Excerpt from the book I Believed From Birth in the Protection of the Mother of God

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by Archpriest Vyacheslav Vinnokov

I have read about the Montreal Iveron Icon of the Mother of God and about its curator Joseph. Many miracles have flowed from this Icon. The Mother of God has never abandoned anyone, and continually intercedes for everyone before the Lord. The following thoughts came to me: We say so much today about schismatics, but we assess the matter by human standards. There are other standards, those of God. Do we heed them, or do we allow them to pass by without hearing them? Do we pay no attention to signs from God? The Mother of God herself visited (what we see as) a schismatic Church, and when Metropolitan Vitaly, head of the Russian Church Abroad, picked up the Holy Icon, the hands of this Church’s rector were covered with Myrrh. Does this not say something?! We read about miracles, we take comfort from them, we pray, we keep the little Icons and the pieces of cotton drenched with holy sweet-smelling Myrrh. We receive healing, while the Icon’s curator, a member of the Church Abroad, remains for us as if in the shadows. Moreover, the Church Abroad seems to be concealed from us. The Mother of God appeared to great Russian saints, to St. Sergius and to St. Seraphim… And the Mother of God chose Joseph, a former Catholic, a child of the Church Abroad, to be curator of her miraculous Icon. Can we continue to remain obstinate, and not see the Hand of God here? Clearly, the Mother of God visited that Church, its rector, and those who attend it. How many countries and cities did blessed Joseph (the evidence of his sanctity is his martyric death) visit with that Holy Icon over the course of 15 years? Yet the Mother of God did not visit us and our Russian land with that Icon. We can say that we have many Myrrh-streaming Icons, and this of course speaks of the grace in the Russian Church, but after all the Myrrh-streaming Montreal Icon of the Mother of God speaks to us of the grace in the Church Abroad. The Mother of God unites us, but we on either side remain obstinate.

And so, her Icon has disappeared, its curator Joseph is no more, and we have not touched that Holy Icon, we have not bowed down before her in our land, and we have remained orphans. A divine sign of unity was given, and we did not understand it. We let it go by because of other matters which we considered more important. I think that both they and we should fall down on our knees before the Mother of God and ask forgiveness of her, our intercessor. Perhaps she will forgive, have mercy, and will not reject us We are her children, and children can be unwise… We hope only in her forgiveness, for we are entirely guilty in all.

Rejoice, O Blessed Keeper of the Portal, who openest the gates of paradise!

(pages 118-119)

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