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 June 17th):

Pilgrimage 1 (9 – 16 June 2018):      2 available place (one family)

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

Pilgrimage 3 (30 June – 7 July 2018):             5 available places

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

Pilgrimage 5 (4 – 11 August 2018):             6 available places

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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Our last Divine Liturgy at St Oran’s this summer

A few photos from our latest Divine Liturgy in St Oran’s, on Iona. We take a very early ferry from Mull to Iona, so we have time to stop at the Martyrs’ Bay and pray before the Divine Liturgy. We then make our way to the ancient monastic graveyard and St Oran’s Chapel.

This is one of my favourite places in the isles, and I am immensely grateful to all our pilgrims this summer for being so kind and supportive to me.

We need to bring everything with us from Mull, so each of us ends up carrying some of the things we need for the Divine Liturgy: the Chalice, the Diskos, the vestments, the icons, the coverings, the wine, hot water, prosphoras, Bible, candles etc etc. We all become a mobile church for a day, and we all depend on each other to be able to celebrate.

Many thanks to Justin for taking these photos.

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How difficult is this Pilgrimage?

Day Where do we go? How do we get there? How difficult is this trip (on a scale of 1 to 5; where 1 is easy and 5 most difficult)? Notes
Sun Lochbuie Standing Stones Circle; St Kilda’s Church; Moy Castle. By car, followed by walking The standing stones circle is a 1.5 – 2, because there is some mud. The rest is a 1 – 1.5 grade; this is an easy, pleasant walk, on gentle paths and beautiful beaches For those more fit, we can also try to get to MacKinnon’s Cave (a hermit cave dating back to sixth century) later that evening. This entirely depends on the tide.
Mon Iona 1 – the Village (Martyrs’ Bay; the Abbey; the Nunnery; the wonderful Celtic Museum; St Oran’s Chapel; the sixth century monastic cemetery). Optional: The White Strand of the Monks By car, followed by ferry, then walking The Village is an easy walk of level 1. The walk to the White Strand of the Monks is a 2.5 walk, on a very gentle path, with no climbing or steep descending, but it takes about 30 minutes each way. The walk to the White Strand of the Monks is optional. Alternatively, you may choose to spend more time in the Abbey or in the Village.
Tue St Kenneth’s Isle. We’ll visit and pray in St Kenneth’s hermit cave (sixth century) and the ruins of the medieval monastery built on the island. On the way to St Kenneth’s isle, we’ll see the beautiful waterfalls of Mull and (God willing) sea-eagles, whales and dolphins. Car, Sailing boat, walking 3. The walk itself is short (20-25 minutes each way) and not difficult at all. The only potential challenge is that we may have to walk for 20-30 metres over an area of the beach covered with seaweed (so have good, waterproof boots). This only happens at low tide. This is entirely weather dependent. If the weather is bad, the local fisherman will not sail. The alternative is a trip to Staffa, one of the Treshnish Isles, and home to the puffin colonies and the famous Fingal’s Cave.
Wed Iona 2 – St Columba’s Bay; the old ‘Desert’ of the Celtic Monks; the Machair (the ‘raised beach’ where the monks worked) Car, Ferry and Walking This is a grade 4 difficulty. It is long (1 hour and 15 minutes each way), can be quite boggy and involves climbing some hills. This day is optional. For those who feel unfit for the walk, there are three things you could do: spend some more time in the Village; rest at home (you will fall in love with the place and the views we get from the house); try to arrange a day visit to Duart Castle.
Thur St Brendan’s Isle. We shall see and pray in the oldest standing ecclesiastic structure in the UK (the double beehive cell, dating back to 541, when St Brendan founded the monastery), the tenth century chapel, the medieval ruins of the monastery and the old Celtic cemetery, where St Columba’s mother is buried. Car, Speed Motor Boat, Walking Similar to St Kenneth’s Isle. A grade 3 walk, simply because it potentially involves walking over seaweed at low tide. Again, this is weather dependent, but not as much as the trip to St Kenneth’s Isle, because motor boats are safer and more reliable during stronger winds than an old-fashioned (but absolutely beautiful) sailing boat.
Fri Kilninian; the Monastery of All Celtic Saints; Calgary Bay; Tobermory. Car and walking Grade 1. We do no climbing; the only walks involved are on the Monastery grounds, on the sandy beach at Calgary Bay and on the Main Street of Tobermory. Nothing to comment, except that – should you decide to pay a visit to the Tobermory Single Malt Whiskey Distillery – I shall look the other way and pretend not to notice…

New Celtic Pilgrimages – Summer of 2017

I am pleased to announce four new Celtic Pilgrimages to the Scottish Isles during the summer of 2017.

The wonderful groups we have had this year (my deepest gratitude to all of you) and the great time we spend together have shown me how important it is for you to experience first-hand the extraordinary beauty and the amazing Christian heritage of Celtic Isles. Come and join one of our small groups (up to ten people only) for a week-long Pilgrimage to the Celtic Isles of Scotland.

When?

The weeks of the 2017 Pilgrimages are:

03 – 10 June (2 places left)

17 – 24 June (2 places left)

01 – 08 July (1 place left – must be a man)

15 – 22 July (fully booked)

Where do we go?
We shall visit first-millennium Celtic Christian places connected to Sts Ninian, Columba, Brendan the Navigator, Oran, Kenneth etc.
We shall visit monastic dwellings founded in the 500s, beehive cells, hermit caves, bays and beaches were Celtic monks and nuns were killed for their faith, uninhabited islands that were centres of Christianity before the Viking raids etc.
We visit some of the most remote and authentic places 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, the Marble Quarry and the Machair); the ruins of St Kenneth’s monastery and the ancient hermit cells; St Brendan’s monastery on his uninhabited Isle; and some of the great Celtic Christian places on the Isle of Mull (The Nuns’ Cave, the Carsaig Arches, Kilninian etc). The schedule depends on the weather and the state of the ocean.

