I wrote a paper about “Fools for Christ” in a Spiritual Direction class for my D.Min. It was so illuminating–what I learned actually affected me quite a bit. One thing that I learned was about the need to follow Christ and to do those simple and quite costly things that marginalize us from others who do not understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. This just happened again to me.
There was a group of folk who needed help. I offered far more than they understood and was taken advantage of and my offer was abused. The particulars warrant a therapy session, but the generalities involve how people understand our motives and what liabilities we are willing to assume. I would not be so vain as to assume the holy title of Fool for Christ; however, being persecuted for His sake is a holy and valuable lesson in life…
January 11 was the Feast of Venerable Michael the Fool-for-Christ of the Klops Monastery, Novgorod.
Blessed Michael of Klops was of noble lineage, and he was a relative of Great Prince Demetrius of the Don (1363-1389). He took upon himself the exploit of foolishness for Christ to avoid the praise of men. Leaving Moscow dressed in rags, he arrived at the Klops monastery, near Novgorod.
No one knew how he got into the locked cell of the hieromonk Macarius, who was going round the cell censing during the Ninth Ode of the Canon. A man in monastic garb sat there beneath a candle, copying out the Acts of the Holy Apostles. After the end of Matins the igumen came with some of the brethren and asked the stranger who he was, and what his name was. But he responded only by repeating the questions, and did not reveal his origin.
In church the stranger sang in the choir and read the Epistle, and he also read the Lives of the Saints at meals. All who listened were moved by the beauty and spirituality of his reading. On the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Klops monastery was visited by Prince Constantine Dimitrievich (son of Great Prince Demetrius of the Don ).
After Communion he was in the trapeza with the princess, during which time the unknown stranger read from the Book of Job. Hearing the reading, the prince approached the reader and looked him over. Then he bowed down to him, calling his kinsman Michael Maximovich by name. The fool remarked, “Only the Creator knows me, and who I am,” but he confirmed that his name was Michael.
St Michael soon set an example for the brethren in all the monastic efforts. He lived at the Klops monastery for forty-four years, exhausting his body in work, vigils and various deprivations, and he received from the Lord the gift of clairvoyance.
He denounced the vices of people, not fearing the powerful of this world. He predicted the birth of Great Prince Ivan III on January 22, 1440, and his capture of Novgorod. He denounced Prince Demetrius Shemyaka for blinding his brother the Great Prince Basil the Dark (1425-1462).
On a sandy spot St Michael summoned forth a spring of water, having written upon the earth: “I will take the cup of salvation (Ps. 115/116:13), let the well-spring show forth on this spot.” And during a time of famine, the supplies of bread at the monastery granary did not diminish, though they distributed grain abundantly to the hungry.
Having indicated beforehand the place of his burial, the saint died on January 11, 1453.