The Last Chapter in the
Short Life of
Father Seraphim of Platina
by Nun Brigid 

I

    Fr. Seraphim was buried on Noble Ridge: a fitting place for one who was first given the name Eugene, which means "noble."  He was a Californian by birth, who, being inspired by the original patristic sources of Orthodoxy, was able to transform his life in the contemporary world into a hagiographical phenomenon.  Let the following brief accounts speak for themselves.

II
PRIOR TO HIS DEATH

    1. When it was apparent that Fr. Seraphim was dying, prayers was sent to God from many parts of the world, for many knew him through "The Orthodox Word" and his books, and prayed fervently that such a needed life might be spared.  A few days before his repose, an Unction service was performed in the Redding church, where Fr. Seraphim had been the pastor.  While Fr. Seraphim was enduring extreme pain and suffering in the hospital, Fr. Alexey Young saw him standing in the altar, in his usual half-bent manner, praying to God.

    2.  On the day before he died, Fr. Seraphim visited a woman, the mother of one of his spiritual sons for whom he had special concern.  Here is what she testifies.
    "This occurred before Fr. Seraphim's death.  I was working in the back room, and at the same time thinking how I wished I was at the hospital with all of you.  Suddenly time stopped, and in front of me I saw Fr. Seraphim all shining, wearing glittering, slivery vestments — these are the closest words I can use to describe the light.  I caught my breath and said, 'Oh, Fr. Seraphim!'  I was too astonished to say anything except, 'Thanks.'  Time was not running — all was now.  I will make no interpretation of this event, at this time or later.  I felt comforted, and I hope that this event comforts you also.  I am very unworthy, and I don't know what more to say about this."

Evgenia Voytan
September 14, 1982

     3. "Just before awakening on the morning of September 2, 1982, when Fr. Seraphim was dying, I saw a dream.  I was in the company of a priest unknown to me, who was reprimanding me for my sins.  He told me I must never take offense at anyone.  Together we entered a large, palatial hall.  At the end of this hall a man was standing on a raised platform and signing.  It was difficult to see him well because of the distance.  In a most beautiful voice, he was singing the Magnification, 'My soul doth magnify the Lord…' I said, "I don't hear well.'  The priest urged me to go closer and I took several steps forward.  Then I began very clearly to hear the singing.  The singer was a tenor with a voice like Fr. Seraphim's whose singing I had heard years ago in the San Francisco Cathedral.  That was in the early '60's.  Standing in the cliros, he alone sang the entire Matins service from beginning to end.  Never in my life had I heard more prayerful singing.  My soul was uplifted to the heights…  Now in my dream, I heard that same incomparable singing.  It was the same voice, but it sounded like that of an angel, a dweller of paradise.  This was heavenly, unearthly singing.

    "Waking up, I understood that there was no hope for Fr. Seraphim's recover.

    "Having the greatest admiration for the newly-reposed Fr. Seraphim, and valuing highly his achievements before God, I would like to write a few words about an attribute of his which is most dear and close to my heart.  This is his faithfulness to genuine Orthodoxy.  He did not have the slightest divergence with the teaching of the Church; he did not hold any personal opinions.  My late husband, Ivan M. Kontzevitch, was the same, having several university degrees and, towards the end of his life, completing theological academy.  It never entered his mind to sin against the teachings of the Church.
    "The teaching of the Orthodox Church is not a product of the minds of the deliberations of the great Fathers of the Church.  The Holy Spirit Himself inspired them with this teaching.  It is for this reason that Orthodoxy is unshakable.  Every offense against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:31-32).  Faithfulness to Orthodoxy in our difficult and troubled times is of great value.  Fr. Seraphim was a burning and illuminating lamp.  He left us his light in his writings.  Glory to God for all things."

Helene Kontzevitch

III
AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH

    1.  "Last Sunday in Medford, Oregon, Svetlana Jones told me that, on the night Fr. Seraphim died, she also saw him in a dream.  He was serving Divine Liturgy — in fact, he was censing — and Svetlana and Timothy were both present.  I asked her how she felt when she woke up and she said, 'Happy, peaceful.'  I felt that God allowed her this experience because of the new mission at their home.  Fr. Seraphim had expressed his pleasure at the founding of this mission, and had said he hoped to serve there one day.  Perhaps God has already permitted it."

