AntiSmoking : Saints/holy men

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Barbara
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AntiSmoking : Saints/holy men

Postby Barbara » Sun 1 July 2018 4:23 am

I picked up a copy of Dr. Constantine Cavarnos' Anchored in God which, I hate to admit, had been sitting around for quite a long time waiting to be read. This book tells of the famous Greek Orthodox professor's 3 journeys to the Holy Mountain, primarily covering those he made in 1954 and 1958. The lovely hardback volume with quaint illustrations on the covers fell open to the page describing the Athonite monks' attitude toward smoking tobacco/cigarettes.

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Dionysiou Monastery trapeza. Absolutely NO Smoking allowed here to defile the magnificent frescoes !

"Not only noise and secular and instrumental music, but also smoking is considered irreverent, and is forbidden in the streets of Karyes and in the courtyards of the monasteriese. "The fumes of tobacco", I have heard a monk say, "are the incense of the Devil" [ Interesting description ! ]

This should not be taken to mean that no Athonite monk smokes. But the practice among the monks is rare. At some of the monasteries, such as Dionysiou, the monks are absolutely forbidden to smoke, and certain monks, known as "zealots" abhor the practice.

St Nicodemos the Aghiorite [ 1749-1809 ], whose writings are highly esteemed by the monks of Athos, particularly the zealots, has devoted a special section of his Manual of Counsel to a condemnation of smoking. He regards it as especially unbecoming to the clergy, because it is opposed not only to the health of the body but also to morality, being very "Loathsome, abominable, and vulgar" [ 1885, p. 57 ]"

In 2018, exactly 60 years have passed since Dr. Cavarnos' 1958 journey. How much has this distaste for monastic smoking has endured, we wonder ?

If anyone is acquainted with the situation today - either on Mt Athos or in Valaam - the Northern Athos - or in Optina or other monasteries throughout the world - please inform us.

Afternote : I only now read that Dr Cavarnos himself accepted monastic tonsure at -- elder Ephraim's St Anthony's Monastery in Arizona. [ He reposed there as a schemamonk March 3, 2011. ] So this thread definitely belongs in World Orthodoxy - so far.

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Barbara
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Re: AntiSmoking : Saints/holy men

Postby Barbara » Sat 22 September 2018 3:27 am

Rule number 14 of Jordanville Seminary Rector Archbishop Averky [Taushev]'s regulations for seminarians in the 1950s and 60s was listed as :

14. Smoking and the use of alcoholic beverages is absolutely PROHIBITED

http://gavaisky.blogspot.com/2012/08/ru ... roost.html

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Barbara
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Re: AntiSmoking : Saints/holy men

Postby Barbara » Sun 30 September 2018 4:21 am

Few holy figures were as vehemently opposed to smoking as Starets Feofil of the Kiev Caves. If only his approach had been widespread instead of rare, there may not have been such wild behavior during the Revolution half a century later after Feofil's time.

But not only ruffians were smoking. Even cultured members of the intelligentsia smoked, as well as members of the Imperial House such as Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, sister of Tsar Nicholas II. See viewtopic.php?f=6&t=12637&p=74065&hilit=Grand+Duchess+Xenia#p74065 ]

Here is a marvelous story of Feofil's miracle to wake up an otherwise well-intentioned Church writer, historian and journalist :


"Aside from his love and compassion for animals and birds, Starets Feofil had other customs and habits. To begin with, he disliked smokers and could not bear the smell of tobacco.

"You see, you've become intoxicated with the devil's poison," he would sternly reproach his visitors who smoked. "You've come to the cloister to spread the tobacco infection. Of what good is it for you to approach the Holy Mysteries tomorrow with that tobacco on your breath? Go away from me! You don't have my blessings!"

Once Feofil was walking along a lane of the monastery yard with a devotee from the city and was carrying a crock of grated winter-radish in kvas, when he was approached by Viktor Ignatievich Askochensky, the editor-publisher of the journal "Domestic Discussions". He was puffing away on a cigar.

As he opened his mouth to speak, he exhaled tobacco smoke right into Feofil's food. The Blessed One said nothing but dipped his finger into the crock and sprinkled the smoker with some of the liquid.

Upon returning home, Askochensky sat down to dinner, but the dish served had an overwhelming odour of winter-radish. Askochensky did not suspect the cause of this. He only sent the serving back and asked for another. It was brought, but again, the same odour prevailed. At this point Askochensky became angry and began chastising the cook and servants. But there was no explanation for the odour. The second course was served, and again, the dish set before Askochensky reeked of winter-radish. It was the same with the third course. Askochensky became very agitated. He stormed out of the house and went to the home of a friend.

