Πέμπτη, 23 Ιανουαρίου 2014

Elder Nikodim of Karoulia

Editor’s Note: In issue no. 245 of The Orthodox Word (2005) we presented the life of Hieroschemamonk Theodosius (Kharitonov) of Karoulia,1 Mount Athos. This was Fr. Nikodim’s elder, with whom he lived in obedience from 1929 until Elder Theodosius’ repose in 1937. The St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood was blessed to have been in correspondence with Fr. Nikodim over the course of many years, benefiting from his prayers and counsels, and working with him to prepare for publication the prayer journal of his elder. We are currently compiling materials by and about Elders Theodosius and Nikodim for a forthcoming book, Praying in the Heart. The present article, written in 2002, has been translated from the Russian and edited by our brotherhood.

1. The Uncovering of Elder Nikodim’s Relics

Before me lie precious letters from Schemamonk Nikodim of Karoulia. They pertain to the years 1982 to 1983, when I was in correspondence with him. At that time my heart was burning to live the monastic life on Athos, the domain of the All-holy Theotokos. In these letters the Elder supported me in this and gave me his blessing, but the abbot of my monastery at that time did not let me go because of the multitude of my obediences.

Glory be to God, the time nevertheless came for me to be on Athos, after ten years of wearisome waiting and many trials. “The Elder had been waiting for you,” the Elder’s cell-attendant, Schemamonk Symeon,2 said. “He used to say, ‘Monk Ephraim is coming to us!’” I, the unworthy one, was not vouchsafed to be there during Fr. Nikodim’s earthly life. But he did console me in a miraculous way, by making me, the sinner, worthy to take part in the uncovering of his honorable relics.3 This unexpected event subsequently had a powerful influence on my life’s path.

“Tomorrow we’ll be removing Fr. Nikodim’s relics!” I was told by Schema-archimandrite Stephen.4 This radiant event took place in 1994, exactly ten years after his blessed repose and, if I am not mistaken, on the exact date.5 Liturgy was served by Fr. Stephen in the morning, after which, in prayerful silence, we went up to the place where Fr. Nikodim had labored, and where his grave was: the kellion6 of the Life-giving Trinity. There were three of us: Schema-archimandrite Stephen, who had become the senior inhabitant of Karoulia after the repose of Fr. Nikodim, Schemamonk Symeon, and me, the sinner. A Pannikhida was served by Fr. Stephen, after which Fr. Symeon and I, with a blessing and the Jesus Prayer, began to dig in trembling expectation of uncovering the relics of an ascetic who, with his humble ascetic labors in the inward work of the unceasing Jesus Prayer, had been a vivid representative of the pre-revolutionary Russian school of monasticism on Mount Athos.

At a depth of about three feet we found a mantia, in which, according to Orthodox practice, a reposed monk is wrapped. Then Fr. Stephen said, “Take his head, Ephraim! Fr. Nikodim was a Russian monk, and you’re a Russian hieromonk!” With fear of God and with a feeling of my own unworthiness, and yet at the same time with a feeling that this was a special moment of Gods’ Providence in my life, I lifted up the Elder’s honorable head. Thanks to his obedience, in self-reproach and other ascetic labors, to his Elder, Hieroschemamonk Theodosius, he had “won the heights through humility, riches through poverty,”7 and the Lord had rewarded him in accordance with His promise: He that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 18:14) and them that honor me I will honor (I Kings 2:30). The relics were amber in color, indicating sanctity, as were the relics of his co-struggler, Hieroschemamonk Seraphim, who had reposed on October 20/November 2, 1981, the day after the glorification of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The merciful God, according to His righteousness, had glorified the two ascetics equally. Together, working out their salvation, they had prayed for the suffering Russian land, preserving their faith in the ability of the Russian people to repent, as well as their hope in the future resurrection of Holy Russia.

The precious relics, in accordance with Athonite custom, were then washed and placed in a room by the north wall of the church, wherein the relics of other Karoulian ascetics were located. In reverent memory of the Elder, Fr. Stephen blessed us with particles of his relics, that they might be a grace-filled help for us. These particles of relics from the Elder’s hand, which had unceasingly fingered his prayer rope—accompanied by prayer on his lips and in his heart, as well as the frequent sign of the Cross—will be preserved by me as a sure pledge of the future resurrection of Russia.

