The Glorification of St Herman of Alaska, 1970
From the Orthodox Word
For a month before the canonization of St Herman of Alaska itself, memorial services were celebrated for the repose of the ever-memorable elder in all churches of San Francisco Archdiocese after every service -- whether in the full form of a panikhida of the short form of litia.
By the evening services of Friday, July 25/August 7, 1970, many guests had already arrived from afar for the canonization in San Francisco: Bishop Laurus of Manhattan, Secretary of the Synod; Hegumen Vladimir of Holy Trinity Monastery at Jordanville; Archimandrite Cyprian, who with a number of seminarians from Holy Trinity Seminary had already been in San Francisco for some time finishing the frescos in the Cathedral dome, and others.
Beginning at 6 p.m. in the New Cathedral Archbishop Anthony and Bishop Laurus celebrated a Parastas [requiem vigil], and on the next day a requiem Liturgy, at which Archbishop Vitaly also served. At the end of the Liturgy Archbishop Anthony, greeting both his own flock and those who had come for the solemnities, delivered a moving sermon on those who were being commemorated on this day as being especially close to Father Herman. Vladyka gave special attention to the pious parents of the Elder, whose names have not come down to us. He spoke of the importance of the parental blessing and of its grace-filled influence. He named those nearest to Father Herman, such as Abbot Nazarius, his spiritual father; Metropolitan Gabriel, who blessed the sending of the first American Orthodox Mission; the members of this Mission, his friends, the local inhabitants, the clergy in some way connected with him; and those who have venerated Father Herman, beginning with Abbot Damaskin of Valaam, who gave the original impulse that has led, one hundred years later, to the canonization, and concluding with a touching tribute to the radiant figure of Archimandrite Gerasim of Spruce Island, the humble guardian of the Saint's relics, who reposed less than a year before the canonization and now is united with his beloved St Herman.
Here Vladyka Anthony informed the faithful also of a great joy that has come to this God-preserved city and this Cathedral: a particle of the relics of St Herman which had been given years before by Father Gerasim to Holy Trinity Monastery and had now been brought by Hegoumen Vladimir. And through Bishop Andrei, as is representing at these solemnities St. Seraphim's Novo-Diveyevo Convent in New York State, there had been brought a piece of the wooden coffin in which the relics of St Herman had lain for many years. Both of these holy objects had been put in a small silver reliquary and placed on the Saint's Icon, which was to be unveiled at the All-night vigil on this day.
Concluding his sermon, Vladyka told how he had shortly before this had the great good fortune to fly to Alaska in order to venerate the relics of St Herman and beg the Saint's blessing for the celebration of his canonization. Vladyka had gone to Kodiak as a simple pilgrim, without informing the local Metropolia authorities of his intention, and had served at the Saint's relics a private panikhida, singing to himself, begging the Saint's prayers for himself and his flock. With a feeling of great joy and peace he had left the Saint's shrine, bearing this joy to his flock, who now eagerly listened and attended to his appeal to prepare spiritually to greet the newly-revealed saint.
At this the panikhida began, at which for the last time before the canonization were commemorated all the reposed who were close to or who had venerated Father Herman. The panikhida was sung solemnly yet festively, and these beloved names resounded, first from the deacons, then from the pastors and archpastors -- hundred of names, beginning with Abbott Nazarius and ending with the names of the recently deceased who had experienced the Saint's miraculous help. The morning's memorial services ended in a common anticipation of the evening's revelation of a new Saint of God.
Archbishop Tikhon, who spent thirty years in the See of San Francisco, a great ascetic of the spirit, was the first Chairman of the Committee for the Canonization of Father Herman. Being himself a spiritual son of the as yet uncanonized disciple of Optina Monastery, the holy Gabriel of the Pskov - St. Eleazar Monastery, Vladyka Tikhon naturally took very much to heart the matter of St Herman's canonization. How many prayers he offered in the "Old Cathedral" of the Joy of All Who Sorrow, hallowed by years of prayer, so that the event that is now upon us might come to pass! And although he did not live to see this event on earth, still, in the world above he was rejoicing and taking part in spirit.
