Lovely hike to MacKinnon’s Cave

There are at least four caves on Mull where monastic hermit life has been present from the sixth century, since (or perhaps even before) St Brendan founded the first monastery in the Hebrides (shorly followed, two decaded later, by St Columba’s arrival on Iona).

This is MacKinnon’s Cave, at the foot of the mountainous area of Mull known as the Wilderness. It is only accessible at low tide. A bit further, there is a second, smaller cave – that is called the Priest’s Cave, which is only accessible by boat (there is no foot passage to it).

Just like the Nun’s Cave and Scoor Cave, I very rarely come here with our pilgrims, because the hike is difficult, but I’d like you to at least see these photographs. These caves document an important part of the history of Celtic monasticism in the Scottish Isles.

Today was a beautiful day, surprisingly sunny and warm. We even saw an otter playing in the water, which seemed like an extra blessing 🙂


Update on the Monastery: still no boiler (but having high hopes for next week), still no phone and definitely no internet (but I shall travel every other day to keep up to date with you all).

For our pilgrims: please do NOT worry. The monastic house is not our pilgrimage house – our pilgrimage house is a rental and is a LOVELY home, well heated and (moderately) well connected to the internet.

I am not sharing these things with you to complain – God knows that and I pray you know it as well. I do it because you asked me to keep you updated on how the monastery is progressing, and because I want to share with you all the positive and less positive things that happen here (which is also why we need internet access).

God bless us all! Keep the Monastery in your prayers.


If you want to join us for our 2019 Pilgrimages, there is an update on the available places on this website. feel free to send me an email (ierom.serafim@yahoo.co.uk) if you have any other questions that are not answered there.

 

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Staffa and the Saints

It was such a lovely day. We were not supposed to get to Staffa that afternoon – we only go to the Treshnish Isles during the first pilgrimage in July, or if the weather is too bad for us to get to St Brendan’s Isle. That particular day was our pilgrimage day to InchKenneth, but Mark offered us an extended trip back via Staffa. Everything went beautifully from early morning. We all woke up on time, we managed to avoid traffic hour (the sheep and Highland cows that still don’t realise grass does not grow on the one-lane roads of Mull) and we started our sailing from Fionnphort with great weather and the right winds.

After all these years, I am still amazed at how beautiful and peaceful the Isles can be. As we slowly sail towards InchKenneth, once the sails are up and the wind takes over, all you hear are the waves and the birds. In may ways, sailing itself is an important part of our pilgrimage, because this is how the Saints travelled from one isle to the another. This is the silence they heard, and the stillness they felt. This rhythm of the ocean, the feeling that you depend its moods, that you are somehow related to its waters, to its winds – there is something profoundly spiritual about all of this. You end up praying for the ocean as for a brother; you end up blessing its waters and its winds for the love you feel for the God Who made them all.

I remember the first time I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land – the thing that left the strongest impression on me was the desert itself. When I went to the Holy Mountain the first few times, I was in awe at the mountain itself – those narrow paths through the bushes, the abandoned hermit caves I stumbled across, the wild flowers, the boiling hot air of the Greek summer, the complete lack of movement – all of that brought me closer to the Saints than anything else.

It is such a blessing to visit the ruins of ancient Celtic monasteries, sketes, hermit caves, monastic bee-hives etc – it is such a blessing to stand where the Saints stood, and to pray where they prayed more than a millennium ago. But all of that would not be complete without the experience of the nature that surrounded them, the nature that shaped their prayer and their spiritual life. Many years ago, when I returned from Athos after my first visit, I confessed to my spiritual father that I felt guilty that I spent most of my time in the forests of the mountain instead of the monasteries, to which he replied ‘remember that it was the mountain that shaped the Saints who built the monasteries, not the other way around’.

It is so tempting to jump steps in our spiritual life. In theory, we want to trust God entirely, but we do not want to put ourselves in the context that would teach us how to do that. In theory, we want to be humble, but we do not want to expose ourselves to the context that would teach us humility. All our pilgrims come to the Isles because we love the Celtic Saints and we want to learn from them, we want to meet them in a more personal, direct way by praying with them, in the lands where God blessed them. An essential part of that personal meeting is to experience the context that shaped them – the ocean, the winds, the isles themselves – and to allow them to grow roots in our hearts. This is all I pray for. This is all we can hope for.

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2019 Pilgrimages – Update on available places

Concerning our NEXT year (2019) Pilgrimages, here are the news:

Thank you so much for the wonderful response to our Pilgrimage announcement. Below is an update on the available places (updated today, September 2, 2018).