In the world, Fr. Nikodim had been a soldier in the Tsar’s army, and on occasions such as this it is fitting to honor such a man in a military way. After the completion of the uncovering of the relics, some fighter planes began to fly low over the sea past Karoulia!8 We all felt that the occasion had been special and, having given thanks to God, we returned to our cells.

2. Elder Theodosius

The room in which Elder Nikodim had lived was built onto the main building of the kellion as if on chicken legs,9 and it seemed as if a strong wind would cause it to come tumbling down!10 The interior furnishings of the room were, like Fr. Nikodim himself, simple. When recalling Fr. Nikodim’s life, the words of St. Ambrose, the Optina Elder, often come to mind: “Where things are simple, there are a hundred angels; but where things are complicated, there’s not a single one!”11 The room was always full of patristic books. The Elder especially liked to read the volumes of the Philokalia, in which are preserved teachings on the purification of the heart from the passions through the path of sobriety and the Jesus Prayer. He knew those books like his five fingers. Fr. Nikodim also read other books by the Holy Fathers about the spiritual life. On feast days in his solitary desert cell he liked to read patristic homilies and sermons about that particular feast 

The revolution of 1917 found Fr. Nikodim as a senior non-commissioned officer. He had been involved in military activities at the southern front in Macedonia at the end of the First World War, and had been wounded there three times. Not wishing to live any longer in a Russia that had overthrown its Divinely anointed Tsar, he walked with a comrade-in-arms to the Holy Mountain, traveling at night. In such a way, Fr. Nikodim went from serving his earthly king to serving the Heavenly King, the king of Kings.

During his first years on Mount Athos, Fr. Nikodim lived in the St. Panteleimon Monastery, as well as in its sketes, Chromitsa and New Thebaid.12 With the blessing of Elder Silouan,13 he left the crowded sketes and settled in the desert of Karoulia. At that time, there were thirty-five Russian ascetics in the kellia and kalyvae14 scattered across the terrifying cliffs. Among them were two spiritual fathers: Fr. Dositheus, who was kind and condescending, and Fr. Theodosius, who was strict and uncompromising. In accordance with the blessing of Elder Silouan and the words of St. John Climacus (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Chapter 4), Fr. Nikodim chose the uncompromising Fr. Theodosius. As Fr. Nikodim recalled, “My Elder was a theologian, but he was strict.” They maintained spiritual contact with Elder Silouan and took counsel with him.

Fr. Nikodim described his early life with Elder Theodosius as follows15: The Elder then had no novices, in the strict sense of the word. Before me, as far as I know, seven men at various times had tried to live as his novices, following his strict demand of obedience according to The Ladder, but they couldn’t hold out and would leave after half a year or a year. The monks lived in separate kalyvae, either alone or in pairs. There were about twenty such kalyvae in Karoulia, and Elder Theodosius was their common spiritual father. On Saturdays, Sundays, and feast days they all gathered together for common services. On Sundays and feast days they celebrated Vigils and Liturgies; on weekdays, everyone performed the services in their own cells according to a set number of prayer ropes or according to the service books. After Liturgy there was always a common meal. The monks each brought what they had, and while the Elder was consuming the Holy Gifts and straightening things up in the altar, the meal would be prepared. At the meal the Elder would converse with the brothers, satiating his spiritual children, praising someone for his good deeds if necessary, giving explanations to questions that were posed, or giving someone a good scolding in front of everyone. This last fell to me especially often, since I wanted to be his novice.

After the Elder agreed to accept me, on weekdays when the Liturgy was not celebrated, we would read the Hours and Vespers together, and Matins separately—the Elder in his cell and I in the church. Following the Hours we would set the samovar to boil and have tea, after which the Elder would assign me some sort of work to do in my cell, while he performed his prayer rule, wrote something, or answered letters. At midday there would be lunch, after which the Elder would rest for an hour while I continued my work. After his hour’s rest the Elder would have some tea, and after tea he would take a walk outside, maintaining the Prayer and the remembrance of death, bringing to mind the inescapable end of human life. Then he would again do some writing, and an hour before sunset (at 11:00 pm according to the Athonite way of keeping time16) we would celebrate Vespers in church using the service books. The Elder would correct me and teach me the church rubrics.