That day the solemn Divine Liturgy was celebrated early, in order that at its conclusion all present could go to the depot to meet Metropolitan Philaret. Bishop Nektary, Vicar of the San Francisco Archdiocese, was chief celebrant -- he who had been for many years the cell-attendant of Vladyka Tikhon. He began his sermon by depicting a touching image given him by his spiritual father, the great Elder Nektary of Optina Monastery: "When I was in Optina with Elder Nektary, the Elder, in giving me as a cell rule of prayer the "Optina Five-hundred" by prayer rope, said: 'Just think,what a great thing is prayer to the saints! When you merely say, "All saints, pray to God for me," at that moment in the Kingdom of Heaven all, all, all the saints who are at God's Throne bow low simultaneously before the Lord and all together cry out: Lord, have mercy.'"
At six in the evening, with the New Cathedral overflowing with the faithful, the final panikhida for Father Herman was served. Metropolitan Philaret was met by four Archpastors and a great multitude of clergy, who were already shining in white vestments. Archbishop Anthony greeted the Chief Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, making a comparison between his arrival in San Francisco and those triumphant arrivals of great hierarchs in the cities of Holy Russia for the glorification of God's saints.
At the panikhida none of those close to Father Herman was mentioned any longer, and only the blessed Herman himself was commemorated, who in a short time, in the words of Elder Nektary of Optina, would be acknowledged by all as having a place in that choir of saints before God's Throne who hear our earthly petitions and cry out to God, “Lord, have mercy.”
The panikhida proceeded solemnly in the midst of a sea of lighted candles held by the faithful. The entire church was set out in white Paschal array; and even as the evening light was waning and the service for the reposed was proceeding, one already began to sense beforehand the great effusion of light that was about to burst out.
All-night vigil began after the panikhida at seven o'clock. From the altar there arose from a mighty choir of nearly a hundred voices of clergy and servers the opening chant of the vigil: O come, let us bow down...: Then, from the heights of the Cathedral came the thunderous singing of the prefatory psalm, "Bless the Lord, O my soul." "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly" was sung antiphonally by the Cathedral choir and by the choir of seminarians on the cliros below. On "Lord, I have cried," after the choir's singing of the Sunday stichera in Tone 7, on the cliros was heard the first sticheron to St Herman, in the joyous and exalted Tone 3:
Leap up, ye waters of Valaam,
be jubilant ye islands of Alaska,
sing, ye peoples of the New world
let heaven and earth rejoice;
for he who conversed with angels is glorified,
and to the ends of the universe the right faith is proclaimed
and we shall sing out in a great voice to Christ our God:
By the prayers of our Father Herman, O Lord, save our souls.
And indeed, in defiance of space and time, at that moment wondrous Valaam, now prostrate under the Soviet heel, and rejoicing Alaska, and Orthodox believers in America and throughout the world who confess the one true Faith, and the whole choir of Valaam ascetics -- became fused as it were into one body and implored God, for the sake of the prayers of the God-pleasing Herman, to send down His grace to aid them in their earthly pilgrimage. And the Lord, by the prayers of meek Herman, did indeed send down then on earth His mysterious grace, which was clearly felt by all present. The final three stichera to St Herman, and then the "glory," were sung in English of the cliros with yet greater animation than before.
From the view-point of church singing -- not to mention iconography and the whole atmosphere of church services -- no better place, outside of the monasteries, could have been chosen for these solemnities; for the San Francisco Cathedral offers a model and example of feast day hymnody where the appointed stichera are executed with solemnity and completeness and in the full Orthodox tradition -- with two choirs singing antiphonally, the clergy led in their singing phrase by phrase [when appointed] by the canonarch, and the beautiful tradition of "special Melodies" [ancient variations on the Eight Tones] executed properly. And thus, for a few hours at least, in the middle of a godless land and time, the faithful were exalted and transported into a realm of the most solemn Orthodox worship -- that same realm into which the emissaries of St. Vladimir were transported in Constantinople and that inspired the Baptism of Russia; only here, by God's Providence, there was no need to travel to a foreign capital, for the numerous American converts who attended the services received in the heart of their own land and to a large extent in their own language, the same message and the same tradition which Holy Russia, having received it from abroad, was now freely bestowing abroad. This realm of the fullness of Divine worship, which is so seldom encountered today outside of a few monaseries, could exert a powerful and sound influence on the integration of Orthodox believers today into the Church's deepest life.
