Above All Else is Love

From Protopriest Seraphim Slobodskoy, a Biography, [Protoierej Serafim Sloboskoj. Zhizneopisanije.], by Alexei Slobodskoy and Olga Tolstaya, Moscow, Sretensky Monastery Publ., 2014.

Protopriest Seraphim Slobodskoy (1912-1971) is almost unknown in Russia. But it was he who authored the most popular Orthodox book of the 20 th century, The Law of God [Zakon Bozhij]. His son, Alexei Slobodskoy, decided to write his biography. He used the memoirs of Olga Tolstaya (1911-1999) as a starting point; she was a long-time parishioner of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY, where Fr Seraphim was rector. This work is illustrated and adorned by photographs from the family albums, which includes stories from Fr Seraphim’s wife, “Matushka Elochka,” as her family and friends lovingly called her, about his children, his parishioners, his friends, to whom his fate was closely bound. Seraphim had cherished since childhood the words of his father, Fr Alexei, who ministered in the town of Mikhailovka, Penza oblast: “Russia is such a big country, yet no one could be found to write a good textbook on the Law of God.”

Many years later, after World War II, Seraphim Alexeevich wrote the manuscript of a book, The World of God [Mir Bozhij]. In America, where he came to settle, Fr Seraphim continued working on his textbook. The Law of God was first published in 1957 in Jordanville, NY. The son of an executed Orthodox priest, Seraphim Slobodskoy was also a talented artist. But the Soviet government closed the doors of schools of higher education in art to people like him. Seraphim did not despair, he studied to be a draftsman, worked, played soccer, and was overall a happy and kind young man. Living in the emigration, Fr Seraphim was able to achieve a great deal: he wrote a book, built a church, established a remarkable parish in America and an exemplary parish school and raised three children.
As remembered by Olga Tolstaya, he was truly a kind pastor, and he guided everyone who came to him on the path of Christian life.

Yulia Nezhnaya
February 6, 2015




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