Posts tagged ‘monasticism’

St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America

St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America was born as Vasily Ivanovich Belavin on January 19, 1865 into the family of Ioann Belavin, a rural priest of the Toropetz district of the Pskov diocese. His childhood and adolescence were spent in the village in direct contact with peasants and their labor. From his early years he displayed a particular religious disposition, love for the Church as well as rare meekness and humility.

When Vasily was still a boy, his father had a revelation about each of his children. One night, when he and his three sons slept in the hayloft, he suddenly woke up and roused them. He had seen his dead mother in a dream, who foretold to him his imminent death, and the fate of his three sons. She said that one would be unfortunate throughout his entire life, another would die young, while the third, Vasily, would be a great man. The prophecy of the dead woman proved to be entirely accurate in regard to all three brothers.

From 1878 to 1883, Vasily studied at the Pskov Theological Seminary. The modest seminarian was tender and affectionate by nature. He was fair-haired and tall of stature. His fellow students liked and respected him for his piety, brilliant progress in studies, and constant readiness to help comrades, who often turned to him for explanations of lessons, especially for help in drawing up and correcting numerous compositions. Vasily was called “bishop” and “patriarch” by his classmates.

In 1888, at the age of 23, Vasily Belavin graduated from the St Petersburg Theological Academy as a layman, and returned to the Pskov Seminary as an instructor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. The whole seminary and the town of Pskov became very fond of him. He led an austere and chaste life, and in 1891, when he turned 26, he took monastic vows. Nearly the whole town gathered for the ceremony. He embarked on this new way of life consciously and deliberately, desiring to dedicate himself entirely to the service of the Church. The meek and humble young man was given the name Tikhon in honor of St Tikhon of Zadonsk.

He was transferred from the Pskov Seminary to the Kholm Theological Seminary in 1892, and was raised to the rank of archimandrite. Archimandrite Tikhon was consecrated Bishop of Lublin on October 19, 1897, and returned to Kholm for a year as Vicar Bishop of the Kholm Diocese. Bishop Tikhon zealously devoted his energy to the establishment of the new vicariate. His attractive moral make-up won the general affection, of not only the Russian population, but also of the Lithuanians and Poles. On September 14, 1898, Bishop Tikhon was made Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. As head of the Orthodox Church in America, Bishop Tikhon was a zealous laborer in the Lord’s vineyard.

He did much to promote the spread of Orthodoxy, and to improve his vast diocese. He reorganized the diocesan structure, and changed its name from “Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska” to “Diocese of the Aleutians and North America” in 1900. Both clergy and laity loved their archpastor, and held him in such esteem that the Americans made Archbishop Tikhon an honorary citizen of the United States.

On May 22, 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for St Nicholas Cathedral in New York, and was also involved in establishing other churches. On November 9, 1902, he consecrated the church of St Nicholas in Brooklyn for the Syrian Orthodox immigrants. Two weeks later, he consecrated St Nicholas Cathedral in NY.

In 1905, the American Mission was made an Archdiocese, and St Tikhon was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. He had two vicar bishops: Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska, and St Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn to assist him in administering his large, ethnically diverse diocese. In June of 1905, St Tikhon gave his blessing for the establishment of St Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, PA.

In 1907, he returned to Russia, and was appointed to Yaroslavl, where he quickly won the affection of his flock. They came to love him as a friendly, communicative, and wise archpastor. He spoke simply to his subordinates, never resorting to a peremptory or overbearing tone. When he had to reprimand someone, he did so in a good-natured, sometimes joking manner, which encouraged the person to correct his mistakes.

When St Tikhon was transferred to Lithuania on December 22, 1913, the people of Yaroslavl voted him an honorary citizen of their town. After his transfer to Vilnius, he did much in terms of material support for various charitable institutions. There too, his generous soul and love of people clearly manifested themselves. World War I broke out when His Eminence was in Vilnius. He spared no effort to help the poor residents of the Vilnius region who were left without a roof over their heads or means of subsistence as a result of the war with the Germans, and who flocked to their archpastor in droves.

