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Monasticism and spiritual fatherhood


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#201 Mother Sophronia

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 05:37 PM

In the same vein as the last few posts: " Just as the winds of turbulence require the (use of) the rudder for coming ashore- so likewise are the present times necessary, in order to reach God."
From a letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch the God-bearer to St. Polycarp of Smyrna ( celebrated today on oc)
So it seems that from apostolic times to our present day, our spiritual fathers continue urging us to bear with patience and courage what befalls us in obedience to God's will that we may thereby reach perfection and theosis. May we continue to have faith in the guidance of our spiritual fathers lest we founder upon the rocks on our way to shore.
Nun Sophronia

#202 John Frangos

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 11:51 AM

Pray for us all who remain in a secular world. Love John m

#203 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 09:33 AM

So few words: "Pray for us who remain in a secular world..." yet it moves the heart beyond words. One senses a duality, a painful division - I do not mean to misinterpret your words - but the monastic is not living in a different world. 

 

In this First Week of the Holy and Great Fast wherein we have begun and already journeyed so deeply into the glorious mysterion of Great Lent: the fallen human condition, expressed by the Canon of St. Andrew, the readings from Genesis, Isaiah and Proverbs (later to be explored in Exodus, Ezekiel and Job); so many glorious gifts offered by our Holy Tradition [extended readings of the Psalter, Prayer of Saint Ephraim, the prostrations, the anticipation of the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, the communal struggle as we join our brothers and sisters throughout the Orthodox world] truly riches beyond measure...

 

and yet:

 

"By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion...

"How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"

 

Saint Silouan the Athonite writes:

 

"Unceasing prayer is born of love,

while fault-finding,

idle talk and self-indulgence

are the death of prayer.

The man who loves God

is able to keep his mind

on Him day and night

since no form of activity

interferes with loving God."



#204 Marie+Duquette

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 06:32 PM

Thank you Father Seraphim for reminding us all that there is no duality, no separation between the monastic life and the secular world in which we all live.  Even Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Word lived in this so called "secular world"; and showed us the way to integrate the spiritual into the present moment in life. as did all the Saints,   There is, as you quote the Elder Saint Silouan, "no form of activity which interferes with the love of God,"  except sin "fault-finding, idle talk and self-indulgence,"  the "death of prayer" which is to be the Breath of Life within us.  For, the Spirit of God prays uncessingly within us,"  with unending groans.  (st. Paul somewhere in his Espistles).



#205 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 11:45 AM

Recently I have received some very beautiful books from dear friends, which have added immense blessings not only to my poor self but to the brotherhood in Christ here dwelling.

 

First I must mention: "Hommage a l'Archimandrite Starets Symeon (1928-2009)", donated by our dear friends Stefanos and Maria. 

 

I first met Father Symeon in the autumn of 1975, yet part of the richness of this book is that it allows us precious insight into the day Father Symeon met Father Sophrony and the ensuing years. Forgive my poor translation from the original French:

 

The time period is November, 1951. The place, twenty kilometres south of Paris.

 

"I explained to him in two words why I had come to see him - to seek a Spiritual Father to undertake the Prayer of Jesus."

 

"Father Sophrony told me one or two things, and then also something very special, which he could not have known in a normal way. When he spoke to me of this, it had such an effect upon me that I said: 'Bon, je suis venu, cela n'a dure que quelques minutes, mais je reviendrai.'

 

"These few moments were sufficient to change the entire course of my life...'

 

The other two books are:

 

"Everyday Saints and Other Stories" by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) and "Interior Silence, Elder MIchael, The Last Great Mystic of Valaam", by Nun Maria (Stakhovich) and Sergius Bolshakoff.

 

These three books I will go into more detail, God-willing, in the following days. As for now I must dash off..



#206 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 10:18 AM

I am remain deeply grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ that He permitted me, a miserable orphan, to live close to five years with the newly reposed servant of God, Archimandrite Iustin (Parvu); + Sunday June 16th, 2013.

 

There are certainly volumes that I could write about the precious time God granted me to be with him. For the moment I will leave this and desire only to underline one of his sayings, which is directly related to the theme of this 'thread'.

 

"A brother asked: Father [Iustin]: Abba Barsanuphius says that there was only three men left with power from God. If this was 550 years after Christ how many are there today?"

 

"Fr. Iustin said to the brother: Three hundred. For in the end times the saints will do signs and wonders but will be unknown due to humility."

 

I would like to draw attention to the amazing river of grace and miracles that daily flowed through St. Arsenios the Cappadocian,  of whom Blessed Elder Paisios of Mount Athos (+ July 12th, 1994) has this to say:

 

"I am deeply indebted to Father Arsenios, both for the name he gave me together with his holy prayers at the Baptismal font..."

