The chief characteristic we can point out in St. John's theological writings is freedom. He is entirely immersed in the Orthodox Tradition, and he is himself a source of true Orthodox theology. He has no kind of foreign influences or any overemphasis on one part of Tradition because of some controversy. This makes him especially valuable as an authority on something which is very much discussed today in the English language: the so-called Western influence on Orthodox theology in the last seven hundred years.
A homily given by Fr Seraphim Rose on St Patrick’s feast day in 1977. An avid venerator of the Western Saints pre-schism, Fr. Seraphim reveals his down to earth approach to the spiritual life and offers a breath of fresh are for so many of us to today who are struggling toward the Heavenly Realm.
Having led a heavenly life on earth, like the great desert saints of antiquity, even in these latter times of spiritual desolation, St. Seraphim is an instructor and an inspirer of the true Christian life. His Spiritual Instructions—like his celebrated Conversation with Motovilov on the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit—contain no new teaching, but simply repeat in modern times the age-old Christian teaching of the great Fathers whom he constantly cites: Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Macarius the Great, Dionysius the Areopagite, Ambrose of Milan, Isaac the Syrian, Symeon the New Theologian, the Fathers of the Philokalia.
We must again be Christians. It is futile, in fact it is precisely absurd, to speak of reforming society, of changing the path of history, of emerging into an age beyond absurdity, if we have not Christ in our hearts; and if we do have Christ in our hearts, nothing else matters.
As celebrated by Orthodox Christians, this feast occurs exactly midway between Easter and Pentecost and serves as a link between them. It continues the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection, emphasizing His Divine nature and glory; for it was proper to no one but to God to conquer death.
In this passage of Scripture, we read how, as our Lord prepared for His Passion, a woman came and anointed Him with very precious ointment; and it is very touching how our Lord accepted such love from simple people. But at the same time Judas—one of the twelve who were with Him—looked at this act, and something in his heart changed.
Why is the truth, it would seem, revealed to some and not to others? Is there a special organ for receiving revelation from God? Yes, though usually we close it and do not let it open up: God’s revelation is given to something called a loving heart. This indicates that no matter how often we might hear the truth, if we have no love, we will not receive it; and to the contrary, though we may not even be searching for the truth, but have love, the truth may find us. But if others have not found the truth it would be madness for us to condemn them, saying “we have found the truth”, because our own possession of truth depends upon our loving heart.
Orthodox theology sees in the Transfiguration a prefigurement of our Lord’s Resurrection and His Second Coming, and more than this—since every event of the Church calendar has an application to the individual spiritual life—of the transformed state in which Christians shall appear at the end of the world, and in some measure even before then.
This rule of fasting, to be sure, is not intended to be a "straight-jacket" for Orthodox believers, nor a source of pharisaical pride for anyone who keeps the letter of the Church's law. It is rather the rule, the standard, against which each is to measure his own practice, and towards which one must always strive, according to one's strength and circumstances.
Thus it was that, having lost her husband and her earthly happiness in the midst of the terrible misfortunes of the Russian land, St. Dorothy, already a woman of mature years, resolved to abandon the world and seek, in prayers and struggles, not a temporary happiness which is so often darkened by various evils, but rather a heavenly and eternal blessedness.
The Apocalypse describes these events in a series of visions: some bright and positive, relating to the fulfillment of God's justice and the salvation of His chosen ones; and some dark and negative, relating to the terrible plagues that will come on earth for the sins of mankind. Sometimes we today emphasize the dark and negative side, seeing the increase of evil around us; but that comes from our faintheartedness and worldliness—we must look at the whole picture.