The Western Pilgrimage Begins…

Parish visits and a special encounter with a monastic writer and abbot, plus great travel weather, have ‘put the wind in my sails’ for this major leg of my American Thebaid Pilgrimage.

Sorry for the spotty posting lately, but my limited multitasking capabilities have been limited to a variety of deadline-driven tasks. Now that I’m actually on the road towards my next monastery destination, I wanted to take a moment and share with you some recent experiences.

North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage
Fr Damascene of Platina and Fr Gregory Schultz of St Michael the Archangel (Serbian Archdiocese), celebrate Vespers during the annual Parish Retreat in Huntsville AL, June 1.

After leaving Birmingham AL on Thursday last (May 31), I headed ‘just up the road’ to Huntsville, where Fr Damascene, abbot of St Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina CA, was giving a series of talks for the annual parish retreat of St Michael the Archangel (Serbian Archdiocese – English language).

St Herman’s was, as most of you know, co-founded in the late 1960s by Fr Seraphim Rose of Blessed Memory (†1982) and Abbot Herman (Podmoshensky), who reposed just a couple of years ago. Fr Damascene was one of the last spiritual sons of Fr Seraphim Rose, and is the author or editor of three remarkable and essential books: Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, Christ the Eternal Tao, and Genesis, Creation and Early Man – The Orthodox Christian Vision (by Fr Seraphim Rose, edited by Fr Damascene).

This retreat was a wonderful experience, both for Fr Damascene’s talks on Creation, Salvation, and Deification (deeply immersed in the words of the Holy Fathers of the Church), and for the experience of camping out at Monte Sano State Park with the St Michael’s parish community.

Continue reading “The Western Pilgrimage Begins…”

Recent Elders on Monasticism

First in a new series of blog posts featuring reflections on monasticism by 20th century Orthodox monks and nuns.

In working on the design for the North American Thebaid coffee table book — the publishing goal of my two-year photographic pilgrimage to Orthodox Christian monasteries of the USA & Canada — I am going back through favorite books for pithy sayings on monasticism and the spiritual life. Some of these may make it into the finished Thebaid book, providing prose glimpses into the monastic way to complement the photographs.

Some are lofty, some are challenging (a ‘hard word’), but in every case, it is a joy to rediscover these pearls, and I wanted to share some of them with you.

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“The spiritual life has great joys. You fly away and leave this world and don’t take anything else into consideration. You become a child and God lives in your heart.”

“Love Christ, have humility, prayer, and patience. These are the four points of your spiritual compass. May the magnetic needle be your youthful Christian heart.”

“My children, I don’t want paradise without you.”

~ Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (†1970)

From  Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit