Father Gabriel: I just talked with a boy who is fifteen years old. He is so young, but burdened. I am so happy because he wants to cleanse his young soul.
-He is so cute. He is concerned if you would pray for him, because he insulted someone and he is worried if that sin would be forgiven.
Father Gabriel: That insult was child's game, but he feels as a grown up and serious person now. That act started to torment him. He is concerned because he loves that friend. I can tell that he mastered the computer skills. He found the Monastery Lepavina web-site and decided to contact me. He said that as soon as he got the Icon of the Holy Theotokos of Lepavina and as soon as he started to pray to the Queen of Heaven, he felt like the Lord heard his prayers. Immediately, he found the Monastery Lepavina on Google and entered our web-page. It is interesting that many highly minded people are not trying to use the internet, as it is a Cape Kennedy Center for sending spacemen to the Moon. The internet can be used for a missionary work as well.
-Of course. Father Milun told me that. I can do a missionary work by using the internet. I can find foreign articles on sites; I can translate them and place those translations on other sites. That way, not only I am helping others, but also I contribute in saving my soul.
Father Gabriel: It is necessary to have a good will, effort and persistence. That way, we can overcome many temptations. Wrongdoer knew what would happen; that somebody will run away from his claws; somebody whom he captured in his sinful nets.
-That is the reason he prevented my coming with various obstacles. However, I was determined to come with the last atom of my power, even in the most difficult moments.
Father Gabriel: The most attended rubric on our web-site is: "Advices of the spiritual father..." According to statistics, that column was visited by 1,828 visitors from the beginning of this month until today. After that one, the most attended column is: "Spiritual advices"- 918 visitors. Often, I would sit and look at the people who are contacting me over the Skype program. As soon as I recognize someone who needs my advice and help, I will start to talk with that person, no matter what time of day or night it is. I am connected to the Skype and I am helping as much as I can; I am giving advices, I pray...It is interesting that I feel lightness and peace during those conversations. I feel that my missionary work is blessed. Then, from somewhere, my thoughts and answers are coming, just as some invisible force is whispering to me what to say.
I often recall the time when I was in the Monastery Hilandar. At that time, father Amphilohije, who is the Metropolitan Amphilohije Radovic today, visited the monastery. I had a duty to welcome guests. Suddenly, I got a thought to go to father Amphilohije's room and to resolve some concerns I had. I knocked on the door and I walked in. I had a notebook and the pencil in my hand. I took the blessing and I said: "Father, for a long time I would like to write something in this book. However, I do not know how to start. Could you, please, give me some advice? How should I start?" He gave me a short and clear answer: "You write simply. You should always carry that notebook and pencil with you. Everything that comes to your mind, you should write down. When you finish that notebook, you start the other one. And do not worry where you will put a dot, a comma sign, or the capital letter. It will be done by someone else, when the time comes.
So, with father's blessing I started to write. At the beginning, my writing was slow and awkward. Little by little, I got some experience and I started to write my monastic Journal. The first page of my Journal was fulfilled with the Jesus prayer, which was written on the Greek: "KYRIE ICHOY HRICTE, ELEIHCON ME". At the corner of that page is written: Written on the day of the Holy Martyrs Paron, Filumen and Apolonije, 1978 in Karea. Those days, I got blessing from father Cryzostom, who is the Bishop of Zica today, for the stay in the Monastery Filotej. I planned to stay there until the Christmas.
