Venerable St. Gavriil (Zyryanov)

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7/20 October

Gavriil Fyodorovitch Zyryanov was born on March 14, 1844, in the Province of Perm, in the village of Frolovo, Irbitsk District.

The future Elder was given a religious education, but his parents had a hard time releasing him to go into a monastery. Upon arriving in Optina on August 13, 1864, Ganya was moved to tears. The Abbot said, "You see, you have broken into tears…. Never forget the day you entered, and remain as you are today. If you live like that, you will be saved."

Gavriil carried out obediences in the bell tower, the bread bakery, the prosphora bakery, and managed the Abbot's kitchen. He was spiritually nurtured by Ven. Amvrossy and Ven. Hilarion of Optina.

Gavriil was under obedience in Optina Hermitage for 10 years, but his tonsure was delayed, of course causing the young postulant to sorrow, for tonsure was not an award, but a form of repentance. Gavriil moved to the Vysokopetrovsky Monastery in Moscow. One year later, in 1875, he was tonsured and given the name Tikhon, in honor of Holy Hierarch St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, and was ordained a hierodeacon.

In 1881, Fr. Tikhon escaped the hubbub of life in the capital by going off to the Raitha Hermitage near Kazan. On January 24, 1883, Fr. Tikhon was ordained a hieromonk, and was appointed to be spiritual director for the brethren.

Soon Hieromonk Tikhon was transferred to the Sedmiyezernoye [Seven-lakes] Hermitage. It was there, 10 km from Kazan, that the future schema-elder spent 25 years of his life, and it was there that his gift of eldership fully manifested itself.

In 1892, Tikhon was tonsured into the Great Schema, with the name Gavriil, after the Archangel Gabriel. In 1902, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite.

The fact that he enjoyed considerable spiritual authority, as well as his active participation in management, caused dissatisfaction among some of the monks and in certain lay circles. Among the complaints frequently lodged with the Synod was a denunciation to the effect that he had caused the ruin of the monastery and that he belonged to the Social-Democrat party. After being relieved of his responsibilities, "batiushka almost died of shock." Later he was cleared of the charges.

At the end of June 1908, Schema-archimandrite Gavriil came to the St. Eleazar Monastery in Pskov. Archimandrite Gavriil combined an intense prayer life (repetition of the Jesus Prayer 12,000 times per day, the Midnight Office, kathismas, hours, vespers, and cell rule) with the service of eldership, and active correspondence with clergy and laity alike. In 1912, the elder grew noticeably weaker. In July 1914, the War began, and the elder was forced to move to Kazan. It was there that he reposed in the Lord on September 24, 1915. He was interred at the church in the Sedmiyezernoye Monastery.

After the Sedmiyezernoye Hermitage was dissolved in 1929, Ven. Gavriil's relics as well as the Sedmiyezersk Smolensk Icon were in the keeping of Hieroschemamonk Seraphim Kashurin. Elder Gavriil was canonized on December 25, 1996.

Since the year 2000, his relics have been in the restored Sedmiyezersk Hermitage.

From the teachings of Elder Gavriil

Why are we afraid of picking up the Cross with which we can attain the Kingdom of Heaven? In the Cross is salvation, life, defense against the foes. "In this [Sign] you will conquer."

In the Cross is the strength of the soul, abundance of heavenly joys, abundance of the spirit, the heights of virtue, and perfection of sanctity. Without the Cross there is neither salvation nor hope in eternal life.

Thus, let each of us pick up his Cross and follow after Jesus, and we will achieve the goal of life eternal. Sweetest Jesus first showed us the example, the path to salvation: He carried His Cross, and He died for us on the Cross. We wish likewise to die for Christ, for our salvation, the salvation of our souls, carrying our Cross, for if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him (see Romans 6:8)

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