Today’s my angel day… my name day… my saint’s day. It’s a common enough name… it’s not unusual in the least, there’s a legion of Barbaras out there today, and there’s countless more in the Heavenly Home (including St Varvara the New Martyr of Russia, the companion of St Yelizaveta, who died with her in the mine at Alapaevsk). Here’s something a dear friend sent me:
Today, we commemorate St Barbara on the Orthodox Church Calendar. Traditionally the faithful invoke her prayers as a safeguard against unexpected accidents and death. For this reason, she’s the patroness of coal miners and “all who toil in the bowels of the Earth”. In a Romanian salt mine, the workers carved and chiselled a beautiful, large, and fully functional church dedicated in her honour. If you attend almost any Russian, Carpatho-Russian, or other Slav church in the industrial Northeast US, you very well may notice icons or stained glass windows of St Barbara. My own parish has these, and there’s a Sisterhood under her protection. Carpatho-Russians came to the US “for a better life”, but, in the beginning, the emigrants often wound up worse off than they were in Europe; they worked like animals digging coal for pennies a day, enslaved to the Company. Not until the rise of the IWW and its support from the Orthodox clergy did things improve… Toiling in such misery, devoid of labour law protection, chased by hunger and sudden death deep in the Earth, is it any wonder that St Barbara and her heavenly aid became so dear to these, our Orthodox American forebears? The next time you’re in a church and see a memorial of some kind commemorating St Barbara, say a prayer of thanksgiving for the sacrifices and sufferings of our Russian forefathers and mothers. They had it so tough. They left us so much. Let’s ask St Barbara to help make us worthy of their legacy! Even if you have no ethnic ties to these people, you have spiritual ties to them. Their contribution to Orthodoxy in North America touches all of us to this day.
Holy Great Martyr Barbara Pray to God for Us!
This is the real deal. It’s why we have to continue the fight today. Our Orthodox forebears fought the good fight… it’s why our generation was blessed with prosperity. At present, the GOP and the teabaggers are trying to smash everything that our Orthodox grandparents won through a hard and arduous struggle. Don’t forget their legacy… it’s our past! Ask for St Barbara’s intercessions… she’ll point to our grandparents and say to us, “Do likewise”. That’s what we should do… it’s how we can honour not only their legacy, but Christ’s mandate to us to build a fair and just society. God wills it!
Now, for all you other Barbaras out there… Happy Angel Day! May God grant thee many, many, years!
Friday 17 December 2010