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There are some nice books about Saint Seraphim. Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville has an inexpensive booklet with the life of Saint Seraphim and the Akathistos to him.

Fr. Serge

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Dear Friends,

FYI, the nuns of Diveyevo, disciples of St Seraphim, have been glorified as Saints.

At Diveyevo, the nuns still go around the perimeter of the monastery grounds, prayer ropes in hand, reciting the rosary/rule of the Theotokos, all fifteen decades, out loud as they circumambulate.

They sing the Hail Mary's on feast days. They believe the Mother of God Herself goes around their monastery once every 24 hours - a tradition communicated to them by St Seraphim.

St Seraphim also said the Mother of God herself wishes us to recite her rule/rosary daily. He said this prayer was more efficacious in obtaining her Protection over our lives than even akathists and canons!

St Seraphim Zvezdinsky, an Old Believer united with the ROC, took St Seraphim's name as a monastic and prayed the 15 decades of the Rule daily. St Seraphim Vyritsky, a monastic inspired by St Searphim of Sarov, fulfilled the ascetical podvig of 1,000 days and nights in prayer in imitation of the holy Elder.

Alex

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I was curious about this saint as well. I read about him on monday and found out that we share the same birthday, which made me smile! grin I think he is a beautiful saint. He reminds me of St. Padre Pio.

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Originally Posted by Orthodox Catholic
Dear Friends,

FYI, the nuns of Diveyevo, disciples of St Seraphim, have been glorified as Saints.

At Diveyevo, the nuns still go around the perimeter of the monastery grounds, prayer ropes in hand, reciting the rosary/rule of the Theotokos, all fifteen decades, out loud as they circumambulate.

They sing the Hail Mary's on feast days. They believe the Mother of God Herself goes around their monastery once every 24 hours - a tradition communicated to them by St Seraphim.

St Seraphim also said the Mother of God herself wishes us to recite her rule/rosary daily. He said this prayer was more efficacious in obtaining her Protection over our lives than even akathists and canons!

St Seraphim Zvezdinsky, an Old Believer united with the ROC, took St Seraphim's name as a monastic and prayed the 15 decades of the Rule daily. St Seraphim Vyritsky, a monastic inspired by St Searphim of Sarov, fulfilled the ascetical podvig of 1,000 days and nights in prayer in imitation of the holy Elder.

Alex


Dr. Alex,

I was wondering where St. Seraphim said that the Rule of the Theotokos was of greater effect in procuring Our Lady's Protection than even the reciation of Her canons & Akathists. This interests me particularly given Our Lady's insistence in Her apparitions to Latin Catholics on the recitation of the Rosary.

I believe that I recall you writing once that St. Seraphim believed the Rule of the Theotokos was given to an 8th Century Theban monk, or something like this. Where would one go to find out more information on this?

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Something you might consider here, is the way the Hail Mary is said in the East, or suppose to be...

Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of God, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.

This may vary depending on the rite. Many would say it as...

Hail Mary, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.

A good bit of St. Seraphim here
http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/OldWorldBasic/Rosary.htm

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I believe that I recall you writing once that St. Seraphim believed the Rule of the Theotokos was given to an 8th Century Theban monk, or something like this. Where would one go to find out more information on this?

I think you have to separate this from the over-enthusiasm of rosary advocates. The rosary was and is a Latin devotion. It isn't eastern and never was. St. Seraphim had many devotions but he likely never saw a Latin rosary in his life. Any resemblance between St. Seraphim's devotions and the Latin rosary would have been accidental, not deliberate. It's stretching it to imply that St. Seraphim had any intention of creating an eastern rosary. Does that mean there is anything inherently wrong with the rosary? Of course not. It's a valid and beautiful Latin devotion. But it's a product of the western church, not the eastern.

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< applause >

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Dear St Josaphat,

First of all, "Rejoice!" smile

The website "www.isichasm.ru" (I believe that's what it is, but I'll check the address if it doesn't work) had an article about Orthodox Elders who use the Byzantine "Hail Mary" in place of the Jesus Prayer and also quoted St Seraphim in this regard. In one or more places, I've read that he received communications from the Theotokos about the Rule of 150 Hail Mary's from the Theotokos herself etc.