 

Also to the newly reposed Eldress and beloved Abbess Evgenia (Kleidara) of the Monastery of Saints Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene in Karyes, Lesvos, on the 4th of July 2013. Yet another blazing star in Christ's Heavenly Firmament; through whom, by God's grace and will flowed an endless stream of the most glorious daily graces and miracles.

 

In all the above servants of Christ, the miracles were so numerous as to be, may God forgive me, commonplace; one might say, 'a daily occurrence'.

 

This was true also in the day to day life of my Blessed Elder Father Sophrony who reposed close to twenty years ago, on July 11th, 1993.

 

I would like to tie the strings together, as it were, and to simply underline that in times of great and dreadful temptation for the Orthodox Church in Her earthly pilgrimage, Christ has given us, if we have eyes to see, simple almost everyday people, who through their own deep repentance became vessels of reassurance, pillars of towering strength to one like myself, of frail faith.

 

I believe it is deeply imperative that one does not pine at the 'apparent lack' of Spiritual Fathers and Mothers. On the contrary, if we but pray and in the spirit of the words of St. Seraphim of Sarov to his spiritual son Nikolas Motovilov: seek, ask, knock...pray...

 

After all, Father Sophrony was and is a fountain of inspiration, and guidance, but if I do not 'till the soil' then to what profit were his loving prayers for this poor orphan?

 

The glory of Orthodox Christianity is as we have witnessed this past Sunday in which All Saints of particular geographical locales were uniquely glorified and prayed to:

 

The Lord's call:

 

"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

 

"And He saith unto them, Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men..."

 

The majesty of Orthodox Christianity is that this blessed ministry, this apostolic succession of Spiritual Fathers and Mothers does exist, is today present, 'the succession of the saints, stretching from the apostolic age to our own day, which Saint Symeon the New Theologian termed the "golden chain" to quote Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), is one of the vast Sacraments of our Holy Orthodoxy that She so desires to bestow upon us...and yet we shrivel upon ourselves in our self-made ugly melodrama of 'me'.

 

Kyrie eleison.



#207 Alice

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:24 PM

Dear Father Seraphim,

 

Evloyeite.

 

"Everyday Saints and Other Stories" by Archimandrite Tikhon
(Shevkunov) and "Interior Silence, Elder MIchael, The Last Great Mystic
of Valaam", by Nun Maria (Stakhovich) and Sergius Bolshakoff.


 


These three books I will go into more detail, God-willing, in the following days. As for now I must dash off..

 

I am currently reading 'Everyday Saints and Other Stories' by Archimandrite Tikhon...I had wanted to order it for a while now and am so glad that I finally did!

 

For any one reading this, I would like to say that it is a wonderful book, full of true life stories of holy persons and situations which inspire and uplift spiritually. One does not need to be a monastic to learn from the wisdom of the 'everyday saints'  and to be edified.

 

It is exactly what I needed right now. :-)

 

In Christ,

Alice


Edited by Alice, 08 July 2013 - 05:28 PM.


#208 Fr Seraphim (Black)

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 07:42 AM

Dear Alice,

 

Thank you for mentioning this extraordinary book. It was given to us by a dear Mother residing at the Skete of the New Martyr Elizabeth, Jordanville, New York.

 

We read from this blessed book at trapeza and I would be sore pressed to attempt which of the 'stories' is my favourite!

 

Our Abbot knows Archimandrite Tikhon and fortunately his films mentioned in the book are available on youtube. Thus, you can see brought back to life, as it were, the 'difficult Father Nathaniel', Father John et al. It is glorious.

 

Personally, I find it absolutely essential that we nourish ourselves not only from the Synaxarion, and the radiant lives of the mothers, fathers, children, monastics who have been glorified but also the lives of our contemporary Mothers, and Fathers. Herein, we find ineffable gifts, which enable us to carry on the 'good fight' of which Saint Paul speaks.

 

Father Sophrony always counselled us to read only that which moves the heart to prayer and this book "Everyday Saints..." is a flowing river, at times overflowing...from the wonder that Father Melchisedek recounts to the simple yet profound words of Mother Frosya.

 

We have only a few pages left, and one so desires to start again from the beginning. 

 

"You know what, my boys? I'll tell you something, forgive me, for Christ's sake! Do you all want to live in a monastery? You do? Well, listen up, here's the first thing you need to know: never judge anyone, not the monks, nor their superiors. Judge not, lest ye be judged. 

 

"As soon as you start judging others, there's no way you'll last. You'll fly right out of here in a jiffy!" [page 230]

 

Dear Mother Froysa found the true way for all Orthodox Christians. Her words, echoed from our Lord down through the centuries are the foundation stones and the entry into the doorway of theosis.






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