A thankyou to all who made Sunday such a sociable gathering, as we congratulated our two Olga’s on their nameday. Thank you to each of our Olgas for the refreshments served in the churchyard. I hope that, weather permitting, we can organise some refreshments each week, as the late start to Liturgy means that it is quite late when we break our communion fast.Continue reading →
This coming weekend, we will celebrate the Troeruchitsa (Three-Handed) Icon of the Mother of God, which is associated with the healing of the great Church Father and hymnographer, St John of Damascus.Continue reading →
At the moment, I’m reading “Women of the Catacombs”, an account of underground Orthodox life centred on a catacomb parish in Sergiev Posad from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. In this simply written and engaging memoir, the second-cousin and mother of the late Father Alexander Men speak of their spiritual lives, initially under the spiritual direction of their dukhovnik, the Archimandrite Serafim.
In one letter to Vera Iakovlevna Vasilevskaia – Men’s second cousin – Archimandrite Serafim describes humility with great spiritual clarity…
“Humility is the door opening up the heart and giving it the means to a spiritual existence. Humility gives the heart graceful rest, to the mind it gives peace, to one’s thoughts – concreteness. Humility is strength, encompassing the heart, separating it from all that is earthly, giving it understanding about the existence of eternal life, which cannot enter the heart of the carnal person. Humility gives the mind its original purity. It begins to see clearly the difference between good and evil in everything. And to each spiritual situation and movement it knows their name, as the primordial Adam named the animals according to the characteristics he perceived in them. With humility, silence proposes to be imprinted on everything that is in each person, and, in this silence, the spirit of human beings, submitting to the Lord in prayer, hears his prophesies. Until the sensation of humility resides in one’s heart, there cannot be pure prayer…”
“Women of the Catacombs” – edited and translated by Wallace L. Daniel, Northern Illinois University Press, 2021.
Prayer of St Nikolaj (Velimirovic) to the Most-Holy Theotokos
Petrovskaya Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God: Cell of Hieromonk Mark.
Waves of passion disturb my spirit, great sadness and anguish have overwhelmed my soul. Embalm my soul with Thy Son’s peace, O Most Holy One, and by His Grace drive away every doubt and despair. Calm the storm of my sins that, like a fiery worm, burn me, and quench its flame. Fill my heart with joy, O Most Pure One, and disperse the fog of my iniquities before me, for it confuses me. Illumine me with the light of Thy Son. Helpless is my soul, and everything is cumbersome, even prayer. Here I am, cold as a stone, my lips whispering prayers, while my heart remains immovable, for it is smothered in anguish. Melt the ice which envelops my soul and warm my heart with Thy love.
I rely not on human protection, but fall down before Thee, O Most Pure Sovereign Mother of God; reject me not, but hearken unto the prayer of Thy servant. Sadness has overcome me; I can endure the demonic attack no more. I have no protection; there is no shelter for this poor man, and in this battle I am ever being wounded. I have no consolation, but in Thee, O Holy Sovereign. O Hope and Protection of all who believe, reject not my prayer.
O Most Holy Mother of Christ, Most Pure, Most Blessed Theotokos, Satan is pounding at me like the waves of the sea against a ship, pursuing me by day and tormenting me at night. I have no peace; turbulent is my soul, my spirit trembles. Hearken, O Most Holy One and help me. Intercede before the dear Lord that He may have mercy on me and forgive the sins I have committed. O Most Holy Mother of Jesus, Thy grace is great, and the mightiest opponent to the powers of Hades. Thou art able to save even the greatest of sinners who, having been cast into the depths of hell by unclean powers, should call upon Thee. So too, save me, for lo, Satan will have me stumble and will destroy my faith, but I trust in the Lord. I magnify Thee, Who art more holy than the Cherubim and the Seraphim.
When thou, O martyred Tsar, wast imprisoned by those who contend against God, thou didst have great joy with thy Tsaritsa and children when the minister of God visited thee to perform the divine services. Such a pious Tsar and anointed one of God did a great many of the people reject, for they were not mindful of the word of God which calleth upon all to honour the ruler; and the wrath of God came upon us all. Wherefore, in repentance we cry out: O Lord, through the intercession of the great passion-bearer, the martyred Tsar, grant Thou to the suffering Russian land deliverance from those who contend against God and the restoration of the throne of our Orthodox tsars.Continue reading →
“Why was Tsar Nicholas II persecuted, slandered and killed? Because he was Tsar, Tsar by the Grace of God. He was the bearer and incarnation of the Orthodox world view that the Tsar is the servant of God, the Anointed of God, and that to Him he must give an account for the people entrusted to him by destiny, for all his deeds and actions, not only those done personally, but also as Tsar. . . Thus did the Orthodox Russian people believe, thus has the Orthodox Church taught, and this did Tsar Nicholas acknowledge and sense. He was thoroughly penetrated by this awareness; he viewed his bearing of the Imperial crown as a service to God. He kept this in mind during all his important decisions, during all the responsible questions that arose. This is why he was so firm and unwavering in those questions about which he was convinced that such was the will of God; he stood firmly for that which seemed to him necessary for the good of the realm of which he was head.”Continue reading →