The Stranniki (Russian for Runaways or Wanderers) are the strong Pomorsky Old Believers who rejected prayers for Tsar Peter and all government papers (identification, passports, money, etc). They would not wear clothing contrary to Old Orthodox Russia, nor eat with those of contrary Faith and Practice. Keeping themselves separate from the antichrist society they went far into the Siberian wilderness. This blog is about these people and my effort to conform my life to theirs.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Let Us Avoid Staying in Towns

St. Neilos the Ascetic

Philokalia, Vol. 1 - pages 214-5

We are apt to say that in sickness the body needs some relief. But is it not much better to die rather than to do something unworthy of our vocation. In any case, if God wishes us to go on living, either He will give our body enough strength to bear the pain of the illness, and will reward us for our courage; or else He will find some way to relieve the pain, for the Fountain of Wisdom never lacks a remedy.

...Let us avoid staying in towns or villages; it is better for their inhabitants to come and visit us. Let us seek the wilderness and so draw after us the people who now shun us. For scripture praises those who ‘leave the cities and dwell in the rocks, and are like the dove’ (cf. Jer. 48:28). John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and the population of entire towns came out to him. Men dressed in garments of silk hastened to see his leather girdle; those who lived in houses with gilded ceilings chose to endure hardship in the open air; and rather than sleep on beds adorned with jewels they preferred to lie on the sand. All this they endured, although it was contrary to their usual habits; for in their desire to see John the Baptist and in their wonder at his holiness they did not notice the hardships and discomfort...

Let us give up our flocks and herds, and so become real shepherds. Let us abandon sordid commerce, and so acquire the ‘pearl of great price’ (Matt. 13:46). Let us stop tilling the earth which ‘brings forth thorns and thistles’ (Gen. 3:18), and so become cultivators and keepers of paradise. Let us give up everything and choose the life of stillness, and so put to silence those who now reproach us for owning possessions. The best way to abash our critics is discretely to correct in ourselves the faults for which they revile us; for such a change in those reproached puts their reproachers to shame. must first be purified from old defilements, and then with close attention must learn about holiness...

To master any art requires time and much instruction... The only art which the uninstructed dare to practice, because they think it is the simplest of all, is that of the spiritual way. What is difficult the majority regard as easy; and what Paul says he has not yet apprehended (cf. Phil. 3:12), they claim to know through and through, although they do not know even this: that they are totally ignorant.

(From the section subtitled, Ascetic Discourse)