All Saints Day

A week after the birth of the Church, we remember all its saints, for they are its fruit, the purpose of Christ’s saving Sacrifice, and the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. Someone may not like something in a particular parish (the parishioners are not saints, and the priest is not without sin); and someone does not fully understand the Orthodox doctrine. But to see “which faith is true”, it is enough to compare the saints of different denominations. As Jesus Christ said, every good tree brings forth good fruit (Mt. 7:17). If the Orthodox Church even in our time generates such saints as Seraphim of Sarov, Paisius of Athos, John of Kronstadt, then we are in a reliable ship, the Pilot of which is the Spirit of God.
It is not easy to recognize a real Saint through his deeds or words, because he hides them. But the very atmosphere that is created in his presence testifies to his holiness: no one can create an atmosphere that is foreign to his spirit. The spirit of humility distinguishes our saints – it is the Holy Spirit that dwells in them. The acquisition of this Spirit is a necessary condition for eternal life. For proud people cannot co-exist in eternity: they do not know how to give in, love only themselves and, as a result, make life around them hellish. Humility is the only ground for true Love, it is the “atmosphere” in which God Himself resides.
Congratulations to all on the name day and on the upcoming fast – a time for humility of body and soul!

Orthodoxy: From Jerusalem to Manila

Orthodoxy (derived from Greek ὀρθοδοξία – correct teaching, correct faith and glorification of God) – the original traditional Christianity founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Palestine, was spread throughout the world by his closest disciples – the apostles, together with their successors.

This is the faith and the corresponding way of life of the Orthodox Church, which is understood as a community of independent (Autocephalous) local Churches united by Eucharistic communion.

The Orthodox people confess the true, Apostolic faith, embodied in Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition, expressed in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed (symbol of faith) and other decrees adopted by the seven Ecumenical councils and holy fathers.

The Foundation of the Orthodox Church is the God-man Jesus Christ, the redeeming feat of His earthly life, preaching, death on the Cross and Resurrection in the first third of the first century.

After the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, they dispersed to preach the Gospel of Christ throughout the world. Until the end of the first century they were able to spread Christianity in all the known countries of the Ancient world, founding there many Christian communities.

The descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.

After the death of the apostles, their work was continued by their ordained bishops, who affirmed and spread the Christian faith in the lands entrusted to them.

Gradually, the Church hierarchy and its organizational structure were formed, its most important administrative centers becoming Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea and other biggest cities of the Roman empire.

In I – IV centuries the Church suffered both from state persecution from the outside and from heresies and schisms inside itself. Both threatened its very existence. Christianity was condemned and outlawed. The defense of the Church was led by apologists, justifying and defending Christian doctrine and way of life from hostile attacks. Many Christians testified their loyalty to Christ by deeds of confession and martyrdom.

In the beginning of IV century the persecution ended with the victory of Christianity. At first, under Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337), it was equalized in rights with other religions and even gained a privileged position, being able to preach freely. Then, Emperor Theodosius I the Great (346-395) proclaimed Christianity the only state religion of the Roman Empire.

Emperor Constantine the Great.

Time from IV to VIII century in Church history is called the period of the Ecumenical councils. The representatives of the entire Christian Church were gathering to clarify and protect the purity of the Orthodox creed from various heretical errors (arianism, nestorianism, monophysitism, monophelitism, iconoclasm) and establish a single canonical order, with the active support of the imperial authorities. Thus the faith in the Holy Trinity, the God-manhood of Christ, the dignity of the Virgin, icon worship, etc. were confirmed.

In IV century monasticism emerged and was flourishing, since then it becomes an essential part of Orthodoxy. The leading centers of monastic life were Egypt, Syria and Palestine. The founders of monasticism are considered to be the venerable Anthony the Great, Macarius of Egypt, Pachomius the Great, Hilarion the Great, James of Nisibia and others. The Monastic desire to embody the ascetic Evangelical ideal in earthly life resisted the worldliness of the Church, protected it from worldly temptations.

In V century pentarchy was formed – the United Ecumenical Church with five Patriarchates (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), with primacy honor given to the Roman pulpit.

In VII century the homeland of Christianity – Palestine together with the most ancient Christian lands (Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor) were captured by Muslim troops. De facto, only Constantinople Church remained independent on the East.

