And below this, there is: "The Teachings of St. Ambrose of Optina, (part 2)":
Homily on the Protection of the Mother of God
those who celebrate the commemoration of the miraculous appearance of
the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, nothing could be more joyous
than if we announced that this grace-filled Protection is spread even
over us. But who could be the bearer of these glad tidings? Whose eye is
capable of seeing the Most Holy Intercessor, “in the air, praying to
Christ for us?” There are no obvious mystical seers like blessed Andrew
and Epiphanius among us; and the hidden mysteries known only to the Lord
will remain hidden unto the ages.
we also, standing now in church, are not without a witness. In fact, it
is the most reliable testimony that the Protection of the Most Blessed
Virgin is spread also over us. Who is this witness? Not an earthly
person, not even an angel, but our Protectress herself! With boldness
and surety I say this on Her behalf; for isn’t Her holy and miracle
working icon, which we see in this church, the constant, visible pledge
of Her invisible protection? We know from the history of miracle-working
icons that in times of heaven’s wrath against human sins, these icons
suddenly hid themselves and appeared in other places, or disappeared
entirely. Therefore, as long as our Protectress does not abandon her
place here, as long as she does not deprive her image of the
grace-filled power of working miracles, as long as she receives our
prayers and grants us timely help—we can, despite all our impurity,
maintain a steadfast assurance that we are under her grace-filled
can the Most Blessed Virgin not heed the prayers of those who run to
her with true faith and love? Again I dare to speak in her name: she
cannot! And this inability is what makes up her glory. This, by the way,
is what makes heavenly protectors different from earthly ones—the
earthly ones can protect, or they cannotprotect, even if the one asking for protection is worthy of it. But heavenly protectors cannotnotprotect
the worthy: where there is sincere prayer, there is their help; where
there is faith and love for them, there are they—this for them is a
sacred necessity. Even less can the Mother of God ignore pure prayers,
she cannot refuse to give speedy help, for as a special reward for her
great and unsurpassed service for the salvation of mankind, she has been
given the right as the first Intercessor for all those in need, the joy
and protection of all the sorrowing.
may produce this most treasured surety in the Mother of God’s
protection over us? Carelessness over the work of our salvation?
Fearlessness in violating the law of God? Putting off our repentance
from day to day? No, brothers and sisters, this would be an abuse of
heavenly mercy and an insult in the face of our most holy Protectress.
The most pure of all Virgins cannot offer protection for sins; she only
protects sinners, and only those who repent. Whoever wishes to be always
under her grace-filled Protection must continually distance himself
from every kind of sin; for every sin breaks our union with her. She
prays for you on high, but you must pray for yourself here below; she
protects you through her merits before her Son, but you must array
yourself in merits through faith and love. Otherwise, if we give
ourselves over to sin we will have the same problem as the Israelites
had. Moses received the law from God on Mount Sinai, but they grew bored
during his absence, forged the golden calf at the foot of the mountain,
and starting bowing down to it and making mischief. Seeing this, the
Lord immediately cut off His conversation with Moses and said, Go,
get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of
Egypt, have corrupted themselves… Now therefore let me alone, that my
wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them (Ex.
32:7, 10). Will not her Son and God, Whom it is meet to worship, say
something similar to our most holy Intercessor if we, like the
Israelites, give ourselves over to lawlessness? “You pray and intercede
for them, and I am ready to show all mercy to those for whom I endured
death. But look at what they are doing! While you pray, they are
worshipping the golden calf, offering sacrifices to the idols of their
passion and trampling upon my laws. Where is there room for mercy? They
are bringing wrath upon themselves. They need a punishment to wake them
up and bring them to their senses, and not mercy and consolation. Leave
me be, and in My wrath I will consume them with the fire that they
themselves have kindled.
and sisters, this example, which is both terrible and instructive, was
before that same country of Greece in which the miraculous Protection of
the Mother of God was manifested—which we commemorate today. What signs
of special protection did she not show toward her people? How many
times were the Scyths and Hagarenes defeated by the Victorious Leader
beneath the walls of Constantinople? But when the Mother of God saw that
her protection was not improving those she protected, that they needed
not mercy but instructive punishment, she took her protection away from
them. And three centuries of slavery to the Mohammedans together with
all its attendant forms of humiliation, were barely enough for Greece in
order to regain the Mother of Gods’ Protection, which is now visibly
beginning to spread over the Greek people.
same thing can happen to every soul that does not take care for its
salvation in hope of the Mother of God’s intercession. God’s judgment is
the same in both the small and the great: glory… honor, and peace to
all who do good and to those who repent of their evil, but tribulation
and anguish upon every soul of man that does evil, and remains in evil!
