As time wore on, the Eastern Church lost the social function of the role of the deacon and he became simply a celebrant of the mysteries. Once the Byzantine Empire was in full swing, it was seen as the Empires' duty (as a Christian Empire) to care for the poor and so the social function behind the diaconate and the laity became subverted by government. This removal of individual responsibility was devastating for personal piety and the call of Jesus in Matthew 25.
Losing the social function of the deacon truly hurt the ethos and pathos of the Orthodox Church. In the early 20th century a revival of the social function of the deacon and deaconess (the later a non-ordinal position) saw to a deepening of the understanding of what it means to serve the temple building and the temple not made with human hands.
It has always been the strong suit of the early church that it drew a line connecting the sacraments and the service of the poor. Mother Maria became a pivotal figure to help the Russian Church revive its allegiance to serving the poor Jesus.
Encountering God is always meant to change us. Jesus told us clearly how he expected this encounter to change us. We were to care for the poor, hungry, imprisoned, and disenfranchised as if we were caring for Him.
In the words of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew:
‘At the Last Judgement you and I will not be asked how strictly we fasted, how many prostrations we made in our prayers, how many books we wrote, how many speeches we made at international conferences. We shall be asked: Did you feed the hungry? Did you give drink to the thirsty? Did you take the stranger into your home? Did you clothe the naked? Did you care for the sick and the prisoners? That is all we shall be asked. Love for Christ is shown through love for other people, and there is no other way. Notice how, concerning everyone who is in need and distress, Christ says "I": "I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, sick, naked and a prisoner". Christ is looking at us through the eyes of all who suffer. Is that not frightening?’