After sunset (midnight Athonite time), we would have dinner, which consisted of what was left from lunch, and during the meal the Elder would direct his talk to determining my inner state and uncovering my hidden defects—self-will, conceit, various passions, irritation, and the entire negative side of my inner life. With his accusatory words and various questions he would bring me to the point that I, in an agitated state, would tell him everything that was in my heart, which I had not known or noticed in myself earlier. Having uncovered my whole inner state in this manner, the Elder would begin to sort out all my wrong thoughts and desires, one at a time, and by means of diverse questions would force me to give an account for myself—why I thought in a particular way, what I based it on. Then, with bitterness I would have to admit my sinfulness, humble myself, and repent, and the Elder would become calm and receive my repentance with love, and peace would ensue. Such conversations could take several hours, from evening until the middle of the night, and then the Elder would say, “Well, cross yourself now and go to sleep. This took the place of Compline and cell prayers. This is also a spiritual, necessary matter.” After such a cleansing my soul would feel light and joyful for some time, and I would perform my obedience eagerly, from my heart.… And then, in the course of things, I would again fall into a scattered condition, and such a state would leave me and my soul would be darkened. Often such an examination of my inner life wouldn’t come easily—sometimes I would begin to contradict the Elder and justify myself, and if I finally did ask forgiveness, it would be more out of need and habit, and not from my whole heart.

And so even I, becoming at times greatly upset, did not hold out. After a year I left and tried living in obedience to another elder, Schemamonk Nilus, who also lived in Karoulia, and I lived with him for about two months. But when I became convinced that he looked at obedience superficially and was not taking care for the state of my soul, at Fr. Callinicus’ advice and insistence I again returned to Fr. Theodosius, who received me with love. Three months after this, on the day of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, during Great Lent (in 1931), he tonsured me into the great schema.17 Actually, the tonsure itself was performed, at the Elder’s request, by Hieromonk Macarius (Kotsyubinsky), who was subsequently the spiritual father of the Protection Skete in Alberta, Canada.

Concerning the reading of the works of the Holy Fathers and the necessity of spiritual guidance in this, Fr. Nikodim related a very instructive incident that occurred at the very beginning of his novitiate with Elder Theodosius.Fr. Nikodim had asked for a blessing to go to Karoulia with the intention of devoting himself to the inner life according to the teachings of the Holy Fathers, or according to “The Pilgrim”18 and the Philokalia. But Elder Theodosius forbade him to read spiritual books, aside from the Psalter, the Gospels, and the teachings of Abba Dorotheus. He commanded him to work and read the Church services.

Youthful zeal not according to knowledge (cf. Rom. 10:2) did not restrain Fr. Nikodim from testing the Elder, and drew him to the room that contained the forbidden fruit—the books of the Holy Fathers. Fr. Nikodim opened a book and began to read with fervor. “Out!” he unexpectedly heard the threatening voice of the strict Elder. Tearfully repenting on his knees, for more than a day Fr. Nikodim implored the Elder not to cast him out, and this at last inclined the heart of the usually implacable Elder to mercy.

The Elder kept Fr. Nikodim with him, but not without an instructive punishment: to memorize Chapter 4 of The Ladder of Divine Ascent, on obedience. From the very beginning the divinely wise Elder set his disciple’s feet upon the path—that is, the path of humility—which would, in time, lead to the acquisition of spiritual fruits—for the Elder knew from the Holy Scripture that God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6). By these beginning steps in the virtues Fr. Nikodim came to the mother of all virtues—ever-memorable prayer—and to their summit, love. How many torturously long talks Fr. Nikodim had to endure at dinner with the Elder…. He was “scolded and grated,” as Fr. Nikodim would express it.

He progressed to such a degree in humility and prayer, that by the tenth year of their spiritual unity in Christ Elder Theodosius began to listen to his true and faithful disciple, For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20). “He took me as his advisor,” recalled Fr. Nikodim, “and learned prayer from me.”

