"Moscow will knock his socks off" - Elder Amvrosy

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Barbara
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"Moscow will knock his socks off" - Elder Amvrosy

Postby Barbara » Sat 4 November 2017 4:08 am

Today on the UTC being the Kazan Icon Day, it is also a special Feast for the Elder Amvrosy of Optina - founded Shamordino - Kazan Convent.

In honor of that, I wanted to relate a small story about the perils of disobedience to a TRUE Elder.

There was a citizen of Kozelsk, a rural town near Optina Hermitage, named Kapiton, whose son became of age to go out to find work opportunities in bigger cities. Rightly, Kapiton took his son to the Skete to obtain the blessing of St Amvrosy for this aim.

When the two were seated in the corridor outside the great Elder's cell, he came out and went over to speak with them. The father explained what he wanted for his son. The Elder gave his approval but stipulated that the son go to Kursk.

Kapiton behaved wrongly. Instead of meekly accepting this great gift of guidance from God through His representative, the father insisted that Moscow would be a better choice. Why ? Because the family knew people there, whereas they knew no one in Kursk.

HOW WRONG is human reasoning !
The Elder rejoined, "Moscow will knocks his socks off and smack him with boards", and returned to his cell.

Kapiton obstinately sent his son to the former capital, where all appeared to go well. The Devil often arranges such a scenario to give erring people a false confidence. Surely here the family smirked, telling themselves, "What does that Elder know about business and life in Moscow ? He never goes outside the immediate area, after all" when news reached them that the son had found a fabulous construction job right off the bat.

However, after a little while, out of nowhere, some boards at the construction site fell from a tall height right onto this boy's legs. Hence Moscow 'knocked his socks off' but in a most unpleasant way !

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The young man turned out to be a cripple for the rest of his life, though he did recover slightly.

Moral of the story : never question a TRUE Elder !

But ALWAYS question a fake elder AT EVERY TURN. NEVER, EVER obey a false elder such as abound today. Nor fall for fads such as fake miracle stories and / or veneration of various people who may not in fact be true saints.

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The Kursk-Korennaya Icon as She may have appeared at the time of evacuation with the White Army from southern Russia to Europe and thence America. Did She look like this at the time of Elder Amvrosy's advising that young man to seek work in Kursk during the 1870s or 1880s ?

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Re: "Moscow will knock his socks off" - Elder Amvrosy

Postby Barbara » Sun 5 November 2017 2:17 am

Here is what the Moscow Kremlin looked like in 1870. Of course, a trip to such a resplendent city would appeal to anyone from the provinces. But one has to do what he or she is told by such a pre-eminent Elder without trying to change it to suit one's own convenience or wishes.

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Re: "Moscow will knock his socks off" - Elder Amvrosy

Postby Barbara » Sat 11 November 2017 4:35 am

If you notice, on the right sock [!], it says "[Heart] St. Friday"
I figured this can only be a reference to St Paraskevi Pyatnitsa, the Friday Saint.
She is quite popular in Russia, at least in Moscow, where I recall a Church dedicated to her. Also one in Sergiev Posad.
Amazingly, today is her Feast Day -- and it's a Friday !

Time to take out the samovar on the left sock and have a pleasant tea in her honor.


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Re: "Moscow will knock his socks off" - Elder Amvrosy

Postby Barbara » Tue 31 July 2018 4:29 am

[ The above post refers to the picture I had found of a pair of socks saying something like Welcome To Moscow. At least right now, it's not showing up. I could try reposting it, I guess .]

Now ! In honor of one of the 2 Feast Days of St Gabriel of the 7 Lakes Monastery [Kazan] and Eleazar Monastery in Pskov today, I want to relate a story involving Elder Amvrosy and this Gabriel when he was a novice at Optina. Gabriel had it in mind to escape Optina for various reasons. Primary among these was the superiors' failure to tonsure him time after time, even when all the other novices who had arrived around the same time as Gabriel were being tonsured in batches. Also, the young novice from Perm had feelings of not fitting in, a lot of strange illnesses for a young man resulting in an overwhelming sentiment of "maybe I am too much of a burden for the Optina monks, I'll try Moscow instead, where I can probably find a monastery to tonsure me quickly, since they don't seem to like me here." Probably, small thoughts of "...and where I will finally be appreciated" may have crept in.

When sentiments like these refused to stop revolving around his mind, Gabriel grabbed his walking stick and set out from the Monastery part of Optina for the Skete to consult Elder Ambrose. However, the young novice was intercepted by the latter's cell attendant Fr John who later would shine as the great Elder Joseph, Elder Ambrose's hand-picked successor.

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Right here, this is a propitious event that Elder Amvrosy sent his favorite cell attendant to run to meet the ailing novice [ victim of typhoid, which is quite serious but odd to find at that monastery in this era, as far as anyone knows ].

