JORDANVILLE: September 5, 2007
The 40 th Anniversary and Namesday of the First Hierarch of the
Russian Church Abroad Celebrated at Holy Trinity Monastery
On Friday, August 31, 2007, on his namesday, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus celebrated Divine Liturgy in Holy Trinity Cathedral at the monastery in Jordanville, NY, along with His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe, His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland and monastery and visiting clergymen.
On Saturday, September 1, at 3 pm, a grand procession of the cross was made to the cemetery's Dormition Church, which stands on a hill to the north of the monastery cathedral. Surrounded by the graves of the dearly departed, this white stone church gleams with its silver cupolas and crosses. The celebration was being held during the period of the Dormition of the Most-Holy Mother of God, so the prayers sung during the procession were for that feast day.
At the church, the clergymen received the venerated copy of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God, and the procession then headed back to Holy Trinity Cathedral. The icon was then place next to the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God and St Job of Pochaev in the middle of the church. The Pochaev copy was sent in 1934 from Pochaev Lavra as a blessing to "American Rus."
An akathist to St Job the God-bearer and miracle-working abbot of Pochaev was performed, led by Bishop Peter.
After rules for confession were read, a small break was taken for an evening trapeza with the customary reading from the Lives of the Saints.
At 7 pm, solemn all-night vigil began, headed by His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, along with His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Bishop Michael, His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan and Bishop Peter.
In accordance with the monastery's tradition, singing was performed on two kliroses. During solemn moments of the divine service, both choirs joined together in the middle of the church and their booming voices shook the souls of the worshipers with songs of praise to the Lord God.
There were a great many worshipers. Vigil ended at 11 pm, but, as many clergymen and laypersons noted, they felt no fatigue, but their souls felt light and peaceful.
On Sunday, September 2, at 7 am, early Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the lower church of St Job. Earlier that night, His Eminence Metropolitan Onufry of Chernovitsa and Bukovina and His Eminence Archbishop Evgeny of Verey arrived for the celebrations. The clergymen greeted the First Hierarch "with praise," and, after the vesting of the bishops and the reading of the hours, solemn Divine Liturgy began.
After the monastic trapeza organized by the brethren, a formal reception at the "skete" of the First Hierarch was held in the open air. His Eminence Vladyka was surrounded by followers and youth who fervently wished him health and many years.
Vespers and compline were then performed, as usual. Afterwards, an akathist was performed before the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God at the parvis [entryway] of the cathedral.
His Eminence was joined in celebrating Divine Liturgy by the bishops and clergymen of the Church Abroad, members of the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate visiting the US as part of the continuing celebrations of the reestablishment of canonical communion within the Russian Orthodox Church: His Eminence Metropolitan Isidor of Ekaterinodar and Kuban, the head of the delegation; Archbishop Evgeny; His Grace Bishop Merkury of Zaraisk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov); Protopriest Vladislav Tsypin; Protopriest Alexander Abramov, Secretary of the Representation of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; and Hieromonk Joseph (Kriukov), Secretary of the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA.
After divine services, Metropolitan Isidor read an epistle of congratulations from His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II to Metropolitan Laurus and gave the honoree a gramatas and an important Patriarchal award—the Order of Holy Prince Vladimir of the Second Rank.
Afterwards, Metropolitan Isidor read a congratulatory letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, President of the Department of External Church Relations, and also gave Metropolitan Laurus a holy panaghia from Metropolitan Kirill.
Archbishop Mark and His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand then awarded Metropolitan Laurus the Synodal Order of the Kursk-Root Icon of the First Degree.
Vladyka Laurus then addressed everyone with the following words:
"Eminent Archpastors, beloved in the Lord fathers, brothers, sisters and children:
"First of all, I wish to thank the Lord Chief Pastor and His Most-Blessed Mother, Who is visiting us now in the form of Her Reigning Icon. On this day, so holy for me, I wish also to thank His Holiness Patriarch Alexy, my brethren archpastors, Vladyka Isidor and the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate which he leads, Father Archimandrite Tikhon and the singers of Sretensky Monastery, all those who came today to this holy monastery, so dear to my heart, in joint prayer to glorify the Name of our Lord, worshipped in the Trinity, the Most-Pure Mother of God, and to utter deserved praises to our St Job, Abbot and Miracle-worker of Pochaev, whose life was an example of true Christian living.
