The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church has decided that 2022 will be the Commemorative Year of the Holy Hesychasts Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory Palamas and Paisius Velichkovsky of Neamț in the Romanian Patriarchate.
Hesychasm is an ascetic practice of monastic origin that involves the constant repetition of the Jesus prayer: “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
The theme chosen for 2022 is also motivated by the fact that this year marks three centuries since the birth of Saint Paisius of Neamț and 1000 years since the repose of Saint Symeon the New Theologian.
St Symeon the New Theologian (949 – 1022)
St. Symeon the New Theologian was born in a high-ranking family in Constantinople, entering monasticism as a teenager at Studion Monastery.
At the age of 31, he became abbot of the monastery of St. Mamas in Constantinople, which he led for a quarter of a century. Among his writings, we mention Theological and practical chapters, Theological and moral discourses, Catecheses, Hymns of divine love, etc.
A strong personality, St. Symeon the New Theologian shows in his writings the importance of seeing the uncreated light of divine glory as a work of grace, vigilance, and unceasing prayer in the spiritual life.
In the history of the Orthodox Church, only three saints have been surnamed “Theologians”: St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and St. Symeon.
He is honored on March 12 and October 12.
St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359)
Saint Gregory Palamas was born in 1296 in Constantinople, entering monasticism at the age of 20 at Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, and was soon ordained a priest and in 1347 a bishop.
St. Gregory Palamas structured hesychasm as a teaching and practice of the Eastern tradition and was canonized in 1368 at the Synod of Constantinople for his struggle against heresies.
He is honored on November 14 and the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
St Paisius (Velichkovsky) of Neamț (1722-1794)
He was born in Poltava, Ukraine, in 1722. He studied at the Theological Academy in Kyiv. In 1745 he came to Moldavia. A year later, he left for the Holy Mount where he was tonsured a monk by Saint Basil of Poiana Mărului, his spiritual father.
He returned to Moldavia and, together with his disciples, settled at Dragomirna Monastery for 12 years. Then, following the Austrian occupation, abbot Paisius moved with his community to Secu and afterwards to Neamț Monastery. The two monasteries merged under his rule.
Under his spiritual guidance, monasticism flourished. The hesychastic rebirth in Romanian monasticism radiated into the Orthodox world through his disciples.
Among his works of Orthodox spirituality is the “On the prayer of the mind.” He is remembered among the venerable saints on November 15. He was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988 and by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1992.
A solemn year of prayer
Also, 2022 will be the Solemn Year of Prayer in the Church’s life and the Christian’s life in the Romanian Patriarchate. The Mother of God – Oranta was chosen as an illustrative icon.
“The Solemn year of prayer in the Church’s life and the Christian’s life and the Commemorative Year of the Hesychast Saints Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory Palamas and Paisius of Neamt is a blessed time to increase the knowledge of prayer a source of sanctification in the Church and the family and as a pillar of joy in the Kingdom of the love of the Most Holy Trinity,” Patriarch Daniel of Romania wrote in a foreword of the Orthodox Calendar 2022.