“The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary. How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility.”
-St Ambrose of Optina
-St. Ambrose of Optina (lived 1812-1891) was a clairvoyant Russian monk and staretz (elder) whom thousands of pilgrims came to for pastoral and spiritual advice. Beginning in 1860, he served as the igumen, or spiritual superior, of the renowned Optina Monastery for over thirty years until his death. In 1884 he founded the Shamordino convent, where he pursued a policy of allowing all women to stay who sought spiritual discernment and refuge at the monastery, even the blind and the deaf. He was named in honor of St Ambrose, (lived c. 330-397), venerated by both East and West, a fourth century Doctor of the Church and archbishop of Milan. He profoundly inspired Fyodor Dostoevsky, whose character Fr. Zossima in “Brothers Karamazov” is based off the monk.