“I Can’t Stop Speaking About Fr. Seraphim!” (+VIDEO)

On the Local Canonization of Fr. Seraphim (Rose)

His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolozi is the Georgian Orthodox Bishop of Akhalkalaki, Kumurdo, and Kari. He converted to Orthodoxy in the early 1980s, during Soviet times. He was then ordained to the priesthood in 1991 by his Holiness the Catholicos, Patriarch Ilia, and was consecrated a bishop in 1996. He holds a PhD in Missiology and Patristics. His diocese in southern Georgia is actually about 97% Armenian, and there are seven Orthodox monasteries and one priest serving a number of parishes.  

In this interview, Met. Nikolozi spoke with us about his love for Fr. Seraphim (Rose) and his recent decision to locally canonize him in his diocese, and about what exactly this means. We were also joined by Michelle from Punks and Monks, a spiritual daughter of Metropolitan Nikolozi.

Met. Nikolozi serving at the grave of Fr. Seraphim at St. Herman’s Monastery in Platina, CA. Photo: Punks and Monks Met. Nikolozi serving at the grave of Fr. Seraphim at St. Herman’s Monastery in Platina, CA. Photo: Punks and Monks     

Meupe,1 some people may be familiar with you from your interviews with Punks and Monks or other outlets, and probably some people are familiar with you from the recent news that you locally canonized Fr. Seraphim (Rose) in your diocese, which we will be talking about.

But before we dive into Fr. Seraphim, let’s give some background information on your diocese. It’s in an area with mainly an Armenian population, and you have seven monasteries and one priest serving several parishes. That’s obviously a unique, unusual situation. Could you tell us some more basic information about your diocese—about the spiritual life there, the monasteries, and so on?

—It’s not easy to speak about it briefly, because it’s the history of Georgia. This area was lost by the Georgian kingdom about 400 years ago and after that it was under the Turkish Empire. We had Orthodox services here but the last bishop was in the seventeenth century. We had some priests who continued their activity, and it returned back to the Georgian Church in the beginning of the nineteenth century.

So it’s a problematic area. On the one hand, it borders Turkey, and throughout this whole period the Turks were enemies of our country, of the Soviet Union, because Turkey was a member of NATO, so it was absolutely impossible to go to this area. On the other hand, we have the border with Armenia here, and so 97% of our population is Armenians. It’s not an ethnic problem, but they are not Orthodox. They are Monophysites, and even not Monophysites; but in these kinds of mountain regions throughout Georgia, the people reverted to their pagan roots throughout these seventy years. They call themselves Christians of course, but their rule of life, how they live, is very close to paganism. And now we have to bring them back to Christianity.

It was the idea of His Holiness the Patriarch to renew the diocese there, and that’s why we began the St. Nina’s Way pilgrimage2 in 1989. St. Nina walked from this area to the capital of ancient Georgia. And so with these pilgrimages, we began to get to know this area and these people for the first time. Only a few Georgians have remained, but we manage to find them. And after I became a little more familiar with this area, I requested to make this a separate diocese, which we did. We have two regions here, and I have been the bishop of this area since 2002.

And about my parishes, I want to say that we have ancient churches in the Georgian villages here that were closed 400 years ago, and one by one we are opening them and inviting parishioners. Our one priest travels around, and sometimes we invite priests from another diocese, so that these villagers can have the Liturgy.

The seat of the diocese is in Akhalkalaki, which means, “New City.” We built a new church there, very small, in 2005, because there was no Orthodox church in this city of 11,000 people. I serve in this chapel and our priest travels.   

Thank you for that background. As people have read in the news, you recently canonized Fr. Seraphim (Rose) for your own diocese—a local canonization. Georgia has thousands of its own saints from the past nearly 2,000 years. So why take this initiative, why this interest in our American convert, Fr. Seraphim?

—I have a personal reason for this. Like most people in Georgia I was baptized as a baby, but I didn’t feel like an Orthodox Christian. I wasn’t living according to the Church’s teachings. I didn’t know how to pray. I was interested in Christian culture and I was reading the Bible, but I wasn’t a churched believer.

