St Gildas the Wise (January 29)

He was probably born about 517, provably in the North of England or Wales. His father’s name was Cau (or Nau) and that he came from noble lineage. He probably had several brothers. It is likely that one of these, Cuil (or Hueil), was killed by King Arthur (who died in 537 AD). It also appears that he may have forgiven Arthur for this.

He lived in a time when the glory of Rome was faded from Britain. The permanent legions had been withdrawn by Maximus, who used them to sack Rome itself and make himself Emperor.

He was noted for his piety and well educated, and was not afraid of publicly rebuking contemporary monarchs, at a time when libel was answered by a sword, rather than a Court order.

Gildas lived for many years as a very ascetic hermit on Flatholm Island in the Bristol Channel. Here he established his reputation for that peculiar Celtic sort of holiness that consists of extreme self-denial and isolation. At around this time, according to the Welsh, he also preached to Nemata, the mother of St David, while she was pregnant with the Saint. Read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Saint Syncletica (January 5)

St Syncletica. Fresco by Elder Sophrony Sakharov at the refectory of St John the Baptist Monastery in Essex.

Our holy mother Syncletica was born at Alexandria in the course of the fourth century to rich and devout parents, who came originally from Macedonia. From her youth, she had been seen as an excellent match on account of her great beauty, intelligence and virtues, and she had many suitors; but she remained deaf and blind to every worldly attraction, for she aspired only to spiritual marriage to Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom. Bringing her flesh into subjection by fasting and austerities of every kind, she constantly gathered her spirit in the depths of her heart and cried out night and day: My Beloved is mine, and I am His (Song of Songs 2:16).

On the death of her parents, she distributed her great fortune to the poor and then, accompanied by her blind sister, she fled far from the city. Read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

A hymn to St Genevieve

Blessed was the birth of this young maid,

To which the hierarch Germanus bare witness,

And that which he foresaw in spirit

The outcome of her life hath proven.

He suspended a coin of bronze

Upon her virginal bosom,

To be a seal of her virginity,

As it bare the insignia of the Cross. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

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The Monastic Grades

When one desiring the monastic life enters a monastery, he normally passes through three steps or stages: 1) Probationer (Novice including Riasaphor), 2) Monk of the Lesser Schema (Cross-bearer or Stavrophore), and 3) Monk of the Great Schema (Russian Skhimnik). The Probationer who enters a monastery desires to do so in order to acquit himself worthily in the angelic state, so called because Monks renounce all wordly things, do not marry, do not acquire and hold property, and live as do the Angels in Heaven, glorifying God night and day and striving to do His Will in all things.

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Blessed Elder Paisios talks about monasticism

Vatopaidifriend.In remembrance of the sixteen years since the passing of Elder Paisios, we publish a conversation he had with a person who today is a monk at a monastery in Holy Mount Athos.

–    Geronta, do all the monks understand the meaning of what it means to be a monk?

–    Monasticism is a great honor and blessing which the Lord has given to man. It is only very slowly that the monk comprehends its deeper meaning. This makes him feel a real delight. He does not stop giving praise and thanks to the Lord. He feels the great honor which has been done to him. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) Strugles, Experiences, Teachings (21)

Γέρων Ιωσήφ ο Ησυχαστής 01

Continued from (20)

5. The Differences between the Trials

Trials (peirasmoi) are so called because they engender experience (peira), since in the unseen war they do indeed afford spiritual knowledge to those who are attentive. Anything is called a trial if it is in opposition to our struggle for faith and true piety while we are pressing on towards submission to God, but they are subdivided into various kinds, according to the understanding of the Fathers. There are the trials of those taking part in the struggle, so that they may make additional gains and progress in their struggle. There are the trials of the slothful and unwilling, to make them beware of things that are harmful and dangerous. There are the trials of those who are drowsy or sleeping, in order to wake them up. Then again there are the trials of those who have distanced themselves and gone astray, to make them draw near to God. Different again are the trials of the righteous and friends of God, so that they may inherit the promise. There are also trials of the perfect, which God permits in order to bring them forward in the Church for the strengthening of the faithful and as an example to be emulated. There is also another kind of trial, again of the perfect, such as those endured by our Lord and the Apostles, who fulfilled the law of communion with the world by taking up the trials which are ours.

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The Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) Strugles, Experiences, Teachings (20)

Athos

Continued from (19)

4. On Trials and the Spiritual Law

The Fathers’ saying ‘spill your blood and receive the spirit’ could be described as the ever-memorable Elder’s permanent motto. Intrepid and courageous as he was, he left no room for queries or doubts in his life. But his ardent faith also contributed to this excellent combination, and so the results were always positive. Resolve and daring are the chief characteristics of man’s freedom which manifest his will, and with faith in God – which is all that is asked of our rational nature – they arouse and bring down upon us the divine energy which heals what is infirm and completes what is wanting.

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