WELCOMING SPEECH DELIVERED BY ARCHBISHOP TIKHON
AT THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD LESNINSKY MONASTERY UPON THE GLORIFICATION OF HOLY CATHERINE OF LESNA
Translated by Seraphim Larin
Dear brethren-hierarchs, Mother Superior Makrina and her sisters of the Holy Lesninsky Monastery, fathers, brothers and sisters!<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
How many years have we – especially you cenobites of this monastery, prayed for the repose of the soul of your ever memorable Mother Superior Catherine. In praying, we continually felt in the depths of our souls that it wasn’t we that had to invoke God about her, but having gained grace, Saint Catherine was standing before God’s Altar in Heaven and was praying to her Creator for us sinners. Now, the day has finally arrived when we in one voice and one heart have magnified in song the founder of the Lesninsky Monastery and the mentor of this woman’s monasticism, Blessed Mother Catherine.
Today, we turn to her because she is next to us – she continues her duties as Mother Superior of this monastery, only on a different level, in the spiritual world. She is our spiritual mother and mentor because she never stopped praying for us – never neglected her monastery and will never cease unto the end of time, her concernment for her spiritual children and sisters of the Holy Lesninsky Monastery. And this spiritual feast in which we are participating in for the second day, is also the fruit of our Blessed Mother Catherine’s prayers before God’s Altar.
While her way was similar to the lifestyle of many other nuns and monastics, at the same time it was quite unique. Like all Orthodox monks and nuns, she passed through the training procedures in prayers, humility, monastic ascesis, and taught this to others. However, there was something special in her life, which in his time Saint Ambrose of Optina named “new activity”: “New monastery – build it in a new way”, said the Starets as he gave her his blessing for the establishment of the monastery. In her “new” monastery, after the practice of prayers, educational and charitable activities received top priority. Endowed with considerable pedagogic talents and experience, Matushka saw the essentiality of promoting learning, implant a living and conscious approach to God. We are quite aware how much effort has been expended by her and the monastery in the fields of education and benevolence.
How today our Church lacks such devotees – active, energetic, erudite and truly enlightened people! Akin to the Evangelical lamps in the hands of the wise virgins, they illuminate our lives and inspire others with their inexhaustible energy, steadfast reliance on God’s help and joyful service to Him. How this is needed by all of us at this time – to be able to convert our God-given abilities toward God’s work, to apply all our strength to enhance our Church and offer ourselves to this service with joy and deep understanding of our obligations – just as Saint Matushka Catherine had done.
This dynamic disposition, implanted by Matushka Catherine, is today quite perceptible in the Holy Lesninsky Monastery. Although on a smaller scale – inasmuch as times have changed – the monastery continues its missionary, enlightening and charitable works with confidence and commitment. May the Lord help you dear Matushka Makrina and your sisters of the Holy Lesninsky Monastery, to preserve the covenants left by the ever memorable Mother Superior Catherine, now Conciliary glorified by Christ’s Church and included in the realm of the Saints!
May the Lord allow us to perpetually remember her holy life, and in emulating her, strive toward a joyful and active and operative service to our Creator and Lord – to be a lamp in this world so that in seeing our deeds, people will praise our Heavenly Father!
Mat our Saint Matushka – Mother Superior Catherine help us along this path through her inexhaustible intercession for us before God. Let us call upon her with a pure heart and entire soul:
“Saint mother Catherine, pray for us!”