The New Russian Martyrs
Saints and Ascetics
+Saints and ascetics of the Orthodox Church+
The saints of the Orthodox Church serve as both intercessors for our souls before God, and Christ-like models that spiritual strugglers attempt to emulate and gain inspiration from. Saints are those who while on Earth have lived a life of deification by the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Saints have pleased God to such an extent, through their giving up of self-will and surrendering fully to God's will, that they have been sanctified by God in both soul and body. Upon death they are accepted directly by God into eternal life. In this world or in the next they are also given the grace to perform miracles.
Although all Christians are called to take up the cross and follow Christ, some have done so in such a manner that it's difficult for the Orthodox world not to notice their ascetic labors and love for God. Although these God-pleasers and laborers for Christ may not be declared "saints" with the power of intercession, they do provide examples of the ascetical path all Christians are to follow.
"In the Lives of the Saints are shown numerous but always certain ways of salvation, enlightenment, sanctification, transfiguration, "christification," deification; all the ways are shown by which man conquers sin, every sin; conquers passion, every passion; conquers death, every death; conquers the devil, every devil. There is a remedy there for every sin: from every passion-healing, from every death-resurrection, from every devil-deliverance; for all evils-salvation. There is no passion, no sin for which the Lives of the Saints do not show how the passion or sin in question is conquered, mortified, and uprooted." -(Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich, Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ)
"Wondrous is God in His Saints!"
MUCH MUCH MORE TO COME!!!
Saint Anthony of Egypt
Saint Anthony, known as the father of monasticism, was born about 251 A.D. to wealthy parents in Egypt. At the age of eighteen Anthony's parents died and he was left to care for his younger sister, Dious. Some months later, Anthony was worshipping in Church when he heard these words read from the Gospel: "If you would be perfect, go sell all you have, give to the poor and come follow me." (Matthew 19:21) These instructions moved Anthony's heart and within a short time he sold all of his land, giving the money both to the poor and to his sister. He then placed his sister in charge of a community of virgins and found a spiritual father to place himself under in order to learn the practices of fasting and prayer. Some time later, Anthony went into the desert in order to more fully practice prayer and asceticism. His "home" became an abandoned tomb carved into the side of a mountain. Here, Anthony fought temptation and attacks by the demons who desire to destroy any attempts at surrending oneself to God. From time to time a friend would provide the struggler with bread and water. At around the age of 35 Anthony moved to the East bank of the Nile for twenty years where he lived in complete solitude. Word of this holy man spread to Christians and many, desiring to emulate such a man, constructed little communities around Anthony. Anthony instructed these aspirants by his word and holy example for some time but again felt moved to complete solitude for another five years where he fought the worldly desires which came in the forms of boredom and discouragement. After much prayer an angel of God appeared to Anthony instructing him to combine manual labor with prayer in order to overcome his boredom. Anthony lived in solitude, but made treks away from his dwelling in order to help Christians during persecutions in Alexandria. He also visited those in prison and spoke out to the patriarch about the heresy of Arianism which was gaining ground in the Church. Anthony, feeling no solace in the world, did not stay long on these journeys, but quickly returned to the desert to work out his salvation in solitude by prayer, fasting and labor. Countless pilgrims visited the Saint for spiritual advice, consolation, and some to actively participate in a similar lifestyle. Anthony provided these new monks with a standard piece of clothing, communities of strugglers developed, and monasticism was formed. In the year 365, Anthony died at the age of one hundred five.
Saint Seraphim of Sarov
A lifelong intimacy with God, and an abiding Christian love for his fellow man, were two of the many attributes of a man of Sarov, Russia, known as Seraphim, who attained sainthood in the eighteenth century, a century in which far fewer saints were selected than in the early centuries when being a Christian meant risking one's life.
A visionary of near divinity and a clergyman of rare compassion, Seraphim's piety was such that he has been linked with Sts. Theodosios and Sergios as the three greatest saints born of Mother Russia. A native of Kursk, Seraphim, who was baptised with the name of Prokhor in 1759, was the son of a devout Christian woman named Agatha and a hard-driving man named Isidore, a successful building contractor. Seraphim's father met an untimely death while in the process of erecting the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kursk, leaving the widow and her ten-year-old son to see to the completion of the church. The boy fell from a scaffolding and recovered from what appeared to be fatal injuries, after which he revealed that in a vision while he lay stricken the Virgin Mary appeared to him with the message that he would survive. This vision, the first of many intimacies with God he was to experience thereafter, was the inspiration which set him on his lifetime course of service to the Lord.
