I have recently been reading again [did not manage to finish it the first time] a delightful book entitled The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer. The majority of my husband’s and my prayer practise revolves around this ever-deepening prayer, only 12 words long. It is a transformative ever evolving and deepening experience. I have posted several times on this Prayer of the Heart which is the one prayer monks and nuns of all traditions, and especially the Orthodox branch of the Christian Faith use silently throughout the day. I digress….
Towards the end of the book I came across something I had not known and wonder if many of you do…there is a church at the South Pole! Run by the Russian Orthodox Church it is a delightful church and I have found a small clip about it on Youtube.
Gaining glimpses into the everyday practical lives of people following their faith around the world offer us much in terms of revelation, illumination, education and hope. We can realise that we share common difficulties, common hopes and dreams as well as concerns and fears. Earlier in my blog I posted several posts [now in Archives] concerning one of my own very favourite examples of living faith, Father Lazarus at the St Antony’s monastery in Egypt, who chooses to live, work and pray in the remote caves high up behind the monastery that St Antony himself inhabited. What is it about/in certain of us that chooses to seek and listen to God in these inauspicious and often challenging geographical places, to seek that perfect solitude within where we may meet God? Whilst this blog is entitled Living in the Monastery without walls, and describes those of us who live outside formal enclosure, yet follow a monastic lifestyle… the title can also be used to describe the understanding that even when enclosed, the inner freedom of the life means that to the adept no walls exist anyway. For it is an inner freedom that we all seek and hopefully find regardless of our living conditions. And so, whether we are monks living in the world, or monks that are enclosed, the experiences we have are similar and we can find a common thread that links us in our ever present prayer life. I feel inspired to offer various examples of choices of faith led lifestyle, some familiar, some not…and hope that you will all find something new in these offerings, that you gain something from for yourself. Stephanie
THE BRETHREN is a documentary about the monks of the world’s northernmost monastery — the Trifonov Pechengsky monastery located in Kolsky Peninsula, Russia. It was Russia’s Northern outpost a few centuries ago. Later it was destroyed and abolished, and now it is being restored. The brethren of this monastery is small: 4 hieromonks and 2 monks. They are young, and every one of them has had his personal way to monastic ordination. All their life stories are nontrivial and even paradoxical. They are attempting not only to restore the buildings of the monastery but to build a temple in their hearts. The film features unique footage of inner life of the monastery.
I thought some of you may like to explore the beautiful Russian Orthodox Chants. Here is one Russian chant for the Lenten period.
Title: “На реках Вавилонских” (By the waters of Babylon). Performers: Moscow Sretensky Monastery Choir
And here is some of the incredible architecture and artwork as well as chant to be found in the Orthodox Church. Again I have chosen the Russian Orthodox tradition, as it is so beautiful and haunting; appealing to all the senses in the worship of God and is perhaps lesser known to many Western Christians of Catholic and Protestant traditions. In such beauty the spirit soars.