On the 15/28 of August the Church commemorates the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.
On the eve of the Feast John (Shayne) Swenson, an iconographer and close friend of the monastery, arrived for a short pilgrimage bringing with him a beautiful, newly completed icon of St. Herman of Alaska for the Church.
We attached a small relic of St. Herman to the icon itself and then placed it in a large frame, placing it to the right of an icon of St. John Maximovitch and on an analogion beneath an icon of St. Innocent of Alaska.
For those interested in purchasing an icon he has painted, contact him either on Facebook or go to his website: http://shayneswensonicons.com/
We are pleased to announce that three new types of soap and a new type of incense are all now available for purchase from our online store.
Lime Sherbet is made with 100% coconut oil and whole milk instead of water. It is a hard soap, very bubbly, deeply cleansing while still moisturizing… ; Basil Milk is a whole milk soap made with all vegetable oils. It is very mild, gentle and nourishing to the skin… ; and Cypress, Pine and Cedar is a perfect blend of wood scents from essential oils of the cypress tree, pine tree and cedar–all trees which still grow in the lands of the Scriptures… More details of all these soaps can be found at out store’s website!
The new incense that is now available as well is Honeysuckle. This handmade honeysuckle incense, is one of the premium incense scents crafted by the monks of Draganac Monastery using an authentic Athonite recipe and only quality materials sourced from Greece. A white floral bouquet of pure honeysuckle complemented with touches of jasmine, honey, citrus notes, lavender, vanilla musk and sandalwood.
Today our brotherhood celebrates the Patronal Feast of our monastery. Thirty-three years ago the beloved and ever memorable Archimandrite Dimitri (Egoroff) of Santa Rosa, CA tonsured Father Paul and me as Orthodox monks, having embraced Orthodoxy after many years as monks in the Eastern Catholic Church. Guided and inspired by Father Dimitri’s kind and prayerful spirit, and a wisdom and holiness gained through his many years of monastic struggle, our brotherhood was planted on the firm ground of the Russian monastic tradition.
It was thirty-three years ago we chose to place ourselves under the banner of the All-Merciful Saviour, and the protection of the Holy Virgin. We chose Saint John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, as our patron, seeing in him the sanctity, simplicity, and holiness that we’d found in our blessed Father Dimitry of Santa Rosa, California.
It was thirty-three years ago that All-Merciful Saviour Monastery was founded, and thirty-one years ago that, after a six month search, we moved the monastery from a working class neighborhood in Richmond, CA., to Vashon Island, with the blessing of our bishop.
It has been a journey filled with poverty, suffering, and persecution, yet because of these experiences, the monastery has risen like a phoenix. Planted like a garden in the midst of a beautiful forest, on an island, in the Salish Sea of the Puget Sound region of the State of Washington, we look in wonder at all God has given us.
For all this we offer our heartfelt thanks, and “to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen (I Timothy 1:17).”
The actual Feast Day of the monastery was this past Wednesday, but because I was in Alaska, we chose to commute the celebration to Saturday, August 17th. To our friends and benefactors, we want you to know how grateful we are for your financial and prayerful support.
The monastery was greatly blessed on the First of July when Archimandrite Cherubim (Apostolou), a member of the Theophileon Brotherhood of the Skete of St. Anne on Mt. Athos, visited bearing the relics of St. Anna, the mother of the Theotokos, and to whom the Skete of St. Anne is dedicated.
One of the elders of the Theophileon Brotherhood was Hieromonk Anthimos who reposed in 1996, and whom Fr. Cherubim had the great blessing to have had as his confessor. Elder Anthimos is considered to be one of the most recently identified “saints” of the Athonite peninsula. His relics are enshrined within their chapel, dedicated to the Feast of the Presentation of Mary to the Temple, commemorated on November 21.
The Skete of St. Anna is the oldest and the largest Skete of Mount Athos, remaining in the spiritual care of the Great Lavra. It is located on the southwestern shore of the peninsula, situated some 500 meters up on the cliffs above the sea. The Skete is accessible either by boat, one hour from the port of Daphne, followed by a climb of over 2,000 steps from the sea floor (approximately one hour hike) or by foot, a six and a half hour hike from the aforementioned monastery.
This was not the first visit of Archimandrite Cherubim to our monastery; he visited some thirty years ago or so as well, when we were just beginning to lay down the first roots of the monastic life here, and blessed us with some relics of four saints he had brought from the Holy Mountain.
We were truly blessed to venerate and pray before the grace-filled relics of St. Anne herself, but also to have the opportunity to be breathe in some of the cool and refreshing “spiritual oxygen” (as St. Paisius of Mt. Athos called it) from one of the monks of the Holy Mountain – sometimes the simple kindness and love of a fellow Christian (and monastic!) engaged in the same struggle is enough to strengthen one to continue carrying one’s Cross.