By the end of the first millennium, a number of socio-political, cultural and doctrinal differences between the Eastern and Western parts of the Christian Church took place. As a result, in 1054 the Roman Church fell away from unity with the Eastern (Byzantine) Church. This tragic event, called the Great schism of the Church, was much aggravated by the Crusades in 11-13 centuries and until now is an unhealed wound on the body of the Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church has more than a thousand years of history. According to tradition, the Holy Apostle Andrew the first-called, preached the Gospel in the future Russian lands. The spread of Christianity in Russia was facilitated by its proximity to such Christian countries as the Byzantine Empire and Bulgaria.

The Holy Apostle Andrew the first-called sets up the Cross in Kiev land.

In the IX century western Slavonic countries were enlightened by the Holy equal-to-the-apostles brothers Cyril and Methodius-the enlighteners of the Slavs, the creators of the Slavonic alphabet and translators of Scripture and Worship texts into the Slavonic language.

In 860 AD, under the Patriarch of Constantinople St. Photius, the Kievan princes Askold and Dir were baptized. This first attempt to baptize Russia at the state level, unfortunately, ended with failure and pagan reaction.

In 954, Princess Olga of Kiev, the first Christian ruler of the Rurik dynasty, was baptized.

The Baptism of Rus in the X century.

In 988, her grandson, Prince Vladimir makes the final decision and performs the Baptism of Rus. The newly formed Russian Church becomes one of the metropolitans of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which it remained for five centuries. The Metropolitan of Kiev was appointed from the Greek, by the Patriarch of Constantinople. In 1051, the first Russian was placed on the primatial throne, Metropolitan Hilarion, the most educated man of his time, a remarkable Church writer.

Orthodoxy had a powerful influence on the development and flowering of Russian statehood, education, culture and spiritual life of the nation. Magnificent temples were erected, monasteries were founded, school education was developed, uniform legislation was created, literature and other arts flourished, social disproportions were softened.

The founders of monasticism in Russia are the venerable Anthony and Theodosius of Kiev, who initiated the famous Kiev-Pechersky Lavra. The outstanding writers of the Russian Church were Metropolitan Hilarion of Kiev, Reverend Nestor the Chronicler and others.

In the XII century the Russian Church was the only force that resisted feudal fragmentation, conflicts of princes and urged to preserve fraternal unity for the sake of the country and the people.

   Russian Church was not much affected by the Tatar-Mongol invasion which put the Russian lands under the rule of the Golden Horde. The Church became the consoler for the people, its spiritual inspirer for the reconstruction of the political unity of Russia. Spiritually, materially and morally it contributed to the future victory over the enslavers.

   Russian Primates were the spiritual leaders and assistants of the Moscow princes in the unification of the scattered Russian principalities around Moscow. Metropolitan Alexey (1354-1378) brought up the Holy Prince Dimitri Donskoy. He, as later Metropolitan Jonah (1448-1471), using the force of his authority helped Moscow Prince in ending the feudal turmoil and preserving the state unity. The great ascetic, the monk Sergius of Radonezh gave his blessing to Dimitri Donskoy for the greatest feat of arms – the battle of Kulikovo, which became the beginning of Russian liberation from the Mongol yoke.

The monk Sergius of Radonezh giving his blessing to Dimitri Donskoy for the greatest feat of arms – the battle of Kulikovo

Russian monasteries were the guards over the Orthodox faith, national identity and culture from negative Western influence. In XIV-XV centuries, around 180 new monasteries were founded in Russia. The main monastic centers were the Pochaev Lavra founded by the monk Job (now Western Ukraine) and the Trinity-Sergius Lavra founded by the monk Sergius of Radonezh on the East (near Moscow). In this prosperous monastery, the marvelous talent of the icon painter St. Andrei Rublev flourished.

  In 1448 the Russian Church became independent from the Patriarchate of Constantinople (Byzantine empire was entirely conquered by the Turks in 1453). Metropolitan Jonah, appointed by the Council of Russian bishops, received the title of Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia.

  In 1589 Metropolitan Job of Moscow became the first Russian Patriarch. The Eastern patriarchs recognized the Russian Patriarch as the fifth in honor. By that time the other four ruled their Churches in countries all occupied by the Muslims.

