Sat Chit Ananda

 

Defining the Moola Mantra with stunning visuals and the mesmerizing voice of Deva Premal.

You have come from God, you are a spark of His Glory; you are a wave on the Ocean of Bliss; you will have peace only when you again merge in Him. ~Sathya Sai Baba
 

I’ve been thinking about God recently.  I’ll  tell you what I think God is all about. The  Indian mystics all tell us, “A God defined is a God confined.” “What can’t be said, can’t be said and it can’t be sung about either.”  They also say, “God is impersonal.”  “I am without form, without limit, beyond time, beyond space. I am in everything. Everything is in me. I am the bliss of the universe. Everywhere I am. I am sat, chit, ananda, absolute existence, absolute knowledge, absolute wisdom.” ~  No messing about with their sacred ideas of God and what He is all about. They are straight as an arrow about it.

Jesus Christ says “He that is born of the flesh is flesh and he that is born of the spirit is spirit.”  Then he says, “Least ye be born again you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” also Jesus says, “I and my father are one.”  then Jesus says this,  “He that loveth mother and father, child, more than me cannot follow me.” What exactly is He telling us?

He is simply telling us just how things are. He’s talking about higher consciousness; He’s telling us who we really are. He is telling us what it means when we start on the journey  to be born again, when we suddenly start to have faith in another possibility than the one we have now. Now what is that called, what is the other possibility? It’s just a vibrational rate. It’s like you’re born with a pre-fixed setting on your television set to channel eighteen and you never even knew there was a channel eighteen, channel four, three, two. So when someone comes along and says, “Were you tuned into channel seven last night?” You look at them with a wee smile, “Don’t they know there’s only  channel eighteen? Then something suddenly happens, something touches a place in your heart that’s been there all the time. It’s just like you have suddenly awakened for a moment from a long sleep and say, “Oh! Wow! So that’s how it is! I was asleep for a long time. But now you are awake and tuning in to channel eighteen and you like what you are seeing.

Just saying

Cosmic Christ – Living The Holiest Of Myseries

Cosmic Christ was created between 1999 and 2000 with oil paints on a wood surface by artist Alex Grey. It is surrounded by and part of a carved wooden frame. It is presently the centerpiece of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New York, his personally created sanctuary for the inspiration of other artists. It is not only a wonderful representation of the work that he does, but an incredibly powerful and symbolic piece of art.
Cosmic Christ was created between 1999 and 2000 with oil paints on a wood surface by artist Alex Grey. It is surrounded by and part of a carved wooden frame. It is presently the centerpiece of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors in New York, his personally created sanctuary for the inspiration of other artists. It is not only a wonderful representation of the work that he does, but an incredibly powerful and symbolic piece of art.

 

 

“About Fr. Bede Griffiths. The first thing he taught me was that the true Christ path is terrifyingly humble. He would never claim enlightenment. He would never claim to be a master. He would never claim to be a guru. He absolutely loathed hierarchy and separation” ~ A.H.

 

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Hari Dass, a yoga teacher in India, once wrote on his chalkboard: If a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are his pockets.

For those folks reading this, we all understand we are on a spiritual journey. We may also understand that, from within the illusion of our separateness, what we perceive is relative reality, what in India is called  maya, the projected illusion of subject and objects. All around us, there are various levels of relative reality. When we begin to awaken to our predicament that we are trapped in illusion, we begin to see through the dreamlike quality of the veils of illusion. Everything we thought was real we now see as maya or (illusion.) So when we polish the mirror of illusion, we find staring back at us is our own habitual desires, created by our perceptual universe. In that sense we can say our reality is a projection of how we identify ourselves. Hari Dass, a yoga teacher in India, once wrote on his chalkboard: If a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are his pockets.” – how true is that? A good teacher will be one filled with light and humility who does not see seperation. One who will dust our  Self-Mirror and redirect us towards the light,  the truth and away from our own false habitual mind.

 

 

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From the writings of Andrew Harvey

And it was then that I met the man who changed my life. In 1993, when he was eighty-six, I met Father Bede Griffiths, and that brought everything that I had hitherto experienced together, because here was a being at the very highest level of awareness, who married the Eastern traditions with the Western traditions, who came from England, who had been to Oxford, but who was living out this utterly brave, naked, evolutionary life in the middle of India, fifty miles from the place where I was born. So I believe that we were destined to meet. I was destined to be at the feet of this transcendent and holy and beautiful man, and he was destined to break my heart, and to break my heart open, and to teach me by his presence three things.

