The icon of the Mother of God “Softener of Evil Hearts” presents the narrative of Saint Simeon's prediction at the presentation of God in the Temple. As he blessed the infant Christ and His mother, he said that Jesus would defeat sin and affirm goodness, and his mother would endure boundless sorrow. Indeed, her suffering was unimaginable. She witnessed the Her Son's arrest, execution, and death. As Jesus was dying on the Cross, she stood by. Her anguish defied all human imagination.
The icon depicts her without the infant Christ. Her hands are folded and her heart is pierced by seven swords (the icon is also called "Seven Swords"). It is as if she is trying to cover the wound of her heart from these seven swords. In the scripture, the number seven represents fullness. The Mother of God had her full share of sorrows. Every mother in the world will relate to them. For three years, Christ preached all around the Holy Land. He created many enemies, and his mother's heart was aching. She knew well what was coming.
But she also put all her trust in the Lord. As the Scripture tells us, not a hair of our head will perish without God's will. There is God's will to all things that happen to us. It is hard for us to accept suffering, especially when we believe we had not deserved it. But perhaps these sorrows come to us for a reason - to temper our souls and make them pure. In our suffering, we become wiser and more sober. We learn to concentrate on things that matter the most and put the spiritual ahead of the material.
In their prayers before this icon, believers ask for God's help in softening their hearts and the hearts of others. In our disputes with others, we often become too embittered and recalcitrant. Our souls harden as we become wooden in our self-righteousness and unresponsive to the views of others. We ask for the intercession of our Mother in Heaven to melt the ice in our hearts.
He squandered his father's estate quickly. With freedom but no love, he became a slave. He was feeding swine, but he was not getting any food himself.
As August comes to an end, the Orthodox Church prepares to celebrate one of the twelve Great Feasts of the Church, the Dormition of the Theotokos. Here in the Belarusian Orthodox Church, the feast falls on August 28 each year.
Thanksgiving Day is an official federal holiday in both the United States and Canada. The holiday celebrates the harvest and the blessings of the previous year; it has historic and Christian roots.
A perpetual struggle is going on between our passions and God’s grace. If we cannot eradicate our passions, what can we do at least to keep them at bay?
The new martyrs found themselves in circumstances that most people today could barely imagine. Yet people who keep their faith at their most terrible times and obey God's commandments receive His help.
As we pray for our dead, we remember that all the living will enter eternal life in their time. We also realise how vain and fragile our earthly lives are, how finite are our worldly comforts and wealth, how small are many of our daily concerns.
On August 19th (August 6th according to the Gregorian calendar), we celebrate another very special Great Feast of the Orthodox Church - the feast of the Transfiguration of our God, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.