An account from L.Veremeichuk

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Letter from our Parishioner

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! God's world is filled with miracles and signs, and it is only because of our hardness of heart and our sinfulness that we do not always see them. But here I, who am sinful and unworthy, experienced miracles that were impossible not to notice. Those miracles are connected with God-chosen martyr, brother Joseph.

I live in Russia, in a Moscow suburb. It was a misfortune that brought me to America. My daughter, who lives in the USA, had cancer. To a mother, what could possibly be more terrifying, than her child's tragedy? I will not describe all of my feelings; I will only mention that on learning of the awful diagnosis, I quickly arranged with the Embassy for an exit visa, gave my employer notice, received a blessing from my priest, and without delay took a flight to America. On arriving, I received the detailed information that pulled the ground from under my feet: third stage cancer, a large malignant tumor, cancer present in three lymph nodes. I arrived in December. Before Great Lent (2007 – Ed.), my daughter, her 13 month old son, and I went to church to receive Communion. Fr. Victor's homily astonished me. His words entered into my soul, so that I truly wanted to enter the Great Days of Lent with love for God and men, with a humble heart and a repentant soul. Batiushka also talked of how important reading religious books was for the soul. I felt with all my heart that I could help my daughter only through prayer and obedience. I asked Olga Tolskaya, a parishioner, to give me some religious literature to read. She brought me about three years' issues of "Orthodox Life," your parish's monthly periodical. I would read those magazines each evening after prayers. From them I gained religious knowledge, familiarized myself with the parish's God-pleasing charitable work, and learned about brother Joseph, custodian of the Myrrh-streaming Montreal Icon, about whom, to my shame, I had known nothing. Brother Joseph's martyric death so astonished me that I as I read about him, I constantly wept. Brother Joseph's sanctity planted yet another hope in my heart. I felt that the prayers of martyr brother Joseph would help me entreat the Lord to heal my daughter. I should mention that in Russia, many priests were praying for my daughter, and Archpriest Viatcheslav Ogureev sent me a small amount of Myrrh ([I send them] a mother's enormous thanks!). Of the Myrrh sent to me by Fr. Viatcheslav, only very little remained, and a lengthy course of treatment - chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy – lay ahead. I began to ask brother Joseph to help my daughter Maria. I knew that while on earth, he had fervently prayed for everyone who asked, and that, now, before the Throne of God, he would accept a mother's prayer and bring it to the Lord. I asked brother Joseph as [I would] a blood relative who knows us well and who loves both me and my daughter, and suffers along with us over our sins. Another thing: I very much wanted some Myrrh from the Montreal Icon of the Mother of God. I remembered that he had once offered a woman a lot of cotton steeped in Myrrh; although she had not asked for it, she was very grateful to receive the unexpected gift. I thought about the fact that that woman did not need it as much as I did! Every day I would pray to brother Joseph, but I never asked him for Myrrh. After all, the Icon had disappeared, so where could you get any of the Myrrh? However, I could not get that fortunate woman out of my mind. I so much wanted to have been in her place! I wanted to get a piece of cotton with Myrrh for my daughter! Lord, I thought, "If only brother Joseph would appear in a dream and anoint my daughter."

On the eve of the operation, I telephoned some priests and parishioners of my acquaintance in Russia, and asked for their help in prayers. I made a similar request in a call to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington. By God's providence, matushka Maria picked up the phone. She asked about the diagnosis and about where they would perform the operation. She promised that she and Fr. Victor would pray for my daughter. In the evening, matushka Maria called to say that she would bring us some myrrh from the Montreal Icon of the Mother of God! As I waited for matushka Maria, I was so nervous that my arms and legs trembled. I would endlessly go into the house and again go outside. How could one not be nervous? Brother Joseph was sending me Holy Myrrh via matushka Maria!

Matushka did not just bring Myrrh. She brought icons of the Montreal Iveron Mother of God and of brother Joseph, as well as prayers, akathists, books and a film about brother Joseph. Great holy things, precious gifts. Dear brothers and sisters! Here in America, for me a foreign land, but one that through God's providence had become my grandson's homeland, I encountered so much love and prayerful assistance from so many Orthodox people - first and foremost from matushka Maria – that I came to understand with particular intensity, that the Lord is everywhere and that His grace exists in every place.

To the end of my days, I will pray to God for the health of matushka Maria and Fr. Victor.

My daughter's operation was a success, and we very much hope that with God's help my daughter will be healed of this difficult disease.

Miracles related to brother Joseph remain with me. Each day, the living image of brother Joseph looks out at me from his icon, and guides me through life. Before the Holy Icon, I would piously and very sparingly anoint my daughter with the Myrrh that matushka Maria had brought me. Suddenly one day after morning prayers, I sensed that I needed to anoint my grandson with the Myrrh. For a long time, I fought that feeling: after all, my grandson was well, and I needed the Myrrh for my sick daughter. However, the thought of anointing my grandson came back to me, again and again. I took the cotton, and with the words "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,"I made the sign of the Cross on his little forehead. Right after that, we went for a walk. My son-in-law was standing talking to a neighbor next to a car near the house. He did not see my grandson run toward the trunk. With his back to the trunk, my son-in-law reached out and slammed the trunk closed. The trunk lid crashed down on my grandson’s head with such force that everyone standing nearby heard the sound. Terrified, I ran to my grandson, who ran off to play as if nothing had happened. The only thing he suffered was a reddish mark on his temple where the trunk lid had slammed down on him, and even that quickly faded away.

I had long been aware that with God there are no coincidences. It was no accident that in those difficult days in my life, brother Joseph, a holy man of prayer, one who had compassion over my sins, came into my sinful life.

Among the holy faces
Upon my Icon Screen,
Is beloved brother Joseph –
A great man of prayer
He anoints us foolish sinners
With Myrrh from Heaven
He shows to those who ask him
A pathway to the Lord.

Matushka Maria gave me the remarkable book The Montreal Myrrh-streaming Icon and Brother Joseph. From that book I learned that brother Joseph used to say that when someone was sick, the Lord would visit him. Brother Joseph strengthened me [with the knowledge that] after all, with God, nothing can frighten me!

Dear brothers and sisters! I will take with me back to Russia memories of your parish, in which true Orthodox Faith reigns. (...)

I wish Fr. Victor, matushka Maria, and all of the parishioners spiritual and physical health, God’s mercy and the grace of the Holy Spirit..

May every parishioner feel the great prayerful help of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco and Holy New Martyr brother Joseph.

With love in the Lord,
Liudmila Veremeichuk

Address of our Cathedral

  • 4001 17th St. N.W.,
  • Washington, D.C., 20011

Phone  (202) 726-3000




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