Fr. Alexey Young

    2.  "On Tuesday night, the day Fr. Seraphim died, Martha Nichols saw Fr. Seraphim.  She was so stuck by the dream that she called me early Wednesday morning, as soon as she woke up.  In the dream she saw Fr. Seraphim in gold vestments, standing on the shore of a river.  But the curious thing was that he was wearing a white klobuk and veil, and a bishop's panagia.  Hundreds of people were coming up to him to ask his blessing, and she approached also.  But she was so much in awe of him that she was afraid that he wouldn't bless her.  She came, begging his blessing, and he gave it to her.  Then he looked at her and said that there was something he wanted to tell her husband.  Just then she woke up."

Fr. Alexey Young

IV
DURING HIS FUNERAL

    1.  The funeral of Fr. Seraphim was described in some detail in "Orthodox America."  Fr. Seraphim, who during most of his intellectual life had pondered the mystery of death, lay in his coffin looking, as it were, alive.  His face looked younger than it ever had before.  There was a triumphant peace upon his visage, and his lips, at times, were unmistakably smiling.  The sight of him in his simple, wooden coffin inside the rough wooden church expressed triumph over death.  Here is what one spiritual daughter tells:
    "I was standing before the coffin looking in, crying to Fr. Seraphim asking what I would do without him.  Without knowing how or being conscious of moving, I was looking at the large icon of Christ.  I could smell a a bad odor and heard Fr. Seraphim tell me, 'I'm rotting, I'm nothing — it was always Christ, not me.'  Then I turned my glance back to Fr. Seraphim, and the odor was decisively sweet, that of roses; and I had total peace.
    "When everyone was saying good-bye to Fr. Seraphim, all of a sudden I could see him standing above the coffin, facing the altar.  It is hard to describe; he was very bright, clean, dressed as a monk.  All the while hymns were being sung; he was censing, always facing the altar.
    "I must add that when I was in the hospital, waiting and praying, I was sitting in a chair with Fr. Seraphim's monastic mantia.  My little girl Angelina came and touched it, and began to shed tears quietly… she kept caressing the mantia and crying.  As she did this I felt warmth coming off the mantia and surrounding us."

Ellie Anderson

    2.  "Though we'd only spoken a few times together, I'd become very fond of Fr. Seraphim.  There seemed to be a great love in him.  It seemed that he was very hardworking — all his life being a laborer with very little wasted.  I was looking forward to benefiting from his counsel.  I thank God for having given me the opportunity of knowing such a person, even for only a short time.  May he sail past the tollhouses he wrote of, and into the arms of Christ!
    "The last time I saw Fr. Seraphim was in July, when he took me in the woods for a little talk.  It was very nice.  As we were leaving he said that there used to be an icon of St. Seraphim in that area, hanging on a tree.  He found it, and we sang the magnification and venerated the icon.
    "During last Friday night's reading of the Gospels over his body, I asked Fr. Seraphim to pray for me — for a specific request.  Then early Saturday morning I went outside for a little breath of fresh air.  I wanted to find that icon on the tree again, but I wasn't sure if I could spot it since it was small and sort of copper-colored and I only had a hazy idea of where the tree was.  I headed out in that direction though, and I said: "Fr. Seraphim, if you've heard my prayer — let me find that icon again."  In only a few seconds I looked and saw it lying on the ground at my feet!  I thanked him, and said a prayer to St. Seraphim, venerated the icon, and put it back on the tree from which it had fallen."

Brother David

    3.  "My sister Justina says that on Saturday night, after Fr. Seraphim's burial, Fr. Seraphim appeared to Jeremiah in his bedroom just after he'd gone to bed.  Jeremiah told Justina this on Sunday evening, after she had returned from Platina.  'Mom,' he said, 'I know that Fr. Seraphim is watching me because last night he put his hand right here and pushed hard.'  As he said this, he put his hand on his heart and pushed hard.  He wasn't afraid in any way.  This is the incident Justina wrote tome the next morning."