(cf. Rom. 2:9–10).
this, let us run without any doubts to the protection of the Most
Blessed Virgin; but let us not bring our sins to be covered by that
protection, without first cleansing them away with the tears of our
repentance. The Mother of God heals all infirmities, assuages all
sorrows, and covers those very sins, just as soon as they are united
with a heart that is broken over them. But she does not and cannot cover
those hardened in their sins! Amen.
Holy Hierarch Innocent (Borisov), Archbishop of Cherson.
====================================================================================================== Second Sharing, what was shared with me, today:
TEACHINGS OF ST. AMBROSE OF OPTINA (PART 2)
We must begin with thanksgiving for everything. The beginning of joy is to be content with your situation.
beware of complaining, no matter who it is against. Complaining is
worse and more harmful than anything else. It is more beneficial and
peaceful to blame yourself at all times for everything, and not others.
You must especially beware of complaining against Divine Providence
which arranges everything good and beneficial for our souls through the
Mother of God. But due to our faintheartedness, we often are foolishly
disturbed and we grieve senselessly over something arranged for our
self-love interferes and opposes every good deed of ours, spoils it and
corrupts it, and it especially hinders the offering of pure prayer to
egoism and self-love come all misfortunes. They do not like when others
touch us and they get so stirred up that you can’t protect yourself
from their thoughts. They produce disgusting thoughts, like locusts,
that devour not only spiritual fruit, but the leaves and the root
root of all evil: selfishness and stubbornness, mixed with envy and
seasoned with delusion of the enemy. Therefore one must in every way
strive to extract this evil root: with humility and obedience, imitating
the Lord Himself, Who humbled Himself to the form of a servant, and was
obedient unto crucifixion and death on the cross.
whatever you are guilty of before God and man, offer repentance and
humble yourself, do not dare to condemn or judge anyone, but in every
unpleasant situation strive to lay the blame on yourself and not others,
either for your sins or that you caused this sorrow—through
carelessness and inexperience.
everyone to be better than yourself, and reproach and scold yourself in
every way, and do not be ashamed to bow down and ask forgiveness from
your neighbor for your weakness when you have something against him.
Consider every day as possibly your last and, in your thoughts, place
yourself more often at the judgement of God. In your heart unceasingly
say the prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, through the Theotokos have mercy on
me a sinner.”
and delusion in man come from the fact that we do not properly
understand the purpose and will of God concerning ourselves. According
to His goodness and mercy, the Lord wants to give us eternal blessedness
in heaven, in the Heavenly Kingdom, but we, in our blindness seek and
are more desirous of temporal happiness and well-being on earth. So the
Lord, in His goodness and love for the human race, instructs us with
various sorrows, sicknesses, and other misfortunes.
the sun shines all the time, then everything in the field withers;
therefore rain is needed. If it rains all the time, then everything
rots, because wind is needed to aerate everything. And if there is
insufficient wind, then a storm is needed to wash everything away. In a
person, everything happens beneficially at its proper time, because he
continuously happy life produces extremely unhappy consequences. In
nature we see that there are not always pleasant springs and fruitful
summers, and sometimes autumn is rainy and winter cold and snowy, and
there is flooding and wind and storms, and moreover the crops fail and
there are famine, troubles, sicknesses and many other misfortunes. All
of this is beneficial so that man might learn through prudence, patience
and humility. For the most part, in times of plenty he forgets himself,
but in times of various sorrows he becomes more attentive to his
a person endures sorrows with submission to the will of God, while
confessing his sins, through this he will be delivered from the threat
of eternal torments. Therefore, it is better to endure troubles here, no
matter how difficult they may be, casting your sorrow upon the Lord and
praying to Him with humility, that He deliver us from faintheartedness
and despair, which are worse than any other sins.
you see that you are depressed, do not forget to reproach yourself.
Recall how much you are guilty of before the Lord and before yourself,
and admit that you are not deserving of anything better—and you will
immediately feel relief.
is the grandfather of despondency, and laziness is the daughter. In
order to drive it away, exert yourself at work, do not be lazy at
prayer; then boredom will pass and zeal will come. And if you add
patience and humility to this, you will spare yourself from much evil.
GIVING THANKS TO GOD
in a Christian is such a great thing that, along with love, it
accompanies him into the future life, where he will celebrate the
eternal Pascha with the righteous.
is foolish to think that wealth or abundance, or even moderate means
would be advantageous or possibly reassuring. The rich worry even more
than the poor and impoverished. Poverty and being in want are closer to
humility and to salvation if only one who is poor does not become
fainthearted, but with faith and hope relies on the all-good Providence
of God. Until this day the Lord has fed us, and He has the power to do
so in the future.
Abundance and plenty can spoil people. As they say, even animals can become crazy from being too fat.