After the February Revolution and formation of a new Synod, St Tikhon became one of its members. On June 21, 1917, the Moscow Diocesan Congress of clergy and laity elected him as their ruling bishop. He was a zealous and educated archpastor, widely known even outside his country.

On August 15, 1917, a local council was opened in Moscow, and Archbishop Tikhon was raised to the dignity of Metropolitan, and then elected as chairman of the council. The council had as its aim to restore the life of Russian Orthodox Church on strictly canonical principles, and its primary concern was the restoration of the Patriarchate. All council members would select three candidates, and then a lot would reveal the will of God. The council members chose three candidates: Archbishop Anthony of Kharkov, the wisest, Archbishop Arseny of Novgorod, the strictest, and Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow, the kindest of the Russian hierarchs.

On November 5, following the Divine Liturgy and a Molieben in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a monk removed one of the three ballots from the ballot box, which stood before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev announced Metropolitan Tikhon as the newly elected Patriarch. St Tikhon did not change after becoming the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. In accepting the will of the council, Patriarch Tikhon referred to the scroll that the Prophet Ezekiel had to eat, on which was written, “Lamentations, mourning, and woe.” He foresaw that his ministry would be filled with affliction and tears, but through all his suffering, he remained the same accessible, unassuming, and kindly person.

All who met St Tikhon were surprised by his accessibility, simplicity and modesty. His gentle disposition did not prevent him from showing firmness in Church matters, however, particularly when he had to defend the Church from her enemies. He bore a very heavy cross. He had to administer and direct the Church amidst wholesale church disorganization, without auxiliary administrative bodies, in conditions of internal schisms and upheavals by various adherents of the Living Church, renovationists, and autocephalists.

The situation was complicated by external circumstances: the change of the political system, by the accession to power of the godless regime, by hunger, and civil war. This was a time when Church property was being confiscated, when clergy were subjected to court trials and persecutions, and Christ’s Church endured repression. News of this came to the Patriarch from all ends of Russia. His exceptionally high moral and religious authority helped him to unite the scattered and enfeebled flock. At a crucial time for the church, his unblemished name was a bright beacon pointing the way to the truth of Orthodoxy. In his messages, he called on people to fulfill the commandments of Christ, and to attain spiritual rebirth through repentance. His irreproachable life was an example to all.

In order to save thousands of lives and to improve the general position of the church, the Patriarch took measures to prevent clergy from making purely political statements. On September 25, 1919, when the civil war was at its height, he issued a message to the clergy urging them to stay away from political struggle.

The summer of 1921 brought a severe famine to the Volga region. In August, Patriarch Tikhon issued a message to the Russian people and to the people of the world, calling them to help famine victims. He gave his blessing for voluntary donations of church valuables, which were not directly used in liturgical services. However, on February 23, 1922, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee published a decree making all valuables subject to confiscation.

According to the 73rd Apostolic Canon, such actions were regarded as sacrilege, and the Patriarch could not approve such total confiscation, especially since many doubted that the valuables would be used to combat famine. This forcible confiscation aroused popular indignation everywhere. Nearly two thousand trials were staged all over Russia, and more than ten thousand believers were shot. The Patriarch’s message against the confiscation was viewed as sabotage, for which he was imprisoned from April 1922 until June 1923.

His Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon did much on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church during the crucial time of the so-called Renovationist schism. He showed himself to be a faithful servant and custodian of the undistorted precepts of the true Orthodox Church. He was the living embodiment of Orthodoxy, which was unconsciously recognized even by enemies of the church, who called its members “Tikhonites.”

When Renovationist priests and hierarchs repented and returned to the church, they were met with tenderness and love by St Tikhon. This, however, did not represent any deviation from his strictly Orthodox policy. “I ask you to believe me that I will not come to agreement or make concessions which could lead to the loss of the purity and strength of Orthodoxy,” the Patriarch said in 1924.

