Icon of Saint Herman of Alaska
of Alaska Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes
t. Herman of Alaska, a monk of the ancient Valaam and Sarov monasteries in northern Russia, belonged to the 18th-century spirit of sanctity revived by the spiritual genius of St. Paisius Velichkovsky. As a younger contemporary in contact with many of St. Paisius' disciples, St. Herman was permeated so deeply with the "Paisian spirit" that he might be rightly considered one of the most outstanding bearers of this vital legacy. As a part of the original holy Orthodox mission, he carried this legacy to the American continent in 1794.
With hope St. Herman crossed the vastness of Siberia and the stormy Pacific ocean to endure the afflictions from benighted kinsmen determined to keep the region of Alaska a plunged in the darkness of slavery. He alone perserved in Apostolic work, having not simply theoretical knowledge of God and religion, but having been trained in the inner workings of the heart. He brought the Philokalia to America from Abbot Nazarius' editorship and founded the first monastic and hermitic dwelling in the New World-calling it New Valaam, and New Jerusalem.
The Holy Orthodox Faith which St. Herman and the other missionary zealots from holy Russia brought to the American continent is one that cannot simply be taken for granted. It must be lived and kept ever fresh, and the only way to do this is to draw continually from the living sources of holy Orthodoxy.
Even in our frightful times, when the foundations of any kind of decent life are collapsing, a chosen few are finding their way back to the holy Orthodoxy which, in the dim mists of history, our All-Gracious God will help us, and preserve us,when we love our God, and behold His TRUTH, and at the same time confess that TRUTH!
Let me now humbly present to you who love Christ our true God, selections from the "Little Russian Philokalia", Volume III: St. Herman. Keep in mind those who are seeking their path towards salvation this factor: Philokalia means "love of the good." It was the name given to celebrated 18th-century collection of Greek Patristic texts on the Christian spiritual life, teaching the path to true sobriety and the fullness of union with God.
Treasury Of Saint Herman's Spirituality
A first compilation of St. Herman's teachings on spiritual life drawn from his letters and conversations. I. THE WAY OF A CHRISTIAN
Without exalting myself to the rank of teacher, nonetheless, fulfilling my duty and obligation as an obedient servant for the benefit of my neighbor, I will speak my mind, founded on the commandments of Holy Scripture, to those who thirst and seek for their eternal heavenly homeland.
A true Christian is made by faith and love toward Christ. Our sins do not in the least hinder our Christianity, according to the word of the Saviour Himself. He deigned to say: not the rigteous have I come to call, but sinners to salvation; there is more joy in heaven over one who repents then over ninety righteous ones. Likewise concerning the sinful woman who touched His feet, He deigned to say to the the Pharisee Simon: to one who has love, a great debt is forgiven, but from one who has no love, even a small debt will be demanded. From these judgements a Christian should bring himself to hope and joy, and not in the least accept an inflicted despair. Here one needs the shield of faith.
Sin, to one who loves God, is nothing other than an arrow from the enemy in battle. The true Christian is a warrior fighting his way through the regiments of the unseen enemy to his heavenly homeland. According to the word of the Apostles, our homeland is in heaven; and about the warrior he says: "our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of wickedness under heaven" (Ephesians 6:12).
The vain desires of this world separate us from our homeland; love of them and habit clothe our soul as if in a hideous garment. We, traveling on the journey of this life and calling on God to help us, ought to be divesting ourselves of this hideous garment and clothing ourselves in new desires, in a new love of the age to come, and thereby to receive knowledge of how near or how far we are from our heavenly homeland. But it is not possible to do this quickly; rahter one must follow the example of sick people, who, wishing the desired (health), do not leave off seeking means to cure themselves. (From a letter of June 20, 1820)
The above text was from: "Little Russian Philokalia", St. Herman of Alaska Monastery Press, Platina California., 1989., pp.47-48. Highly recommended for futher spiritual reading. Available from St. Herman of Alaska Monastery Press, Platina, California 96076
Pray unto God,