September 2, 2007 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Repose of Fr. Seraphim (Rose). A crew of myself with some brothermans (Athanasius aka: Arum, Jesse, and Matthew) from Walla Walla made a pilgrimage to Saint Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, CA where Fr. Seraphim is buried. What follows are some memories from the trip.
Friday-Saturday (one day blurred into the other so I have put them together)
We left Friday evening around 6pm-ish. Sometime around midnite I fell asleep, good thing I was not driving. Because of my partaking of road-slumber I have no real recollection of events from La Pine until Redding, and I am okay with that.
In Redding I woke-up as we were heading towards a Denny’s it was O-dark thirty in the morning.
The sun had already risen as we pulled up to the Monastery. Matthew and I went to the Church were Services were in progress, we met up with Fr. Moses who showed us where we could put our tent up at. Apparently Arum was ready for sleep because when we returned to the car we found him in his sleeping bag already sleeping in a pile of leaves.
Leaving Arum in the leaves, we went and put the tent up; while Jesse went in to get some rest Matthew and I returned to the trapeza for coffee as the Fathers and other pilgrims ate breakfast.
The day proceeded with periods of slumber mixed in by the four of us. Arum and I went to the garden for parsley. While there I shared just a bit about some discouragements that I had been struggling with. Later we helped out in the kitchen a bit where we were able to talk with Fr. Adrian as we worked. Arum brought up the topic we had been talking about in the garden for Fr. Adrian’s input. The conversation was very healing to my heart and soul– I later wrote down some notes so that I would remember the content of what was shared.
Later in the day a Pannikhida was served at the grave of Fr. Seraphim; followed by Small Vespers and Compline.
Afterwards it was time for dinner. A tasty meal of tabouli, humus, pita bread, and stuff grape leaves was served for dinner, with baklava for dessert.
Following dinner was a Vigil in the Church.
Divine Liturgy was served at the gravesite of Fr. Seraphim. A Priest visiting from Ontario, Canada co-celebrated with Hieromonk Damascene.
After the Liturgy they gave all of the pilgrims a gift of a CD of the last talk that Fr. Seraphim gave, approx 3 weeks prior to his repose, a picture card of Fr. Seraphim and oil from the vigil lamp over his grave.
Note: It is my understanding that this CD will be made available from St. Herman’s Press.
Lunch was served and afterwards memories were shared by some people who knew Fr. Seraphim when he was alive.
Fr. Vladimir Anderson shared about his memories. His daughter (who was 6 years old at the time) was the first woman to walk on to the grounds of St. Herman’s Monastery. She has since reposed and is buried in the Monastery cemetery. He was followed with some memories shared by Matushka Anderson.
Thomas Anderson shared his memories. He had lived with Fr. Seraphim and Fr. Herman at the Monastery when he was a teenager. Due to his living there he was able to share some about some of the day to day goings on of the Monastery at that time. It was impressed on me the importance of taking Becket (and later Andrew) to the Monastery to allow them to build relationships with the Fathers, and to let them experience life at the Monastery.
The final memories were shared by a man, whose name I unfortunately do not remember. He knew Fr. Seraphim back when he was Eugene Rose. One thing that stood out in his talk were his final words, “Holy Father Seraphim pray to God for us.” An encouragement that it is okay for me to acknowledge Fr. Seraphim as a Saint.
After a brief break Father Damascene shared about the last days in the life of Fr. Seraphim.
The final weeks of Fr. Seraphim were marked with the St. Herman Annual Pilgrimage that coincided with the commemoration of the Cannonization of St. Herman of Alaska. This is the same Pilgrimage that the recorded talk (above) was from.
Fr. Damascene shared about Fr. Seraphim first showing noticeable signs of not feeling well. How this lead to his leaving the Monastery to go to the hospital in Redding; as he left he said, “Glory to God for all things” the words of St. John Saint Chrysostom as he reposed exile. Fr. Damascene mentioned how this trip to the hospital was Fr. Seraphim’s own going into exile; as he reposed in the hospital when Fr. Seraphim would have probably preferred reposing at the Monastery.
It was in Fr. Seraphim’s final days that Fr. Damascene (then just John) was baptized by Fr. Herman –he was initially to be baptized by Fr. Seraphim. Later, after Fr. Seraphim’s repose, it was in this newly baptized Christian’s baptismal robe that Fr. Seraphim was buried in.
In the question/answer time after Fr. Damascene’s talk, one woman shared how a Church she visited in Russia was having Fr. Seraphim painted onto the Iconostasis.
After this talk we broke camp and made our way home. We drove all nite getting home around 530am on Monday.
It was a quick weekend and it was good weekend. Good times with the guys; accented by much laughter! I returned home encouraged in heart by my conversation with Fr. Adrian and Arum. (I hope to share about this specifically in the future.) Thanks to the grace of God and the prayers of Holy Fr. Seraphim.