In the Troubled times of the early XVII century the Russian Church helped to overcome the trials befell on the state and the nation – the civil war and the Polish intervention. The ardent patriot Patriarch Ermogen (1606-1612) was the spiritual leader of the militia of Minin and Pozharsky. It is impossible not to recall the heroic defense of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra from the Polish-Lithuanian invaders in 1608-1610. It is significant that the first king of the new dynasty became the son of Patriarch Filaret (1619-1634) Mikhail Romanov.

Tsar Mikhail Romanov.

As a result of Peter I reforms, the Patriarchal administration was abolished and the Church became governed by the Holy Governing Synod, a collegial Council consisting of the Church and the state representatives headed by the Tsar.

  The Synodal period lasted nearly two hundred years. At that time, the Russian Church paid special attention to the development of spiritual education and missionary work on the outskirts of the country and beyond. Restoration of old and construction of new temples was conducted.

  The XIX century was marked by the activity of remarkable theologians, Church historians, philologists, Orientalists. It gave great examples of Russian Holiness: outstanding saints Filaret Drozdov, Innokenty of Kherson, Ignatius Bryanchaninov, Theophan the Recluse, St. Seraphim of Sarov, old monks of Optina and Glinskaya monasteries.

  In 1917, immediately after the February revolution, the all-Russian Church Council (1917-1918) was convened, the main act of which was the restoration of the Patriarchal administration of the Russian Church. Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow was elected Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia (1917-1925) at this Council.

The all-Russian Church Council (1917-1918).

Under his leadership, the Church tried to heal the revolutionary turmoil, to calm the destructive passions and stop fratricidal strife. However, the Bolsheviks who came to power, professed atheism and looked at the Church as their enemy. Therefore, they launched against the Church the most terrible persecution in history. Their goal was the complete the destruction of the faith and the Church in the USSR. Bishops, priests, monks, laity were subjected to all kinds of repression: ridicules, mockeries, tortures, executions, imprisonments, camps and death penalty. Throughout the country, churches, monasteries, religious schools were closed; there was a company of mockery over the Orthodox faith and Church shrines.

Explosion of the temple (1930-ies).

By the beginning of the great Patriotic war, the organizational structure of the Russian Church was almost completely eliminated. Only a few bishops remained free in the country, only a few hundred temples were opened, and most of the surviving clergy were in camps.

  The disastrous outbreak of war with Nazi Germany prompted the Soviet leadership to seek help from the Church. Churches were opened for worship, religious educational institutions, bishops and other clergy were released from the camps. During the war, the Russian Church has traditionally provided not only spiritual but also material support to the warring people defending their Fatherland.

A partial warming in the relations with the state took place but the Church was constantly under state control and restrictions of its activities.

   The so-called “Khrushchev thaw” turned into new persecutions for the Church, when thousands of churches were forcibly closed throughout the Soviet Union.

    At the local Council of 1971 there was a reconciliation with the old believers who broke away from the Church as a result of rejection of the reforms of Patriarch Nikon (1652-1666).          The decline of the state-atheistic system was marked by the celebration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Russia in 1988. The Beginning of Perestroika gave a new impetus in Church-State relations. The dialogue between the authorities and the Church began on the basis of recognition of the huge historical role of Orthodoxy in the fate of the country, its invaluable contribution to the formation of morality and culture of the nation

The Millennium of the Baptism of Russia in 1988.

The revival of the Russian Orthodox Church began, which is continuing till today. People reached out to Christ and His Holy Church. Archpastors, pastors, laymen began to work zealously to recreate the full-blooded Church life. Thousands of temples and hundreds of monasteries are being built and restored from the ruins. The education, enlightenment, charity, missionary work and public services of the Church are steadily expanding. At the same time, believers have to resist all sorts of attempts to shake, split the Church both from the outside and from within, to subordinate It to worldly interests.

   His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II (1990-2008) led the Church revival in the difficult conditions of the collapse of the USSR. Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR), which was formed as a result of the revolutionary turmoil and the Russian emigration caused by it, reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church in 2007.

Signing of the Act on Canonical Communication between the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (May 17, 2007).