Fr. Alexey Young

    4.  "I have been very much moved by the death of Fr. Seraphim Rose.  A few days after having received the issue of "Orthodox America" announcing his blessed repose, my wife had a dream, during which she saw a monk coming out of a long file of hermits who came towards us and blessed us.  The following day, she told me her dream and I showed her a photograph of Fr. Seraphim which I had received from "The Orthodox Word."  She had never seen it, and she recognized the monk of her dream.  I told her then that I had prayed to Fr. Seraphim to give me a sign from him, if it pleased the Lord.

Fabian de Costa
Roanne, France - February 18, 1983

V
THE FORTY DAYS

    1.  During the forty day period, when the human soul is still attached to the earth and the Orthodox Church prays for the reposed, the dead keep some contact with their close ones.  Fr. Seraphim wrote much about this in his book "The Soul After Death."
    Fr. Herman served forty Liturgies during the period following Fr. Seraphim's repose.  The ninth day after his repose happened to be the feast day of St. Job of Pochaev (Aug. 28/Sept. 10), exactly nineteen years after the founding of the St. Herman Brotherhood.  During the night of the ninth day, Fr. Herman saw a dream in which there was a huge, dark hole.  At the mouth of the hole sat a figure dressed in white, looking as though he were in a state of reluctance.  A group of women and one man sat next to and comforted this figure.
    Six days later, on the very day the the first Divine Liturgy had been served in the wilds of Platina, the commemoration day of St. Mamas (Sept. 2/15), Fr. Herman, having served Liturgy, saw in a dream Fr. Seraphim, vested in white and lying asleep.  All of a sudden, life rushed into his face, and he opened his eyes as if radiantly greeting life.

    2.  On the fortieth day after Fr. Seraphim's repose, Bishop Nektary of Seattle, who had felt great love and respect for Fr. Seraphim, arrived at the St. Herman Monastery together with several clergymen.  After Divine Liturgy, he served a pontifical Pannikhida on Fr. Seraphim's grave, at the the closing of which he gave a sermon ending in this phrase: "Fr. Seraphim was a righteous man, possibly a Saint."  Having descended from the hillock of Fr. Seraphim's grave, he was just about to enter the catholicon, still holding the smoking censer in his hand.  Abruptly he turned around and, with great feeling, loudly began to sing, accompanied by the brothers, clergy, and pilgrims: "We glorify, we glorify thee, our holy Fr. Seraphim, and we honor thy holy memory: instructor of monks and converser with angels."1 — And the sorrow of being separated from Fr. Seraphim turned into joy.
    Scarcely five months after this even, this righteous hierarch, Bishop Nektary, reposed.  Having suffered persecution in much-suffering Russia, he died on the day that the Holy Orthodox Church glorified the New Martyrs in 1982, and has now joined Fr. Seraphim in the other world.

    3.  The co-founder of the "Holy Hierarchs of Moscow" Mission in Moscow, Idaho, writes:
    "When the news of Fr. Seraphim's death reached us in Moscow on Monday, three days after his burial, I was beside myself with grief and begged God to make me see Fr. Seraphim once more.  God heard me and I did see Fr. Seraphim again, for shortly thereafter I had a dream that I came to the monastery.  There, Fr. Seraphim took me to a certain spot on the monastery grounds, which was made accessible by a beautiful white arched foot-bridge.  Then he pointed to a spot on the ground and said not to dig on it, as it was for an archeologist to dig there.
    "When I came to the monastery for the fortieth day of Fr. Seraphim's repose, I was given an obedience to prepare the foundation for a boarded platform around his grave.  I looked around the woods: they were all golden in autumn array, and I thought that the church and the whole surroundings looked so serene and beautiful, just like an icon.  And then, while digging for the foundation, I suddenly remembered the dream I described above.  How strange!  How similar was the golden hue to that of the dream!"

