Scripture, Canon, Tradition: A Flawed Apologetic

Orthodox Christian apologists, in defending the authority of the Tradition vis a vis the claims of adherents to the extrabiblical doctrine of sola scriptura typically prefer to assert that the canon of the New Testament used by sola scriptura adherents is itself a product of the culmination of Tradition in the fourth century . It is my view that such an apologia on precisely those grounds is unnecessarily hyperbolic and ultimately imbalanced.

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Father Seraphim’s Intercessions

About three and a half years ago, I wrote about how Father Seraphim’s prayers for me regarding a particular matter about prayer had been answered (and here). More recently, I’ve asked Father Seraphim’s intercessions on some other matters. God saw fit to answer his prayers for me regarding some physical healings of minor ailments (in one case practically instantly).

Father Seraphim’s intercessions for others are documented in his biography by Hieromonk Damascence: Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Writings, as well as in The Orthodox Word Issue #254, May-June 2007, Vol. 43 No. 3.

Recently, I was discussing Father Seraphim with some fellow parishioners. I told them how, after Father Patrick had given me an indication that he would bless my taking Father Seraphim as one of my patron saints, I’d written to a hermit devoted to Father Seraphim for copies of one of Father Seraphim’s lectures. The hermit had indeed sent the CDs, and then, without any mention on my part of what I thought about Father Seraphim or my esteem for him, also sent oil from Father Seraphim’s vigil lamp and soil from his grave. What a marvelous providence.

One of the parishioners also shared a picture of Father Seraphim’s biographer, with some remarkable footwear. It seems that Hieromonk Damascene has been blessed to wear the boots Father Seraphim was wont to wear. In 28 years since Father Seraphim’s repose, the boots remain in good shape.

It is my hope to one day travel to Platina to visit Father Seraphim’s grave and to pray there, and if God wills, his cell. And perhaps to be blessed to meet his biographer, Hieromonk Damascene and speak with him about the the life and witness of Father Seraphim.

[Note: if you click on the category link “Fr. Seraphim (Rose) of Platina” on the right hand side of this blog, you’ll see all the posts on my blog related to Fr Seraphim.]

The Struggle

Let’s just lay it out plain: without the struggle we’re just locked inside our heads.

Inside our heads we have it all figured out. The logic and the rationale, the syllogisms and the definitions. It’s a nice, neat world, tidy and foursquare. Justice is there, and so, too, is karma, the going-around followed by the coming-around. Everything is a progression of addition, each step followed by the one that should rightly follow. It all works the way that it should. And happy is ever after.

So let’s say it straight: this is nothing but illusion and bitterness. There is no love there, and therefore no satisfaction. For nothing is full apart from love. But love is what we seek.

The seeking is the struggle. For love fits no just scales, no balance of actions. It simply is. It cannot be earned. It cannot be coerced. It can only be given, or only received.

But though made for love, we are not fit for it. Our heart-fields lie hard and unbroken. We must be plowed, we must receive the rain.

This is a hard thing. And necessary. The way of tears and heartache. Too, the way of mending, of seedtime and harvest. Where askesis is lost, where it is cast off forgotten, we only have our prison-mind–but if we are blessed, we will be given an askesis, unutterably hard and seemingly unbearable though it may be. And with the breaking and the furrowing, when we are plowed with the lives we have made which are not yet what we are making, we will water those heart-fields with our tears. It will take time, but we will, through tears, kiss the ploughshares which scarred our landscapes, thanking God for the release into the real.

A joy that is wept is ineffably sweet and precious. And never forgotten.