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill is continuing the work of reviving the Russian Church. In 2019 the last part of Russian Orthodoxy abroad – the Archdiocese of Western European parishes of the Russian tradition – joined the Moscow Patriarchate.

Restoring the unity of the Archdiocese of Western European parishes of Russian tradition with the Russian Orthodox Church (November 3, 2019) .

The majority of Orthodox believers living in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova belong to the Russian Orthodox Church today. Orthodoxy also prevails in the countries of the Balkan Peninsula (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro), in Georgia and Cyprus.

In addition to these countries, the Orthodox live in other countries where other religions prevail. One such country is the Philippines.

Russian Orthodox Church in the Philippines

The first Russian priests visited the Philippines more than 150 years ago. In times of great research trips the Russian Empire did not remain aloof. And, of course, each expedition was accompanied by an Orthodox regimental priest. So, count E.V. Putyatin during the diplomatic mission to Japan on the frigate “Pallada” visited the Philippines on his way. This journey was documented in detail by Goncharov in the novel with the same name “Pallada”. From there we know that on this trip they were accompanied by the famous missionary and orientalist Archimandrite Abbakum (Chestnoy). In 1854, the “Pallada” arrived to Manila and, of course, on Sundays the Orthodox Liturgy was served there .

The next important milestone in the activity of the Orthodox Church in the Philippines was 1934, when on the basis of the request of the Russian Diaspora in Manila, the Bishop of China and Beijing Victor (Svyatin) founded a parish in Manila, in honor of the Iveron icon of the Mother of God. It existed until 1945 when it was destroyed during liberation of Manila from Japanese by American army.

Article in magazine about first russian church in Philippines (1930s)

Four years later, in 1949, after the Communists came to power in China, about 6 thousand Russian refugees left Shanghai. From all the countries in the world, only the Republic of the Philippines agreed to accept them for some time. The Russians were encamped on the small island of Tubabao. And the first arranged buildings were two churches: in honor of the Archangel Michael and in honor of Seraphim of Sarov. And the temple of the Mother of God was arranged of the former American marching church.

“Holy Mother of God” Cathedral on Tubabao island. The period from 1949 to 1951.

The spiritual leader of the refugees was St. John (Maksimovich) who arrived to the island together with the others. The Filipinos who saw him on the island of Tubabao are still alive. Also alive is the legend that while St. John was on the island, not a single typhoon reached it.

St. John (Maximovich) in the Philippines.

The Russians were going to stay on the island for 2 months only, but because of different problems they stayed for more than two years. St. John periodically traveled from the Philippines to other countries, primarily to the United States, to organize the immigration of refugees there. And it happened, in 1951 almost all Russian refugees left the Philippines.

The next Liturgy was served on Tubabao only 62 years later, in 2013, when the ROCOR clergy: priest Seraphim Bell and deacon Siluan Thompson, visited the Philippines. During preparation for this trip, the monk Philip Balingit with the help of Russia built a chapel in the same place where the Russian temple was located.

Priest Seraphim Bell with the Orthodox community.

Unfortunately, this chapel as well as many other buildings on Tubabao was destroyed in 2013 by typhoon “Yolanda”, one of the mightiest in the history of observation. Priest Kirill Shkarbul who serves in the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in Taiwan, flew to the island to help the victims.

At the same time, a large group of Aglipayan priests from the island of Mindanao (followers of the teachings of Gregory Aglipay, who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church more than 100 years ago) began to be interested in the history of Christianity and, as a consequence, Orthodoxy. Having learned that a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church was visiting the Philippines, the aglipay communities asked father Kirill to visit them with a lecture on Orthodoxy. Thus began the mission of the Russian Orthodox Church among Pilippino people. After the catechism, in 2015 a number of baptisms were performed in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, when thousands of people were joined to the Orthodox Church.

Mass baptisms in the Philippines.
 

Of course, the Church authorities could not ignore the Orthodox communities in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries. In October 2016, the Holy Synod appointed Bishop of Solnechnogorsk Sergiy Chashin, who was the head of the Administrative Secretariat of the Moscow Patriarchate, to manage parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, North Korea and the Republic of Korea. His Eminence began work with the renewal of the parish in honor of the Iveron icon of the Mother of God in Manila, on Easter in April 2017. The parish united Orthodox people of many nationalities, but Orthodox Filipinos interested in Russian culture became its backbone. In 2018, by the decision of the Holy Synod, the Patriarchal Exarchate of Southeast Asia was established, with 4 dioceses: Korean, Singaporean, Thai, Filipino-Vietnamese.

