October 16, 2010

Three Newly Canonized Elders of Glinsk Hermitage

The Glinsk Hermitage came into being in the 16th century in Kursk Province (a territory which now is part of the Sumsk Region), on the site of the appearance of the miraculous icon of the Nativity of the Theotokos. It appeared in a pine tree. A solitary desert-dweller first settled there, and then others joined him. Later, the Glinsk Hermitage was attached to a succession of monasteries, but even after being granted independence, it was not known as a distinguished monastery until 1817, when Abbot Philaret (Danilevsky) of the St. Sophronius Hermitage was assigned there. Upon his arrival at the monastery, he found only a few ancient structures and 25 brethren. Inspired by the example and teachings of St. Paisius Velichkovsky, Abbot Philaret truly became the awakener and spiritual founder of the monastery which became renowned for its eldership and wide-ranging charitable undertakings. Already at the close of the 19th century, the Glinsk Hermitage encompassed 5 churches, 4 house churches, 15 buildings to house the residents, 8 hostels for the faithful, a refectory, a laundry, a hospital with a pharmacy, and many household buildings, including 4 waterwheel-powered mills. The monastery included a vocational school in which up to 50 boys, primarily orphans, were educated. Approximately 400 people lived at the monastery.

Almost everything of the external glory of the monastery was swept away by the revolutionary whirlwind. By 1942, when the warmth of monastic life was rekindled on the ruins of its former splendor, the Glinsk Hermitage included only one house church, in the building also housing the hospital and ”bishop's” building.

The most noteworthy aspect of the history of the monastery was the fact that its monastics were able to endure through all of the deprivations and trials of the awful decades, and to return to the monastery not the glory of its former magnificence, but rather the spirit of true asceticism, eldership, and service to the world. This permitted the Glinsk Hermitage to function for a short time – from 1942 to 1961, when it was once again shut down – as a manifestation of unusual spiritual strength, at whose center were the elders.

We were told a great deal about the elders of the Glinsk Hermitage by his Eminence, the Most Reverend Lazarus, during his visits to Washington, and by Schema-archimandrite Makary Bolotov, who was personally acquainted with several of the Glinsk elders during the final stage of the history of the monastery. They both believe that the time will come when the Church will include them in the host of Saints. [On August 21, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, canonized three Glinsk elders: Schema-Metropolitan Seraphim (Mazhugi), Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim (Romantsov), and Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (Lukash) -Pravoslavie.ru]


Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim (1885–1976)

He was able to make us feel that earthly life is only the podvig of temporary wandering on the path to eternal life.

The great Glinsk elder, Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim (in the world, Ivan Romanovich Romanstev), was born June 28, 1885 in the village of Voronok, Krupets region of Kursk Province, to a peasant family. In August, 1910, after his parents had died, Ivan entered Glinsk Monastery. In 1914, he was enlisted in the army and fought in the First World War. In 1916 he was wounded and after recovering returned to the monastery. In 1919, Ivan Romanstov received the monastic tonsure with the name Juvenaly.

After Glinsk monastery was closed in 1922, Fr. Juvenaly moved to the Drandsk Monastery of the Dormition (Sukhumi diocese, Abkhazia), where in 1926 he was ordained a hieromonk and tonsured into the great schema with the name Seraphim. However, the Drandsk Monastery was also soon closed. Until 1930, Fr. Seraphim lived near Alma Alta and worked as the guardian of an apiary. The armed forces did not arrest him, and did not send him to build the White Sea Canal. From 1934 to 1946, Fr. Seraphim lived in Kyrgyzstan. He celebrated Divine Service at night, confessing and communing the faithful during those services.

On December 30, 1947 Fr. Seraphim returned to Glinsk Hermitage (which had just reopened), and in 1948 Archimandrite Seraphim (Amelin), seeing his spiritual experience and perfection in monastic labors, appointed Hieroschemamonk Seraphim as father-confessor of the brothers.

The elder had a special spiritual gift for hearing confessions, for calling people to complete openness. He received with particular fatherly love those who were tormented by woes, sorrows, and despondency, and those who did not know what path to take in life. Fr. Seraphim was able to make people perceive that earthly life is only the podvig of temporary wandering on the path to eternal life; he called people to a life that is Christian, perfect, and lofty. People came to him from all ends of the Soviet Union.

The elder's own humility was remarkable. He never ascribed anything to his own gifts, or considered himself a man of special prayer. The elder's day began at 2:00 a.m., when he did his cell rule, and then attended the services from beginning to end, after which he gave himself over to service of his neighbor: he received pilgrims, assigned them places to live, confessed them. At night he answered letters. He copied excerpts from the holy fathers and blessed his spiritual children to do the same, and he would send the copies later to others. Love inspired him to selflessly care for every soul. He was a great God-pleaser and a true pastor. Not only monks and laypeople came to him for advice, but even bishops, who saw that he was not a man of the flesh, but of the spirit. After Glinsk Hermitage was again closed, Fr. Seraphim moved to Sukhumi, where he continued his labors as an elder in the capacity of father confessor of the Cathedral. Multitudes of the faithful came to him there. On January 1, 1976, the grace-filled elder peacefully gave up his spirit to God.

Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (1880–1974)

Having endured three arrests, exile, humiliation, and hunger, he was able to fulfill the commandment, "Love thine enemies"

Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (in the world Alexei Andreyevich Lukash), a venerable elder and great man of prayer, was born February 12, 1880 in the village of Lupa, in the Romen region of Poltava province, to a peasant family. In 1895 Alexei came to Glinsk Hermitage with the desire to dedicate his life to God.