Photo: sthermanmonastery.com Photo: sthermanmonastery.com I first received Holy Communion when I was twenty-five, and I fasted and confessed. Before that, the first book I read at that time was Fr. Seraphim’s book, The Soul After Death. He reposed in 1982, and this was 1985.

Michelle: The book had been translated into Russian and bootlegged [published in samizdat.—Ed.], because it was illegal to have religious books at that time.

—Yes, so I borrowed this book from somebody and I read it, and that’s why I decided to become an Orthodox Christian. He was my first teacher. Then I received Holy Communion, and soon I decided to find a spiritual father. My spiritual father is Metropolitan Daniel, but at that time he was a priest.

Then, it was in 1990 or 1991 or so when Fr. Gerasim, now Bishop Gerasim of Ft. Worth, came to Georgia for the first time, and we met completely by chance. We didn’t know each other and hadn’t planned to meet. It was God’s will. And when he told us he was a spiritual child of Fr. Seraphim, we were so happy. At that time, we had two of his books in Georgian, which Fr. Gerasim was very happy to see. That’s how we began to have living contact with St. Herman’s Monastery in Platina. I first visited Platina in 2001 because I wanted so badly to see everything I’d read about in the books.

I want to show you something. When I became a priest in 1991, I created this notebook with all the prayers a priest needs. It’s thirty years old and it’s been on some adventures with me. And here on the last page is a troparion to Fr. Seraphim:

Oh, our wise and meek Fr. Seraphim, righteous monk of the last times, teacher of the Holy Fathers and Scripture, whose constant counsel was humility, intercede before Christ God with all the saints that our souls may be saved.

A monk of Platina wrote this troparion for Fr. Seraphim, and Bishop Gerasim gave it to me thirty years ago. I prayed this prayer every day.  

But Fr. Seraphim is not the only one I’m concerned about who isn’t canonized. I think we need these canonizations, because with their their lives, with their experiences they will help us. And Fr. Seraphim isn’t the only person from America—I also very much want Br. José Muñoz Cortés to be canonized, and also Fr. George Calciu, whom I learned about from Fr. Seraphim. His lecture about Orthodox vision was translated into Georgian in the early 80s.

But I decided that one of them needs to be canonized, and really already was canonized. Do you know why? Because when I told my parishioners in Georgia that I was going to the United States for the fortieth anniversary of Fr. Seraphim’s departure on September 2, 2022, and to call for his canonization, they had only one question: “He isn’t canonized yet?” All the people were sure he was canonized. That’s why I think we need precisely Fr. Seraphim.

I received a letter from Bishop Jerome of ROCOR, and he asked me how it’s possible to canonize someone you know from the internet. But it’s not true—I don’t know him from the internet. I know him personally because of his writings, and when I was in Platina for his anniversary, I met people who knew him personally and I heard their talks—which was very interesting.

And I told everyone that day that we need to organize a conference in my diocese and invite people who knew him, as well as people who didn’t know him. I didn’t know him personally but he participated in my life.

Michelle: I’m sure you know, Jesse, that Meupe’s story is not unique. There are thousands of people who were brought to Orthodoxy in Russia and Georgia and the former Soviet Union as a whole by Fr. Seraphim’s books translated into their native tongue.

A parishioner at my church told me there was a magazine being produced by Fr. Seraphim and the St. Herman Brotherhood in the early 80s that was being smuggled into Russia, and this parishioner was brought to Orthodoxy by this magazine. Fr. Seraphim was an exemplary mission to the Soviet people who were starved for spirituality as a whole. So Meupe’s example is amazing, but not unique.

At the thirtieth anniversary of Fr. Seraphim in 2012, Bishop Daniel of the Bulgarian Church, who was the serving in America at that time, said essentially the same thing—that when communism fell and all the people in Bulgaria were returning to the Church, they were all reading Fr. Seraphim. It’s the same story.