Being a good pastor, who devoted himself entirely to the church’s cause, he called upon the clergy to do the same: “Devote all your energy to preaching the word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ. May the God of peace and love be with all of you!”

It was extremely painful and hard for the Patriarch’s loving, responsive heart to endure all the Church’s misfortunes. Upheavals in and outside the church, the Renovationist schism, his primatial labors, his concern for the organization and tranquility of Church life, sleepless nights and heavy thoughts, his confinement that lasted more than a year, the spiteful and wicked baiting of his enemies, and the unrelenting criticism sometimes even from the Orthodox, combined to undermine his strength and health.

In 1924, Patriarch Tikhon began to feel unwell. He checked into a hospital, but would leave it on Sundays and Feast Days in order to conduct services. On Sunday, April 5, 1925, he served his last Liturgy, and died two days later. On March 25/April 7, 1925 the Patriarch received Metropolitan Peter and had a long talk with him. In the evening, the Patriarch slept a little, then he woke up and asked what time it was. When he was told it was 11:45 P.M., he made the Sign of the Cross twice and said, “Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.” He did not have time to cross himself a third time.

Icon and Relic of St. Tikhon, from St. Tikhon’s Monastery Church in South Canaan, PA

Almost a million people came to say farewell to the Patriarch. The large cathedral of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow could not contain the crowd, which overflowed the monastery property into the square and adjacent streets. St Tikhon, the eleventh Patriarch of Moscow, was primate of the Russian Church for seven and a half years.

On September 26/October 9, 1989, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified Patriarch Tikhon and numbered him among the saints. For nearly seventy years, St Tikhon’s relics were believed lost, but in February 1992, they were discovered in a concealed place in the Donskoy Monastery.

It would be difficult to imagine the Russian Orthodox Church without Patriarch Tikhon during those years. He did so much for the Church and for the strengthening of the Faith itself during those difficult years of trial. Perhaps the saint’s own words can best sum up his life: “May God teach every one of us to strive for His truth, and for the good of the Holy Church, rather than something for our own sake.”

from oca.org

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Book Review – The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Women’s Monastery

by Matushka Constantina R Palmer
Published by: Conciliar Press, 2012

I have just put down this amazing book, and as I sit to write this review, which I knew I would write not one full chapter into the text, I am nearly at a loss as to where to begin and how to proceed.

As I turned the page to Knot Thirty-three, the final chapter, I felt a definite sadness. I wasn’t ready to be separated from this book, but I knew that the end was near. Finishing the book left a hint of that sadness, but the pervading feeling was one that accompanied me throughout my reading – joy. I have not read a book that brought me such spiritual joy in years. Every story, every chapter, and my soul soared. It is not an exaggeration to say that my prayer flowed better these last few days, while being inspired by this book, than it typically does. The book is, as Elder Porphyrios would say, a walk down the ascetic path of joy.

Matushka has divided the book into 33 knots, or chapters, bringing to mind the 33 knot prayer rope that many Orthodox Christians wear on their wrists to remind us to pray throughout each day. Within each chapter is a series of vignettes. These stories are varied – scenes from her visits to the monastery, talks with holy elders and the nuns, work, reflections, remembrances. These vignettes are presented to us very simply; we are allowed to be there during the events and conversations. We become very fond especially of the nuns, but of all the people we are introduced to in our reading.

Having my degree in Literature (and this being a book review) I will also offer the opinion that the book is beautifully written. Matushka has a style of writing that is very fluid. Her sentences flow smoothly together, as do the stories and the chapters. The writing is simple, not ornate or “flashy,” and when combined with the content the experience is almost of being dragged through the book. Pulled, but very willingly.

Whether you have spent time in a women’s monastery or not, this book is immediately accessible to all. Potentially confusing things are explained without distracting, allowing the stories to be at the forefront at all times. In this book we encounter, even experience, the joy of Christ and the joy of the Christian life. I fear that sometimes we see following Christ as quite a burden in this fallen world – this book reminds us time and time again that “through the Cross JOY has come into all the world.”

