On November 30 (New Style), the Church commemorates the memory of St. Paisius, who was very much responsible for the renewal of monasticism in Russia in the 19th century.
When St. Paisius was born, the imperial government, at that time controlled by westernization and secular interests, looked disfavorably on monasticism, not understanding its importance for the Orthodox faith. Like many, Paisius, desirous of the monastic life, felt it necessary to leave Russia to find his chosen path. He went to Mount Athos and later became abbot of a monastery in Moldavia. From there, many of his disciples returned to the Russian Empire, at a time when the government under Emperor Paul, appreciated the ideals of true Orthodoxy much more. Their influence in the rebirth of monasticism in Russia cannot be underestimated.
One of the monasteries which can be considered the fruit of St. Paisius’s labors, is the famous Optina Hermitage. For this reason, due to their intimate relationship, the feast of St. Paisius, glorified together with the Optina Elders, is celebrated in the monastery’s Optina Elders Chapel. This year, His Grace Bishop Luke, celebrated the divine liturgy in the priestly manner, together with monastery clergy, including the newly ordained priest, Fr. Peter James, a recent graduate of our seminary’s Masters Program.