Orthodox America

  A Man Not of This World

  Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, co-founder and co-editor of The Orthodox Word and cofounder of the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood and Monastery at Platina, California, reposed in the Lord on Sept. 2, 1982 n.s. Born tn 1934 in California, he was raised in a typical American Protestant family. He graduated from Pomona College in the Los Angeles area, and later received his M.A. in Chinese (Mandarin) from the Universityof California at Berkeley.

He first encountered true Orthodoxy as a result of the 1ecture of newly-graduated Jordanville seminarian Gleb (Abbot Herman) Podmoshenskyin 1961. By 1963 the establishment of the St.Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, as a missionary endeavor toward the conversion of English-speaking people, under the aegis of Blessed Archbishop John (Maximovitch) (+1966) had been decided upon, The Brotherhood began with headquarters on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco next door to the Cathedral which was then in process of construction. The Orthodox Word began publication with the January-February issue of 1965. The first issues were handset and printed on hand-operated and hand-powered press. In addition to the publication of the magazine, an icon and book store was operated. Father Seraphim, with his modest smile and meek manner was there to greet customers and answer questions, and let his "light shine !"

     By 1967, in pursuance of long-range and long-standing plans, search began for a suitable location for a skete, so that full-fledged monasticism could be undertaken. Vladika John having reposed in 1966, the Brotherhood now had a heavenly patron to assist them in all their righteous endeavors. After, considerable searching throughout northern California, the present location of the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery was decided upon. Living quarters and the printing shop were made ready so that the two-hundred and-fifty-mile move northward from San Francisco was accomplished by Dormition of 1969. For one year the two members of the brotherhood labored in solitude and silence before they received tonsure to the Small Schema in October of l970. In the previous August of 1970, St.Herman of Alaska had been glorified in the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin the Joy of All That Sorrow, in San Francisco. The Brotherhood had labored long and tirelessly to bring this about, and to make known the wonders worked by St. Herman, and his importance for the Orthodox Church,, especially in America.

    Father Seraphim belonged to that rare species, the ascetics. His labors, who can tell? Perhaps only Abbot Herman. But others have been witnesses. Many were the nights when his attention could be had only with difficulty, because he was so enrapt in the Jesus Prayer even while at table. He demonstrated the virtues as few people in our time are capable of doing. He believed implicitly in the teaching of the Fathers that obedience to one's spiritual father and director must be given without question. He seldom ever allowed himself to become aroused enough for one to call it anger.

      He built a small hut, approximately 6 x 10 feet, on the mountainside, so that he had a refuge from ever-i n c r e a s i n g numbers of visitors. He was blessed to enjoy this refuge for seven years, where he prepared many :- articles for publication, where he prayed and prepared himself to leave this world where he was indeed a stranger and a pilgrim, and to enter his heavenly homeland. He was ordained hierodeacon in January 1977 and was raised to the rank of hieromonk on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers the same year, so that after eight years of desert-dwelling he and Abbot Herman were able to celebrate the Holy Mysteries.

     Father 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: "Censure yourself. Never excuse yourself. If you must, or think you must, give way to a weakness, then be certain that you 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, Father 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 the well-known phrase: "It is later than you think."

    Writing both in Russian and English, Fr. Seraphim was able to produce a torrent of articles and books in a relatively short span of time--only 17 years--covering every conceivable subject of interest and importance to the Orthodox reader, including lives of saints, divine services, contemporary problems, and theology. He also translated many works, making them available in English for the first time--an incomparable service to English-speaking Orthodox Christians.

    Father Seraphim accomplished more for the glory of God and the spread of true Orthodox Christianity than any o t h e r person born on the American continent. May God grant him rest with His saints, where the light of Ills countenance shall visit him. And may his memory be eternal! 

Rassophore-monk, Reader Laurence
Fr. Seraphim's first godchild

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