By Fr. Andrew Lemeshonok
Recently, three new novices joined our Convent! It has been a long-standing tradition in our Convent that postulants become novices during a midnight office in a fasting season. This ceremony is accompanied by the singing of “Behold The Bridegroom Cometh.” They are making their first steps on the monastic path. It is crucial that they set out on this journey with proper feelings and attitudes. It depends to a large extent on the words and the support of their spiritual father. We were present during Father Andrew’s conversation with the new sisters before and after the ceremony.
You must learn to live like humans. You must not be crybabies. You must not gossip. You must not walk around with sad faces.
You should live simply. Every person has a heart and a mind that he has to protect. Mind includes imagination. If you want to seek God, you must carry in your mind only the things that are godly. You must control your heart if you want to do anything good. As soon as you run into something bad, you must immediately reveal it at a confession, and you will be clean. The algorithm is simple. When someone doesn’t care about his own soul, he will find it hard to fight. On the contrary, you can always start all over again in any situation.
Once you receive God’s grace, you should take care of it as hard as you can, with God’s help. You can be puffed up beyond measure and then explode. You must be aware of the extent of your capabilities, and to do so, you must ask for prayers and advice. Life cannot be squeezed into fixed sets of instructions and rules, however wonderful they might be. Sometimes, you have to laugh or joke. Sometimes, you have to cry or just to keep silent. You must be a sentient being, not a doll that can take any shape you want. A living human being changes over time. It’s like natural phenomena: rain or snow, hot or cold, that’s life as it is. People cannot be the same. Someone may be naughty, someone may be silent, and someone may be sulky. Everything changes rapidly.
People must realise that they are in the Convent now. That’s why they must keep going forward. Respect your Mother Abbess! An unpredictable person though she might be, she does not claim to be the big boss. She has her positive and negative traits but God can tell you a lot through her. You mustn’t be carried away by your dreams. You should be simpler and more understandable so as not to be messed up. Carry your own burdens. I think that God will do everything, you just shouldn’t interfere with him. Start a new life! Go with God!
We congratulate our sisters who are now wearing undercassocks. They have become novices. They have prayer ropes in their hands in order to learn to live with God. This step is their first step on the road to Golgotha, but there will be Resurrection, too. Each person must go through the process in which his or her old self dies and a new self is born.
It is a joy for us because we see three new warriors who have decided to challenge their flesh and blood and the devil, and to challenge this world that does not accept Christ, crucifies him, and lives by its own laws, which result in eternal death.
We thank God for the fact that our Convent is growing and new sisters are coming. I would like to wish them to move forward gradually and not to justify themselves. I would like them to learn humility and obedience. May their progress be small but persistent. Dear sisters, I wish you to gain salvation in your newly-acquired status of novices! Learn to listen, to talk less, to be patient more, so that you would be a quiet God’s blessing for our Convent.