This has been such a tough year – not only for so many of us, but for the world as a whole. Like never before, I long for Christ to come and turn this dust we are made of into Divine Flesh once again. The Nativity Fast never felt so difficult for me, I went through it with such a heavy heart. Everywhere you look, you see war and terror, bombings, torture, extremism of all sorts.
This is why, for over a month now, I have not posted anything on the website, nor have I recorded any new podcasts for Ancient Faith Radio. I apologise for that. I needed to wait until I could see something bright again, something beautiful and full of love in the world.
I was wrong, of course, as I often am. I was wrong because I focused on our dust, instead of looking up to Christ, instead of lifting up my heart to the only Spring of beauty, the only Source of love.
Now, Christmas is almost here. Christ will descend again upon the world, and the world will once again open up to His presence. Deep down, the earth changes. Deep down, we all change. I have never longed for Him as I do now. I have never felt as thirsty for His presence as I am now. The world itself never felt so dry and empty and lost without Him.
Thank you all for being close to me and the Monastery this year. I pray for you. I pray for all of us. May Christ’s Incarnation bless us all. May His Birth change the world into a place of salvation – for you, for us, for the generations to come.
Dear Fr Seraphim, This is such a heartening and encouraging post from you. Thank you so much; thank you for waiting and thank you for not just filling the space with any words. Thank you for your longing and your truthfulness. Thank you for your prayers. Deep down, Christ is here and coming – even (in my case) three months on from (as I call it) a heart-attack I did not feel. But the subterranean tectonic plates are being shifted … May Christ bless you richly at this Feast.
Dear Philip, thank God for everything. I do understand (in my heart, not in my brain) that we shall all be more beautiful and more spiritual beings by the time we survive our private (and common) nightmares; I do understand that fire of any kind cleanses one and makes one more aware of the unseen, beyond-this-world realities around us. But – as we all know – that does not make the nightmare any less frightening and the fire any less painful. Thank you for your kind words and thank you for your prayers. Blessed Christmas, dear friend.
Dear Fr. Seraphim, I have known this darkness you are facing. Know that you are held in my prayers and those of the Convent I am Chaplain to. God bless you and keep you strong. Fr.Pip
Dear Fr Philip, that means so much for me. Thank you for your prayers. May we all be blessed by His presence this Christmas.
I met you in Dallas at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Euless. You showed me many of my own errors. Although I only listened to your lecture, and shook your hand briefly, You had a very great effect upon me and others. My brother in Christ, David, and I speak of your visit and your teachings in your podcasts often.
You are loved and very greatly appreciated, here.
The way of death is very wide and easy. The way of life is very narrow and hard. I really didn’t know that until I met you.
This year I will send more help for you monastery. I will try to follow your teachings on imitating monastic practices. I have already begun night prayers. You will always be in those prayers. I owe you a very great debt for your teachings.
Dear Jeff, thank you so much for turning whatever I may have said into something useful for you – this is all God’s work; He can turn rubbish and manure into fruit and flowers. I often think about this when I speak to people, and I ask Christ to take my words and turn them into something useful. Hold on to the night prayer – you will see its flower soon, but it will take a long time for that flower to turn into fruit.
Thank you for your prayer and thank you for your generosity towards the monastery. 2016 is a difficult year, because we need to repair the roof. 2017 will be even more difficult, because I shall finish my fellowship at Oxford in December that year, so that we shall have to move on the island in 2018. To do that, we need to build the monastic house. Patience and hope – I pray for these every moment.
Your lesson is my lesson.
I am grateful for your blog because there are so many blogs out there that just spew a post to stay in peoples’ minds. I like waiting for your posts because I know there’s going to be “meat” to it. Thank you for being sincere in your heart and sincere with those of us who read your lessons.
Dear Mona, thank you so much for your kind words. To be honest, I wish I could post more often, because this reflects directly on the donations we receive for the monastery. Unfortunately, people do forget about the monastery when I go through a darker period and am unable to post. But there are other things I can do for the monastery in these silent weeks – we have started writing and editing several booklets (on prayer, on the islands, on the Celtic Saints etc), I can work on videos about the Isles (such as the one we have just uploaded on You Tube and FB) and so on. More than anything else, these forced ‘disappearing acts’ help me pray better for the monastery and all of us; at the end of it all, our prayer matters most. May you have a blessed Christmas, dear Mona.
Dear Fr. Seraphim, Thank you so much for this message. Your words fall like rain on this dusty heart. Christ comes! May the blessings of God be upon you.
May we all be blessed this Christmas, dear Will. Let us try to remember the poor and the sinful and those in captivity of any kind (physical and spiritual), let us turn our minds towards them when we feel happy and joyful. This would help them share a bit of our happiness, and it would hell up share a bit in their cross. At the end of it all, in the eyes of Christ, we are the ones who benefit more from this exchange. A blessed Christmas to you, too.
