The Novo-Tikhvin Women's Monastery
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Site Updates:

30 August 2023
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story A book about general Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev appeared

24 November 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a talk by schema-archimandrite Abraham Invincible weapon appeared

29 August 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story The events of the sunny August appeared

13 June 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story Faithful for good. A monument to prince Dolgorukov, general Tatishchev, sailor Nagorny, and boatswain Sednev appeared

Hand-painted icons by the sisters of the Monastery

Man keeps a memory of the paradise and acquires it in a monastery. Elder Aimilianos about monks and monasticism

What is the mystery of monastic life? Why do some people choose the monastic way and make their choice so purposefully? What are they looking for, shutting themselves in a monastery? The answers to these and other such questions are given by schema-archimandrite Aimilianos (Vafidis) in his book The house of God is the Heavenly Gateway, which is a series of talks with his spiritual children. The publishing house of our monastery has published a translation of this wonderful book.

It is impossible to have God cease calling people to monasticism! There will always be people who feel in themselves a calling to this way of life. Monastic life is something so bright and vivid that anyone dedicated to it cannot be kept away from it. My soul and all of my human nature remembers paradise and acquires it in the monastery. Then who could deprive me of this root, this memory about the heavenly life? It would be the same as trying to pull out an age-old tree out of the ground barehanded. This is because our soul remembers and knows everything that was happening to the human nature many thousands years ago.

Everything that our soul is seeking and aiming for, we can find in a monastery. Everything for the sake of which Christ has brought us into this world is manifested in monastic living. Monks are not simply hearing the calling of deification addressed to all the people, but they actually materialize it in their life, considering this to be their main purpose.

Monastic living is the partaking of the otherworldly blessings, of blessings which are invisible, yet known by us since earliest times. Invisible world literally penetrates monastic life. It is namely this invisible and sacramental reality which I had lost back in paradise but am now acquiring in monasticism that becomes the power drawing me to the monastery, making me to hasten there as fast as I can and to joyfully bear all the hardships of monastic life, joyfully resigning all things. This is the true reason that peoples souls are with such ease being drawn to monastic living.

The power drawing one to a monastery is not a power of the human soul; nor is it human resolution or ones love for God. This power is the gravity of the lost paradise, it is Christ Himself, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Planter of paradise.

The notion of the monastery implies that we live and rejoice conjointly. We see that every brother has his own gifts, his own beauty, his own rhythm of life before God, yet this rhythm does not disrupt the rhythm of life of the entire community. Everyone invokes Christ in his own way; feels both pain and joy in his own way. Every brother for us is a saint who carries his own labor. It is an angel standing before the Lord. It is nothing other than the image of God. Yet, when we judge our neighbor, judging people either in thought or in word; when we criticize them and complain against them, the abyss of estrangement gets to lie in between us, and we feel that the coldness of loneliness, like severe frost, binds our heart. We then lose our daring before God. That is why our relationships, our mutual love, our leniency with each other, the ability to put the will, the desire, and the opinion of the other person first; the recognition that our neighbor is always right are paramount. Thus let us love our neighbor not because they present something important in themselves but for the sole reason that our neighbor is the image of God, an icon which we ought to venerate, since the honoring of the image ultimately goes back to the prototype, to God.

So how should we regard all of our weaknesses, temptations, and falls? There could only be one answer: despite them all, we must keep persevering in our task to strive towards sinless life. Are you having a headache? Let me continue my vigil. Do I feel humiliated by my falls? My life will be elevated through vigil. Am I sick? Christ can give me healing, if only I keep doing what I am doing: regularly fulfilling my rule of prayer and living the monastic life. What are all these difficulties? A tempest. But hasnt the Lord rebuked the storm, even though it seemed that He was asleep? Yet, the wind immediately ceased, and there was great calm even the apostles were amazed. He rebuked the storm so will He not rebuke also our passions, sins, and weaknesses?

How amazing, how mysterious! Life takes its beginning in the Lords tomb, and we acquire life in our burial in taking monastic vows. This is the generation that seeks the Lord says the psalmist. What generation that is, is a mystery inaccessible to human mind and heart. Indeed, is it possible to discern with bodily eyes and to grasp with human mind that deep mystery that is behind our simple monastic life? Every day we labor in our cells, we stand shoulder to shoulder in church, we rush to our obedience, but beneath all that is profound, sacramental life.

Communion with the invisible and the divine takes place through the visible and material. Our labors at church, in the cell, at the obedience all of this for the sake of Christ and in Christ. Our true existence is hidden in boundlessness, in the fullness of Christ Himself.

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