Daniel Matheson - October 1/14, 1982
The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos

    4.  On the second night after the fortieth day, a midnight Liturgy was served in honor of the founder of the St. Herman Brotherhood, Archimandrite Gerasim, who reposed on the same day in 1969.  Fr. Herman, being very tired, came to take a rest in Fr. Seraphim's cell, which is called "Optina."  It was already light outside when he fell into a light sleep.  He soon woke up, having seen, next to the iconostasis of the monastery church, Fr. Seraphim, looking just as we had been accustomed to seeing him: very serious, concentrated, and a bit worried.  With urgency he was saying: "Take care of John, John."  Fr. Herman jumped up with the question, "Which John?" — for there are so many Johns.  But then he remembered one particular troubled John with whom there had been no contact for sixteen years.  Fr. Herman supposed that this was the person in need of help.  He soon fell asleep again, and again he saw the iconostasis with the Mother of God, but Fr. Seraphim was no longer there.  Being convinced that this was no ordinary dream, and knowing well how Fr. Seraphim cared for people, Fr. Herman rushed to his office to find the address of this John.  Although the address was there, the telephone number was not, and John was far away in Canada.  His mother was in an old age home in the Bay Area, but Fr. Herman was unable to contact her by telephone either.  Sending John a letter with a twenty dollar bill inside, he rushed to the Bay Area with the hope of contacting John's mother to find out whether there was any trouble.  After a whole series of futile visits to old age homes, he finally found her by midnight, only to learn that John was unemployed and in a desperate state.  He immediately telephoned a student in the city where John was living, and he begged this student to visit John.
    A week later, a reply came from this student with some stunning information.  It so happened that, after a long period of not going to church, John had decided to go to Liturgy on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.  As he entered the church he suddenly felt a strong sense of the presence of Fr. Seraphim, about whom he had not thought for years.  This feeling only increased as the service progressed.  Several nights after this, John heard in a dream someone knocking at the door.  When the door opened up, he saw Fr. Seraphim, but did not recognize him at once.  Fr. Seraphim had a long grey beard and a shabby overcoat, which he used to wear during his years of poverty in San Francisco when he was operating an Orthodox bookstore.  He spoke to John in Russian, saying in a very encouraging tone: "Brother John.  It is I.  I do not live in Platina anymore; I'm currently staying here."  He proceeded to warn him of something, but John was later unable to remember precisely what it was.
    At about the same time that he saw Fr. Seraphim, John contracted a strange stomach disease, and for two weeks he was unable to eat anything, his stomach refusing to accept food.  He rapidly lost weight and was so weak that he could not even get out of bed.  He did not expect anyone to visit him, and he knew that, even if someone would come, he had no money for medicine.  Finally, however, one of his neighbors stopped by to bring him his mail, and it was then that he received Fr. Herman's letter.  With the money from the letter John now had the means to pay for some medical treatment.  He immediately contacted a person whom he thought could relieve his ailment, and this man soon arrived, brining with him a special saline water treatment.  After receiving this treatment, John quickly regained his strength.
    When he received Fr. Herman's letter John also learned about the surgery and repose of Fr. Seraphim.  Thinking back, John realized that Fr. Seraphim's surgery had taken place on the very night that he had felt Fr. Seraphim's presence in church.  He also realized that it was on the night of Fr. Seraphim's death that he head seen Fr. Seraphim coming to reassure him.  Who knows? — If Fr. Seraphim had not appeared, and if Fr. Herman had not immediately followed Fr. Seraphim's plea for help, perhaps John would not be alive to this day.

VI
THE CLOSENESS OF FR. SERAPHIM

    1. "One day I was alone in church, in the altar (I think I was cleaning or something like that). Suddenly I thought of Fr. Seraphim and how I would never see him in this little 'dog-patch' chapel again. It seemed inconceivable to me! In an instant I felt he was at my side, there in the altar—not in some 'occult' way, not as a 'ghost,' but by God's mercy. He was there; I could feel him there, and suddenly I knew I was in the presence of the other world. I was absolutely overcome and feel to my knees and sobbed—my tears were tears of repentance for my sins, of knowing what a disgusting excuse for a man I am, and how good God has been to me in spite of all that. In the presence of the next world I felt, in just the tiniest, tiniest way, what perhaps the Prophet Moses may have felt when he ascended Mt. Siani (not to make any comparisons between myself and him!). My point is that this 'experience' of Fr. Seraphim from the other world (and it was quite real) did not at all focus my attention on him, but immediately made me see what a sinner I am before God. It is that (the realization of my sinfulness) that convinces me this was was a real experience, not from the Evil One, and not a product of my own imagination."

