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Δευτέρα, 19 Νοεμβρίου 2012

FR. JOHN (KRESTIANKIN). Recollections of a spiritual son.





Fr. John Krestiankin on his 95th birthday.One day my spiritual father, Archimandrite John (Krestiankin) of the Pskov-Caves Monastery, called me and said: "I am going to die soon. So please do me a favour, write down what you remember and what you want to tell people about me. Because afterwards you all are going to write something anyway, and you might come up with stories as ridiculous as they did with poor Father Nikolai, who “resurrected cats” and other fables like that. So I want to check everything myself for my peace of mind.”[1]

Thus, fulfilling my spiritual father's obedience, I began this task in the hope that Batiushka himself would separate the wheat from the chaff, perhaps suggest some things that I might have forgotten, and, as always, correct any mistakes I might have made.

I will not write very much about what Fr. John meant to me. My whole monastic life was inseparably connected with him. He has been and remains for me the ideal of an Orthodox Christian, a monk, and a loving and demanding priest and father.

It would be impossible, of course, to re-tell everything that happened over the course of our relationship. His spiritual counsels can be read in his published letters. In my opinion, they are the best that have been written in the area of spiritual and moral literature in Russia for the last fifty years. I would like to relate something else, known to me personally.

For me, Fr. John's main spiritual quality was not only his gift of discernment, but also his unshakeable faith in the all-good and perfect Providence of God, which leads a Christian to salvation. An epigraph to one of Fr. John's books is something he often repeated: "The main things in spiritual life are faith in God's Providence and discernment with guidance." Once, in answer to my perplexity, Batiushka wrote: "At the moment I am reading a passage from the Old Testament, and what depth [I find in it]: A man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps (Prov. 16:9). The wise Solomon bore this out. You, also, in your own life must be convinced that it can be no other way."


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