In 1915 he was enlisted in the army. First he served in Perm, but was soon transferred to the front, where he was taken prisoner by the Austrians, and remained in Austria for three and a half years. The prisoners were hardly fed, and given the most difficult labor. Many prisoners died of hunger and labors beyond their strength. But Alexei prayed intensely and accepted all these afflictions as from the hand of God. In 1918 he returned to the monastery, where he received the monastic tonsure in 1921 with the name Andronik. After the monastery was closed, he worked at a mill in the town of Putivl. Monk Andronik's strict monastic life and unmurmuring obedience drew the attention of Bishop Pavlin (Kroshechnik), a vicar of Kursk, who received him as his cell attendant. But Fr. Andronik was arrested and exiled. When he was released on amnesty, he again became Bishop Pavlin's cell attendant. In July of 1930, Fr. Andronik was arrested in Kaluga and sentenced to five years of imprisonment. In exile, Fr. Andronik worked as a nursing aide in a prison hospital. He looked after the sick with sincere compassion and love, washing them himself. Everyone loved him; the Uzbek prisoners even called him "mama."

In 1939, Fr. Andronik was again sentenced and sent to Kolyma. First, they detained him for eleven months in the prison, where he was interrogated every night, being pressured to slander Bishop Pavlin, but the elder kept silence. In the prison cell, Fr. Andronik had a vision of a certain Lady, who consoled and encouraged him. At first, he thought that this was his mother, but only later understood that she was the Mother of God.

Having completed his prison term, in 1948 Fr. Andronik returned to Glinsk Hermitage and was appointed dean of the monastery. It was his duty to watch after everyone in the monastery, gather the brothers to cut hay, prepare firewood, and work in the garden; he was always the first to do these labors. Fr. Andronik's soul, purified by many sorrows, was filled with the gifts of grace. This bearing of the spirit attracted people to the elder. Having magnanimously endured all suffering, he fulfilled the commandment to love thine enemies in deed. Humility and meekness reigned inseparably in his soul; the elder even walked bowed in humility.

After the monastery was again closed in 1961, Fr. Andronik moved to Tbilisi under the direct care of the former abbot of Glinsk Monastery, Metropolitan Zenobius (Mazhugi) of Tetritskaroi, who greatly loved and respected the elder. Just as they did to Glinsk, now people came to Fr. Andronik in Georgia from all over the Soviet Union seeking salvation. His whole life was directed at one goal—the salvation of his soul and the souls of his neighbors. On March 21, 1978, having reached deep old age, he gave his spirit to God.

Schema-Metropolitan Seraphim (1896–1985)

He was able to unite the magnificence of a hierarch with the humility of a monk, and became a wise pastor to the faithful of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and the Ukraine.

In the person of the great elder, Metropolitan Zenobius of Tetritskaroi (in schema, Seraphim) was wondrously combined the sanctity of his personal life, love for people, and love of enlightenment. The future Metropolitan Seraphim (in the world, Zakharia Joachimovich Mazhuga) was born on September 14, 1896 in the town of Glukhov to a working class family. Having lost his father early in life, he was raised by his mother, and often went to Glinsk Hermitage. The grace-filled atmosphere of the monastery and the example of his God-loving mother instilled the love of God in him.

In 1914, he became a novice of the monastery, and in 1916, Zakharia Mazhuga was called to military duty. In the swamps of Pinsk he developed eczema and thrombophlebitis. But the young man's worst fear was killing someone. It was resolved by a miracle: through his fervent prayers, he was sent to the ranks of armed escorts, and did not participate in the battles.

After demobilization, Zakharia returned to the monastery, where he received the monastic tonsure with the name Zenobius. During the terrible period of civil war, Zinobius was entrusted with the dangerous obedience of gathering wheat from the monastery mill. While other monks who had this obedience where attacked, his loads of wheat were never robbed. In 1922, Glinsk Hermitage was closed. The young monk moved to the Caucasus, to the Drandsk Monastery of the Dormition near Sukhumi. Soon that monastery would also be closed; Fr. Zenobius moved with some other monks to the mountains of Abzhazia and started a small skete of desert dwellers.

The monks had no peace there either. There was one miraculous incident when Fr. Zenobius climbed into a bear's lair to hide from the authorities, and the bear did not touch him.

Fr. Zenobius moved to Rostov-on-the-Don, where he was arrested in 1930, and held for seven months without even receiving an accusation for his arrest. In imprisonment in the Urals, he performed the services and needs from memory. Everyone respected him for his generosity and fearlessness, and always called him "father." One day a miracle happened to him: he was returning to the camp in winter after work when he saw a bunch of grapes lying on the snow—something nearly impossible in January in the Urals. He gave a grape to each man in the brigade, and there was enough for everyone.

Having been in prison for four years and eight months, Fr. Zenobius left for Tbilisi. Later he was the rector of a church in Armenia, and then served in Batumi. After the restoration of ecclesiastical relations between the Georgian and Russian Churches, Fr. Zenobius was appointed dean of all the Russian parishes in Georgia and Armenia. From 1950 until his very death he was the rector of the St. Alexander Nevsky Church in Tbilisi.

Archimandrite Zenobius was consecrated a bishop in 1956, and in 1972 he was raised to the rank of metropolitan. All those around him treated him with great respect and gratefulness, amazed at the harmony in him of hierarchical magnificence with monastic humility. Having become an archpastor, Vladyka always maintained his connection with Glinsk Hermitage, providing shelter to many of its brothers after it was closed in 1961, among whom were elder Seraphim (Romanstov) and Andronik (Lukash). Vladyka departed to the Lord on March 8, 1985.

From the Official Site of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church

Source: Translated by Pravoslavie.ru/OrthoChristian.com