Dear Fr. Seraphim!
Your podcasts have made a huge difference in my life. Both your words and your silence are meaningful and helpful. I think of you often and am heartened by knowing that you are praying for us all and I am praying for you and the monastery as well. Christ is in our midst.
He is and always shall be. Thank you, dear Johanna. I shall do my best to start recording again after the New Year. Thank you for your prayer, thank you for your support. A blessed Christmas to you.
Thank you for your Holy work and sincerity.May the Lord help you.We pray for you.
Dear s Antonia, thank you for your prayer. Very often I think the only reason I’m still going is the prayer of the wonderful people God has blessed me to meet. May we all have a blessed Christmas. Do not forget those who are in pain and captivity (physical and spiritual) during the Feast.
Dear brother, you are not alone. Your sentiment echoes in many of us. The beauty of our faith is that we are one body in Christ, and together, as one, we can remind each other to keep our eyes on God while we adhere to our faithful walk in Him, the image of God.
There are many of us who love you very much and are constantly praying for you.
God bless you brother. Stay strong in the Lord.
I thank you for your prayers and your encouragement. May God bless you for your love.
Dear Fr Seraphim,
As we celebrate the Nativity of Jesus Christ, may we be open to the Holy Spirit sent by our Lord, so that we can work together to manifest His presence on earth.
Sending you my prayers,
It’s the first I’m reading.I cried. The picture, too.
Dear Sanda, may God bless your heart for your love. The painting belongs to a great friend of the Monastery, Dr Mihaela Schiopu, who has made much of her time and talent available for the Monastery – all for nothing; simply out of love and a desire to help any way possible.
I need to learn, think, pray.
Merry Christmas, Father Abbot!
with you in Christ,
Fr. James +
Merry Christmas, dear Father James. I pray you have had a beautiful and blessed Nativity Feast. Please keep me and the monastery in your prayers.
Dear Fr Serafim,
I want to wish you a blessed Christmas season! Thank you thank you for sharing your thoughts and heart with us. Your words always move something in my spirit. I believe it’s because God speaks his Truth through you. Did you create the painting? It’s so raw and beautiful!
You and the monastery are in my prayers. I have a fund raising idea which I will email you about.
Many blessings to you and yours!
Dear Rhonda, thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. The painting is one of the many works donated to the Monastery by Dr Mihaela Schiopu, a professional painter and professor at the University in Bucharest. She has also painted, designed and edited (all for nothing in return) two booklets for the Monastery; I shall write more about them in January and make them available for purchase. Please write to me concerning your fundraising idea.
May we all be blessed.
We arespending Christmas and New Year on the Isle of Mull. I went over to Kilninian yesterday and was really sad to see the state of the Church which looked very neglected. It is two years since the storm damage to the roof, but it still has “temporary” plastic sheeting over the ridge and the distinctive stone bell cote is still missing. No public access to a historic spiritual building – not even to the small vestry housing the ancient carved grave slabs. The wooden gate to the path leading to St. Ninians well was a great improvement to the previous wooden pallet, but this is now broken. There is no notice about who owns the Church or the plans for a monastery – it just looks like a derelict building. I know Fr Serfim travels a lot, but is there nobody on Mull looking out for the building? Could some of the money raised be used to carry out much needed repairs to the existing Church building? I am sorry to say that the site is currently a very poor advertisement for the Orthodox Church.
Dear David, this is all sad and true. The temporary repairs you have seen are the third set of repairs we paid for, while waiting for the insurance company to agree to a settlement. The main problem is not the storm that happened in 2013, but the state of neglect Kilninian was left in for decades by its previous owners. The current state of the timber work was not generated by a storm. The woodworms that affected it beyond repair were left untreated for many decades before the storm. The water ingress and all the other factors that contribute to the current state of the church were there long before we obtained Kilninian.
We are going to repair the church, and we are going to bring it back to life, but things take time. One cannot repair over night the results of decades of neglect. I travel precisely to raise the necessary funds. We have filmed an appeal video (which I should post on the site, as well; thank you for reminding me). We have written, edited and published two booklets, and we shall publish four other ones by the end of 2016. We are organising pilgrimages, lectures, parish meetings all over the UK and, whenever we have the chance, in the US. We are doing our best to update this site, to record online podcasts etc etc.
We are doing all we can to bring Kilninian back to life. Orthodox people usually come from poor countries and do not have the financial strength of other denominations. Fortunately, they have wonderful hearts and are immensely dedicated. This will happen, but it will take time. All precious things take time.
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