Saturday, April 4, 2015

Monastery Feast Service Schedule

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The services for the Monastery feast of the Annunciation of the Mother of God at the Annunciation Hermitage will be as follows.

Monday 6.April (24 March):

3 pm Vespers
530 pm Festal Vigil (Great Compline, Matins, and first hour)
930 pm Trapeza

Tuesday 7. April (25 March):
8 am Hours, Typika and Vespers
930 am Vespers with the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom
11 am Trapeza

This year the feast falls during Holy Week, and is therefore combined with the services of Holy Tuesday.

All are most welcome to attend!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pilgrims and workers at the Annunciation Hermitage

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896a.jpgDuring the third week of Great Lent, three groups of visitors fortified themselves spiritually at the monastery of the Annunciation. The visitors had tours of the monastery, participated in the divine services and helped with work.

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May God grant them health, salvation, and many years!
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One local also stood by!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Secret sin, secret repentance, open slander, glory from God

This summarises the life of St Theodora of Alexandria.
Young Theodora was happily married, which upset the enemy of all good, the devil. He tempted a young man to fall in love with her. The young man was so desperate that he resorted to magic to seduce Theodora. The simple Theodora was tempted by the thought that if she sins during the night, God will not see the sin!
death-to-the-world2.jpgSo, Theodora fell into adultery with the young man. Her conscience witnessed it all, and her heart felt no peace.
St Theodora fell into a second simple-hearted error: She thought God would never forgive her! Running to a wise Abbess she knew, she asked for advice. However, she did not confess her sin clearly, nor receive spiritual medicine from this wise doctor. Instead, she convinced herself that no forgiveness was available, that no healing could ever occur.
Theodora decided she must give up the world entirely and become a monastic in order to repent. So that her husband would not find her in one of the women’s convents, she cut her hair and changed into men’s clothing. She presented herself at the gate of a men’s monastery as “Theodore”, asking to be accepted. Her distressed husband searched, fearing that his beloved wife had left with another man…after several years, God answered his prayers and showed him his wife - but he did not recognise her.
Theodore went through many trials in the ascetic life. The brothers, incited by the enemy of God, quickly started to envy the young “brother”. Because of this they exposed her to unecessary dangers, sending her on errands where wild animals would be sure to attack her. Theodora remained safe, as she never doubted God. She also never exposed which brothers had caused her trouble, keeping her mind set on God and her body set on serving the brethren. Miracles even started to occur, which made her spiritual life evident to all.

…[someone] offended you; do not hate him but rather hate the offense and the demon who contrived the offense. If you hate the offender, you hate a person and transgress the commandment, and what he did in word you do in deed. But if you keep the the commandment, give proof of your love, and if you can in any way, help him so that he can be delivered from wickedness.
Christ does not want you to have hate for anyone, or grief, or anger, or resentment in any way at all or for any temporal reason whatsoever,. And this is thoroughly proclaimed in the four Gospels.
St Maximos the Confessor, 7th century

Finally, on an errand to the city, the devil constructed a sure trap. Monk Theodore did not make it home, and was forced to spend the night outside with his camels and goods. A girl, tempted by the devil, tried to seduce the “monk”, but he was not the least interested. She finally found another man among the travellers, and became pregnant.
theodora2.jpgSoon, the girl’s outraged relatives came to the monastery, accusing the “monk” Theodore of raping her! Theodore was evicted from the monastery. When the baby was born, the relatives threw him into the monastery for upbringing, by the “adulterer himself”. Theodore accepted this new obedience just as he had previously accepted all other obediences, for the sake of God and his repentance. Seven years passed. Theodora’s skin was black from the rough conditions. She fed the baby with the work of her own hands. Everyone despised her as a great sinner.

There is no hardship more oppressive to the soul than slander, whether one is slandered in his faith or in his conduct. And no one can disdain it except the one who like Susanna looks to God who alone can rescue in need, as he rescued her, and to reassure men, as he did in her case, and to encourage the soul with hope.
To the extent that you pray from your soul, for the one who spread scandal about you, God will reveal the truth to those who were told the scandal.
St Maximos the Confessor, 7th century

Theodora could have proved her innocence easily - simply by showing herself as a woman. But she did not - she chose to endure hardship, to prove her secret repentance before God for an old sin. Theodora knew well that it is the devil that tempts us - not our circumstances or the people around us:

There was a monk who, because of the great number of temptations said, “I will go away from here.” As he was putting on his sandals, he saw another man who was also putting on his sandals and the other monk said to him, “Is it on my account that you are going away? Because I go before you wherever you are going.”
Venerable Mother Theodora of Alexandria, 5th century

Theodora was by now very experienced in the spiritual life, having endured many kinds of temptation. She instructed her “son”:

Seek my child, the nobility of the soul, for it is truth; that of the body is false. Do not seek honour from men, for this injures one; but rather, seek heavenly glory…Thou art to be sympathetic with all the brethren and help them as much as possible; also thou are to minister unto them that are incapacitated or weak. Do not desire to live by another’s labour. Guard thy mind never to condemn something, whether it is good or bad. When thou art spoken to, lower thy face to the earth and then answer. Never ridicule anyone, especially when they are in misfortune. When thou wilt hear that a certain brother is disorderly, supplicate God to correct his life. Visit and help the sick, and serve the brethren as their servant…
Venerable Mother Theodora of Alexandria, 5th century