O most glorious deed! A disciple is saved through his teacher. O most glorious wonder! A teacher is taught and saved through his disciple! And this was done with the counsel and under the prayerful protection of St. Silouan. Behold the victory of venerable obedience and the glory of holy humble-mindedness! “Batiushka, they say I’m in prelest!”19 Fr. Nikodim once said to his Elder. The reason was the following: When he was still living in the Skete of New Thebaid, Fr. Nikodim noticed that the desert-dwellers were not reading the Philokalia. He spoke to them about this important omission and they, unable to stand the reproach of the young ascetic, considered him to be high-minded. “No, no—you’re not in prelest yet,” replied Elder Theodosius, looking him in the eye. But the Elder nevertheless entreated God to preserve his disciple in humility, for it is only possible through humility to escape all the snares of the enemy.

“Obedience and humility are the essential preparatory conditions for the work of mental prayer,” Fr. Nikodim copied from the words of St. Theophan the Recluse in 1934. “Obedience, of course, does not come from the outward order of the life of the novitiate, but from the inward spiritual state of the novice.” Toward the end of the Elder’s life, Fr. Nikodim asked him, “How should I engage in mental prayer after your death?” He replied, “Engage in mental prayer in a repentant spirit, and don’t seek sweet feelings of the heart or visions of the mind…. Well, now by your obedience you deserve outward stillness; for inward stillness, take care to acquire zealous repentance.”

After Elder Theodosius’ repose,20 Fr. Nikodim did not cease to take care to acquire inward stillness in a heart that is broken and humbled (Ps. 50:17). Moreover, he did not abandon his necessary spiritual reading. Elder Nikodim’s cell-attendant, Fr. Symeon, said, “It would happen that I would go in to see the Elder (he was no longer able to hear the prayer “Through the prayers of our holy fathers …”),21 and I would see him with an open patristic book on his knees, sleeping. The Elder would wake up: ‘I’m studying, I’m studying!’” When Fr. Nikodim would give advice to someone at their request, he would often add, “You’d better check this—maybe I’m mistaken. I’m still learning.”

3. The Karoulian Community

Schemamonk Michael, from the nearby hermitage of Katounakia, recalled, “Fr. Nikodim was a good monk, ascetic, and desert-dweller of Karoulia. He was kind and merciful. He always helped all the poor and showed hospitality to everyone. This was a man of love. Yes!”

Schemamonk Damascene, a well-known chanter from New Skete, related the following astonishing incident to me: “Having heard about the merciful Elder Nikodim, a certain man came and, deceiving the Elder—but not God—said that his brother was seriously ill and that it was necessary to buy medicine, but there was no money and no way to help. As was his custom, according to the word of the Lord, Give to him that asketh thee (Matt. 5:42), Fr. Nikodim gave him what he asked for and dismissed him in peace. But to the astonishment and fear of the ‘pauper,’ when he returned to his brother who had been healthy, he found him dying!” Truly, God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7).

Schemamonk Damascene further recalled, “I knew Elder Nikodim from the first year of my stay on Athos, and was vouchsafed to take his blessing on the last day of his life. Blessing me and supporting my monastic striving, he said with his Russian accent, ‘The heart converses with God!’”

Hieroschemamonk Phillip, of the brotherhood of the kellion of the Apostle Thomas (which belongs to St. Anne’s Skete), well-known for their preservation of Athonite liturgical chant, related, “Fr. Nikodim was a great faster and ascetic—each year he fasted for forty days! He concealed his ascetic struggles, and in general never spoke about ‘visions and dreams.’ He was a confessor of the Faith—a zealot—but he did not create scandals or problems. I think the most estimable thing about Fr. Nikodim is that, being a true patriot, he endured life outside his homeland. This was aggravated by the fact that there were monks on Mount Athos who suspected that every Russian monk was a Soviet spy! With pain of heart the Elder prayed for Russia, which was especially in need of prayer at that time. And such prayer is needed today, too.”

4. Correspondence

Fr. Nikodim conducted an extensive correspondence with Russian people located outside Russia, consoling them in their sorrows, strengthening them in faith, and instructing them in prayer. Until recently there remained a multitude of letters to the Elder, address books, and a thick notebook in which he noted which letter had come, from whom and when, and when he had answered it. He regarded this pastoral work seriously, with thoroughness, and with love. He would file the letters on shelves, in order. There remains a sufficient number of rough drafts and copies (made with carbon paper), to convey to us the character of his responses. Fr. Nikodim’s letter breathed simplicity, discernment, balance, warmth, sincerity, humility, benevolence, profound knowledge of patristic writings, and, chiefly, condescension and love—in a word, the spirit of true Christianity. When I myself received his letters in America, I rejoiced, and was moved and amazed that such an Athonite Elder found time to reply to me!