Whether you’re a bibliophile, like me, or even if you tend not to do much reading, this book is worth your time. It a beautiful book, an exquisite experience of our Faith, and a joyful inspiration for our lives in Christ.

The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a Women’s Monastery may be purchased HERE

Matushka Constantina’s blog may be found HERE

Author Matthew Jackson

Venerable Sabbatius the Wonderworker of Solovki

Saint Sabbatius of Solovki came to the St Cyril of White Lake monastery in the year 1396, where he received the monastic tonsure. He there pursued asceticism for a long time, unquestioningly fulfilling all obediences. His humility, gentle love towards the brethren and his strict life distinguished the monk Sabbatius among his fellow ascetics. He soon became burdened by the attention and esteem of the brethren and laity coming to him, and having learned that on Lake Ladoga is the rocky island of Valaam, he decided to settle there.

The brethren of the St Cyril of White Lake monastery were very sad to be parted from their Elder. At Valaam the worldly fame also began to disquiet the humble Elder. Then the monk learned that in the north was the uninhabited island of Solovki, and he began to ask the igumen’s blessing to settle there in solitude. But the igumen and the brethren did not want to be separated from their holy Elder.

At the command of God St Sabbatius left the Valaam monastery by night and set off to the shores of the White Sea. When he learned from the local people that the island was two days distant, that on it were many lakes and that no one lived on the island, he was even more eager to settle there. The astonished local people asked the ascetic, whitened with grey hair, how he would live there and what he would eat. “My Master,” replied the monk, “gives the fresh strength of youth to the frail, and nourishes the hungry to satiety.”

For a certain time St Sabbatius remained at the chapel near the mouth of the Vyg River, in the environs of Soroka. There he encountered St Germanus pursuing asceticism as a hermit, and together they decided to settle upon the island. In a frail boat, praying to God, the Elders set off upon the harsh sea and after three days they reached Solovki Island.

The ascetics settled by the Sekirna hill, where they raised up a cross and built their cells. In the severe conditions of the north, the Elders hallowed the unpopulated island by their exploits. Here also the Enemy of mankind,the devil, tempted the holy Elders. A certain fisherman with his wife, moved with a sense of envy, came somehow to the island and settled near the ascetics. But the Lord did not permit the laypeople to remain near the monks. Two youths in bright garb appeared to the wife of the fisherman and struck her with rods. The fisherman took fright, quickly gathered his things and hastened to return to his former place of residence.

Once, when St Germanus had gone for supplies along the Onega River, St Sabbatius, alone and sensing his impending end, turned to God and prayered that He would grant him to partake of the Holy Mysteries. The monk sailed for two days to the mainland and at ten versts from the Vyg River encountered the igumen Nathanael, who had come to the distant settlement to commune a sick Christian. Igumen Nathanael rejoiced at meeting the monk, fulfilled his wish and heard the account of his exploits on the island. In parting, they agreed to meet at the church along the Vyg River.

Entering the temple, the holy Elder prayerfully gave thanks to God for Communion. He then enclosed himself in a cell located near the church, and began to prepare himself for death. During this time the Novgorod merchant John came to shore and, having venerated the holy icons in church, he went to the holy Elder. Having received his blessing and guidance, he offered the monk a portion of his wealth and was saddened when he heard a refusal. To comfort the merchant, St Sabbatius offered to let him stay over until morning, and promised him prosperity on further journeying. The merchant John, however, hastened to disembark.

