Saint Herman of Alaska
Today is the feastday for Saint Herman of Alaska, who was the first person to bring Orthodoxy to America back in 1794 when he came to Alaska to illumine the Aluets. Many stories of his life full of profound wisdom and extreme acseticism abound and a few of them may be found here.
From a letter by Saint Herman (taken from previous link)
Without exalting myself to the rank of teacher, nonetheless, fulfilling my duty and obligation as an obedient servant for the benefit of my neighbor, I will speak my mind, founded on the commandments of Holy Scripture, to those who thirst and seek for their eternal heavenly homeland.
A true Christian is made by faith and love of Christ. Our sins do not in the least hinder our Christianity, according to the word of the Savior Himself. He said: I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; there is more joy in heaven over one who repents than over ninety and nine just ones. Likewise concerning the sinful woman who touched His feet, He said to the Pharisee Simon: to one who has love, a great debt is forgiven, but from one who has no love, even a small debt will be demanded. From these judgements a Christian should bring himself to hope and joy, and not in the least accept the torment of despair. Here one needs the shield of faith.
Sin, to one who loves God, is nothing other than an arrow from the enemy in battle. The true Christian is a warrior fighting his way through the regiments of the unseen enemy to his heavenly homeland. According to the word of the Apostle, our homeland is in heaven; and about the warrior he says: we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph.6: 12).
The vain desires of this world separate us from our homeland; love of them and habit clothe our soul as if in a hideous garment. This is called by the Apostles the outward man. We, traveling on the journey of this life and calling on God to help us, ought to be divesting ourselves of this hideous garment and clothing ourselves in new desires, in a new love of the age to come, and thereby to receive knowledge of how near or how far we are from our heavenly homeland. But it is not possible to do this quickly; rather one must follow the example of sick people, who, wishing the desired health, do not leave off seeking means to cure themselves.
O blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
North star of Christ's holy Church,
The light of your holy life and great deeds
Guides those who follow the Orthodox way.
Together we lift high the Holy Cross
You planted firmly in America.
Let all behold and glorify Jesus Christ,
Singing his holy Resurrection.
O joyful north star of the Church of Christ,
Guiding all men to the Heavenly Kingdom;
Teacher and apostle of the true faith;
Intercessor and defender of the oppressed.
Adornment of the Orthodox Church in America,
Blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
Pray to our Lord Jesus Christ
For the salvation of our souls!
The eternal light of Christ our Savior,
Guided you, O blessed father Herman,
On your evangelical journey to America,
Proclaiming the Gospel of peace.
Now you stand before the throne of Glory;
Intercede for your land and its people
Peace for the world and salvation for our souls!
Holy Father Herman, please pray unto God for us new converts in America!
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 10:40 AM [+]