The Cross

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Fourth in her ‘series’ of Cross-related visions, Abbess Thaisia sees a Cross. This is not a dream like the others before, but a vision while awake. Always these visions take place in the midst of heavy trials and tribulations, when she begins to lose heart and starts to languish:

 

“Once, during the period of labours and sorrows when I was beginning to put the community in good order, I was sitting in my study, all alone. All the doors were closed. Everyone had gone to bed, and I was preparing to do the same–yet I continued to sit there–I don’t know why. I was putting off going to sleep. I was not praying, nor was I thinking of anything special. There was something heavy on my heart, something very heavy, and there was silence in my heart and soul. Suddenly, in the middle of my cell, I saw a large wooden cross standing on the floor, so large that it almost reached the ceiling. (Evidently this was not a dream, for I was awake–I was just sitting, conscious of everything around me.) At the place where the horizontal and vertical beams met, there was something like a bloody, red, oblong fastening. seeing the cross, I did not become afraid; I crossed myself, and involuntarily thought, ‘How large it is! How will I be able to carry it?’ Then I heard these words, as if coming from the cross itself: ‘You will lift it and carry it, for My strength is made perfect in weakness!’ 

I considered that this was sent either to strengthen me in my sorrowful life, or to warn me of still greater sorrows to come. Although I felt some sadness, I accepted this with equanimity. I was ready to endure any suffering for the good of the community, and, through it, for the glorifying of the Name of God.”

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For Abbess Thaisia’ first vision, go to The Cross-Baptism

For her second vision, go to The Fool-For-Christ and the Cross

Finally, for her third vision, go to Martyrdom Before the Crucifix

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Martyrdom Before the Crucifix

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Third in her ‘series’ of Cross-related visions, Abbess Thaisia sees a Crucifix. Always these visions take place in the midst of heavy trials and tribulations, when she begins to lose heart and starts to languish… Here, the Holy Hierach St. Nicholas visits her to sternly admonish her. Below follows another except from her Autobiography:

“Then once I had a dream. I was walking along a road in an open field. I had to turn right, but there was no path in that direction; there were only beds of planting vegetables, very long ones. They looked as they do in autumn after the vegetables have been harvested, and the furrows between the beds were dirty and wet. I stopped and considered how to turn right. To go along the furrows would mean getting dirty and wet, but to walk across the beds would be a muddy, sticky business. Suddenly, I saw an old bishop coming in my direction with a staff in his hand. I thought, ‘I’ll wait and see, and whichever way he goes I will go too.’ Coming close to me, he said: ‘Come with me, I will show you the way.’ Leaning on his staff with his left hand, he took me with his right hand and led me along a bed, saying: ‘Although it’s muddy and you will often get stuck, the path is high; look how much dirt and water there is along the low path.’ We walked together for a long time. He continued preaching, and I talked to him without fear, although I recognised him as St. Nicholas. Finally we came to some church or chapel (I don’t remember which), and went in. Inside was a large Crucifix, and on the right, hanging on the wall, was an icon of St. Parasceva. I began to prostrate myself before the Crucifix. As soon as I touched the floor with my head, the holy man struck me on the neck with such force that I thought he would chop my head off. I had hardly recovered when another blow followed, and then another, and so on to five. ‘Why is he beating me?’ I asked myself. ‘Does he really want to chop my head off? But why would he want to do that?’ ‘Don’t argue, don’t act wise,’ he answered my thought. ‘If I struck you, it was because I had to. You have forgotten that one must obey without arguing. You don’t have to show off your  knowledge.’ I stood up, and the holy hierarch looked at me, smiling kindly. He pointed at the icon of martyr Parasceva, saying: ‘Here she is, the bride of Christ. She allowed her head to be cut off as an offering to her Bridegroom; whereas you are unable to suffer even a little, and you keep on philosophising while you still don’t possess spiritual wisdom. Humble yourself; endure, and you will be saved.’ “

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For her first Vision-Encounter with our Lord’s Cross, go to The Cross-Baptism

For her second Vision-Encounter with our Lord’s Cross, go to The Fool-for-Christ and the Cross

St. John of Kronstadt: The Circle of Grace (2)

St. John of Kronstadt: The Circle of Grace

How fascinating to see a Saint through the eyes of another!

Who would have thought that St. John of Krostandt had helped finance, all the way from Russia and in very difficult times, the construction of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York! A Saint worthy to meet St. Seraphim Sarov in a vision in January of 1901, in order to warn him of the impending Russian ‘Golgotha’. A spiritual father to Abbess Thaisia and founder of numerous women monasteries under her godly administration. St. Theophan the Recluse, himself a remarkable ascetic of the faith, spoke of him with wonder: “Father John of Kronstadt is a man of God. His prayer has reached God by virtue of his great faith. May the Lord keep him in humility and devotion to His holy will, and in self-sacrifice.”

The Athonite starets St. Silouan asked for St. John‘s  prayers to become a monk. Having finished his military service, before departing for home, Symeon (his name before tonsure) and the company clerk went to visit Father Ioann of Kronstadt to ask for his prayers and blessing. However, Father Ioann was absent from Kronstadt, so they decided to leave him letters instead. The clerk began to write a long letter in his best handwriting, but Semyon wrote only a few words: “Father, I wish to become a monk. Pray that the world does not detain me.” They returned to their barracks in St. Petersburg and, in the words of the Elder, the very next day he felt that all round him “the flames of hell were burning.” St Silouan recalled later in his life: “I still marvel at the power of his prayer. Almost 40 years have passed, yet I have not seen anyone serve the way he did.”

New martyr Alexander Hotovitzky, a Russian Saint living and serving in the United States from 1895 to 1914, also had the blessing to meet St. John of Krostandt and work together! Specifically, St. Alexander traveled to Russia in 1903, and while there, he paid a visit to Fr. John Sergiev — known even then as the wonderworker John of Kronstadt. After his return to America, St. Alexander spoke with a reporter from the Wilkes-Barre Times.  did the research and reprinted the resulting, fascinating article, one of the best things I have ever read in a newspaper, at Orthodox History. (The original date, incidentally, is April 7, 1904.)

 

*The Circle of Grace