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Catechesis Christian Living Church History Prayer Scripture Theology

The Law of God (Fr Seraphim Slobodskoy)

“Protopriest Seraphim Slobodskoy’s Law of God alone, for instance, is used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of children in Sunday schools, while teenagers use this book to prepare for seminary. Many believe that it is one of the finest simple overviews of the Orthodox faith written in modern times.”

– OrthodoxWiki

photo credit: http://www.stsergiuslc.com/page/orthodox-serafim.en

The English title of this book might be misleading to readers in the West (such as myself) who might associate the “Law of God” with the Ten Commandments given to Moses and the Old Covenant which Christ did not come to abolish but to fulfill. But there are other meanings for the English word “law”such as: rule, regulation, principle, convention, direction, instruction or guideline. Thus, in the Orthodox tradition, the Law of God can be thought of as the “principle” or “instruction” of God, it is traditionally at the core of parish church school curriculum for children; it is what catechumens need to know, understand and believe before they are baptized, chrismated and received into the Church. It can be essential reading for any Orthodox Christian at any point on the path to salvation.

I first encountered this book in a box of donations to our parish library.  About the size of an average reference book, with a burgundy cover and gold lettering (later copies have a green cover, but I believe the edition is the same).  A scan of the table of contents included references to Scripture, Orthodox Tradition, the Church and Theology which made it difficult to immediately categorize it for the shelves. 

Father Seraphim makes his intentions clear that this book is intended as catechetical resource.  It is written to cover the essentials of Christianity but uniquely at a level that both students and adults can understand and appreciate.  My hope is to share this treasure with fellow Christians that are seeking to practice an Orthodoxy of the heart.

“A zealous pastor, Fr. Serafim rarely took a vacation and when he did, he was not idle but worked towards educating youth as the spiritual father of Camp NORR. As the parish grew, he and Matushka Elena developed a parochial school to educate the children and youth as Orthodox Christians and Russian Americans. Probably the most significant of his endeavors, however, was the writing of his catechetical work Zakon Bozhij (Закон Божий = The Law of God). Working late at night, he described the faith of the Orthodox Church with simple and profoundly lucid explanations. Published in 1966, this was, and remains, an influential catechetical text for Russians both abroad and in the Soviet Union where numerous copies were smuggled and copied by hand. Intended originally for youth and children, it became a respected work among adults as well, and was finally translated into English in 1992. According to Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow, “the legacy created in the Diaspora was republished in Russia in enormous editions—Protopriest Seraphim Slobodskoy’s Law of God alone, for instance, is used by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of children in Sunday schools, while teenagers use this book to prepare for seminary.” Many believe that it is one of the finest simple overviews of the Orthodox faith written in modern times.”
source: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Serafim_Slobodskoy

According to Orthodox Wiki, the Church is well-aware of this precious gem, however, I simply hope to raise awareness about The Law of God even further among Orthodox Christians, especially the recent converts.

A Prayer

Through the prayers of Father Serafim Slobodskoy, may we apply the Law of God to our lives so that we draw closer to Christ, the Holy Scriptures and life of the Church. Amen. +

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