—And one more reason why I think it’s absolutely necessary: You mentioned my PhD. There aren’t many PhDs on the subject of missiology. There are maybe a few books about it, so I really wanted it to be the topic of my PhD. I was doing it at St. Tikhon’s University in Moscow, and they had no experience with dissertations in this area, so they suggested to make it inter-disciplinary: missiology and Patrology. I took many ideas from Fr. Seraphim on missiology, and in fact I learned this word from him, that it’s the theology of missions. He gave a wonderful talk that was published as, “In Step with Sts. Patrick and Gregory of Tours,” which has some very important, fundamental missiological ideas that I used in my PhD and that I’m now teaching at the missiology school for priests in my diocese.

Met. Nikolozi with an icon of Fr. Seraphim gifted to him by the St. Herman's Brotherhood. This icon now hangs in his chapel in Georgia. Photo: Fr. Seraphim Rose - A Tribute (Telegram) Met. Nikolozi with an icon of Fr. Seraphim gifted to him by the St. Herman's Brotherhood. This icon now hangs in his chapel in Georgia. Photo: Fr. Seraphim Rose - A Tribute (Telegram) So this is another reason why I think he’s very important for twentieth and twenty-first-century Christians, and this canonization will give people the chance to learn more about Fr. Seraphim and for him to reach more and more people. He doesn’t need this. We need it. We need him to be canonized, we need to speak about him, to use his icon, to read prayers to him, his akathist; so it’s for us, and for me. I promised ROCOR when I was at Jordanville last year, also in Platina and when I met the Serbian Bishop Maxim, that we’ll gently wait for their act of canonization. But unfortunately I wasn’t able to do this. [laughs].

Michelle: I want to go back and flesh out about how he said that this project isn’t just about Fr. Seraphim. His project is about the need to identify and glorify modern saints for the purpose of missionizing future generations of Orthodox Christians, and particularly today’s youth. One of the reasons that Fr. Seraphim is so important to him is his personal story, but it’s also because of this principle that we need modern saints who understand the struggles for Orthodoxy of today and tomorrow, and the struggles of today’s youth. Both Fr. Seraphim and Fr. George Calciu communicated exactly what today’s youth need to hear in their time period. They somehow had this understanding in their time period that it applies today, in terms of nihilism and the persecution against Christianity as a whole that is still so important for today’s youth to hear. So this is part of Meupe’s mission, to identify these new saints.

He mentioned a conference in his diocese. We are in the process of organizing this conference, called the Luminaries Summit, and the purpose is to identify and discuss potential saints who have not yet been canonized, as well as saints who have already been canonized, like St. Gabriel (Urgebadze).

—And I participated in the canonization of St. Gabriel, whom I knew personally, although at first I was the one bishop who objected. I had only one question: Are we ready to do this? It wasn’t because I didn’t think he was a saint. I never doubted that. When I met him, I was just a student of the theological academy. I wasn’t ordained. I began to have contact with him and I never doubted that he’s a saint—absolutely, from the first meeting.

But I was worrying about whether the people were ready to receive him as a saint or not. So when the Synod was discussing it, I said it’s too early to canonize him. And nobody had anything to say against this. I mentioned that it’s a rule in the Church that if there are still people alive who knew him, he can’t be canonized yet. After we all die, then they’ll do it. And after two years, at another session of the Synod, His Holiness looked at me and said it’s already late to be canonizing him. Then he asked the opinion of every bishop, and I said I’m absolutely sure that he’s a saint, but how I can decide something like this? To decide if someone is a saint or not, you have to be somehow close to him—I mean in terms of spiritual level. And I said I’m not on a level where I can see him. But the Patriarch gave us this opportunity, this power to canonize him, and we did it.

And now I feel that I can do the same with other saints. If someone had told me in 1985 when I first read Fr. Seraphim’s book that he’s a saint, of course I would have believed him. I would be sure he’s a saint, but I had no possibility or any idea of speaking about this, because I had no right to have any opinion about it. But now I have responsibility, and I speak about people about whom I’m absolutely sure.

Another example I can tell you about is Patriarch Pavle of Serbia. He came here to Georgia, and I met him. And I’m absolutely sure that he needs to be canonized. But the Serbian Church needs to do this.

