How to acquire the mind of the fathers

This is taken from Hieromonk Damascene’s biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose.

The Mind of the Fathers is the Living understanding of Holy Tradition (416ff).  They are the links between ancient texts and today’s reality.  The fathers are the most capable preservers of the Truth because of the sanctity of their lives.  Rose learned that he had to “acquire their mind–”  he had to learn, think, and feel the way they did.  He had to conform his consciousness to that of the Fathers.   Acquiring the mind of the fathers is to acquire the mind of the church, which is the mind of Christ, who is the head of the Church.   How do we acquire their minds (465)?  1.  Constancy:  Rose worked out a spiritual regimen based on wisdom from the Holy Fathers.  Regular reading of the fathersl 2.  Pain of Heart.

Someone could respond, though:  “Why should we bother with the holy fathers when we got Jesus and the bible?”   I suppose one could say that “Jesus and the Bible” don’t come to us in a spiritual or intellectual vacuum.  If we are reading the Fathers the same way a Western reads any other text, then yes, simply reading the Fathers is a problem.  But if we read the Fathers the way we are supposed to read and participate in any other aspect of our Christian life–in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church–then reading the Fathers takes on a different dimension.

We don’t read and interpret the Fathers (or the Bible) outside of the liturgical practice.   This is another reason why it simply isn’t good enough to say that we are “exploring the Biblical mystery even further.”  It is dangerous to formulate the doctrine of God (and Christian experience in general) outside of the protection of the Church.    The Fathers, interpreted and practiced liturgically, provide that protection.

To say it another way:  who gets to be the referee between Arius vs. Athanasius, the Moonies vs.  Fr. Seraphim Rose?


4 comments on “How to acquire the mind of the fathers

  1. sermonwriter says:


  2. Canadian says:

    As one who will soon enter the catechumenate, it is such a relief to not have to rely on my mind alone.

    • Chetnik1945 says:

      Aye, there is a quote by Blessed Seraphim Rose on “not trusting your mind too much.” Of course, Blessed Seraphim was a genius on the I.Q. level and he wasn’t saying “don’t think,” but don’t worry about “knowing everything.”

  3. Joe says:

    I just discovered your blog and I am enjoying your posts as well as this particular post.

    I am a former Anglican priest and have been Orthodox for six years now. What has become obvious to me is that the “Orthodox mind” or “mind of the Father” grounds everything in Christ, ie Christology and how it relates to experiences leading to theosis. Without theosis then any tradition holding to another view is going to get something wrong and not have “the mind of the Fathers”. The “mind of the Fathers” is not an abstraction about what they thought but a participation in what they participated in which is Christ leading to theosis. This is why other traditions talk about a “Patristic age” while the Orthodox still believe that Fathers are being produced even today. Many conclusions and observations can be gained from this fact alone.

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