TABOR - Tradition and Contemporaneity in the Romanian Orthodox Church
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Abbot Siluan and Russia during His Time. The Biography and Abbot Siluan`s Own Testimonies in the Context of the Russian Society and of the Russian Orthodox Church at the End of the 19th Century and the Beginning of the 20th Century

This study is the text of a lecture held in 1998, in Bose, Italy, during a conference about the Russian spirituality. The History of Russia emerges twice in Simeon`s/Siluan`s biography, as described by father Sofronie, after the description of his youth and military service. We thus find out that the abbot was ordered to enroll as reserve soldier in 1904-1905, along with many other Russian Athonite monachs, who were also reserve soldiers. The Athonite monach Siluan wasn`t enrolled in the active army, so he was able to stay in his native village between December 30 1904 and March 16 1906. During this time, the abbot built a "kelion" in the open field, close to home, where he could fulfill his monachal prayers and where he could find God. The children in the village visited him there and he taught them. The second time when father Sofronie encounters the Russian realities is when he describes abbot`s compliance with the administrator of the monastery. Neither the laic history, which is history in general, nor the history of his country which had such an impetuous development during his time, plays a role in abbot`s thinking and considerations. He says nothing about them when we follow the course of his thinking and the teachings to his disciple and to those who joined a dialogue with him. Considering that in the Russian Athonite monastery St. Panteleimon he was bound to, litanies took place, following the procedures of the church, for the czar and his family, "for Christ-loving army and for the entire country", we may conclude that Siluan prayed sincerely and earnestly. In his particular prayer - as described by archimandrite Sofronie - he prayed a lot "for the people", for those whose condition he knew and, also, for his relatives, his village, and his comrades in the regiment. Despite this lack of "history" in his soul`s relation to God, abbot Siluan still emerges as being magically linked to the modern period of the Christian spirituality. Abbot Siluan describes extremely profoundly and convincingly the sufferings of the soul who groans under the burden of the sins which keep him separate from God and, abandoned to the awfully strong fear for the doom, he sighs in verses, in the form they were utilized during all historical times. For him, this is a real timeless event, or, better said, valid in any historical epoch.


Keywords: abbot Siluan, Russia, biography, ministry, prayer, people