5. St. Elias Skete

Fr. Nikodim bore the ecclesiastical rank of subdeacon. He was ordained by a close spiritual friend of St. John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai, Archbishop Leonty of Chile, and by the special permission of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia communed alone from the Reserved Gifts22 in his desert cell.

Fr. Nikodim was close to the brethren of St. Elias Skete, who turned to him and to Fr. Seraphim for counsel. The Elder participated in the glorification of St. Paisius Velichkovsky in 1982, which took place at the Skete, which had been founded by the great Elder Paisius, whose ordinances Fr. Nikodim and Hieroschemamonk Theodosius kept sacred. As a confirmation of this, by God’s Providence, it was Elder Theodosius who found a hitherto unknown manuscript of St. Paisius, Field Flowers,23 and had it published before the Revolution.

6. The Elder’s Co-struggler

During the Second World War, Fr. Nikodim’s future co-struggler Hieroschemamonk Seraphim arrived.24 The two spent long hours abiding where “the heart is deep,” calling out day and night to Sweetest Jesus. Each night they bore the ascetic labor of vigil and prayer. One would keep vigil for the first half of the night, and the other for the second half. And they would fast. During Lent they would fast from all food. Fr. Nikodim would refrain for forty days, and Fr. Seraphim for a little less. The elders would begin to curtail the reception of food even during Cheesfare Week, and during Passion Week they would begin to come out of their fast, observing measure and humility.

Hieroschemamonk Prodromos from New Skete related how he once came to Karoulia to see Fr. Nikodim and greet him on the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection, bringing with him a treat: dyed eggs and Greek Paschal bread. How touched he was when he saw the Elder bent over with a glass of water and dry bread in his hands on Pascha! Fr. Nikodim fasted almost the same way for twenty days during the Nativity Fast, as Schemamonk Symeon recalled.

During the last years of his life, due to low blood pressure, Fr.Nikodim would drink a little coffee, even during the fasts, at the recommendation of a doctor. Fathers Nikodim and Seraphim confessed their thoughts to one another, and bore each other’s burdens, fulfilling the law of Christ, the law of love. Both strove for their heavenly fatherland, while not forgetting their earthly fatherland, the suffering Russian land, for which they prayed during the whole period of her ordeal.

7. St. John the Russian

Having been soldiers in the Tsar’s army in the world, the two fellow ascetics greatly revered the memory of St. John the Russian. This saint had also been a soldier in the Russian army—during the Russo-Turkish War of 1710–1711. He had been captured and subsequently enslaved to a Turkish agha, whom he served in the stables, where he also lived. Humbly serving his master, he eventually attained sanctity. His icon hung in the churches and rooms of the two elders. One such icon from Fr. Nikodim’s room is preserved to this day in the St. George Kellion. On a shelf in the Kellion of Sts. Innocent and David, where Fr. Seraphim served, there was a manuscript translation from Greek of the service to St. John. The Elders would annually serve a vigil on May 27/June 9, the day the saint is commemorated.

8. Tsar-martyr Nicholas ii

During the late 1950s, Elder Nikodim made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to venerate the holy places there. During this time he met and befriended Archimandrite Spyridon (Efimov), a close spiritual friend of St. John (Maximovitch). Fr. Spyridon was then serving at a parish in Beirut, Lebanon. The two ascetics were also bound together by their patron saints, Nikodim and Spyridon the Prosphora-bakers of the Kiev Caves Lavra.25 In the world, Fr. Spyridon had even born the name Nikodim.

