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Location: Etna - 41º 26' 31.27" N 122º 54' 07.60" W [My Grid Square is CN81nk] KB7BNW@KF6ZSY Elevation: 3032 feet above sea level,, California, United States

All my life was a preparation to the pinnacle of my being, meeting and knowing Father Seraphim. Everything in my life led to this. Since his death I can find no peace of heart unless everything in my life is in some way an awareness of the reality that I am living the rest of my life the way I am, because I met and knew Father Seraphim.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vladika Andrew: Please Forgive Me !!!

For too long I have not pushed these buttons. It will be two years on September 2(n.s.). While digging around in things that perhaps I should not have been digging in I ran across this ever-memorable article. It describes an account rarely found in American Orthodox Circles. When I realized that it had been 10 years since this was last shared with the public my heart sunk with a sudden "thud"! It has been 80 days since the 30th Anniversary of the repose of a Holy One of our own time and who has even taken notice of it? It surely was not me. My head was in the clouds as I zipped to and fro in my self-important religiosity. While only Orthodox Christianity can have "Spiritual Religiosity" due to the incarnation of God the WORD this is not to say that an individual (Me, Myself and I) cannot hide behind an "Non-Spiritual Religiosity" Whatever my intent ... I know one thing: I was not thinking of Father Adrian (Later to become our Beloved Archbishop Andrew). 30 Years! Thirty Years! T H I R T Y - Y E A R S! Oh! How Low Orthodox Christianity Has Fallen In Only Thirty Years! Oh Vladika Andrew Please Pray For Me. You have attained "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" Ephesians 4:13 May this humble effort to remember you be pleasing to Christ Our True God. AMEN!

Father Adrian


(Later Archbishop Andrew Rymarenko)




By Father Herman

Excerpts from the forthcoming book of the St. Herman Brotherhood


AMERICA has seen a number of outstanding Orthodox pastors who, because of their dedication to the promotion of the strictly traditional inheritance bequeathed to them by Holy Russia, were not accepted by today's Orthodox modernists, whose main concern has been to adjust Orthodoxy to the ways and fashions of our contemporary post-Christian society. For this reason Archbishop Andrew remained obscure to present-day ecclesiastical leaders and those within their sphere of influence. And due to the fact that Orthodox Christians are not wise in the ways of this world, they have not promoted their great leaders, who during their lifetime did have a great influence, but only upon those who were of one mind with them. Thus, historically, men like Archbishop Andrew are doomed to fade away.
But what about the young generation that is not at home in the modern world, and that depends for its survival upon the passing on of tradition? These men and women need spiritual heroes for their own times. Therefore, by making these heroes available to them, by looking into that which moved them, not only are the young seekers enriched, but new life is also breathed into the memory of these spiritual giants.
We present here some short excerpts from the forthcoming book, Fr. Adrian: Disciple of the Optina Elders, portions of which appeared in Russky Palomnik (Russian Pilgrim) no. 18.