While yet a boy, Seraphim turned to the Holy Scriptures, impressed particularly by the writings of Sts. Anthony and Pachomios of Egypt, whose monasticism fascinated him, and, after absorbing the teachings in the works of St. Basil, St. Makarios, and St. John of the Ladder, he entered monastic life at the age of eighteen. Tonsured a monk in 1786 and given the name of Seraphim, he was ordained a priest in 1793 but chose not to preach until he had acquired a greater proximity to God, which he thought could come only through prayer and meditation in the complete solitude of the wilderness. The forbidding forest was to be his home for the next several years.
At one point, he broke off his sporadic contact with the monastery and took up residence on a stone slab, on which he is said to have remained for a thousand days and nights in emulation of St. Symeon, removing himself from his uncomfortable roost only for the bare essentials of life. After this,test of spiritual and physical endurance, he sought the comparative comfort of a hut, from which he would emerge from time to time to tell of his visions, in which he had the company of the apostles Peter and John and occasionally the Virgin Mary.
Returning to the monastery, Seraphim had grown to such spiritual stature that he was visited by countless pilgrims seeking the way of the Lord, and was ultimately designated as the spiritual father of the nuns of the Diveyev Convent, an order which attested to his power of healing through Jesus Christ and offered its prayers to him when he was recognised as a prophet of the Lord and named a holy Starets (Elder of the Faith). It was his firm belief that the Kingdom of God was within us all and that only through the Holy Spirit could come the joy of complete tranquility and the inner peace which comes with faith. His sermons on this particular theme brought the true meaning of God's love to all those privileged to hear him.
Even the animals of the forest came to know the friendship of the gentle Seraphim, and he would on frequent occasions seek out the solitude of the wilderness, returning to the monastery always with renewed faith and closeness to nature that refreshed the spirit. Whenever he became ill, he relied on his "joy," the Virgin Mary, to restore his health. This association with the Divine was to manifest itself many times over.
One of the most notable expressions of the power of healing through Jesus and Mary came about when Seraphim was called upon to help his friend, Nicholas Motovilov, a wealthy benefactor who had been paralyzed by a stroke. The prayers of Seraphim were answered and his friend was healed. The true compassion of Seraphim was shown when he obtained the release of three men who had looted his hut, which they mistakenly thought to contain treasure. He died kneeling in prayer in 1833, and seventy years later was made a Saint.
-From Orthodox Saints Vol 1, by Fr George Poulos
Holy Cross Orthodox Press
Saint Herman of Alaska
Our Blessed Father Herman was one of a group of Orthodox missionaries sent from Valaam monastery near the Russian-Finnish border on Lake Ladoga. He was born into a family of merchants in the city of Serpukhov. He had a great zeal for Christ, pious from his youth, and entered the monastery at the age of 16. This was probably in 1772. First he entered the Trinity-Sergius Hermitage which was located near the Gulf of Finland on the Peterghof Road, about 10 miles form St. Petersburg. As a young monk, he once became deathly ill with an abscess on his throat. Alone in his cell and near death he fell down before an icon of the Mother of God and prayed with fervent tears for healing. He then took a wet towel and wiped the face of the icon of the Holy Theotokos, and with this towel he covered the swelling. In a dream he saw the Blessed Virgin Mary touching him on his throat, healing him. When he awoke in the morning, he was fully healed.
After six years at the Sergius Hermitage, he was transferred to Valaam Monastery, in the far north of Russia, where he came to love its unforgettable superior, Elder Nazarius. But he willingly left when chosen with nine other monks from Valaam to travel Alaska as missionaries to the Aleut Indians. They departed in the year 1793. It was the longest missionary journey in Christian History, taking a year to traverse over 7,900 miles, by land and sea, to arrive at Kodiak Island. As a result of their holy zeal, the light of Christ poured forth, and several thousand former pagans were baptized into the Christian Faith.
Eventually, Father Herman found himself the only surviving member of the original missionary team. He moved from Kodiak Island to nearby Spruce Island, a tiny, forested island which he called New Valaam. There he first lived in a cave and then built a cell in which he lived for many years until the end of his life. A wooden Chapel and a wooden schoolhouse/guest house were built near his cell. He lived there for more than forty years, following the example of many desert Fathers who showed the greatest concern for the welfare and needs of others, yet regarded themselves of little significance. He wore the simplest monastic clothing and used a bench for a bed, a wooden board for a blanket, and bricks for a pillow. He ate very little, and he wore 16 pounds of chains under his deer-skin smock, so that no one, until his death, knew about them. These chains are kept to this day, on his reliquary. Ferocious bears living on the island were tame and benign around Fr. Herman. He worked many miracles and led thousands to Christ, remaining a simple monk.