Visit of Archbishop Sergiy to Davao

Next year, by the decision of the Holy Synod, his Eminence Pavel was entrusted to be the ruling Bishop of The Philippine-Vietnamese diocese with the title of Metropolitan of Manila and Hanoi. At the same time, several Filipino senior men of parishes were ordained to the priesthood.

Ordination of Roman Buniel, headman of a parish on Mindanao.

Actually there are about 30 parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Philippines. Parishes exist in different parts of the country on the islands of Luzon, Mindanao, Cebu and Leyte. These parishes are supported by 6 priests, among whom there are Filipinos, Russians, Americans. Services are held in Tagalog and Cebuano languages, the translations of the main liturgical texts have already been made.


Pastoral visit of the Bishop to the village Kinabalu, Sarangani province, island of Mindanao.

Orthodox priests incessantly pray God for the living and the departed, visit the sick and weak people, sanctify their homes, fields, and transport of Filipinos.

Settlements of Orthodox communities are also being improved. With help from Russia, beautiful churches are being built there becoming the most attractive buildings in the surroundings.

The Church of St. Helena in Little Baguio, Cotabato, on the island of Mindanao.
The construction of the temple in the village Makalangot, Cotabato, on the island of Mindanao.

Remembering the words of the Apostle James “faith without good actions is dead”, the Russian Orthodox Church organized a social service. In almost every parish, Orthodox volunteers regularly feed the starving Filipino children. Also, volunteers of the Orthodox Church travel to poor areas of the island holding talks and practical classes on the rules of hygiene and healthy eating. The Church also helps people who find themselves in a difficult life situations.

Charity feeding of children on the island of Luzon.
Teaching the basics of hygiene and the fight against lice on the island of Luzon.

The Orthodox Church did not stand aside during natural disasters. During Typhoon Yolanda and during mighty earthquakes, priests and volunteers traveled to the destroyed areas, helping with water, food and even with the rebuilding ruined homes. So in the North of Cebu, more than 100 houses were built on the funds of the Church, for the victims of the Typhoon.

Help for victims of the earthquake in the province of Malungon, Cotabato.

The Russian Orthodox Church gives Filipinos the opportunity to receive a qualitative education both in the Philippines at the training center in Davao city and in spiritual academies in Russia. The talented boys and girls from towns and villages are annually sent to St. Petersburg to get a high-grade education.

Getting educational literature in the training center of Davao.

The Church also plays an important role as a mediator for strengthening friendship and cultural exchange between Russia and the Philippines. Russian priests, in cooperation with the administration of educational institutions and settlements, participate in folk festivals and conduct cultural lectures. Professional singers from Russia also regularly come to the Philippines, holding charity concerts and introducing the locals to the rich Russian culture.


Participation of Orthodox singers from Russia at the Barangay day in Arakan, Cotabato.

The Church pays special attention to work with the youth. Unfortunately, it is no secret that young people due to the lack of worldly experience often find themselves in difficult situations associated with drugs, excessive alcohol consumption and crime. Therefore, it is especially important to educate them. In addition to lectures, the Orthodox Church regularly holds youth camps, where young people learn more about their culture, learn to get joy and pleasure from creative activities.

Lecture at the Technical College of Davao.
3rd Orthodox youth camp.

In conclusion, we can add that the Lord himself especially glorified the Orthodox icon of the Mother of God “Holy Virgin” icon connected with the last week before the Easter Day or “Perpetual health” in the Philippines. This icon was taken from the Orthodox monastery of Keras in Cyprus before the 15th century by a Venetian merchant. From the Chronicles we know that since 1499 it was already in the Church of St. Matthew in Rome. A copy of this icon was brought to the Philippines in 1906. At the moment, this icon is located in the temple of Baklaran, there is always a lot of praying people near it, masses are served every hour, even miracles are performed. The iconography itself contains Greek letters-titles, an angel in his hands holds an Orthodox eight-pointed cross, and the image of the iconography itself is very familiar to any Orthodox person.

