The Church remembers St. Barlaam of Khutyn, the Novgorod Wonderworker

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The Monk Varlaam, in the world of Alexei, asceticized in the XII century on the banks of the Volkhov. He was the son of rich and famous citizens of Veliky Novgorod, Mikhail and Anna, distinguished by a pious life. Brought up under the influence of virtuous parents, Alexey from an early age felt a special disposition to a pious and secluded life, withdrew from all games and the company of comrades, loved to read sacred books, often visited the temple of God, and spent time at home in prayer and fasting. Fearing for the health of the young ascetic, his parents persuaded him not to exhaust himself with fasting, but the Monk meekly answered them: "I have read a lot of sacred books, dear parents, but I have not found anywhere that the parents themselves advised their children anything bad, as you advise me. Isn't the kingdom of heaven dearer to us than anything else? But it is not food and drink that will lead us there, but fasting and prayer. Remember how many people there were after Adam, and they all died and mingled with the earth, and those who pleased God with a virtuous life, shed their blood for Christ and renounced the world out of love for Christ received the kingdom of heaven and are glorified by everyone. Therefore, with the help of God, I want to imitate them according to my abilities." Hearing such an answer, the parents were amazed at the young man's mind and gave him complete freedom to live as he wished. After the death of his parents, the Monk, having distributed all his possessions to the poor, retired to the desert to the ascetic Porphyry and received from him the tonsure with the name of Barlaam.

The Monk Varlaam, who was looking for perfect solitude, decided to settle in a remote place, 10 versts from Novgorod. This place was called Khutyn (khudyn, a bad place) and enjoyed a bad reputation; according to popular opinion, evil spirits lived here, and everyone was afraid to come here. But no evil power is terrible to the servant of Christ, armed with an irresistible weapon – the cross of Christ, which drives away all enemies far away. Approaching the Hutyn, the Monk saw a bright ray shining from the dense thicket of the forest. From this sign, he understood that his intention to settle here was in accordance with the will of God. With a feeling of gratitude to the Lord, the Monk exclaimed with the words of the Prophet: "Here is my rest and here I will dwell for ever and ever!" (Psalms 131, 14). After praying fervently to the Lord, the Monk set himself a cell in the middle of a dense thicket. He spent the whole day in labors, and the night in prayer, fasted strictly, wore severe clothes and chains. A strict ascetic had to endure many attacks from the devil. Trying to expel the hermit, the demons sometimes took the form of various animals, snakes to frighten him, then aroused people against him in order to force him to leave his chosen place with insults from them, then aroused various thoughts in him, tried to bring him to breaking the fast, but the Monk meekly endured all insults, zealous tearful prayer and strict fasting suppressed all these thoughts and destroyed all the tricks of the devil.

The highly moral life of St. Barlaam soon became known in the country, princes, boyars, and ordinary people began to come to him for advice and blessing; many asked permission to settle with him. No matter how much the Monk loved solitude, but remembering the Lord's commandment about love for one's neighbors, according to which everyone should first and foremost take care of the benefits of others, he readily and lovingly accepted everyone who turned to him. His strict non-possessiveness, love and condescension towards the repentant, his meek and at the same time imbued with the power of sincere feeling, the word of edification made a strong impression on all who came to him. Everyone received instruction in relation to their position. He told the rulers and princes to always remember three things: first, that they rule over people just like themselves; second, that they must rule according to the laws; third, that they will not always rule and that they will also have to give an account to God in their courts, because there is a court over them God's. He taught the monks not to be exalted if they were placed in charge of the monastery, but to work harder for God. All the brethren must work day and night in their chosen field. He inspired the rich not to forget that there is an eternity with torments for the idle, and that the path to the kingdom of heaven is covered with many sorrows. He inspired laypeople and everyone in general not to repay evil for evil, not to offend each other, to move away from all unrighteousness and impurity and to remember their sins.

The number of monks who wished to asceticism in the monastery of the Monk was constantly increasing. St. Barlaam built a small wooden church in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord in memory of the wonderful light that shone on this place when St. Barlaam decided to settle here, and several cells. The Monk, by his example and his instructions, led the monks who lived with him to spiritual perfection. He cultivated the land himself, built himself a cell; and now the well he dug is intact.

During his virtuous life, St. Barlaam was glorified by the Lord during his lifetime with the gift of perspicacity and miracle-working.

Anticipating his demise, St. Barlaam called all the brethren to him and said: "The time has come, my children, for my departure to the Lord, but I will not leave you orphans and will always be with you in spirit, and if you live in love, this monastery will not lack anything after my death." The monks wept inconsolably, saying goodbye to their beloved mentor, but the Monk persuaded them not to grieve, but to pray for him. In his last conversation, with fatherly love, he urged them not to weaken in the feats of fasting and prayer, to protect their souls from all evil thoughts, but to live in such a way as to be ready for death every day. "I entrust you, first of all, into the hands of God," he said to the brethren, "and I leave Abbot Anthony, who is now in Jerusalem, as the guardian of your souls and bodies. By the gift of foresight, the Monk saw Anthony approaching the monastery. The Monk Barlaam gave him his flock with a blessing and died peacefully on the 6th day of November 1192.

The miracles performed at the tomb of St. Barlaam prompted Archbishop Euphemia of Novgorod to proceed to the examination of his holy relics. The Archbishop began to do this with reverence. Having called the Hutyn abbot Tarasius to himself, he commanded a three-day fast and prayer in the monastery, and he himself fasted and prayed these days. Three days later, the Archbishop, the abbot and one subdeacon entered the church, prayerfully removed the stone roof from the coffin and saw the venerable body of the Monk completely incorruptible: his face and beard were similar to the image on the icon that stood over the coffin. Everyone glorified God, and the subdeacon, struck by a miracle, became a monk. It was around 1452.

In 1610, through the prayers of the Venerable Sergius, Barlaam and other Saints of the Russian land, Poles were expelled from Moscow and Russia.

The Monk does not leave his native land with his help now, nor will he leave it for the future, if only we will resort to him with warm prayer and living faith in the Lord.

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