“Monks need silence and seclusion”
Metropolitan Feofan blessed the construction of monks' skete
The construction of a skete 20 kilometres far from the Raifa Monastery where the brethren of the monastery will go to pray and live in seclusion has begun. It is the first precedent in the Kazan Metropolis, which is necessary and important for monastic life. As usual, the Raifa Monastery is first. However, the skete isn’t the only news at Raifa. More is in Realnoe Vremya’s report.
“Old Man Filaret also looked for seclusion”
As monk of the Raifa Virgin Men’s Monastery Hegumen Gavriil explained, a skete is one of the forms of monastery life has been existing since ancient times. “Monasticism began in Egypt with hermits, Paul of Thebes and Anthony the Great were the founders, they were ascetics who lived separately from each other in the desert,” Hegumen Gavriil said. Apart from hermits, there are another two forms of monastic life, in skete and monastery.
The construction of sketes is a common monastery practice, it is characteristic of, for instance, Moscow monasteries with plenty of people and pilgrims. People should go to monasteries both as pilgrims and tourists, it’s fine. At the same time, brethren of monasteries need seclusion for prayer, sketes are created for this purpose.
“In general, this is how the Raifa was founded, founder of the monastery Old Man Filaret who took a vow in Moscow’s Chudov Monastery, then moved to Spassk, he was also looking for seclusion. This is why he arrived in Kazan and then began to look for a site to settle down on the coast of the Raifa Lake. He found such a site for contemplative life. Now, when the Raifa has become many people’s favourite spiritual centre, we got the blessing of Kazan and Tatarstan Metropolitan Feofan to build the skete,” Hegumen Gavriil said.
“We purchased a small plot of land”
The skete is built 23 kilometres from the Raifa monastery, almost on the border with Mari El. There are two Mari settlements nearby. It’s the village of Nikolskoye, there is a small chapel and an Orthodox cemetery there. Raifa monks held a service for Saint Nicholas and led a sacred procession in the cemetery at Easter. There is a lot of Orthodox believers in the vicinity who also participated in the service. So the place the skete will be located is, on the one hand, calm and secluded, on the other hand, believers will go there.
Raifa monks will live in the skete in rotation: they will be in Raifa, then go to Nikolskoye for some time shifting each other in order to live in calmness, work, pray, ready for a while. The skete’s territory will be divided into two zones. Laypeople will be able to get to one of them, the second one is closed, for monks only. Hegumen Gavrill said that several types of accommodation are suggested in the Holy Synod’s recently adopted document On Monasteries and Monks.
Firstly, to provide people with an opportunity to live in the skete. Secondly, think about the so-called brethren's territory at all monasteries that pilgrims don’t visit. In other words, a part of monastery’s territories will be open only for the monastery’s brethren only. It’s technically impossible to create such territory in Raifa — the lake surrounds the monastery on both sides, the special college’s buildings are on the third side. This is why the skete construction is an important issue.
“His Grace Feofan gave a task to arrange monastic life, while monastic life is inner life. This is why silence and seclusion are needed,” Hegumen Gavriil says.
“Everything will be in an ancient Russian-style”
The plot of land for the skete is equal to 10 hectares. Nikolskoye village has just 17 houses, seven of them belong to very old locals, the rest is dacha owners. The place is calm and secluded, there is no housing at a distance of several kilometres, only forests and fields.
Several temporary houses where arriving monks live have been built now. A fence will appear soon — an ancient Russian-style palisade. The chapel in the skete is small, 3x4 metres, so the construction of the ancient church is about to begin. The church will be consecrated in honour of Saint Nicholas. The temple will resemble the Troitsky Church in Sviyazhsk. The construction of a wooden brotherly corps will also kick off. The church’s log cabin is scheduled to be made in winter, it must stay for some time and settle.
“Everything will be wooden, moreover, Mari El is close, there is a lot of wood there, and many people have already agreed to help us,” Hegumen Gavrill says. Moreover, the skete is supposed to have a small household — a greenhouse, garden. There is an agricultural university graduate in the Raifa monastery brethren who began to deal with it with pleasure. There is already a small apiary, 10 hives, and the first honey is expected by autumn.
The monastery itself finances the construction, not indifferent people give both money and construction materials.
“We are going to open the first hall of the museum early in summer”
One of the news is that the first hall of the Raifa Monastery’s museum and a viewing platform will open by the beginning of the summer. The museum will completely open by 4 September, by the saint’s day — the veneration day of Georgian Icon of the Virgin Mary. The museum will be located in the corner left tower on the lake’s side.
On the first floor, apart from artefacts, one will be able to see a big layout of the monastery, the floor of the first hall will look like the Tatarstan Metropolis map, and a ten-minute film about the Raifa will be transmitted on the ceiling. Sergey Nasekin’s design workshop creates the museum, Yelena Kartasheva is responsible for scientific guidance.
A monastery café where it will become possible to have a cheap and delicious lunch outdoors will soon open on the lake’s coast, next to the Pilgrim’s House. Food will be ascetic — vegetables, fish, pastry, crepes, herbal tea with tasty Raifa water. By the way, the monastery’s brethren are building the café on their own.