The first thing he taught me was that the true Christ path is terrifyingly humble. He would never claim enlightenment. He would never claim to be a master. He would never claim to be a guru. He absolutely loathed hierarchy and separation. For him, Jesus had communicated in the tenderness of ecstatic friendship, and that was the way this great truth of the divinity of human beings was to be exchanged.

The second thing that he communicated to me was that the relationship with Jesus and the Cosmic Christ—Jesus, both Jesus the being and Jesus the archetypal face of the Cosmic Christ— that relationship that Mechtild of Magdeburg ecstasized over, that relationship that drove the whole life of Theresa of Avila, that relationship that gave the Cure of Ars the power to go and heal day after day after day in his tiny parish, that relationship that drove Francis into the arms of a divine love that enabled him to re-experience the crucifixion—that relationship was not some poetic, tender fiction. That relationship was the relationship that was clearly transfiguring this holy man, and it was something to him more naked and more real than anything else. And so it became so for me.

 

painting from the late and great mystic Daskalos
painting from the late and great mystic Daskalos

And the third thing that Bede communicated to me—and this is the key of the key of the mystery that is coming through the Christ path, I believe—the third thing that Bede communicated to me was the revelation that was coming to him in his eighties of what in the Greek Orthodox tradition is called theosis. And theosis means transfiguration. And from St. Macarius onwards in the fourth century to Romanian priests(?) in our current century and to Bede himself, we have had examples that have been celebrated and noted of human beings who so adored the revelation of love and wisdom in Jesus and in the exploding vision of the Cosmic Christ, that through intense discipline and intense love they transformed their minds, they illumined their hearts, and they also progressively became so flooded in their bodies by divine light that their bodies began to be transfigured by light.

Bede knew that he was living this holiest of mysteries. And for him, he would say the first big bang began the universe creation; the resurrection was the second big bang that began the creation of a divine humanity; and the radiation of that resurrection power and force is what the humble lover and servant of the Cosmic Christ, if they love enough and if they are rigorous and disciplined and purified enough, can access for a total transformation of the total being.

 

You Tube with Father Bede speaking about the Black Madonna

The Transfiguration of Christ And Baba’s Light Body – Cont.

Christ - The Transfiguration. pic. thanks to "Teilhard de chardin" Blog.
Christ – The Transfiguration. pic. thanks to “Teilhard de chardin” Blog.

 

Sai Baba’s “Light Body” cont.

 

For All Sai Baba devotees and followers interested in the Kodaikanal occurrences of  earlier this year, here’s more about  Sathya Sai Baba’s Light Body. I received this sweet story “Swami and his Mission,” today by email. Sadly the person who actually posted the article is unnamed. The story has a ring of truth about it, because many of us have heard similar stories over the years, when Sai Baba was alive. Many of us saw his aura, a beautiful radiant light that seemed to envelope us all in its embrace. One of my first posts on this blog was about Swami’s Aura – my experience from 1994, Whitefield, Sai Ramesh Hall. 

All great masters can reveal their true radiance when they choose to. The most famous story of this happening, is of course, that of Christ – The Transfiguration. Thanks to a friend on Facebook,  here’s a very eloquent description or interpretation of the Transfiguration from JG Bennett. (Underneath the next para.)

 

Swami to an elderly devotee about His Mission:

He said, “I am showing you My Light Body. This is who I really am. You think that this little, orange-robed Body is who I am. Not at all.” And then He explained that He could project Himself from this Light Body into this orange One and go to London, Singapore or Timbuktu or wherever, as that is His ability. He said, “You also have this Light Body, but you don’t know that this is your Self. This is My real Self. As you will be willing to visualise this, and meditate on this, you will be making more contact with your own Light Body.” […].

Later on,  when  I was giving a seminar in a big centre, not too far from Frankfurt in Germany, (they were all Baba devotees.) There was a boutique; they were selling Japa Mala [prayer beads], pictures of Baba and books. I saw at the end of the room a stand with greeting cards. I went to it and to my utter, utter surprise, I saw a card with exactly the same Light Body, not with Baba but with Jesus! It was painted by a Theosophist. This was how He gave me a verification of what I had been receiving.

Sai Ram  – posted today on Thy Kingdom Come by Anon.
https://sathyasaimemories.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/the-halo-sathya-sai-memories-cont/


 

The Transfiguration

(Thanks to Maria L. for reminding me that today is its commemoration.)

