In 1967 they arrested him again. But he was amnestied and released. After returning to Novy Afon, he continued his activities, tonsuring monks and gathering together all those who wished to be saved, regardless of age or health or status in the world. This greatly displeased the authorities, and in 1969 he was forcibly driven out of Novy Afon. Then he bought two houses in the town of Tkvarcheli and rehoused his monastery there, all the time looking for a worthy bishop of the Catacomb Church.
Once, in 1969, he went up to Novy Afon and there celebrated the Passion of Christ with exceptional feeling. The next day he asked a woman, who is now Nun E., to take a donkey, go down the mountain and buy something for Pascha. She bought some food and loaded it on the donkey, which made the saddle loose. As she was tightening it up, she somehow rubbed the hair of the donkey, who got irritable and kicked her with his hoof over the edge of the precipice. She flew through the air, thinking: "Lord, what a stupid death I'm dying! They won't even be able to bury me, they won't find my bones."
Suddenly some force lifted her up and seated her on a tree as if on a horse, so that not even her glasses were broken, although her shoes fell into the abyss. Some people who were passing then dragged her out by means of ropes. Meanwhile, Fr. Gennadius was descending the mountain.
"Well then, astronaut," he said. "Everything okay?"
"Forgive me, Batyushka, by your holy prayers everything's okay."
She was going to tell him everything, but he knew it all already.
Fr. Gennadius was very attentive to the sick. He himself looked after them and nursed them. Sometimes he would come up and throw them a bit of herb, as if for a joke, and this herb would do its work. In half an hour the person would not feel the pain anymore and would be healed. Once, at Holy Theophany, 1970, Nun E. fell ill with mastitis that threatened to change into a malignant tumour of the breast. During the blessing of the waters Fr. Gennadius poured a mug of holy water onto her breast. She was healed, and to this day by his prayers God has had mercy on her and she has not had to have an operation.
VI. BISHOP SERAPHIM (POZDEYEV)
In 1970, by the Providence of God, Fr. Gennadius heard that Bishop Seraphim (Pozdeyev), whom he had met in Gomel prison, was living illegally in the town of Barnaul.
Bishop Seraphim had suffered much since parting from Gennadius in Gomel prison. From 1939 to 1945 he was in the Siberian camps of Kemerovo. In 1945 he was released from prison and was exiled to Buzuluk.
Almost immediately he resumed his apostolic activity in the Catacomb Church; for in the biography of Metropolitan Manuel (Lemeshevsky) of Orenburg and Buzuluk, we read that in his sermon on the Sunday of All Saints, 1945, "he delivered an accusatory sermon against the self-styled Bishop Seraphim who had appeared in the Chkalov [Orenburg] diocese". However, Bishop Manuel, who had been a confessor of the Faith against renovationism before succumbing to the subtler temptation of the Moscow Patriarchate's neo-renovationism, decided to come to terms with Vladyka Seraphim. In 1946 or 1947 he visited Vladyka, talked with him for about a day, and then left Novice L. remembers that when Manuel left Bishop Seraphim was very pleased. He said that Manuel had allowed him to serve needs in the region from Orenburg to Buzuluk, which was equivalent to administrative permission from the Soviet authorities. Without this Bishop Seraphim would have been under constant threat of arrest for his independent activity.
Novice L. says that Bishop Seraphim did not go into the churches of the Moscow Patriarchate, but sometimes pretended to be drunk, went up to them and accused many of the people there of secret sins. For he was clairvoyant. Bishop Seraphim never hid from them that he was a bishop.
Novice L. used to go to Orenburg and receive money in the churches for Bishop Seraphim. They would give it to him with the blessing of Bishop Manuel. Vladyka Seraphim was very kind and would give away everything that the believers offered him.
By his prayers many people received healing. For example, there was a five-year-old boy called Alexander who had not been able to walk since birth. He used to sit rocking in a chair and say: "O God, give me legs!" Vladyka made the sign of the cross over him and gave him two sticks. The boy began to walk, first only with the two sticks. The next day Vladyka came and took away one stick. And the third day he took away the second stick, and the boy began to walk well. Now Alexander Makov lives in the town of Chernigov (he is the grandson of Protopriest Alexander Makov).