Upon being received by his friend, he was greeted with the comment that he smelled strongly of winter-radish. Nevertheless, he asked his friend for something to eat, explaining about the careless preparation of the food at home which rendered it inedible. How great was his amazement when even at his friend's table the food reeked with the odour of winter-radish. Utterly bewildered, he went to the bakery to buy some cookies. He returned home and sat down to tea and cookies,

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Russian tea with tea cookies. Let's hope Viktor Ignatievich consumed ones like these which are vegan and gluten - free !

but, alas, they too bore the stench of winter-radish. For three days poor Askochensky was driven to utter despair. Everyone he met commented on how much he reeked of winter-radish.

The unfortunate man tried desperately to find the cause of this phenomenon and finally he remembered the encounter with Starets Feofil. Conscious of the impropriety of his act, he set out to Kitayev to the Blessed One. He begged forgiveness and straightway the unpleasant odour disappeared."
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com ... art-5.html

Now, quite opposite to the vague, gossamer spider web stories spun by the creators of the Abp Luke 'the Blessed Surgeon' and 'Matrona of Moscow' legends, here we have precise testimony of Feofil's wonder-working ability. This was no novice reporter for the faraway Kamchatka Gazette, but a famous author based in Kiev itself. We have a picture of this man who suffered the winter-radish odor affliction

Image

and we know even today who he was and what he accomplished. Wikipedia informs us :


"Viktor Ipatyevich Askochensky (Russian: Виктор Ипатьевич Аскоченский, 13 October 1813—30 May 1879) was a Russian writer, journalist and historian.

Born in Voronezh into a clergyman's family and a Kiev Theological Academy's alumnus, Askochensky the historian is best remembered for his work on the history of the [sic] Orthodoxy in Ukraine. Much discussed was his novel The Asmodeus of Our Times (Асмодей нашего времени, 1858), a passionate paean to Orthodoxy. In 1858 Askochensky launched the magazine Domashnyaya Beseda (Home Soliloqy) which he edited for twenty years until 1877 when he became hospitalized for mental illness. He spent the rest of his days in the Peter and Paul Hospital in Saint Petersburg, where he died on 30 May 1879. He is interred in the Coastal Monastery of Saint Sergius.

Apparently, the writer Sergei Nilus was in favor of Askochensky's conservative, Church-based ideas, while Feodor Dostoevsky was opposed to them.

Therefore, we know that Askochensky made his mark on the thought of his day. He was a Slavophile ; his novel was written to counter radical ideas of the age with religious-based ideals. Thus liberals could not stand him and some historians belittle Askochensky as 'a reactionary', which sounds like Soviet terminology though the description comes from a Western author.

While the Kievan publisher's journal appeared only in 1858, while St Feofil reposed in October 1853, this discrepancy is explained by the fact that these stories were collected and compiled into a book quite some time after Feofil's death. Thus, readers at that time would have recognized Askochensky's name from the title of the publication, Domestic Discussions - as it is translated above. Wikipedia rendered this as Home Soliloquy <-- and spelled it wrong.

Moreover, Askochensky was buried in a highly prestigious cemetery :

"Some of the noblest and richest families of Imperial Russia, including the Galitzines, the Stroganovs and the Yusupovs, patronised the monastery and had their burial vaults on the grounds. The local cemetery is the burial site of a number of Russian nobles, including the Zubov brothers, Prince Alexander Gorchakov, Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg... The graves of the Dukes of Oldenburg and Leuchtenberg, both closely related to the Russian imperial family, were either lost or desecrated during the Soviet period.

"It used to be one of the richest monasteries of the Russian Empire and formerly contained seven churches as well as many chapels." -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coastal_Monastery_of_Saint_Sergius
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Unidentified exquisite Church at the Coastal Monastery of St Sergius, at Strelna outside St Petersburg. Postcard tellingly has translation into French rather than what it would be today [English], reminding one how the French language was used for international communications in the Western world for centuries up til the late 19th century.
Note the extra-tall klobouks on the 2 monks.

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Re: AntiSmoking : Saints/holy men

Postby Maria » Sun 30 September 2018 5:29 am

Thanks for sharing these stories, Barbara.

Surely the holiness of Orthodox Christian elders has left a deep impression on you.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: AntiSmoking : Saints/holy men

Postby Barbara » Tue 2 October 2018 4:37 am

Askochensky probably wrote a large volume of interesting things, but one work of his sounds interesting. Too bad it has not been translated to English. It is [approximate translation] : "Feofaniya [Theofania], Abbess of the Resurrection-Novo-Devichy Convent", published in 1866 in St Petersburg. I had never heard of her, but this Theofania [Gotovtsev] was the foundress of that monastic institute in what was then the capital of the Russian Empire. Apparently, her life was remarkable.

So from all this, we can see that either Askochensky -- despite his tobacco vice -- was put on the 'fast spiritual track' by even his small and rocky contact with St Feofil. Or this thinker was in part inspired by the Saint to devote his life to writing about Church matters, which he did with a rare dedication. Hence, Askochensky did benefit from having sought out the recluse Feofil, though not in the usual direct manner of posing a question to a Starets and receiving an authentic answer stamped with a Heavenly imprint.