—Father Herman


One time, having concluded my regular visit to my elder [Fr. Adrian], I decided to stay for Sunday Vespers, since after the service he would come out to the ambo with an open book of St. Theophan the Recluse and, standing there, gesturing with his arms, would give a talk on some chapter or other. For the most part it would be from his favorite book, Blessed are the Undefiled, St. Theophan's commentary on the 118th Psalm. He would explain this book by chapter every Sunday evening. He was usually quite animated, and I always tried to take in as much as possible. This Sunday was especially interesting, since he was speaking about Invisible Light and the Light of Tabor.
I stood in the middle of the church and attended with thirst to his every word, since his discourse was usually about the philosophical-psychological perception of spiritual life. I looked at him, admiring his swiftly galloping, profound thoughts and suddenly I began to suspect that, speaking about Uncreated Light, he was speaking as if he himself had seen it, and was describing it, not theoretically, but obviously from personal experience. He was not just opening it up a little or hinting, but was speaking openly, revealing Divine mysteries before all the people. I marveled in spirit and did not believe my ears. Is it possible, I thought, that I alone understand this and the others are not excited by such a revelation? But my elder, as if seeing my confusion, my animated interest, was looking directly at me and, as if addressing his narrative to me personally, not paying attention to the others in the church, continued. I was embarrassed and glanced back as if to check myself—was I understanding like the others what mysteries he was revealing?
And oh, the horror! Behind me were standing very few people—and they were not listening to him, and were even yawning, opening their mouths wide and stretching themselves. Fr. Adrian continued, not confused by anything. Now I understood in an instant—not everyone hears, as is said in the Gospel: He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. But here there was no interest to hear! I froze—then moved forward, and always remembered that such mysteries are obviously not given to all to hear. Fr. Adrian continued to cast forth the pearls he had spiritually accumulated for years, and I went up closer to the iconostasis and listened to him—with fear. And with such fear that I did not dare afterwards to question him plainly. So I departed in a state of spiritual terror, clearly recalling St. Seraphim's Conversation with Motovilov.
I later asked Fr. Adrian to elucidate it for me, but nothing ever came of this.
The years passed an an occasion came for me to visit him again, twelve years later. He was already quite old, but received me with love, lying on his bed in the same small pink room in which he had first confessed me in 1954, and in which I had often prayed with him subsequently. His health was very poor. This was four years before his repose. I was not able to speak with him about much, and left with hope for the following day. The next day he received me with his former love. He was on his feet; he walked about, seated me in the same armchair on which I had first sat with him, and said, "Well, now I'm yours. What shall I tell you? Tell me everything! I'm very happy to see you." And so on.
Here I asked him whether he had ever seen the Light of Tabor, as he had said from the ambo before the indifference of his listeners. And he related to me, concealing nothing, how on one of his trips to Kholmishche he was with Elder Nektary on the preparatory Sunday of the Last Judgment, before Great Lent. Bolshevism was raging then; the foundations of Holy Russia were falling to pieces and people were perishing from fear and confusion. He too was then in a terrible situation, not knowing how to be a priest at a time of open, fierce persecution against Christianity. He was in need of encouragement and was unable to think about the well-being of church affairs. But it was precisely this which Elder Nektary was occupied with—he was walking around the rooms, gently smiling to himself mysteriously. Then he told Fr. Adrian to prepare himself for Confession, to read the Holy Gospel that was lying right there on a tall analogion. He ordered him to read aloud, while he himself withdrew behind the half-open door into the cell next door.
The Elder was dressed, as always, in a warm, indoor podrasnik, with soft slippers on his feet. He moved away with tiny elderly steps.
Here is how Fr. Adrian himself related it to me:
"Behind the half-closed door I hear his shuffling, as he walked back and forth through the room. Then his footsteps stopped. I finished reading and glanced at the Elder behind the door and cried out! The Elder was all aflame; he was surrounded by a radiance of bright violet light a foot wide! As soon as I cried out everything instantaneously ceased. Obviously the Elder had been in a prayerful state when the Gospel was being read. This supernatural manifestation was given to me to see with my naked eyes so as to strengthen me in the impending trials which the Elder was preparing to lay upon me."
These trials consisted in Fr. Adrian's being sent to a certain village and, not knowing the situation there at all, helping to battle for the position of the Orthodox, as opposed to that of the renovationists. In the midst of all this there lay in store for him coming down with typhus, riding in an open sleigh during a freeze for an entire night, and holding an election in the village he had gone to in order to make the guilty parties repent. And when he returned safely to the Elder after having gone through an enormous number of ordeals, the latter was manifest as one having the authority of a bishop and directing the affairs of the diocese in the absence of the bishop, who had been arrested. The disturbance had been successfully stopped by this! Fr. Adrian had done all this without at all knowing what was going on—he was as it were a lever at the Elder's command, at his holy obedience.
The manifestation of the Light of Tabor was for him a confirmation that there exists another, spiritual world, which opens slightly to those who love and fear God. This was a vision that was like a reflection of the Lord's Transfiguration, about which St. Theophan speaks.
All of this and much more was related to me by Fr. Adrian, who was then already a bishop. He gave me his photograph, an epitrachelion and cuffs as gifts, and said farewell to me—forever. When saying good-bye to me he went out with me to the porch of his little white house and at that moment all the bells rang for the Vigil.
I bowed to him. He embraced me and kissed me, and with an unforgettable smile gave me me some kind and prophetic parting words. Like old times I was enkindled with the ardor of inspiration—and this was my last encounter with him on earth.


