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Παρασκευή, 19 Ιουλίου 2019

The story of the Gerondissa Anisia of Holy Ascension Monastery, Proti Serron, Greece. Recorded Olga Rozhneva






The story of the Gerondissa Anisia of Holy Ascension Monastery, Proti Serron, Greece. Recorded Olga Rozhneva

- I wanted to become a nun since childhood. Why? How can you answer? For the love of God. But my parents wanted me to grow up a bit. I came to the monastery on the third of January 1959. I was twenty-one years old. In 1979, the Geronda Ephraim of  Arizona, the spiritual child of Eder Joseph the  Hesychast, came to us. In those years in Greece there were many destroyed monasteries. Geronda Epfraim picked up spiritually experienced sisters and sent them to rebuild these monasteries, to revive monastic life there.

I can’t call myself spiritually experienced, but by that time I had twenty years of experience in monastic life, and I dreamed of a solitary monastery where I could pray without being distracted. 
Geronda brought me and another sister Markella here in these mountains. 

He showed us the ruins of a once large, strong male monastery, in which the brethren prayed for over two hundred years, until the monastery was destroyed by the Bulgarians, who claimed the territory of Greek Macedonia. They cut out all the fathers, destroyed the structure. Nobody settled here anymore. Only wolves and snakes lived in ruins.

We sat on the stones - on the ruins of the monastery. Around us were mountains covered with forest. Not a single building was left where you could live. There is a strong.wind. Wolves howl. In the place of this archondark, where we are sitting now, is a destroyed stable for animals. There is nothing! 

What modern people have become accustomed to convenience. This was not at all here. Fathers brought everything uphill on their shoulders. In order to get some kind of thing, even firewood, it was necessary to go down the mountain to the village, while we had not only a car, there was not even a donkey! And now, by car, from the village to the monastery to go half an hour along an asphalt road, and then - on foot, without a road, and uphill ... And I thought: you wanted solitude - this is where it is enough! This is a place for hesychasts. Then Sister Marcella told me:

- We will not be able to live here. There is not even a roof over our head! Only wolves howl ... They will eat us! 

I thought: two weak women, how can we restore at least one house? Nowhere to live, nowhere to pray. We left. A month later, my heart told me: go again, look ... 

We came with my sister again. We looked. No, it’s impossible for us to stay here ... We left again. Two months have passed. Our heart again said: you need to go there again ... 

And we came with my sister for the third time. There was a source, a spring, and an icon above it. We sat on the stones, and I began to pray. I read the Jesus prayer and suddenly - I felt such grace! I heard in my heart: you need to stay here! 

I told my sister Marcella:

- We stay! Here is heaven! Here it was prayed ... Fathers prayed and worked ... This place is very suitable for the Jesus prayer. 

She objected to me: 
- If we stay here the wolves will eat us! 
I answered my sister: 
“If Christ allows the wolves to eat us, let them eat!”

So we stayed. The first years were very difficult. We lived in tent conditions. First of all, the church was restored so that the Liturgy could be served. That was the main thing. Geronda Ephraim came for two or three days three times a year - and all difficulties were miraculously resolved. Geronda Ephraim has a very strong prayer. When he came, we felt great comfort and spiritual joy. I asked Geronda for a quiet secluded place, but not as I want, but as the Lord wants ... I wanted us to have three or four sisters here, but they multiplied and the monastery grew. And it was the will of God. Geronda Ephraim said to me: 

- You will have such a monastery, where people will come. Give them all hospitality. Take everyone.

I did like Elder Silouan of Athos: he sought solitude, but the Lord sent people to him. We now have twenty-five sisters. They are engaged in needlework, iconography, collect medicinal herbs, make ointments, tinctures. 

Three years ago (I can’t describe it in detail, I’ll only say briefly) we had a vision that Rev. Joseph the Hesychast covers our monastery with his prayer. His presence is felt everywhere here. 
We even have a temple dedicated to Rev. Joseph the Hesychast, and an amazing story is connected with the construction of this temple. 

We decided to build this temple quite small and modest so that it resembled the little church on the Holy Mountain, in which Rev. Joseph the Hesychast worked. We took the blessing from the bishop and from Geronda Ephraim, concecrated the place and began to make the foundation.

On the very first day of the work, the elder Joseph Hesychast, like he is shown in the photo, with a staff in his hand, appeared to the master in reality. The elder looked at everything, tapped his staff and said: 

“It will be a little too small. I do not fit. 
The master ran to me and shouted: 
“The elder is not happy! We need to build a bigger temple! "

And we were going to go to Arizona, to show the project of the new temple to  Geronda Ephraim. Project remade. I looked and was upset: instead of the originally designed ascetic little church, the temple was larger in size. Of course, it was still very small, but now domes and marble appeared in the project. I went away frustratedf, and the master went to work.

And Elder Joseph appeared to him again. He looked at everything, was satisfied, told the master that he liked everything. The master came running to me again, and we decided to leave the project with domes and marble. I said, "Be blessed." We also asked Elder Joseph: 

- Father, if you want a bigger temple, you need to give us money to build it with. 

And the temple began to build itself! Elder Joseph sent us people, and precisely in the sequence that was necessary for the construction of this temple! 

When the walls were built, the money ran out. We asked for prayer help from Elder  Joseph - and right there came a man who inherited the marble business from his father. He asked: 

- How can I help you? I have marble.

And this man did everything, and he still had marble, and he trimmed the sister's building with marble. (It should be noted here that in Greece there are mines everywhere where marble is mined, it is considered to be an inexpensive finishing material in their construction). 

The iconostasis was needed - the person who made it appeared. It was not we who built the temple - it was built by the Elder Joseph the Hesychast himself. 

Here, in the mountains, wonderful things actually happen sometimes ... One pilgrim heard service going on, bells ringing. She approached the temple in full confidence that the Liturgy was going on - but the temple was empty ...
We did not attach special importance to this story, but then this was repeated. There was a case when the pilgrims came here, saw these empty mountains and were surprised: “How could you like this place ?!” And then they heard Vespers, although there was no service. 

My mom was somehow downstairs and heard chants and prayers. She thought she heard us nuns, was absolutely sure that we were praying  and singing. When I came out she asked: 

- Did you sing now? 
- No, we work and we create a prayer to ourselves ... 
- But I heard the chants! - insisted my mom. 

And we really worked silently and silently read the Jesus prayer ...

Much happens with us, but we do not disclose especially such cases. The Holy Fathers said: "A man who was honored to see his sins, is higher than he who was honored to see angels" 

In the photo: view from the monastery to the villageGerondissa Anicia; the temple of Joseph the Hesychast; view of the monastery.

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