The future Elder Joseph led the future Elder Gabriel up to The Elder of Elders. Whereupon Fr Amvrosy, as usual, made a joke to lighten up the situation. "Hey, runaway," he teased the young man, "Why did you try to leave without asking ?" That means, of course, without getting a blessing from himself, Elder Ambrose.

How did the spirit-bearing Elder know that Gabriel was considering abandoning Optina ? Obviously, supremely well-developed clairvoyance. Now did Sri Matrona ever tell someone something like this ? What about Archbishop Luke of Simferopol ?

Gabriel sheepishly asked forgiveness, muttering that he feared that God was not happy with his entry into Optina, and that he had damaged his parents by leaving them for the monastic life. His father had even fainted and had to have been carried out when Gabriel was departing.

Elder Amvrosy's shrewd reply ? "DON'T LISTEN TO THOSE THOUGHTS !" -- "They're from the Devil !"

The Elder paused, thinking. He resumed, "It seems to me that when you entered the monastery, you didn't repent of everything. You've neglected some sin."
"By this, you've left a hole for demonic thoughts to enter," the wisest of spiritual teachers pinpointed the source of the torments the novice had undergone.

What could be more insightful than this assessment ? Again, did false saints Sri Matrona and Luke the surgeon ever come up with such a sharp answer, cutting right through the layers of emotions and demonically-induced confusion to diagnose the patient's TRUE trouble ? If Elder Amvrosy had relied on human logic rather than divinely-bestowed shrewd intuition, he would have tried to reason with the agitated petitioner. He would have set forth all the reasons why monasticism is pleasing to God and how parents must gratefully accept this vocation for their children as a gift from heaven, etc.

As always, people do not remember all their sins so readily. It took one of Fr Amvrosy's famous 'slaps' across the forehead for Gabriel to suddenly recall the incident from his youth. The boy had performed an incantation to get the family cows to return home without any human help. It seemed so harmless that he had never once thought it as a sin, let alone to mention it to the local priest.

Elder Amvrosy's reaction is interesting. Despite having heard literally everything in his numerous years of eldership, he was amazed. At this distance, we don't know exactly why, but it's something to ponder. Assigning him a lenient penance after a short lecture, Fr Ambrose had Fr John help the hobbling Gabriel back to the Monastery. Weak perhaps, but sounder now in spirit !

So we now come to the original words of the Elder upon seeing Gabriel. "Hey, runaway".

Later, after having escaped to Moscow after all, the now-tonsured Fr Tikhon was miserable. Do we understand by Elder Amvrosy's admonition that Moscow was NOT the right place for the young monastic ? Probably. The answer is easy to find in a remarkable dream that Fr Tikhon had while residing at the Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery [ founded by St Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow ]. In this dream, Elder Amvrosy admonished the tormented Tikhon : "Flee from Moscow !"

Even more conclusive was a real-life set of letters from Elder Amvrosy to his spiritual son in turmoil. The great teacher -- who is never known to have been wrong about ANYTHING whatsoever -- told Fr Tikhon loudly and clearly "Go anywhere you wish, but GET OUT OF MOSCOW altogether." This meant : neither live as a monastic there, nor live in the Russian capital at all.

So we see the same advice given for 2 vastly different people : the earlier example of a worldly young man with no spiritual aspirations and a dedicated monk. This advice can be worth thinking about even today.

What happened to Gabriel/Fr Tikhon ? While he tried to be obedient, seeking ways to leave the Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery, he felt he was told by a voice to go to the Theophany Monastery, which he did. Probably not the wisest response.

Best would have been for him to remember every word of Fr Ambrose's conversation and dwell constantly in his thoughts and prayers on how to obey that obvious insistence of the Elder that he NOT run away from Optina to begin with.

Then once having run away to Moscow, why not run back to Optina ? This is what his former superior, Abbot Isaac [Antimonov], urged him in correspondence to do.

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But Fr. Gabriel turned down the counsel of both senior Elders. Instead, he followed his own path, which nonetheless led to a highly respectable Eldership. Grand Duchess Elizabeth sought his counsel, for example, in his later years. Together with a few of her nuns from the St Martha-Mary Convent in Moscow, she traveled all the way to Kazan to attend his funeral at the Kazan Theological Academy Church. This was on September 24, 1915, barely a few years before the deluge of the Bolshevik Revolution broke out. One may consider Elder Gabriel of Kazan and Pskov as extremely fortunate that he did not have to suffer through the impending nightmares facing Russia.

More importantly, however, even than that fact : one wonders what would have happened differently - and assumedly correctly within the will of God - had St Gabriel [Zyryanov] obeyed the most spiritually advanced luminary of that century, Elder Amvrosy ?? As well the insistent requests of St Isaac of Optina ?




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Re: "Moscow will knock his socks off" - Elder Amvrosy

Postby Barbara » Wed 8 August 2018 4:27 am

Another instance of Elder Amvrosy steering supplicants away from Moscow and to provincial cities instead.

"In 1874 a young clerk from the city of B. prepared to go to Moscow to look for a job, but he went to visit Fr Ambrose beforehand to ask for advice and a blessing.

