We are all One

In a few hours, I’m flying to Thessaloniki, from where I’ll get the bus to Ouranopolis, the port to Mount Athos. I’ll be away until January 4th, so have a blessed Feast of the Nativity and a happy New Year.

This has been a tough year, in ways that I cannot even begin to express, and I’m only now starting to feel the effects. Tiredness, hopelessness and fear, sadness to the point of despair – all of these have haunted me relentlessly during the last twelve months. To say that 2016 has not been my favourite year would be too kind, even for my standards. To say that 2016 has been even remotely a good year would be beyond insincerity and would approach hypocrisy.

We have achieved many things for the Monastery, and for that I must thank you. I have tried to let you know, to the best of my ability, how much I appreciate your support. All my hard work, all my best intentions, all my sacrifice would amount to nothing without you and your hard work, your best intentions, your sacrifice. Together, we have done incredible things this year, and I trust that, by the grace of God, we shall do even more in 2017. For all of this, I thank you. You are in my prayer always, where ever life takes me.

That being said, the Monastery exists in this world and cannot ignore the world. Monasteries are doors between this fallen world and the Kingdom, calling our fallen nature to its true prototype, encouraging us on the way, guiding us step by step, as we fight to let go of our fallenness and we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of God. This is why monasteries exist, this is their purpose.

And this is where I’ve fallen mostly in 2016. Although I’ve kept far from the political fights that consumed the world, I have allowed their noise to disturb me, I have allowed them to distract me from the things that truly matter. I have kept silence over the outpouring of hatred that drowned the world over the Council, Brexit or the US elections, but I have not succeeded to hold on to the silence in my heart.

As a monastic, I have no responsibility to get involved in these fights. Monastics are dead to the world, and to get involved is a failure towards one’s calling. When people accused the Abbas of the Desert for refusing to get involved and judge various people or causes, they sent their accusers to the cemetery and told them to ask the dead buried there to judge them. As a monastic, my responsibility is to stand among you, silent and dressed in my black vestment, as a reminder that our true Calling, our true Identity and our true Home are somewhere else.

As the world rages consumed with passion for one cause or the other, a monk’s calling is to silently remind those who have the eyes to see that we are all mortal and that the real fight, the real cause, the real passion should be for something entirely different: the salvation of our souls. All else is dust.

It is my responsibility, therefore, to tell you all that no one won in 2016. There are no winners. We have all lost. We have all allowed hatred and doubt and fear to enter our hearts. We have all judged, we have all looked at Christ’s image, our brother, and saw in him the enemy. We have all built walls: some have built walls against those who are different from them, others have built walls against those who build walls. There is no difference between walls: regardless of what motivates them, they are all expressions of a void in our hearts. That empty void where Love should have been.

I’m going to Mount Athos for two weeks with this in mind. I’m not looking for rest, physical or emotional. I’m going to regain my perspective of the world and myself. I need to taste silence to be reminded of the things that matter. I need to touch holiness so I may redirect my steps toward it. I need to see sparkles of the Kingdom, so I may turn my back to this empty noise and start walking towards Life again.

I leave behind 2016 with a void in my heart. I pray, I pray with all my strength that Love Incarnate will return once more and fill it. I pray for me, I pray for you – the same prayer, for we are all One. We are ALL One.

14 responses

    • Dear Father Seraphim,
      I do hope you enjoyed your trip and are feeling so much more energised and looking forward to 2017.
      I can’t find a personal email for you so forgive me for using this site but I would be so grateful for your opinion on this.
      Im very interested in the Orthodox way and as a Scot excited about your project but I’m unsure of how much Eastern Orthodoxy influenced our great Scottish saints such as Ninian and Columba. I’ve alway believed they were influenced by the Latin/ western church if nothing else but by geography, and that their practice of the mass was of course much more recognizable in that form. I’m aware of the Great Schism, which occurred after their time, and also of the documented differences in practice prior to that due to Eastern or Western influences. Given that these men were well travelled and many visited Rome and not Constantinople that Western influence must have been dominant. Given also that Celtic Christianity, a loose term only, did of course have some differences within it the basic practices must have been influenced by the western/latin church, and I think that may be born out by some of their liturgies. I’m aware of our Gaelic Christian culture/heritage and its wonderful veneration of the natural world and its emphasis on the worship of the Great and Blessed Holy Trinity but regarding all of the other
      above I would be happy for more information.
      With best wishes and much thanks,

  • and you know something? God loves you, with all He has, with all his Love, his Care and his Tenderness he stands just so close to you, and waits until you are ready to drop it all and lay it in his hands and He will embrace you with all his Love, his Care and Tenderness. Go to Athos and come HOME!
    God bless you Father Seraphim! On the day of St. Nicholas my patron, who loves you too!

  • Without other peoples, who serve with you, it is hard to hold on in prayer and service. I am also very alone in spiritual living and it is very helpful, to meet regularly for praying together. I will pray for you to get strength to hold on and not to fall! Without his unbelievable grace, we all had got lost.
    Glory to God in the highness!
    I wish you a blessed feast of the secret of His incarnation!

  • God has always spoken to me through you. Your words do not make the daily wrenching of the heart any easier. But they, somehow, sooth the heart’s suffering as the spiritual screams of a world in crisis are described in a way which the brain can process. Glory to God that He has given you the gift and the courage to do this.

  • Thanks so much for your message Father. Like yourself and many others I have also been struggling with not giving into darkness and despair of the world. The only relief comes with prayer, and the hope in humility, that God will restore love in my heart and hear my (and all) prayers for all of us as His children. May we all continue to strive to humbly serve and love Him and learn to love and treat each other with love and respect.

    Thanks again Father to you and everyone who has assisted you with your important work. You all give much needed hope to the world!!!

  • Dear to God Father Seraphim Aldea;
    My family has ‘discovered’ you only newly this year. We are grateful for your voice and prayers in our lives, and our hearts go out to you.
    I would like to send you a personal letter by ‘snail’ mail. If you would kindly email me with an address I will look forward to sending this to you.
    my email is: man or they (at) gmail (dot) com
    all one word.

    In the irresistible love of Jesus Christ, and in His peace which passes all understanding;
    -Mark (Basil) Northey

    • Dear Basil, thank you for these kind words. I don’t have a permanent address yet – I shall have starting next year, after moving to Mull. So far, I live in Oxford, as I also work for the University here. I shall send you an email, but please don’t waste time and money on me. I am very honest about it. I have all I could possibly need; in fact, I have more than a monk should ever have. If you can help in any way, please support the Monastery. That would make me much, much more happy and grateful. Please keep me in your prayers – that is all I need. In Christ, fr s

  • Dear Father Seraphim
    I have found your audio recordings to be quite profound and touching.
    However the loud bagpipes at the beginning of them are extremely painful, and completely opposed to your sensitive messages. I have take to manually removing them which a lot of work but otherwise I have to reach the aspirin.
    Anyway, I send you love, and may God be with us all.
    Sacha Chander

    • Christ is risen! I can only join you in your pain, dear Chander. I have written to AFR (who have otherwise been amazingly supportive and patient beyond belief with me) to say that that intro simply does not work. I was unable to convince them – perhaps if you wrote to them, they may reconsider. I am (God willing) in process of recording a new series of podcasts and I would love, absolutely love to get rid of it. Thank you for writing, and thank you for being honest about it. As it happens, I cannot agree with you more.

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