At the Convent, we do all kinds of obediences. We travel to exhibitions, give guided tours, work at the workshops. I have assisted at a church, travelled to exhibitions, worked on the computer and done several other jobs. One day the Mother Superior called to assign me to new obedience - assisting the Prior of our Convent in receiving visitors coming to our gate.
I accepted the obedience with grace and left the Mother Superior full of enthusiasm and determination to perform with excellence. Yet, the first few visitors I received brought me back to earth. They were homeless people in dirty clothing, with shaking hands and murky looks. As I remember that day almost two years ago, I still cannot believe how light-minded and naive I was in my approach. Meeting a homeless person at the desk, exchanging a few phrases, then sending them away to the farmstead - what could be simpler? Perhaps by thinking that way I was protecting myself from pain. The pain of confronting these people in great distress. The anguish of dealing with people who had spent eight days in a winter forest without food or a roof over their heads. The torment of trying to help someone who has lost all hope.
"Why is this happening? How did we deserve it?" For centuries, people have been asking these questions to God. My encounters and talks with these people often gave me the urge to ask the same. It was as if I was drowning in a sea of sorrows. The crushing burden of other people's suffering was dragging me down and making my pain seem like a tiny drop in an ocean.
In his prayers for the weary and burdened of this world, schema-Archimandrite Sophronius also asked God about the causes and meaning of people's sorrows. In his heart, he heard the answer, "Was it you who went to the cross for them?" I am no match for Father Sophronius. In most cases, I cannot even help these people with their immediate needs. Sometimes, their drunkenness, dishonesty and deceit made me reluctant, other times, I found their intrusiveness too annoying. Yet the ice in my heart has been melting little by little. I feel mercy and charity slowly coming in its place. They have become more than words to me. They bring meaning to my life and works and enlighten my soul.
I am learning to understand and accept people of all sorts in any kind of clothing or condition. I am working hard to hear them better and help them with prayer and sympathy, even when I cannot offer them any practical relief. I share the impossible burden of my task with Christ, trusting that He knows the needs of every person and seeing myself as only an instrument of His intercession. I am growing - in faith, trust, hope and love. I putting my sorrows into perspective, and find my experience invaluable and therapeutic.
In our works of charity, we are mindful of the old saying: “Worry not about a roaring storm, but about a tear of a needy person”.
The Gospel teaches us that our circumstances do not exist by chance but instead by intention for our good (Ephesians 2:10). Today, we talk to Nun Elisabeth from Germany about her progress towards God, the Orthodox Faith and monasticism.
In our first conversation with Mother Euphrosyne, we asked her to tell us how she became Mother Superior of the Convent, to talk about the life of the Convent, which has dedicated itself from its very beginning to help others.
The Church calls monasticism the angelic life. From the times of the Apostles to the present day, millions have taken this route, by giving up their possessions and estate, renouncing the ways of the world and following Christ.
In the second part of our interview series with Nun Euphrosyne, Mother Superior of St. Elisabeth Convent, we asked her to talk about her background and her service at the Convent.
Nun Rebecca (Pereira): I became a monastic to bring salvation to my soul. In this sense, the meaning of monasticism is the same irrespective of your location - Belarus, Serbia or Brazil.
We should struggle for every word we hear during the church service. We might face here the following problem: being quite familiar with the service itself, we struggle for this word of God, we hear it during the service but it does not penetrate…