St. Luke the Doctor and Archbishop of Crimea (1877-1961)
"I Loved Martyrdom, Which so Strangely Cleanses the Soul"
If anybody finds themselves on Mount Athos or anywhere with other ancient churches, they will notice that many of the churches are painted red. And if one were to ask the monks, they would reply that this red color symbolizes Christ's blood, as well as that of His Saints'. It reminds people, that even though various religions or ideologies were spread through propaganda, violence and oppression, Christ's Church won over people's hearts through meekness, Christ's and His Saints' blood, torture and martyrdom. There is no Orthodox Church that did not pass through martyrdom. Neither has there been a saint who did not go through his personal furnace of sorrows, temptations and martyrdom.
During the twentieth century, the Russian church went through her own cruel martyrdom. For seven decades a countless multitude of martyrs and confessors went through their own personal "crucifixion," offering their own blood.
One such moving martyrdom is that of Archbishop Luke, professor of Topographic Anatomy and Surgery. This man with rare talents and gifts, who served people as a pastor and as a doctor, with admirable love and self-denial, continued the traditions of the great Holy Unmercenary Doctors of our Church. This incredible figure and his divine greatness is the cause of astonishment, admiration, and divine consolation.
In today's presentation, we will try to briefly draw near this individual, and make a diagram of his journey.
Before we do that, let us travel together to the holy land of Russia, to examine the physical, social and spiritual environment in which St. Luke lived. We find ourselves in the nineteenth century, a difficult and troubled era. The standards of living for the Russian people were very low. Their living conditions were repulsive. It was of no surprise that new nihilistic ideologies and theories found fertile ground, and gradually affected a large part of the Russian people.
During this difficult time, the role of counterbalancing the spiritual erosion of the Russian people was played by a number of Russian monasteries and great "starets (elders)." Let us first visit the monasteries of Sarov and Diveevo, where the figure of St. Seraphim of Sarov is prominent. A countless number of people went there, longing to see him. He received everyone with love, addressing them sweetly: "My joy, Christ is Risen."
Near the monastery in Sarov, a women's monastery was built in Diveevo, which the saint greatly helped. A little before he "fell asleep" he foresaw and forewarned about all the distressful things that were to follow. He said that there would be such great sorrow and so many martyrs, that the angels would not have time to collect all the souls.
However, he foresaw that 70 years later, the Church would again shine. In 1990, his relics and personal items were found in Petersburg and were brought to Diveevo. Today, 250 nuns live in Diveevo, who practice the sleepless prayer, just as of St. Seraphim directed.
Another renown monastery is Valaam, located on the evergreen islands of Lake Ladoga. Monastic life began there during the twelfth century. Initially, the central monastery was built and around it many sketes. It's a quiet and beautiful place.
Another very important one is the monastery of Optina, which played a catalytic role in Russia's spiritual life during the nineteenth century. Within 100 years, it unveiled 15 saints; they are the famous starets. Thousands of people went to them, including intellectuals and scientists of that era.
In Western Ukraine lies the Pochaev monastery, a blessed spot, where the Virgin Mary appeared and where her footprint remains on a rock. This monastery was a bulwark for the Orthodox and against the Uniates.
Last Edit: Aug 31, 2019 10:24:38 GMT by Eugene 2.0: deleted some spare letters before "St." in the head