Then, “father Theodore” died. The child wailed inconsolably, and attracted the brothers to investigate what was happening. The abbot, in the meantime had a vision of the glory awaiting Theodora in heaven - which also revealed who she really was. An angel commanded him to bring the husband to the funeral. All the brothers shed tears, amazed at the spiritual strength of the Saint, and full of remorse for their previous judgements and false accusations.
The husband remained at the monastery and became an exemplary monk. The child later became a wise Superior of the same community.
And Saint Theodora from Heaven assists all those who struggle with the temptation of slander and false accusations, encouraging them to endure with God, for the salvation of their souls.

Blessed are ye when men shall persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.
Mt.5:12

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Archbishop Andronik’s visit to the Annunciation Hermitage

On Saturday 7/20 September, at the fore-feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Archbishop Andronik served at the Annunciation Hermitage.
Vladyka arrived Friday afternoon for a tour of the monastery property, taking part in the evening service and trapeza.

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s494.jpgIn his sermon (audio recording), Vladyka Andronik reminded the people to stay faithful to the Holy Orthodox Church in these difficult times.

Vladyka also spoke regarding distancing ourselves from the world, seeking spiritual nourishment in monasteries (audio recording), for the salvation of our souls.

After Liturgy, Vladyka Andronik blessed the new portal Cross and kupol at the hermitage entrance.
The work was carried out by master craftsman and benefactor Dmitri Kichakov.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kupola and Cross erected at the Annunciation Hermitage!

01.jpg05.jpgGlory to God, on the day of St Anthony the Roman, Saturday 3/16th August workers put up a golden kupola and Cross over the church at the Annunciation Monastery.
Left - The kupola master builder - Dmitri Kichakov. Right - Blessing prayers

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The workers managed to lift the kupola without the use of machinery.
We were blessed with good weather and no wind.

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Left - View from St Hariton’s skete. Right - View from St Herman’s skete.

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Finally, the spring sun came out to make the kupola and Cross shine!
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Note the local inhabitants wondering at this new sight
(circled in red, this and next 2 pictures).
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Kangaroos are a common sight in this area - as are eagles, echidnas, and lizards…
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The monastery now has a traditional Orthodox look. 93.jpg
Glory to God!
May He save all our workers and kind helpers!

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Holy father Seraphim, pray to God for us!

Our holy father Seraphim became a saint, filled with the Holy Spirit, by going through the steps of Christian spiritual activity.
In his childhood and youth, he lived as a pious Christian in the world. When he entered the Sarov monastery as a novice, he struggled in obedience to the Abbott and all the brothers, performing all the necessary obediences. He carried his Cross of obedient service and later, sickness, in an exemplary way, without grumbling and complaining. He denied his own will.
After this, through many years of struggle in solitude, battling with the demons and what still remained of his own sinful passions. His prayer-rule in this time was immense, and took hours every day to complete. He prayed for 1000 days and nights on a rock, regardless of the weather. He remained obedient to the Sarov monastery Abbott, even on those occasions when the Abbott and brothers did not understand his way of life.
Only after these purifying ascetic struggles did St Seraphim start to receive the people, who came to him to ask his advice and prayers.
St Seraphim gives us an example of how to struggle in Christian life: By zealously putting God before every physical comfort and even basic needs, with prayer, almsgiving, obedience, patience, humility, fasting, fighting against his body and sinful desires, enduring slander, encouraging every Christian soul with love to carry their own Cross in life with faith.
Finally, he reminds us that this struggle, in its many forms, is not the goal of our Christian life…The aim is to acquire the Holy Spirit!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

REPENT. Eldress Myrtidiotisssa of Klissoura

The Mother of God says: REPENT! The world will end if people do not repent!
St John the Baptist said: REPENT! For the Kingdom of God is near!
Christ also started his preaching with repentance…
Repentance is the beginning of a Christian life.
Here is a person who became a saint in the 20th century.
We all have the potential to become saints, if we repent!

Repentance is a personal effort - it is a change of life, a change of mind…
It is the beginning of acquiring the mind of Christ!
The Divine law has become obscured. The modern man who does not believe in God, cannot accept that God exists and that God has revealed His law to mankind. The fallen society tells man that all his base desires and actions are good, and that if he follows his impulses, he is “realising himself”.
In past times, shame told man what was sinful. Society told him what was sinful, and should be avoided. Today, man must read the writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church to learn. He must live in the Church, fully participate in Her life, in Her Mysteries, and Her services, in order to understand. He must fast, humble himself, and pray in order to learn who he is himself, and how far he is from Christian perfection. The Church is a school of repentance. A school which teaches the way to the Kingdom
God will give repentance to the man who forces himself to learn to repent!
The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force!
(Mt 11:12)
Let us repent, brothers and sisters!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Service at the Monastery of St John of Shanghai, Nov 2013

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