After the Old Testament readings and while the stichera on the Litia were being sung, the clergy came out of the Altar to begin the procession around the outside of the church. The two eldest Protopresbyters carried the Icon, veiled by a white covering. At the first ektenia, at the end of the list of saints was added for the first time, "And the holy and God-bearing Herman, Wonder-worker of Alaska." At midway the procession entered the Sepulchre of Archbishop John Maximovitch, which is located directly under the altar of the Cathedral, where a blaze of lighted candles at the Hierarch's tomb greeted the words of the sticheron: "When the departure of the Saint was near at hand, while by his bed candles burned and the Acts of the Apostles were read, St Herman shone wondrously... He reposed in the fragrance of his ascetic deeds... Now living eternally, he prayeth ever to the Lord of glory for us."
Having gone around the Cathedral and placed the Icon, still covered, on an analogion in the center of the church, the clergy, at the conclusion of the stichera on the Aposticha, sang the Theotokion, led by the canonarch -- and again one felt the breath of that monastic antiquity that had nourished the monks of Valaam and St Herman... After the blessing of the breads, grain, wine, and oil, the Cathedral choir sang, to Znamenie chant, the troparion to the Saint. Then all lights were turned off, and in darkness he second half of the solemn vigil began with the reading of the Six psalms of Matins.
After the readings from the Psalter, still in half-darkness, Vladyka Anthony came out of the altar and, after slowly going over with his glance the throng of some 1,500 who were in attendance, delivered the following flaming sermon:
It is said in the Church's song of praise concerning the Apostle John the Theologian that he, being full of love, was also full of theology. Similarly St Herman, a man of great heart, full in his own measure of love for God and his neighbor, became filled with grace in order to transmit it to men. And grace is the power of God, the help of God, the caress of God.
In his life there is something in common with St. Seraphim of Sarov. In all likelihood it was in the same decade in which Prokhor Moshnin, the future most glorious Seraphim, came to the Sarov Hermitage, that the youth, he future St Herman, entered the Trinity- St Sergius Hermitage near St. Petersburgh. But we do not know his worldly name; neither do we know who his parents were, whom without name we conmmemorated at the panikhida this morning.
Like the chosen beloved one of the Mother of God Seraphim, the young Herman, too, received healing from Her. Suffering from a malignant abscess under the beard, not wishing to have recourse to earthly treatment, he wrapped a wet towel around his neck, with which he had wiped the icon of the Mother of God, and fell asleep -- and awoke healed.
Soon Herman was already on the wondrous island of Valaam. In all likelihood he received at his tonsure the name of one of the founders of Valaam Monastery [SS Sergius and Herman]. At that time this monastery, after its devastation, was being reestablished by the renowned Abbot Nazarius. This ascetic was an Elder contemporary of St Seraphim. In Sarov he began, to Sarov he returned, and there he reposed. He is known also for his participation in the publication of the Slavonic Philokalia, in which those seeking a deepened spiritual life began to be brought up. Abbot Nazarius became the preceptor of Herman, who began already on Valaam his ascetic labor of anchoretism. It was also Abbot Nazarius who sent Herman on holy obedience as a member of the special mission for preaching the Gospel to the pagans in distant America.
St John of Kronstadt, who at first wished to preach to the pagans, by inspiration from above remained for his great service in Russia; while Monk Herman, who had sought solitude on Valaam, out of obedience, complying with his Abbot's instruction, for the Lord's sake went off to a distant land to the pagans.
The Russian spiritual Mission at Kodiak was composed of monks [six from Valaam Monastery, two from the Monastery of Konevits]. The head of the Mission, Archimandrite Ioasaph, was called back to be consecrated Bishop, but on his return trip, already as a hierarch, he drowned together with all who were with him on the ship. Hieromonk Juvenal, a zealous preacher, was killed by pagans. Some died, others returned home. The Elder Herman, remaining in a foreign land, outlived them all and left behind him a profound and brilliant trace.