-From Bishop Alexander Mileant
Saint Xenia of St.Petersburg
Saint Xenia was the wife of Colonel Andrew Theodorovich Petrov, who served as a court chanter. At twentysix years of age, Xenia was widowed and, it seemed, lost her mind from grief. She distributed her possessions to the poor, clothed herself in the clothes of her reposed husband, and, as if having forgotten her own name, called herself by the name of her reposed husband Andrew Theodorovich.
These eccentricities were not tied to the loss of reason, but only signified a complete disdain for earthly good things and human opinion, which places these good things at the center of existence. Thus, Xenia of Petersburg took upon herself the difficult ascesis of foolishness for Christ's sake.
Having come to know, through the death of her beloved husband, all the inconstancy and illusoriness of earthly happiness, Xenia strove toward God with all her heart and sought protection and comfort only in Him. Earthly, transitory good things ceased to have any value for her. Xenia had a house; but she gave it over to an acquaintance under the condition that she give shelter in it to paupers. But Xenia herself, not having a refuge, would wander among the paupers of Petersburg, while at night she would go out to a field, where she spent the time in ardent prayer.
When they began to build a church in the Smolensk Cemetery, Xenia, after the onset of darkness, would secretly carry bricks to the top of the construction, and thereby helped the masons erect the walls of the church.
Some of Xenia's relatives wanted to take her in and provide her with all necessities, but the blessed one replied to them: "I do not need anything".
She was glad of her indigence, and when passing by somewhere, would at times remark: "I am all here". When her reposed husband's clothing decayed, Xenia clothed herself in the poorest clothing, and on her feet wore torn shoes without stockings. She did not wear a warm dress and forced her body to suffer from the severe cold.
Sensing the greatness of Blessed Xenia's soul, the inhabitants of Petersburg loved her, because she despised the earthly for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. If Xenia would enter into anyone's home, this was considered a good sign. Mothers rejoiced if she kissed their children. Cab drivers would ask permission of the blessed one to drive her a little, since after this the earnings would be guaranteed for the whole day. Merchants in the bazaars would try to give here kalach [a fancy bread translator] or some food. And if Blessed Xenia took something from what was offered, then all the wares of the seller would quickly be bought up.
Xenia had the gift of clairvoyance. On the eve of the Nativity of Christ in the year 1762, she walked about Petersburg and said: "Bake pancakes; tomorrow all Russia will bake pancakes" [for memorial meals translator].
The next day, the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, suddenly died. A few days before the murder of the royal youth, John VI (Antonovich, the greatgreatgrandson of Tsar Alexis Michailovich), who in infancy had been proclaimed the Russian Emperor, the blessed one wept and repeated: "Blood, blood, blood". Within a few days after Mirovicha's unsuccessful conspiracy, the young John was killed.
Once, Xenia came to a home where there was a grownup daughter. Turning to the girl, she said: "Here you are drinking coffee, while your husband is burying his wife at Okhta". After a certain time, this girl really did enter into marriage with a widower who at that moment was burying his first wife at the Okhta Cemetery.
Blessed Xenia died at the end of the 18th century, but tradition has not preserved either the year or the day of her decease. They buried her in the Smolensk Cemetery, where she had helped to build the church.
Pilgrimages to her grave began shortly after her decease. Blessed Xenia often appeared in visions to people in difficult circumstances, forewarned of dangers and saved from calamities. The righteous one has not ceased to show compassionate love toward all who with faith have called upon her, and many instances of her help for the suffering and those in desperate situations are known.
A Grodno civil servant, Nicholas Selivanovich Golovin, lived in Grodno approximately until the year 1907 and often experienced unpleasantness at work. He came to Petersburg to put his affairs in order, but they became even more entangled. Golovin was very poor, and in his care were his elderly mother and two sisters. In despair, he walked along the streets of Petersburg, and although he was a believing man, the thought to throw himself into the Neva stole into his soul. At this moment, in front of him stood some unknown woman, who struck him by her appearance and was partly reminiscent of a poor nun. "Why are you so sad?", she asked. "Go to the Smolensk Cemetery, serve a panichida for Xenia, and everything will settle down".