Detail of The Transfiguration by Theophan the Greek

Detail of The Transfiguration by Theophan the Greek

 


JG Bennett’s understanding of The Transfiguration of Christ

‘The key to understanding the Transfiguration is the transmission of Divine Love. If we recognise that this, and not the redemption of mankind from sin as St. Paul supposed, was the mission undertaken by Jesus we see the event in its true perspective. The obstacle to this vision is our false conception of love as a polar force of attraction, similar to the attraction between two bodies carrying opposite electric charges, or between the poles of a magnet. Attraction implies repulsion. As unlike charges attract, like charges repel. If the love between man and God were of such a character, it would imply that man and God stood – at opposite poles and could never be united without losing their love for one another. Divine Love does not derive its power from separation but from union. It is not fullness but emptiness, not Being but the Void.

The Transfiguration was an action that embraced all worlds. The three disciples belonged to the natural world, but they had already been initiated, with the rest of the twelve, into the spirit world. Moses and Elias unite the world of spirit and the world of creativity. Moses represents the covenant made by the giving of the Law, and especially the covenant of Love between Jahweh and his people (Deuteromony 27-30) and brought up-to-date in the covenant of the Essenes. Elias stands for the creative power that works miracles. Jesus goes beyond all the limitations of time and space and is in direct communication with the Father, represented by the Voice from the Cloud. I believe that there was a seventh person present, but as no such suggestion appears anywhere in the scriptures, I shall not mention his name at this stage.

…The Transfiguration was the making of the New Covenant of Love and the Revelation was that this covenant requires from man humiliation or abasement, which alone can liberate him from the egoism which keeps him prisoner of the worlds of time and death. We must remember that according to the Books of Exodus and Kings, both Moses and Elijah spoke with God and were transformed, so that they were no longer men like the rest of mankind. A similar transformation was wrought in the disciples with Jesus on the mountain. They were made aware of the presence of God and this burned up their egoism and left them completely empty. This was the very core of the mission of Jesus. Once it was accomplished what subsequently happened was the process of opening the channel of Divine Love to the other disciples and eventually to all who were capable of receiving it.

Abasement and humiliation are spontaneous when finite man finds himself in the immediate presence of the Unfathomable Truth. But it is also necessary to live through humiliation here in this world in order to be established in Love. The gospel story, from the Transfiguration on, is concerned with humiliation.’

JG Bennett ‘The Masters of Wisdom’ (Turnstone Books)   http://www.gurdjieffdominican.com/time_of_christ_Bennett.htm

 

Christian Mysticism – Philosophy/Religion

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~ Essence of  Love by Kiernan Antares ~

Lit up from
Within
I am

Free
Empowered
Whole
I am

Stars aflame
Soul on fire
With passion
I am

Birthed anew
Radiating a light
A force
A Source

FOR reasons that are not too clear, thirteenth-century Europe represents the single greatest flowering of mysticism in the West. It was also a time, nearly unique in Western history, for the extent to which feminine voices were raised, tolerated, and even revered. In the following article, Jake has generously given us many unknown facts, certainly unknown to me, and to which I offer my gratitude. Having read and enjoyed books on Christian Mysticism over the years, I cannot find the language to do them justice. Jake does. (Jake Murray graduated from Oxford Uni. He works as a Freelance theatre director, teacher and writer. )

What is Christian Mysticism?

by Jake Murray

Christian Mysticism is probably the least known and least understood Mystical Tradition in the world. Indeed, most people, including most Christians, would be astonished and shocked to learn that there was such a thing as Christian Mysticism at all. Since the Reformation it has been viewed with enormous suspicion, especially among the Protestant Churches who traditionally have disliked the idea of a body of knowledge available to an elite and, with the defining doctrine of Sola Scriptura, have, by and large, not liked metaphysical speculation or mysticism as part of their discourse. This is not to say that there have not been important Protestant Christian Mystics – Jakob Boehme, William Blake, Jane Leade, Valentine Weigel, Emmanuel Swedenborg for instance – but they have always tended to run into trouble with the authorities. Blake was very much a lone gunman, Boehme was forced to promise never to make his books public and Swedenborg was put on trial. Within Catholicism Mysticism was actively encouraged for many centuries and then became badly entangled with fears about heresy and the Reformation, when even major figures like St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, were hugely harassed. As a consequence, Mysticism has largely died out in the Western Churches. In the Greek and Eastern Orthodox Churches it has never gone away, Mysticism always being a key aspect of their experience of Christianity. But we in the West are very ignorant about the Orthodox Churches, so for us that Mysticism, much of it deeply ecstatic, has also been kept from us.