About Fr. Seraphim, there are some problems, because he belonged to ROCOR, and later his monastery came under the Serbian Church—so who is supposed to canonize him? That’s why I decided somehow to try to be the first. I did not canonize him in the typical way, but I said that I trust and venerate him as a saint, and as a bishop I have the right do this.

Perhaps this concept of local canonization isn’t familiar to many people, but for instance, we’ve had many news articles about local canonizations in the Ukrainian Church. Some people may have doubts about locally canonizing Fr. Seraphim, but for the time being, it’s just your diocese.

But how will you celebrate his fast day, September 2? You showed us that you have a troparion, but are there going to be any other hymns? Are you commissioning a service to be composed in his honor?

Photo: pravoslavie.ru Photo: pravoslavie.ru     

—I think because it’s not an official Synodal canonization, we’re not going to do all this. If it’s possible, I will go to Platina again on September 2 to participate in the Liturgy at his grave.

Another question is what can I do as a bishop so as not to break the rules of the Church? And this is why I want to organize a conference dedicated to him, to speak about this.

Earlier this year I made a presentation at a conference entitled, “The Process of Canonization and Mission.” And the process of canonization is mission, and it gives me the opportunity to speak more and more about the saint. For thirty years, I’ve been receiving this information from Fr. Seraphim’s writings and trying to transform it and present his ideas—the general idea of mission—but now I tell people that I personally canonized him, which gives me the possibility of speaking more about Fr. Seraphim.

And young people are interested in this, because it’s something new, something unusual in the Church; I asked for Fr. Seraphim and Fr. George Calciu to be the patrons of our Church’s work with the youth. And I am trying to give an example of going on pilgrimage to his grave.

Also, I made a rule for myself to speak about the saints whose relics we have, and I have something from him. I have a pocket from one of his cassocks and also hairs from his beard. These are relics! So I will speak about him, and maybe the Church will officially canonize him as a saint. I think so! I hope, and if not, that’s also okay, because it’s a process of canonization.

Michelle: I’m not sure if you are aware of this Jesse, but an akathist has been written to him by Timothy Honeycutt, and a service has been written for him by Fr. Euphrosynos at Archangel Michael Monastery in New Mexico. That’s an important piece of the process as well. I’m sure that we will continue gathering these services and prayers that have been written.

And that’s part of the inspiration for our conference. We are inviting people around Fr. Seraphim, Fr. George Calciu, Br. José Muñoz, and Matushka Olga—those are the first four that we’re focusing on for this first conference. We are inviting people who knew them and who venerate them as saints to help us gather this kind of information about them, to help promote the glorification of these holy people. We’re not trying to force anything, but to be a gathering place for these speakers in a place where they can be heard from all over the world.

—There’s something else I wanted to mention. There was a question as to whether there are any historical precedents for this kind of local canonization, and so I began to search and found that of course there are. There is the example of St. Symeon the New Theologian who venerated his spiritual father. His bishop told him it wasn’t right to do so, but he continued, and later the Church recognized that he was right to do so.

We also have examples nowadays. For example, you mentioned the Ukrainian Church. They canonized a saint who was our bishop, without asking us. His name is Metropolitan Seraphim (Mazhuga). I’m absolutely certain he’s a saint, though he’s not canonized in our Church.

He’s connected with the Glink Monastery, correct?

—That’s right. We had several from the Glinsk Hermitage in Georgia, and he was one of the most famous and best bishops of that time. He reposed in the early 80s. So he’s canonized by the Ukrainian Church, not by us, but we also venerate him as a saint.

And in 2001, when I went to San Francisco, I went to venerate St. John (Maximovitch) although we had no Eucharistic union with ROCOR at that time. But Archbishop Kyrill was there, and he said, “I’m not here,” and left me alone with St. John. And I served not a panikhida to him, but a moleben. You understand? That means he’s a saint. Because I venerated him as a saint. You see? So I’m not doing anything wrong by canonizing Fr. Seraphim.