Fr. Alexey Young

   2. Not long after Fr. Seraphim's repose, we were all shocked to hear that Fr. Alexey Young's Matushka, Susan, was discovered to have cancer in her neck. After further examination, the worst fears were confirmed: the cancer was malignant. Everywhere people started praying to God for her. Fr. Alexey was anointing her neck with oil from the lamp at Fr. Seraphim's grave. The doctors did not give any hope. One of the parishioners wrote to us the following:
    "I don't feel that Fr. Seraphim is far way. I recently dreamt that I walked into a crowd of people, and there was Fr. Seraphim, dressed in his monastic garments with a black cap (skufia) on his head. He blessed me and said, 'Peace be with you,' and I said, 'And with thy spirit,' like in the Liturgy. He turned to a woman and put his forehead on her neck and shoulder. When he raised his head, blood was streaming out of the woman's neck and shoulder, but there was no blood on Fr. Seraphim. Fr. Deacon Lawrence, vested in white and gold, went over and, with the Communion cloth, wiped the blood off very calmly. I remember thinking—'It is really the blood of Christ!' Then Fr. Seraphim walked away with his arms around someone, as if to console that person. I didn't recognize who it was. When I woke up I realized that the woman in the dream looked, from the back, just like Matushka Susan."

Martha Nichols - December 6, 1982

Some time after this dream occurred, Matushka Susan went to the doctor for medical tests. All the tests showed negative, and the doctors told her that she would not have to come again for six months.

    3. On the twelfth anniversary of Fr. Seraphim's tonsure, the name day of Elder Nazarius of Valaam (October 14/27, 1982), one of the brothers of the St. Herman Monastery had yet another touching visitation of Fr. Seraphim. This dream occurred after the Divine Liturgy, which had been served at 2:30 in the morning, and at which this brother had partaken of Holy Communion. He writes:
    "In the dream I was standing in the chapel in front of another fellow, and Fr. Seraphim was standing in front of us, wearing vestments. It seemed as though he had something to say; but first people began coming to him from left and right and from behind him, asking for things. After he had dealt with them, he came to me, calling me by my name in an endearing tone. Then he said to me one sentence, the words of which were something very much like this: 'Remain firm in your resolve, or persevere to the end.' Then he kissed me on my forehead, and I woke up with the impression of that kiss very strong, and I felt happy."

    4. "The night before my ordination to the priesthood, I saw a dream in which Fr. Seraphim came to me, blessed me, and then embraced me, saying, 'My Son!' I was overjoyed and surprised, and said, 'Fr. Seraphim, how are you?' And he answered, as he used to say while he was with us, 'I'm very tired.' Being very nervous before my ordination because Fr. Herman could not be present at the service, I became calm and happy, knowing that Fr. Seraphim saw me from another world, consoled me, and bestowed upon me his blessing."

Name Withheld - March 7/20, 1983
Forgiveness Sunday

    5. "My cousin Judy, who is like a sister to me, had a cerebral hemorrhage on Wednesday. When she was taken in, the doctors gave her no hope of living whatsoever. I wanted to tell you about this because I'm sure it will mean a lot to you, too. That night, after I heard from Gary, her husband, about the hemorrhage, I said an Akathist to the Mother of God and just gave Judy over to Her care and to Fr. Seraphim's. I put her picture by and icon of the Mother of God and by a picture of Fr. Seraphim in his coffin. In my mind, I could picture them going down to Los Angeles to care for Judy, and in my heart I knew it was true. I slept very soundly and peacefully that night, almost like someone had put a soft, warm blanket over me. The next morning, I called down there to find out how she was, and the news was miraculous! She had turned around during the night and now she will be out of Intensive Care this week. She can talk and eat solid food; she recognizes everyone, and there is no paralysis. The doctors say it is a miracle. They have a couple of tests to do this week—I'm not sure what for, but it all looks good. So many people were praying for her and I now that's what did it… But I can't help feeling that she got special help from the Mother of God and our Fr. Seraphim."

