Holy Matushka Olga

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
Holy Matushka Olga,
and other Signs of our Lord’s Love
9th Sunday after Pentecost
9 August, 2009
1 Corinthians 3:9-17 ; Matthew 14:22-34

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we are with our Lord as He is coming, walking on the water towards His apostles. We have seen how He has dismissed the crowds after He had been feeding them and teaching them. Now His disciples are afraid. Of course, we do not regularly (or even ever) see someone walking on the water. In His characteristic way, our Lord says : “‘It is I; do not be afraid’”. The Apostle Peter then says : “‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water’”. Our Saviour says : “’Come’”. The Apostle Peter does walk on the water. However, he notices that the waves around him are rough and choppy, and it is because he takes his attention away from the Saviour that he begins to sink. He says immediately : “‘Lord, save me’”. The Saviour reaches out His hand and lifts him up.

This is such an important lesson for each one of us. Very often as we are passing through our lives, we encounter all sorts of difficulties, and sometimes very painful events. Very often we are saying : “O Lord, why did You do this to us ?” We are like this : we immediately blame God for everything that goes wrong. However, if we are going to grow up and be mature Christians, our attitude has to be different. We have to understand that if we are in this world with Christ, there will be opposition to us because darkness opposes the Light. If we understand that we are in such a position, that is the time to cry out to the Lord : “Help me. Save me, O Saviour”. At other times, negative spiritual pressures are arriving, not because we are so good ourselves in our lives, but because we sometimes invite this by deliberately turning our eyes away from the Lord (either because we are lazy or because we are afraid). Then it is most important to call out to the Saviour, and, in this case we have to say more than just : “Save me, O Saviour”. I think we have to say as well : “I am sorry. Save me, O Saviour”. However it is, our lives must be focussed on Jesus Christ, and Him only. This is because the Lord is love, and He loves you and me. He is the Giver of life, and the Giver of light to you and to me.

Today, we are celebrating the memory of two persons whose lives were consumed with love for Jesus Christ. These are two persons who in their lives give the example of having received freely, and of giving freely. The first is the Great Martyr and Unmercenary Physician, Panteleimon. Through his prayers, people are to this day being healed by the Saviour. I know one person who is here today who one time was called by Saint Panteleimon from his icon so that Saint Panteleimon could bring the Lord’s healing.

The other memory that we are keeping today is that of Saint Herman of Alaska. On this day is celebrated his glorification. In a few hours (because of the time difference), Metropolitan Jonah will be serving the Feast on Spruce Island, in Alaska. Earlier this week, Metropolitan Jonah was in a part of Alaska that is quite far north. In the course of this past week in the e-mail reports, I saw that His Beatitude was serving a Panikhida for Matushka Olga Michael in the village of Kwethluk, an Aboriginal village. Matushka Olga was a midwife when she was alive. As she was living as a widow (and even when her husband was living), she was caring for needy children. She was making clothes for needy children, and she was also making food for children. Particularly with the food, she was very sensitive about the dignity of the children. She was making the food, and leaving it where the children could take it and not feel that it was being given to them, somehow. She was a very compassionate woman, a spiritual descendant of Saint Herman. Since her death, many people are finding that the Lord is healing them through her prayers. This is happening not only in Alaska, but also in the United States where she has become very well known. She is helping many women who have trouble with childbirth, with children, and with their husbands, also. Matushka Olga has been very helpful with her prayers since she has gone to the Lord.

There were many hundreds of people participating in the Panikhida last week. It was written that after “Memory Eternal”, the people spontaneously began to sing many different hymns of Pascha. It was also written that during the Panihkida (which happened in the Temple), there were only three candles lit in the Altar beyond the Metropolitan, but during the Panikhida the actual light there was very, very much stronger than would be provided by only three candles. I am saying all this because I have been speaking about how the Lord loves us. In these days when we are having so many difficulties in our lives as Orthodox Christians, the Lord is showing signs such as this through simple persons like Matushka Olga so that we will remember that He does indeed love us. The Lord truly is with us. He cares about us. This is why He is healing people through the prayers of Matushka Olga. This is why he is healing people through the prayers of Saint Herman of Alaska. This is why He is healing people through the prayers of Saint Panteleimon.

With the Apostle Peter, let us reach out our hand to our Saviour, accept His love, and allow Him to heal our hearts and give us strength to stand on the stormy seas of our life. May our Saviour enable us to stand with peace and joy, and with our whole lives glorify Him, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.