Great Saints of the Church, Select Articles
Updated September 2015
This special section features significant articles and resources concerning the saints, and their importance for us who are struggling to live an authentic Christian life amidst the challenges of the modern world. We trust you will be greatly edified by the lives and teachings of the saints of every age!
St Silouan the Athonite
New for 2015!
Join us for the Akathist to St Silouan the Athonite, Thursday, September 24, 7:00am.
The Way of St. Silouan
"There once lived a person of great spiritual strength whose name was Siluan. He prayed long with tearful cries of "Lord have mercy on me," but God would not hear him. Many months went by in such prayer, and the strength of his soul was dissipated; he lost heart and cried, "You are unresponsive to prayer!" And suddenly, with these words on his lips and his soul drained of strength, for a moment he saw the Living Christ. His heart and entire body were filled with such flame that had the apparition continued another second, he would have died.
"Later he was unable to forget the inexpressibly meek, limitlessly loving, joyful and peaceful look of Christ; from that point forward he witnessed untiringly that God is love, love without measure or frontiers..."
St Silouan the Athonite, by Archimandrite Sophrony — The classic, authorized life of the saint by his disciple, Elder Sophrony.
The Monk of Mount Athos, by Archimandrite Sophrony — A convenient, slim volume published before the glorification of Staretz Silouan.
Wisdom from Mount Athos, The Writings of Saretz Silouan, by Archimandrite Sophrony — The companion volume to The Monk of Mount Athos.
Fr. Zacharias presents the spiritual and pastoral way of St. Silouan and Elder Sophrony in a very readable style. The text is adapted from several talks given by Fr. Zacharias at a clergy retreat in the early 2000s. (Archimandrite Zacharias is a disciple of Elder Sophrony and a member of the Monastery of St. John the Baptist, England, the monastery founded by Elder Sophrony)
VIDEO: Fr. Zacharias gives a talk on the way of St Silouan and Elder Sophrony. Presented at St Tikhon's Monastery, Feb. 2014. Several other talks by Fr Zacharias are availabke on YouTube.
Martyr-Saint Maria Skobtsova of Paris & Ravensbruck
New for 2015
Dear Parish Faithful,
Pioneer of a Self-Sacrificing, 'Engaged Monasticism'
Saint Maria, commonly known as Mother Maria, is commemorated on July 20. Together with the Venerable Martyr the Grand Duchess Elizabeth (July 18th), we encounter in these holy martyrs two of the most extraordinary women of the twentieth century. Both bore witness to Christ under truly horrific conditions, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth dying at the bottom of a mine shaft into which she was flung by Bolshevik thugs in 1918; and Mother Maria dying in a gas chamber at one of the notorious Nazi concentration camps, that at Ravensbruck, in 1945. (From the beginning, Mother Maria understood the Nazi threat, referring to it as a "new paganism")...
Children's Book on Mother Maria:
New Martyr-Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna
Updated for 2015
Dear Parish Faithful,
The Grand Duchess Elizabeth was a truly remarkable woman who sealed her life of service and ministry to others with the crown of martyrdom under the godless Bolsheviks.
Unlike her sister, the Tsarina (Empress) Alexandra, she is not a controversial figure based upon a questionable role in the leading political events of early 20th c. Russia. The Grand Duchess became a nun and the abbess of the Mary-Martha convent in Moscow, and was tirelessly concerned with offering assistance to the poor and downtrodden. She was eventually killed in a most brutal fashion by the Bolsheviks on July 18, 1918. Her sacred relics now reside in Jerusalem. Please read more about her fascinating and inspiring life at OrthodoxWiki.org. In addition to the links below, there are many sites dedicated to the Grand Duchess that can be “googled.”
See Fr. Steven's 2015 Meditation on Grand Duchess & New-Martyr Elizabeth
The Lives of Saints — Experiential Theology
June 10, 2012
The Place of Lives of Saints in the Spiritual Life
In order to begin to understand the importance of the Lives of the Saints for our spiritual lives, I believe we can turn to no better or more thorough source than St. Justin Popovich's Introduction to his own compilation of the Lives of the Saints. A theologian, St. Justin saw no dichotomy between the Lives of the Saints and the theological writings of the Church. For him, as for the Church, theology and the Lives of the Saints form one whole. He called the Lives of the Saints "experiential theology" or "applied dogmatic theology," and he viewed them and wrote about them in a theological manner. Likewise, he viewed theological writings as an expression of the experience of the life of Grace in the Church, and not just an intellectual, abstract or polemical exercise.