Suddenly there was an earthquake, and a storm arose on the sea. Taking fright, the merchant stayed where he was. In the morning when he entered the cell for a blessing, he saw that the Elder was already dead. He and Igumen Nathanael, who had just arrived, buried St Sabbatius at the chapel and wrote a manuscript of his Life. This occurred on September 27, 1435. After thirty years, the relics of St Sabbatius were transferred by St Zosimas (April 17) and the brethren of Solovki Island, placing them in the Transfiguration church. In 1566, the relics of Sts Sabbatius and Zosimas were transferred into a church, named in their honor (August 8).

from oca.org

Upcoming Adult Church School Class

St. Silouan and Elder Sophrony

Beginning this Sunday (September 9), I will teach a once monthly adult Church school class at our parish of the Holy Resurrection. Our text for the class will be “The Monk of Mount Athos” by Archimandrite Sophrony. We will spend our time together exploring the life and teaching of our father among the saints, Silouan the Athonite. Below, I will post the letter that I gave all of the adults at the parish who intend to attend the class. It gives a general topic and reading list for our time with St. Silouan.

I will post here from the class each month.

***
Troparion for St. Silouan the Athonite: By prayer didst thou receive Christ for thy teacher in the way of humility; and the Spirit bare witness to salvation in thy heart; wherefore all peoples called unto hope rejoice this day of thy memorial. O sacred Father Silouan, pray unto Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion for St. Silouan the Athonite: In thine earthly life thou didst serve Christ, following in His steps; and now in heaven thou seest Him Whon thou didst love, and abidest with Him according to the promise. Wherefore, O Father Silouan, teach us the path wherein thou didst walk.

Dearest in the Lord-

Christ is in our midst!

From now until our Lenten classes will begin (March and April 2013) we will be looking at the book “The Monk of Mount Athos” by Archimandrite Sophrony. The general layout of the classes is detailed below (which also gives a good idea of ‘reading assignments’ month by month):

September: Intro & The Life of the Saint (chapters 1-4 [CD talk])
October: The Life of the Saint (chapters 1-4, 10)
November: Doctrinal Teaching (chapter 5)
December: Doctrinal Teaching (chapter 5)
January: Prayer/Imagination (chapters 6-7)
February: “Keep thy mind…” & conclusion (chapter 9 (also 8))

Even though the book is small, it is very dense and lovely and filled with wonderful things for us to learn, discuss, and apply. I plan to have some “teaching” time in each class, but I also hope that much of our time is open discussion and questions. As you read, please note any questions or points that you’d like to discuss, and hopefully we’ll get around to all of those things during the course of this study.

Do not stress about reading for the first class next week – we will be doing something that will not be impacted by whether or not you’ve read in the book. We will spend two weeks on the first 4 chapters (and the last), so the majority of discussion will actually take place in the October session.

I look forward to our time together in Church School this year. Continuing to feed our Faith and to grow in Christ is the most important thing we can do with our time – and I pray the class will help you all do that each and every day.

God bless!
Priest Matthew

Venerable Adrian the Abbot of Ondrusov, Valaam

Saint Adrian of Andrusov (in the world the nobleman Andrew Zavalushin), was the owner of a rich estate (Andreevschina), 9 versts from the monastery of St Alexander of Svir (August 30). He accidentally encountered St Alexander of Svir during a stag hunt in 1493, and after this he went often to him for guidance, and supplied bread for the ascetics.

Forsaking his estate, he took monastic tonsure at the Valaamo monastery with the name Adrian. Several years later, with the blessing of St Alexander of Svir, St Adrian settled in a solitary place on the peninsula of Lake Ladoga. There he built a church in honor of St Nicholas the Wonderworker. Opposite the settlement of monks in the deep forest was an island, Sala (the Thicket), where there was a gang of robbers under the leadership of Ondrusa as their ataman. Encountering the monks, the ataman demanded that they get off his land. St Adrian, knowing that he did not have money to buy the place, promised the ataman to intercede for him before God. The robber laughed at the monk, but he entreated him so long and so humbly, that the ataman softened and said, “Live.”

This ataman was soon taken captive by another gang, hidden not far from the stoney Cape of Storozhev. The hapless fellow knew that after suffering, torture death awaited him, and he bitterly repented of his former life. Suddenly, he saw St Adrian before him. He said, “You are freed through the mercy of the Lord, for Whose sake you were asked to show mercy to the wilderness brethren,” and he vanished.

