We continue to tell you more about the different ministries that we conduct here at Saint Elisabeth Convent.
We have already touched upon the topic of bringing God into the lives of disabled children that live in the boarding homes of Minsk. Boarding homes are not only for kids.
There are mentally challenged adults and elderly that need help as well.
Today we would like to tell you a little bit more about our ministry in two institutions - Boarding Homes for Mentally Challenged Adults number 3 and number 1 in Minsk.
Both institutions are facilities, where adults and elderly people with mental disabilities live and get the care and assistance they need. Many of the patients of those homes had previously (before the age of 18) lived in boarding homes for disabled children.
Boarding Home number 3 is very close to the Convent’s grounds and is a permanent residence to over 100 adults with chronic mental illnesses. Boarding Home number 1 is located in a picturesque green area of the Minsk region and counts about 300 patients.
The main reason why our Sisters started to visit boarding homes in the first place was to bring God into the patients’ lives. People with mental disabilities are especially open to learn about Christ, to let Him into their hearts. We often call these people God’s people, because of how close they are to Christ.
The best way to truly meet God is to receive Holy Communion on a regular basis.This is why we have built chapels in both institutions so that the patients get the chance to attend services and participate in the Sacraments of the Orthodox Church.
The chapel in honour of Holy Blessed Xenia of St Petersburg is located on the territory of the Boarding Home number 3. Patients attend the Divine Liturgy, get Communion and pray during an Akathist to St. Xenia of Saint Petersburg every week.
The lay sisters and brothers of the Convent visit the patients of both boarding homes on a regular basis. Here are some of the things they do to help:
We believe that every person was made in the image of God, no matter the illnesses or disabilities they might have.This is why we make sure that we do everything to bring God into those people’s lives and to make them happier, one kind action at a time.
Besides, we are definitely not the only ones helping. Those people are always under the guidance of God and the protection of His most pure Mother. It is especially true now, that the Feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God is approaching.
The Mother of God protects every single person. She is our Heavenly intercessor. In the Orthodox Church, there is a very special feast that is loved by many people. It is called the Feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, and we celebrate it on the 14th of October every year.
The history of this feast is extremely interesting. In the tenth century, in the church of the Blachernae in Constantinople, there was a festive service. It happened during an invasion, as the Byzantine empire was in the state of war.
While the people were praying during the Vigil, St Andrew, who was present at the moment, had this vision of Christ’s mother, Mary, praying in the church and covering the church with her veil, protecting the people.
Together with her, there were John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and many other saints. The revelation was that the Theotokos was interceding and praying with all of the saints for the Church on earth, during such a difficult time.
On the day of the feast, we sing those beautiful words that explain the meaning of this joyous celebration:
“Today the Virgin stands in the middle of the Church, and with choirs of saints, she prays to God for us. Angels and bishops worship; apostles and prophets rejoice together since for our sake, she prays to the Eternal God.”
We believe that the Virgin Mary will continue praying to God for everyone and protecting us and all of those who live in the boarding homes!
Why don't we, who have a lot of gifts, know how to appreciate and protect them? Why do those whom we consider to be disadvantaged rejoice sincerely and love unconditionally?