Iconography and Hand painted icons

St. Theophilus, fool for Christ of Kiev had found, while still here on earth, the guarantee of future heavenly blessedness.

Παναγία_Божией Матери Икона_Virgin Mary –Byzantine Orthodox Icon_0008 5St. Theophilus, fool for Christ of Kiev Caves Lavra (1788-1853).

Commemorated on October 28

The first condition of spiritual life
The first condition of spiritual life is suffering and the many-sorrowed path of the cross, a struggle with one’s self, with the world and with the devil. The Starets had fulfilled this podvig, and the second condition had set in — that of the deep peace and tranquility of a weary soul which, having defeated human passions by means of Christ’s grace, was already purified, illuminated, and in secret communication with God. Feofil had found, while still here on earth, the guarantee of future heavenly blessedness. It is impossible for us, sinful people who have not cleansed our hearts of passions, to comprehend the wondrous mystery of this grace-filled condition of the truly righteous soul, for the standards by which we judge in this brief life on earth cannot approach the measure of spiritual grace. It is only possible for us, with true piety, to contemplate a few rays of this bright, God-likeness and purity which, inspite of the efforts of the grace-bearer himself, seem to burst forth in their own unusual actions, words, and movements. Striking into our hearts with spiritual warmth, the grace-bearer affects and subdues our minds with the rare glow of a completely different, higher order of things and draws our souls into this wonderful light of the chosen-one of God.

The character of the life of the Kitayevskaya and Goloseyevskaya Hermitages was of a patriarchal nature, that is to say, after vespers, all lay persons were required to depart and each brother could settle down freely to pray and worship, each one in his own peaceful corner surrounded by the spirit of saintly fathers of the Lavra. The well-known ascetic, Starets Parfeny, describes Goloseyevo in these words:

“Here is the spirit of our saintly fathers of the Pecherskaya Lavra. If there is any comfort and joy on earth, it is to be found in the hermitage’s silence. People detract us from God, but the hermitage draws us nearer to Him.”

Starets Feofil also held such a spiritual opinion and for whole days he would stay in the woods, kneeling on a large stump to pray or else he would go to an ancient hollow oak where he would hang a crucifix and a votive lamp and spend entire days and nights, imitating the podvigs of the ancient stylites. Being thus alone in silence, and being a partaker “of the fellowship that we have… with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (I John, 1:3) …

Θεόφιλος ο δια Χριστόν σαλός Κιέβου_St. Theophilus-Feofil-fool for Christ of Kiev_Феофил Киевский-Христа ради юродивый_d9e39885cfae551f
The bullock

It was a great distance to the Layra and the city and so the Starets had little chance to go there. As a result, the Blessed One acquired a bullock with which to ride to the Lavra and the Bratsky Monastery.

How he happened to acquire the little bull is an incident worth relating.

Ivan Katkov (the butcher from Podol who had brought the horse to Feofil at the Bratsky Monastery) came to the Starets for confession and while telling the Blessed One about his affairs, he mentioned that he acquired a young bull of a very unstable nature.

“I bought a bullock, Batiushka. I had planned to keep it myself but I don’t know what to do with it. The brute has become stupid and gores at everyone with its horns. I suppose I shall have to butcher it, sorry as I am about it.”

“Then give it to me,” said the Starets.

“To you? God have mercy, why it’s impossible even to approach him! Several people have already been crippled by him.”

“Never mind. We will teach him humility.”

“But how can I…”

“Very simple. Go up to him and say, ‘Look here, little bull! From now on you are no longer mine, but Father Feofil’s. Prepare to visit him’.”

The butcher did exactly as he was told. Upon returning home, he walked up to the bullock and repeated the words of the Starets, and the bullock, who had been snorting and pawing the ground, became as meek as a lamb. It began to quietly caress and lick the man’s hands. Then a worker slipped a rope over his horns and by dusk the young bull had been settled with Father Feofil at the Kitayevskaya Hermitage.

Θεόφιλος ο δια Χριστόν σαλός Κιέβου_St. Theophilus-feofil -fool for Christ of Kiev_Феофил Киевский, Христа ради юродивый_234335Now that he had the little bull, the Blessed One built a small cart with a little sailcoth hood set up on hoops in the rear of it. The Starets would travel to the city in this contraption. He never sat in front of the cart, but always in the rear with his back to the bull. He had placed a small analoy under this hood and he would fall on his knees and read his beloved Psalter as he journeyed. But here is what was so astonishing. The bullock had neither harness nor reins, but only a yoke. The bull went precisely where its master wanted to go without any command, directions, guiding or prodding whatsoever, whether it was to Podol, the Lavra or the Bratsky Monastery. It is said that the bullock even went around stones, ruts, and ditches in order not to Jog the Blessed One from his reading.

But we should not be at all astonished that this unreasoning creature obeyed him thus without a whip, that a formerly fierce animal became as tame and meek as a sheep before him. Wild animals have only become fierce because of the cruelty of human nature. Remember the state of our forbears in paradise. All living creatures saw the light of the image of God in their faces and even the most ferocious animals, sensing the wondrous fragrance of this image, peacefully bowed their heads before Adam. When man ceased his obedience to God’s commandments, God’s image in him darkened. The unreasoning creatures stopped recognizing and obeying him. The fragrance of God’s image was exchanged for the stench of passions and man himself became similar to the unthinking beasts. His disobedience to God was punished by the disobedience to him of the earth’s creatures and man himself now fears beasts which were once submissive to him. But God’s holy ones, through obedience to God’s commandments, restored the image of God in themselves and, taking unto themselves the gifts of the Lord’s Grace, radiated the original purity and light. Therefore, the animals, again sensing in man the fragrance of original purity, become obedient to him. What power there is in love and virtue!

Troparion St. Theophilus, fool for Christ of Kiev in the Tone I:

Having heard the voice of Thine Apostle Paul, saying: * We are foolish for Christ’s sake, * Thy servant Theophilus, O Christ God, * did love the life of the foolish for Thy sake on earth. * Wherefore in venerating his [her] memory * we entreat Thee, O Lord, to save our souls.

In Tone II:
Spec. Mel.: O House of Ophrah.

A temple and abode of the Most Holy Spirit wast thou, * O most wise Theophilus; * wherefore also make us who honor thy holy memory * temples of the same Spirit.

In Tone VIII:
Spec. Mel.: O most glorious wonder.

O blessed Divinely-wise Theophilus , * Thy pure soul shining with an Orthodox understanding, * and resplendent with the radiance of virtues, * illumines the hearts of the faithful, * driving away the darkness of the demons; * wherefore as a participant of uncreated grace * we all reverently praise thee, O wonder-worthy one.

Then the Sedalion, In Tone VIII:
   O man of God, * wonderful Theophilus! * Having ascended the ladder of virtues, * thou also ascended unto Jerusalem on high * and there dost thou behold Christ, the Desired One. * For His sake thou didst emaciate thy body * and exchanged the corruptible for immortal life. * Do thou Supplicate Him unceasingly for us * that our souls may be granted peace and great mercy.

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