23. Crosses carved deep within us

We wear our crosses, have icon corners, and hold on to our prayer ropes. These are visible signs of our faith, our profession of Christ before the others. And yet, not everyone is blessed with this privilege. Some of us carry our faith deep within our hearts, when the circumstances do not permit us to show visible signs of our faith. Our faith is etched deep within, when we pray in silence, in secret, away from the eyes of the world (St Matthew 6:5-6).

During the soviet regime, religion was scorned at, and clerics and nuns were rounded up. Many were killed.

Fr Tikhon told of the story of secret monastics, who took the vows but lived among us, hiding their true vocation from the oppressors. Their crosses were taken away from them, their monasteries destroyed, and they were grilled, tortured, and sent away to labor. Some gave up entirely and got married to live among people, to escape the persecution. But some soldiered on.

Mother Frosya was such an everyday confessor of the faith, who fiercely believed, despite all the oppressing and frightening acts she saw and experienced. She was locked in jail even, before being sent to labor. When their crosses were taken away, they made their own. While some people complained to the soviet officials about these home-made crosses, the officials did not bother, knowing these nuns would simply keep making crosses to wear again if those were taken away.

When Mother Frosya asked Mother Maria when they could return to their monastery, Mother Maria, a holy woman, told Mother Frosya and the rest that they could return to a monastery, where they would not be known by their names, but by numbers. And Mother Maria even prophesied the number “338” as Mother Frosya’s number. And true enough, when Mother Frosya went to jail, that was her number.

When we are in the world, one of showiness, one of decay, one of superficiality, let us strengthen one another, pray for one another before God, asking for the intercession of our Most Holy Theotokos, all the martyrs and saints, and the holy angels of God, to strengthen us in times of difficulty, to empower us to keep repenting and keep praying, and to lift up others who have fallen, so that all of us, in the numbered cells we inhabit in our passions and failings, can be reconciled back to God (2 Kings 4:33).

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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