New Calendar Greeks honor Fr. Seraphim at his repose
from Orthodox Word magazine #107 Nov-Dec 1982
by Peter Botsis
The following article. dated February 4, 1983, appeared in a popular world-orthodox Greek religious periodical, Orthodox Typos, [Orthodox Press], published weekly in Athens.
In every nation he that feareth
God and worketh righteousness
is accepted with Him.
We are in the habit of confining Orthodoxy to the narrow, local framework of Orthodox Greece, many times ignoring her existence in distant lands – lands that are not Orthodox, that are associated with the Babylon of sin, with transgression, and with apostasy. But how may we boast, who were born Orthodox and live in an Orthodox environment? Is not higher praise due to those who were born and live in an unorthodox, even irreligious, environment, yet seek high and low for the true Faith, embrace it, and expend all of their energy and superabundant zeal to spread it to a people which lacks the very foundation most conducive to its reception?
One such figure – one who knew, lived, and proclaimed Orthodoxy on the distant American continent –was Father Seraphim Rose, co-founder and co-publisher of the periodical, “The Orthodox Word," and co-founder of the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California, who reposed in the Lord on September 2 (new style), 1982, at 48 years of age.
Father Seraphim was born in 1934 in California of Protestant parents. He studied at Pomona College near Los Angeles and, continuing his studies. received his Master’s degree from the University of California. Berkeley.
He first heard of Orthodoxy in 1961 from Father Herman, later his co-worker and Abbot. His pure soul quickly became enthused with the teachings of Orthodoxy. He studied it, became convinced that Orthodoxy was the only revealed and true religion, and was baptized Orthodox.
In 1963 Father Seraphim, together with Father Herman, founded the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood as a missionary outreach for the Orthodox enlightenment of their fellow countrymen. In 1965 they began publication of “The Orthodox Word.” a publication of traditional Orthodox content which has continued uninterrupted to this day, its material ever improving. Simultaneously, they opened an ecclesiastical bookstore in California, with Orthodox books of a spiritual nature and Byzantine icons, where Father Seraphim, with his humble manner and his pleasant smile. was always ready to serve the public, to answer questions, and to teach by his living example.
In 1967, setting more long-term objectives, the Fathers began to search for a location suitable to their monastic intentions and suitable for the housing of tools necessary to their missionary activity (printing press. etc.). This site was found in Platina, California, and by 1969 they had built there several cells and a printing shop.
Father Seraphim’s virtuous life began to draw more and more faithful near to him. and his inner promptings for the hesychastic life drove him to construct a small cell (approximately 254 x 4 meters) in the nearby forest. where he was blessed to live for seven years, fighting the good fight, praying, working for God. and striving after holiness. During this period. he wrote numerous edifying and apologetic articles and books, while simultaneously preparing himself for his departure from this world, in which he was indeed a stranger and a pilgrim. He was ordained a Deacon in January of 1979 and on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers of the same year, he was ordained a Priest.
After some five years of service at the Holy Altar. the Lord callerl Father Seraphim to Him, by His unfathomable will. to give him rest from his toils and struggles. Father Herman and. on a larger scale. the Orthodox Church have lost a meek ascetic and a contender for the essence of Orthodoxy: they have obtained. however. an intercessor in Heaven. in the Church Triumphant.
Father Seraphim belonged to that species rare in the present epoch: the ascetics. His co-ascetic, Father Abbot Herman, is the only one who knows and who could tell us of his ascetic labors, his unceasing prayers, and his many vigils. He demonstrated the virtues as do few in our time. He believed with simplicity that. in accordance with the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, a spiritual child must completely obey his spiritual Father. Hardly anyone ever saw him upset or angry.
Father Seraphim was a model for the Orthodox Christian in our materialistic age. He uttered some of the most inspiring sermons ever uttered in the English language. His constant counsel was: “Judge yourself. Never excuse yourself. Look to your own faults and do not condemn your brother.”
During the last period of his life, Father Seraphim always especially emphasized the need for spiritual watchfulness and preparation for coming struggles. He seemed to have a certainty, almost a foreknowledge, that apocalyptic times await us. He lived the eschatological witness of the Apostles and Fathers. His daily message and counsel were the same: “It is later than you think.”
Father Seraphim, in his short life, offered himself up for the glory of God and for the salvation of his fellow man. His exemplary service helped many find the road to Orthodoxy and to their salvation, while his activity as a writer included hundreds of articles and some ten books which testified to his struggle for the preservation and dissemination of the truth, the handing down of Orthodoxy.
In our age, and remarkably enough in his country, dominated by religious pluralism, Father Seraphim was a confessor and an ascetic, a bright lamp, a “city upon a hill,” which enlightened and taught, by his shining example and prophetic speech, all who approached him. May God grant him rest in peace and number him among His Saints, there where there is neither sorrow nor sighing, where the light of the countenance of the Lord shines upon those who love and serve Him wholly.