Orthodox America


  The Call of St. Herman


When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, He divided the nations, but when He distributed the tongues of fire. He called all to unity And with one accord we glorify the All-Holy Spirit" (Kontakion for Pentecost)

 

The sinful inward desire of men to live in separation from God, devoid of His Fatherly warmth, manifested itself in the Old Testament in the prideful Tower of Babel. They used all their “creative togetherness” in order to go against God, their Creator. By confusing the tongues, their evil unity was severed  Christ came, lifted the veil of otherwordliness and men spoke all languages in order to be united with each other in the Holy Spirit and to build His Church the celestial mansions, on this side of heaven. And He placed monks to remind men of the Fatherly embrace and the mystical joy which surpasses all understanding.  

But today sin again has estranged men from God and gathers them as before into the prideful building of the New Babel- Anti-christianity of world-wide dimensions.

Where are the monks now who are to witness the foretaste of heaven? Are they there, even though the Orthodox Church has endured much tribulation? Their call still carries the echo of heaven! It is their message which is hard to take for the modern man!

When our Lord Jesus Christ called His disciples to follow Him, He quite definitely made sure that His message was clear and simple. It was their hearts that He wanted, so that they would live in union with God, and be not estranged from Him  The whole Christian message is even denying oneself for the sake of God.

This is what is lacking today: Orthodox togetherness in God through self-denial  

Having one desire, to bring unbelieving people to the One God. Thou wast all things to all men, teaching the Holy Scriptures and a life in accordance with it, instructing in handicrafts, and being intercessor before the authorities, nursing me in everything like children, that thus thou mightest bring them to God.

Stichera from Service to St. Herman, Tone 6

This spiritual exploit, “ascesis” in Greek, "podvig" in Russian, does not even have an easily available term in English to denote this particular form of self-forgetting heroism, which is so typical in each Orthodox Saint. This was the main motive For St. Herman to come to America, and precisely the main character trait of his personality as well as his principal message as patron of this continent. This also is precisely the hardest Christian quality for modern man to acquire.

September of this year marks the 20th anniversary since the formation of the Missionary Brotherhood or St. Herman. It's appearance was almost unnoticed by the world just as it is today.  It is weak and small in number but it does witness to whoever has ears to hear and eyes to see what mighty works God does in His world.

It was born out of despair in the hearts of several young men who woke up to the reality of God and the worldliness in mankind which opposes God.

It began as an answer to a call that was coming from distant Alaska, from a desert- dweller, Father Gerasim, who called Orthodox Christians to follow in the steps of America's original Enlightener, St. Herman, to spread the simple Gospel idea among the people of this continent.

It was confirmed by a holy Archpastor who daily crucified himself out of love towards his God and his flock, often spending whole nights in fervent supplications,

The Call of St. Herman is to go against the grain of worldliness, personal comfort, ecclesiastical partying, and personal gain. It is simply a call to be real, to be aflame with the love of God.

 Abbot Herman

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