“Today the faithful come to the divine and miraculous image of Theotokos, which quenches the thirst of the hearts of the faithful through the mercy of your Inexhaustible Cup” On May 18th (May 5th) the Orthodox Church commemorates the feast of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Inexhaustible Chalice. This Holy image belongs to the Orans type, referring to the image that is praying which due to the raised hands of the Mother of God and the raised blessing image of Christ inside the chalice.
The origins of the icon “Inexhaustable Chalice” are usually closely connected to the Nicean Mother of God, which is also called “Your Womb Becomes the Holy Table”, an icon that was venerated since the first Ecumenical Council in the forth century.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (John 6:54).The center of the icon is undoubtedly – Christ. He is located inside the Chalice to denote that the only true and unquestionable source for us to be healed and saved is the Lord. The icon reminds us that the Eucharist is in the center of the everyday church life. We must remember that Christ came to us, so that we can become one with him through the Holy Mystery of Communion. This icon is not an exception as many icons lead us to remember this important and vital aspect of our faith. “…but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
The Mother of God revealed this miracle-working icon in the end of the 19th century in Russian. A former soldier was suffering from alcoholism subsequently losing his ability to walk because of his drinking. One night, elder Varlaam appeared to him in his dream and told him to visit a monastery in a town called Serpukhov. There he was to pray and request a moleben in front of the icon of the Mother of God, called the “Inexhaustible
Chalice” so that he would be healed from his physical and spiritual illnesses. The soldier did not listen to the dream right away, but after the elder appeared to him a third time, he was sent “crawling” to the monastery.
As soon as he arrived to the monastery, he told of his dreams and asked to see and pray in front of the Holy Icon. However, no one in the monastery had ever heard of such an icon. Finally, after a long search, an icon was found with an inscription on the back that said “Inexhaustible Chalice”. After praying in front of the newly found icon, the former soldier was healed from his drinking problems and was able to walk again. Since then many faithful Orthodox Christians have prayed in front of the icon in order to ask the Mother of God to help with the illnesses of alcoholism and drug addiction.
Our convent runs a rehabilitation center for people who are going through a difficult time in their life. Many of these people are without shelter, have been recently released from prison, or suffer from alcoholism and drug addictions. The convent provides them with everything necessary to recover, live comfortably and grow spiritually. This includes medicine, clothing food and shelter. All of the residents work under the supervision of the monastics of the convent and engage in daily prayer and church services. They have various obediences including taking care of cattle, growing fruits, and working in various workshops of St. Elisabeth convent.
The rehabilitation center also has a church in honor of the Inexhaustible Chalice. Here all of these people can quench their thirst at the Inexhaustible Chalice of Christ through the Holy Eucharist, where a liturgy and an akathist will be served on this wonderful feast day!