Let's hope Askochensky also took the Elder's hint and surrendered the cigar habit forever !

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Barbara
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Re: AntiSmoking : Saints/holy men

Postby Barbara » Mon 8 October 2018 2:59 am

Eldress Magdalena of the Kiev Florovsky Convent related this rebuff by St Feofil of a smoker pilgrim which she herself witnessed :


"Once, a wealthy merchant and his wife arrived from Moscow and stopped over at the Florovsky Monastery.

Image

Having heard our stories about Starets Feofil, the merchant became excited with a desire to visit him. He begged me to accompany him and his wife since he was not familiar with the way to the Kitayevskaya Hermitage. I agreed and we all set out. While riding through the Goloseyevo woods, the merchant desired to smoke. He felt his pockets but there were no matches. What was he to do?

As luck would have it, he saw some wayfarers sitting beside the road making porridge in a trivit. He went over to them and began to light his cigarette. But no sooner had he touched the fire than the trivit turned over, spilling out the porridge and smothering the fire.

'How strange! I didn't even touch the trivit and yet I upset the porridge.'

We went on farther. The merchant again spotted some strangers cooking gruel by the side of the road. He ran to their fire for a light, but just as he stooped towards the fire, this trivit also upset.

'What a strange occurrence! Could this be some sort of witchcraft?' the merchant laughed.

'No,' I said to him, 'Father Feofil is arranging this for you. He dislikes with a passion those who smoke.'

At last we arrived at Kitayev and went to see Starets Feofil. He met us and spoke out directly to the merchant.

'Well, my little swallow, you wanted to smoke so badly? Due to your passion, you left the hungry without food.'

Then Feofil brought him a large onion from his cell, saying:

Image

'Here, take a bite of onion, for you have befouled the entire monastery with tobacco.'

This was the kind of visionary he was."

http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com ... art-5.html

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Barbara
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Re: AntiSmoking : Saints/holy men

Postby Barbara » Thu 25 October 2018 4:02 am

In fact, the choice of an onion was shrewd. For whatever elements are depleted through smoking, eating onions would help restore those same nutrients. Onions have sulfur [ essential to life ], quercetin [ anti-inflammatory ] and plentiful other antioxidant compounds. All of these would be ideal to counteract such diseases from smoking as that scary one that begins with a "c".

Naturally, in his day, Feofil did not have to select an organic onion, since everything was organic then. Today, however, Organic red onions are essential to avoid the destructive impact of chemicals and GMOs.

Today being the Feast of the Optina Elders and yesterday the Feast of St Amvrosy of Optina, let me recount a quick story from his life.

"The St Petersburg resident Alexei Stepanovich Maiorov, excessively addicted to smoking tobacco, sensed the danger to his health from this. He wrote a letter to Elder Ambrose, asking for advice on how he could be delivered from this passion.

In answer to this request, the Elder sent Maiorov a letter on October 12, 1888 [ Just about 130 years ago today ]in which the following was written : "You write that you cannot stop smoking tobacco. That which is impossible for man is possible with the help of God. [ So encouraging ! ]

Only stand firm in your decision to quit, realizing the danger from it for soul and body, >>>since tobacco debilitates the soul, increases and strengthens the passions, darkens the mind, and destroys bodily health by a slow death.

>>>Irritability and melancholy are the result of the infirmity of soul that comes from tobacco smoking.


I advise you to make use of spiritual treatment against this passion: confess in detail all the sins of your whole life from the age of seven, receive the Holy Mysteries, and read the Gospel daily while standing, one chapter or more. And when depression attacks, then read it again, until the depression passes.

If it attacks again - read the Gospel again. Or, in place of this, when alone make thirty-three full prostrations in memory of the earthly life of the Savior and in honor of the Holy Trinity."

When he received this letter, Alexei Stepanovich read it through and then began to smoke a cigarette [ awful after just receving those divinely inspired words ], but he suddenly felt a strong pain in his head together with an aversion to tobacco smoke, and that night he did not smoke. The next day, by habit, he attempted four times to smoke a cigarette, but he could not inhale the smoke due to the severe pain in his head.

Thus he quit smoking easily, while in the previous two years when he had tried to force himself to cease smoking, he could not. And though it had made him ill, he had smoked seventy-five cigarettes a day all the same."

If only Elder Amvrosy could so successfully assist ALL smoking addicts to stop. Perhaps he can from the heavenly world, if asked with sincere prayer.

It is alarming to me that someone 130 years ago was smoking about 3 cigarettes an hour if totaled up around the clock. I didn't have a clue that cigarettes were even available so long ago. I thought they were a mid-twentieth century [mal-]invention.


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