Foreword of Archimandrite Vsevolod, Vicegerent of the Raifa Bogoroditsky Monastery
This page introduces you to one of the ancient Russian monasteries – the Raifa Bogoroditsky Monastery (the Raifa Monastery of Our Lady). Russian monasteries played a great role in the forming of the nation, its culture and the state itself. The history of Russian monasteries is a chain of great spiritual deeds and achievements. It is at the same time a story of the fall and decay, and later revival, which can be fully related to the Raifa Monastery.
Monastery is a community of monks – brothers in the spirit. Not by chance, in Russia the monks are often called inoks (people who are different). They dedicate their lives to God and take sacred vows, thus rejecting all the temptations of secular life. Taking vows, he is reborn to a new life; that’s why he gets a new name. Except for obligatory participation in divine services, each monk must obey certain obediences, obligations of the monastic life.
Monastery can provide a life isolated from the outside world because it contains all necessary things inside its walls. Actually there are some monasteries to which lay people are not even allowed to enter.
From the very first days of its existence, the Raifa Monastery, built in the heart of heathen lands, approached the pagans with words of love, with an appeal to reject baneful polytheism and turn to the Indivisible and Almighty God, the Creator of all – seen and unseen. And today the Raifa Monastery opens its doors to every pilgrim. They come to the sacred place, wishing to attend churches, to hear the words of the Gospels and church singing, full of wonder, to be enraptured by the great mystery of the Eucharist, when Jesus himself, unseen, is present in the church.
Our monastery not only accepts pilgrims but tries to go towards them. We publish two newspapers for the spiritual education of adults and children; they are distributed free. Books giving necessary explanations of the basis of Christian belief are published here, as well. Our monastery helps schools, kindergartens, hospitals, and convicts in prisons. Boys from troubled families live in our boarding-school, their education and all maintenance costs are covered by the monastery. Our pupils give concerts for audiences visiting from many different cities.
We consider our monastery to be one of the foundation stones on which Russia is being revived, and we do everything we can to strengthen its spiritual power.