Icon of the Mother of God of “The Myrtle Tree”
Protomartyr and Equal of the Apostles Thekla (1st c.)
Venerable Copres of Palestine (530)
Saint Dorothy of Kashin (6/2 & 24/9, 1629)
On the anniversary of the arrival of the Russian missionaries in Alaska (1794)
Saint Silouan the Athonite (+1938)
Commemorated on September 24 / 11
The mystery of God which the Church understands in the Holy Spirit is the love of Christ. The holy thought of the Church is that all men should be saved. And the path she treads towards this holy end is the path of patience – that is, of sacrifice.
In preaching the love of Christ to the world, the Church calls all men to the fullness of Divine life but people do not understand her call, and repudiate it. When she bids men keep Christ’s commandment and love their enemies, the Church finds herself caught between conflicting forces who naturally vent their anger upon her when she crosses their course. But the Church, actualizing Christ’s mission on earth – the salvation of the whole world – purposely takes upon herself the world’s anger, just as Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world. And as Christ was persecuted in this world of sin, and had to suffer, so the true Church of Christ must also be persecuted and suffer. The Lord Himself and the Apostles spoke of this spiritual law of life in Christ, and St. Paul put it in plain words when he wrote, ‘Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
My soul yearns after the Lord, and I seek Him ardently, and my soul suffers thought of no other matter… O all ye people, let us humble ourselves for the sake of the Lord and the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us humble ourselves and the Lord will give us to know the power of the Jesus Prayer. Let us humble ourselves and the Spirit of God Himself will instruct the soul.
O man, learn the humility of Christ and the Lord will give you to taste of the sweetness of prayer.
Unceasing prayer is born of love, while fault-finding, idle talk and self-indulgence are the death of prayer.
The Lord gave us the commandment to love God with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our souls. But without prayer how can one love? The mind and heart of man, therefore, must always be free to pray.
All the Saints lived in prayer, and they call others to prayer. Prayer is the best of all activities for the soul. Prayer is the path to God. Through prayer we obtain humility, patience and every good gift. The man who speaks against prayer has manifestly never tasted of the goodness of the Lord, and how greatly He loves us. No evil ever comes from God. All the Saints prayed without ceasing: they filled every moment with prayer.
When the soul loses humility, she loses grace and love for God at the same time, and ardent prayer is extinguished. But when the soul stills her passion and grows humble, the Lord gives her His grace, and the n she prays for her enemies as for herself, and sheds scalding tears for the whole world.
Many people think silence in the desert to be the noblest form of life. Others would opt for reclusion. Some would say, being a fool for Christ’s sake. Still others elect for pastoral service or scientific theological study. And so on. The Staretz did not consider that any of these types of asceticism manifested spiritual life at its noblest but each of them could be so for someone if it conformed to God’s will for that person. And God may have an especial purpose for each of us.
But whatever God’s will for each individual, when it comes to choosing one or other form of ascetic life, or place, or manner of service, the quest for pure prayer remains imperative.
Such pure – pure in the primary sense – prayer is a rare gift of God. It depends in no way on human effort. Divine power comes and with elusive care and ineffable tenderness transports man into the world of Divine light – or rather,
Divine light appears and lovingly embraces the whole man, so that he can recall nothing, incapable of any thought.
This is the state the Staretz had in view when he said,
‘He whose prayer is pure is a theologian.’
From St. Silouan the Athonite by Archimandrite Sophrony
I pray thee, O Merciful Lord, let all mankind, from Adam to the end of time, come to know Thee, that Thou art good and merciful, that all nations may rejoice in Thy peace, and behold the light of Thy countenance. Thy gaze is tranquil and meek and draws the soul to Thee.
Troparion St Silouan the Athonite, Tone 4
By thy prayers thou didst receive Christ as thy Master on the path of humility; and in thy heart the Holy Spirit witnessed unto thy salvation. For this cause all people called to live in hope are now rejoicing and celebrating thy memory. O holy Father Silouan, pray to Christ to save our souls.
Troparion St Silouan the Athonite (Tone 2)
O all-blessed Father Silouan,
Flaming zealot of the seraphim’s love for the Lord
And fervent imitator of Jeremiah who wept for the people,
Hearing the call of the Mother of the Lord of Hosts,
With wise courage you spewed out the sinful serpent
And withdrew from the snares of the world to the mountain of Athos,
Where in labors and prayer, joined with tears,
In abundance you acquired the grace of the holy Spirit with which our hearts are enflamed.
Being strengthened by you, we cry out with compunction:
My Lord, my Life and the Joy of your saint,
Save the world and us from all cruel things!
‘Saint Silouan the Athonite, Pray to the Lord that there be less affliction in the world.’
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom – Elder Silouan (St Silouan the Athonite)