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“Not of This World”: The uncensored life of Fr Seraphim Rose

When reading the latest edition of Fr. Seraphim Rose’s biography “Life and Works”, I had mixed feelings – it was a fiery and inspiring read, full of life and filling me with a yearning for struggling with Orthodoxy, but at times, it felt like it dampened me with a wet blanket. It was very strange, and I did not know why.

Last year, on the Eve of Pascha, I was overcome with the sense that I had no direction in my life, and so on I prayed to Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Fr. Seraphim Rose, and Fr. Herman Podmoshensky for guidance on what I should do with my life. As we celebrated the resurrection of Christ, a fellow parishioner gave me a gift and told me not to open it until I got home. When I opened his gift, I saw an original copy of “Not of this World” – a rare book that you could only find for over 1000 dollars on E-bay or Amazon. I knew immediately what I needed to do – I needed to work to transcribe it, and I thanked God for the clear task he has given me. This transcription could only have been possible by the intercessions of these Saints of God.

Upon reading the original, it became clear that there were many omissions and revisions made with a very different spiritual direction motivating them from the original.

Here is just one example, that demonstrates this clearly, from Chapter 102, ‘Repose’.

Original, “Not of this World” Revision, “Life and Works”
Fr. Seraphim was immediately taken to an operating room, where the dead part of his intestines was removed. Fr. Herman saw him after his operation, and it was then that Fr. Seraphim could no longer suppress the torture he was experiencing. He was filled with delirious, blind anger, like a wounded animal in a cage. The last shred of his self-will, that spirit of his youthful rebellion which he had struggled for many years to keep in complete submission to God, was being tried in the fire of suffering. If with the help of Christ he could eradicate these vestiges of his will – a part of himself that he could not fully see until this horrible moment – he could become purified, victorious over his fallen nature and the weakness of the flesh. Fr. Seraphim was immediately taken to an operating room, where the dead part of his intestines was removed. Fr. Herman went by himself to see him after the operation, and there he beheld a terrible sight. Fr. Seraphim was tied to his bed, with a tube in his mouth, tossing and turning in unbearable agony. He cursed Fr. Herman and said other angry words to him. Fr. Herman was shocked to hear such words coming out of his mouth, but as he looked into Fr. Seraphim’s eyes he could see that they were glazed over.   Fr. Seraphim was clearly not himself, but was in a compromised state due to the pain and the residual effect of the anesthesia. Fr. Herman immediately went to tell the doctor that Fr. Seraphim was in great pain, and asked that he be given some pain killer. He also told the doctor that Fr. Seraphim had said shocking things, but the doctor told him to pay no attention — that people coming out of anesthesia can act as if out of their minds

From this alone, it is clear: “Not of this World” had the spiritual vision of the purpose of Fr. Seraphim’s suffering – to prepare him for his salvation, to squeeze out the last parts of his fallen nature from him. It makes it clear that the struggle against sin is truly a struggle up until the moment of death, even for, and perhaps especially for, God’s Saints. Whatever one may think about the revision, one thing is clear: The spiritual vision of “Life and Works” is directly opposed to this understanding of the purpose of suffering in our life. Otherwise, this passage would have remained unchanged. True spiritual vision, after all, is Not of this World.

Link to Fr Seraphim’s compressed PDF version of the original “Not of this world”:


May the prayers of Elder Joseph, Fr. Seraphim Rose, and Fr. Herman Podmoshensky be with you, dear reader! Christ is risen!

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