After these words, the unknown woman became invisible. Golovin fulfilled the advice of the mysterious nun, and his affairs unexpectedly were settled in the best manner possible. He returned home to Grodno joyful.
Emperor Alexander III, when he was the heir, became ill with a serious form of typhus. The Grand Duchess Maria Theodorovna was very alarmed by her spouse's illness. One of the valets, seeing her in the corridor, related to her how Blessed Xenia helps the sick, gave her sand from the cherished grave and added that he himself had been healed from illness by the prayer of the righteous one. The Grand Duchess placed the sand under the pillow of the patient, and in that same night, she, while sitting at the head of the bed, had a vision of Blessed Xenia, who told her that the patient would recover and in their family a daughter would be born. She should be called Xenia. The prediction of the blessed one was fulfilled exactly.
In the Pskov province, a relative from Petersburg came to stay for a while with a landowner and recounted how they revere Blessed Xenia in the capital. Under the influence of this account, the pious landowner prayed before sleep for the repose of her soul. At night, she dreamed that Xenia was walking round her house and pouring water on it. In the morning, the hay barn on the country estate caught on fire, but the fire did not spread further and the home remained whole.
A colonel's widow arrived in Petersburg to enroll her two sons into the Cadet Corps. She did not succeed in this. The money borrowed for the trip had come to an end, and the widow walked along the street and bitterly wept. Suddenly, some woman of the common people came up to her and said:
"Serve a panichida for Xenia, she helps in sorrows". "Who is this Xenia?", asked the colonel's widow. "The tongue [that asks the way] will lead to Kiev", answered the woman of the common people and quickly vanished.
Indeed, the colonel's widow easily learned who this Xenia was, served a panichida for her at her grave in the Smolensk Cemetery, and shortly after unexpectedly received news that both her sons were accepted into the Corps.
A multitude of similar instances of Blessed Xenia's help are known also in our days.
-From Fr.Victo Potopov
Saint Nectarios of Aigina
A Brief Account Of The Life Of St. Nectarios, Metropolitan of Aegina
Commemorated on November 9th by Father Demetrios Serfes
Boise, Idaho, USA
November 8, 2000
St. Nectarios, towards the end of his life, was the Metropolitan of the island of Aegina, and was born in 1846, in Selybria, in Thrace, Greece. This loving saint after serving in the diocese of Alexandria, Egypt, eventually after much jealousy, eventually became Dean of the School of Theology in Athens in 1910, after so many years he then became the founder of a Greek Orthodox Convent on the island of Aegina, he also founded several churches and chapels on the island as well. An abundance of Orthodox monks, priest, and faithful came to see the Venerable Metropolitan Nectarios in Aegina, and to learn from him, as well as to obtain spiritual guidance. Without a doubt the nuns at the Holy Convent he served became great strugglers of the faith they loved, and the Church in which St. Nectarios spoke about in his writings became truly radiant to every soul he encountered, as he was indeed a great beacon to the Holy Orthodox Faith he loved.
On 9 November 1920, Metropolitan Nectarios gave up his soul to the Lord, even just a few minutes after his repose a miracle took place within the hospital room. The Respected Metropolitan was staying in a hospital room with another patient next to him, as the body of the loving hierarch was being prepared for burial and then to be taken to Aegina, someone placed his sweater on the nearby bed of a paralytic, who suddenly regained his strength and walked within that same hour, and was able to leave the hospital.
So many other miracles began to happen, and have not ceased until today, since the repose of St. Nectarios, many faithful have turned to him for the grievous illness of cancer, and many have been cured by his prayers, especially from the holy oil from his lampada which constantly burns at his grave site in Aegina. It has been attested as well that within local parishes, the same holy oil that burns in front of his holy icon is also helpful in healings.
Not only was St. Nectarios known as a great miracle-worker, particularly as a healer of every sort of disease, as well as those seeking work, he was also a prolific writer, theologian, philosopher, moralist, educator, poet, ascetic and mystic. Above all St. Nectarios was a man of deep prayer, and a hard worker who labored just as everyone else around him, no work was ever dishonorable to him. One time the Archbishop of Athens came to speak with Metropolitan Nectarios, and did not tell him he was arriving that to see him in Aegina, everywhere he looked for the Venerable Hierarch, then he went up to a person who was pulling out a stump of a tree, he hardly looked like a Metropolitan, and indicated: "You have found Despota (Bishop) Nectarios "
Everyone who had ever met Metropolitan Nectarios, or had ever prayed with him, and discussed religion with him, where astounded, and greatly spiritually nourished by his great love for God, and His Church. Even when the humble Hierarch visited Holy Mt. Athos, those who met him where ever pleased to note his humbleness, and great humility, on his own he climbed up the difficult hill side to meet with many well known holy monks. One spiritual matter should not be forgotten about St. Nectarios, he often wept when he prayed, and constantly expressed in the most simple manner his prayers with our Lord and God, the Mother of God, the saints, and martyrs. The Venerable Hierarch even on his death bed, cried out loud in prayer: "I love Thee, My Lord and my God."
Metropolitan Nectarios, however had to endure much slander and difficulty during his life time, and many later onwards would regret what they said about him, or ever might of thought him, where changed inwardly and spiritually when they would meet with him on a personal basis, many walked away spiritually uplifted, and rewarded.
We can also never forget that while he was a Metropolitan, he often reached out to care for others in desperate need, and his benefactors would help him to help those who would come to him, and seek those who needed help. Many souls where truly blessed by the love and the kindness and concerns of this Venerable Metropolitan.
So many faithful attended his funeral services and burial that it was almost impossible to find a place to stay, on the island of Aegina. Still today thousands upon thousands per month, visit the tomb of St. Nectarios in Aegina, to pray to him, and ask for his loving prayers, which always seem to be answered. I myself as a parish priest can attest to the prayers and love of St. Nectarios, as I do believe many other priest can express the same, as so many miracles continue until this very hour, all over the world. Gracious was this saint, and precious in the sight of the Lord our God!
Truly we have much to be humbly thankful, as our Lord God has truly sent us a great loving soul, as St. Nectarios, who still continues to pray for us, we who are such poor sinners! How great is the love of our Lord God, and His saints! What else could we ask for on this earth then the love of our God, and His saints. Pray to St. Nectarios, and be at peace, as he with great love prays for us all!
Saint John Maximovitch of San Francisco
What better description could be found to portray the essence of a man whose love for Christ drew him to such heights of spiritual perfection that he enkindled the faith of thousands from East to West? The life of Archbishop John Maximovitch demonstrates more vividly than any words that true Christianity far exceeds the bounds of human "goodness". Here is a shining reflection of the supernatural love of God which works miracles, a living proof that the burning faith of the early Christian saints s till warms the earth at a time when the love of many has grown cold.
Archbishop John did not isolate himself from the world, but he was not of this world. First and foremost he was-a man of prayer. He completely surrendered himself to God, presenting himself as a "living sacrifice" and he became a true vessel of the Holy Spirit. His work as an apostle, missionary, and -niracle worker continue even now, fifteen years after his blessed repose.
(By those who loved him, Archbishop John was known simply as Vladika, a term used by Russians in addressing bishops, which carries a sense of endearment. It is used in the following account for want of an English equivalent.)
This saint of the latter times was born June 4, 1896 in the province of Kharkov in southern Russia. At baptism he was given the name Michael. As a child he was serious for his years and he later wrote:
"From the first days when I began to become aware of myself, I wished to serve righteousness and truth. My parents kindled in me a striving to stand unwaveringly for the truth, and my soul was captivated by the example of those who had given their lives for it."
Following the desire of his parents, he entered law school in Kharkov. He was a naturally gifted student but spent more time reading Lives of Saints than attending academic lectures. "While studying the worldly sciences," he wrote, "I went all the more deeply into the study of the science of sciences, into the study of the spiritual life."
After the Revolution, he was evacuated together with his family to Belgrade where he entered the faculty of theology at the University. In 1926, a year after his graduation, he was tonsured a monk and given the name John, after his own distant relative, St. John of Tobolsk. In November of that same year, he was ordained hieromonk. Soon he became a teacher at the Serbian Seminary of St. John the Theologian at Bitol. More than once the bishop there would say, "If you wish to see a living saint, go to Fr. John."
It was his own students who first became aware of Vladika's great feat of asceticism. At night they noticed that Vladika would stay up, making the rounds of-the dormitories and praying over the sleeping students. "Finally it was discovered that he scarcely slept at all, and never in a bed, allowing himself only an hour or two each night of uncomfortable rest in a sitting position, or bent over on the floor, praying before icons," This ascetic feat he continued for the rest of his life, bringing his body "into subjection" according to the Apostle (I Cot. 9:27).
At the age of 38 he was elevated to the episcopate and sent to Shanghai. There he restored Church unity, took an active interest in the religious education of youth, encouraged and participated in various charitable organizations, founded an orphanage, and himself gathered sick and starving children off the streets. He always wore clothing of the cheapest Chinese fabric and often went barefoot, sometimes having given his sandals away to some poor man. Vladika celebrated Divine Liturgy and received Holy Communion daily, as he did for the rest of his life.
In Shanghai it became evident that Vladika was not only a righteous man, but a true ascetic, a man of prayer and a wonderworker.
"Once in Shanghai Vladika John was asked to the bed of a dying child, whose case had been called hopeless by the physicians. Entering the apartment, Vladika John went straight to the room in which the sick boy lay, although no one had managed yet to show him where this was. Without examining the child, · Vladika immediately 'fell down' in front of the icon in the corner, which was very characteristic of him, and prayed for a long time. Then, assuring the relatives that the child would recover, he quickly left. And in fact the child became better towards morning and he soon recovered, so that a physician was no longer needed."
Vladika loved to visit the sick and if the condition of a patient would become critical, he would go to him at any hour of the day or night to pray at his bedside. There were cases when patient s would cry out to Vladika in the middle of the night from their hospital beds, and from the other end of the city Vladika would come.
Man of Prayer
With the coming of the communists, the Russians in China were forced once again to flee, most through the Philippines. At one, time 5000 of the refugees were living in an International Refuge Organization camp on the island of Tubabao, located of the path of the seasonal typhoons.
"When the fear of typhoons was mentioned by one Russian to the Filipinos, they replied that there was no reason to worry, because "your holy man blesses your camp from four directions every night.' They referred to Vladika John, for no typhoon struck the island while he was there."
In trying to resettle his flock, Vladika went to Washington, and through his intervention, almost the whole camp was miraculously able to come to America--including his orphanage.
In 1951 Vladika was sent to Western Europe. Here too his reputation for holiness spread--and not only among the Orthodox:
"In one of the Catholic churches of Paris, a priest strove to inspire his young people with these words: 'You demand proofs, you say that now there are neither miracles nor saints. Why should I give you theoretical proofs, when today there walks in the streets of Paris a saint--Saint Jean Nus Pieds (St. John the Barefoot).'"
Finally, in 1962, Vladika was sent to San Francisco in response to the urgent request of thousands of Russians who had known him in Shanghai. The Russian community was bitterly divided over the building of a new cathedral, and "under Vladika's guidance a measure of peace was restored, the paralysis of the community ended, and the cathedral was finished."
Alive after Death
On June 19 (July 2, n.s.), 1966, during a visit to Seattle with the wonder-working Kursk icon of the Mother of God, Vladika peacefully gave his soul to the Lord Whom he had served so faithfully during his earthly life. His unembalmed body was flown to San Francisco where for 6 days it lay in the cathedral in an open coffin, while thousands of the faithful came to say their last farewell to the beloved archpastor. Even after the sixth day it was noticed that there was no sign of decay.
"From the first day of the vigil it was apparent that this was to be no ordinary farewell to the departed, not even for a hierarch. There was a sense of being present at the unfolding of a mystery: the mystery of holiness. Those present were devoutly convinced that they had come to bury a saint."
Archbishop John was laid to rest in a small basement chapel under the altar of the cathedral after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors amended the City law to permit the burial of prelates in their cathedrals. His sepulchre has become a place of pilgrimage for many hundreds of people in need of his strong intercession before the throne of God. The many cases of answered prayer only confirm Vladika's words to one of his devoted servants when, after his death, he appeared to her in a dream and said: "Tell the people: although I have died, I am alive!"
Now, on the 15th anniversary of Blessed John's repose., let us give thanks to God that such a bright lamp has so recently shone in our midst., and even now continues to illumine the true path of salvation. By his prayers may we too be found worthy to walk on that path which is "the way of holines s" (I s. 35: 8).
Wondrous is God in His saint!
(Above quotations from Blessed John, St. Herman of Alaska Press)
Priest-Monk Father Seraphim Rose
Father Seraphim Rose (1934 - 1982)
Nothing to do with sleek businessmen, fast food chains or investment schemes. And many Russian Christians will recognize him right away: few Christian stores or church book counters would not carry translations from Fr. Seraphim Rose.