In addition to their meekness, humility, and other virtues, Frs. Nikodim and Spyridon also had great love for the Holy Passion-bearer, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Hieroschemamonk Daniel, an iconographer and chanter from the kellia of the “Danieloi” in Katounakia, spoke of Fr. Nikodim’s reverence for St. Nicholas: “Fr. Nikodim had in his room a large portrait of the Royal Family with halos drawn on it, and would light a lampada before this image daily. ‘Tsar Nicholas was a holy man!’ Fr. Nikodim would say. ‘He led his whole family to martyrdom. They’re all holy martyrs and I pray to them, make prostrations before their images, and even pray to them by prayer rope. They’re all saints!’ By this, Fr. Nikodim was anticipating their glorification by the Russian Church Outside of Russia and by the Church in Russia.”26 In 1998, a manuscript by Elder Nikodim on the reasons for the downfall of the Russian Empire was found in the St. George kellion in Karoulia:

For the Russian people, for its liberation from the satanic authorities, prayer alone, even the most earnest, is not enough. What is needed is national repentance and a deep recognition of the great and most grievous sin—the rejection of Gods’ authority over themselves in the person of His Anointed.

Open the Bible and you will see how God has directed His people. Angels and men have sinned before God: God sent the first angel to hell for eternal torment without mercy. But He reserved His mercy for man, and sent him out [of Paradise] to the earth to repent, and promised his return again to Paradise if he would keep God’s laws and commands.

From that time, God began to direct the people who believed in Him by His Authority, and directed them unceasingly from Adam even unto Emperor Nicholas II, Gods’ Anointed. He first did this through the Patriarchs, from Adam until Abraham and the other Patriarchs. Then He did so through the Prophets, from Moses to Samuel. And, from Samuel until Emperor Nicholas II, He did so by means of the grace manifest in the anointing of kings.

In ancient times the people did not wish God to rule them through the Prophets, but asked for a king, and angered God by this. But, by the prayers of the Prophet Samuel, they were forgiven, and God retained His authority over the people through kings—by the grace of their anointing. And so, in our evil times as well, having lost faith in God’s Providence, people have asked for the freedom to rule themselves and not be subject to God’s authority in the person of God’s Anointed. They rejected royal authority and gave the Tsar up to be murdered. They liberated themselves from Divine authority and fell under satanic authority.Oh, what a grievous sin this is! And all the Russian people sinned in this—namely, all those who in deed, in word, in thought, wish and agreement did not want the royal rule of monarchy, but Communist rule by the people. Behold, for this great sin the whole world suffers, and the Russian people most of all.

According to God’s righteousness, Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required (Luke 12:48). Due to the grace present in the anointing of the Russian Tsars, God spared the whole world, even those who opposed Him, pagans and heretics. But the Russian people renounced it—they did not keep this grace, and therefore they suffer more than all others, because these Russian sufferers do not deeply recognize their great guilt in their sins against God’s Anointed. They are being punished precisely for this sin but they are not repenting.

This homily was brought to Russia as a precious treasure, as an epistle from Athos to contemporary Russian people; for behind it, like a fiery pillar from earth to heaven, stand the prayers of the Russian Athonites. It was read several times on the radio and published in books and magazines. It awaited its historic moment—the glorification of the Royal Martyrs in Russia, which, by God’s mercy, came to pass.

9. The Elder’s Repose

Two months before Fr. Nikodim’s repose I received a letter from Karoulia, from Fr. Symeon: “The Elder has had a stroke, and can no longer write.” How hard it was to hear about the imminent departure of the last Russian Athonite Elder.… Fr. Nikodim was lying there, waiting for the cherished moment of his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose name he had borne on his lips, in his mind and in his heart to his last breath. He meekly asked those present at his repose not to disturb him with conversations. “He endured much on earth from his last illness,” said Schemamonk Michael, “but the Lord blessed His meek servant, lowly of spirit, with a Christian end and the inheritance of the land of blessings, the Heavenly Kingdom.” Fr. Stephen communed Fr. Nikodim at midnight, and the Elder reposed in the morning, as his cell-attendant Schemamonk Symeon said—in peace, in God. It was February 15/28, 1984.

10. Epilogue

The other day I went up to the Holy Trinity Kellion to finish writing this modest work at the very location of the Elder’s labors. As soon as I sat by his grave site to rest after my climb, fighter planes again flew by, as they had on the day of the uncovering of the Elder’s honorable relics—very close to Karoulia, low over the sea. Having served a lity27 before beginning my work, I again sat down to write. Just then, right over my head, near the perpendicular cliffs of Karoulia, at a distance of perhaps one hundred fifty meters, the fighters flew again! I took this as a sign of blessing and as a reminder to me of how Schemamonk Nikodim, with a spiritual sword—the name of Jesus—destroyed the fallen man within himself in that unseen warfare against the powers under heaven, from which that valiant warrior of the Heavenly King emerged as the victor.
Fr. Nikodim, pray to God for us sinners!