Michelle: Jesse, as you know, there are no Church canons laying out an official process for how someone is canonized. So we have to look at precedent. And what St. Symeon the New Theologian did—and he was only a priest, not even a bishop—is extremely similar to what Meupe has done with Fr. Seraphim.

So Meupe wanted me to read a brief excerpt from the book St. Symeon the New Theologian and Orthodox Tradition by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev):

After adopting a more secluded life, Symeon most likely thought that he would spend the rest of his days in stillness, but further trials awaited him. The former Metropolitan Stephen spoke out against him, accusing him of excessive veneration for his spiritual father, who by this time had long since died. Every year, on the memorial day of his elder, in the monastery there was a solemn celebration which was attended by many. An icon of Symeon the Pious [which was Symeon the New Theologian’s spiritual father—Michelle] was painted and a service to him was written. Stephen reproached Symeon for glorifying his elder as a saint when he had not been officially canonized. Nikitas describes this conflict as a clash of legalistic formalism with genuine spirituality. For Symeon, his spiritual father’s holiness was beyond question and he had no need of official confirmation of his holiness.  

So, this is a clearly glorified saint, one of three Theologians of the entire church, doing exactly what Meupe did. He was initially persecuted for it, but it was later agreed that he was right.

—And what I'm doing, really, is not strictly speaking a canonization, but giving an example of public veneration to the people, to clergy, to bishops, to Churches, saying, “Please follow my example.” And we all have this right to publicly venerate him before he’s canonized. It’s not forbidden in the Church—this is one of the factors that leads to canonization.

The same thing happened with Fr. Gabriel. When I told His Holiness I thought it was too early to canonize him, the Synod decided to wait. We waited for two years, and during this time we were basically forced by people who were venerating him—and it was impossible not to venerate him. And that’s why His Holiness said it’s already late to canonize him. We should have done it earlier, so as not to be forced.

And I think it’s the same situation with Fr. Seraphim. Even if these Churches won’t make this decision, eventually they will be forced to do so, because he is a saint.

Georgian, Serbian, Romanian, and Greek icons of Fr. Seraphim Georgian, Serbian, Romanian, and Greek icons of Fr. Seraphim     

Fr. Seraphim is venerated all throughout the Orthodox world. There are millions of people who are waiting for his official synodal glorification.3

And if I’m not mistaken, you even spoke with some canon law experts to get their advice on how to proceed?

—Yes, I spoke with them just to be sure that it was okay for me to do this. Because I did it first, and after that I asked their advice. And they said I can do this for myself, I can venerate, but I have no authority to write up a document of official canonization.

Michelle: He had already made this announcement in his diocese and then he experienced some pushback. So he said, “I know I’m right, but I just need to double-check that there isn’t some canon I’ve violated that I’m not aware of.” So he reached out to some canon law experts and they said he definitely hadn’t violated anything.

Although there’s been pushback from some people, does it seem that other members of the Georgian Synod are inspired to follow your initiative? Does there seem to be any movement to take up the cause?

—I think no one in the Synod is against his canonization, but I’m not sure they’ll agree that our Local Church should be the first to do it. I have to convince them that we need to do it, but I have no arguments for why it should be us. As I told Bp. Maxim, we are gently waiting for their decision, and I think they should be the ones to do it.

There was another interesting case, when the Polish Church told us they had all the materials prepared to canonize Fr. Gregory (Peradze), a Georgian priest who had served in Poland and was martyred by Nazis in Auschwitz. So they had everything ready, but they asked that we canonize him, and then they would follow our example. So we canonized him in 1995, with their help.

And I think that if the Serbian Church or some other Church would canonize Fr. Seraphim, then one of the first to accept him as a saint will be the Georgian Church. I don’t think any bishops will object.

And the same kind of thing happened just a few years ago when I went to Dochariou Monastery on Mt. Athos. I was there on the fortieth day of the repose of the abbot Fr. Gregory, whom I personally knew very well. And I told them that I have the authority to speak about him, to venerate him, and now his icon is in my chapel. I had it there before I put up the icon of Fr. Seraphim. And I told them that perhaps my veneration will help their bishops decide to canonize him. He was a living saint, whom I knew. I’m absolutely sure. He helped me very much, and I know many examples of how he helped people spiritually.

