NEWS FROM THE DIOCESES
 
EASTERN AMERICAN DIOCESE: February 2, 2005

His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Visits Parishes
in Glen Cove, Norwich and Boston

On January 23, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus performed Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin in Glen Cove, NY, along with Mitred Protopriest George Larin, Priest Serafim Gan and Priest Alexandre Antchoutine (the new Parish Rector), along with Protodeacon Paul Wolkow, Subdeacon George Schatiloff and Subdeacon Nicholas Olhovsky, the First Hierarch's cell-attendant. On Saturday evening, the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God arrived, accompanied by one of the Synodal clergymen and Peter A Fekula. At the end of service, His Eminence addressed the parishioners with the following words:

Dear brothers and sisters, we are gathering here today to prayerfully glorify the great holiday of the Baptism. This Sunday feast is called the Week after the Epiphany.

Some, of course, know that in ancient times, and even now, in service books, the day is called 'Epiphany.' Why is the day of the Baptism thus called?

If one attentively heeds the prayers sung these last few days, one would notice that all these songs tell of the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Jordan River for His baptism and of the beginning of His social service to the world.

And from this moment, light appeared for those sitting in the darkness, "in the shadow of death." The kontakion says: "Lord, when You were baptized in the Jordan, the veneration of the Trinity was revealed. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved, and the Spirit, in the guise of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, who appeared and enlightened the world."

With the appearance of the Lord at the Jordan River, dawn appeared for mankind. The Lord preached among the people for three and a half years, preparing them for the coming of the Kingdom of God, but the people only marveled at His miracles, and did not accept Him, and finally, crucified Him.

But now the Lord rose from the dead, and on Sunday He ascended to the heavens, raising up the flesh and the nature of mankind, and sent the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, founded the Holy Church and granted her all the gifts for life and piety.

The entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven is open, but it is up to us to enter, and entry is possible only through the Holy Church, through the Holy Mysteries.

The first of the Holy Mysteries is Holy Baptism, through which we enter into the Holy Church. Through the Mystery of Baptism, we have an epiphany, we become members of the Kingdom of Christ.

In the first period of Christianity, on the eve of the Epiphany, that is, the eve of the Baptism, they christened catechumens, performed in baptisteries, and for the faithful in church, the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures of the Baptism of the Lord were read. These readings we read even now on the eve of the EpiphanyŚ13 paroemiae.

When the baptism of the catechumens was completed, they were led into the church and greeted with the singing of the words: "As many of you as have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia." And for this reason, on the eve of the Baptism of the Lord, catechumens received the epiphany of the light of faith in Christ, the feast day of the Baptism was in days of old and even today called the Epiphany.

May the Lord illumine us also in these holy days with the light of His grace, and may we turn to the Lord more often with the words of prayer with which the clergyman ends every matins service: "O Christ the true Light, who illuminest and sanctifiest every man that cometh into the world, let the light of thy face be a sign upon us, that in it we see the unapproachable Light. Direct our steps in the performance of thy commandments, through the intercessions of thine all immaculate Mother, and of all thy Saints. Amen."

Then the clergymen headed by His Eminence, the choir and the worshipers proceeded to the new hall, where it was consecrated. At the trapeza, where the Sisterhood, headed by NG Fekula, prepared a splendid reception, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus congratulated everyone on the blessing of the hall, where meetings, spiritual discussions and celebrations and meetings of youth and children would be held. Stressing the labors of the parishioners, worshipers and helpers, he expressed hope that these events would strengthen church life in Long Isand, NY. His Eminence then told of the recent great joyful event in the former Diocese of Syracuse and Holy Trinity, where a new church in honor of the Nativity of the Mother of God is being built, where divine services will commence in the next few months. Following this was the traditional Yolka [Nativity pageant] organized by FA Tarasova, in which all the parish children participated.