Another well-known incident concerns the healing of a hunched-up girl who had fallen ill during the war. Vladyka was serving in the flat where Maria Struchkova lived in the village of Kirsanovka in Tomsk district. Once after the service Vladyka said:
"Maria, give me some water."
And this in spite of the fact that she had been lying in bed without getting up for three years! After these words, as Maria herself witnesses, she felt as it were a current passing through her, and she began to be able to use her arms and legs, and to walk. But her arms were not completely healed. She is alive to this day and lives in Orenburg.
The following story is well-known, but few know that Vladyka Seraphim was the bishop who worked the miracle. Sometime in the 1950s, there was a birthday party for a young girl called Zoya in her house in Kuibyshev. She had invited her friends, but a young man called Nicholas with whom she was friendly did not turn up to congratulate her. They had had an argument before this, and she was waiting for him to make a step towards reconciliation. But he did not do that. After supper they all began to dance. But she, having no-one to dance with, took an icon of St. Nicholas and said:
"My love is also called Nicholas, but he hasn't come, so you will be instead of him."
She took the icon and began to dance with it. But she had not danced a complete round when she froze on the spot and became as stone, so that no-one could move her. Her friends were frightened and ran away. She stood in this way throughout Lent without anyone being able to do anything. The doctors said that she was alive, but she neither ate, nor drank, nor fell down. Multitudes of people came to look at her. Sometimes she cried:
"The whole world will burn with fire. Repent, soon will be the Coming of Christ."
The authorities surrounded the house. They wanted to cut a hole in the floor, but when they began to do it, blood began to flow out of the boards. Then they tried to force-feed her and cut a hole in her windpipe, but neither scalpel nor knife could make any impression on her body. Various clergy from the patriarchate came and read prayer-services. Even Patriarch Alexis served a prayer-service to take away the icon from Zoya. But the icon would not be parted from her. And only three days before Pascha Bishop Seraphim arrived and took the icon away from her with the words:
"Well, you've stood there long enough. Give me the icon."
Zoya came to herself, and then said:
"O Mama, how terrible it is in that world. How people go wrong when they take the things of this life seriously and joke about the life beyond the grave without even knowing what awaits them."
She lived for three more days and on the Radiant Resurrection of Christ departed to the Lord.
In 1952 Bishop Seraphim was again imprisoned on a charge of preaching monarchism, this time in Central Asia. But in 1956 he was released after the Khrushchev amnesty. According to one source, he was then a great schema-monk with the name Anthony. According to another source, he received the schema shortly before his death.
On being released, Bishop Seraphim was directed by the authorities to return to Barnaul, where Basil Konstantinovich and his wife Olga looked after him.
The KGB visited them every week. Usually Bishop Seraphim would have a premonition of their visits, and, to avoid their persistent inquisition, would pour over himself a bottle of vodka which he always had at hand for this purpose. He also began to sing songs, pretending to be drunk, so that the authorities, on looking at him, would invariably step back, wave their hands and say:
"What kind of a bishop is he - he's a drunk!"
And in the end they left him in peace. They decided that he was an alcoholic and would not declare himself to be a bishop and undertake spiritual activity.
But Bishop Seraphim did undertake spiritual activity. Although he had no opportunity to celebrate the Divine Liturgy openly, he always went around the houses of the faithful with the Holy Gifts and gave them Communion. For this purpose he had a bag with a double bottom made for him. Under the first bottom lay the Gifts, the Holy Chalice and everything that he needed for the service. Then he stuffed the bag with toys, so that people would not suspect that he was carrying anything important.
He had been told that the people of Barnaul would accept him. However, they did so only in part. Many people claimed that since he had been released from prison and there were no other bishops, that meant that he had signed an agreement with the authorities. They did not believe that he had been released because of the poor state of his health. Nor did they see the Providence of God in it.
