Most Holy Theotokos intercede for us!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Pascha on Spruce Island

"One Tuesday of the third week of holy Great Lent I returned to my beloved desert from Ouzinkie. I spent Pascha here all alone at the grave of Elder Herman. I cleaned and decorated the whole church beforehand, and everything was beautiful. Many candles and lamps were burning. I served Matins, singing in the middle of the church at the coffin of the Elder, and my soul was overjoyed. I finished serving Liturgy and returned home to my cell at 4 a.m. I also sang the Paschal hymn in my chapel. In my cell everything is so clean, cozy; the lampadas were burning, kulichi (Paschal breads) were on the table, and there were deep red eggs on the green moss. A bouquet of flowers stood on the table as well. They were live flowers, Alaskan flowers! Earlier, I had broken some branches of berry bushes and had put them into a jar of water, and they had blossomed out right in time for Pascha. The little blossoms are just like little pearls and they are covering all the branches. Beautiful!--all the more so because our nature is still fast asleep--there is absolutely no greenness around.

But as for Pascha cheese, I have not seen any for all of the last 27 years. It is impossible to obtain cottage cheese here at this time of the year. Creoles and Aleuts do not even have the sligtest idea about it. But I remember it every year. With tears did I send my Paschal greeting to my native Russian people during that wondrous Paschal night...

For me this feast day, this holy night alone clearly speaks of Christ's Resurrection and tells us that the time will come when we will all resurrect and will be eternally singing of the Pascha of Christ. Never is Christ so close to us sinners as during the Great Light-Bearing Paschal Night. But nowhere do people so joyfully, so triumphantly celebrate this feast as in our Russia.

Thus the Lord allowed me to serve Pascha at the grave of the righteous Elder Herman, which I had been wishfully thinking about all the time. Glory be to God!

On Pascha day, a skylark played
And on the airy pathways rode.
To azure heights he was conveyed;
He sang a Resurrection ode.

That pristine song was then repeated
By fields and hills--the woods did sing.
'Awake, O earth!' they thus entreated,
'Awake and greet your risen King!'

'Awake, O mountain, stream and dale,
And praise Him with the Seraph bands,
For death He's made of no avail!--
Rejoice, you verdant timberlands!'

'O silver lily, columbine
And violet, blossom out with awe
And waft your fragrances divine
To Him Who's made of love a Law!'

It's midnight now, twelve o'clock! The sea is roaring, although it is quiet, for I cannot hear any wind.

I have no news, because I live alone in the forest."

--Father Gerasim of Alaska (+1969). Written in 1943. Excerpted from "Father Gerasim of New Valaam," by Gerasim Eliel, 1989.)


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Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of God, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, for thou hast born the Savior of our souls.