On August 14/27, 2014, the Forefeast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, His Grace Bishop Maxim visited the St. Herman Monastery in Platina, California, together with the Western American Diocese’s special guests Abbot Archimandrite Metodije and Monk Damaskin of the Holy Monastery of Hilandar on Mount Athos, and Milivoj Randjic, Director of the Foundation of the Holy Monastery Hilandar in Belgrade.
Bishop Maxim and the guests arrived in the morning, and went into procession to the monastery church, where the hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated. Serving together with His Grace and Abbot Metodije were Abbot Damascene and Hieromonk Paisius of the St. Herman Monastery. During the Liturgy, at the time of the Small Entrance, Abbot Metodije tonsured two of the monastery’s ryassaphore monks, Fr. Gabriel and Fr. Moses, into the small schema (stavrophore). At the tonsure, the monks were given the names Salathiel (after the Holy Archangel Salathiel—2 Esdras 5:16) and Ignaty (after St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, a great monastic teacher of 19th-century Russia), respectively.
Both during and after the Liturgy, Bishop Maxim offered words of spiritual exhortation to the assembled monastics and faithful, which included Abbess Dorothea and the nuns of nearby St. Xenia Skete. To the newly tonsured monks Salathiel and Ignaty, he cautioned that Orthodox spiritual life, and particularly monastic life, is “risky”—in that one has to freely give over one’s life to Christ without knowing beforehand all the trials one must face, but while holding in one’s heart the assurance that God will faithfully draw one to His Kingdom.
At the trapeza meal, Abbot Damascene thanked His Grace, Abbot Metodije and the other guests, and spoke some words about the meaning of monastic life. Then Abbot Metodije answered questions from those present. In his answers he drew from his deep and broad knowledge of the Lives of the Saints, the sayings of the monastic fathers, and stories of holy elders of recent times. All were greatly edified by his counsel. One of the stories that especially “stuck” in the minds of the brothers was about a monk who asked one of the Fathers for a word on the monastic life. The Father said: “I’ll give you three words. The first is ‘Endurance.’ The second is ‘Endurance.’ And the third is ‘Endurance.’” With this the Father brought home a necessary foundation of monastic life, and indeed of all Orthodox spiritual life—for, as our Lord said, “He that shall endure to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
The St. Herman Monastery feels very blessed to have had Abbot Metodije of the Royal Athonite Lavra of Hilandar come to tonsure its monks. By the grace of God, this has served to establish a closer relationship between the ancient Monastery of Hilandar—with its holy tradition from St. Sava, St. Symeon and other great Fathers—and the relatively new and small Monastery of St. Herman in America’s western “frontier.” The monastery in Platina is grateful to His Grace Bishop Maxim for arranging this special event, and of course to Abbot Metodije, his monastic brotherhood, and the Foundation of the Holy Monastery Hilandar.