How does St. Justin view the Lives of the Saints theologically? At the center of all of St. Justin's thought is the Theanthropic vision: the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ, uniting human nature with Divine Nature. The fact of the God-man, the Theanthropos, is the axis of the universe: it is the reality according to which everything else must be viewed, whether it be the nature of the Church or the problems and issues of everyday life.
Thus, when St. Justin looks at the Lives of the Saints, he does so in the light of the God-man. Real and true life—eternal life in God—became possible only with the Incarnation, death and Resurrection of the Saviour, and this life is the Life of the Saints. St. Justin saw the Lives of the Saints as bearing witness to one life: the Life in Christ.
St. Justin wrote: "What are Christians? Christians are Christ-bearers, and, by virtue of this, they are bearers and possessors of eternal life.... The Saints are the most perfect Christians, for they have been sanctified to the highest degree with the podvigs of holy faith in the risen and eternally living Christ, and no death has power over them. Their life is entirely Christ's life; and their thought is entirely Christ's thought; and their perception is Christ's perception. All that they have is first Christ's and then theirs.... In them is nothing of themselves but rather wholly and in everything the Lord Christ."
The Saints live in Christ, but Christ also lives in them through His Divine Energies, His Grace. And where Christ is, there is the Father and the Holy Spirit also. Christ says, Abide in Me, and I in you; and elsewhere He says, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him (John 15:4; 14:23).
Thus, St. Justin makes bold to say that the Lives of the Saints not only bear witness to the Life in Christ: they may even be said to be the continuation of the Life of Christ on earth. "The Lives of the Saints," says St. Justin, "are nothing else but the life of the Lord Christ, repeated in every Saint to a greater or lesser degree in this or that form. More precisely, it is the life of the Lord Christ continued through the Saints, the life of the incarnate God the Logos, the God-man Jesus Christ Who became man."
This is an amazing thing that St. Justin is saying: when we read the Lives of the Saints, we are reading the Life of our Lord Jesus Christ. This in itself should be enough to convince us of the importance of filling our souls with the Lives of the Saints.
St. Justin also says that the Lives of the Saints are a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles. "What are the 'Acts of the Apostles'?" he asks. "They are the acts of Christ, which the Holy Apostles do by the power of Christ, or better still: they do them by Christ Who is in them and acts through them. "And what are the 'Lives of the Saints'? They are nothing else but a certain kind of continuation of the 'Acts of the Apostles.' In them is found the same Gospel, the same life, the same truth, the same righteousness, the same love, the same faith, the same eternity, the same 'power from on high,' the same God and Lord. For the Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever (Heb. 13:8): the same for all peoples of all times, distributing the same gifts and the same Divine Energies to all who believe in Him."
With these words of St. Justin before us, we might well ask ourselves if Orthodox spiritual life is even possible without the testimony of the Lives of the Saints. The answer to this, I believe, must be "no." True spiritual life begins when we live in Christ and Christ lives in us, right here on this earth. And the Lives of the Saints bear witness to us that the Life of Christ on earth did not end with His Ascension into Heaven, nor with the martyrdom of His Apostles. His Life continues to this day in His Church, and is seen most brilliantly in His Saints. And we, too, in our own spiritual lives, are to enter into that continuing, never-ending Life.
I spoke recently to an Orthodox priest who had converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism. He told me that, when he was received into the Church, the officiating priest told him: "You will never be truly Orthodox without reading the Lives of the Saints." Later, when he himself became a priest, he found that the most pious people in the churches are those who read the Lives of the Saints, and that those who make the most progress in the spiritual life are those who read the Saints' Lives.
Spiritual Lessons from the Three Hierarchs
Jan 30, 2011
Roads to Damascus - Crisis, Conversion and Community in the Lives of the Three Hierarchs
by Monk Maximos of Simonopetra Monastery, Mount Athos
"On the Holy Mountain, we are taught that everything in a saint’s life is worthy of admiration, but not everything in a saint’s life is worthy of imitation. This is certainly true, yet to this rule the lives of the Three Hierarchs are an exception: everything about them is both admirable and worthy of imitation.
"Tonight I want to look at the Three Hierarchs in light of the remarkable experiences that changed the course of their lives and transformed them into great teachers, fathers, and saints. As we shall see, each of the three underwent a crisis, a decisive turning point, that led to spiritual transformation. As I hope to show, these critical experiences, which were essentially conversion experiences, are the key to understanding who they were and what their lives can mean for us today...