Another reason for the relative obscurity of Christian Mysticism, especially among those who are interested in Mysticism in general, is the hostility so many people feel towards the Churches. To most people Christianity is one long litany of misogyny, intolerance, persecution, oppression, control of minds and sexualities, corruption, child abuse, conformism, Inquisitions, anti-semitism, religious wars and so on. The idea that it has had anything to offer on a mystical level is almost unthinkable to many. For many spiritually-minded people the emphasis on Sin, Damnation, fear and general anti-life doom and gloom are things one has to get away from. As a consequence the hidden tradition of Christian Mystical thought has been all but lost to us compared with, for instance, the sublime wisdom of the East – Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism – or even Western traditions such as Kabbalah, Sufism and Hermeticism, all of which seem to be far more liberating and all-embracing than anything Christianity has to offer. The very imagery of Christianity is associated with enormous negativity to many. The terminology is off-putting, to such an extent that for most people, reading the core texts is almost impossible without centuries of accrued meanings that may not even be there.

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There is an enormous amount of truth in all of this. The negative historical karma of Christianity is there for all to see. But it is far from the whole story of the Tradition, and a great shame, as Hidden beneath all the rubble is a vast reservoir of rich mystical literature of the most astonishing visionary quality, much of which has a great deal in common with all the other Traditions mentioned above. It has often been said that, for instance, Meister Eckhart would have a great deal to say to the Buddha were they to meet (indeed there has been a famous study of Eckhart by the Zen Master Suzuki). Orthodox Christianity has an extraordinarily spiritual, all-embracing, take on Christianity, a vision shared in the Western Churches through a mutual connection with the Neo-Platonic tradition drawn from St Dionysius the Areopagite.

Early Christianity was much simpler, far more diverse and far more mystically-orientated than it is now. We forget, for instance, that until the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, rather than being a persecuting religion it was an entirely persecuted one with a profound revolutionary, as well as ascetic tradition. An accepted, indisputable, rigid canon of Scripture such as we find now in the modern editions of the Bible was not even established until midway through the 4th Century, and then only after vigorous debate, with books like Revelation, responsible for so much confusion since, only being included at the last minute. Early Church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St Augustine and others freely acknowledged other authorities as having insight – Plato, Plotinus, even Hermes Trismegistus. Reincarnation was not denounced as a heresy until the 6th Century in the Catholic Church and as late as the 7th in the Celtic when it amalgamated with Rome. We forget also that until the fall of Constantinople in the 15th Century the centers of Christianity were Meditterannean  and Middle Eastern – Alexandria, Carthage,  Rome, Syria, Greece – all of which had rich esoteric traditions. In terms of misogyny, the New Testament itself suggests that women had as much of a role in the early Church as the men (see Romans 16), and even after that it is a curious feature of Christian Mysticism just how much of a massive contribution women’s voices had to make.

No other spirituality or religion in the world has had so many women Mystics – St Teresa of Avila, St Clare of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Hadewijch, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete and a host of others. The fact that so much of this has been lost is mainly to do with the reasons mentioned above. The modern, impoverished view of Christianity, apparently so militant and so reactionary, in which a highly complex set of ideas have been reduced to a simple set of answers revolving around Sin and Redemption, is a sign of Christianity’s rejection of its own mystical roots. The decline of Christianity as a progressive cultural force can be seen with the beginnings of its own suppression of its Mystics during the time of the Middle Ages and Reformation. In spite of revivals during the Counter-Reformation and the Renaissance, by the 17th Century Science, Philosophy and the Enlightenment were starting to take over as the main means of understanding existence. Its taken until now for Christian Mysticism to start to be uncovered again, in part kick-started by growing interest in Christian Gnosticism, which has caused many people to reexamine Western spirituality.

St. Francis - dancing
St. Francis – dancing
GertrudetheGreat
St Gertrude
Carmelite Monastery
Carmelite Monastery

MPW-15688

A Well Done Deed! – The Value of Kindness

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We know that life is a Gift. This exceptional man chose the path of a beggar but one with a difference. In another day and age, he would have been known as a “Fool for Christ”.   A Fool for Christ is another kind of Hero. Dobrev’s ingenuity  is living the life of a  beggar, although he does not actually beg. He tells stories to people and they give him money,  then  he donates to the church.  Dobrev’s life seems a mixture of both  “life and myth,”  bordering on  the legendary prankster. As it does, he reminds us all of the Divine prankster that lurks within each of us.. Dare we act on our own  prankster nature? Probably not. First the call has to come.  