You are more than right about your conclusions (and I should have had the presence of mind to carefully footnote those specific references).

Give me some time and I"ll eventually come across them again.

Once again, excellent point.

Alex

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Dear Charles,

Returning to our favourite "bone" that we pick over and over again, let me say that I still don't understand your differentiation of the rosary and the Rule - they are one and the same thing, except the beads and some methods of saying it are different.

Western Saints such as St Dominic, St Louis De Montfort, Bl Alan des Roches and others of their time, preferred the term "Psalter" to "Rosary" (in fact, some of them just didn't like the latter term at all).

St Seraphim did not "invent" the Rule/rosary, but inherited it from a well-established tradition of a private, non-liturgical prayer.

So the question is: Where would he have picked it up?

He could have picked it up anywhere, from his mother or anyone in Kursk. More than likely, he picked it up at the Kyivan Caves Lavra where he was tonsured a monk (and directed by St Dosithea to go to Sarov).

This was the height of the Baroque period in Orthodoxy and the full Rosary divided into decades with meditations assigned to each decade was fully accepted by Orthodox saints and teachers and faithful of this period. St Dmitri of Rostov and others not only recited the 15 decade rosary as a private prayer, they also recited the Hail Mary at the turn of every hour as Western saints did. They even recited chaplets to the Joys and Sorrows of Our Lady (the tale of the Five Prayers is an adaptation of just such a chaplet that was popular in Paris in the 18th century). The 15 prayers of St Brigitte of Sweden were also widely popular among the Orthodox of this time as was a form of the Miraculous Medal and the Orthodox Brotherhoods of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady where Orthodox Christians piously accepted the Immaculate Conception doctrine of the West, vowed to defend this doctrine to the death (the "bloody vow") and prayed: All Immaculate Theotokos, save us! as their "Panaghia prayer." There is an article in Ukrainian in a publication of the Marian Library of Dayton, Ohio that discusses all this in much greater length than I can.

And St Seraphim's cell icon, the beautiful "Joy of all Joys" is actually a Western icon/picture. Many RC's visited Russia and especially Ukraine and brought Western pictures of the Theotokos with them. Prof. Poselyanin writes of this in his "Bogomater" and lists a number of these Western pictures that were accepted by the Orthodox Church and were even glorified as miraculous - including a picture of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in the Orthodox monastery of Horodyschenske called, to this day, "the Theotokos of the Scapular or "Shkaplirnaya."

So St Seraphim would definitely have known not only about the rosary in its western form - but also about any number of other devotions borrowed from the West and "recast" in Eastern form.

The "recasting" of the rosary as something revealed to an Eastern monk in the 8th century in Egypt - that could be part of that "Easternization" process that transformed borrowed Western elements into entirely Eastern spiritual "products" - including the work of St Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain who even translated the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, but without giving the name of the author. That book is still popular as a text for Orthodox monastic novices on Mt Athos, as I understand. Then there is the "Unseen Warfare."

We know that St Seraphim of Sarov used the "Bogarodychnaya Lestovka" in praying both the Jesus Prayer and the Rule of the Theotokos.

This is the same leather Lestovka that we are familiar with, except that the larger "steps" come every ten smaller ones. The Old Believers use this form of their Lestovka to pray the ros . . . sorry, the Rule of the Theotokos. It is not brought with them to Church (the standard one is used instead). It is used for the private recitation of the Rule or else in company with others as is done at Diveyevo.

I've seen an old photograph of St Seraphim's effects, boots, coat, bronze neck Cross and the lestovka he prayed on - it is in every which way like a Western rosary, except it is a leather Lestovka unlike the standard one as it is divided every ten smaller steps with a larger one.

In addition, prayer ropes in the Russian tradition are often divided up like that rather than every 25 knots. The Optina Rule of prayer lends itself to that kind of a division of the prayer rope and it is more practical when one is making prostrations etc.

