Archive for the ‘Contemporary Monasteries’ Category
How can we help our children regain their faith if they stray away from church in high school or when they go to college?
We cannot do anything to help our children regain their faith if they stray away from Church as they grow up. Once our children have grown, we have to let go of them and let them lead their own lives and make their own choices and decisions. Whether we have raised them well (and the biggest part of that is giving them an example by the way we have lived our lives and spoken our words), whether we have made huge mistakes that we must learn to repent of before God and His people, or whether we have raised them well along with some mistakes, what is left to us is prayer. Prayer is not trying to manipulate our children from a distance—perhaps even thinking that God and His saints are more powerful manipulators than we are if we can get them on our side. Prayer is taking the time and making the space regularly in our lives to put our children (and all of our loved ones) in God’s hands; asking the saints for their help in doing this; asking their guardian angels and their saints to be there with them. Prayer is letting go and trusting God. Such prayer is also a powerful statement to our children that we trust them. As long as we are taking the time and making the space to rescue them, we are giving them an equally powerful message that we think they are still children, incapable of handling whatever it may be.
Will our children always “turn out right”? No. Especially not on our schedule. But if we truly pray, if we truly love God, then we give them the best possible atmosphere to choose what is good and true, even when it does not seem right to us. And they will know that we love them, no matter what. This is the way God loves. For some of us, part of the Cross we may be asked to carry is to share in the suffering He endures each time one of us turns away from Him in order to pursue our own self-willed agenda.
Overall, the best thing we can do for ourselves and our children (and for all of our loved ones) is really to learn and understand that we are always, wholly, totally in the presence of God no matter what we do or say, no matter what we endure or perpetrate. Whether we recognize His presence or not, we cannot get away from Him. If we accept this presence and the great love that He has offered us and will always offer us, even now we have a foretaste of heaven. This is a simple understanding, but it is the basis on which all theology and prayer rest. Any words of theology and prayer apart from this realization are simply “noisy gongs and clanging cymbals” (1 Corinthians 13:1). When we make the time and the space, with God we acquire the love of the Holy Spirit, and as St. Seraphim teaches us, then God can save thousands around us.
The Lanier Library Lecture Series – Saint Catherine’s Monastery – An Ark in the Wilderness – Father Justin – recorded 11-06-10
Subjects include Codex Sinaiticus, manuscripts of Mt Sinai and Greek Orthodoxy.
Saint Catherine’s Monastery is the world’s oldest continuously inhabited monastery, with a history extending back over 1700 years. In the mid-nineteenth century, it was at this monastery that what became known as codex Sinaiticus was discovered. It is the only known complete copy of the Greek New Testament in uncial script. Although this codex is now kept in the British Museum, St. Catherine’s library contains manuscripts famous throughout the world for their antiquity and for the range of languages that appear in the collection. Father Justin will show five manuscripts in particular that have been studied by scholars within the last year, as a way of demonstrating the continuing significance of the Sinai manuscripts for our understanding of the Scriptures and of the heritage of the Church.
Father Justin was born in Ft Worth, Texas, in 1949. He lived in Chile until the age of nine, after which his family moved to El Paso. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 1971, he entered a Greek Orthodox monastery three years later. He was tonsured a monk in 1977, and ordained deacon and priest the following year. He has been a member of Saint Catherine’s Monastery since 1996, where his responsibilities have included the photography of the Sinai manuscripts with a high-resolution digital camera. Five years ago, the members of the community elected him librarian.
The Lanier Theological Library is an exciting new resource for all students and scholars of the Bible. The LTL is a research library and is open to everyone who will use it responsibly. Within the library, you will find a comprehensive collection of books, periodicals, historical documents and artifacts with topics ranging from Church History and Biblical Studies to Egyptology and Linguistics. The LTL regularly hosts events with noted authors, guest lecturers, and researchers who will challenge you both academically and spiritually. Come to the Lanier Theological Library and find serious tools for serious study.
For more info on this: http://www.laniertheologicallibrary.org/
Popular authour and podcastor Molly Sabourin reflects on her experience visiting Holy Dormition Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction, Michigan.
You can listen to the podcast, entitled Salt, here. She asks, “If Christians are to be the salt of the earth, who will be the salt of Christians?”
Below is a beautiful piece of writing on the essential quality of the monastic life. It is from the website of the Holy Monastery of St. Paisius in Safford, Arizona.
BEHIND THE VISIBLE LIFE of the monastery is an invisible life of interior prayer that the monastic considers to be her deepest calling. Through such interior prayer, coupled with constant self-denial and ascetic labor, the monastic seeks to become near and like unto Christ. From her isolated cell, in daily prayer and repentance, the monastic seeks to meet Christ, to become united with Him, and to thereby allow her heart to be purified and enlarged with Christ’s all-embracing love. Only then can the monastic love her fellow man as Christ loves us all.
Accepting the fire of holy love, however, is sobering and exacting labor, accompanied by many tears. There are no guarantees (and often no outward indications) of “success.” It requires painful self-transformation to humble oneself and shed the outer shell of our nature (our jealousies, resentments, prideful aspirations, and the like) in order to find our true nature in Christ and become new creations. Indeed, only by allowing one’s heart to be humbled and enkindled by Divine Love can one be overtaken by Christ-like compassion and co-suffer with all who suffer in the world. The humbled heart enlarged by God’s love cannot bear to see any harm come to anyone, and thus it prays for everyone and is prepared, like Moses, to be erased from the book of life or, like the Apostle Paul, to be exiled from the Kingdom of God, even for the most grievous sinner or worst enemy. As St. Silouan said: “The monk is one who prays for the whole world…” That is the monastic calling; and that calling is worked out in the isolation of the monastic’s cell where, apart from the world, the monastic sees herself as she really is, with all her faults and passions and without the mediating factor of friends or family or success or recognition to tell her that she is important or good or righteous. The monastic chooses the life of obscurity and insignificance to crucify the ego. By dying to oneself, the heart is humbled and finds humanity. By withdrawing from the world, one is united with the world by being able to see oneself in all sinners. By crucifying one’s self-love, one finds one’s true self and can see others more clearly.
Strangely, then, it is from the monastic’s isolated cell and withdrawal from the world that she seeks to accomplish unity with the world. As St. Nilus wrote, a monastic is one who, withdrawing from all men, is united with all men. A monastic separates from people in order to learn to love them with complete and true love, which is inextricably bound up with perfect love of God.
The ascetic struggle begins by leaving the world so that the monastic can keep watch over herself more readily—away from the distractions of the world. It is there, in the quiet of solitude, that one can converse undisturbed with Christ, in prayer and contemplation, and can thus press toward complete victory over one’s passions.
You can visit the monastery’s gift shop here.
(Source) Schema-nun Sepphora, in the world Daria Nicholaevna Shnyakina (nee Senyakina) was an Orthodox ascetic and eldress. She was born in 1896, and desired from her early years to dedicate herself to God in monasticism, but due to her father’s early death she was compelled by her mother to marry in order to help support the family. Darya did not wish to disobey her mother. She went through many trials during the much-suffering twentieth century—“raskulachivanie”, or the confiscation of all property by the soviet authorities, famine, war, and persecution against the faithful. In 1967 she received the monastic tonsure in the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, but she continued to live in the world. Her move to Klykovo was foretold to her in 1993, when the monastery was just being built, and no one knew about its existence. Schema-nun Sepphora reposed in the Lord at age 102 in Klykovo Monastery. Many people had found a in her a spiritual mother, consoler, and witness to faith in Christ.
Excerpt from Julia Posashko’s interview with Igumen Mikhail (Semenov):
Igumen Mikhail: …We had to restore the church having no money whatsoever for it—not a cent. So we went to ask the prayers of Schema-nun Sepphora.
How does one take a blessing from a woman?
Igumen Mikhail: Schema-nun Sepphora was waiting for us. It just so happens that in 1993, when Matushka prayed to the Mother of God to show her where she would end her days, the Heavenly Queen appeared to her and said, “Wait—the priests will come from Klykovo Monastery to take you there.” She waited for two years. At first there simply was nowhere to take her. We ourselves were living in very bad conditions here; we were building a building, and when we met her in 1995 it was half completed. Matushka starting hurrying us. “Build it faster, I am going to live with you.” We did what we could to finish the building and just before Christmas of 1996 we brought her here.
How did you meet Schema-nun Sepphora?
Igumen Mikhail: We met her in Optina. I had been there a month when one day I heard that an eldress had arrived, and everyone had a high opinion of her. They said that she was spiritual, clairvoyant, and a great woman of prayer… Naturally everyone was trying to see her; many of us had only begun the religious life, and we all had a great many questions. Well, I also went to see her. I was told, “Forget it! There are abbots waiting in line to see her. You won’t get in!” On the first night I did not get in, and I resigned myself to the probability that I would not see her. However, the next day I was leaving the Church of the Entrance of the Mother of God, and a laborer said to me, “Look, they are taking Matushka. Let’s go and get her blessing!” I thought, how does one get a blessing from a woman, and what is going on? But then I saw her blessing each person carefully with three fingers. I went up to her; she made the sign of the cross over me and asked, “Who are you?” I said, Sergei. She said with surprise, “And what are you doing here?” I said, “I am laboring in the steward’s department, helping the fathers.” She was silent, and then said, “But you and I are going to live together.” Her cell attendant whispered to me, “Listen to what Matushka says to you, she is an eldress!” We stood for a bit, were silent, and then Matushka Sepphora patted me on the shoulder. “Well, run on, run on for now!” I of course walked away perplexed. Where are she and I supposed to live together? Then I just put it out of my head. I remembered that conversation only when we were bringing Matushka here to Klykovo. She lived in our monastery until her death. We do not do anything to “advertise” Schema-nun Sepphora. It all happens by itself. People know her, and she really does help people. Some people told me, for example, that she stood during an operation next to one woman… The Hermitage of the Savior “Made Without Hands” in the village of Klykovo.
But isn’t there a certain spiritual danger in people always coming to the monastery, to her relics, to pray by the grave of the eldress not because they are seeking God, but only to solve their problems of everyday life?
Igumen Mikhail: Yes, often people have a poor understanding of God, but when they come up against an obvious miracle from a specific saint it strengthens their faith. After that, God looks for action from a person. But in order to light the flame in him a miracle is often needed. He is smart enough to turn to one or another saint and prays, and the miracle happens. It is a little push, and the person begins his first spiritual steps. He may not receive the same “advance pay” the second or third time—you can’t deceive God.
Did you have such a launching point?
Igumen Mikhail: I did not seek out miracles, and it was not my goal to pray one out. I simply lived my life with the thought that I wanted the Lord to do what was necessary in me. My sole desire was to learn from people of holy life. The Lord aided me in this—I knew many elders.
*A nun’s head-covering