Orthodox Christian Saints
All the saints, who became fools for Christ were often admired and venerated by the people while still alive, following their repose their veneration seemed to only increase in the eyes of the public. The cause for this is their closeness to the people. Xenia of St.Petersburg - a saint, who is known not only to the Orthodox. People ask for her help and protection throughout the world. There have also been known miracles from her icons and oil that has been blessed on her relics. Even our convent is connected with the name of saint Xenia. The very first church opened by the convent was a small home chapel on the grounds of the boarding home number 3 for the elderly and disabled, where for over 20 years the brothers and sisters of the sisterhood have taken an active part in helping the residents of the boarding home.
And so, on the eve of this wonderful feast day, I asked several of our brothers and sisters to remember something wonderful, that happened to them while visiting and helping at the boarding home:
The Truly Blessed
My first visit to the “adult” boarding home was actually on the feast day itself (February 6th).Two years earlier, I got to know about the convent and the boarding home through a book called “A Different World”, which talks about the boarding home and about its unique residents. It took me only two hours to read the book but these two hours engulfed me into the ministry and life of the St. Elisabeth Convent. The words “truly blessed” came to mind and I must admit that not without envy.
Miracles did not bypass me. While some may see nothing special in this, for me it was very important and even amazing. At the boarding home, one of the residents came up to me and gave me a big hug (they are in fact very open, very compassionate people with warm and honest hearts) and began to speak and ask about things that he could not know about. He spoke about the passing of his grandmother and the sorrow that lives somewhere deep inside, about the house that burned and about his uncle who used to drink. I believed every single word said to me and at the same time, revering how natural and simple everything seemed to be. Nevertheless, most of all I found it very comforting.
Archpriest Nickolas was one of the residents of the boarding home. When he still had the strength, he would put on his cassock, commemorate the living and the dead and help in the church. People would ask for his blessing and he would not refuse them the blessing but he would always refuse twin sisters Olga and Elena for some reason. When father Nickolas got sick and could no longer help, as he did before, the sister of mercy would visit him and bring him food, which he did not need but would eat anyways – out of obedience. Then the twins also came to him. They were just about to finish their studies at the university and got an offer to travel and work in Africa. The two sisters kept this offer a secret from everyone in fear of needless discussions and rumors.
Meanwhile Father Nickolas was eating and mumbling something. Suddenly, amidst all this the two sisters heard clear words directed to them:
– Africa, no, do not go to Africa…
One of the white sisters (not monastic) of mercy wanted to get married. She look up to and prayed to Saint Xenia to help her by going to the church services at the chapel of the boarding home. Evidently, her prayers were answered. She was standing in the chapel as usual and one of the residents of the boarding home comes up to her and Sais:
- Youre going to get married very soon…
The sisters looked at him with joy. He he continued while pointing to his tie:
- …and I am the groom.
Here an interesting story: one of the sisters of mercy who visits the boarding home is named Xenia. The patients always ask the sister to bring them sugar, tea, sweets, art supplies and letters. She would always oblige and bring what is necessary. They in turn would tell others that Xenia brings those pencils, paper, and candy and brings everything that we ask of her. For quite some time many began to think that Saint Ksenia herself visits the sick and brings them “everything they ask for”.
Sister Xenia admits that there is some truth in this because whenever the residents of the boarding home ask her for something someone would mysteriously either donate money or specific items that they ask for.
A Clear Sky
Some sisters believe that by the prayers of the sick, even the weather can change. Aleksei, who deeply loves Katia, diligently prayed because they had stay inside due to freezing weather outside. Because of this, they could not see each other and could not stand to be apart. Very soon, as if an answer to Aleksei’s prayers, the cold weather stepped aside and flowers began to appear around the convent.
I remember another moment, in early spring. After feeling exhausted from a long winter we were walking with the residents after liturgy and taking them back to the boarding home. Light sleet was falling from the sky and there were many puddles around us. In my heart, I asked the patients of the boarding home to pray, so that we could see even a glimpse of the sun. And what do you know, in about an half an hour through the small cracks of the clouds we could see the clear blue sky and the shining spring sun!
We will never let you go
“One time I came to the boarding home in a troubled state of mind with deep feelings of sadness. As I was attending the service, trying to pray, little Katia comes up to me and starts to hug me repeatedly. I also embraced her took her by the hand and we began to sing and pray together but the feeling of sadness is still bothering me. Suddenly Katia turns to me and says, “We will never let you go. We love you very much!”
Saint and Sinner
Me and another sister of mercy are roommates and we both visit the sick at the boarding home. Once, after visiting the residents she told me about a dialogue between two of the residents where one says to the other:
- I drink holy water and partake in the Holy Mysteries.
So I must be a saint.
The second resident, is certain that they can not be saints and that they are sinners. And so the “saint” keeps turning away from the “sinner” not wanting to list to him. At the same time one of the sisters was reading the words of the prayer “Lord, Have mercy on me a sinner”. And the second resident joyfully raises his head gently taps the first resident and proclaims.
An Ordinary Miracle
There are many extraordinary stories. I think that every person who visits the boarding home and its blessed residents has a story or a miracle, something interesting or unique to tell about. But we must all be sure in one thing: the residents need the sisters and brothers as much as the brothers and sisters need the residents of the adult boarding home, who teach each and everyone one of us such virtues as patience, love, and purity of heart. Most importantly the joy and happiness that we have each other.
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- ▼ February (6)