Beginning the Way of the Cross

The fast is a period of time when you can rethink your attitude towards life and look back at relationships with God and your close ones. At this time, a life can change and serious decisions are made. It is at the time of fast when tonsuring is held. The new novices, monks and nuns became living parts of the monasteries and make vows, devoting their lives to serving God.

The Tonsuring

On January 2, during the time of the Nativity fast, four sisters from St. Elisabeth Convent  became the novices. Although it is just the first step on their spiritual journey, it transfigures a person and opens a door to a completely different life…

It is very quiet and solemn in the church at the midnight service. All the sisters are standing with the candles in their hands, and four other sisters in long shirts are walking past them. The future novices stops in front of the icons laying on the analogion, and a special prayer is read… The vestments are brought out of the altar. The priest performs the rite of vesting, while the rural dean and the mother superior vest the new sisters in their vestments of salvation. The words of the chant, are sung at this moment, and call the sisters for being ready to meet Christ any time. The priest blesses each sister with the prayer rope, which is a symbol of the main weapon(prayer) against the devil and addresses the sisters with the following words: “Strike the enemy with the name of Jesus Christ”. Father Andrew wished the sisters that their prayer ropes become worn out quickly.

The sermon of Father Andrew Lemeshonok after the rite of vesting the sisters:

The new year begins, and we have such a great acquisition. We hope that it is not just a visual change, when a person wears a vestment, but that it will become a step forward on their spiritual way to the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is natural to think that if a person comes to the monastery, first of all they should learn to obey. If a person has not learned how to obey, then all his future development, actions and work are doomed to failure. That is why I would like to wish the sisters that they learn this. It can be easy if you like to obey, when you accept and understand everything. However, it is much more difficult, when you are not in agreement, when you just do not want to obey. And this is the very beginning of the way of the Cross for a person, who has crucified himself for this world, because in this world a person hears only himself and looks only to himself.

Here we say that Christ has brought a person there, and there we need to live with Christ. If there are our personal opinions, habits, proclivities, characters and other attributes of life, then we have to forget about them. And we can spend our whole life battling them. We have to spend our life on becoming a novice, on our obedience. We do not obey a human, we obey God! We believe that God speaks through people. And when we try to overcome our personal “self” and our opinions, we become closer to God. Even if we obey something, what seems to us wrong, we will gain any way, because we have beaten the “self” and put our enemy to shame. This is what we should always remember and think about!

Your true monastic way begins now, and there will be no way out – you can only move forward. And this way will become more and more narrow…

We hope that the new four sisters will become for us this very strength, which is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians, 12:9). That they become the sisters, who will help us in the inner and outer development of our convent and in everything connected with its main calling: to help people find God and lead them to salvation.    

Prepared by Brother Vadim Yanchuk
Photos by nun Elena (Strashinova)

St. Elisabeth Convent, January 4, 2017

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