(Foolishness for Christ:  refers to behavior such as giving up all one’s worldly possessions to deliberately  flout society’s conventions to serve a religious purpose – particularly of Christianity. Such individuals were known as both “holy fools” and “blessed fools.”)


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The Story:

 

Dobrev’s fame is now spreading outside of Bulgaria as his story is disseminated via the Internet. For example, one laudatory web description of Dobrev states: He is called a saint, an ascetic hermit, a man who doesn’t take money, an angel, a divine stranger, a traveler from the past, a beggar. Few Bulgarians have not heard of Good Old Dobry Dobrev, many are those who do not have the faintest idea of the true holiness of his cause. This year Elder Dobry turned 98 and still continues to give selflessly to the others his only treasure – kindness and humanity. And at this advanced age he can be spotted from time to time throughout metropolitan streets in search of generous people to implement his cause.

Elder Dobry has been raising money for decades to restore churches throughout Bulgaria. He is not afraid of cold and bad weather, does not worry that he will remain hungry. He is not angry at people’s indifferent to his work. The old man radiates kindness and meekness. He is ready to kiss the hand of a child who has dropped a coin into his box, to talk about God with every passerby, to give thanks for the charity. But Elder Dobry is not a beggar. He does not rely on strangers to save his body, but he wants to save their souls. A man like him cannot be called a beggar who has forgotten his needs and is raising money for a lofty mission, far from the material benefits of life. To donate to the church means to bestow to the generations, to faith in a godly future to build a benevolent Bulgaria. This is what Elder Dobry thinks he does without expecting gratitude. He respects people. He sees the world around him is selfish, but he doesn’t get upset and instead provides an example with his donations. So many people worship the faith of the man who doesn’t take money. We don’t know much about Elder Dobry’s life. He does not want fame and does not want to divulge details of his daily life. It’s enough for him that people know he is a good person who collects money and donates it to the Bulgarian churches and monasteries.  

….
aabdobri


Holy Fools For Christ – Children of Light

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If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool… ( 1 Correnthins )

Few taunts are sharper than those that call into question someone’s sanity. “He’s crazy. He’s a fool. He’s an idiot. He’s a loon…”

Yet there are saints, most notably in the Russian Orthodox Church, whose acts of witness to the Gospel fly in the face of what most of us regard as sanity. The Russian Church has a special word for such saints, iurodivii, meaning fools for the sake of Christ, people in whom Christ wears the disguise of madness.

While there is much variety among them, the iurodivii are in every case ascetic Christians living well outside the borders of conventional social behaviour, including conventional religious behaviour. They are people who in most parts of the developed world would be locked away in insane asylums or simply ignored until the elements silenced them, after which they would be thrown into unmarked graves.

While this type of saint is chiefly associated with Eastern Christianity, the Western Church is not without its holy fools.

St. Francis of Assisi

StFrancisPerhaps Francis of Assisi is chief among them. Think of him stripping off his clothes and standing naked in the main square of Assisi, or preaching to birds, or taming a murderous wolf, or in the midst of the Crusades walking unarmed across the Egyptian desert into the Sultan’s camp. What at first may seem like charming scenes become, when placed on the rough surface of actual life, mad moments indeed.

Perhaps even Thomas Aquinas, the most rational of saints, would be regarded an insane by many in the modern world because of his devotion to a way of life that was completely senseless apart from the Gospel. Every saint is troubling. Every saint reveals some of our fears and makes us question our fear-driven choices.

St. Basil the Blessed

ashemysticreadingThe most famous of Russia’s holy fools was a Muscovite, St. Basil the Blessed, after whom the cathedral on Red Square takes its’ name. In an ancient icon housed in that church, Basil is clothed only in his beard and loin cloth. In the background is the Saviour Tower and the churches packed within the Kremlin walls. Basil’s hands are raised in prayer toward a small image of Jesus revealed in an opening in the sky. The holy fool has a meek quality but a single-minded, intelligent face.

It is hard to find the actual man beneath the thicket of tales and legends that grew up around his memory, but according to tradition Basil was clairvoyant from an early age. Thus, while a cobbler’s apprentice, he both laughed and wept when a certain merchant ordered a pair of boots, for Basil saw that the man would be wearing a coffin before his new boots were ready. We can imagine that the merchant was not amused at the boy’s behaviour.

