A Tribute to Elder Nectarios of Optina

Elder Nectarios, Disciple of the Great Elders of Optina

May 12, 2022

Ven Nectarius

During these blessed Paschal weeks, we commemorate and pay tribute to the elder Nectarios of Optina (1853 – 1928). He ascetised during the best years of the Optina Monastery and its elders, and knew the venerable elders Anatoly, Ambrose, Barsanuphius, Joseph and many other ascetics who resided here. Yet he lived to see the decline of Optina, its demise and eventual closure. He was persecuted, arrested and finally exiled to the neighbouring Bryansk region of Russia, where he knew mocking and humiliation. Yet despite all of these trials - culminating in his expulsion and closure of the monastery - he rose from death to life and enlightened many with his piety and wisdom.

His life was a mystery to many. He was largely misunderstood and obscure. He spent many years in an Optina skete and had swollen eyes. Many thought that it was the result of too much sleep, but few know about his gift of tearful prayer. He also ascetised as a fool-for-Christ.

When he was elected an elder, he thought he was unworthy of this title. Humbly, he called his election a misunderstanding. "The other elders are taking in His grace in chunks, while I have only crumbs; Disciples learn just by being in the cells of the Venerable Ambrose or Joseph, I am only a guardian there," he used to say.

To many, his words were prophetic. They saw prophecies in the way he was wearing a red ribbon, predicting the revolution and the symbols of the new era. He gathered a collection of rocks and pieces of glass that he called a museum. That way, foretold the closure of the monastery and the conversion of one of its sketes into a museum.

Many of his long-time disciples have lived to see the renewal of Optina. Some live abroad, others in faraway places in Russia, still others a few blocks away. It is deeply reassuring to know that our Church is alive, and continues to illuminate our paths and warm our hearts across generations. Venerating his relics, we never cease to be impressed by his phenomenal meekness and his ability to touch the soul of every faithful who comes to him.

On the day of his commemoration, we pray before this saint that the Lord will grant us His protection from the woeful influences of the world in its times of trouble, its temptations and deceptions, and false ideals of consumerism and worldly success. By the prayers of Saint Nectarios of Optina, may He keep us on track to His kingdom in Heaven! The Venerable Nectarios showed with his whole life that we can keep our loyalty to Christ in all circumstances. He teaches us that we should view no finite thing of this world or our finite lives as our ultimate values, but treat as such the accomplishments of our hearts and our works for Christ's sake. We learn to know our genuine treasures when we learn to remember and love God in our sorrows. misfortunes, and illness, and treat our neighbours and kin with love for His sake.

Hieromonk Nazary of Optina Pustyn

Source: Optina.ru

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