Valaam, September 19, 2014
Last Sunday, the visit to Valaam of Schema-Archimandrite Iliy (Nozdrin), confessor of the Optina Monastery’s brethren and an Orthodox elder famous all over Russia, came to an end. This year he has turned 82.
Every morning he came for a midnight service and matins, celebrated Divine Liturgy, and then he visited Valaam sketes, reports the Transfiguration Monastery’s website.
During the days elder Iliy was surrounded by numerous pilgrims and tourists, asking for his advice, his blessing or instruction in life. As far as possible, Father Iliy devoted his time to each of them, found necessary words to say.
Last Sunday, after a festal Liturgy Schema-Archimandrite Iliy conversed with the monastery brethren:
“I first came to Valaam in 1993, when neither the Transfiguration Cathedral nor the sketes were restored, services were celebrated only at the Church of Sts. Sergius and Herman of Valaam. And, undoubtedly, I am very pleased that much has been restored by now. I recall what the Transfiguration Church was like in 1993: all stripped, without windows or doors; and now we see how splendid it looks today. Glory be to God that so many people are coming to your monastery. It is precisely through their prayers that our Holy Rus’ lives on.
“My dears, today our special duty is to pray for reconciliation, so that the plans of those who are instigating the ongoing bloody war in the Ukraine would not be fulfilled. We must pray so that the Lord would bring both parties of the conflict to their senses, that there would be no such wars in the world. We should arm ourselves with a good Christian life against the devil and his supporters; we must be active, lest our enemy should have time to sow the seeds of evil among us.
“We see how the revival of the Russian Orthodox Church began over the last quarter of the century; at least it is evident from the fact that Russian citizens now have an opportunity to attend churches freely and to go on pilgrimages to Orthodox monasteries.
“I believe that on Valaam as well as on Mt. Athos an atmosphere of genuine spirituality and prayer activity reigns, and in this respect Valaam is no less (a holy place) than Holy Mount Athos. If Valaam had not been restored, it would have been a great loss for all Russia.
“Lately we have visited the All Saints’ Skete where women are not allowed. Nevertheless, everything is neat and tidy there. Thus, real cleanness and order can be found not only in convents.
“My dears, now it is our duty to pray, to pray with all our zeal so that the Lord might reconcile our lives. I am not the first one to come to your holy monastery and give you talks like this; you realize everything yourself without further ado. I wish to say only one thing: prayer and obedience—this is what makes the foundation of genuine monastic life. And may the Lord, the Queen of Heavens, Venerable Sergius and Herman, Holy men of God and ascetics of Valaam help you”.