For one week, we shall attempt to function as a small monastery, fighting the temptations that come with any spiritual experience and putting prayer, obedience and love for one another before everything else.

How much does the Pilgrimage cost?
1400 US dollars or 960 British pounds.
Compared to 2016, the cost has remained unchanged in US dollars (1400 dollars), with a small increase in British pounds (960 pounds). We have made most of the expenses already (we have rented the house, the motor boat, the sailing boat etc), so we need to make sure we are protected against possible currency variations.

What does this include?

The cost of the Pilgrimage includes:

  • accommodation for a week in either twin rooms (two single beds) or double rooms (one double bed; for families), in one of the largest and most beautiful houses on the Isle of Mull
  • all meals: breakfasts, dinners and packed lunches
  • use of three cars for the week
  • private hire of a sailing boat for a day
  • private hire of a motor boat for another day
  • ferry tickets to and from Iona for two days
  • entry tickets to all places of interest
  • private guide (myself) to all places we visit

How does one book a place?

To sign up, first email me (ierom.serafim@yahoo.co.uk) to check that there are available places for your preferred week of pilgrimage, then pay your non-refundable Deposit (300 pounds or 400 US dollars) to secure your place.

Your place is only booked upon receipt of the Deposit.

How can I pay my Deposit?

By Card, PayPal or Cheque – your choice.

To pay by Card or PayPal, please visit the Monastery bookstore and ‘buy’ a 2017 Pilgrimage Deposit (300 pounds).

If you would like to pay your deposit by Cheque:

1. Pilgrims from the United States. Please write your cheque to ‘American Friends of the Celtic Saints’, mark it as ‘Pilgrimage Deposit’ and send it to:

American Friends of the Celtic Saints

3736 W County Rd 4

Berthoud, CO 80513

2. Pilgrims from the United Kingdom. Please write your cheque to ‘Kilninian Trust’, mark it as ‘Pilgrimage Deposit’ and send it to:

Kilninian Trust

25 Howard Terrace

Morpeth, NE61 1HT

When do I have to cover the Balance Payment?

By the end of November.

Thank you all SO much for all your support and encouragement. I would like to once again confirm that everything we do – including these pilgrimages – is to support the Monastery of all Celtic Saints, and to bring us one step closer to having it built by the end of 2018.

Thin Places, where Heaven reveals its violence

People are right, Iona truly is ‘a thin place’, a great Celtic expression, describing special places where Heaven and earth are drawn together. What I didn’t know before I came for this week (and perhaps, what many of us do not feel) is how dreadfully frightening Heaven is. Perhaps frightening is not the right word: awe-some, full of awe, entirely alien to us and frightening because of its alien nature – these are all weak descriptions, but they are as good as I’m able to make.

Iona is a thin place, but through the thin veil one can see a frightening revelation. It is precisely because these are thin places that they are frightening, too. What we see through them, what we see through their transparence is the real Face of God: not a tame God, a domesticated God; not a God taken to pieces and rebuilt to fit our sinfulness and weakness; not a God shaped against our emotions and cheap piety; not a God of human traditions and cult; not a God of political correctness or incorrectness – but the LIVING God. The Being beyond being, the Uncreated Creator of everything that is, the untouchable One, indescribable by any of our created words, philosophies and concepts. The frightening God, the crushing God, the God Who utters His voice and the earth melts; the God Who commands: Be still, and know that I am God.

To be in a thin place like Iona is frightening because of the Frightening Being Who suddenly becomes visible and Whom you must now face. I’ve learnt that to face God is frightening, because every meeting with God is a moment of total exposure and Judgement: exposure and judgement of ourselves, of our carefully assembled idols and our horrid manipulations of the Divine realities. God is an alien Being to us, because we have turned ourselves in alien beings to Him. Thin places are dangerous places; approach them with fear, as you approach the Face of God. You are in a moment of Judgement.

Taken from ‘Iona. Where Heaven Reveals Its Violence‘, available from the Monastery online Book Store.

St Columba’s Bay. Impossible Bay.

I don’t know what to write today. It is all too immediate, too close to me still, and I lack any sense of perspective.

It’s been a beautiful, sunny day. I finally got to St Columba’s Bay – all by myself, after a few hours of wandering about, losing my way every five minutes, then finding it again. I had a lot of time to think about St Columba, about St Cuthbert and St Ninian – all the saints who have taken over my life. I had time to pray, and time ask the questions that grew in me as I walked these sacred hills.

There is a lot in them that speaks to me. Their need to always leave behind what one has built, the fear to allow anything of this world embrace you, and encapsulate you, their obsession with pilgrimages with no destination. I thought, what can constitute a destination? When are we home? What does it mean to be home?

Their home was Christ, and everything else was an idol. Getting home meant overcoming death, entering the life which is Christ, and becoming one with Him. Home meant a transformation of the person who arrived there – not a place of rest, not a place of comfort; in fact, not a place at all. Home is Christ Himself, and they denied everything, everyone and their own earthly selves in order to get to Him and become one with Him.

How is that love for Christ even possible? These saints were made of the same flesh and blood, the same bones and skin, feelings and emotions as I am. What made their love so unearthly? What gave them this holy, wonderful madness? What sort of fire melted their hearts? If only I could light it myself, if only I had the love to at least begin this pilgrimage…

Taken from ‘Iona. Where Heaven Reveals Its Violence‘, available from the Monastery online Book Store.

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