On 2 May, the Orthodox faithful in this part of the world commemorate the life of the Blessed Matrona of Moscow, whom Saint John of Kronshtadt had called a pillar of Russia. In his time, he recognised in her, a blind young girl, the magnanimity of spirit, the purity of soul and a model of sanctity. The Church glorified her only fourteen years ago, but thousands are coming to her grave at the monastery of the Holy Protection, asking for her help, prayer and intercession.
She was born in 1885 and baptised with the name Matrona. Since childhood, she had been endowed with the gift of incessant prayer. With her life, she affirmed the truth of the Apostle Paul's teachings about the abundance of grace in the infirmity of the flesh. She was blind from birth, and at seventeen, he lost the ability to walk. Yet she accepted her hardships with peace and calm as if she knew they were coming. Anticipation of the troubles to come and reliance on God's providence makes Christians distinct from others. We trust that the Lord will not send us any more joy or grief than can bear.
With the example of her life, she showed others the way to live. She taught people to love the elderly and infirm and forgive them for their wrongs. "When someone in sickness or old age hurts you with his words, do not listen, but help them. Help them in every way you can; help with diligence and good faith, and forgive them for everything they have said or done," said the blessed Matrona. She also advised us not to believe in dreams, many of them are a ploy of our enemy who tries to sow confusion and despair in our hearts and minds.
She called our days the era of grand illusion and deception and warned that many would be affected by giving in to temptations from others. "Before approaching an elder or priest for advice, pray that God will give them the wisdom to advise you well," she counselled. "Do not go asking different priests or elders the same question. Say your prayer, ask once and make your decision. The more you ask, the greater your risk of making the wrong decision. And it will not be God's fault, but the consequence of your disbelief and falsehood."
She lived by the commandment of love. She had no eyes, but she had a big heart and an intelligent mind. Her love was distinct from the love of most others who see the grandeur of the world but do not believe in God as deeply as we should. As a result, we often mistake love for a fleeting passion. The blessed Matrona taught that true love means dedication and self-sacrifice. When we love, we do not do what we desire to do, but what we must.
We can all give our unconditional love to others, like the saints of our Church did.
So let us remember the teachings of the blessed Matrona and convey them to others. May we also learn from her example to trust our Lord and obey His will.
Hieromonk Silouan (Mezhinsky), Optina Pustyn
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