Receiving him, the Elder said "It's not for everyone to live in Moscow -- go to Voronezh."

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Voronezh is 550 km from Moscow, so that was a vastly different directive that the Elder gave to this clerk

"But I don't know anyone there !" answered the young man.

"That's nothing, you will get to know people !" said the Elder.

In accordance with the blessing of the Elder, he went to Voronezh, lived there for a week and, not finding a job, set out on his return trip with bitterness. Having reached Tula, he stayed in a hotel and here became acquainted with a flour merchant from Voronezh, who hired him. After three years he got married and continued to live in the Voronezh Province, carrying on a large bread business,"

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Bread business in Voronezh today [ no old pictures available in English language search ]

The lesson here is to not give up so quickly like this young man tried to do. Once the TRUE Elder blessed something, it's going to work. One just has to be flexible, adaptable in mentality. Rather than narcissistically expect everything to be handed to one on a platter the 1st day and if not, to dump the project like a pouting child and run away.
The Elder was wise from every angle, and always paid sharp attention to practicalities. Then as now, Voronezh is a far less costly city in which to live than Moscow, and much, much safer.

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Re: "Moscow will knock his socks off" - Elder Amvrosy

Postby Barbara » Sun 7 October 2018 11:51 pm

Brief coverage of Elder Gabriel's life to provide fuller background for the above post, as today is his repose day - in 1915.

Gavriil Fyodorovitch Zyryanov was born on March 14, 1844, in the Province of Perm, in the village of Frolovo, Irbitsk District.

The future Elder was given a religious education, but his parents had a hard time releasing him to go into a monastery. Upon arriving in Optina on August 13, 1864, Ganya was moved to tears. The Abbot said, "You see, you have broken into tears…. Never forget the day you entered, and remain as you are today. If you live like that, you will be saved."

Gavriil carried out obediences in the bell tower, the bread bakery, the prosphora bakery, and managed the Abbot's kitchen. He was spiritually nurtured by Ven. Amvrossy and Ven. Hilarion of Optina.

Gavriil was under obedience in Optina Hermitage for 10 years, but his tonsure was delayed, of course causing the young postulant to sorrow, for tonsure was not an award, but a form of repentance. Gavriil moved to the Vysokopetrovsky Monastery in Moscow. One year later, in 1875, he was tonsured and given the name Tikhon, in honor of Holy Hierarch St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, and was ordained a hierodeacon.

In 1881, Fr. Tikhon escaped the hubbub of life in the capital by going off to the Raitha Hermitage near Kazan. On January 24, 1883, Fr. Tikhon was ordained a hieromonk, and was appointed to be spiritual director for the brethren.

Soon Hieromonk Tikhon was transferred to the Sedmiyezernoye [Seven-Lakes] Hermitage. It was there, 10 km from Kazan, that the future schema-elder spent 25 years of his life, and it was there that his gift of eldership fully manifested itself.

In 1892, Tikhon was tonsured into the Great Schema, with the name Gavriil, after the Archangel Gabriel. In 1902, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite.

The fact that he enjoyed considerable spiritual authority, as well as his active participation in management, caused dissatisfaction among some of the monks and in certain lay circles. Among the complaints frequently lodged with the Synod was a denunciation to the effect that he had caused the ruin of the monastery and that he belonged to the Social-Democrat party. After being relieved of his responsibilities, "batiushka almost died of shock." Later he was cleared of the charges.

At the end of June 1908, Schema-archimandrite Gavriil came to the St. Eleazar Monastery in Pskov. Archimandrite Gavriil combined an intense prayer life (repetition of the Jesus Prayer 12,000 times per day, the Midnight Office, kathismas, hours, vespers, and cell rule) with the service of eldership, and active correspondence with clergy and laity alike. In 1912, the elder grew noticeably weaker. In July 1914, the War began, and the elder was forced to move to Kazan. It was there that he reposed in the Lord on September 24, 1915. He was interred at the church in the Sedmiyezernoye Monastery.

After the Sedmiyezernoye Hermitage was dissolved in 1929, Ven. Gavriil's relics as well as the Sedmiyezersk Smolensk Icon were in the keeping of Hieroschemamonk Seraphim Kashurin...

Since the year 2000, his relics have been in the restored Sedmiyezersk Hermitage."

https://stjohndc.org/en/orthodoxy-found ... l-zyryanov
[ this site makes the mistake of listing the Elder's repose day as October 7/20, when it should be Sept 24/Oct 7, 2015 ]

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The Elder's reliquary at the Seven Lakes Monastery outside Kazan, which housed a famous miracle-working Smolenskaya Icon of the Mother of God. It was the obedience of Fr Gabriel to carry this Icon in procession to other towns as an obedience - more of his constant traveling in a life of moving around from place to place ! Had he remained at or returned to Optina, the future Elder would not likely have gone anywhere [unless, like St Barsanuphius, he was sent to the front of the war with Japan as a military chaplain]


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