NEW YORK: December 7, 2008
Metropolitan Hilarion Celebrates Divine Liturgy For the Dead at St Seraphim Church
On Saturday, December 6, 2008, the feast day of St Mitrophan of Voronezh, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated Divine Liturgy at St Seraphim Church in Sea Cliff, NY, during which he commemorated the late Patriarch Alexy and Bishop Mitrophan, the long-time rector of the church. During the minor entrance at Divine Liturgy, His Eminence awarded the kamilavka to Protodeacon Paul Wolkoff and the double orarion to Deacon Eugene Kallaur. At the end of Liturgy, His Eminence gave a sermon during which said, in part:
“Reverend fathers, dear in the Lord brothers, sisters and children! Today we gathered to pray for the repose of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy and His Grace Bishop Mitrophan, the long-time rector of this church. One served God and mankind in the Fatherland, helping the rebirth of spirituality and restoring the Russian Orthodox Church, which had suffered grievously during the period of godless persecutions. The other labored for the preservation and growth of the great legacy that has been handed down to us, to return it one day to Russia when she would be emancipated from the atheistic regime.
“We know that the entire course of his life as Patriarch of Russia, and the lifetime of service of Vladyka Mitrophan, everything we saw in them bore witness to spiritual podvig and to the internal, blessed state which a person acquires when he firmly believes in God, when he forgets himself, when he belongs entirely to the One he serves and that for which he labors. Their humility and grand strictness, their patience and measured nature, were the foundation and the fruit of spiritual life. They keenly sensed the will of God in their souls. I believe that in all things they feared disturbing spiritual peace in which God is revealed. They moved onto the heavenly abode from our tempestuous world, a world in which they preserved undisturbed peace.
“The years of the patriarchal service of His Holiness Alexy was a period of establishing ecclesiastical peace. His love and wisdom, the humility and podvig of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus once again united the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church in love, for which Bishop Mitrophan prayed and dreamed before dying in 2002.
“Praying for the souls of the reposed, we also address them with the words: ‘I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me’ (2 Kings 2:9). Amen.
Protopriest Serafim Gan, the Parish Rector, greeted the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, stressing that “the clergy and flock of the Church, raising our prayers today for the repose of the souls of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy and Bishop Mitrophan, also prayed that the Lord erect new pillars for us such as they were.” The Rector then recounted one of his conversations with the late Metropolitan Laurus, whom he once asked: ‘Isn’t it difficult for you to bear the burden of your First-Hierarchal service without your heroes, who have passed on into eternity, specifically Archbishop Vitaly [Maximenko, +1960], Archbishop Anthony [Medvedev, +2000], Archimandrite Kyprian [Pyzhov, +2002] and others?’ The Primate responded that we must follow their example, we must become as they were, and pray for their souls, thereby drawing strength in fulfilling our duty.” In conclusion, Fr Serafim asked the First Hierarch’s prayers and expressed confidence that “the Lord, the Head of the Church, will always lead people who worthily carry His work forward.”
During the trapeza that followed, Fr Serafim announced that a collection is being made to paint frescoes in the church, which will illustrate the entire 1000-year path of the Russian Orthodox Church, from the Baptism of Rus to the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion in Moscow. This way, God willing, St Seraphim Church will be the first church in the diaspora to memorialize the reestablishment of church unity and those who contributed to this great work. Protopriest Sergei Lukianov then shared his memories of the late Bishop Mitrophan, and Priest Zoran Radovic, a clergyman of the Serbian Orthodox Church, spoke a few words about the newly-reposed Patriarch Alexy.