Seminarians Speak

Transfiguration

Author: 
Seraphim Long

When I reflect on my journey as a seminarian one word looms in the background of my story — transfiguration.  I count myself as one twice converted; first to church in general, and then to the Orthodox Church. Change is a constant theme and in the Orthodox spiritual life that is a good thing! Like so many of our seminarians I came to the Orthodox Church after a great deal of disillusionment with secular living and subsequent searching. I wanted something that made a difference in my hollow life — transfiguration.

The existential anxieties of our age have become almost cliché now, but I make no apologies for framing my faith journey in these terms. After all, we often have to look into ourselves to see how much we need Christ. Only then, can we begin the Christian journey of focusing and dedicating the whole of our selves to Him — transfiguration. It was precisely my drive to draw near to Christ that led me to specialize in the field of Christian Spirituality during my undergraduate studies. Engaging this field from a historical perspective quite naturally lead me to the Orthodox Church. At one point I found myself saying to a friend: “It seems to me that if I become Orthodox I will experience Christ with a depth that I won’t find anywhere else.” Everything in our tradition from Liturgy, to iconography, from ascetical writings to the lives of the saints, invites us to contemplate the reality of Christ, a reality that is radically transformative.

I came to St. Vladimir’s to pursue ordination for precisely this reason; a conviction that Christ brings about the change we all need both as individuals and communities. I see a broken world in need of healing, a despairing world in need of hope, a world wrapped in darkness in need of light, a dying world in need of new life. Christ is all these things and more. Everything we do at seminary revolves around Christ. We contemplate Him in the Eucharist, in the Scriptures, in prayerful silence, and in neighborly love. It is this vision that is continually changing our lives — transfiguration.

So like my fellow classmates I came to seminary simply because of my love for Christ and His holy Church. I came because of this unique beauty has forever changed my life and there is a burden in my heart to share this Beauty with others. But seminary is a place of planting seeds. The tree has yet to grow, mature, blossom and bear fruit. The challenge while being in school is to continually respond to life in ways that cause me to grow in Christ. There are many great people here to befriend, many beautiful liturgies to attend, many profound books to read, and there is the constant danger of growing acclimated to such things.

As the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. A seminarian must remain awake, alive and watchful. We must look at all that we do as a means of meeting Christ, as a potential moment for transfiguration.  

My hope and prayer for myself and my classmates is that we will come out of seminary as changed people, molded as clay in the hands of God. That the seeds of Christ planted in us will bear fruit because we have been faithful to water them. I have every confidence that this will be the case as long as our focus remains on Christ.  I say this because I know Christ is always about one thing — transfiguration.

Stephen “Seraphim” Long is a second year Master of Divinity student who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy through his studies of early Christian spirituality. He has worked for over ten years in youth ministry and remains passionate about education within the Church. Currently he is chair of the student society for Christian missions, a member of the SVOTS Student Council, and a dedicated dish-washer in the kitchen. He hopes to serve the Church as a “learned hieromonk” after graduation.

Previous Seminarians Speak articles:

Title Author Date
Transfiguration Seraphim Long October 16, 2014
What I Did This Summer Dn. Theodor Svane September 23, 2014
Restoring the Western Rite Ian Abodeely August 14, 2014
"Delicately Perched": An Armenian Student's End-of-year Insights Kathryn Ashbahian May 7, 2014
The Vocation of Fatherhood Joshua Trant April 2, 2014
A Unique Orthodox Community Experience Dn. Shiryl Mathai March 10, 2014
The Festival of Young Preachers, 2014 Fr. Gabreil Alemayehu February 14, 2014
The Road to Hospital Chaplaincy Beryl Knudsen February 4, 2014
How Many are Your Works, O Lord! Bogdan Neacsiu December 5, 2013
Oregon and New York, Farm and Seminary Ashli Moore October 23, 2013
Reflections on a New Academic Year Sandro Margheritino September 24, 2013
Our Common Love Gabrielle Kushlan March 19, 2013
We Are Being Formed Daily Jabra Tannous November 26, 2012
Serving with His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch Richard Ajalat October 29, 2012
A Life in Christ Under Guard Harrison Basil Russin September 25, 2012
For a Monastic, Seminary Life Seems "Ideal" Monk James March 13, 2012
Embracing All Who Suffer Loss: Seminarians Train for Post-Abortion Counseling Seminarian Dn. David Wooten March 8, 2012
Marching Peaceably, Praying Mightily Seminarian Dn. David Wooten January 26, 2012
"I was in prison, and you visited me." (Matt 25:37) Adam Horstman March 14, 2011
Bless These Waters: Theophany at SVOTS David Wooten January 14, 2011
Feasting before the Fast, Thanksgiving at SVOTS Sarah Bracey-Johnson November 22, 2010
"It's Worth It": Reflection on "Ed Day" Andrew Boyd October 29, 2010
"I (used to) Play in a Rock Band" Jamey Bozeman September 16, 2010
St. Vladimir’s Seminary and the Upward Call Fr. Lucas Rice July 19, 2010
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