28. Nurturing the novice in all of us always

There was a Bishop Basil, who was formerly Fr Vladimir. When Fr Vladimir’s wife passed away, he was gifted by his confessor, Metropolitan Anthony of Surozh, to take monastic vows, and thereafter be consecrated as bishop to serve in America.

Fr Vladimir gladly accepted this gift of taking the monastic vows, and confessed to the Metropolitan that while he understood and gladly abide by the vows of chastity, poverty, prayers, and all, he was not quite sure how to abide by the vow of obedience. After all, he was to be elevated to the throne of a bishop so soon, without walking in the footpaths of being a novice monk first.

The Metropolitan wisely told Fr Vladimir, that he would be in obedience to everyone he will meet in the future and fulfilled their requests as long as he could and those requests were within Scriptural means.

This advice Fr Vladimir, and later as Bishop Basil, took gladly all the way throughout his remaining life until his repose.

Fr Tikhon was recounting how one day, while walking with Bishop Basil in the dreary rain in Moscow on an important errand, an old lady approached the elderly bishop. Not realizing that she was talking to a bishop, she immediately asked the old bishop to follow her to her room to bless it because no priest fulfilled her requested for 3 years. Her room was a good 40 minutes bus ride away.

Even as Fr Tikhon tried to dissuade the old bishop from going, the bishop promptly accepted her request and Fr Tikhon had to go with the bishop and the old lady all the way to the other side of town in Orekhovo-Borisovo on an old bus. The old bishop joyfully blessed the room and the old lady was very grateful.

Fr Tikhon then realized what the word “poslushanie” means, for monastic obedience. It was a word derived from “slushat”, which means to listen and to obey.

In our journeys, whether we are blessed in consecrated positions of service, or in our everyday missions in the world, we are to seek poslushanie to God, that is, to listen to God, and of course, to obey Him and His Will, for in Him all things are possible and all things of His will benefit our reconciliation with Him.

But beyond that, we are to seek poslushanie also in service for others, to joyfully seek the salvation of others in Christ, to edify and strengthen others towards God. That is what we are to do (Colossians 3:12).

We are always to keep the novice mind and heart, to be little children, to be always listening, obeying (for our own good), and to be humble (Philippians 2:3-11). The higher we are blessed to go, the more cautious we have to be against pride and greed, for in higher places the evil one attacks in the most cruel and most relentless ways. In humility, the evil one has nothing to rob from us.

Keep vigil always, keep humble, keep praying (St James 4:6). Nurture the little child or the novice in us always, keeping that tiny flame alive in God.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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