St Matrona, the Blind of Moscow

St Matrona the Blind of Moscow

Wednesday April 1, 2020 / March 19, 2020

Fifth Week of the Great Lent. Tone eight.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Martyrs Chrysanthus and Daria, and those with them at Rome: ClaudiusHilariaJasonMaurusDiodorus presbyter, and Marianus deacon (283). St. Sophia of Slutsk and Minsk (1612). St. John confessor (1932). St. Matrona (1938). Venerable Symeon of the Pskov Caves (Glorification 2003). Venerable Innocent of Komel (Vologda), disciple of St. Nilus of Sora (1521). Martyr Pancharius at Nicomedia (302). Venerable Bassa, nun, of Pskov (1473). Venerable Simeon, prior of the monastery Dajbabe (1941) (Serbia). The Smolensk “Tenderness” Icon of the Mother of God (1103

The Scripture Readings

Isaiah 41:4-14 (6th Hour)
Genesis 17:1-9 (Vespers, 1st Reading)
Proverbs 15:20-16:9 (Vespers, 2nd Reading)

The Blind Saint With Sight: St. Matrona of Moscow
(1885-1952)

    

The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.     (James 5:16)

She was blind from birth, but from a very young age Blessed Matrona was filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit to be able to clearly see the sins and passions and even the thoughts of people who came to her. Born totally without eyes she was blessed with the ability to foretell future events.   This simple, illiterate woman, born in a remote Russian village in a poor peasant family is now known and honored throughout Russia as a powerful intercessor before the Lord and a worker of miracles but is less well known here in America.

The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.     (James 5:16)

She was blind from birth, but from a very young age Blessed Matrona was filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit to be able to clearly see the sins and passions and even the thoughts of people who came to her. Born totally without eyes she was blessed with the ability to foretell future events.   This simple, illiterate woman, born in a remote Russian village in a poor peasant family is now known and honored throughout Russia as a powerful intercessor before the Lord and a worker of miracles but is less well known here in America.

Blessed Matrona was born in the village of Sebeno, about 300 kilometers south of Moscow in 1885.  She was the fourth child born into a poor family and was initially seen as another unwelcome  mouth to feed.  Prior to her birth, her mother decided to send her to an orphanage in the nearby village of Buchalki but she had a dream in which she felt a sign from God to accept and care for the child.  Matrona’s family lived directly across from the village church and were a pious family and all frequently attended services.  Matrona especially loved the church services and spent most of her time there, literally “growing up” in the church.  There in the church she stood, riveted to one spot,  immersing herself in the worship, learning by memory all of the hymns and prayers of the divine services.   Even as a young child,  before she learned to talk, her parents at times discovered her, in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, pulling the icons from the  family icon corner and speaking to them in her childish language. 

Blessed Matrona always emphasized that it was the power of God , and not her own that brought healing to anyone:  “What, Matrona is God?  Is that it?  It is God that helps!”   She always prayed in a loud voice and insisted that the people who came to her have faith in God and repent of their sins. She required that everyone who came to her wear a cross throughout their lives.   She herself followed the same, strict pattern throughout her life:  she devoted her nights to prayer and her days to receiving visitors, sometimes up to forty a day.  A tiny woman, she usually sat on her bed cross-legged, while visitors knelt before her bed.  Matrona would reach out her hands and with her fingertips touch her visitors head and make the Sign of the Cross over them and pray for them, giving a word of consolation or advice as needed.  With her love and compassion for people she held them in her arms and prayed for them as they sobbed in pain and despair.   It is said that she had a small depression on her forehead made by her fingers because she made the Sign of the Cross so frequently, slowly and carefully.  

St Matrona the Blind of Moscow

Her Significance

The life of St. Matrona reminds us that all of us are called to a life of holiness and that this is possible for all of us.  She was not a nun, never attended a seminary, in fact was an illiterate,  peasant woman yet was so filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit that she was able to see people’s needs and sins, predict the future, and perform countless miracles even after her death.  The Bible teaches that when a person is cleansed of their sinful passions and is filled with the Holy Spirit the presence of the Spirit produces certain “gifts” or “fruit”.  These include the ability to read the hearts of people, perform miracles,  predict future events…  (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11) as well as characteristics of love, joy,  peace, patience, kindness… (see Galatians 5:22)

Why is it that we do not have people like her among us in America today?  Where are these people who can predict the future and perform miracles?  St. Matrona was immersed, she was “marinated” in the divine services of the Church, spending countless hours in her village church along with hours daily of her own private prayer.  What are we in America immersed or marinated in?  To what do we devote our time?  Television, internet, Facebook, movies, magazines, shopping….   The Bible also describes the “fruit” of this type of immersion:  adultery, fornication, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissension…  (see Galatians 5:19)     Which do you prefer in your life, the fruit which St. Matrona had or the fruit of this world?

