With the arrival of the world-renowned Sretensky Monastery Men’s Choir to Washington, DC, on Thursday, October 4, 2012, a four-day spiritual celebration by Orthodox Christians of the nation’s capital began.
On Friday, October 5, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) presented an English translation of his book, Everyday Saints, at the Library of Congress. The book has become a best-seller in Russia (1.1 million copies sold so far).
Fr Tikhon noted that all proceeds from the sale of his book will go towards the construction of a church on Bolshaya Lyubanka dedicated to the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.
“We want to build a beautiful, bright church, marking the victory of good over evil and brutality,” said Fr Tikhon. “We want to complete this church by February 2017, the centennial of the beginning of those fateful days. Today there are many memorials devoted to the period, but many of them are gloomy, dark, depressing. This is not the way to view its history.”
On Saturday, October 6, Sretensky Choir sang Divine Liturgy at St Nicholas Cathedral of the Orthodox Church in America. Officiating were His Eminence Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, and His Grace Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania of the Orthodox Church in America, along with representatives of many other Local Churches.
At the end of the service, St John the Baptist Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia was given a gift of a portion of the relics of St Herman of Alaska from the OCA. The relic was thankfully received by the Cathedral’s rector, Protopriest Victor Potapov.
That evening, James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, hosted a reception in honor of Fr Tikhon, the Prior of Sretensky Monastery in Moscow. Among the guests was Fr Victor. After dinner, Sretensky Choir performed their first concert of liturgical music on the present tour in an overfilled auditorium of the Library of Congress. The audience was moved to tears by their performance.
Sunday, October 7, began with the ceremonial greeting of the Hawaiian Iveron Icon of the Mother of God at St John the Baptist Cathedral, where Divine Liturgy was then celebrated by clergymen of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. During the service, the aromatic icon, one of the main holy icons of the Russian diaspora, lay on an analogion in the middle of the church. In his sermon, Fr Victor reminded the worshipers that the unofficial name of this icon is “Unity,” since it began to issue myrrh five years ago, upon the reestablishment of unity within the Russian Orthodox Church.
As noted by a correspondent of ITAR-TASS news agency, “The church was literally overfilled by believers during the service. It was still possible to stand in place and make the sign of the cross, but there was no room to even kneel. The gathering of worshipers was understandable: for besides the visiting Hawaiian Iveron icon, the famous Sretensky Men’s Choir sang and the monastery Prior, Fr Tikohn (Shevkunov) was present.”
It is worth noting that the arrival of the Hawaiian Myrrh-Streaming Iveron Icon and the Sretensky Choir coincided with the cathedral’s annual benefit fair, attended by thousands of denizens of Washington of all nationalities who love Russian culture and cuisine.
After Divine Liturgy, a moleben and akathist to the Mother of God were performed before the Hawaiian Iveron Icon. Altogether, the services lasted some three-and-a-half hours. Fr Tikhon even expressed mock surprise, saying that this would be unimaginable in a Moscow church, and asked that the choir be given extra refreshments, having sung the entire time without a break.
The fair gave buyers of Fr Tikhon’s book the opportunity to have him autograph their copies, and also to listen to Sretensky Choir again. The “Sretentsy” took to the elevated church entrance and sang the song “On the Hills of Manchuria.”
The Hawaiian Iveron Icon spent another few hours at St John the Baptist Cathedral. The parishioners were happy to learn that they will once again have the opportunity to venerate the icon on October 27-28, since its caretaker, Reader Nectarios Yangson, will be taking the icon to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, to the grave of Jose Munoz-Cortes, the erstwhile keeper of the Montreal Iveron Icon. The visit of this icon to the monastery is intended to coincide with a pilgrimage organized by St John Cathedral to mark the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the icon’s streaming of myrrh (November 24, 1982), and the 15th anniversary of the martyric death of its caretaker (October 31, 1997), and also the 5th anniversary of the date when the Hawaiian “Unity” Iveron Icon of the Mother of God began to stream myrrh (October 6, 2007).
Includes material from ITAR-TASS Agency.