The missionaries were to enlighten the native Aleuts; but our fellow-countrymen, who had come earlier from Russia, themselves were in need of Christian enlightenment. That was the stern epoch of serfdom in Russia and slavery in America, and the attitude of the administration of the colonies and of our pioneers toward the natives was also quite harsh; but the Monk Herman, full of love for neighbor, wished to be a nurse for these poor, in the majority kind-hearted, hungry, and patient Aleuts and other local tribes. Of this his own letters speak. And in truth he was, in his own words, a nurse, and more -- a father of the local inhabitants, as likewise of the Russians, who were far from their homeland in difficult conditions of life.
A strict ascetic, poorly dressed, having a board instead of blankets for covering, Herman out of humility determinedly refused the priestly rank. From the island of Kodiak he went to settle on Spruce island, his "New Valaam." And there he died, but, even while living on Spruce Island, he did not leave Kodiak. At the time of a frightful epidemic of plague he fearlessly gave himself over to serving the sick, who were suffering terribly. The Elder loved children and founded a school and orphanage; he had no pedagogical preparation, but there was room for much in his heart. Children and adults responded to love with love. But he who looked after people with such concern desired solitude, as a true converser with angels.
As a lover of the spiritual world, the Saint foresaw that people at first would forget him, but, by God's grace would then remember him. And people did remember and began to write down concerning the ascetic labor of the Elder Herman, and of how God had granted him to halt a flood, to stop a fire, to predict the future, to heal the sick. And there were healings both in the time of the Elder's earthly life and after his repose.
As in every feature of St Seraphim, who greeted everyone with the Paschal greeting, so in the features and especially in the repose of St Herman there was manifested something Paschal.
You all know how in the night of the Resurrection before the Matins the book of the Acts of the Apostles is read, and how then everyone lights candles, and the procession goes forth... Elder Herman, sensing the approach of death, commanded candles to be lit and the Acts to be read, but having been mysteriously informed, he bade the candles be extinguished. In a week again at Herman's command candles were lit, his disciples read the book of Acts, and the Elder reposed in the fragrance of sanctity.
And now we have come to the moment long postponed, but now already upon us, of the Saint's glorification. By this there opens for us a new window into the Kingdom of Heaven, through which we breathe in the air of eternity.
I ask you all to light candles to greet the Church's great triumph. Let us pray to St Herman, who is being glorified by God, and he will pray for us, for the Russian people, and for America, which became the place of his ascetic labor and repose.
May this night of glorification become bright and grace-giving. Amen
In an instant the throng of faithful appeared with lighted candles in their hands. As once a handful of Aleut orphans with lighted candles beheld the mystery of St Herman's departure to heaven, in the midst of a heavenly fragrance and enveloped by the light of Mt Tabor, so now like new orphans the faithful children of the Russian Church Abroad were counted worthy to behold the mystery of the Saint's glorification. The Royal Doors were opened, the Cathedral became radiant with light. The "Metropolitan," Archimandrite Cyprian describes this moment, "and his hierarch concelebrants emerged from the Altar to the singing by the augmented choir of "Praise ye the name of the Lord," followed by Protopresbyters, Archimandrites, Archriests, Hegumens, Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons, and a multitude of servers of all ages. Surrounding them were the faithful with lighted candles up to the very ambo. In the center, on an analogion adorned with flowers amidst a multitude of burning candles, veiled by a white covering and bound with a ribbon, was the image of St Herman with a particle of his relics and coffin, toward which the attention of all was directed. After the final Alleluia of the polyeleos the Metropolitan descended from the Kathedra and, making a wide sign of the cross on himself, untied the ribbon and took off the covering. At this moment there resounded, there thundered forth from the clergy, "We glorify thee, our Father Herman..." A repeated Magnification resounded from above, as if from the very dome, wherein is depicted the Lord God of Sabaoth upon the Cherubim and Seraphim. And then, from the cliros a loud "We glorify" in English. And while this chant resounded back and forth, four deacons censed the Saint's Icon, filling the church with fragrant incense which had been brought by Archimandrite Panteleimon, who at this time was anointing the Icon with aromatic oil, in the tradition of the Holy Mount of Athos.
And in the midst of this blinding light, the candles, the clouds of incense -- in a frame, precisely in a window, against a background of blazing gold, was revealed the face of a simple monk, yet a dweller of heaven and converser with angels! And in truth, from this time forth there has been opened for America and the whole contemporary world a window into the Kingdom of Heaven, through which, through the "frame" of authentic Orthodoxy, if one only strive to the utmost, one may breathe in the atmosphere of eternity, which is a foretaste of eternal Pascha.
During the remainder of the vigil service, the singing was taken up in turn by the choir of clergy, the Cathedral choir, and the choir of young voices on the cliros. All the faithful venerated the Icon and relics of the Saint and received anointment with oil by Metropolitan Philaret, and each was given icon reproductions of the Saint. The service continued until midnight. "The solemnities," writes a pilgrim from Los Angeles, O. Makovskaya, "has an unparalleled spiritual power, and it seemed as though heaven had some down to earth and at this moment all the angels rejoiced in heaven and men were glad." After the Vigil the lights shone long in the Cathedral. At three in the morning Archimandrite Panteleimon finished hearing confessions.
"I heard many say, 'Just like Pascha!'" exclaimed Archimandrite Cyprian; "and indeed, externally everything reminded one of Pascha: the white vestments of the clergy, the white coverings on the analogia, the multitude of candles, and the radiant faces of the faithful. But the Paschal joy belongs fully only to Christ's Resurrection; here, however, there was a bright reflection of this – unexpected and exceptional – which mad the seven-hour service pass unnoticed even for children and the elderly and infirm."
"...And in an instant the Church Abroad seemed to me not at all a little solitary group, but something immense and triumphant..."
"Yet brighter, more radiant and more triumphant were the services on Sunday," notes Archimandrite Cyprian. "For our zeal toward the memory of His Saint, the Lord richly rewarded us sinful people who filled the church on the day of his Canonization. The Grace of the Holy Spirit warmed our cold hearts..."
The early Liturgy was celebrated in the left Altar of the Cathedral, dedicated to the righteous St. John of Kronstadt, above which the wall is adorned with a fresco depicting St Herman as one of a row of five monastic Fathers of the Russian Church, representing the three historical periods of the flowering of Northern monasticism: from the first period, St Sergius and Herman of Valaam and St. Anthony the Roman; from the second period, St Sergius of Radonezh; and from the third period, which was inspired by the great Elder Paissy Velichkovsky, St Herman of Alaska, who came to America in the year of Elder Paissy's repose, and himself forty years later reposed on the same day as Elder Paissy – November 15.
The Divine Liturgy, which began at 7 a.m., was celebrated by Archpriest Nicholas Dombrovsky, and the Brotherhood of St Herman sang on the kliros. There were many communicants. After the Liturgy Fr. Nicholas gave a sermon which clearly and simply expressed the feelings of all:
I greet you all, dear brethren and sisters, on the bright, all-joyous, and exceptional triumph of the glorification – canonization – of our God-bearing Saint Herman, Wonder-worker of Alaska.
Once the contemporary of St Herman, our dearly-beloved St. Seraphim of Sarov, the joy of the Russian land and of all Orthodox peoples, who reposed some four years before the Wonderworker who is now being glorified, foretelling his own glorification said that a time would come when in Russia Pascha would be sung in the midst of summer. And indeed, the prophecy of St. Seraphim came to pass. All of the God-bearing Russia, the whole Russian people in 1903, on July 19th, at exceptional solemnities with a large gathering of people at Sarov, glorified its "Joy" – the ascetic of Sarov who in everyone he met saw also "my Joy". The triumph of the glorification of St. Seraphim was indeed a Pascha in the midst of summer in the Russian land.
Of course, this does not mean that St Herman became a saint only today. No! The Saint's whole life was God-pleasing. Of this we have the testimony of his Life, published by Valaam Monastery in the last century. There the miracles of the Saint are described, which he performed both while he was alive and after his repose. And this is the best testimony that before the face of God he was already a saint during his own lifetime. He was always revered as such by those who knew him and heard of him.
Then why is it, if this is so, that his glorification was not in the last century, or in the good and peaceful years of the present century, but only in or time, in this year of 1970? There can be only one answer to this: such is the will of God, such is the Providence of God, Who orders all things on the earth. Just as the seed thrown by a husbandman into the earth sprouts concealed in it and ripens in diverse times, bringing forth fruit a hundredfold, so also the faith and sanctity of St Herman, sowed by the Lord Himself, ripened by God's Providence in the hearts of the faithful precisely here, in this New World, where once God's Saint labored in asceticism, lived and was a missionary.
