By the generous mercy of God, this year proved to be spiritually bountiful for the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church. On May 17, at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, the long-awaited and truly universal event took place—the reestablishment of Eucharistic communion between the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church.
A visible fruit of the overcoming of the tragic separation of brotherly communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was the recent visit to our dioceses of a delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate, along with the “Reigning” Icon of the Mother of God. The visit of this holy icon to the churches of the Russian diaspora served as a bright reminder of the fact that at one time, Russia was considered “the Abode of the Most-Holy Mother of God.” The icon's appearance in March of 1917, the fateful day of the abdication of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas Alexandrovich showed that She desired to remain the Mother of Orthodox Russia, and Her visit to the émigrés showed that it was pleasing to God that the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church reunited.
On November 24, the Russian Church Abroad will mark another important event. On this day exactly 25 years ago, the Orthodox Spaniard Jose Munuz-Cortez was called upon by the Lord for a special task. Actually, this task began on Mt Athos, when Jose was given a copy of the glorious image of the Mother of God called “The Gatekeeper,” which on the night of November 23-24 began to inexplicably stream myrrh. Jose's 15-year service to the Mother of God and our Church ended 10 years ago, on the night of October 31, with a a martyric end.
In 2003, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia addressed its flock on the 20 th anniversary of the appearance of the “Iveron Icon of Montreal” with the words:
“This icon, by pouring forth its miracle-working myrrh for 15 years, consoled our Russian Church Abroad, appeared as a visible and tangible symbol of the merciful intercession of the Mother of God towards us sinners… Did we take advantage of this visit by the Mother of our Lord to benefit our souls? And is it not our common sin, having grown cold towards this holy icon and towards prayer, towards acts of piety and witness of the Orthodox faith, that caused the disappearance of this holy icon by the allowance of God?...
“Brothers and sisters! It is with trepidation and prayers of gratitude that we remember the visitation of this wondrous myrrh-streaming icon to our Church and it is with repentance that we pray to the Most-Holy Mother of God to forgive us our sins, to establish peace in our Orthodox Church…”
This call by the bishops of ROCOR remains relevant today.
In memory of the 25 th anniversary of the appearance of the Miracle-working “Iveron Icon of the Mother of God of Montreal,” and of the murder of Brother Jose, with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, a pilgrimage will be held from November 23-25, right after Thanksgiving, to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. The remains of Brother Jose abide in the monastery cemetery; a one-day conference dedicated to making sense of the appearance of the Myrrh-streaming Icon, the “Gatekeeper,” and the martyrdom of Her chosen servant.
The schedule is as follows:
Friday, November 23:
4:30 pm: rules for confession.
6:00 pm: evening trapeza.
6:30 pm: solemn matins.
An exact copy of the Iveron-Montreal Icon from St John the Baptist Cathedral in Washington DC will be present at all services (this copy was made for the first anniversary of the murder of Br Jose by the same icon painter on Mt Athos who painted the actual Miracle-working Icon).
Saturday, November 24:
8:00 am (The feast day of the Iveron Icon): Divine Liturgy and a moleben.
10:30 am: After breakfast, a pannikhida at the grave of Br Jose.
2 pm: The Symposium begins, with lectures by Protopriest Victor Potapov (Washington, DC), Protopriest Sergy Konobas (Moscow) and Dr Yuri Popovsky (Geneva).
(During the pilgrimage, the personal items of Br Jose will be exhibited in the Seminary Hall—his own hand-painted icons, drawings, journals, etc.)
7:00 pm: All-night hierarchical vigil.
Sunday, November 25:
9:00 am: Divine Liturgy.
3:00 pm: Last pannikhida at the grave of Br Jose.
For information, contact Fr Victor at 301-565-0848 or at email@example.com.