Penultimate Review of *Elder Macarius*

I received a copy of Elder Macarius of Optina this summer.  I decided to buy it because I was looking for material on the Slavophile philosopher Ivan Kireevsky, who was footnoted in The Life of Fr Seraphim Rose.

I was initially disappointed.  The book did have a section on Kireevsky–more than most books would have, in fact–but the rest of the book seemed tedious to read.  I made it about 200 pages through the book this summer, but soon put it down.  The cares of the school year, along with the difficulty of the book, put the issue from my mind.

I decided to finish it, though.  Fr Seraphim Rose’s life has been on my mind recently.  I gather that many Orthodox do not like him–or at least are “passively annoyed” with his work.  I am not in a position to judge, except that he seemed to have successfully acquired the mind of the Fathers–a point many of his detractors refuse to challenge directly, quite tellingly.

Rose is a spiritual descendant of the Optina elders.  The Optina elders passed down their spirituality through many sons after the satanic Bolshevik Revolution–many of these sons and daughters came to America.  The Konzetevichs were one such group.  They introduced Frs Herman and Seraphim to the Optina elders (and to Kireevsky).

While my own future is unknown to me, Rose’s development and passing down of the Tradition plays powerfully on my mind.  Therefore, I decided to finish the book, a book Fr Seraphim recommended.

Themes of the book:

  • beware of spiritual delusion (prelest).  Very good sections on the Jesus prayer (and how not to engage in it) and of doing spirituality outside the wisdom of your elder.
  • Holy Russia is real and is passed down to her adopted children.