Christina Shane - February 10, 1983

   6. "On March 5, 1983 (n.s.), three pilgrims—Paul Baba, Christopher Haddad, and Michael McGee—were desperately trying to arrive at the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina, California. After having several car problems on the way to the monastery, the three pilgrims stalled in a small town called Williams. Hitching a ride early Saturday morning, they arrived in the town of Red Bluff in the late morning hours. Stopping at a phone, Michael called the Platina General Store to leave a message for one of the monks, saying that they were stranded and were going to try to get another ride to the monastery or walk the forty-five mile long Highway 36. The three pilgrims set out walking. Since they were carrying their belongings and sleeping gear, the walk was already getting tiresome after a couple of miles. Taking short breaks was not uncommon. When they came to a farmhouse, Michael asked a tall, elderly man how far they had to go to get to Platina, and if they could use his telephone. The kind man agreed and added, 'If you are planning to walk the whole way today, you'll never make it—it's about another forty miles.' Going into the house with the man, Michael called the Platina Store to leave an urgent message that they were stranded on Highway 36 and needed a ride to the monastery. The three pilgrims continued to walk, thanking the kind, generous man for allowing them to use his telephone. The walk seemed like it would never end. One or two miles down the road, in weary desperation, Paul cried out from the bottom of his heart, 'Fr. Seraphim, help us!' Within one or two minutes, Fr. N. drove up to pick us up. Thus, the righteous Fr. Seraphim heard the cry of us weak ones. Glory be to God for all things! Amen."

Michael McGee - March 11, 1983

    7. An Orthodox believing woman, Martha by name, had great pain of heart because her father, who was a good man and did believe in God, could never find happiness in Jesus Christ, having a stamp of sadness and disillusionment throughout his whole life. How wonderful it would be, she thought, if he could feel and understand at least a little bit of Orthodoxy, and could have the happy lot with the elect in the future life. She approached him several times, trying to inspire him with Orthodox doctrine. Although he was interested, something would always prevent him from going deeper into the saving teaching of our faith. Suddenly, the sad news reached her that he had cancer and had very little time left to live. When his time came close to the end, she came to spend his last days with him. She revealed to him the fullness of Orthodoxy, and he accepted it with his whole heart. Since there was no Orthodox priest around and the time was short, she took holy water and, after saying the Creed and some prayers, baptized her father in the same manner it had been done in ancient times for similar cases. Thanks to her determination, her father died an Orthodox Christian. Some time passed, and Martha, being spiritually bound with Fr. Seraphim (for her son is Fr. Seraphim's godson), visited Fr. Seraphim's grave in order to pray and confirm whether her act of zeal had been pleasing to God. When she had arrived and prayed at his grave, she wrote a little note asking Fr. Seraphim to take care of her father who had been so new in the faith. She placed this note into a crack in the small wooden structure over the grave. Having returned home happy, she wrote a little card to us:
    "Thank you! Thank you! I had a wonderful time! After I got home, I dreamt that my dad was alive and happy. He said that he was glad to see me, and that he had been in a place he didn't feel comfortable in until the 'saint came and got him out.' Love, Martha"

    8. On his first Pascha away from his beloved monastery, Fr. Seraphim was terribly missed. Abbot Herman, having received a blessing from Fr. Seraphim on his deathbed to fulfill a twenty-year-old dream, went to spend the night of Christ's Resurrection on Monk's Lagoon in Spruce Island, Alaska. He was tense and nervous, abandoning his orphaned flock during such an important time. His brothers and sisters understood that it was St. Herman who was calling him to Alaska. With a heavy heart of doubt, he came to the grave of Fr. Seraphim and asked him to take care of and cheer up the brotherhood for Pascha while he was gone. —And evidently Fr. Seraphim did mystically visit his monastery on Pascha, for a little seven-year-old girl, whom Fr. Seraphim had baptized several years ago, saw him on the first day of Pascha. He was at the monastery, wearing all-white Paschal vestments and blessing with holy water and a censer all the grounds: inside and outside the church, all the trees and the monastery gate. We believe that Fr. Seraphim was looking after the monastery during Fr. Herman's absence.

Nun Brigid

1 Note that this was a glorification performed by a bishop, therefore "officially" counting Fr. Seraphim among the Saints.


Reprinted from The Orthodox Word
Vol. 19, Nos. 102 (108-109) January—February, March—April, 1983

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