The above applies if one believes that the Rosary came from the West and "seeped" into Orthodox private spirituality by osmosis.

I believe that the above supported what was already an established practice of praying the Rosary/Rule of the Theotokos.

One reason I offer to support this view is the Rule's popularity and ancient observance by the Old Believers.

Let's remember that the Old Believers rejected everything that they felt was Western and therefore "contaminated by heresy." They rejected Western pictures, devotions, doctrines - just name it. They were ready to die for their faith at the stake rather than admit changes that, for them, were heretical precisely because they appeared to be "contaminated by Western innovation and heresy."

The practice of the Rule of 150 Hail Mary's among the Old Believers antedates the Baroque era by several hundreds years, even before St Dominic.

And let's remember that it is really an historical stretch to associate the Rosary with St Dominic AT ALL.

Dominican researchers have long told us that it is simply a flight of fancy to think that Dominic was the promoter of the rosary as we like to think him to be. He is NEVER depicted holding one in the earliest representations of him, for instance. This was all largely due to the real flights of fancy of Bl. Alain des Roches who was very zealous for the rosary, but who employed quite fantastic examples of piety in his writings to achieve his purpose (and he was never beatified - the term "Blessed" is an honorific only in his case).

The beginnings of the Western Rosary are really to be found among the monks of Holy Eire.

And where did THEY get it? Are they the ones that invented this?

Not at all.

The Irish Celi De especially were students of the Coptic Thebaid whose traditions St John Cassian was to write about and communicate to the West, especially at Marseilles and Lerins where St Patrick, among many other Irish monks, was trained.

This is why the Celtic Church was the only Western Church to have prostrations in the Eastern manner. This is why the Celtic Church prayed the psalter in groups of 12 psalms like the monks of the Thebaid did - and a whole host of other monastic practices that place the Celtic monks in the tradition of the Thebaid.

The practice of replacing the Psalter with Our Father's and Hail Mary's - that is a Coptic practice as I discovered in a patristic study on Carmelite spirituality that was once linked here.

In fact, on Mt Athos to this day, monks are encouraged to say 150 Our Father's and 150 Hail Mary's daily - ending EACH prayer with a prostration to the ground.

This predates St Dominic and the Western Rosary by several centuries, to be sure.

Perhaps the Eastern Rule of the Theotokos is a compilation of both developments - but it is not a wholesale borrowing of a Western practice that had no precedent in the history of Eastern spirituality.

The rosary/rule was and is a way to substitute for the psalter and the Office in the East - something that the Jesus Prayer eventually was to take over.

We must also remember that we EC's, in our efforts to "de-latinize," should not throw out the baby with the bathwater in so doing.

Before we call a devotion "Latin," let's see if it, for example, exists among the Orthodox and where they got it etc.

No one can call St Seraphim a "Latinizer," much less the Old Believers who all practiced the Rule of the 150 Hail Mary's.

St Seraphim Zvezdinsky developed his own series of meditations as did St Seraphim of Sarov. He was actually an Old Believer in communion with Moscow or a "United Believer!" He took the name "Seraphim" for St Seraphim of Sarov, habitually wore as his episcopal Panaghia the icon of the Joy of all Joys of St Seraphim and was most noted for his devotion to the Rule, which he would always say nomatter what the demands on his time.

The Rosary/Rule did not originate with the Dominicans in the 13th century, of this we can be sure.

The practice of praying Our Fathers' and other prayers in place of the Psalms comes right out of the Thebaid.

That a monk could have seen a vision of the Theotokos telling him to pray the Rule of 150 Hail Mary's and to get others to do it - I've no problem believing that.

That St Seraphim of Sarov had several visions of the Theotokos - the Orthodox Church herself has affirmed that.

And that She told him how good the Rule is for our spiritual lives to invoke her constant aid and protection in life - I embrace that wholeheartedly.

None of this is on the level of dogma. But then, I find doctrines and dogmas, in their emphatic character, to be rather aloof and cold.