The last day of the life of Archbishop Andrew was the Feast of the Holy Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. It was hot summer weather. He received Communion as usual, on all Sundays and feast-days, with reverence. He was very weak, and lay there surrounded by people devoted to him, anticipating the long-awaited hour.
Every day he would listen to three Akathists—the first, to the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, was read by Mother Nona; one to St. Nicholas was read at noon, and one to St. Seraphim in the evening. All the services were transmitted to him from the church by microphone, so that he was with everyone in spirit all the time.
In the evening, towards the end of Matins, my elder was praying especially intensely to the Mother of God, taking out a small icon which his mother had given him and which he always had with him. That day he was praying before it especially strongly and for a long time, as if he were gathering all his strength. This was sensed by all.
Suddenly he began to hemorrhage. His son Sergius and Fr. Alexander (Kiselev) jumped up. Brother Michael was at that time reading the Akathist to the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. Then the Archbishop began to summon everyone in order to say farewell to all and give them his last testament, repeating that he was dying and asking everyone's prayers for him. He began, especially forcefully, to cry out, "Most Holy Theotokos, save me!"—and he uttered other prayers as well. When he broke out in a cold sweat he cried out, "I'm dead!" and instantly grew pale and became white as snow.
Fr. Alexander ran to the adjoining room to grab the epitrachelion, the very one under which Elder Nektary had died when Fr. Adrian was holding it fifty years earlier, but the Archbishop had already left our world. It was on this very day, of Sts. Peter and Paul, that he had walked into Optina Monastery for the first time, and now he was entering the other world.
It was half an hour before midnight.
The bells were rung and all the nuns in black silhouette gathered for prayer and quietly began to sing the 90th Psalm to begin the Pannikhida.
Thus ended the apostolic life of the contemporary disciple of Christ, Andrew.

From a letter of Nun Maria (Stakhovich)

"I was especially overwhelmed by the death of our Archbishop, although we expected it. The 'heart' of our monastery has stopped beating. There are no more like him and we won't find any. The forty days have already gone by… Every day after the Liturgy there was a Pannikhida at the grave; there were always a lot of people.
"This death was marked by certain special manifestations.
"On the eve of the burial, after services in the evening, we were told from the ambo (the church was packed with people) that on the day of his death the children in the summer camp, aged 8 to 15, saw a cross made of clouds in the sky; then it took on the features of a face, and the children recognized it as that of Archbishop Andrew. The face changed into an angel flying upwards.
"From our parish the 15-year-old daughter of Dr. Zarudsky saw it. Fr. Alexander Kiselev questioned each of these children separately. All the children corroborated one and the same thing, which convinces one that this was no fantasy.
"On the day of the burial, after the funeral, Fr. John Legky repeated all this once again from the ambo. If this interests you, you can ask Fr. Alexander Kiselev. His wife, Galina, whom I've known since the last year of high school, later repeated to me what I've written.
"Second: it was many years ago, right after Fr. Adrian's consecration as a bishop. A letter came from a certain Vasilieva. I have her commemoration book here with me—her address is in Calistoga, California. What happened was this. After his consecration as a bishop a letter came to the office from this Vasilieva. Her parents had remained in Russia. As I recall, they were exiled, but their daughter, who had left for America, did not know about their fate. She had a dream: she saw a new peasant cottage, and her mother was sitting in the kitchen; a trap door into the basement was visible, and it was dark there. I don't remember exactly whether her mother told her or whether she understood it herself, but her father was in this basement. She looked and saw that although the cottage was a new one, there was no glass in the windows. She said to her mother, 'Why isn't there any glass?' 'Only Bishop Andrew can do that,' her mother replied. The daughter awoke and began to think that it was going very badly with her parents. It appeared that her father had already died and that it was necessary to pray for their souls. She had to find this Bishop Andrew.
"No matter where she looked—even in various countries—there was in fact no bishop anywhere by the name of Andrew. Thus she had to abandon her intention. I don't remember exactly whether a year or two went by, but soon after his consecration to the episcopate the letter came from her asking him to do a funeral in absentia, and containing a detailed account of her dream.
"Her request was fulfilled. Archbishop Andrew served their funeral in absentia and sent her the charred fragments of the scroll of absolution and a bit of earth. I was assisting at the time. I asked the office to find this letter, but it was difficult for the Bishop to search it out; people wrote so many letters that boxes of them had accumulated."

Through the prayers of the ever-memorable Archbishop Andrew,
Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.

Reprinted from The Orthodox Word
Vol. 34, No. 6 (20) Nov.—Dec., 1998


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