The Novo-Tikhvin Women's Monastery
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Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story A book about general Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev appeared

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"Be saved in the angelic order!" A word to the newly-tonsured sisters

Great Lent is the time when in monasteries, among them, in our abode, a spiritual feast is prepared – tonsuring into the angelic image. Usually, upon tonsuring, sisters spend several days in the church without going out from there, dedicating all of the time to prayer. When, according to the tradition, all sisters were gathered in one of the Lenten days, in order to lead out from the church the newly-tonsured nuns with singing, mother Domnika said a word about the unfathomable greatness of taking the veil, about that abundant grace that is given to all who enter the monastic order.


The abbess congratulates the newly-veiled nun

Today I would like to congratulate all of us with the addition of new sisters in our monastery. Even though we have known them for a long time, we now perceive them as totally new people, people who have changed completely, renewed with grace. The fact that they are among us is a great event, the greatest of all that occurs in the life of a monastery. We experience the most sublime and awesome moments namely at the taking of monastic vows. And so, I would like to say a few words both about this event and about our new sisters, I would like us to see them anew and to comprehend through the heart the great meaning of what has taken place.

As elder Emilian used to say, "the tonsuring of any monk is an exceptional event in history, the unrepeatable and incomparable in the eyes of all! It is the personal glory [of the newly-tonsured monk] and a gain for the entire Church. A monk is the expression of the glory of God."

Indeed, it is so. A human being, a transient and mortal creation, is being clothed in the angelic image, becomes equal to the Angels and begins to live one life with them. Nothing could be higher, more amazing and more beautiful than this. Saints and martyrs, and all the Angelic orders, the Most Holy Theotokos, and the Lord Himself come for this event as to the greatest triumph. As you remember, this is mentioned also in the service of tonsuring:
"It is known that our Savior Himself, with His Glorified Mother and with all the holy Angels, with all His Saints, has come here, inspiring the words coming out of you."

Again I shall quote the words of elder Emilian:
"All this Heavenly host turns their eyes to every soul that walks and approaches the direction and locus of their life. Tonsuring is a universal event that the Lord performs, whereas myriads of saints glorify and give thanks to the Lord for what is taking place."

We all understand that this is not simply an image or an allegory – this is how it does happen really. Even though we do not see the Heavenly dwellers with the bodily eyes, yet, we feel their presence by that wondrous abundance of grace that occurs at every taking of vows and which is conveyed to each one of us, independently on the measure of our success and the state of soul. Of course, many had noticed that whenever a tonsuring takes place, the general atmosphere in the monastery and the inner mood of every sister is changed. Even if prior to this event some sisters experienced the cooling in spiritual life and inner emptiness, then, as a rule, during the tonsuring they experience a change in their mood, so abundant is the acting of grace, cheering every heart.

All the external events and phenomena that we observe at the performance of a tonsuring, tell our heart of those inner events, the deep and mysterious ones that are performed through the grace of Christ.

Here, standing before us are the new sisters, clothed in mantles, with burning candles in their hands. We look at you, dear sisters, recognizing and not recognizing you at the same time. It seems that the facial features stayed the same, yet, everything else has changed. There is nothing worldly left in you, nothing perishable – all this was thrown off, as old, worn-out clothes. You have put on a white undergarment – the tunic of voluntary poverty and disinterestedness in possessions, and you have abdicated from everything earthly and temporary. Your old man has died, the new one, equal-to-the-angels, has been born, and your names, according to the words of St. Simeon of Thessalonica, are now written in heaven.

As one of the contemporary elders put it, now you are destined "to walk the angelic paths and to think as the Angels." From a single gaze at you, in us, too, the desire for the angelic life begins to burn.

We experience a pious trepidation when we look at your cloaks, because we know that the protective and providential power of God is clothing you. Now you belong to God exclusively, having put on the angelic, imperishable garments. Neither your hands, nor the other members of your body do not live, nor are free for the worldly activity, but they are dead for it. Again, I shall quote the words of one of the contemporary ascetics:

"When a priest puts on his priestly vestments, he cannot go where or how he wants to. So you, too, cannot go but the full realization of the fact that you are clothed in the garment of incorruptibility, eternity, and deity."
In your hands burn the candles as a sign of grace that you received, having promised to lead a pure life and as a sign of cheer and joy of the Angels.

"Be saved in the angelic order!"

When we were congratulating you, saying: "Be saved in the angelic order," we felt that those are not simply words, but that the tonsuring led you, as the service puts it, "into the spiritual court" of Christ. The angels and the saints surround you and watch you with love, and are amazed at the mercy of the Creator Who bestowed such a great honor to an earthly man. And so we, looking at you, realize the bliss of our monastic life anew.

At the tonsuring, the soul is freed from all sins and receives special grace. When this grace is with us, it is easy and natural for us to spend entire hours and days in prayer. We think that all our life we will be near the Lord. Yet, the days strictly dedicated to prayer and tears are over, and we come back to the so-called normal life of work. And this is when we would need tenfold more spiritual vigilance, zeal, labor, and care in order not to yield, not to succumb to vanity and passions, not to let them steal our spiritual wealth that we had collected in our soul on the day of taking the veil and the days following it. So, I would like to wish to you not to lose the state, in which you are now, but that, on the contrary, you would discover this grace and magnify it with your labor, feats, prayers, and would keep it until the end of life.

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