The second notebook is actually the other part of the JURNAL. It is named: THE JURNAL FROM THE MONASTIC CELL" by Hieromonk Gabriel Hilandarac, 1981. The third part of the JURNAL is from 1983 and is named:"THE CELL OF THE SAINT NICHOALAS WONDERWORKER, "BELOZERSK" ON THE HOLY MAOUNTIN- ATHOS" The forth part of the JURNAL is written in the Monastery Mileseva, 1982. So, that is how my writing started with the blessing of the present Metropolitan Amphilohije Radovic. The work on the computer I mastered with the help of God and with the blessing of our Metropolitan John. Right now, I am able to give my modest SPIRITUAL ANSWERS over the Skype program to my spiritual children, but also to other believers, who live almost on all continents. On this modern way of communication, where there are no barriers and no limits on the entire globe, God allows the faster way of missionary work, now when the humans eagerly want to hear the living word of God. The words of the spiritual father are needed. Now, I am the creator of the monastery's site, which is visited from 500-1000 visitors daily.
-Father, you are putting too much effort in your work, it seems you often take on more than you can bear. However, I am interested in "The Journal from the Monastic cell'. It must be very interesting.
Father Gabriel: "The Journal from the Monastic cell", 1981 I started with the following information:
"The Saint Apostle Simon Zilot, 1981. Today is my birthday. I prepared to serve the Divine Liturgy in the Paraclise of the Holy Apostles. I felt weakness. Even on the morning service, I felt weakness, faintness... I could not take it and I returned to the cell. Later, I again went to the Church on the Divine Liturgy. The whole day I felt weakness. But in the book "About the purpose of the monastic life' which is written by Saint John Kasian, I read about the meaning of the end; about the end of our monastic life. As it is said, the end of our life is aspiration of our soul into the Kingdom of God. Our indication or the goal is a purity of our heart. Without the pure heart we cannot achieve such the end. This goal is general and applies to all.
Then, there is the continuation of the Journal "in the Monastery Milesava, 1982, September 14/1 on the day of the Eccl. New Year.Five months passed from my return from the Monastery Hilandar to Serbia. I visited almost all our monasteries in Macedonia as well as in Serbia. Especially beautiful impressions I have from the pilgrimages to the Holy places in Macedonia. I am thankful to God and Saint George, the Great martyr. I am responsible to pray for the family Sotirov, brothers Trajan and Petar from Skopje, until the end of my life. I am thankful to them for their Abraham's hospitality, which they provided me in their homes and which was accompanied with Christian love. It seemed to me, by reading the Apostles that I was in the home of the first Christians. The same thing, I can tell for the family Jankovic, uncle Vlada and his son and daughter in law- Sima and Slavica. They showed to me love and great hospitality, as well as other sisters in faith: Vera, Gordana and Trajanka. After that, I got the letter from the Monastery Hilandar addressed to:
Hieromonk father Gabriel, on the day of Saint Maria Magdalene, 1982.
Dear in Christ father and brother Gabriel. We have received your letter. If you alone do not close the door we certainly would never close it for you. Your previous duty has been waiting for you. It would be good to take it back from those who are replacing you with love as soon as possible. We wish you prosperity in spiritual joy and all the best from God in the name of the Holy Synod of the Monastery Hilandar; Abbot Nikanor and monk Arsenius
The third part of the Journal: "The cell of the Saint Nicholas Wonderworker -"Belozersk" on the Holy Mountain Athos, December 18/5, on the day of Venerable Sabbas Sanctified.
"I served the Divine Liturgy in the anchoress of Saint Sabbas church in Karea with hierodiacon father Luka. After the Divine Liturgy, I felt a big spiritual happiness. After the death of father Joakim, nobody lives in the anchoress for more than a month. Father Dimitrije was there for some time, but because of illness (he is 80 years old), he could not endure. He returned to the Monastery and the vigil lamps in the anchoress were turned down. I do not remember that it ever happened in the history of the anchoress. The Parliament of the elders needs to decide whom to put there. The brotherhood is very small so the choices too.
