How wonderful wax candles smell. Their scent comforts your mind, and this makes prayer easier. “Lord, I thank Thee, for Thou art the good One Who lovest mankind.”
Evening. Mother has fallen asleep again in front of the TV. It is nice and cozy. A prayer is in your mind: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” There are four of us in our house: myself (a wife, mother, and daughter), my husband, my daughter and my mother. The Lord granted me an opportunity to live together with my mom.
Morning. I wake up and smell freshly brewed coffee. My mother and I adore a half an hour in the early in the morning, when our nearest and dearest are still sleeping and we are enjoying aromatic coffee and talking. Only two of us, coffee, a quiet talk, and comfort. “O Lord, glory to Thee!” And this every day. Happiness.
My mother is a small slender lady who is light on her feet and quick to do many good things. She spoils us and always welcomes us with dinner (which she has ready by our arrival) when we return from work in the evening. I freely ask her for advice in any life situation, knowing that all is happening through her love for us. She is also a wonder-worker and can “give us a kick” in order to motivate us to action (only for the benefit of the family). Life is going on its usual way: quietly, peacefully and comfortably.
Summer. Working in the kitchen garden. I notice that mum is losing weight. “Mama, you have somehow changed. Do you feel well?” “It is summer and hot now, and that is why I am losing weight. But autumn will come, work in the kitchen-garden will end and I will put the weight back on.” And my heart is beating quietly in my chest, “rat-tat-tat.”
Autumn. Mother is losing weight so rapidly that I got frightened and made her undergo a medical examination. She did many tests, but yet more and more questions appeared. At last I had a conversation with the physician, tete-a-tete. He said: “Take courage. Given the rate of the disease development, I assume she has up to a half a year to live…”
My heart is pounding somewhere in my belly: “rat-tat-tat!!!” Mama, mum, mummy! Days follow one another, “rat-tat-tat!” Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! There is no comfort any more.
The coffee is bitter. I need to amuse my mind with something. It is hard to hold prayer… How can I stop the storm of dark thoughts and grumbling? Maybe books? The Heavenly Fire, The Life of Elder Paisios, The Life and Miracles of the Blessed Eldress Matrona… Mama, mum, mummy!!! Lord, have mercy! Yes! Yes! Holy Mother Matrona (‘Matronushka’ in Russian which is a diminutive form of the saint’s name). And a prayer arises in my heart: “My dear Guardian Angel, I thank you for sending me this idea!” “Most Holy Mother of God, bless me!” “Mother Matrona, please help!”
Here is what is written in the book: “Every day thousands of people flock to the holy eldress Matrona of Moscow with their sorrows, needs and petitions! The blessed mother used to say: ‘Everybody come to me and tell me about your sorrows, as if I were alive. I will see and hear you, and I will help you…’”
Autumn days begin. It is still warm enough. And on Friday evening I jump on the train to Moscow. It takes you twelve hours to get from the city of Kazan to Moscow by train. On Saturday morning at 7 o’clock I am already at the Holy Protection Convent in Moscow. And it was there that I understood that it was not easy at all. It snowed for the first time during that autumn spring. Sleet, piercing wind, the queue goes round the church like an endless maze or a “serpentine road” of people. I have light spring shoes on and I slipped a small raincoat over my shoulders. Some people are dressed for the weather: in winter high boots and fur coats. But still many are dressed like me. All are going to Mother Matrona. I get in the queue, shifting from foot to foot and praying for my dear mother’s health. I’m still shifting my feet and getting frozen myself. Soon my feet stop feeling anything, the ice is rising up my legs, pain is spreading upward, the rain is beating in my face…
Two hours pass. I got acquainted with my neighbors in the queue: a mother with a daughter – Irina and Elena. We are shifting from foot to foot and talking. Burning pain starts spreading from my knees all over my body from cold. And now I understand: that is all! I cannot stand it any longer… I call my husband and complain… He is scared and trying to persuade me to leave. My husband loves me and cares for me. This pleasant thought makes me feel a little happier. “Lord, have mercy upon me, give me strength!” Another hour is gone, I was overcome by frost, and my lungs could not breathe any more. I call my sister (her name is Irina, and mine is Elena). Crying, complaining and asking her to support me in my difficult decision to go away: I have no strength at all. Irina is listening, she has a pity for her beloved sister—she is sobbing together with me but keeps silent. She realizes that it is for the sake of the dearest mama, mum, mummy. My neighbors in the queue are listening to my phone calls and are beginning to persuade me to stay: “Let’swait for two or three more hours, and then we will get into the church” (two or three hours! But I will burst like a glass of ice!).
