Optina Elders : brief summary up to c. 2002

An online Synaxaristes including martyrologies and hagiographies of the lives of the Orthodox Church's saints.

Moderators: Maria, phpBB2 - Administrators

User avatar
Barbara
Protoposter
Posts: 3184
Joined: Sat 29 September 2012 10:03 pm

Optina Elders : brief summary up to c. 2002

Postby Barbara » Tue 24 October 2017 4:02 am

"Over the course of one century—from Elder Leonid's arrival in 1829 until the Monastery's forced closure by the Communists in 1923—Optina, with its Skete of St. John the Forerunner, was at the center of a tremendous spiritual revival in Russia.

As a result of anti-clerical legislation during the reigns of ....Peter I and .... Catherine II, a general decline in monastic life had taken place across Russia from the middle of the 17th century through the end of the 18th century. While several spiritually well-ordered monasteries still existed, such as Valaam and Sarov, the strict new regulations often forced those desiring to follow the Gospel commandments within the God-ordained monastic life to choose one of two alternatives: either to leave Russia in search of a monastery in one of the neighboring Orthodox countries, or to live this life in the depths of forests, hidden from view. The greatest example of those who chose the first path was St. Paisius Velichkovsky (+ 1794), who labored ascetically on Mount Athos and ended his days at the head of a vast monastic army centered in Moldavia, Romania. A number of his disciples later returned to Russia, bringing with them priceless patristic writings on the spiritual life which had been painstakingly translated by St. Paisius, and which became instrumental in bringing about a new blossoming of sanctity in Russia. An example of those who chose the second way was the community of ascetics who dwelt in the Roslavl Forest of the Bryansk Province in Russia. These ascetics were also nourished by St. Paisius by means of his patristic translations, which reached them through Elder Athanasius, one of St. Paisius' disciples.

When, at the beginning of the 19th century, a more propitious time for monasticism arrived, and the run-down Optina Monastery was being restored, it was by these ascetics that true monasticism was instituted in Optina. From the Roslavl Forest came the Putilov brothers, Elders Moses and Anthony, who took the reins of the Optina Monastery and established the Optina Skete nearby. They, in turn, brought in Elder Leonid, a disciple of Elders Theodore of Svir and Cleopas of Valaam, both of whom were direct disciples of St. Paisius.

With the arrival of Elder Leonid, the practice of eldership was introduced in Optina. This is the prophetic ministry of the Church, which has existed since apostolic times, and through which God's will is directly revealed to those seeking guidance. An elder is one who, through inward purification, has become a vessel and conduit of the action of the Holy Spirit. This ministry was passed on in Optina from one Elder to the next, in a remarkable chain of sanctity that lasted a full century.

The succession of Optina Elders had a profound effect on all levels of Russian society. Guidance by eldership—marked by a life of simplicity, unquestioning obedience to the Elder, and frequent revelation of one's thoughts—was a source of spiritual rebirth, not only for Optina's monks and monastics of other monasteries, but also for the thousands of lay folk who came to Optina in a steady stream day after day for spiritual direction. Famous Russian authors, such as Gogol, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy, were deeply affected by their contact with the Elders.

The Optina Elders also had a profound effect on the spirituality of Russia by fostering the publication of a significant body of patristic literature concerning the ascetic, spiritual life. The books that Optina Monastery published were sent out free to all monasteries in Russia, and were read by great numbers of laypeople, as well. This labor of love began under the leadership of Elder Macarius (Elder Leonid's disciple) and continued until the forced closure of Optina Monastery.
Through God's mercy, in spite of seventy years of Communist enslavement, "prima vitae" of many of the Elders have been preserved. Written by their immediate disciples, these rare biographies contain a multitude of priceless details and anecdotes that shed light into the secret corners of lives totally dedicated to Jesus Christ.