The icon of the Mother of God “Perpetual health”, venerated in the Philippines (on the left), clearly visible Greek letters, which indicates the Greek origin of the icon, and “Holy Virgin of Passions” icon connected with the last week before the Easter Day, venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church (on the right)

So the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Philippines is lasting more than 150 years and there are no black pages in this history. According to Metropolitan Sergius of Singapore and Southeast Asia, the head of the Patriarchal Exarchate in Southeast Asia: “we welcome President Duterte’s call to expand the Russian Church presence in the Philippines, and we hope that we will be able to justify the high trust, and we believe that this will benefit the Philippine people … We pray that God will send peace and prosperity to the Philippine land”.

Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi

John the Theologian

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian is the youngest of the 12 apostles, but he was the only one remaining with the Saviour during the most difficult time of His suffering. And he was the only one of them whom persecutors failed to kill.
His gospel is also special – it speaks most clearly about the deity of Christ. Amazing, the passage from it – papyrus P52 – is the oldest extant manuscript of the New Testament, it is only 20 years younger than the original, ~130 AD. For comparison, the oldest copies of the texts of Homer, Plato, Tacitus are separated from the originals by about a thousand years (this is about the authenticity of ancient texts).
And, perhaps, one of the most mysterious events in the Holy Tradition is the death of St. John the Apostle. After living more than a hundred years, he retired from Ephesus and asked his disciples to bury him still alive, covering his face with a handkerchief. They did not dare to violate the teacher’s request. However, after a while, when the grave was opened, John’s body was not there. But every year, on may 21, a thin layer of ash (or “manna”) began to appear on the grave, bringing healing. In honor of this event, a spring celebration of the memory of the Apostle was established.
Many saints (Hippolytus of Rome, Andrew of Caesarea, and John of Kronstadt) believed that the Apostle John was still alive and would preach with Elijah and Enoch before the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In any case, the Holy Tradition recorded a change in the “order of nature” – corruption did not touch the body of the “Apostle of love”. This victory over corruption emphasizes his spiritual kinship with the most Holy Theotokos, who adopted John at the foot of the cross of the Lord.