Soon after – perhaps having been fired by the cobbler – Basil became a vagrant. Dressing as if for the Garden of Eden, Basil’s survival of many ruthless Russian winters must be reckoned among the miracles associated with his life.

A naked man wandering the streets – it isn’t surprising that he became famous in the capital city. Especially for the wealthy, he was not a comfort either to eye or ear. In the eyes of some, he was a trouble-maker. There are tales of him destroying the merchandise of dishonest tradesmen at the market on Red Square. At times he hurled stones at the houses of the wealthy – yet, as if revering icons, he sometimes kissed the stones on the outside of houses in which evil had been committed, as if to say that no matter what happens within these walls, there is still hope of conversion.

Basil was one of the few who dared warn Czar Ivan the Terrible that his violent deeds were dooming him to hell. According to one story, in the midst of Lent, when Russians keep a rigorous vegetarian fast, Basil presented the Czar with a slab of raw beef, telling him that there was no reason in his case not to eat meat. Why abstain from meat when you murder men? Ivan, whose irritated glance was a death sentence to others, is said to have lived in dread of Basil and would allow no harm to be done to him and occasionally even sent gifts to the naked prophet of the streets, but Basil kept none of those for himself. Most that he received he gave to beggars, though in one surprising case, a gift of gold from the Czar was passed on to a merchant. ( Others imagined the man was well off, but Basil discerned the man had been ruined and was actually starving but was too proud to beg. ) In another case Basil poured vodka – another royal gift – on the street. He wanted, he said, to put out the fires of sin.

Basil was so revered by Moscovites that when he died, his thin body was buried not in a pauper’s grave on the city’s edge, but next to the newly erected Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother God, built in honour of Russia’s great victory over the Tartars in 1552.

Czar Theodore

1470806469_98df344a5a_fhdr99Another fool of Christ was the heir to Ivan the Terrible’s imperial throne, Czar Theodore. Regarded by Western diplomats of the time as a weakling and idiot, Theodore was adored by the Russian people. Brought up in an environment of brutality, reviled by his father, regarded with scorn by courtiers, he became a man of simplicity, prayer, and quiet devotion to his wife. Much of his time was spent in church. It is said that throughout his fourteen years as Czar he never lost his playfulness or love of beauty.

He sometimes woke the people of Moscow in the hours before dawn by sounding the great bells of the Kremlin, a summons to prayer. “He was small of stature,” according to a contemporary account, “and bore the masks of fasting. He was humble, given to the things of the soul, constant in prayer, liberal in alms. He did not care for the things of this world, only the salvation of the soul.”

“This simpleton,” writes the historian Nicholas Zernov, “Robed in gorgeous vestments, was determined that bloodshed, cruelty and oppression must be stopped, and it was stopped as long as he occupied the throne of his ancestors.”

St. Xenia

XeniaIn June, 1988, I was present for the canonisation of the Holy Trinity – St. Sergious Lavra north of Moscow of someone very like Basil and Theodore: St. Xenia of St. Petersburg.

Early in her long life, Xenia had been married to an army colonel who drank himself to death and who may have been an abusive, violent husband. Soon after his funeral, she began giving away the family fortune to the poor, a simple act of obedience to Christ’s teachings: “If you would be perfect, go sell what you have and give it to the poor… and come follow me.” In order to prevent Xenia from impoverishing herself, relatives sought to have her declared insane. However the doctor who examined her concluded Xenia was the sanest person he had ever met.

Having given away her wealth, for some years Xenia disappeared, becoming one of Russia’s many pilgrims walking from shrine to shrine while reciting the Jesus prayer. ( Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. )

Somewhere along the way during those hidden years, she became a Fool for Christ. When Xenia finally returned to St. Petersburg, she was wearing the ruins of her late husband’s military uniform and would answer only to his name, not her own. One can only guess her motives. In taking upon herself his name and clothing, she may have been attempting to do penance for his sins. Her home became the Smolensk cemetery on the city’s edge where she slept exposed to the elements year-round and where finally she was buried.

Xenia became known for her clairvoyant gift of telling people what to expect and what they should do, though what she said often made sense only in the light of later events. She never begged. Money was given to her but she kept only an occasional kopek for herself; everything else was passed on to others.

When she died, aged seventy-one, at the end of the eighteenth century, her grave became a place of pilgrimage and remained so even through the Soviet period.

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