18 – 25 May:            FULLY BOOKED

1 – 8 June:                FULLY BOOKED

15 – 22 June:           FULLY BOOKED

29 June – 6 July:   FULLY BOOKED

20 – 27 July:            FULLY BOOKED

3 – 10 August:         FULLY BOOKED

24 – 31 August:       FULLY BOOKED

As in previous years, we shall limit each group to only ten people per pilgrimage – this is due to the size of the boats we use, as well as that of the house. I also find that a larger number of pilgrims takes away the opportunity to spend time together and to properly meet each other.
For a fourth year running, we shall keep the cost of the pilgrimage unchanged – 1400 USD / person (double occupancy). The cost in pounds will be updated regularly, due to currency exchange variations. The price includes everything for the week you are in the Isles – accommodation for seven nights, all meals, three cars available for transport, a sailing boat and a motor boat to get us to the isles we shall visit, ferry tickets, entry tickets to museums and historical sites, and fees.
To book a place, you must purchase a non-refundable Deposit (400 USD) either through the monastery website or by cheque. Please send an email to ierom.serafim@yahoo.co.uk before paying for your deposit, to avoid double-booking.
Cheques should be written to our US organisation – American Friends of the Celtic Saints – and sent to 3736 W County Rd 4, Berthoud, CO 80513
The remaining balance is due by the end of the calendar year (31 December 2018).
We visit some of the most remote and authentic holy sites connected with early Celtic Christianity. Some of these places have been uninhabited for centuries, with no touristic or religious routes linking them to other destinations. The pilgrimages organised by the Monastery are the only way one can visit some of these isles.
Among many other places, we shall get to the Isle of Iona (Iona Abbey, Martyrs’ Bay, the Nunnery, St Oran’s Chapel, the famous Celtic High Crosses, St Columba’s Bay, the Hill of the Turning Back to Ireland and the Machair); the ruins of St Kenneth’s monastery and the ancient hermit cave; St Brendan’s monastery and bee-hive cell on his uninhabited Isle; and some of the great Christian places on the Isle of Mull (such as The Nuns’ Cave and Kilninian).

2019 Summer Pilgrimages to the Isles of Scotland

I am happy to announce the Four weeks of Pilgrimage to the Isles of Scotland for the summer of 2019:
1 – 8 June
15 – 22 June
29 June – 6 July
20 – 27 July
As in previous years, we shall limit each group to only ten people per pilgrimage – this is due to the size of the boats we use, as well as that of the house. I also find that a larger number of pilgrims takes away the opportunity to spend time together and to properly meet each other.
For a fourth year running, we shall keep the cost of the pilgrimage unchanged – 1400 USD / person (double occupancy). The cost in pounds will be updated regularly, due to currency exchange variations. The price includes everything for the week you are in the Isles – accommodation for seven nights, all meals, three cars available for transport, a sailing boat and a motor boat to get us to the isles we shall visit, ferry tickets, entry tickets to museums and historical sites, and fees.
To book a place, you must purchase a non-refundable Deposit (400 USD) either through the monastery website or by cheque. Please send an email to ierom.serafim@yahoo.co.uk before paying for your deposit, to avoid double-booking.
Cheques should be written to our US organisation – American friends of the Celtic Saints – and sent to 3736 W County Rd 4, Berthoud, CO 80513
The remaining balance is due by the end of the calendar year (31 December 2018).
We visit some of the most remote and authentic holy sites connected with early Celtic Christianity. Some of these places have been uninhabited for centuries, with no touristic or religious routes linking them to other destinations. The pilgrimages organised by the Monastery are the only way one can visit some of these isles.
Among many other places, we shall get to the Isle of Iona (Iona Abbey, Martyrs’ Bay, the Nunnery, St Oran’s Chapel, the famous Celtic High Crosses, St Columba’s Bay, the Hill of the Turning Back to Ireland and the Machair); the ruins of St Kenneth’s monastery and the ancient hermit cave; St Brendan’s monastery and bee-hive cell on his uninhabited Isle; and some of the great Christian places on the Isle of Mull (such as The Nuns’ Cave and Kilninian).
May God bless us all. Please keep me in yours prayers.
In Christ,fr seraphim

2018 Pilgrimages – we are now FULLY BOOKED

All our 2018 Summer Celtic Pilgrimages are now fully booked. Thank you all for your love, support and enthusiasm. I look forward to meeting all our new pilgrims in just a few months, and I shall shortly announce the weeks of pilgrimage for the summer of 2019. If you would like to be added to our waiting list, please send an email to ierom.serafim@yahoo.co.uk

May we all be blessed.

Pilgrimage 1 (9 – 16 June 2018):      SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 2 (23 – 30 June 2018):          SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 3 (30 June – 7 July 2018):             SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 4 (14 – 21 July 2018):             SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 5 (4 – 11 August 2018):             SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 6 (18 – 25 August 2018):       Sold OUT

To make a booking, first please check with me that the places are still available , (at fatherseraphim@mullmonastery.com), then I shall advise you on the available payment options – online (PayPal / credit card / debit card) or by cheque.

More information concerning costs and our schedule is available on the Monastery Bookstore.

New Pilgrimage Places for 2018

Thank you so much for the unbelievable response to our Celtic Pilgrimages for the summer of 2018! Three weeks after we publicly advertised them, we only have one available place left out of the forty.

