Several sisters took the Rassaphore and Stavrophore vows in our Convent on February 20 (the Tuesday of the First Week of the Great Lent) after the Compline and the reading of the Great Penitential Canon of St Andrew of Crete. They were tonsured by the Most Reverend Pavel, Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl.
Four Rassaphore nuns and five Stavrophore nuns received the blessing to tread the narrow yet blissful path in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Here is what Metropolitan Pavel told the newly-tonsured sisters: We have sung a wonderful prokeimenon during the tonsure into the Stavrophore, “For as many of you as having been baptised into Christ have put on Christ.” The Church sings this remarkable hymn when people receive the Sacrament of Baptism. You have received a new baptism, and it is because of this Sacrament that you have had your names changed, which serves to remind you that both your internal life and your external life has to change. That is what you have now promised to God, the Most Pure Theotokos, and the holy Angels. During the Last Judgement, the Lord will not ask you what promises you made but whether you fulfilled them or not.
The good tradition to perform tonsures during the Lenten season is not accidental: it’s the time when all services and prayers are designed to help us reconsider and improve our fallen way of living. We have heard the Gospel readings during the weeks before the Lent. The examples described in the Gospel are very edifying for everyone, especially monastics. They keep us from vices and set an example to follow. Like Zacchaeus who did his best to see God, you should follow his example by seeking God restlessly.
The Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian, which is repeated in the church during the Great Lent, has a special meaning and power. The words of this prayer must be foundational for a monastic. One should especially abhor idleness. It becomes clear over time that idleness is the worst sin and it is a precursor to one’s downfall. We can’t feel anything permanently. This is how we are made and this is the result of the Fall. People must move forward and build up strength. If they stop, their ineptitude will lead to instant degradation of their way of life and their personalities. That is why the sisters who have promised to serve God, the Church, and other people for their entire lives, must build up their spiritual strength by fulfilling their promises, performing their duties, and strictly following the required prayer rules and other monastic obligations.
I would like to wish everyone God’s inexhaustible grace in their monastic life. Get saved in the Lord!”
The sisters were given new names: Eudoxia, Alexandra, Anna, Nadezhda, and Yekaterina, in honour of New Martyrs. The tradition requires that newly-tonsured sisters must stay in church for three days and nights.
Photos by Nun Helena (Strashnova)
Article from February 21, 2018
When I was 8, I suddenly realised that God existed. I can’t explain how exactly. It wasn’t a vision or something. There wasn’t anything mysterious about it. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that God was real.