Sretensky Monastery as a Miracle of the Theotokos

A Homily for the Feast of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

We have gathered again today to glorify our patroness, our rescuer, our intercessor, and our indisputable hope—the Mother of God. Our monastery is in a special way itself a miracle of the Mother of God.

People in this world live and hope in their own strength, and the powerful of this world also live and hope in their own strength, fortifying it, devising various means to preserve their power, to expand it, to retain it, to multiply it, to save their people; and to do this, they work tirelessly and sometimes truly reach great heights: They come up with absolutely amazing ways to protect their homeland, and they place their hope in them, and boast in them, and comfort themselves with the fact that they have these means.

But we see both in the history of our homeland and in our personal lives how often this all turns out to be basically useless, or incomplete and unable to protect us; how all this material glory can turn overnight to defeat, shame, and powerlessness; how health and beauty can overnight turn into sickness, infirmity, and inability; and man, and an entire state lie prostrate before their enemy, and there is no one to intercede for them, to help them.

And the strongest, most insidious, and most dangerous force that ruins this existence is sin. It’s more powerful than any conqueror, because it fully conquers our hearts and souls, taking them captive: Just as the troops of Ahmed Giray took Christians, the Russian people, captive and sold them in the market, so our souls are sold when we allow sin to enter into them, and this sin destroys states, and families, and our heath; and nothing can help. No wonderful, amazing, expensive, well-thought-out means can overcome sin. Only our repentance and prayer to the Mother of God can avert this horror, this defeat, this despondency, this captivity to the devil and his servants. But this requires true repentance and a vision of this sin—an understanding of the true meaning of our life.

The Mother of God never leaves us—not even in the most difficult moment, when we are completely captive to sin. She ever prays for us; like a true mother, she never forgets about us. And we who are witnesses and participants here in the rebirth of this monastery of the Mother of God know very well her presence in this place. Who are we? Why did the Mother of God gather us today? Because she loves us, she awaits our repentance, and she awaits our love in return for her Savior, for her Son—our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our most powerful weapon, this is our strength, this is our protection. She will never leave us, and no evil human efforts can shake this love of the Mother of God, if only we do not offend her and her Son, and do not plunge ourselves into captivity to the devil’s power.

The Mother of God, and all the saints whom we glorify today—All Saints’ Day1—are the most invincible army of Christ, to which we are called. We have received the call to join this army, and everyone standing here has the chance to become holy men of God and to bear this Divine love, and courage, and hope in both Christ and the Mother of God to the world. The Mother of God will not leave us, but the main thing is that we must not leave her by giving in to sin, to despondency, and above all—giving in to hope in the futile benefits of this world—giving in to this deception, this illusion that the devil spreads everywhere so that we would forget about Christ, about the Mother of God, and so that we would voluntarily fall into his hands. May this not happen to us who are witnesses of the miracle of the appearance of Sretenky Monastery, who are participants in the Meeting of the Mother of God. Let us look to our predecessors, holy people, and imitate them, and look to our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and may He have mercy upon our souls.


Hieromonk Ignaty (Shestakov)
Translation by Jesse Dominick


1 This homily was delivered in 2018, when the feast of the Vladimir Icon coincided with the Sunday of All Saints.—Trans.

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