In the twelve years since the first English printing of Elder Leonid of Optina, interest in and veneration of the God-bearing Elders of Optina Monastery have grown tremendously, both in Russia and in the West. Since the 1988 reopening of Optina, numerous men, inspired by the Lives of the Elders and thirsting for the kind of monastic life inspired by them during the 19th and early 20th centuries, have found shelter within the walls of this great monastic citadel. The Monastery and Skete, after years of neglect and destruction under the Communist regime, have gradually been restored by loving hands, and are already beginning to regain their former magnificence. At this time there are over forty monks settled in the Monastery and Skete, as well as many others in the Monastery's metochia in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

In 1990 only Elder Ambrose had been glorified by the Orthodox Church in Russia (1988), [i]while in April of 1990 all the Optina Elders were glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad[/i]. With the fall of Communism in Russia and the consequent freedom experienced by the Church there, preparations were undertaken for the glorification of all the Elders by the entire Russian Orthodox Church. During the restoration work on the Optina Church of the Kazan Icon of the Theotokos, which had been almost totally destroyed, the relics of Elders Moses and Anthony and those of Archimandrite Isaac (Antimonov) were uncovered and later placed in that church. At about the same time the relics of Elder Nectarius, which had been uncovered in 1989 in the village of Kholmishche and brought to Optina, were placed in the Optina Church of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. The local canonization of all fourteen Elders took place in Optina on June 13,1996. Two years later, in June of 1998, the relics of the remaining Elders were uncovered (except those of Elder Nikon, who reposed in exile in the far north, and those of Archimandrite Isaac [Bobrikov], who was executed by the Communists and whose relics have not been found) and later that year placed in the newly rebuilt Optina Church of the Vladimir Icon of the Theotokos....

From the introduction to Elder Leonid of Optina,
(St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2002


http://orthochristian.com/65171.html

User avatar
Barbara
Protoposter
Posts: 3184
Joined: Sat 29 September 2012 10:03 pm

Re: Optina Elders : brief summary up to c. 2002

Postby Barbara » Thu 26 October 2017 6:34 pm

Marvelous oil painting of Elder Amvrosy. I tried to post this on the 23rd, but it would not show up. A more updated computer did the trick ! Speaking of which, this is certainly the RIGHT kind of trick. Not the Shalloween type so oppressively present in this tedious leadup time to that evil occasion. All the demonic forms present everywhere one looks -- ghosts decorating houses, businesses with caution tape saying something about zombie zone, which latter seems ubiquitous this year -- detract from one's purity of thought and vision. So instead one can make a copy of this image or any other holy one and keep that before one during this week every year.

Image

User avatar
Barbara
Protoposter
Posts: 3184
Joined: Sat 29 September 2012 10:03 pm

Re: Optina Elders : brief summary up to c. 2002

Postby Barbara » Sun 29 October 2017 4:25 am

Today is the Day of the Icon created by Elder Amvrosy, "She Who Ripens the Grain". This Icon of the Mother of God is original and interesting. It shows the Queen of Heaven hovering above a harvest of either wheat or rye, depending on the source. She has Her arms outstretched as if blessing the fields across the planet. Beneath are sheaves of wheat, with some upright and others lying down as though not yet ready to be shipped out.

This Icon was 1st created in the year 1890 by an Abbess Hilaria of the Bolkov Convent following the directions of the Elder. After that, St Amvrosy made many copies and sent them to various spiritual children and convents. Among these was the St Paraskevi Pyatnitsa Convent in Voronezh which proved to be in a region suffering from drought. After a Priest prayed as the Elder had prescribed before this Icon, the long-awaited rains started. Similarly, in Rudnevo, a village a few kilometers from Shamordino Convent, a Priest served a moleben with the Akathist to this Icon and the same result occurred. After that, the clergyman served a pannikhida for Elder Ambrose, who had reposed 6 years before. The rains redoubled themselves !

Apparently this Icon was the result of a vision of the Mother of God shown to the Elder, who then dictated the details of how She was to be depicted with great precision.
What is most interesting is that the Elder stated that the Icon's Feast Day would be October 15/28. It was to be this same day a year later that the funeral of the great Optina starets was conducted in the Kazan Cathedral by Bishop Vitaly of Kaluga. Was it a gentle hint to his spiritual children about the future that the Elder chose that day ? Or more likely, we can suppose that the Queen of Heaven had Herself selected the date. The Elder's funeral was timed by Heaven to honor the Icon he had brought to life.

After a hiatus of 100+ years, this Icon has embarked a new round of popularity today.
A number of online galleries sell versions of "She Who Ripens the Grain".

One example is found here :

http://d2aic5im1if5n2.cloudfront.net/wp ... 59x600.jpg


Return to “Synaxarion Orthodoxia”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests