Saint Seraphim: A Daring Dialogue


On Saturday, February 15th 2019, we attended an event at Royal Geographical Society in London devoted to St Seraphim, a famous Russian Orthodox Saint.

Nevertheless, we would not know that he is well-known among British people, and also those who are of other Christian denominations than Orthodox. In this event, in particular, Anglican bishop, theologian and poet, Rowan Williams, was in the panel together with the Orthodox Metropolitan Kallistos Ware.

While for a well-informed Orthodox person the event might not have been particularly informative, nor provided lots of novel information, it was still a touching and eye-opening experience: to know that Orthodox Saints, of the, not much admired Russia here in the West, could still be here not only known but also appreciated as deeply. 


Two ideas to point out that we have learned during the event could be:

A good man makes you (feel) worse. A Saint makes you (feel) better.


In Western Tradition, the name that corresponds to Seraphim (Serafim) would be Francis.

Churches in the Holy Land

There are 3 different churches of note that we visited in the Holy Land in the very hot summer of 2017 – The Church of the Resurrection at the Holy Sepulchre, The Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene at the Mount of Olives and The Church of the Annunciation at Nazareth.
A group of us from the parish went to the Holy Land on a mixture of adventure, pilgrimage and holiday. Our first port of call was, of course, Jerusalem and we attended the Divine Liturgy on our first Sunday there, at the Church of the Resurrection. 
The following Tuesday, we went to the Divine Liturgy at the Russian Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene and venerated the holy relics of Saints Elizabeth and Barbara, the new martyrs. I personally found this monastery was a very special place and peaceful in comparison with the Old City of Jerusalem which was across the valley. The nuns there were very welcoming and invited us to the trapeza after the Liturgy. I went to the Divine Liturgy again the following day just before we departed Jerusalem for Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee.
Later on, in the week, we visited the Church of the Annunciation which was built over the well where the Archangel Gabriel came bearing good news to the Mother of God. It was a great blessing to be there as we were there when a Russian pilgrim group from Moscow was there as well and we joined them for the moleben and to be blessed by the sprinkling of holy water from the well.

Cathédrale del’Exaltation de la Sainte Croix


The Cathédrale del’Exaltation de la Sainte Croix in Geneva is renovated and, in particular, its interior which now looks like this.

A special Liturgy in the St. Nicholas Church in Helsinki


Besides being the 5th week of observing the Easter lent, I expected the Liturgy on March 25th, 2018 in the St. Nicolas Church in Helsinki to be ordinary (nevertheless, always wonderfully divine).

However, for the reasons I will explain in this post, it was special, and for the same reasons, I decided to write this post.

First, several times during the Liturgy, we could hear some parts of it pronounced and sang in English, which is uncommon. According to the website of the Church itself, Liturgies are carried out in Church-Slavonic, sermons are performed in Russian. Occasional religious rites are delivered in Church-Slavonic and in Finnish. Then, the person who pronounced or sang those English parts was a priest who came from St. Petersburg, as we discovered by the end of the Liturgy. He held an important position there. The reason why he was visiting our Helsinki Patriarchy was the same for which the whole event was special.

Namely, there was a father from the English Anglican Church who was present at the Liturgy who had just a week ago converted to the Orthodox faith. Apparently, before he held an important position in one of the oldest Anglican Churches in London (but also, given the long history, it was a former Orthodox Church). And this was his first Communion. Hence, the priest from St. Petersburg came to acknowledge the important event. Also, apparently, they knew each other with the former Anglican father or could have even been friends for a long time. There was a confusion among our Russian priests as to how to address the former Anglican father, but newly Orthodox brother (as he could not keep or transfer his former religious position to the Orthodox Church, at least not simply for the time being).

We sang together for him многая лета and I believe he has felt genuinely welcome.

Another important part of this Liturgy for me was the final priest’s sermon to us. He started by asking whether we can say: “I am good”. This was indeed difficult for many of. I feel only the people who knew what the priest was aiming at could easily and loudly repeat “I am good”.

Then he continued to explain that indeed we are all good as we are made in the face of God. However, many of us, because of sins during our lives, do not feel like that anymore. Nevertheless, the father reminded that not only us, but also all the other people, are good, and how we should never be angry with or criticise the people, but only their sin that made them do something that makes us upset or angry.

Moreover, and these were the words I appreciated very much, he told us that the more we can feel our divine goodness in us (“I am good”), the more we will be able to fight the sin and become such. And to the contrary, if people allow the grime of sin to make them forget such deep goodness in them, the more likely they are to stay in sin and the harder it gets to come close to our divine and to the God.

Never hate the sinner, but only hate the sin.

Црква Покрова Св. Богородице, Хелсинки