Source: Western American Diocese (ROCOR)
On 11/24 September, 2015, the day of memory of Venerable Father Silouan the Athonite, His Eminence KYRILL, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, consecrated a new men’s monastery for the Western American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, in honor of this modern-day Saint.
Archimandrite Irenei; and the Divine Services were completed as the faithful participated in a Cross Procession through the grounds of the monastery property. With lamp, cross and banners, holy relics of the Saint and the monastery’s newly-commissioned Patronal Icon, the clergy, choir and faithful trekked in orderly formation across the expanses of the monastery, at which time the sites for new cells, the cemetery and a new cross high upon a ridge were blessed.
The core language of the monastery, regardless of the national or ethnic background of any individual brother, is English — following a practice observed at the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Essex, England, which was founded by a close disciple of Saint Silouan the Athonite, Elder Sophrony (Sakharov). The liturgical language of the new monastery may vary according to the preference, abilities and ease of prayer for a given member of the community (chiefly English and Church Slavonic), but the day-to-day affairs of monastery life are conducted in the language of this nation, thus facilitating a vital unity among the brothers.
The immense significance for our times of St. Silouan cannot be overestimated, for several reasons. The Saints live forever, and the labors they perform while in this earthly life are of prophetic importance. Saint Silouan prayed for all of mankind: for all Orthodox Christians, as well as for all peoples, perhaps even more so for the latter, that they would come to know the love of God. Although Saint Silouan himself reposed in 1938, during his earthly life he prayed for those of us who had not yet been born. He foresaw us through his prayers. He has spiritually conceived many. His earthly work operates prophetically when any who have come into contact with him through his disciples or his writings have become deeper followers of Christ our God.
Furthermore, Saint Silouan is a beacon and instructor for today’s unstable and fearful generation. We have so many starts and stops to our spiritual life. We fail often; we lose hope. We are tempted to give up our cross and our faith. We become bitter, seemingly estranged from God. For this we have Saint Silouan, who in all his struggles, in all of his faithfulness and after pouring so much “blood” in his ascetic quest for the Holy Spirit, said to God: “Thou art implacable!” It was at this moment that the Holy Spirit revealed to him an important message for our time: “Keep thy mind in hell and despair not.” In other words, God tells us exalt not ourselves. To repent of our sins. And no matter what depth of despair our souls should endure, never to lose sight of the unfathomable abyss of His compassion and love for us.
The Venerable St. Silouan, who today is widely loved and venerated throughout the world, was not really known during his life-time. No special recognition or attention was paid to him, and he successfully hid his abundant spiritual gifts from the sight of others. This is a precious example for all Orthodox Christians of our time on how our spiritual life should be hidden from others, but known by God our Father, Who seeing what is performed in secret, rewards openly.
Saint Silouan on Repentance:
“If you think evil of people, it means you have an evil spirit in you whispering evil thoughts about others. And if a man dies without repenting, without having forgiven his brother, his soul will go to the place where lives the evil spirit which possessed his soul.”
“This is the law we have: if you forgive others, it is a sign that the Lord has forgiven you; but if you refuse to forgive, then your own sin remains with you.”
The Monastery of Venerable Silouan the Athonite, located at 21285 Old Sonora Columbia Road, Sonora, CA 95370-8807, is open to visitors and pilgrims. Please, contact the monastery in advance for information on accommodations. Attention Guest Master: St.SilouanMonastery@me.com. Phone: 209-694-0391.