He was close with Metropolitan Onuphry.

—Very much, and also with Bishop Jonah of Obukhov, also from the Ukrainian Church. Fr. Gregory said that we have to support Metropolitan Onuphry. He spoke a lot about him, and that’s why I trust Metropolitan Onuphry, because he’s a very respectable person.

And another thing about Fr. Gregory: As you read the lives of the saints, you see that there were some who gave advice to those who came to them even without knowing their language. And I had this experience with Fr. Gregory. I had a very important question for him, but we were alone down by the water, without a translator, and he completely understood what I was asking. Then by chance, along came someone whose English was very poor, and he translated just two or three words from Fr. Gregory, and he explained to me what he wanted to say, and his words were absolutely amazing for me.

So, to go back to Fr. Seraphim, I’m finding more and more messages from him. I told you I’ve been using his lecture on St. Patrick for many years now. The more I read it, the more I find new ideas. And everything written in this book I find in the lives of the saints. For example, I’ve been reading the book of St. Gregory of Tours, The History of the Francs, and I’m finding all the stories that Fr. Seraphim told.

As I learn more and more, I realize that Fr. Seraphim understood St. Gregory very deeply. It’s very interesting. He’s very wise.

It can be easy to misunderstand Fr. Seraphim at first. He speaks about deep things, but in very plain language. It almost hides the fact that it’s so deep.

Michelle: And that’s why he’s so necessary for the new generations, because he’s able to take these complex ideas and distill and convey them in modern English in a way that today’s youth can understand.

And his teaching about the royal path is very important—not veering off to the right, not becoming super correct. Especially in the internet age, it’s very easy to stumble across some Old Calendarist [or to the contrary, some liberal.—Ed.] website, for example, and become confused by it. Fr. Seraphim can steer you back to the royal path.

—Absolutely, absolutely.  

Michelle: Speaking of the royal path, you may have seen the video of Bishop Gerasim from the conference in Tbilisi in February. He was a spiritual son of Fr. Seraphim, and a former abbot of St. Herman’s, and he’s very concerned about how some people have used Fr. Seraphim’s words as weapons against people. He doesn’t condone this at all. In his talk, he shows that Fr. Seraphim was speaking in a different context, that this isn’t a correct interpretation of Fr. Seraphim’s words. This is what Fr. Seraphim says, that we can’t be extremists on either side—we have to follow the royal path.

We were speaking of how he teaches deep theological concepts. But how are his theological teachings received in Georgia? From his life we can see he was a holy struggler, but for instance, in America, some of his teachings can be controversial—especially on the topics of creation and evolution and the toll houses. Is there any kind of serious debate about these topics in Georgia? Do people in Georgia doubt the sanctity of Fr. Seraphim because of what he taught on these issues at all?  

—I think his teachings on these topics are not so well known in Georgia. Not all of his books have been translated into Georgian. One of the reasons I had this canonization was to bring more information about Fr. Seraphim to my people.

I translated “In Step with Sts. Patrick and Gregory of Tours” into Georgian. I worked on it for a few months, and it took twice as long to edit it. I gave it to a few people to make sure it’s understandable in the Georgian language. Then I published it, and at the same time, I discovered another translation of it into Georgian. But I couldn’t understand it at all. It seemed like nothing was from Fr. Seraphim. Of course, it was a translation, but it was absolutely impossible to understand what Fr. Seraphim was trying to say. The translation is very important.

Fr. Alexey Young (now Hieroschemamonk Ambrose) with his spiritual father, Fr. Seraphim (Rose) Fr. Alexey Young (now Hieroschemamonk Ambrose) with his spiritual father, Fr. Seraphim (Rose)     

Everyone loves to have an opinion on the topic of creation and evolution; but at least in the English-speaking world, Fr. Seraphim was the first one to say, “Let’s deeply study the Fathers on this issue. What did the Fathers say?” And for at least some of the Fathers he quoted, he was the first one to translate them. Fr. Seraphim teaches us this approach of sticking with the Fathers.

