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Русская Версия

October 4, 2011
Wayne, WV: The First Hierarch of ROCOR led the Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Holy Cross Monastery

On 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 "If any man will 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 nature.

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 monastery.

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 only imagine, 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 this minute, let us strive to love God above all and fulfill His holy will!" Amen!

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.

The 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 of God.

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.

The 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. Several 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.

About 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 on the monastery website.

In anticipation of its 25th anniversary, the monastery published a commemorative album. For more information on the album or to order visit here.

October 1: Greeting of the First Hierarch, Procession and All-Night Vigil

October 2: Liturgy and Banquet

October 3: Midnight Office and Departure of the First Hierarch

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese