Abbot Damascene Interview – Video 3 of 6

“Athos is the motherland of orthodox monasticism in the world!”

In this third part of his interview to Pemptousia, Archimandrite Damascene, abbot of St Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California, talks about his pilgrimages to Mount Athos. He also reflects on encountering such sincere veneration of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) by the monks of the Holy Mountain, especially meaningful as monasticism in America is so young by comparison.

September 2 will mark the 35th anniversary of the repose of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) of Platina. In the weeks leading up to this date, I will be occasionally posting a variety of media and articles of interest.

 

Source: Pemptousia

 

Translation of the relics of the Venerable Zosimas of Solovki

Two of the Russian Orthodox Church’s most important monastery founders are commemorated on August 8, Saints Zosimas and Sabbatius of Solovki.

Though not my patron saint (Abba Zosimas of Palestine, whom the Lord led to find St Mary of Egypt and bring her edifying life story to the Church), I have a special devotion to St Zosimas of Solovki; both share a brave yearning to seek God through the monastic way in the wilderness.

The Transfer of the Relics of Saints Zosimas and Sabbatius of Solovki took place on August 8, 1566, on the third day of the altar-feast of the Solovki monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The relics of the saints were transferred into a chapel of the Transfiguration cathedral, built in their honor. Beekeepers pray to these saints for an increase of bees. (OCA)

Saint Zosimas is also commemorated on April 17, and is reproduced below; the Life of Saint Sabbatius may be found on September 27. You can read about them also in the classic book on the monastic movement in the Russian north, The Northern Thebaid (St Herman of Alaska Press, Platina CA).

Venerable Zosimas the Abbot of Solovki

Saints Zosimas & Sabbatius of Solovki, with scenes from their lives

(April 17, OCA) — Saint Zosimas, Igumen of Solovki a great luminary of the Russian North, was the founder of cenobitic monasticism on Solovki Island. He was born in Novgorod diocese, in the village of Tolvui near Lake Onega. From his early years he was raised in piety, and after the death of his parents Gabriel and Barbara, he gave away his possessions and received monastic tonsure.

In search of a solitary place, he journeyed to the shores of the White Sea, and at the mouth of the Suma he met Saint Herman (July 30), who told him of a desolate sea island, where he had spent six years with Saint Sabbatius (September 27).

Around the year 1436, the hermits crossed the sea and landed at the Solovki islands. There Saint Zosimas had a vision of a beautiful church in the sky. With their own hands the monks built cells and an enclosure, and they began to cultivate and sow the land.

Continue reading “Translation of the relics of the Venerable Zosimas of Solovki”

Books for Monastic Seekers: ‘Recollections of Mount Athos’

A warm and inspiring first-person account of the author’s journey to the Holy Mountain as a young man, his experiences with different monasteries, counsels received from various monks and elders, and how the Lord directed his steps and helped him grow in his early days as a monk.

Sunset, St Anne’s Skete, Mount Athos; photo © Ralph H. Sidway.

Published in the early years of St Gregory Palamas Monastery (Hayesville, Ohio) under the direction of Bishop Maximos and the sponsorship of the GOA Diocese of Pittsburgh, this beautiful memoir exudes the fragrance and savor of Holy Orthodoxy, and may be of special help to monastic seekers in discerning the Lord’s will for their lives, and in helping them live it to the fullest, as they heed the call to the narrow way to the Kingdom of God.

Rather than being a didactic book of instruction like The Arena and Letters To A Beginner, Recollections of Mount Athos weaves monastic counsels through a charming narrative of unforgettable ascetics, strugglers, abbots and elders, all seen through the wide, perceptive eyes and warm, faithful heart of young George, the future Archimandrite Cherubim, and all overshadowed by the grace of God.

From Chapter 1, First Impressions:

From the time I was fourteen years old, the vivid descriptions of two Hagiorite [i.e., Athonite] hieromonks who were rigorous in practicing the virtues, the Elders Paisios and Chrysanthos, had molded Mount Athos in my soul like a place that, though terrestrial, touches heaven. My burning desire for that place urged me toward the big decision: I was going to live there forever…

As soon as my foot stepped on land, my first concern was to kneel behind an old building an with emotion kiss that holy ground. I had vowed to do it. I used to say: “My Panagia [Greek for “All Holy”, a loving term for the Virgin May, the Theotokos], enable me one day to find myself on the Holy Mountain, and the first thing I will do will be to kiss its ground.”

My favorite quote:

“Talk like a monk, look like a monk, sit like a monk, walk like a monk, eat like a monk, sleep like a monk, think like a monk, pray like a monk.” ~ Papa Joachim, St Anne’s Skete, Mount Athos, p. 82.

Recollections of Mount Athos

by Archimandrite Cherubim Karambelas, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline MA; © 1987, St Gregory Palamas Monastery.

Featuring an Introduction by Bishop Maximos of Pittsburgh, ‘Monasticism in the Orthodox Church’, with a helpful glossary of terms.

“This book springs from the author’s own personal monastic experience on Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain. Archimandrite Cherubim Karambelas spent only four years on Mount Athos. He was eighteen years old when he went to the Holy Mountain with the intention of staying there forever. However, he was forced, due to ill health, to return to wartime Athens. He was not to return to the Mountain again until many years later, and then only to visit a dying monk, a friend, who wished to see him before he died. At that time he was the abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Paraclete which he established, located on the outskirts of Athens.”  — From the Translator’s Preface

Order from St Gregory Palamas Monastery; Paperback, 202 pages; Price: $12.00

 

Books for Monastic Seekers: ‘The Arena’

A classic manual on the Christian spiritual life, by Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, this is the second in this series of posts. See post 1 here.

The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life

By Ignatius (Brianchaninov) Translated by Lazarus (Moore) Foreword by Kallistos (Ware); Holy Trinity Publications, Jordanville NY.

From the publisher’s description:

This is one of the most important and accessible texts of Orthodox Christian teaching on the spiritual life, and and not unlike the better known “Philokalia.” The author, St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) describes this work as his legacy “of soul saving instruction.” He promises that “Those who carry out these instructions will enter into possession of spiritual riches.”

In an age even more alienated from spiritual culture and rooted in materialism, his words pose both a challenge and an invitation to all who ever say to themselves “There must be more to life than this.”

For anyone who desires to deepen their own spiritual journey based upon an encounter with Christ as God, this book is essential reading. Its contents may ultimately be accepted or rejected, but they will be very difficult to ignore.

Continue reading “Books for Monastic Seekers: ‘The Arena’”

Abbot Damascene of St Herman of Alaska Monastery – Video 2 of 6

In this second of a six-part video interview, “Father Damascene, abbot of St. Herman of Alaska Monastery, talks to Pemptousia about the history of the brotherhood of the Monastery and how the brotherhood turned from missionary to monastic. He is mentioning some important spiritual words of Father Seraphim Rose and he is describing the situation of Orthodoxy in USA today.”

September 2 will mark the 35th anniversary of the repose of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) of Platina. In the weeks leading up to this date, I will be occasionally posting a variety of media and articles of interest.

 

Source: Pemptousia

 

The Glorification of St. Mardarije of Libertyville IL

A patriarch, two monasteries, and numerous hierarchs, clergy, monastics and laity from several Orthodox jurisdictions join together as another saint who shone forth in America is glorified by the Church.

St. Mardarije is a unique saint for our time, a Serbian monastic who loved Christ and His Church from his youth, received his theological training in Russia, was sent to America as a missionary bishop, and served in that capacity with St Nikolai (Velimirovich) of Ohrid. He died from lung disease at the young age of 46 after laboring for his flock for many years. When his remains were disinterred in May of this year, they were found to be incorrupt.

The below article from the Midwest Diocese of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) relates the Glorification and events surrounding it, and provides a good overview of St Mardarije’s life.

Metropolitan Tikhon, Bishop Paul concelebrate at Glorification of St. Mardarije of Libertyville

LIBERTYVILLE, IL [MW Diocese Communications] — His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and His Grace, Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest were among the numerous hierarchs present for the celebration of the Glorification of Saint Mardarije of Libertyville, North America’s first ruling Serbian Orthodox bishop, at Saint Sava Monastery here July 14-16, 2017.

Patriarch Irinej of Serbia being greeted at his arrival at St Sava Monastery, Libertyville IL; Metropolitan Tikhon of the OCA is the second hierarch from the left. (Photo: St Sava Monastery Facebook Page)

Presiding at the pan-Orthodox celebration was His Holiness, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, who was greeted upon his arrival in Chicago by His Grace, Bishop Longin of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of New Gracanica and Midwest America and the clergy of Chicago’s Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. En route to Chicago, Patriarch Irinej visited the site of Saint Sava Cathedral, New York, NY, which had been destroyed by fire on Pascha 2016, where he was met by His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and His Grace, Bishop Irinej of Eastern America of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who brief the Patriarch on plans for rebuilding the historic cathedral.

In Chicago, the weekend opened with a Friday evening symposium—“The Life and Times of Saint Mardarije”—at which His Eminence, Metropolitan Amphilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral delivered the keynote address, titled “Saint Mardarije: Wondrous is God in His Saints.” A new 35-minute documentary and dramatization of Saint Mardarije’s life, “Christ’s Quiet Corner”, also made its debut. [See also the St Sava Monastery Facebook page for photo coverage and more.]

[The trailer for the documentary is currently available in the Serbian language only, with no English subtitles, yet it immediately draws one in with the fragrance of Orthodoxy. We look forward to the full documentary being made available, with subtitles, as it was premiered for St Mardarije’s Glorification.]

Other hierarchs present at the Glorification were His Eminence, Archbishop Nikodim of Northern Donetsk and Starobel’skii of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church; His Eminence, Archbishop Peter of Chicago and Mid-America and His Grace, Bishop Theodosy of Seattle of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; His Eminence, Metropolitan Antonii of Vani and Baghdati and His Eminence, Metropolitan Sava of America of the Patriarchate of Georgia; His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Canada; and others. Countless clergy, monastics and pilgrims filled the monastery grounds throughout the weekend.

The weekend continued on Saturday with the celebration of the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy at New Gracanica Monastery, Third Like, IL. In his address during the Divine Liturgy, Patriarch Irinej noted the “exceptional personality” of Saint Mardarije, who lived the life of the holy apostles and other great saints, thus emulating the Lord. He noted that, as a saint in the likeness of God, Saint Mardarije belongs to all Orthodox Churches, and not just the Serbian Church.

Continue reading “The Glorification of St. Mardarije of Libertyville IL”

Abbot Damascene of St Herman of Alaska Monastery – Video 1 of 6

In this first of a six part interview to Pemptousia, Archimandrite Damascene, Abbot of St Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California, speaks about his acquaintance with Father Seraphim Rose and the influence of his presence on Fr Damascene’s Christian life.

September 2 will mark the 35th anniversary of the repose of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) of Platina. In the weeks leading up to this date, I will be occasionally posting a variety of media and articles of interest.

Source: Pemptousia

 

 

Books for Monastic Seekers: ‘Letters to a Beginner on Giving One’s Life to God’

For the first of a new series of blog posts, I would like to share a thin but extremely weighty and important book which was recommended to me several years ago when  I was preparing to test the monastic life:

Letters to a Beginner on Giving One’s Life to God

by Abbess Thaisia of Leushino, St Herman of Alaska Press:

Description:

“The work of success in your monastic life—the work of your salvation, is, so to speak, in your own hands; and would it not be a shame, would it not be sad, to lose it from your hands irretrievably?”

—excerpt from LETTERS TO A BEGINNER

This book was so popular and beneficial for those leading a spiritual life in pre-Revolutionary Russia that it was reprinted several times and distributed to all monasteries, sketes, and many parishes. It was a key guidebook for women monastic aspirants, giving them a right understanding of how to dedicate their lives to God.

Continue reading “Books for Monastic Seekers: ‘Letters to a Beginner on Giving One’s Life to God’”

Join us this Wednesday, July 19, at St Athanasius Orthodox Church in Nicholasville KY

Vespers at 6:30pm, followed at 7:15pm by my presentation on Orthodox Monasticism and a slide show of images from the North American Thebaid Project!

Procession at St Athanasius Orthodox Church, Nicholasville KY (Photo: athanasiusoca.org)

This coming week kicks off my Summer travels with a highly anticipated (certainly by me!) mid-week presentation at a thriving parish of the OCA Diocese of the South: St Athanasius Orthodox Church in Nicholasville, just a few miles south of Lexington KY.

If you’re curious about Orthodoxy and/or monasticism, I think you’ll find this a rich and informative evening.

I have long wanted to visit this growing Orthodox community, to worship in their new church building (which they moved into in 2014) to be sure, but also to get to better know these dear brothers and sisters just “down the road” from us in Cincinnati. It’s always a joy when Fr Justin and Mat. Tamara and sons stop in to join us for Vespers when passing through the area, and we have known each other now for years.

You can learn more here about the inspiring history of the still young parish of St Athanasius (especially significant for Protestants and Evangelicals wishing to learn more about Orthodoxy). Their journey is unique in some surprising ways, yet will sound very familiar to those of us who have likewise been converted in our hearts by our own encounters with the early Church Fathers.

Check their Directions page and make your plans to join us this coming Wednesday evening!

My sincere thanks to Fr Justin Patterson for his invitation, and to Kathy and Audrey for promotion, logistics and refreshments!

If you’re in the Lexington or Central Kentucky area, we hope to see you! Free and open to the public, refreshments provided, plenty of time for fellowship and Q&A.

  • Wednesday, July 19
  • 6:30pm – Vespers
  • 7:15pm – Presentation on Orthodox Monasticism and the North American Thebaid

St. Athanasius Orthodox Church
100 Lime Lane, Nicholasville, KY 40356

 

The Elder Ephraim of Arizona: His contribution to North America

Here is a wonderful spiritual reflection on Elder Ephraim of Arizona and the significance of his establishing 17 monasteries in North America in the Athonite tradition.

You can learn more about St Anthony’s Monastery in Florence AZ here, which relates the story of Elder Ephraim’s monastic life and how he began establishing monasteries in America in 1995.

I have several of the Elder’s monasteries on my itinerary, and look forward very much to imbibing spiritual nectar from them, and, God willing, to making some compelling photographs of their hidden life.

The author of the below article, Igumen Gregory (Zaiens), is a monastic himself, and writes from the Hermitage of St Arsenius in Texas. Fr. Gregory describes the unique gift which Elder Ephraim has planted in America as follows,

For those in America who have chosen monasticism and have the thirst for an intense struggle in prayer, the Elder Ephraim has brought them the Athonite Hesychast tradition.

The Elder Ephraim of Arizona: His contribution to North America

by Igumen Gregory (Zaiens), The Panagia: She Who is Quick to Hear, July 8, 2017 (thanks to OrthoChristian.com):

The Elder Ephraim recently reached the age of ninety. He has not been functioning as an elder for more than a year because of health issues; and at his age and with his physical condition it is doubtful that he will again function in that capacity. As one who has become somewhat renowned, however, there has occasionally been controversy over him. Most of the spiritual children of his monasteries consider him to be a saint and one who has wrought a miraculous renewal among the Greek Orthodox in North America. This effect did not cease with the Greek faithful but spread elsewhere, as well.. Indeed, the lives of many have been touched and changed by the Elder. However, he has also been under attack at times, and negative opinions have been expressed concerning him—I do not want to approach this subject. But there is one aspect of the work he has accomplished that has been much on my mind recently and this is what I want to write about. I will introduce this topic with a question: What has Elder Ephraim done for monasticism in our land?

Continue reading “The Elder Ephraim of Arizona: His contribution to North America”