American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church Reading Room

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY MARTYRS CHRYSANTHUS AND DARIA

Saint Chrysanthus counsels Daria:

“O virgin, forsake the lie,

And do not venerate the idols as gods;

Neither seek truth from the world.

The truth is in the One God,

The One Triune God

Who created the celestial armies

Of angels and the heavenly powers;

Who created the whole universe,

With man as its crown.

The only One, immortal and living:

He, out of the earth, creates wrappings

And the clothing of spiritual wealth.

Our soul is spiritual wealth,

Wrapped up in the dust of the body.

The soul should be tenderly nurtured

As a bride, to make ready for Christ.

Forsake, O virgin, the bodily:

It leads to suffering and sorrow.

God does not look at the vessel of the flesh,

But at the flower which grows in it.

O virgin, clothed in death,

Today, tomorrow consumed by death:

Adorn your soul with the flower of virtues,

Sow the flower with faith in the Lord,

Enclose it with hope and love,

Water it with the Life-creating Spirit,

Weed it of the weeds of sins,

Let grow the flower of virtues,

Let grow the flower of piety,

Let grow the flower of charity,

Let grow the flower of repentance,

Let grow the flower of patience,

Let grow the flower of abstinence,

Let grow the flower of obedience.

Your soul is like a hymn of Paradise:

Let it smell like a garden in May,

And may God dwell in it,

For that is what He made it for.”

Daria heeded Chrysanthus;

She wedded her soul to Christ

And submitted her body to torture

With Chrysanthus, her spiritual brother.

And God transplanted them to Paradise;

With them He adorned the garden of Paradise.


REFLECTION

“The mercy [of God] that raises us up after we have sinned is even greater than the mercy by which He gave us being, when we did not yet exist. Glory, O Lord, to Thine immeasurable mercy!” Thus speaks St. Isaac the Syrian. He means that greater is the mercy that God showed toward us when, through Christ, He saved us from the corruption of sin and death, than when He created us from nothing. Truly, it is so. Even earthly parents show greater mercy to a perverted and fallen son when they embrace him again, forgive him all, make him civilized, cleanse him, heal him, and again make him their heir, than when they gave him birth. When the young Pancharius, surrounded by royal honors, denied Christ, his mother wrote him a letter full of pain and sorrow. “Do not be afraid of men,” wrote his mother, “but it is essential to fear God’s judgment. You should have confessed your faith in Christ before emperors and lords and not have denied Him. Remember His words: Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven (Matthew 10:33). Being ashamed of himself, the son accepted the advice of his mother, confessed his faith in Christ before the emperor, and died a martyr’s death for Christ in order to live with Him eternally. And so the blessed mother of Pancharius brought about a new birth for her son, a spiritual birth more important than the first, physical birth.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord Jesus on the Cross:

1. How He suffered in agony on the Cross;

2. How He was given vinegar and gall to drink when He said He was thirsty;

3. How those men beneath the Cross, insensitive in their selfishness, did not care about Him but were vying for His garments.

HOMILY

on the sign of the Son of Man

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven” (Matthew 24:30).

What kind of sign will the sign of the Son of Man be, which had once been revealed briefly? It is the Cross, brighter than the sun, which manifested itself over Jerusalem before the coming of an early personification of the Antichrist, Julian the Apostate. And, in lieu of any homily concerning this miraculous sign, it is worthwhile to quote here the letter of St. Cyril of Jerusalem written to Emperor Constantius, the son of Constantine the Great and predecessor of Julian the Apostate. A portion of his letter reads: “For in these very days of the Holy Feast of Pentecost, on the seventh of May, about nine o’clock in the morning, a gigantic cross formed of light appeared in the sky above holy Golgotha, stretching out as far as the holy Mount of Olives. It was not seen by just one or two but was most clearly displayed before the whole population of the city. Nor did it, as one might have supposed, pass away quickly like a mirage, but it was visible above the earth for some hours, while it shone with a light greater than the sun’s rays. Surely, it would have been eclipsed by them, had it not exhibited to those who saw it a brilliance more powerful than the sun, so that the whole population of the city made a sudden concerted rush into the the church, being seized by fear mingled with joy at the heavenly vision. They poured in, young and old, men and women of every age, even the most secluded virgins, local inhabitants and strangers, Christians and pagans from other lands.  All of them with one soul, as if with one mouth, raised a hymn of praise to the Woinderworker, Christ Jesus our Lord, the Only-begotten Son of God, and indeed learned by experience that pious Christian teaching is to be found not in enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power (1 Corinthians 2:4), and not only preached by man but also attested to from the heavens by God (Hebrews 2:3-4)… We consider it our obligation not to remain silent about this heavenly vision, but to inform Your God-glorified Reverence. Therefore I have hastened to fulfill this intention through this letter.”

O my brethren, everything is possible with God: both to reveal the created to man and to create the uncreated. But most importantly for us is that He wants to redeem our souls from sin and death and to give us life eternal. Let us pray to Him for this, day and night.

O Lord Almighty, To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.