Another spiritual child of his, Fr. Alexey Young (now Fr. Ambrose), said Fr. Seraphim accepted everything from the Fathers, from the lives of the saints. He had crucified his mind. He didn’t become stupid, but he submitted his mind to the Church. And that’s the same as the royal path—following the Fathers.

But one last question, Meupe. You said as you read Fr. Seraphim’s writing, you find more and more messages. Is there perhaps one main message that you connect with Fr. Seraphim? Or is there something that has struck you lately?

—I want to say that of course Fr. Seraphim isn’t presenting new ideas. They are fundamental ideas, but it’s about how he says them. It’s absolutely new and fresh. In our modern world, everyone knows about Christianity, and many have gotten tired of it. It’s more difficult to bring this message about Christ than it was in the times of St. Patrick. It was something new for people then. To simply try to repeat what St. Patrick did today will absolutely not be successful. You have to learn what’s happening now in this world, what are the important challenges of the world now, and be inspired by his spirit. And then you decide what to do with it and how to bring this message. And Fr. Seraphim himself is doing this—he is bringing the message of Christianity.

He talks about how we won’t be able to be like the Apostles today. We can’t just try to imitate them mechanically. Nothing good will come of that, he says. But read him. Know St. Patrick and be inspired by his spirit. And with this inspiration we can preach.

I first read this from Fr. Seraphim thirty years ago, and I try to follow it and not despair because we can’t just be like the Apostles. And then I later learned the words of the Apostle Paul who tells Timothy that if there’s time for preaching, then preach; but if there’s no time, preach anyway.

So that’s Fr. Seraphim’s message, I think. He did this, and he reached us, even all the way over here in Georgia, before the world of the internet.

Meupe, do you have any other thoughts about Fr. Seraphim you would like to share before we close?

—Just one thing I want to say. The Apostle Paul says he’s forced to preach—it’s not his will, but an obligation—it’s impossible for him not to preach. And it’s the same for me about Fr. Seraphim.

So why did I canonize him? Because I wasn’t able to do it any other way. I’m so thankful to him now, and whereas before I wasn’t sure how to speak about him, how to express my thoughts, now I’ve learned how to do this. And now I can’t stop speaking about him, expressing my thanks, and about how I’m dependent upon him, about how he helps me. I have to give back to him

And that is really like Fr. Seraphim. He was so grateful that after all his internal sufferings he found Orthodoxy that he had to completely dedicate himself to it, propagating the Orthodox word in English, and suffer for that truth.

—Actually, one more thing I’d like to tell you—I can’t stop speaking about Fr. Seraphim! When Fr. Seraphim speaks about St. Macarios the Great, a recluse who lived in the sixth century, he says that he writes directly to us, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. And if you read him, you’ll see that he’s talking about you, and he’s following the same path that you have to follow. I first learned this idea from Fr. Seraphim, and it gave me more peace about the idea that Orthodoxy isn’t something strange.

You are American Orthodox and I am Georgian Orthodox, and of course there are major differences between us. But we are members of one family. Maybe we speak in different languages, but we are really speaking the same language. We are the same, and it’s a great miracle. And this idea comes from Fr. Seraphim.

Meupe, I’m very grateful that you shared your time and your love and veneration of Fr. Seraphim with us. You’ve said many inspiring things. It’s always wonderful to hear more testimonies of people he has personally changed. And thank you, Michelle.

—May God bless you and everyone who will watch and read this, through the prayers of Fr. Seraphim, Fr. George Calciu, Br. José, Matushka Olga, and so many others who are awaiting canonization. These people will help you, because it’s later than you think.

1 Meupe is the Georgian equivalent of Vladyka.

2 As Michelle explained, St. Nina’s Way is a forty-two-day pilgrimage that follows the route that St. Nina took from the border of Armenia to Mtskheta to find the seamless robe of Christ. Her journey began on June 1 near Lake Paravani. In 1989, Patriarch Ilia charged Metropolitan Nikolozi and his spiritual father, Metropolitan Daniel, to begin taking Georgians on this route annually. At the beginning of the pilgrimage, everyone is given a prayer rope, and the forty-two days are largely spent in silent prayer, with morning and evening prayers in villages along the way. Locals house and feed the pilgrims.