By Hieroschemamonk Ephraim of Karoulia


1 Karoulia is located on the southwestern cliffs of the Holy Mountain.—Ed.
2 Schemamonk Symeon, a Serbian monk, served as Fr. Nikodim’s cell-attendant during the Elder’s last years. He is still living in Karoulia.—Ed.
3 On Mount Athos the uncovering of the relics (remains) of a reposed monk takes place no sooner than after a period of three years. The relics are then cleaned and placed in an ossuary. Often the skull is placed on a shelf, and the monk’s name and, sometimes, the date of his repose, are written on his forehead.—Ed.
4 Schema-archimandrite Stephen (Milkovich) was born in 1922 in Serbia. He first entered Tuman Monastery in Serbia, and spent the war years in Studenica Monastery. He was ordained to the deaconate by St. Nikolai Velimirovich. He came to Mount Athos during the 1950s and first settled in Hilandar Monastery, after which he moved to Karoulia, where he lived for forty years. Toward the end of his life he returned to Serbia, to Slantsi Monastery, a dependency of Hilandar, where he reposed on the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, November 21/December 4, 2001.—Ed
5 Elder Nikodim reposed on February 15/28, 1984.—Ed.
6 Kellion: a dwelling in which several monks live, and which contains a church and other rooms, all under one roof.—Ed.
7 From the troparion to St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia.—Ed.
8 I later learned from a pilot that in this way they were seeking to receive a blessing from the Holy Mountain.—Auth.
9 A well-known feature of Slavic folklore is a hut that actually stands on chicken legs.—Ed.
10 The room was built there because his previous one had been crushed by a rock slide, a not uncommon occurrence on the cliffs of Karoulia.—Auth.
11 This quote rhymes in Russian.—Ed.
12 Fr. Nikodim lived in Chromitsa beginning in 1920, and was tonsured there to the mantia with the name Nicanor. He worked in the garden and served as guest-master.—Ed.
13 St. Silouan the Athonite, commemorated September 11/24 (†1938).—Ed.
14 Kalyve: a monastic dwelling, usually small, sometimes with a chapel attached, and either independent or belonging to a skete.—Ed.
15 The following quote has been taken from “Elder Theodosius the Athonite of Karoulia,” in The Orthodox Word, no. 245 (2005), pp. 273–76.—Ed.
16 On Mount Athos the day begins at sunset, which is called “midnight.” The clocks are adjusted daily as the length of the days changes.—Ed.
17 It was then that he received the name Nikodim, after St. Nikodim the Prosphora Baker of the Kiev Caves.—Ed.
18 The Way of a Pilgrim is an anonymously authored nineteenth-century Russian book containing teachings from the Philokalia, and is about the spiritual experiences of a wanderer who practiced the Jesus Prayer. Even before World War I, Fr. Nikodim had begun praying according to its teachings.—Ed.
19 Prelest: spiritual delusion.—Ed.
20 Elder Theodosius reposed on October 2/15, 1937.—Ed.
21 A prayer, unsually concluding with “O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us,” that a monk says when entering a room. If another monk is already inside the room, he answers the prayer with “Amen.”—Ed.
22 Reserved Gifts: a portion of Holy Communion, consecrated by a priest, that is kept in church on the holy table, usually used in communing the sick.—Ed.
23 See Little Russian Philokalia, vol. 4: St. Paisius Velichkovsky (Platina, Calif.: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1994), pp. 63–126.—Ed.
24 Hieroschemamonk Seraphim was a graduate of the Russian Military Academy in pre-revolutionary Russia. He arrived in Serbia as a refugee and was tonsured in the Miljkovo Monastery, in which many exiled Russians monks were then living. He escaped during the German retreat at the end of World War II and went to Mount Athos, where he spent the rest of his life.—Ed.
25 Commemorated October 31/November 13 († 12th century).—Ed.
26 The glorification of the Royal Passion-bearers was celebrated by the Russian Church Outside of Russia in 1981, and by the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) in 2000.—Ed.
27 Lity: a brief requiem service.—Ed.

source :  The Orthodox Word


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