The Protection of the Mother of God
Christ is in our Midst, my dear readers!
Today [Friday, October 14] we celebrate the Protection of the Mother of God. This is our only shield. It cannot be penetrated by even the most powerful missile. But in order to take refuge under this shield, we need to enter under it. The Mother of God showed us in herself the greatest example of meekness and humility. And only those who strive with all their strength to be like the Heavenly Queen in this sense can hope to be covered by her Omophorion. On this day in 1943, the city of Zaporozhie was liberated from the fascists. At the prayers of the faithful, the Mother of God helped the city’s defenders be delivered from the occupying forces. War had come to our land as God’s punishment, because for several decades, churches had been destroyed, Christians were killed, and faith was destroyed. Three generations have passed since then. History has begun to repeat itself. Again there are persecutions against the faithful, again they are taking our churches away from us, again there is blasphemy and sacrilege. And again, war has broken out. It is also terrible that despite all these things, people are not running to church to repent before God. If during the Second World War people filled the churches regardless of all the bans against it, now people are acting very differently. In the evening they line up out outside the bomb shelters, but do not rush to church.
What then can we hope for? That they’ll send arms to Ukraine, that someone will add more sanctions against the aggressor, that he’ll get scared and stop warring with us? No, if God is not with us, then no one can help us. And in order to get Him as our ally we need to reject all that the Lord calls abominable. The propaganda of sin, the fomenting of hatred for other people just because their views do not coincide with what the politicians purvey, persecution against God’s Church, and so on… All this is war against God. As long as the powers that be continue to work against the Lord, they will not win this war. The Mother of God love us and prays for us. But what can she do when the people are like those Jews who made themselves an idol while Moses was speaking with God on Mount Sinai? Our main weapon is prayer, faith, hope, love, and repentance. They are stronger than any missile. If we arm ourselves with this, then God will help us overcome the enemy. But if people continue to persist in their sins and hatred, then we are doomed to lose. The choice is ours.
He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6), we heard today [Sunday, October 16] in the apostle Paul’s preaching. Sparingly means literally, “with regret”. That is, when the sower tries not to waste too much seed and instead of handfuls casts only pinches. Of course, you won’t receive a good harvest with such sowing. Our entire life, as the holy fathers teach, is the sowing of seeds. Some don’t sow at all, only gathering the wheat into their storerooms “for a rainy day”. The rest sow however they are able or know how to. We will receive the harvest when we go to God’s judgment. We can sow generously but get tall weeds instead of wheat. There are those to sow out of vainglory, so that people would praise them and exalt them, and write about them on the internet. Some do it for “points”, so that they would be noticed by higher-ups. There isn’t a drop of love in such sowing, and the grain does not sprout. But others sow for Christ’s sake, out of love for Him. These are the people who gather the greatest harvest. St. Seraphim of Sarov himself said that only good deeds done for God’s sake have meaning for the soul’s salvation. The whole essence of our soul is manifested in the little things. There are people who are willing to give away what they don’t need—but that means they need to go somewhere, to search someone out. It’s easier to go to the garbage bin and throw things away than to take the trouble to find someone who needs them. But now there are thousands of people who have lost their homes, their jobs, and everything they had. Winter is just around the corner. Who will help them? The Lord is testing us today on our right to be called Christians. It is enough to put ourselves in the place of a person who yesterday had everything, and this morning has nothing—no money, no home, no clothing. Imagine this situation and ask yourself the question: “What would I want others to do for me in this situation?” We don’t know what lies ahead for us tomorrow; any one of us could find ourselves in the place of these suffering people.
During the years of our country’s independence, teachers did not make it their goal to teach children to be good people. All our education was directed at making the young generation able to make good money in the future. And now we have received the result of this education in a generation of indifferent people, who aren’t interested in anything but their own prosperity. This is worse than war—because when people live in love and harmony with each other, when they know how to have compassion and sympathy for others’ suffering, then they can overcome any sorrow.
The death of the body is not as terrible as the death of the soul. But we can destroy the soul even in peacetime, when we walk over a sick man on the street and keep going. Now we are experiencing a period of life when we have the opportunity to acquire super-profit in the Kingdom of God in the form of an abundant harvest. Strive not to lose this opportunity.