Fr. Seraphim (Aldea) (1965 – ) – was tonsured as an Orthodox monk in 2005 at Rasca monastery in Bucovine, North Moldavia. He has a PhD in Modern Theology from the University of Durham (UK) for a thesis on Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov)’s Ecclesiology. He is currently obeying God’s calling to found the Monastery of all Celtic Saints on the Scottish Isle of Mull. This will be the first Orthodox monastery in Celtic Britain in over a millennium (See http://www.mullmonastery.com).
“Prayer in the most early stages is something you have to do. You do it because your spiritual father says so, because the Holy Fathers say so, and because Christ Himself says so. Although this is not really prayer, by following someone else – the way the Apostles did – you lay the foundation for real prayer; this foundation is obedience. You do something not out of your own will, but because someone else tells you to. You may not be aware of it, but in doing this, you have declared war on your own nature, because it is deeply un-natural in our fallen world to oppose your own will, to reject your own logic and to let go of self-control. It is against reason, against instinct, against all the things we have become in order to survive.
When you start praying, you have in fact started your wandering through the desert. It may last less than forty years; it may last until the day you die. You may see the Promised Land while still in this life; you may die in the desert, and only enter the Kingdom after you have departed this life.
The one thing that matters is that you start; as long as you keep going, you will be all right. The advice you will find in all the Fathers is to keep praying, keep yourself on the path; although you may feel it has no effect and that it leads to nowhere, in reality the fruits of this cross are already present in you. The roots of the prayer are already growing in your flesh and soul, and that is a painful process; that is why you are in pain.
During these long years, you will not be levitating, you will not be swallowed in light, but you will become more humble, more aware of how weak and limited you are, and less inclined to judge other people. These fruits are the foundation upon which real prayer will be built at the right time. If you do not go through this process of transformation, if your faith does not survive this desert, if you do not conquer this hell by patience and humility, you will not reach the Resurrection of true prayer.”
~ Excerpt from the booklet, “On Prayer”, published by The Orthodox Monastery of All Celtic Saints