It should be noted, however, that his apostleship to Russia or to any other nation into whose languages his works are translated did not emerge until he finished his earthly sojourn: he died in September, 1982 at the age of 48, and the twentieth anniversary of his untimely death is solemnly observed these days all over the globe. And here on earth he lived in a tiny Orthodox monastic community in the mountains of North California, constantly immersed into the church service cycle, into research, writing, editing and publishing work, translating treasures of Christian heritage into English, responding to letters from readers and inquirers, attending to the daily needs like gardening, firewood, truck engine and printing equipment, and praying in silence.
Who was he, that humble, reticent priest-monk? Eugene Rose before monasticism, younger son of a janitor, born in San Diego, CA, in his school and college years he had little involvement with, or interest for Christianity. But he had a bright, inquisitive mind and an honest heart, yearning for the truth and that has made all the difference.
He studied Buddhism under Alan Watts in San Francisco and Chinese philosophy in the University of California, Berkeley, excelling in any field he touched and realizing at the same time that the full truth had to be found elsewhereÂ¦ As he later recalled, a new idea began to enter my awareness: that Truth was not just an abstract idea, sought and known by the mind, but rather something personal - even a Person - sought and loved by the heart. And that is how I met Christ. [...]
From "Remembering Fr. Seraphim" (Orthodox America, Aug.-Sep. 1982):
In conversation he was the proverbial man of few words. He had no interest in idle chatter, seldom expressed a personal preference for anything, and disliked fakery of all kinds, often speaking of the Disneyland mentality of America which was making it impossible for people to seek and find the truth (Such aversion to Disney, in those years ostensibly innocent, seemed strange to many - but soon the cat will be out of the bag, and in 1996 American Christians will begin boycotting Disney ed.).
He worried about the fact that most of us were unconscious: we were so abysmally ignorant of the great truths of our FaithÃ‚Â¦ Be awake, aware, informed!... - he would plead, - Don't keep Orthodoxy to yourself as though it were some private treasure. Share it!
Fr. Seraphim was an inspiration for thousands of people. He gave some of the most inspiring sermons ever uttered in the English language. His constant counsel was: Never excuse yourself. If you must, or think you must, give way to a weakness, then be certain to recognize it as a weakness and a sin. But see your own faults and condemn not your brother!
During the latter portion of his life, Fr. Seraphim continually emphasized the need for spiritual attentiveness in preparation for struggles to come. He seemed to have an awareness, a foreknowledge of apocalyptic times ahead. His message was conveyed in a well-known phrase: It is later than you think!
The death of Fr. Seraphim produced a spiritual phenomenon untold of in our times. Lying in state in a crude wooden coffin in the humble monastery church, not only did the body remain soft and life-like in the summer heat, but so comforting was his face that one could not bear to cover it, in the traditional monastic way. Even children could hardly move away from the coffin, since the body brought such internal peace and suggested such love. Everyone was aware that, in our times, among us, a holy man had left in his body a phenomenon that challenges science and our hearts.
From "God's Revelation to the Human Heart" by Fr. Seraphim (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1987):
"...Is there a special organ for receiving revelation from God? Yes, in a certain sense there is such an organ, though usually we close it and do not let it open up: God's revelation is given to something called a loving heart. We know from the Scriptures that God is love; Christianity is the religion of love (you may look at the failures, see people who call themselves Christians and are not, and say there is no love there; but Christianity is indeed the religion of love when it is successful and practiced in the right way)Ã‚Â¦ If you ask anyone who knew Archbishop John what it was that drew people to him - and still draws people who never knew him - the answer is always the same: he was overflowing with love; he sacrificed himself for his fellow men out of absolutely unselfish love for God and for them. This is why things were revealed to him which could not get through to other people and which he never could have known by natural means. He himself taught that, for all mysticism of our Orthodox Church that is found in the Lives of the Saints and the writings of the Orthodox Elders, the Orthodox faithful always has both feet firmly on the ground, facing whatever situation is right in front of him. It is in accepting given situations, which requires a loving heart, that man encounters God. This loving heart is why anyone comes to a knowledge of the truth...
The opposite of the loving heart that receives revelation from God is cold calculation, getting what you can out of people; in religious life, this produces fakery and charlatanism of all descriptions. If you look at the religious world today, you see that a great deal of this is going on: so much fakery, posing, calculation, so much taking advantage of the winds of fashion..." [...]