From this time forth before God and before the entire Christian world we bear witness in the hearing of all that we believe in the prayers of St Herman for us, who have devoutly chosen him and with contrite heart beg the Lord to accept him as our new intercessor before the Throne of God.
Let us all then give thanks to the Lord God that He has enabled us to be participants of this bright solemnity in our Cathedral Church. Such solemnities do not often occur. In the 200-year Synodal period of our Russian Orthodox Church, up to the reign of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, there were only five canonizations in all. Only in the reign of the last Tsar, before the terrible trials and shocks which have come upon the Russian people and the Orthodox Russian Church, were there more.
For the half-century of the existence of the free Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, this is only the second canonization, and we shall hardly live to see the next one. The first to be canonized, six years ago, was the Pastor of all Russia, Father John of Kronstadt; and now the missionary to the Aleuts, the Elder Monk Herman.
And so, with all our soul giving thanks to God for having granted us the joy of experiencing twice in a short time these Paschal feelings, this time once again in the midst of summer, at the glorification of His God-pleasing saints, let us cry out from the depths of our sol to the newly-glorified Wonderworker of Alaska: Our Holy Father Herman, pray to God for us. Amen.
Archimandrite Cyprian continues: "The sanctity, depth, and spiritual essence of this church event were revealed in all their power for everyone on the very day of Canonization, beginning at the moment when in the morning the blessing of water was performed in the narthex by Mitred Archpriest Elias Wen, surrounded by a group of the faithful. A certain unexpected, completely new feeling entered into the heart and did not leave for a single minute during the course of the whole Liturgy and then the whole day." Into the water before the blessing there was poured some water from the spring of St Herman which had been brought from Spruce Island. Fr. Elias abundantly and enthusiastically sprinkled the whole church and its three Altars with the blessed water.
At 9:30 the Metropolitan arrived, being met by five deacons, some 32 priests, and the four hierarchs. At the Small Entrance the Icon of the Saint was brought up to the Royal Doors of the Iconostasis, where it was received by two Archimandrites and borne around the Altar Table. On the Altar Table during the Liturgy there was another icon of the Saint , from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston [see reproduction on page 183], and in the Sepulchre of Archbishop John there was yet another icon, the Brotherhood icon of St Herman, which had been uncovered during the Magnification the night before. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated with great solemnity, during which an unending procession of the faithful came to venerate the Icon of the newly-revealed Saint. Holy Communion was given to the many communicants out of two Chalices. At the conclusion of the Liturgy Metropolitan Philaret delivered the following sermon:
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
Wondrous is God in His saints, the God of Israel!
Every Orthodox Christian knows that our Holy Bible ends with the sacred book which is called in Greek Apocalypsis, and is the Revelation of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian.
In this book of Revelation the great prophet and seer of mysteries, the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, in majestic visions, symbols, and images, as it were brings before us the whole history of the Church of Christ and the history of the human race right up to its last moment, up to Christ's Last Judgment. And wherein there is described that which occurs in the heavenly world above at the Lord's Throne, the Apocalypse constantly speaks of how the saints pray before the Throne of God for the human race, pray for the whole world.
Let us direct our attention to that place in the holy book where it is related how there stood before the Lord's Throne an angel of God who had a golden censor, and he was given an abundance of fragrant incense, so that together with the prayers of the saints he might offer this incense on the golden altar which was before the Lord's Throne.
And the fragrant smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.
Thus do the saints offer up prayers for us sinners before the Throne of God. Therefore never be downcast in spirit if it seems to you that you are alone; remember that on earth people may abandon you, but we are always under this covering of prayer of our elder brethren, Gods saints, who always pray for us their younger brethren and never cease to pray.
And in hope of this covering of their prayer, the Church constantly calls on us to pray to them – sometimes to a single saint, sometimes to all saints. And this choir, immeasurable immense, of those righteous who have pleased God intercedes before God for the human race and for the whole world.
And now we all, by God's mercy, are present at a spiritual triumph, when to this assembly of God's saints, our intercessors bad protector, yet another glorious name is joined – or holy and God-bearing Father Herman, Wonderworker of Alaska, ascetic of the far North. Our Church celebrates his glorification.
