The Kontakion to the Cross hails it as “Weapon of peace and unconquerable standard of victory.” These seemingly paradoxical words came to my mind as I read this remarkable story by Archimandrite Ambrose Pogodin from the current Orthodox Life (January-February 2013). ¶ Even though the story is long for a blog post, I give it here in full with the kind permission of the publisher, Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville NY. Do your soul a favor and subscribe to this edifying journal. (Subscribe here. $22 annually in the US.)
One of my parishioners told me the story of his cross. Here it is in his own words.
I was born in the USSR. My father was the chairman of a kolhoz and my mother was a schoolteacher. My father was a Communist Party member, while my mother was a leader in the komsomol. I was raised in the spirit of materialism. My grandmother was the only religious one. When no one was at home, as we huddled together on the stove, she taught me to pray; and, to tell the truth, what she told me was much closer to my heart and understanding than that which I heard from my parents. My grandmother — who, as I later found out, baptized me without my parents’ knowledge — died when I was still quite young. Yet those few prayers that she had taught me remained etched in my memory for a long time, as among the few beautiful things that I chanced to experience in my younger years. Yes, perhaps these were the only beautiful things in my life.
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