At his first Pascha in Barnaul, Bishop Seraphim invited all his spiritual children. There was a nun there who led a very ascetic life, doing 12000 prostrations a day. The Lord revealed to the bishop that she had not long to live, and that she did not need to punish herself like that anymore. He told her this in an indirect way:
"Matushka," he said, "the application has been put in, your place is prepared, sit down and drink some tea."
But since people suspected him of having ties with the KGB, she thought that he had written a denunciation to the police, that a place had been prepared for her in prison, and that she had only to sit down and drink some tea and wait until they came for her. These words dismayed her. She got up, struck the table with her fist and said:
"That's enough. I'm fed up with your jokes."
The bishop's face changed sharply, and he said, three times and with great seriousness: "To hell, to hell, to hell."
At that moment she had an attack of a liver disease, it was impossible for her to sit at table, and a strong smell came out of her mouth. This became stronger with every passing day. People told her:
"Matushka, humble yourself before Vladyka."
But she did not want to humble herself. And only ten days later, when her condition had worsened, did she ask people to go to Vladyka and ask his forgiveness and prayers for her. Vladyka welcomed this as indicating a disposition to repent, and said:
"I've forgiven you long ago, but whether God will forgive you - I do not know."
Two weeks passed, she humbled herself and decided to come to him herself. Falling at his feet, she said:
"Holy Vladyka, forgive me the accursed one, for becoming proud of my labours."
"God will forgive you, and I forgive you," he said, "but you will not receive the same glory. Because you became proud you have lost that glory, but for your humility the Lord will give you back everything, but not to the same degree."
She wept bitterly, but he said:
"There's no way I can help you, matushka."
Bishop Seraphim tonsured and ordained people only after a long testing period. "Quality before quantity," he used to say. Thus he had a spiritual son called Amphir whom he decided to elevate to the episcopate. Before Lent he said to him:
"Do you object if we lay on you the yoke of Christ and elevate you to the episcopate after Pascha, but on the condition that you carry out a test that I will impose on you during the Great Fast?"
He was to sit in reclusion (in a bath-house) throughout Lent. Amphir very readily agreed, thinking that this was an easy test - he could read the books of the Holy Fathers and pray. So he quickly asked for a blessing and after Forgiveness Sunday entered reclusion. In the second week of Lent, the bishop, as was his wont, had to go to various places to give Communion to people. During this period some people began to knock on Fr. Amphir's door and tempt him to come out, saying:
"What a fool you are, sitting in a bath-house! He's gone around the parish and enticed all your spiritual children, saying that Amphir's no good. And now people will go to him while you wait here in a bath-house. You'll be left with nothing."
Amphir accepted these diabolic thoughts and in the fourth week of the Fast he came out of his reclusion without waiting it out until Pascha. He came out in the morning, and in the evening Bishop Seraphim arrived back from his parish. While he was still on the way the Lord had revealed to him that Amphir had left his reclusion, and he said:
"O Amphir, I was weeping for you even before I got here - why did you listen to those people?"
"Forgive me, Vladyka," he replied, "and pray for me."
But Vladyka said: "A word is a sword; to speak is to wreak. You have broken your word. There will be no consecration."
At Pascha a nun arrived and told the bishop about a vision she had had. The heavens had been opened to her, and through them she saw patriarchs, metropolitans and bishops passing in groups of four towards the Lord. But in one row there were only three.
"Where is the fourth?" she asked.
Then it was revealed to her that the fourth was to have been Amphir...
In Barnaul there lived Fr. Alexander, a 45-year-old widowed priest who had been ordained by the Catacomb Archbishop Melladius (+April 2, 1953, in Rossozh). In 1965 Bishop Seraphim, who had known Archbishop Melladius, proposed to Fr. Alexander he tonsure him and consecrate him to the episcopate. After taking counsel with a spiritual nun, Fr. Alexander accepted the offer. Then Bishop Seraphim together with another Catacomb bishop called Alexander (Pruzhansky) - other sources give other names for the second bishop - wrote to Fr. Alexander (Alpheus in monasticism), inviting him to come to Barnaul for the consecration.