It must be realized that by this glorification the Church does not make him who has pleased God a saint. He is glorified by God, he is a saint in God, he is attested of God as righteous, for his holy and devout life, attested by the gifts of God's grace, attested by righteousness and sanctity.
And the Church does not make him a saint by her glorification, but only humbly and at the same time joyfully points out to her spiritual children the new intercessor, to whom they may now appeal, begging his protection and his aid in all circumstances when this is needful.
Not so long ago, only six years past, the Church Outside of Russia, Russia Abroad, and likewise captive suffering Russia, celebrated the glorification of the great universal lamp, Father John of Kronstadt; this is the one saint who has already been glorified among us abroad in these evil years.
And now next to him there is placed another great God-pleasing saint, likewise an intercessor who prays for us in these grievous times, our holy Father Herman.
Both by birth and upbringing, in his life and in his death, he belongs entirely to the Russian people and to the Russian Church. He is a Russian saint; he is flesh and blood and spirit of the spirit of his native people, his native land.
And now it is him whom the Church triumphantly glorifies.
Rejoice, O Russia in captivity, suffering Russia! You now have a new intercessor, a new protector.
And you, Russia Abroad, likewise rejoice and be glad, dispersed over the vast stretches outside of Russia, one might say, over the whole terrestrial globe! You, too, now have an intercessor and protector. His prayer, even here, while he was still alive, worked miracles. All the more now, standing before the dreadful Throne of the Lord of Glory, our holy Father Herman is powerful to obtain for us all that is needful to us from God's goodness both for temporal and for eternal life. Let only our own faith not grow weak. Let us only never doubt that this prayerful protection and intercession is truly a gift of God's mercy to us.
Let us then keep festival, let us rejoice in the goodness of the Lord, Who is wondrous in His saints, It is by His grace, His power, that our God-pleasing saints have been glorified – both the saints of old and those more recent, both Father John of Kronstadt and Father Herman of Alaska.
They loved God to such an extent that for them to live meant to serve God; they were entirely in God.
Was it not out of love for God that St Herman left his homeland? Out of obedience, as a true monk and ascetic, he went far away, not forgetting his homeland and its holy places, and gave himself there completely over to the service of God and his neighbor, and the Lord glorified His faithful slave and laborer by grace and miracles.
"Glory be to God for everything!" St John Chrysostom once said in antiquity. And so now we all, receiving these gifts of God's goodness, should say with our whole soul: "Glory be to God for everything!" Amen.
The moleben – the first service of prayer to the newly-glorified saint, culminating in the solemn moment when all went to their knees and Metropolitan Philaret read for the first time, in absolute silence, the Prayer to St Herman – began with a church procession. While the choir slowly sang "O Heavenly King" and called upon the Holy Spirit to descend and dwell in the faithful, the procession began to move out the front doors, and in the sun-drenched summer air were seen, first the lantern and Cross, then the church banners and icons; and escorted by four brilliant gold fans, the Saint's Icon with relics was borne in a special frame by the twelve eldest presbyters. Behind the Icon came the hierarchs with servers, then monks, nuns, and the rest of the faithful. The number of the faithful who were present was even greater than the night before, and those who could not find their way into the church stood in the street outside.
To the censing of the deacons and the singing by all the people of "Holy Father Herman, pray to God for us," the procession – which instantly attracted all the attention of busy Geary Boulevard – began to descend in order to make the circuit of the church passing again at midway the Sepulchre of Archbishop John. At the four sides of the Cathedral ektenias were pronounced by the deacons and holy water was sprinkled in all directions.
The day's services in the Cathedral were concluded with the "Many Years" sung for the assembled hierarchs and faithful, for the Brotherhood of St Herman, and for the two Archimandrites Panteleimon whose namesday this was: the founders of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville and Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston. And to one's astonishment one realized that all the major Orthodox monasteries and convents in America were represented at the solemnities, that it was to all the Orthodox monks and nuns of the American land that the faithful were singing "Many Years" and "Save O Christ God," and that this feast of Canonization was above all a monastic feast which – even as St Herman himself – points the way for a future of a genuine American Orthodoxy. More than one heart on this memorable day was fired anew with ascetic and monastic resolve.
Orthodox Word issue #33-34 July-October, 1970.