The ataman saw himself without fetters at the shore, and with no one around. Astonished, he rushed to the monastery of St Adrian and found all the ascetics chanting Psalms. It seemed that St Adrian had not left the monastery. The robber fell at the knees of the saint and begged to be accepted as one of the brethren. He finished his life in repentance at the monastery. The robber of another gang also repented. Through the prayers of St Adrian, he was tonsured with the name Cyprian. Afterwards, at the place of a tributary, he built a monastery and was glorified by miracles.

The monastery of St Adrian received an endowment from Tsar Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584). In August 1549, St Adrian was godfather for Anna, daughter of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. When the saint was returning from Moscow to the monastery, robbers killed him near the village of Obzha, hoping to find money. The brethren waited for a long time for their Superior, and two years later, he appeared one night in a vision to a few Elders and told them of his death. On another day, May 17, the brethren found his incorrupt body in a swamp and committed it to burial in the wall of his church in honor of St Nicholas.

The memory of St Adrian, having received the martyr’s crown, has come to be celebrated twice: on the day of the finding and transfer of his relics (May 17), and on the day of his repose, which he shares with his namesake, the holy Martyr Adrian.

Repose of the Venerable John the Abbot of Rila

Saint John of Rila, the great spiritual ascetic of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Heavenly Protector of the Bulgarian nation, was born in the year 876 in the village of Skrino in the Sredets district [now Sofia].

After he had been orphaned, the boy became a cowherd in order to avoid people. Once the rich man beat him for losing a cow with its calf. The boy cried long and he prayed, that God would help him. When he found the cow with the calf, the water at that time flowed high and strong in the River Struma. The young cowherd prayed, he placed his own tattered shirt on the water, made the Sign of the Cross over it, took up the calf in his arms and went with it, as though on dry land, to the other bank of the river where the cow was.

The rich man, hidden in the forest, was frightened upon seeing this miracle. He rewarded the youth generously, then sent him away from his home. Having given away his things, the boy left his village. Where and when the saint took monastic tonsure is unknown.

At the very first he pursued asceticism on a high and barren hill, eating only wild plants. His hut was of brushwood. After a short while robbers fell upon him by night, beat him, and drove him off from there. Then he found a deep cave and settled in it. Soon, his nephew St Luke also settled there.

The place was quite unpopulated, so that St John at first considered the appearance of Luke a demonic trick, but learning that the youth sought the salvation of his soul, he lovingly accepted him. Not for long, however, did they live together. St John’s brother found the ascetics, and forcibly took away his son. Along the way home the youth died from the bite of a snake. The brother repented and asked forgiveness of the monk. The wanderer went then frequently to the grave of the righteous youth; his beloved place of rest was there.

St John spent twelve years in the desolate cave, and then he went into the Rila wilderness and settled in the hollow of a tree. He fasted and prayed a great deal, wept incessantly, and ate only grass. Seeing such endurance, God caused beans to grow, which he ate for a long time. The beans and his exploits made him known to people.

Once a flock of frightened sheep ran along the hilly steep paths, and did not stop until the place where the monk lived. The shepherds, following after the flock, with astonishment saw the hermit, who amicably greeted them: “You arrive here hungry. Pick some of my beans and eat.” All ate and were satisfied. One gathered many beans in reserve. Along the way home he offered them to his comrades, but there were no beans in the pilfered pods. The shepherds turned back penitent, and the Elder stood there, saying with a smile: “See, children, these fruits are appointed by God for subsistence in the wilderness.”

From that time they began to bring to the monk the sick and those troubled by unclean spirits, which he healed by prayer. Fleeing celebrity, the monk went from his beloved tree-hollow and settled on a high and rocky crag difficult of access, where he dwelt for seven years under the open sky. Reports about the great ascetic reached even the Bulgarian king Peter (927-969), who wanted to meet him. St John wrote a letter, refusing such a meeting out of humility.

Later on St John accepted under him the guidance of monks, who built a monastery with a church in the cave where St John formerly lived. He wisely tended his flock and died on August 18, 946 at 70 years of age.