The listvytsia or "Ladder" of prayer that the Theotokos gives us, her children, East AND West is a Mother's gift to her loved ones.

Alex






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The "Hail Mary" and "Our Father" come from scripture, but I suppose you will tell me scripture really came from an early version of the rosary. wink The events in the life of Christ and his Mother would still have happened if there had never been a rosary. I believe you are attached to that western devotion and will link any anecdotal arguments you can find in support of it. I also believe that what is called the rule of the Theotokos on various Internet sites has been chiefly generated by you. At least, your name is on many of those sites. The only connection I can find between the rosary and the east is when it's in the hands of Latinized easterners. As I have pointed out many times before, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the rosary as a devotion. But I do object to attempts to re-make the rosary into an eastern devotion.

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Dr. Alex,

Thanks so much for your response.

Whenever you come across more specific citations, I would love to see them!

And could you provide the link to the patristic study of Carmelite spirituality you mentioned?

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Originally Posted by asianpilgrim
I remember exchanging a couple of emails with Fr. John Matusiak of OCA on the matter of Orthodox saints being venerated by Catholics. I kept telling him that it was ok for Catholics like me to venerate Orthodox saints, but he insisted that in venerating Orthodox saints, I was 1) practicing syncretism and 2) violating the teaching of my own Church!


with all due respect to Father Matusiak, I don't find his answers on the OCA website to be all that learned and he does lack understanding on certain areas especially those having to do with Catholic teaching as you have brought up here.
I certainly honor some Catholic saints privately along with other Orthodox in good standing. I guess we are all syncretists smile

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I certainly honor some Catholic saints privately along with other Orthodox in good standing. I guess we are all syncretists

And I honor a number of Russian saints whose lives were taken by the communists. Saint Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Russia lived a holy life of service equal to that of any western saint. If this is syncretism, then syncretism is good in this instance.

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There are so MANY saints in Heaven. Everyone who has MADE IT is a saint and we just can't possibly know all their names. The fact that we do know some of the names of persons who have made it helps us because we can ask them to pray for us. May all the Saints in Heaven interceed for us on our pilgrim way and help us to love one another in Christ and for His sake, and to help one another also, AMEN! grin

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Dearest Charles,

Some things never change - and neither does your response on this issue. Except that now you've taken to calling me a "Latinized Easterner."

And probably I very well could be such. But it was chiefly due to my "Easternized Latin" friends that I discarded the rosary altogether when I thought, at that ill-advised time, that it was a devotion as you say it is.

It was only later that I returned to it when I began reading the life of St Seraphim, and particularly a special edition on this Saint by what you would probably call a "bastion of Latinization" the Orthodox Word . . . wink (And be assured I'm not mentioned in it).

I still have that copy and if you would like me to send you one, I shall. There is also the English book on Staretz Zechariah, Chapter Six that discusses the Rule in full (I'm not mentioned in it).

Perhaps it is a myth that the Rosary was revealed to an Orthodox monk of the Thebaid in the 8th century - but that still doesn't make it false.

Then there is the Russian Encyclopaedia of Orthodoxy, 2003 with the full text of the 15 meditations of St Seraphim's rule to the Theotokos of 150 Hail Mary's (I'm definitely NOT mentioned there either!).

The only times I've ever commented on the Rule of the Theotokos is on "Ukrainian Orthodoxy" and I'm mentioned once on the site by the Young Fogey in this connection.

If you are charging me with having created the Orthodox Rule of the Theotokos, I'd be happy to accept such an honour. But then that would be dishonest of me.

Also, the internet is not, contrary to popular opinion, the be all and end all of research, and especially not on such specialized topics.

I don't know if you are an "Easternized Latin," so I don't presume to say you are, but Easternized Latins could be understood to be those who want to create even artificial boundaries between West and East at all cost, seeing insurmountable differences where there are none.

And you don't really know me, so I would ask you to withdraw the charge of "Latinized Easterner."

You level this charge on the basis of a logic that would fail one's efforts to decide on which brand of rice to buy, let alone assess one's spiritual identity.

Until such time, nice knowing you!

Alex


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