Forty-five years ago today, Eugene (the future Father Seraphim) Rose and Gleb (the future Abbot Herman) Podmoshensky started the journal The Orthodox Word as a work of the Father Herman of Alaska Brotherhood they had formed (which would become the St Herman of Alaska Monastery). On 29 September, for $200, Eugene received the printing press he’d purchased. The Archbishop John who blessed their work, is the (now) St John Maximovitch.
On September 30 , Eugene recorded: “Today, less than twenty-four hours after our printing press arrived, Archbishop John came to our shop ‘by chance.’ When he saw the press his first thought was to bless it with holy water and prayer, which he did immediately. Thus our press is spiritually born on this day.”
The title of the Brotherhood’s magazine was given by Archbishop John. Gleb had originally thought of calling it The Pilgrim, after the outstanding pre-Revolutionary Russian journal The Russian Pilgrim (Russkiy Palomnik), and also after his favorite book, The Way of a Pilgrim. Together with Eugene, he chose five possible names for the magazine and sent the list to Archbishop John, asking him to give his blessing to the one he thought best. On September 30, 1964, the same day he blessed the printing press, the Archbishop wrote back, suggesting a title that the brothers had not submitted:
May the Lord bless you in the second year of the Brotherhood’s activity, and in its necessary undertakings. It would be good to call the publication you have planned “The Orthodox Word.”
I’m calling God’s blessing upon you and all the members of the Brotherhood.
Within a few weeks Eugene and Gleb printed the first page on their new press; one of the spiritual instructions of St. Seraphim of Sarov. Their dream of starting an Orthodox journal was becoming a reality, although from a financial point of view it seemed inconceivable. “We’re dreaming about a magazine and we can’t even afford the paper!” Eugene wrote to Gleb. “Nonetheless, if we work hard God will bless us.” (Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, pp 290-291)
That journal is still in circulation, and to it I subscribe as so many others.