Divine Liturgy on St Brendan’s Isle

What a glorious day we’ve had on St Brendan’s Isle! We prayed in his monastery, founded in 542, twenty years before St Columba even arrived to Iona. We prayed in the ruins of the original church of the monastery, which is the most complete monastic dwelling in Scotland. We prayed in the double beehive cells dating back to the 500s. We prayed everywhere and for everyone.

For the first time, we’ve managed to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the island, which is quite an achievement for our small group. The island has been abandoned and remained unpopulated for over four centuries, so we had to carry everything with us on the boat, up the rocky coasts of the island and through the tall, beautiful overgrowth, filled with hundreds of wild yellow irises.

Shortly after we began the Liturgy, the rain came pouring down, so we had to open our umbrellas and hold them above the Divine Gifts throughout the entire service. We were there to serve and worship God, and we received His life-giving Gifts in return. For a few minutes, nothing else existed except this calling, this common service to God. For a short while, our tiny group felt and acted as one being: alone on a deserted island in the Atlantic, worshiping our Creator.

I shall remember this day. I shall remember this feeling. Glory be to God for all things.

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St Brendan's Isle Liturgy

6 Thoughts.

  1. Dear Fr Seraphin,
    I have been a keen listener of your theology and reflections via podcasting and video and for these I am grateful and inspired by your reflections on the human struggle to survive death, so thank you.
    Can is say in all humility that this image troubles me as it doesn’t match the human being I listen too who is humbly seeking God and his will yet in this ancient celtic place of simplicity and acetic living bring ecclesiastical refinery that is so steeped in the things this world values of shiny glitzy regalia.
    To me your appeal has been seeing you in your simple habit as it matches the simplicity and ruggerdness of the Celtic Isles. Please excuse me being so bold. I just feel very uncomfortable with the man of God I hear and the image I see.
    Bless you in Christ

    • Dear Karl, I’ve just seen your comment, I’m sorry I haven’t answered sooner. There really is no big mystery – when I record the podcasts, I am just being myself: a simple, basic monk. When I celebrate, I am God’s priest (not by choice, mind you – monks are ordained for practical reasons, when their monastery needs a new priest) and I have to wear vestments that point to the Kingdom, to Christ’s perfect Divine-humanity, not the mess that I am. The glory (represented by these vestments) is Christ’s and I do feel uncomfortable and unworthy wearing them. However, this is the reality of our life and the reality of our humanity: we are fallen, yet we partake of the same nature with Christ, in His perfect humanity. The unworthiness I feel testifies to my sinfulness; the glory of the vestments testifies to Christ’s perfect humanity. I cannot let go of my humbleness, because that would throw me into pride and self-idolatry. Neither can I let go of Christ’s glory, because that is my hope. His perfect Humanity is our hope of salvation. The way to salvation is to balance both things: awareness of our fallen nature, but also hope that we can become one with Christ in His glory. Don’t let go of either, or you will lose the way. Forgive me. Pray for me.

      (Thank you for your comment, Karl – you have forced me to think some things through and that helped me understand more of the terrible discomfort I feel when I act as a priest: it is a heavy cross to be made of dust, yet to act as one who bears the image of God)

  2. Dear Father,

    Forgive me for being so difficult. I can see you are a humble man of God and a servant of Christ. I too am a priest of a different tradition and I struggle daily with the vestments that I too have to wear. I don’t see Christ’s glory in such things but the opulence of the Church that has traveled far from the true Glory of Christ found in his not considering equally with God as something to be grasped and emptying himself of himself in order to become the poor humble servant of all to the point of his death. This being the example we are to reflect and be a focus of until united with Christ in Glory.

    May I change the subject and ask you something for which I am reflecting deeply on at present. Through my theological and spiritual journey I have often been instructed in Orthodoxy (Right-believing) and Orthopraxis (Right-doing), however, I have never come across any teaching on what I would consider to be greater than them both, that which I call, Orthoeimi (Right-being). Now my Greek is not good so please forgive my ignorance. The modern Greek word ‘eimai comes close to what we understand about God in his self disclosed identity being “I Am who I Am”.
    I would really value your experience and knowledge on this as I am not sure I am using the right word? What would ‘right-being ‘ be to you? Ortho-??

    Every blessing in Christ.

    Karl

    • Dear Karl, thank you for getting back. I think it may be best to continue this conversation in private, via email. I believe private things (such as one’s search for Christ) should be kept private. My email is ierom.serafim@yahoo.co.uk – I’ll be in the isles until the end of September, but should be able to get back to my normal emailing routine after that. May God bless us all.

  3. Dear Karl,
    I hope Fr. Serafim does not mind if I share something here that I once read or heard somewhere. It made an impression on me and I wrote it in my notebook, without its source. It said:
    “The most telling characteristic of a man is his view of God. That will determine the outcome of his life more than anything else.
    Psychologists say that dysfunctional behavior comes from dysfunctional thinking.
    Dysfunctional spiritual lives come from our dysfunctional understanding of God.”

    For me this points to the fact that we cannot have any “right-being” without “right-believing” and “right-doing” first. Somebody else said that the thief will plan a robbery just as easily as a saint a good deed. All depends on what they *believe*.

    • Dear Agata(?)
      I fear this may be a chicken and egg situation. How is a soul to “be still and know that I am God” if it does not believe? Yet, to know God is to “be” before him and receive his revelation of himself.
      Rightly some will say that faith is where we start, being that we believe without seeing until God in his wisdom reveals himself. My question however is about how, either with faith or with revelation we are to practice Orthoemi?
      It’s really asking what is right “being” before God regardless of what we think we know and practice as being right in terms of what we do and believe ?

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