-Father, you wrote this beautifully. I believe that now, when you read it again, you are able to recall and return to places and monasteries where you resided at that time. Your hearth is huge and anyone can enter in. I see, father, that you were dear to all; to your brothers on the Mount Athos as well as to guests, among laymen. Days of your life on the Holy Mountain are cardinally in your heart and they would become as something inseparable from you. It is interesting that you do not forget other events and meetings, which you had in some other places. You remember them because you gave yourself with love. The love is the only thing which multiplies when is shared with others. Father, your Journal is as your best friend to whom, besides God, you can tell everything. That can help you recover your strength...as you did after the day when you felt exhausted and when you encouraged yourself not to give up - because the goal which you have in front of you is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Father Gabriel: Yes, I was looking for the spiritual pearls in all places wherever I went. I gathered them from the people who lived ascetically on the Mount Athos by listening to their advices and lessons. I gladly spent time with father Paisious, father Seraphim, father Nicanor on Krulya, but also with believers in Serbia and Macedonia. However, I stayed the most with our father Stephan Karuljski.
-Glory to God, who saw your pure hearth and honest desire to learn even more. Because of that He sent you, as a young monk, to the experienced spiritual fathers and ascetics. That spiritual happiness cannot be replaced with nothing which comes from this world.
Father Gabriel: The Mount Athos will never fade from my heart. We, monks, who have long stayed in the Garden of the Holy Theotokos, sooner or later became nostalgic and are longing to return and repose there.
-Father, I remember how nicely you talked about father Stephan the Serb from Karulya, who had a perfect renunciation from this world and who moved to the caves of Karulya. He had a cat, which was perfectly obedient to him. When that cat once ate the dearest bird of father Stephan, he got the reprimand for 40 days and he stayed in the cave all that time. He did not exit the cave for forty days even though he was not locked there. Everything on the Mount Athos is breathing with Orthodoxy. The air is filled with the Jesus prayer and there is no need to prove anything to anyone. Everybody prays and everybody believes. Nobody looks at you strangely because of your prayer, or your Orthodox faith.
Father Gabriel: Even the animal feels peace and love of the truly holy and peaceful man as father Stephan was.
-Father, could you please tell us some advices that you received from elders who lived on the Mount Athos? At least, could you say those things that do not represent the monastic life as one big mystery? Now, I remember a story of one faithful person about two brothers, who had their families in the world. Once, when they were returning from the Mount Athos, they just stopped, they looked at each other and decided to return on the Holy Mountain and to stay in that holy land forever. They casted their passports into the sea and let the Holy Thotokos lead and keep them safe. It was a powerful call. They knew that Lord will take care of their families.
Father Gabriel: All breathe as a one soul on the Mount Athos. All live the same life in all monasteries across the Mountain. The prayer rule is the same among Greeks, Serbs, Russ, Bulgarians, Romanians, and others. The Divine Liturgy is served the same in all monasteries, but each monastery has its own language. However, the Divine Liturgy among Serbs, Russ and Bulgarians is served on the old Slavic language. Romanians serve on Romanian. Yes, there are many monks on the Mount Athos who came there as a young men and never returned into the world. Until the end of their lives, they lived on that Holy Land.
-Father, did you write about any God's miracle in your Journal? Actually, there are miracles every day, because residents of the Mount Athos are blessed and they are not stained with the temptations of this world.
Father Gabriel: What we consider a miracle, it is actually normal for God. For God, all things are possible. Many miracles occur on the Mount Athos. That is a secret for now, but it will become known when time comes for that. However, the God's grace which exists there I can witness alone. I had keys of all twelve paraclises on Hilandar. In one period, when I had huge temptations in my soul, I prayed to Saint George and I read every day the Akathist to this Saint. Those days I intensely felt a scent during my prayers. I stayed quiet about that and I continued to pray. During that time a group of archeologists from Serbia were in Hilandar regarding some internal archeological research. So, one night when I was regularly going to pray to the Saint George, one brother archeologist met me and asked me where I am going. When I said that I am going to pray he asked me if he can go with me. Of course, we went together. I started to read the prayer and the scent started to spread in the church. Brother Dragi felt that scent too.
When he returned home to Belgrade, his wife told him that his son Lazar, who had 6 years at that time, remained alive by miracle. Actually, at the time when two of us were in the church and when we were reading the Achatist to the Saint George, the boy put the fork in the plug and caused a short circuit so that whole building stayed without the power. The boy would certainly die from the power stroke, but the Saint George saved him. That is a great mercy of God. The family Antich actually celebrates the Saint George as a Patron Saint. Behold, the God sent the father of the boy to the church on the prayer. He obeyed the call and came to the Akatist of the saint George. That saved his son. If all parents would live a faithful life, their children would not experience such falls, the spiritual as well as physical.
My second testimony about God's miracle is from the Monastery Vavedenje in Belgrade. At that time I just came from the Holy Maountin and I came into a visit to the Monastery Vavedenje. Mother Mihaila told me to read the prayer to one sick woman, who had a surgery the next day. Mother Mihaila insisted that I read those prayers because I just came from the Holy Mountain and mother believed that I carry the blessings from this great holy place. Of course, I read all prayers for the sick. And the grace of God visited this sister. The next day she was healthy. There was no sign of the illness. Behold, that is happening according to our faith.
-Father, which spiritual advices of the Holy Maintain elders stayed in your memory and which followed you during your spiritual growth? When you were sad, what is that that made you happy?
Father Gabriel: As the bee gathers the nectar flying from flower to flower, the same way I collected the spiritually useful advices of the elders. When the God and the most Holy Queen of Heaven gave me opportunity to live for thirteen years on the Holy Mountain, in return I tried to gather that spiritual nectar and to multiply it as much as I could. Now, I live with the blessing of the Holy Mount Athos. I still feel the spiritual scent of that place. That is never forgotten; and people die with that.
-Father, when you were sad, what was that, which made you happy?
Father Gabriel: The greatest joy I felt when I was the saddest. You may ask how that is possible. It is possible. When I was the saddest, God himself visited me and comforted me. God gave me sufferance and peacefulness, because without temptation there is no salvation. That is the greatest gift of God. When I had the most difficult time, besides prayer I read the book "Iliotropiaon" by Saint John Maximovich. I realized then that we should never been doing our own will, but we should be lead by will of God; that all temptations which come to us, we should accept sincerely, because God sends them and we should accept them with sincere thankfulness. I also understood that we should not complain because of our temptations, not even the hardest one, because they are given to us for our salvation. "Ilatropiaon" is very useful book, but it has not been translated to Serbian, if I am not mistaken.
-Ilatropian in translation means sunflower. There is important symbolism in it. As the sunflower turns toward the sun, the same way man should follow the will of God. Everything is given to us for our benefit and salvation. But, it is important in which manner we endure all those temptations. If we do not complain; if we suffer we are confessing the Christian faith as one priest said.
Father Gabriel: It is very important how people established the foundation of sufferance. The foundation and the material are crucial for the strength of the house. It is the same with us - how strong is our knowledge of the Holy Scripture and the writings of the Holy Fathers. With that we will be ready to subdue troubles of this earthly life.
-Father, I started to translate that book. I remember that I felt a blessing while translating that book. Because of that God says that we should build a house on the solid foundation, so that it does not collapse from the first wind. Father, you suffered from many temptations of visible and invisible enemies. The winds blow at you from all sides, but God always remains with you, because you love Him with your entire heart and soul. You started loving God as a small boy, while you were engraving crosses and churches in the trees. Even then, you had your small but big secret; that you serve only God.
Father Gabriel: From my childhood and my first knowledge about God's love, I dreamed and I desired to become monk one day. And, behold, by the grace of God, I entered the Monastery when I was sixteen. My monastic path starts from there and that path is 47 years long.
-I can tell that you have a great wish to return to the Holy Mountain again and to spend in prayers even those days when God will take your soul from this world into a Kingdom of Heaven.
Father Gabriel: It will be according to the will of God and the HolyTheotokos. All land is the land of God, as well as everything on it.