October 4, 2011
Wayne, WV: The First Hierarch of ROCOR led the Celebration of the
25th Anniversary of Holy Cross Monastery
Sunday, October 2, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad,
His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York,
celebrated the Divine Liturgy in
Holy Cross Monastery on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of
the monastery’s founding. His Eminence was co-served by the abbot of
the monastery, His Grace George, Bishop of Mayfield, monastery
clerics, and a multitude of clergy from
across America. Eight Orthodox jurisdictions in all were
represented at the feast.
Prior to the start of Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion tonsured two
parishioners of All Saints of North America Church in Middlebrook,
VA, readers: Thomas Opyoke and Nektarios Kanney.
Present at the Liturgy was the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian-Iveron Icon
of the Mother of God, from which myrrh abundantly flowed throughout
the Liturgy. During the communion of the clergy, diocesan secretary
Archpriest Serge Lukianov addressed the worshipers with a sermon, in
which he said:
The Lord said that
come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and
follow me" (Matthew 16:24).
These words are directed at every one of us standing here today on
this joyous celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of
Holy Cross Monastery. Unfortunately, as sinful men, often times we
forget our Christian calling and live our lives not according to
Christ’s commandments, but according the laws of this world. Our
Savior calls upon us to carry our cross and follow Him, but many
times we find ourselves unable to do this because of our sinful
All of us gathered here today have come to this holy habitation in
search of something. The
Lord has brought us together from every corner of the globe and all
of us came with our own spiritual needs. Some of us came here in
search of a miracle, some for spiritual guidance, while others have
come to cleanse themselves of their sins in confession. But no
matter what the reason, we are all united in our love for this
Since we love this holy place, it is our duty to support it. But
how? I would be remiss if I stood before you today and told you that
the best way for us to support this monastery is through donations
or almsgiving. Of course all of us understand that without financial
contributions, it would be extremely difficult for the monastery to
survive. But the best way for us to help this monastery is to help
ourselves, and the
only way to help
ourselves is to take up our cross and follow Christ.
The carrying of our cross consists of acquiring the Holy Spirit. St.
Seraphim of Sarov teaches us to "Acquire
the spirit of peace, and thousands around us will be saved." By
coming to this holy habitation, we acquire the spirit of peace
through, prayer, confession, and fasting.
Every day, the monks of Holy Cross Monastery pray unceasingly for us
and for the whole world. What do
we offer in return? Many
of us do not read our morning and evening prayers – how can we have
a healthy spiritual life without this good beginning? Let us read
the Gospel daily, pray fervently for our Church, our hierarchs,
those who love and hate us, confess often and, most importantly,
commune of Christ’s Holy Mysteries as often as possible.
And if we should stumble and fall, or, God forbid, despair, our Lord
Jesus Christ sends His Holy Mother to support us. How could her
presence and love for us be any clearer than this grace-filled
miracle lying before us today, pouring out her holy mercy through
fragrant myrrh? The Mother of God will entreat her Divine Son to
have mercy on our souls and fortify our prayers and struggles. With
time, these spiritual seeds of light will shine through us and
enlighten those around us, just as Holy Cross Monastery enlightens a
world shrouded in darkness.
The ceaseless prayer in this monastery creates a firm foundation for
our Eastern American Diocese and our entire Church, and bolsters us
in our fight against the passions. Let us do everything in our might
not to squander this wonderful gift bestowed upon us by Almighty
God. If at least one of us leaves this monastery tomorrow having
truly acquired the spirit of peace, thousands will be saved. Can we
dear brothers and sisters, if
all of us were to leave
this monastery having acquired the spirit of peace?
Tens of thousands will
be saved, and this Holy Cross Hermitage will continue to flourish.
But in order for this to happen, we must
remember the words of the founder of Orthodoxy in America, St.
Herman, Wonderworker of Alaska, and make a vow that "From
this day, from this
hour, from thisminute,
let us strive to love God above all and fulfill His holy will!"
The clergy communed over 250 of the faithful from three chalices.
Upon completion of the Liturgy, the clergy and faithful performed a
short moleben before the Glorious Cross and myrrh-streaming icon. In
his greeting, the First Hierarch said:
I would like to extend my most sincere congratulations to the abbot
of Holy Cross Monastery, His Grace, Bishop George, and all the
brotherhood on the joyous occasion of the 25th anniversary of the
founding of this monastery. Monasteries are the foundation of our
Church, because they are places where prayer never ceases. When we
visit this holy monastery, we benefit by receiving spiritual
edification through prayer and confession. Even if we are not able
to visit, we will still be comforted, because we know that the
monastics are praying for all of us. Monasticism means living the
Christian life to the fullest. I am so grateful to the monastics of
this monastery, which plays a most important role in the spiritual
life of our Diocese. I pray that God will grant them strength to
continue their labors, so that they may persevere on the narrow path
of monasticism. May God bless everyone who supports Holy Cross
Monastery through their prayers and donations. May we continue to
support this holy habitation, so that it may continue to flourish
for the glory of Almighty God and for the sake of our own salvation.
First Hierarch then presented Bishop George with a hand-painted icon
of Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves – the founders of
Russian monasticism. In reply, Bishop George thanked His Eminence
for his archpastoral visit and fatherly love, and then presented the
Metropolitan a copy of the Vatopedi "Consolation" Icon of the Mother
Fr. Serge then proclaimed a diocesan gramota for Bishop George and
the entire brotherhood of Holy Cross Monastery. Abbot Seraphim
(Voepel) and Hieromonk Alexander (Frizzell), deputy abbot and dean
of the monastery, respectively, were also awarded diocesan gramotas
for their selfless labors on behalf of Christ’s Holy Church. The
full text of the gramotas is available here.
In the parish hall of the local Holy Spirit Church (Antiochian
Archdiocese) a festal banquet was held, during which many
congratulatory and laudatory remarks were offered.
diocesan secretary announced that, with the blessing of His
Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, a benevolent committee had been
founded to meet the monastery’s needs. The Holy Cross Monastery
Benevolent Committee was founded to help raise funds for
construction projects vital to the monastery’s further development.
candidates are waiting to enter the monastery, but because of the
lack of funds, the monastery cannot afford to build cells for these
future monks. The task of the Benevolent Committee will be to raise
awareness of this temporary difficulty, resulting from the surge in
monastic candidates, and other difficulties that the monastery is
faced with on a daily basis.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, will serve as chairman of the
Benevolent Committee, while His Grace, monastery abbot Bishop
George, will serve as vice chairman. Further information about the
Benevolent Committee will be published on the diocesan website in
the near future.
On Monday morning, Metropolitan Hilarion prayed at the Midnight
Office, and then bade farewell to the monks. In his parting words,
the First Hierarch thanked Bishop George for his hospitality and for
the opportunity to pray together at the divine services in honor of
this grace-filled anniversary. His Eminence wished the monks renewed
spiritual strength to continue their monastic labors, and then
departed for his Synodal residence.
Holy Cross Monastery
Holy Cross monastery was founded in 1986 by Hieromonk Kallistos
(+1992) in House Springs, MO. In 2000, the monastery relocated to
West Virginia. The monastery is one of the largest monastic
communities in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The
brethren support the monastery through their own labors, growing
fruits and vegetables in their garden, herding goats, making soap
and incense. Many of these unique items are available for purchase
In anticipation of its 25th anniversary, the monastery published a
commemorative album. For more information on the album or to order