Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

Nika Kravchuk
21.10.2016

Why Dostoevsky and Tolstoy went to Elder Ambrose of Optina?

People say: where it is simple, there are angels with a hundred. It is so simple and always seemed open Ambrose of Optina, the memory of which Orthodox Christians celebrate on 23 October. To him for spiritual advice addressed by many, with his life even visited Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky. But how did the life of the saint, so popular even in our days, look? Read about it below.

Ambrose Optina

Gifted with talent

Future elder was born at the end of 1812 in Tambov province in the family of believers. At baptism he was named Alexander, in honor of Alexander Nevsky. The boy's father was a ponomarie, and the grandfather was a priest.

At the age of 12, Alexander entered the Tambov Theological School. Then it as one of the best graduates were invited to the Tambov seminary. The young man went perfectly, had a lively mind, had a talent for languages. Not everyone in the first half of the nineteenth century, having not the peasant, and even aristocratic origins, could wieldfive languages. But the seminarian Alexander belonged to such a rare minority.

His natural kindness in combination with the ability to freely and clearly express his thoughts became the basis of his charismatic personality. Many prophesied to him a great future, but God's providence pointed to a completely different way.

Ambrose of Optina - icon

During the seminar time, Alexander was seriously ill. Then he made a vow to God: if he recovers, he will go to the monastery. And he really felt better. But the future Saint Ambrose of Optina did not immediately fulfill his promise.

“Go to Optina and you will be experienced”

After seminary, he worked as a home teacher for the children of a wealthy landowner. Then he was invited to teach Greek at the Lipetsk Theological School. It is said that at that time he fell ill again and therefore secretly went to the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, as well as to the old man Hilarion known at that time. The elder gave him simple advice: "Go to Optina and you will be experienced." Alexander never returned to Lipetsk. Seminary authorities did not even suspect that their Greek teacher was already gaining experience in a monastery.

A few years later he was tonsured as a monk named Ambrose, in honor ofAmbrose of Milan. Then he became a hierodeacon and then a hieromonk.During the elevation to the rank of priest-monk Ambrose of Optina, he suffered so severe a disease that he almost could not serve then. But this was also the Divine Providence: Ambrose was to become an old man, to communicate with people and strengthen them on the spiritual path. But more about that a little further.

God sent Ambrose of Optina excellent spiritual fathers, the young monk grew under the tutelage of the Rev. Leo and Macarius.

School of Humility

Saint Ambrose was an amazing school of humility. Imagine yourself in the place of a person who knows five languages, but instead of cultural and educational activities he cooks yeast and bakes bread.

Priests with the icon of Ambrose of Optina

Moreover, this man has many natural talents, it is interesting to listen to him, but he spends time in silence and solitude and ... frequent diseases.

Such circumstances perfectly humble and temper Ambrose of Optina. Having acquired such an important feeling for a monk as humility, he eventually receives obedience and for the soul. Thanks to the efforts of the Monk Ambrose as a translator and publisher at Optina, the most useful spiritual works, The Ladder of John of the Ladder, letters of the Monk Makarii, were published.

Old service of Ambrose of Optina

Since 1846, Hieromonk Ambrose has been blessed to help the elder Macarius in clergy. But in 1848, the health of hieromonk deteriorated so much that Optina simply prepared for his death. According to some reports, Ambrose at this time was tonsured into a schema without changing the name.

But he recovered. I recovered to become a famous spiritual father in the Russian Empire, to whom not only simple peasants came.

Queue to Ambrose Optinsky

Why did Tolstoy and Dostoevsky come to Ambrose of Optina?

Lev Tolstoy, denying the Church, the rites and activities of the priests, with great respect for the elder. After one of the visits to the monastery, he said:

This father Ambrose is a very holy man. I talked with him, and somehow it became easy and gratifying in my heart. When you speak with such a person, you feel the closeness of God.

The most valuable experience from communication with the monk also receivedFedor Dostoevsky. He even made the monk the prototype of the elder Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov.

PhilosopherVladimir Solovyovalso visited Optina and talked with the elder.

And for the thinker, publicist and writerKonstantin LeontyevAmbrose Optinsky became confessor. The writer took from the elder the blessing of his literary activities.After the death of the confessor, Leont'ev wrote the article "Optina Elder Ambrose." At the end of his life, the writer even accepted the monastic feat, for which the monk blessed him 20 years ago.

Lesson from Rev. Ambrose

It was equally interesting for both the village old people, young people, and the venerable writers to communicate with the old man. Regardless of his simplicity, humorous manner and ability to speak rhymes, Rev. Ambrose was never flat and uncouth.

He was humble and gentle, lovingly treated all who came. Like many saints, inwardly glowed with joy and love. It is not easy to rejoice when you are constantly ill, spend more time in the cell, you can not stand out and stand long monastic services. But Ambrose of Optina humbly accepted all his illnesses:

Monk is useful to be sick. And in the disease do not need to be treated, but only to heal!

In such a physically frail and spiritually joyful state, he received crowds of people.

This was the main lesson from Rev. Ambrose — to accept all that God sends you.

The artist, and then the monk Dmitry Bolotov created a unique portrait of the monk.A sick but cheerful old man lies in his cell and with one hand blesses Olga Goncharova (Pushkin's nephew's wife), and the second goes through the rosary. Two years later, the second portrait appeared, but without Goncharova.

Bolotov. Ambrose Optina

As an old man supported monks and priests

During the life of the elder, one spiritual daughter, with the blessing of the monk, established a convent in the village of Shamordino. Ambrose Optina helped with the arrangement of the monastery, in which some 1000 nuns served some time later, a hospital, a school for girls and shelters were built separately for girls and elderly women.

He supported the priests. When one parish priest, who served in the outback, could not stand the conditions and wanted to leave the ministry, the elder strengthened it.Come back, father! He is one and you two!- said the elder, they say, the evil one, and you with God, so there are two of you. Thanks to the advice of the monk, the priest returned to his parish. After years of pastoral service, coupled with patience and humility, people began to come to him as an old man.

This is just one example, and you can find quite a few of them in the Life of the Monk.

Why do people who want to quit smoking pray to Ambrose of Optina?

In 1891, the elder departed into eternity.But after his death, he continues to help all who approach him in faith.

Patriarch at the relics of Ambrose Optina

Read also:

Many pray to him in illnesses and life difficulties, they turn in matters of education and strengthening in the faith. Ambrose Optina also found particular popularity among those who want to quit smoking. Why? Probably because, during his lifetime, the old man gave advice to spiritual children to combat this ailment.

Many of the councils of the monk have not lost their relevance in our time, so we will give some of the most vivid:

  • Do not like to hear about the shortcomings of others, then you will have less of their.
  • Hypocrisy worse than disbelief.
  • To live - not to hurt, not to condemn anyone, not to annoy anyone, and all my respect.
  • The Apostle Peter leads the Righteous to the Kingdom of God, and the Queen of Heaven herself leads sinners.
  • Why is a person bad? Because he forgets that God is above him.
  • In the church should not speak. This is an evil habit. Sorrows are sent for this..
  • Boredom is the despondency of the grandson, and laziness is the daughter. To drive her away, work hard, do not be lazy in prayer; then boredom will pass, and zeal will come. And if you add patience and humility to this, you will save yourself from many evils.
  • I endured Elisha, Moses endured, Elijah endured, and I will endure.

The life and teachings of Ambrose of Optina are also described in this film:


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  • Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

    Why did Dostoevsky and Tolstoy go to the old man Ambrose of Optina

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