Five years before his end he wrote in his own hand “A Testament to Disciples,” one of the finest creations of Old Bulgarian literature. The holy life of the ascetic and the remarkable mercies of God through his prayers were a fine preaching of the Christian Faith in the newly-baptized Bulgarian land. In the uneasy time of struggle of Bulgaria with Byzantium, under the west Bulgarian king Samuel (976-1014), St John appeared to his disciples, commanding them to transfer his relics to Sredets (Sofia), where the Bulgarian Patriarch Damian (927-972) was hiding. It is presumed that the transfer of relics took place in the year 980.

Somewhat later, the right hand of St John of Rila was transferred to Russia (presumably to the city of Rila, where a church was constructed in the name of St John of Rila, with a chapel dedicated to the martyrs Florus and Laurus, on the day of their commemoration (August 18) on which he died).

The name of St John was known and loved by the Russian people from antiquity. Data about the death of the saint is preserved, especially in Russian sources (the MENAION for August in the twelfth century, in the Mazurinsk Chronicle).

In the year 1183, the Hungarian king Bela II (1174-1196), during a campaign against the Greeks, seized the chest with the relics of St John, together with other booty, and took it to the city of Esztergom.

In the year 1187, after he embellished the reliquary, he sent back the holy relics with great honor. On October 19, 1238 the relics of St John were solemnly transferred to the new capital, Trnovo, and put in a church dedicated to the saint. On July 1, 1469 the holy relics of St John of Rila were returned to the Rila monastery, where they rest to the present day, granting grace-filled help to all the believers.

from oca.org

Venerable Arcadius of Novotorsk, Fool for Christ

Saint Arcadius of Vyazma and Novy Torg was from the city of Vyazma of pious parents, who from childhood taught him prayer and obedience. The gentle, perceptive, prudent and good youth chose for his ascetic feat of being a fool-for-Christ. He lived by alms, and slept wherever he found himself, whether in the forest, or on the church portico.

His blessed serenity and closeness to nature imparted to the figure of young Arcadius a peculiar spiritual aspect and aloofness from worldly vanity. In church, when absorbed in prayer, St Arcadius often wept tears of tenderness and spiritual joy. Though he seldom spoke, his advice was always good, and his predictions were fulfilled.

An experienced guide, St Ephraim the Wonderworker of Novy Torg (January 28), helped the young ascetic to avoid spiritual dangers while passing through the difficult and unusual exploit of foolishness. After this the people of Vyazma witnessed several miracles, worked through the prayers of Blessed Arcadius, but the saint fled human fame and traveled along the upper Tvertsa River. Here St Arcadius shared the work with his spiritual guide St Ephraim, and with him founded a church and monastery in honor of the holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb (May 2).

Entering into the newly-built monastery, St Arcadius became a monk and took upon himself the exploit of full obedience to his spiritual Father, St Ephraim. St Arcadius never missed Liturgy and he was always the first to appear for Matins together with his spiritual guide. After St Ephraim’s repose (January 28, 1053), St Arcadius continued to pursue asceticism in accord with the last wishes of his Elder, dwelling in prayer, fasting and silence. After several years, he also fell asleep in the Lord (December 13, 1077).

In 1594, a chapel dedicated to St Arcadius was built in one of the churches of Vyazma. A combined celebration of Sts Arcadius and Ephraim was established by Metropolitan Dionysius in the years 1584-1587. The relics of St Arcadius, glorified by miracles of healing, were uncovered on June 11, 1572, and on July 11, 1677, they were placed in a stone crypt of Sts Boris and Gleb cathedral in the city of Novy Torg (New Market). In 1841, the left side chapel of Sts Boris and Gleb cathedral church was dedicated in honor of St Arcadius. The solemn celebration of the 300th anniversary of the uncovering of the holy relics of St Arcadius took place in the city of Novy Torg in July of 1977. He is also commemorated on August 14 and June 11 (Transfer of his relics).

from oca.org