Because of this, and since we are still receiving a great number of emails from people who would like to join us next summer, we have decided to add two more pilgrimages to the initial four.

The new weeks of pilgrimage are 30 June – 7 July 2018, and 4 – 11 August 2018. The available places for the whole summer are distributed as follows (updated on July 12th):

Pilgrimage 1 (9 – 16 June 2018):      SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 2 (23 – 30 June 2018):          SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 3 (30 June – 7 July 2018):             1 available place (one gentleman)

Pilgrimage 4 (14 – 21 July 2018):             SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 5 (4 – 11 August 2018):             SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 6 (18 – 25 August 2018):       SOLD OUT

To make a booking, first please check with me that places are still available (fatherseraphim@mullmonastery.com), then send your deposit by cheque to American Friends of the Celtic Saints, at 3736 W County Rd 4, Berthoud, CO 80513.

For UK pilgrims, please send your cheques to Kilninian Trust, 25 Howard Terrace, Morpeth, NE61 1HT.

International pilgrims, please pay your deposits via the website (by PayPal or any major credit / debit card).

Your booking is confirmed once we receive your deposit.

A day on the Isle of Lunga

The Treshnish Isles – Lunga and Staffa – are our back-up plan for the day we plan to visit St Kenneth’s Isle. If the winds are too strong for the sailing boat we charter to Inchkenneth, we take a motor boat instead and spend a day in the Treshnish Isles.

These are a few photos taken about a week ago, while I was there preparing our coming pilgrimages. I pray they bring a smile and a drop of peacefulness to your heart this morning, wherever you may be.

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UPDATE – available places for 2018

This is an update on the number of places that are still available for our 2018 Celtic Pilgrimages.

The available places are distributed as follows (updated on May 30th):

Pilgrimage 1 (9 – 16 June 2018):      SOLD OUT       

Pilgrimage 2 (23 – 30 June 2018):          SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 3 (14 – 21 July 2018):             SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 4 (18 – 25 August 2018):       1 available place (for a man)

To make a booking, first please check with me that places are still available (fatherseraphim@mullmonastery.com), then send your deposit by cheque to American Friends of the Celtic Saints, at 3736 W County Rd 4, Berthoud, CO 80513.

For UK pilgrims, please send your cheques to Kilninian Trust, 25 Howard Terrace, Morpeth, NE61 1HT.

International pilgrims, please pay your deposits via the website (by PayPal or any major credit / debit card).

Your booking is confirmed once we receive your deposit.

2018 Summer Pilgrimages

Christ is risen!

I am happy to announce that all our pilgrimages for this summer are fully booked, and that we are now accepting bookings for the summer of next year.

The four weeks of pilgrimage for summer of 2018 are:

Pilgrimage One:       June 9 – 16

Pilgrimage Two:       June 23 – 30

Pilgrimage Three:    July 14 – 21

Pilgrimage Four:      August 18 – 25

As in previous years, we shall limit each group to ten people per pilgrimage – this is due to the size of the boats we use, as well as that of the house. I also find that a larger number of pilgrims takes away the opportunity to spend time together and properly meet each other.

For a third year running, we shall keep the cost of the pilgrimage unchanged – 1400 USD. The cost in pounds will be updated regularly, due to exchange variations. This price includes everything for the week you are in the Isles – accommodation, food, three cars, a sailing boat, a motor boat, ferries, entry tickets and fees.

To book a place, you must purchase a non-refundable Deposit (400 USD) either through the monastery website or by cheque. Please send me an email – at fatherseraphim@mullmonastery.com – before paying for your deposit, to avoid double-booking.

Cheques should be written to our US organisation – American friends of the Celtic Saints – and sent to 3736 W County Rd 4, Berthoud, CO 80513

The remaining balance is due by the end of the calendar year (31 December 2017).

To find out more about the islands and places we visit, or for more details about the pilgrimages, please take a few minutes and browse this site. You will find information about each day of the pilgrimage, as well as an updated account of the available places for each of the four weeks of pilgrimage.

May our risen Lord bless all of us, and may the Celtic Saints keep you under their protection.

Update on 2017 Celtic Pilgrimages

(updated on 24th March, 2017)

This is an update on the number of places that are still available for our Celtic Pilgrimages next summer. The last available places are distributed as follows:

Pilgrimage 1 (3-10 June 2017):     SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 2 (17-24 June):             SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 3 (1-8 July):                   SOLD OUT

Pilgrimage 4 (15 – 22 July):            SOLD OUT

To make a booking, first please check with me that places are still available (things change rather quickly), then send your deposit by cheque to American Friends of the Celtic Saints, at 3736 W County Rd 4, Berthoud, CO 80513. Your booking is confirmed once we receive your deposit.

For UK pilgrims, please send your cheques to Kilninian Trust, 25 Howard Terrace, Morpeth, NE61 1HT.

International pilgrims, please pay your deposits via the website (by PayPal or any major credit / debit card).

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