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St Silouan the Athonite, Elder of Mt Athos (1938) – commemorated September 24th

Silouan001 (Source: Uncut Mountain Supply)

He was a Russian peasant who traveled to Mt Athos and became a monk in the Russian Monastery of St Panteleimon. He lived so simply, humbly and quietly that he might be forgotten had not Fr Sophrony (Sakharov) become his spiritual child and, after the Saint’s repose, written a book describing his life and teaching: St Silouan of Mt Athos, one of the great spiritual books of our time. It was through Fr Sophrony’s efforts that St Silouan was glorified as a Saint.

Following a vision of Christ Himself, St Silouan withdrew to a hermitage to devote himself entirely to prayer; but he was called back to serve as steward to the monastery. Though he now supervised some two hundred men, he only increased his prayers, withdrawing to his cell to pray with tears for each individual worker under his care. For more than fifteen years he struggled with demonic attacks during prayer until he was almost in despair. At this point Christ spoke to him in a vision, saying ‘The proud always suffer from demons.’ Silouan answered ‘Lord, teach me what I must do that my soul may become humble.’ To this he received the reply, ‘Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not.’ Silouan made this his discipline in every moment of his life, and was granted the grace of pure prayer. He said that if he ever let his mind wander from the fire of hell, disruptive thoughts would once again plague him. In his humiliation he was filled with a pervasive love for all — he said many times that the final criterion of true Christian faith is unfeigned love for enemies, and that ‘to pray for others is to shed blood.’

St Silouan demonstrates that the Church’s true Theologians are those who manifest in their own lives the fruits of the Church’s hesychastic spirituality, however insignificant they may appear to the eyes of the world. (Description from http://www.abbamoses.com/)

Holy Foremother Ruth – commemorated June 14th

Ruth001 (Source: Holy Transfiguration Monastery)

Read the book of Ruth. It tells the story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. Naomi’s husband and her two sons died. She was left without a way to redeem her portion of the land. Naomi was too old to remarry and have children. Ruth and the other daughter-in-law were from Moab. They were women without standing and without land. Times were tough. Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to return to Moab to find other husbands and make their way. Ruth refused to go and instead said, “Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God.” They lived by gleaning (harvesting the left-over grain after the reapers had passed). Boaz, who was a relative of Ruth’s husband fell in love with Ruth. He instructed his servants to intentionally leave grain for her to pick. This is why she is shown with the sheaf of grain. He married her and became her “kinsman redeemer”. According to the law of Moses, his firstborn son of Ruth would not be considered his heir, but Ruth’s husband’s heir. In doing this as an unmarried man, he was essentially giving up his place in his father’s house to save these women from poverty, starvation and hopelessness. Thus he did for Ruth what Ruth had done for Naomi. This is a picture of Christ’s self-emptying love. Boaz and Ruth are mentioned in the genealogy of Christ.  Her scroll reads: “Your people shall be my people and your God my God.”  (Description from Come and See Icons)

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