"Your attention and your love bring me great spiritual joy and inspire me in my service to Christ's Church and the people of God. I ask for your continued holy prayers, that the Chief Pastor Christ grants me His omnipotent aid in my duties as First Hierarch, that it would please God.
"We now begin the celebrations in the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia of the reestablishment of full brotherly communion within one Local Russian Orthodox Church. The gifts of the Lord's Grace have been abundantly poured out upon the great and glorious Russian Church throughout her historical path. God's mercy does not abandon us even now. Through the intercession of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors and through the prayers of the host of all the Saints of the Russian Land, the bitter division has been overcome and we now pray together, we perform joint divine services, we commune from one Chalice. In this event we see the mark of special Divine mercy upon us. It is our Christian duty, beloved ones, to carefully preserve this unity, to develop and strengthen it, to double our efforts and prayers for peace, for prosperity and blossoming of Russian Orthodoxy. And I believe that the Lord will bless our earnestness and our prayers.
"Once again I thank all of you who came to venerate the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God and to honor St Job, and with all my heart I wish you and your close ones love and joy in our Lord Jesus Christ. 'Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied' (1 Peter 1:2). Amen."
After the dismissal, Many Years was sung to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and the entire Council of Bishops.
Under the joyous peal of bells, the grateful worshipers emerged from the cathedral and headed for another abundant monastery trapeza. At 1 o'clock, an anniversary reception was held at Otesaga Hotel-Resort organized by Protodeacon Victor Lochmatov, his wife Elena and others. During the reception, Sretensky Choir gave a performance in honor of Metropolitan Laurus.
As the reception concluded, His Eminence spoke again, saying:
"Beloved in the Lord archpastors and pastors! Dear fathers, brothers and sisters!
"I express my heartfelt greetings to all who shared in my joy today in our prayerful communion at the monastery cathedral. I am also very thankful to all who honored me with their presence at this splendid reception on this day, which is so dear to me.
"I thank you, Eminent Bishops, and all who congratulated me, for their fraternal words and wishes. I thank with all my heart Vladyka Isidor and the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate which he heads, Fr Tikhon, Nikon Stepanovich and the singers of Sretensky Choir.
"It was pleasing and joyful to begin this day with Divine Liturgy, praising the Mother of God, Who visited us in the Reigning Icon. The veneration of the Mother of God 'in falling asleep had not forsaken the world,' and the other saints of God gives us the opportunity not only to learn from them the life of good works, but by their strength and sympathetic love for us, to be reborn in grace and sanctify ourselves for Eternal Life. The prayers of the saints who defeated the temporal for the sake of the Eternal, earth for the sake of Heaven, are purified by the Holy Spirit and have the power to obtain for us Divine blessings, so that we, overcoming the difficulties of wandering on earth, would enter into the joy of the Kingdom of Divine Grace and His eternal truth.
"With gratitude to God, the Russian Church Abroad is proceeding well on her salvific path. The episcopacy, the clergy, monastics and laity of our Church are worthily performing their service, each in his place, zealously forming the One Body of the Church. I bear my own cross as well as I can, thanks to my many helpers, the members of the Synod of Bishops, the episcopacy, the pious clergymen, the many thousands of believers who help me in this good work through their prayers. I would with great joy make a prostration before each of you for the fervor with which you help me. I hope that this continues forever. And if it does, then it will be easy for me to bear the service of Primate upon my shoulders. Let it always be that way, dear brother archpastors, fathers, brothers and sisters, I rely on your help and the prayers of the faithful in continuing my life.
"Once again I thank you with all my soul for today's joyous celebration. I wish you all good health, well-being and all success, and those who consecrated me, who encouraged me with their good examples and words of edification, and all those who participated in my spiritual guidance—Eternal Memory!
"'Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace' (Romans 15:13) on this festive day and in all the days of your lives! Amen."
A fairly large group of pilgrims stayed on into Tuesday, and after their departure, monastery life resumed its usual pace.
The most joyous aspect of these days of celebration was the particularly large contingent of youth, our faithful and morally-strong successors.