Mother Xeni’s poetry
Today I discovered a new member of my spiritual family, a blind, prescient Amma and a gifted poetess, who happens to be my own spiritual great-grandmother! Mother Xeni served as the Abbess of St. Nectarios’ (spelled also: St.Nektarios) newly-founded Monastery in Aegina (Greece) for nuns, and was the spiritual grandmother of my own spiritual mother, Sister Angeliki, who was tonsured a novice there and was ringing the bells upon St. Nektarios’ glorification!
Glory to God! The circle of Grace expands like ripples in the pool!
A soul, of lamentations worthy, and sorrows, is sighing,
and with a loud and fervent voice, the name of God crying,
and saying, my God save me now, my God, have mercy on me,
O God, You’ve seen my darkness now, so shed Your light upon me,
my God, don’t turn away from me, but quickly hear my pleading,
enlighten my soul’s eyes, O God, spiritually leading;
because they have been blinded from the sins within my depths.
O wretched self, I cannot see; my God, I lose my steps.
Miserable me, I cannot see, my God, where I am going,
or where I stand, or that I am a stranger, past my knowing.
Many clouds and mists my soul in darkness shroud and cover,
and without measure I embitter You, my sweetest Savior.
O wretch, within I feel upheaval, mourning pierced my side,
for Your All-Holy Spirit, Lord, to me must be denied;
my soul must weep eternally her poverty of grace,
and without ceasing to lament in tears that woeful place.
I must avenge myself for all the pain sin makes me suffer,
and with the rivers of my tears, my deep repentance offer;
the tender earth to which I will return, with weeping drench,
to cleanse and flood away the traces of my sins’ foul stench.
I am no longer worthy, Lord, to hope in Your compassion,
I’m worthy only of hell-fire, and suffering, damnation.
But you, my refuge is in You, my God and my Salvation…
(transl. from Greek Fr Demetrios Serfes)
Confession of the Blind Woman
People, hear and pity me, for this, my situation,
and pray to God to spare me, my wretched soul to give salvation.
Believe me, all of you, my brethren, truly I’ll explain,
in me is found abundantly the name of works I now will make plain.
If you would like to know which virtues I have called my own,
I’ll tell you: naked is my soul of good in every form.
Utterly devoid of virtue, sentenced to be damned,
and by every purity most utterly abandoned.
Poverty past bounds is mine, and wounds and ill diseases,
and being lost forever in the folds of death’s deep creases.
Severe insentitivity and stupor overcome me,
anger, pride, hard-heartedness and evil have undone me.
To virtue I am cold as ice, but warm to wickedness,
always ready for laughter’s lure and for talkativeness.
Instead of being compassionate, I’m totally unfeeling,
instead of weeping constantly, I laugh, the wretched worldling!
But there is something yet, that hides so perfectly these evils.
How long will I so fool the world, though I am like the devils,
with my false piety, fake virtue and hypocrisy?
When the world regards me highly, I rejoice and boast,
but when they criticise me, even kindly, I am sad, and mope.
Whomever of you knows me, I exhort you to feel piety,
and when reminded of me, weep for my iniguity.
Beg our God that someday He enlightenment will send me;
and by your prayers, my brethren, I hope that He will save me,
and from my somber wickedness and evil, He will free me.
(transl. from Greek Fr Demetrios Serfes)
Go here for an interview with a nun who knew Saint Nektarios and who lived with Mother Xeni
A SWEET AND BLESSED REPOSE,GERONDISSA XENI ! HUMBLY CRY OUT FOR OUR SALVATION TO OUR LORD GOD!
“Gerondissa (Greek for Abbess) Xeni, was born in 1867, and reposed in the Lord 1923. Mother Xeni, was chosen to become an Abbess of St. Nectarios (spelled also: St.Nektarios) newly-founded Monastery in Aegina for nuns. This beloved handmaiden of our Lord was blind from the age of 9 months, and although physically blind, she was not spiritually blind. She lived under the spiritual guidance of St. Nectarios, and sincerely developed great Christian virtue, discernment and love. Even before the holy Saint Nectarios officially named her to preside over the Community of nuns in Aegina all the girls and women considered her to be their leader due to her piety, compassion and the great grace which dwelt in her sweet soul. This holy, pure, and chosen woman, though she fully realized the scope of her blessedness, did not “consider salvation a thing to be grasped” (Phil.3:13).
Gerondissa Xeni is mentioned in the “Life of St. Nectarios of Aegina“.
During the life of Gerondissa Xeni, she wrote her poetry, which is now becomming more and more well known. We truly discover the secret of her blessed familiarity and closeness both to the Saint, and to our God in Trinity: humility. Gerondissa Xeni poetry is spiritually remarkable, and full of love for God! Her poetry serves to help us, her readers, to be able to reflect on our own path to salvation.”
By Father Demetrios Serfes
Source: Orthodox Poetry Of Gerondissa (Abbess) Xeni Of Aegina, Greece (1867-1923), Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes, Boise, Idaho, USA, Introduction by Father Demetrios Serfes