Feat of Love

May 2 is the day of memory of the people’s favorite Saint blessed Matrona of Moscow (Nikonova). Mother Matronushka, as the faithful affectionately call her, is prayed for in illnesses, life’s troubles, when it does not get along with work, school, housing, and under persecution. The fame of Mother Matrona has long crossed the borders of Moscow, and indeed of all Russia. Thousands and thousands come to the capital to visit the relics of the Saint, in search of help and intercession and many receive her assistance! The Shrine with her relics is in the Pokrovsky monastery.
Stories about miracles that occurred through the Saint’s prayer have long been published in separate books. Matronushka was born in 1885 in Tula province, and passed to the Lord on May 2, 1952 in Moscow.
A poor peasant family, the Nikonovs were already growing 3 children, and the mother, afraid that she would not be able to feed one more child, decided to give it to an orphanage after birth – there was no question of killing the child in the womb. But shortly before giving birth, she dreamed of her unborn daughter in the form of a wonderful white bird – with a human face and closed eyes. The bird landed on the woman’s right hand. God-fearing Natalia regarded the dream as a sign and gave up the idea of shelter. The girl was born blind, and the child had no eyes at all, the eye sockets were closed with tightly closed eyelids – like a white bird that the mother saw in a dream. Soon it was discovered that the blind girl was given a “spiritual” vision, linked with the gift of foresight, miracle-working and healing.
From an early age, Matrona was rarely seen playing in the courtyard with other children, but she often visited the temple and spent almost all her time in prayer, at the icons. Children had violent games: they whipped the blind girl with nettles, knowing that she would not respond to the offender. Or they put her in a hole and laughed as she tried to get out of it. The helpless child was bullied because she behaved strangely: she said things incomprehensible, such as are not expected from a child. However, the neighbors soon noticed that the blind, helpless girl is not only surprisingly astute, but also has the gift of foresight. Moreover, Matrona predicted not only events from the life of her native village, or nearby villages, but in an allegorical form, she prophesied about the fate of the Royal family, the whole of Russia. Unfortunately, all these prophecies were fulfilled.
Having heard about the girl’s foresight, they reached out to the Nikonov house for advice and help, so Matrona turned from a burden into the main breadwinner of the family. At the same time, the blind girl discovered the gift of healing.
When Matronushka was seventeen years old, the girl suffered a misfortune – her legs got paralyzed, and for the rest of her days, the blessed one remained sedentary and completely dependent on others. In 1925, Matronushka moved to Moscow. The fact is that Matrona’s older brothers, who joined the Communist party, were afraid that the presence of the blessed one in their house, to whom people flocked all day long, would cause reprisals from the authorities. Feeling sorry for the old people-parents and brothers, Matrona leaves her native home. Matronushka begins a long period of homelessness. She never had a corner of her own in the capital – she wandered around relatives, acquaintances, some poor houses and basements.
An eyewitness of her life once found this picture: Matronushka was lying with her face to the wall and could not turn around – during the night her hair froze to the wall. Without a residence permit, Matrona many times, literally by miracle, avoided arrest, moving out of other people’s apartments shortly before police came for her.
They told how once a policeman came for Matronushka, and she said to him: “Run home quickly, I, blind and not walking, will not get away from you, and you have trouble at home! Run, or you won’t have time!” The policeman obeyed, ran home, and there his wife was burned by kerogaz: barely managed to get to the hospital. When the policeman was asked the next day why he did not arrest the blind woman, he replied that he would not follow her – “because if it were not for this blind woman, I would have been left without a wife.”
In Moscow of that period there were many unhappy, lost, and sick people. Having heard about the blessed one, many went to her for help, and received it. Matronushka received up to forty people a day. During the war, she was approached not only for healing, but also by those who wanted to learn about the fate of their loved ones. Completely illiterate, she seemed to know everything.
Outwardly, the Matrona’s life was monotonous, devoid of the pathos of the feat – she received people during the day, and prayed at night. Like many ascetics, the blessed one never really went to sleep – more often she just dozed, lying on her side, on her fist. With tiny, as if children’s hands and feet, sitting on a bed or chest, with a kind, bright face and a gentle voice-this Matronushka was remembered by people. She herself was in great pain, and seemed to know neither fatigue nor annoyance. It is easy to love when you are doing well, and you are ready to share your joy with both near and far. But how difficult it is not even to love, but just to tolerate others if something in your life does not add up or you are ill. One can only guess what it cost Matronushka to receive the sick and suffering from day to day, and not just to accept, but to listen and give advice. Matronushka could embrace those who came to her with such love that this alone healed them. In other words, there was so much love in her that, as a sufferer herself, she found the strength to pity others.
How can you learn to love like that?
Once, in a conversation with the blessed one, someone, justifying his intemperance, said: “Mother, it’s all nerves.” “What nerves: in war and in prison there are no nerves… You must control yourself, endure.” Or even for our edification: “If the old, the sick, or those who are out of their minds will say something unpleasant or offensive to you, then do not listen to them, do not get annoyed, but just help them.”
M. Gorodova

Thomas Sunday

“Until I see it, I won’t believe it!- Blessed are they who have not seen, but have believed!”
These are catch phrases from the gospel story about the unbelieving Apostle Thomas, the story which was supposed to convince doubters of the truth of the Resurrection of Christ.
However, a proud person believes only what he wants to believe. If he does not want to think about the afterlife (so as not to change his priorities), then he will not believe the risen from the dead. Therefore, the risen Lord never appeared to his persecutors, but He appeared to Thomas – because he wanted to believe that He was alive! Thomas himself was ready to die for Him: “let us go and die with Him” (John 11: 16). Sent to preach, he went the farthest – even to India. There he was employed by the king to build a Palace, he took a large advance, but spent all the money on beggars. When the king found out his money gone, he put him in prison, considering how to execute him. But the king’s dead brother appeared to the king at night and told him what a magnificent Palace Thomas had built for him in the Heaven. Then the king believed and was baptized with his people.
Through the Apostle Thomas, the Church made sure in the resurrection of the Mother of God, when for him, who was late, the disciples came to the tomb, but instead of Her dead body, saw Her risen.