The following day, His Eminence Metropolitan and His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand prayed at Divine Liturgy conducted by Mitred Protopriest Vladimir Doroshkevich in the lower Church of St Sergius of Radonezh at the Synod of Bishop. That same day, His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Manhattan, with the help of Protopriest Andrei Sommer, hosted a dinner in honor of the First Hierarch and the members of the Synod of Bishops, who had arrived for its regular session, scheduled to open the following day, Tuesday, January 25.

On January 28, His Eminence met with visitors at his residence at the Synodal building, and the next day, accompanied by his cell-attendant Nicholas Olhovsky, visited Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia Mission in Norwich, CT. There he acquainted himself with the progress of the construction of the new church in honor of the Sovereign Icon of the Mother of God and the parish center with its hall, kitchen, bookstore, rector's office, church school, etc. His Eminence inspected the progress, spoke with the rector of the parish, Protopriest Basil Grisel and a group of parishioners working on the building, and invoked God's blessing upon them all. The rector hopes that divine services will commence in the new church during Great Lent.

That day, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus performed all-night vigil at Epiphany Church in Boston, MA, whose rector is Mitred Protopriest Roman Lukianov, and the following day he celebrated liturgy, where His Eminence said, in part:

Last week, on Thursday, we concluded the celebration of the great holiday, one of the twelve major feasts, the feast of the Epiphany.

Before this we celebrated the Nativity of Christ. Since His appearance on earth, from the birth into the world of God the Word until the appearance of the Lord at the Jordan River for baptism, thirty years had elapsed.

The holiday of the Baptism of the Lord, the Epiphany, is your parish's feast day. Today we celebrate your church's holiday, and it gives me joy to congratulate you all today.

Soon after the baptism of the Lord, the Savior emerged to preach among the chosen people. He visited various cities and towns, accompanied by His disciples.

Today's Gospel reading tells us of how the Lord Jesus Christ headed for Jerusalem with His disciples through the city of Jericho. While the Lord approached Jericho, a blind beggar sat at the outskirts of the city, begging for alms.

A multitude surrounded the Lord, and as soon as this blind man learned that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he began to cry "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me!"

Those in front of the Lord Jesus Christ tried to silence the beggar, for his cries disturbed them. But the beggar paid no heed, and continued. He wished to quickly receive healing, to gain his sight. And so he continued to cry "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!"

The Lord heard the call of the blind man, and stopped to ask him what he wanted. What else could the blind man say? He replied, imploring Him: "Lord, that I may receive my sight." "Receive thy sight," said the Lord to him, "thy faith hath saved thee."

How edifying and instructive is this Gospel passage! Our Lord Jesus Christ wishes good for us all. His love for us is indescribable, for our sake did He come to earth, to save us. He desires salvation for all, so in this sense, His loving voice speaking the words "receive thy sight" addresses each and every one of us.

"Receive thy sight!" says the Lord to us. Receive thy sight, poor sinner, wallowing in sins, faults and lawlessness. You see not where you go. Sins and trespasses have closed your eyes and you walk as a blind man, without looking around, straight into eternal doom.

Receive thy sight for your own sake, says the Lord, I come to earth, I hungered and thirsted, having no place to rest My head, and endured great suffering and death.

Receive thy sights, and turn with your pious pleas and with repentance to the Lord, as did the blind man in the Gospel, and the Lord will hear you and say: "Receive thy sight, thy faith hath saved thee!" Amen."

During the very ceremonious celebration in Boston, attended by a multitude of people, concelebrating with His Eminence were the parish clergymen and visiting priests.

On February 6, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus will perform Divine Liturgy at St Sergius Cathedral in Cleveland, OH, along with His Eminence Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney and the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand and His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, whose namesday will be celebrated that day.

His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus offers the cross for veneration to the Rector of Intercession Church in Glen Cove, Priest Alexandre Antchoutine.

His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus delivers a sermon. Mitred Protopriest George Larin translates the sermon into English.