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NEW YORK: November 4, 2013
Archpastoral Greeting from Metropolitan Hilarion on the Visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign" to the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church and the Primorsk Metropoliat

From the Editors: On Tuesday, November 5, 2013 , the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign" will be ceremoniously greeted at the Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco, CA. On Wednesday, November 6 , the feast day of the cathedral, dedicated to the renowned icon of Moscow, a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, headed by His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, will depart for Japan with the holy Kursk-Root Icon, where from November 7-13 , it will visit churches and monasteries of the Orthodox Church of the Land of the Rising Sun, whence it will then go onto the dioceses of the Primorsk Metropoliate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Archpastoral Greetings from Metropolitan Hilarion on the Visit of the
Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign" to the
Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church and the Primorsk Metropoliate

Brethren Archpastors, Reverend Fathers, Dear in the Lord Brothers, Sisters and Children:

By the will of the Almighty God, and in response to the plea of Christian hearts, and in respect of the Primatial blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the loving invitation of Metropolitan Daniel of Tokyo and All Japan and of Metropolitan Veniamin of Vladivostok and Primorsk, an official delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, accompanying the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign,” the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora, now has the opportunity to visit the blessed territory of the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church and the Primorsk Metropoliate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Throughout the celebrations in honor of the Mother of God, it is our custom to read the same Gospel passage at each Liturgy—except for the feast day of the Annunciation—chapters 10 and 11 of the Gospel According to Luke. It tells us what happened in the home of Martha and Maria, the sisters of Lazarus of the Four-Day Resurrection, the friend of Christ: how the Lord halted the fussy hospitality of the former and giving praise to Maria, who devoted herself to listening to His teachings, and then later how the One Who carried Him in Her womb and nursed Him is praised by another woman: “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked!” And in response, we hear the words uttered by the Savior: “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Without a doubt, this woman who raised her voice above the crowd, in her elated declaration, spoke the lofty truth known by our Orthodox Christian faith, heard by those who were there and subsequently by all the members of the Church of Christ.

The world today is undergoing a profound crisis of faith. We hope that bringing the miracle-working image of the Most-Blessed Virgin Mother of God will awaken the souls of many, helping them choose their faith, accept that which is most important and most sacred. We hope that this icon of the Mother of God, enriched by so much prayer and with such a rich history, will serve as a vessel of Her blessedness within many souls and be the foundation stone of their faith. We pray for this and wish it with all our hearts for all who come during this time to the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign.”

I express my deep gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, who blessed our delegation accompanying this most holy of icons of the Russian Church Abroad, to make this important journey to the Land of the Rising Sun and to the Primorsk region. I am also grateful to the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church and the Primorsk Metropoliate, in their persons forming an earnest and warmly prayerful, ceremonious and festive environment for the Archpastors, pastors and all devoted children of the Local Russian Orthodox Church, and I wish you all spiritual peace and joy over this visit by the Queen of Heaven, our Mother of God in Her Kursk-Root Icon. Amen .

With love in the Lord and a plea for your prayers,
+HILARION,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.