September 2010 - St.Seraphim
Hieromonk Seraphim Rose
Hieromonk Seraphim Rose
This modern-day witness for Orthodox Christianity and monasticism in America has not yet been glorified as a Saint of the Church; though many individuals ask his prayers and icons of him have already been painted.
Eugene Rose was born in 1934 in California, into an average American Protestant family. He graduated from Pomona College in Los Angeles with a degree in Chinese Language. Following an intense spiritual journey that took him through the study and practice of Eastern Religions he earned a graduate degree from UC Berkley in Chinese Philosophy. He encountered Eastern Christianity at the Russian Orthodox community in San Francisco, and in 1962 was received into the Orthodox Church. The sanctity of Archbishop John Maximovich of San Francisco was especially important to his progress in the Faith.
After a few years living and working in San Francisco, he and a friend Gleb Podmosensky founded a monastic brotherhood in the wilderness of far northern California; in time they were tonsured as monks and ordained as priests: Fr Seraphim and Fr Herman. At a time when Orthodoxy was almost invisible in North America, the small monastery became a beacon for Americans seeking an authentic experience of Eastern Christian spirituality. The two monks founded and edited the publication ‘The Orthodox Word’ and started the ‘St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood’, a missionary endeavor aimed at young Americans of the 1960’s who were on a spiritual quest.
Father Seraphim belonged to that rare breed of monastic’s known as the ascetics. His discipline combined with his spiritual and physical labours served as an inspiration for many. Often his attention could be had only with difficulty because he was so enrapt in prayer, even while sitting among friends at table. He demonstrated virtue as few people are capable of doing. He believed implicitly in the spiritual instruction of the Church Fathers.
He built a small hut, approximately 6 x 10 feet, on the mountainside, and lived by extreme modest means. For seven years he enjoyed this refuge, where he prepared numerous articles for publication, where he prayed and prepared himself to leave this world and enter his heavenly homeland. Father Seraphim was an inspiration for thousands of people. He regularly gave inspiring sermons and valued spiritual direction. 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.
Fr. Seraphim was able to produce a torrent of articles and books in a relatively short span of time—only 17 years—covering a variety of subjects of interest and importance to the Orthodox reader, including lives of saints, worship, contemporary social and moral problems, and theology.
Fr Seraphim died on September 2nd 1982 at the age of forty-eight. In his short lifetime, he accomplished much for the glory of God and the awareness of Orthodox Christianity in America. May God grant him rest with His Saints and may his Memory be Eternal!