Saint Barsanuphius the Great, and his disciple, Saint John the Prophet were sixth-century saints who ascetised as hermits in the environs of the monastery of Abba Seridus in Palestine. Both received from the Lord the gifts of far-sightedness and spiritual discernment. They left a legacy of profound spiritual writings. Their teachings influenced Christian thought in the Eastern churches through the works of the Elder Paisius who had them translated into Slavonic, and the elders of the Optina monastery who translated them into modern Russian in the 19th century.
In their lifetime, they shunned fame and attention, and hence few details about their lives are known to us. Because they ascetised in strict solitude, only the abbot of the monastery saw them once a week to deliver bread and water and take their spiritual advice. The other brethren suspected that the monks were a fiction of the abbot, and insisted on seeing at least Monk Barsanuphius. When they visited him, he welcomed them, washed their feet and retired to his cell. When the patriarch of Jerusalem doubted if Monk Barsanuphius was still alive and came to check on him, fire blasted from his door to keep him from coming in.
Yet we know far more about their spiritual ascent. They corresponded with other monks and the faithful who sought their advice, and their writings testify to the high degree of their moral perfection and love for others. Their letters gave precious spiritual guidance to their contemporaries and their successors. With their prayers, they had the power to relieve people of their sins, and their knowledge of people's hearts enabled them to give advice tailored to the situation of those who asked.
Saint Barsanuphius survived his disciple St. John, but after his death took the oath of silence and never answered any questions. However, both are known as authors of the soul-profiting book called “Guidance toward Spiritual Life that inspired many saints after them, including Saint Theodore the Studite, Saint Simeon the New Theologian.
Saint Spyridon, much like our grandfather in heaven, is praying for us so we are not in need. He responds to our daily concerns and looks kindly upon us, even when we act up and do mischief.
He sought to reach every heart and mind with the word of God. A paradoxical situation existed in the Russian society of the time.
February 7 is the birthday of the Venerable Porphyrios Kavsokalivite, one of the most famous Athonite elders of the twentieth century. He reposed in the Lord on December 2, 1991, and was canonised on December 1, 2013.
On the 1st August, we glorify with great spiritual awe and affection the memory of Saint Seraphim of Sarov and pay tribute to his angelic life, which showed to many the path towards salvation.
Saint Seraphim’s life was marked by various signs and wonders testifying to his election from very early in life. At the age of seven Prokhor Moshnin (the birth name of the saint) fell from a tall bell tower but God delivered him unharmed.
Our patronal feast is like a small Easter during Great Lent. In the middle of the largest church in the Convent rests the decorated image of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God.
At the very end of July, only four days apart, the Belarussian Orthodox Church commemorates two of the very first Russian Saints who happen to be related to each other - Saints Olga and Vladimir.
Recently, we had a unique opportunity to talk about the holy martyr Vladimir Pasternatsky with his granddaughters, Nina Fedorovna Chmyreva and Tatiana Romanovna Khmelevskaya. The sister told us about their saintly grandfather and his family