St.Xenia of St. Petersburg Fool-for-Christ
Commemorated on January 24
“…we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake (1 Cor. 4:9-10 KJV)”
Rejoice, for you were warmed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, for you remained continually in prayer!
Rejoice, for you never tire in interceding for mankind!
Rejoice, O blessed Ksenia, who ever intercedes for our souls!
“The fool is the symbol of the lost ones of this world who are destined to inherit eternal life. The fool is not a philosophy, but a quality of consciousness of life, an endless regard for human identity…not the product of intellectual achievement, but a creation of the culture of the heart.”
Cecil Collins ‘The Vision Of The Fool’.
The fool has nothing to lose. He dies daily.
Mother Maria of Normandy
We must live so that if all the gospel are lost, people could read them on our faces. Metropolitan Anthony Bloom
Today we commemorate Saint Xenia of St. Petersburg, Fool for Christ, who in the early 18th century in Russia became a widow . Her husband’s name was Andrei Petroff and he was a singer in a court choir. She was 26 when her husband, whom she adored, died. Then she became a fool-for- Christ. Wicked tongues kept saying that she simply lost her mind. People of the neighborhood she lived in adored her. Mothers gave her their babies to rock or to kiss – and this was considered a blessing. Cabmen entreated her to sit down in their cabs just for a short time and after that they were sure they would earn a lot during that day. Tradesmen tried to thrust their goods into her hands, – if she touched them, the customers were sure to come. Xenia became a great wonderworker in her lifetime. Her predictions were on everybody’s lips.In Xenia’s humility, God gave her great gifts of prayer and prophecy, and she foretold future for example, on the day before Empress Elizabeth Petrovna reposed (5 January 1761), Xenia was running along the streets of the city shouting: “Make pancakes, tomorrow everybody in Russia is going to be making pancakes!” (In Russia pancakes-bliny- are part of a funeral repast).
After Xenia’s own death at age 71, her grave became a source of miracles and a place of popular pilgrimage.St. Xenia is a well-known and much-loved saint whose prayers are sought especially for employment, housing, or finding a spouse.
“Blessed, are the poor in spirit: theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Blessed are those who submit to God, who put their trust in God, who have confidence in God, who are not controlled by their needs or by the demands of this world.
Blessed are those who – trust that “our heavenly Father knows all that we need. Therefore, seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be given to [us] besides.” by Fr. John Chryssavgis
by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
In the Orthodox tradition the direct action of the Paraclete within the Christian community is strikingly apparent in two ‘Spirit-bearing’ figures: the elder or spiritual father, and the fool in Christ.
A second prophetic Spirit-bearer within the Christian community is the fool in Christ, called by the Greeks salos and by the Russians iurodivyi. Usually it is hard to discover how far his ‘folly’ is consciously and deliberately assumed, and how far it is spontaneous and involuntary. Inspired by the Spirit, the fool carries the act of metanoia or ‘change of mind’ to its farthest extent. More radically than anyone else, he stands the pyramid on its head. He is a living witness to the truth that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world; he testifies to the reality of the ‘anti-world’, to the possibility of the impossible. He practises an absolute voluntary poverty, identifying himself with the humiliated Christ. As Iulia de Beausobre puts it, ‘He is nobody’s son, nobody’s brother, nobody’s father, and has no home.’ Forgoing family life, he is the wanderer or pilgrim who feels equally at home everywhere, yet settles down nowhere. Clothed in brags even in the winter cold, sleeping in a shed or church porch, he renounces not only material possessions but also what others regard as his sanity and mental balance. Yet thereby he becomes a channel for the higher wisdom of the Spirit.
Folly for Christ’s sake, needless to say, is an extremely rare vocation; nor is it easy to distinguish the counterfeit from the genuine, the ‘breakdown’ from the ‘breakthrough’. There is in the end only one test: ‘By their fruits you shall know them’ (Matt. 7:20). The false fool is futile and destructive, to himself and to others. The true fool in Christ, possessing purity of heart, has upon the community around him an effect that is life-enhancing. From a practical point of view, no useful purpose is served by anything that the fool does. And yet, through some startling action or enigmatic word, often deliberately provocative and shocking, he awakens men from complacency and pharisaism. Remaining himself detached, he unleashes reactions in others, making the subconscious mount to the surface, and so enabling it to be purged and sanctified.He combines audacity with humility. Because he has renounced everything, he is truly free. Like the fool Nicolas of Pskov, who put into the hands of Tsar Ivan the Terrible a piece of meat dripping with blood, he can rebuke the powerful of this world with a boldness that others lack. He is the living conscience of society.
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware ,The Orthodox Way ,Chapter Five: God as Spirit, Fathers in the Spirit and Fools, p.131.
Troparion to St. Xenia, in the Fourth Tone
Having renounced the vanity of the earthly world, Thou didst take up the cross of a homeless life of wandering; Thou didst not fear grief, privation, nor the mockery of men, And didst know the love of Christ. Now taking sweet delight of this love in heaven, O Xenia, the blessed and divinely wise, Pray for the salvation of our souls.
Hearing of you, that, having endured a multitude of afflictions for Christ’s sake, you comfort the sorrowful, strengthen the weak and guide the lost to the straight path; the suffering hasten to your aid, singing unto you:
Rejoice, for you loved the path of Christ with all your heart!
Rejoice, for you joyfully bore the Cross of Christ!
Rejoice, for you endured every offense offered you by the world, the flesh, and the devil!
Rejoice, for you thus emulated the ascetics of the desert!
Rejoice, for you were full to overflowing with the gifts of God!
Rejoice, for you freely bestow spiritual gifts upon those in need!
Rejoice, for you showed love for your neighbors!
Rejoice, for you offered consolation to the suffering!
Rejoice, for you shed unceasing tears of repentance!
Rejoice, for you wipe away the tears of those who weep!
Rejoice, for you sought neither comfort nor warmth for yourself!
Rejoice, for you were wondrously warmed by the grace of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, O blessed Ksenia, who ever intercedes for our souls!