Thank you, Irina and Elena, for your support (may God give you both health and prosperity). The women sent me to another church on the territory; there, near icons and candles, I got warm a little. And I had the good fortune to confess to a priest. I was standing on the spot where confessions took place so when the priest came out I accidentally was the first in the queue. The priest confessed and blessed me.
Here is the last turn of the queue, and I already see the wonderworking icon of St. Matrona straight ahead. All I had in my mind was an entreaty to God—to give health to my mother and to save her life! I am standing by the icon, touching the image of St. Matrona with my forehead, when a sudden and radical change in my consciousness happened and I prayed: “Mother Matrona, I am ready to accept any will of God. If it is time to let my mother go, then let it be so. I am grateful to God for the happiness we were granted. Everything is God’s will.”
I walked away from the icon and thought: how I could have said such words! After all, I came here, queued six hours in freezing cold almost barefoot, and what??? I could not ask for my mother’s health!
So now it was my turn to venerate the holy relics of the eldress. Those who have been there are aware that there are two queues at the convent: one to the icon and another one to the relics. It was warm in the church, which was packed with people. They were “sliding” towards the shrine of Blessed Matrona of Moscow. As I am slowly moving in the crowd, I think, “I must, must ask for my mum’s health. There is still an opportunity.” And here is a wonder! The shrine is all covered with flowers, as if it were a festival—the brilliance was like brightness of the sun. I venerate the holy relics, all in tears, and have the following words in my mind: “Mother Matrona, thank you for all things! Thank you for allowing me to touch you!” And that is all…
I went out of the church, and the sun was shining! The snow was melting, as if there had been no rain!
I came to my sister’s (Irina lives in Moscow). She embraced and kissed me so affectionately! She did not have the slightest doubt that all would go well and all would work out with the help of God.
I warmed myself only in a hot bath. Then I drank hot tea. We spent a marvelous evening talking with each other. Many times I recounted my story: how I queued; talked with Irina and Elena who helped me; how the sun came out and it was warm again; how my prayers and requests changed as soon as I touched the icon and the shrine…
I took a train to Kazan. I bought the only ticket that was available. I had an upper side berth. My neighbor below was a very big man with severe, persistent cough. He even could not lie down and thus was sitting and coughing all the night. There was a child in front of him who could not fall asleep because of his neighbor’s coughing and cried. I had a pity for both of them. It was hard for everyone. I was thinking of the ways of God all the time. To my shame, I then did not know the Creed by heart and would read it using a prayer book. And a miracle occurred: the lines of this prayer one by one arose in my memory! While I was learning one verse, the following came up at once after it—and thus I had learned the prayer by heart by the end of the night. Glory be to God!
On the following day it appeared that I was not ill, though I should have got the flu. Six hours in the freezing cold on the previous day did not affect my health at all! Frankly speaking, already on the train, when I was praying all night long, I believed that the cold would pass. That is another little miracle!
Mother Matrona, a wonderworker and speedy helper, began to intercede at once. I returned from Moscow on Monday. On Wednesday our district’s general practitioner called on my cell phone and invited my mother for an appointment. My mum came together with me. The doctor said to me, “Let us continue our medical check-up.” And here we go again! As my dear mum said, she was even examined upside down. I will never forget that day. I was in the corridor and waiting for my mum to leave another specialist when I saw our local general practitioner running along the corridor and asking the same specialist on the cell phone, “How are things with patient (and pronounces my mother’s name)?” One would think, she (the doctor) was not a relative or close acquaintance and had a whole district of such patients, but she had a sincere concern for my mother. “Glory to God! Mother Matrona, pray for me a sinner!” Finally they found some changes in her thyroid gland (I will not give all details here), the doctor ordered her a course of treatment and prescribed her one medicine per day. And my mother began to recover very quickly.
“Lord, I thank Thee, for Thou art the good One Who lovest mankind!” “Mother Matrona, intercede to my Lord and the Mother of God for me a sinner.”
A year passed. Mama, mum, mummy, by mercy of God and through the prayers of St. Matrona, the miracle-worker, you are with me. I wake up and smell a wonderful aroma, then run to the kitchen and we together drink fragrant coffee and talk. How wonderful wax candles smell during prayer…