3 During a pilgrimage to Greece, Mt. Athos, and Serbia several years ago, I was struck by how all the Orthodox faithful were happy to learn that my friends and I were Americans and would excitedly ask us about Fr. Seraphim.—Auth.

See also
Fr. Seraphim (Rose) as a Symbol of Our Times Fr. Seraphim (Rose) as a Symbol of Our Times
Monk Vsevolod (Filippev)
Fr. Seraphim (Rose) as a Symbol of Our Times Fr. Seraphim (Rose) as a Symbol of Our Times
Monk Vsevolod (Filippev)
Aren’t there enough Church writers in our days? There are enough. So why do we honor Fr. Seraphim? Why do Orthodox hearts on every continent respond to his words? Is it not because the Lord exalted him and sanctified him with spiritual gifts while he was still alive? And we are drawn to Fr. Seraphim, sensing this holiness with our hearts.
"Fr. Seraphim Was a Whole Man, and Therefore He Was a Healed Man"
A Conversation with Fr. Ambrose Young and Mother Theadelphi On Fr. Seraphim Rose
"Fr. Seraphim Was a Whole Man, and Therefore He Was a Healed Man"
A Conversation with Fr. Ambrose Young and Mother Theadelphi On Fr. Seraphim Rose
Jesse Dominick, Fr. Ambrose Young, Mother Theadelphi
"I think he was probably the closest we will ever get to seeing or knowing someone like St. John or St. John of Kronstadt who was also a whole person. I think there are just so few of us in the Church, much less outside of the Church. We’re just very broken and wounded in this culture and in this society. And so it was wonderful to see someone who was healed because he just accepted everything, believed it and did it."
An Unpublished Life of Fr. Seraphim Rose, Written By His Godfather An Unpublished Life of Fr. Seraphim Rose, Written By His Godfather
Dimitri Andrault de Langeron
An Unpublished Life of Fr. Seraphim Rose, Written By His Godfather An Unpublished Life of Fr. Seraphim Rose, Written By His Godfather
Dimitri Andrault de Langeron
Father Seraphim always said: "Keep your mind in Heaven and your feet on earth." This was the essence of his philosophy, the secret of his influence on people: his approach was practical, "down to earth," but at the same time ascetic and spiritual. He valued humility and moderation, and had a great respect for the opinions of others. He was patient, gentile and full of love. He always repeated: "Don't blame others. Blame yourself. Don't justify yourself. Always look at your own sins, and don't judge your brother."
sherlock_holmes5/19/2023 10:53 pm
" But, O Lord, my Lord, Who alone art good and merciful, grant me tears of compunction, that therewith I may entreat Thee to cleanse me of every sin before the end; for fearsome and dreadful is the place whither I shall go when [my soul] is separated from the body, and a dark and inhuman horde of demons shall I encounter, and I shall have no companion to help and deliver me...." Prayers after the fourth Kathisma...or after the 17th Kathisma.
Dionysius Redington5/17/2023 7:01 am
Popular canonisation was normal in the early Church. It was especially common in the British Isles, which makes it natural for English-speakers in some sense. Officialdom has been slow with Fr. Seraphim because of the toll-house issue (which caused a very divisive debate within ROCOR at one point in its history) and perhaps because of what happened to Platina shortly after his repose. However, he wasn't responsible for the latter, and even people who disagree about toll-houses or some other issue should bear in mind that acknowledging him as a saint is not the same as declaring him infallible. The absurd slowness of canonising the (so far as I know) uncontroversial Mat. Olga is even harder to understand. --Dionysius Redington
Luke N5/16/2023 6:42 pm
Thank you for this wonderful interview. Fr. Seraphim Rose is truly a light from heaven in our times. May he be glorified by his own people soon! Christ is Risen!
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