Bishop Seraphim came to meet him at the station. Although he had put on some torn clothing, he noticed that he was being followed by the KGB. So on meeting Alpheus (then still Alexander) he said:
"Sanya, how about drinking half a bottle of vodka?"
But Alexander never drank vodka, and he found it strange - two priests drinking vodka on the street? But this was a critical moment. The bishop bought a bottle of vodka, sat on some logs and drank it, shouting in the meantime at the passers-by. When the vodka had done its work, he was quite drunk, because it was late in the day and he had not eaten. Fr. Alexander had to drag him on his shoulders for two blocks, like a little boy. When they had arrived home and slept, Bishop Seraphim said:
"You know what the two of us would have got, Sanya? Five years."
Bishop Seraphim took a long time testing Fr. Alexander before raising him to the episcopate. He was afraid of outsiders penetrating the Church, and, noticing Alexander's indecisiveness, he sent him home after a month without consecrating him. But three months later he again sent him an invitation, saying:
"For lack of material, we shall have to consecrate you, Alexander Mikhailovich. If there were a choice, I would not consecrate you, but since there is no choice, you will be a kind of left luggage room of grace, so that apostolic succession should remain in someone until the right time. Then, when the Lord sends the right person, one who is energetic and necessary for the Church, this succession will not be broken, but will be preserved."
Many evil rumours circulated about Bishop Seraphim. Besides the accusations of drunkenness, people used to say that he was a magician. Nun E. knew Bishop Seraphim personally. She recalls him complaining to her:
"What a state we've reached - they think I'm a drunkard and a magician."
Bishop Seraphim received his full share of slanders.
In Barnaul during the last years of his life Bishop Seraphim was accompanied by two clerics: Bishop Alpheus and Fr. Alexander Shabelnik. A few days before his death, in the spring of 1971, Bishop Seraphim raised Fr. Gennadius to the rank of bishop. The story was as follows.
Already in 1968 Fr. Gennadius had prophesied that he would soon be giving blessings with two hands. When Nun E. objected and pointed out that the reposed Fr. Alexander had looked for a Catacomb bishop for twenty years without success, he replied:
"You'll see it with your own eyes."
Before going to Bishop Seraphim in Barnaul, Fr. Gennadius sent a monk there to find out what kind of life Bishop Seraphim lived. The monk returned from this trip disappointed:
"Why did you send me there? I didn't like Vladyka Seraphim's manner of life. It's so dirty in his house - loads of empty bottles lying around, cast away corks..."
"That's his disguise," replied Fr. Gennadius, and taking a staff he went to Bishop Seraphim himself.
Seraphim himself had prophesied to Olga Konstantinovna that a great man whom he had been waiting for all his life would come to him soon. For, although there were other bishops, he used to say:
"O Lord, I am dying in great anxiety, because these people will do little for the Church."
And yet when Fr. Gennadius first arrived, Bishop Seraphim did not immediately recognize him.
"Where have we seen each other?.." he asked.
"We were in a single cell in Gomel prison. You were sleeping on my sheepskin coat, and I was covered with your coat."
And then Gennadius reminded him of the policeman who had fed them at midnight, and of their walks in the prison courtyard together.
Seraphim's face changed, the tension in it - he had got into the habit of extreme caution with people - disappeared. He joyfully recognized Gennadius.
"You know, Vladyka," said Gennadius, sobbing, "I still pray for that red army man. If it hadn't been for him, we could not have had this meeting."
Vladyka Seraphim sat Gennadius at the table and blessed the meal. They sorrowed together: over the quenching of faith in Russia, over the death, one by one, of the last confessing bishops. The Sergianist Moscow Patriarchate had betrayed Orthodoxy. There was no-one to teach the people; there were no elders, no intercessors for Russia.
Then, after the meal and while they were reading the Psalter, Vladyka Seraphim was enlightened from above. He decided to consecrate Fr. Gennadius to the episcopate. This took place on May 6, 1971.
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