zvezdinsky) as pointed out here. I do think that those who wish to talk about this practice need to make it clear that they are not speaking of a prayer rule practiced by St Seraphim of Sarov, but of a different St. Seraphim who is one of the new martyrs of Russia and whose connection to St Seraphim of Sarov is tenuous at best. When it comes to these personal practices that are received from a spiritual father, I think it is best to recall the words of St Macarii of Optina, "What I write for you, I write for you alone, and I must ask you to refrain from passing any of it on to others as a general rule of conduct for all. It is nothing of the kind." (Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction p.25)

Fr David Moser

#35 Mary Lanser

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 05:21 PM

Should the use of this prayer rule be discredited or prohibited? Not necessarily - but neither should it be promoted as a standard when it is nothing more than the personal practice of the New Hieromartyr Martyr Seraphim (Zvezdinsky) as pointed out here. I do think that those who wish to talk about this practice need to make it clear that they are not speaking of a prayer rule practiced by St Seraphim of Sarov, but of a different St. Seraphim who is one of the new martyrs of Russia and whose connection to St Seraphim of Sarov is tenuous at best. When it comes to these personal practices that are received from a spiritual father, I think it is best to recall the words of St Macarii of Optina, "What I write for you, I write for you alone, and I must ask you to refrain from passing any of it on to others as a general rule of conduct for all. It is nothing of the kind." (Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction p.25)

Fr David Moser


Snipped simply for brevity: I am inclined to agree with you here throughout your comments.

One question: I've heard some Orthodox say that most of what we know of St. Seraphim of Sarov from texts is highly questionable and should not be taken with anything but pounds of salt. Is this accurate?

M.

#36 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 05:40 PM

One question: I've heard some Orthodox say that most of what we know of St. Seraphim of Sarov from texts is highly questionable and should not be taken with anything but pounds of salt. Is this accurate?


Probably it`s best to begin with the basic texts in English, most of which have been around for years, and which are reliable:

St Seraphim of Sarov- A Spiritual Biography. Archimandrite Lazarus Moore
St Seraphim Wonderworker of Sarov and His Spiritual Influence. Helen Kontzevitch
Little Russian Philokalia. Vol. 1. St Seraphim of Sarov

was there a book by Valentine Zander at one point?

However even here there was at least one account which many in the dispora claimed as true. Which was that the Soviets took St Seraphim's relics. While transporting these by truck it was waylaid by peasants, the relics seized, and then stored away in hiding until freedom would return to Russia. Well, maybe the truck part was correct and also about the relics being revealed once communism collapsed in Russia. But what actually occurred is that throughout the Soviet period the relics were stored away in hiding by the authorities and then returned to the Church afterwards.

One miracle not yet commented on is how many relics turned out to have been preserved by the Soviets. No- not likely for religious reasons (although maybe as 'national treasures'), but in many communist countries such holy things were completely destroyed. Maybe in the Russian case we could call this residual human sense.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#37 Mary Lanser

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:07 PM

Probably it`s best to begin with the basic texts in English, most of which have been around for years, and which are reliable:

St Seraphim of Sarov- A Spiritual Biography. Archimandrite Lazarus Moore
St Seraphim Wonderworker of Sarov and His Spiritual Influence. Helen Kontzevitch
Little Russian Philokalia. Vol. 1. St Seraphim of Sarov

was there a book by Valentine Zander at one point?

However even here there was at least one account which many in the dispora claimed as true. Which was that the Soviets took St Seraphim's relics. While transporting these by truck it was waylaid by peasants, the relics seized, and then stored away in hiding until freedom would return to Russia. Well, maybe the truck part was correct and also about the relics being revealed once communism collapsed in Russia. But what actually occurred is that throughout the Soviet period the relics were stored away in hiding by the authorities and then returned to the Church afterwards.

One miracle not yet commented on is how many relics turned out to have been preserved by the Soviets. No- not likely for religious reasons (although maybe as 'national treasures'), but in many communist countries such holy things were completely destroyed. Maybe in the Russian case we could call this residual human sense.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael


It is the Kontzevitch text which I have heard call into serious question because of its source.

M.

PS: I am inquiring, not challenging!!

#38 Father David Moser

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:08 PM

Probably it`s best to begin with the basic texts in English, most of which have been around for years, and which are reliable:

St Seraphim of Sarov- A Spiritual Biography. Archimandrite Lazarus Moore
St Seraphim Wonderworker of Sarov and His Spiritual Influence. Helen Kontzevitch
Little Russian Philokalia. Vol. 1. St Seraphim of Sarov

was there a book by Valentine Zander at one point?


Yes, the Zander book is probably the oldest one out there - I actually have all three. The "Little Russian Philokalia" volume is essentially two small books (which I think would be the only real reliable "works" of St Seraphim). The "Spiritual Instructions" seems to be simply a collection of sayings drawn from the memory of those who knew him. The "Conversation" is a transcription of a conversation between St Seraphim and one of his best known disciples, N.A. Motovilov. It was discovered and brought to light by S.A. Nilus working under the supervision of the Optina Fathers (primarily St Ambrose, I think).

Fr David

#39 Mary Lanser

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:22 PM

Yes, the Zander book is probably the oldest one out there - I actually have all three. The "Little Russian Philokalia" volume is essentially two small books (which I think would be the only real reliable "works" of St Seraphim). The "Spiritual Instructions" seems to be simply a collection of sayings drawn from the memory of those who knew him. The "Conversation" is a transcription of a conversation between St Seraphim and one of his best known disciples, N.A. Motovilov. It was discovered and brought to light by S.I. Nilus working under the supervision of the Optina Fathers (primarily St Ambrose, I think).

Fr David


This is it, Father David, it has been said that the text from S. I. Nilus was in such a condition so as not to be at all legible really and therefore nothing more than myth making. That is what I am asking about here.

M.

#40 Father David Moser

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:32 PM

It is the Kontzevitch text which I have heard call into serious question because of its source.


The source, in this case, is the result of the direct experience and scholarship of the Kontzevitches - Ivan and Helen. Helen was the niece of S.A. Nilus and lived with him for a time at Optina monastery. In addition to her parent's pious upbringing (her birth was foretold to her mother by St John of Kronstadt) she was also exposed to the spiritual direction of the Elder Anatoly (II) of Optina monastery. In the diaspora she met and married her husband Ivan, who was a seminary professor both at St Sergius in Paris and later at Holy Trinity in the US. They were both highly regarded as authorities on the subject of the Russian spirituality of the 19th century. Iirc, they were also both the spiritual children of Bishop Nektary who was himself the spiritual child of the last Optina elder Nektary. I just don't see how there can be "serious questions" about the source here.

It is possible that some prejudiced person could look at the relationship between the Kontzevitch family with St Herman's monastery and in particular Abbot Herman (Podmoshensky). Abbot Herman did have some questionable opinions, however, he is not the author of this book and it was published by St Xenia skete after his retirement. It is quite unfair to call into question anything published by St Xenia's skete or St Herman's monastery simply because of the views of the former abbot.

Fr David Moser




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