January 5, 2012
An Historic Event in the American Capital – The Primate of the OCA
celebrated the Divine Liturgy in St. John the Baptist Cathedral
the parishioners of Washington’s
St. John the Baptist Cathedral, the first day of the new 2012
year turned out to be especially significant. On that Sunday, the
Divine Liturgy was celebrated in our church by the Primate of the
Orthodox Church in America (OCA), His Beatitude Jonah, Archbishop of
Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada. We consider the
service on that blessed day to have been historic, as it was the
first time that a bishop of the OCA
led the celebration of
the Divine Liturgy in a parish church of the ROCOR. (On December 10,
2011, His Beatitude and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, First
Hierarch of the ROCOR, had
concelebrated in the Synodal Cathedral in New York City.)
At 9:40 AM, to the joyous sound of festive bells, our esteemed guest
was greeted at the main entrance of the church with the traditional
bread and salt by Dimitry M. Saretzky. He addressed a warm welcome
to the head of the OCA, and asked His Beatitude to continue to pray
for the strengthening of unity among Orthodox Christians both in the
USA and in Russia.
His Beatitude’s procession into the church for the reading of the
Entrance Prayers was accompanied by the combined voices of the two
choirs of St. John the Baptist Cathedral ‒ the Slavonic-language
choir under the direction of Y.A. Petcherkin, and the
English-language choir under the direction of J. Brewer.
Concelebrating with Metropolitan Jonah were seven priests: cathedral
rector Archpriest Victor Potapov, Archpriest Vasiliy Raskovskiy
(cathedral cleric), Archpriest Vladimir Danylevich
(cleric of the Entrance of the Theotokos Convent in Washington, DC),
Priests John Johnson and Alexander Resnikoff (the rector’s
assistants at the cathedral), Priest John Parker (rector of the
Church of the Lord’s Ascension in Mt. Pleasant, SC), Hieromonk
Damascenos (Haemmerli), as well as parish Protodeacon Leonid Mickle
and Deacons Damian Dantinne and Victor Klimenko.
The divine service was very prayerfully conducted in Slavonic and
English. A multitude of the faithful were communed of the Holy Gifts
of Christ, from four chalices.
After the Divine Liturgy and New Year’s moleben, His Beatitude
addressed the faithful with words of instruction:
"When we celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we
celebrate not only His coming in the flesh 2000 years ago, we
celebrate His coming to us – to be born in Him as He is born in us.
Having taken on our humanity, we take on His Divinity. Having taken
on our flesh, we take on His Godhead – by Grace. He came and became
what we are, in order that He might make us what He is. He came in
obscurity, in poverty, so that He might identify with our poverty.
He became one of us, exactly as we are, so that He might make us as
He is, and share His Glory, the Glory of the Only-Begotten of the
Father Who is our Life, our Hope, the very reality of what we are
and who we are. This is what it means to be a Christian – that our
life is hidden with Christ in God. He is our true Life. He is the
goal of our life. He is the substance of our life.
"What an enormous Feast of Grace the Nativity is. It truly is the
Winter Pascha. It is the very feast of our being reborn in God. It
is the feast of our experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven here and now,
and of our being born into Heaven."
the homily and the traditional singing of the Polychronion, His
Beatitude greeted the rector, clergy, and faithful. He said, in
"It is such a joy, such an incredible joy not only for me, but also,
I know, for the rest of our Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church
in America, that we can once again, with the bishops and faithful of
the Russian Church Abroad, come together to serve, because we are
truly one Church. We have different church Administrations, and all
that is simply on the human level. Truly, there is only one Church,
one Orthodox Church, and God has brought us together again.
"For years, I have admired the work and the ministry and the
sanctity that has been cultivated in the Russian Church Abroad in
this land. As St. John of Shanghai said, ‘Perhaps the reason for the
Diaspora of the Russian people was precisely to bring Orthodoxy to
all these other places.’ Certainly St. John did, and he took it here
"We remember him and all the other great, holy men and women, who
struggled for so many decades to preserve the full integrity of the
faith and now fully reintegrated back into the unity of the Russian
Orthodox Church. There is nothing I can do but give thanks to God."
In response to His Beatitude’s words of greeting, rector Archpriest
Victor Potapov expressed his heartfelt thanks to His Beatitude for
his prayers, and for his inspired words of instruction and greeting.
On behalf of the parish, he presented to His Beatitude a painted
"Weep not for Me, O Mother" icon as a prayerful memento of the
A multitude of parishioners approached to venerate the Cross held by
His Beatitude and to warmly thank and greet our dear guest.
Fellowship at an abundant festal meal prepared by the Holy
Protection Sisterhood went on for a long time in a parish hall,
filled to capacity. Even after the singing of the thanksgiving
prayers following the meal, people continued to exchange with one
another their impressions of the first day of 2012.
Glory to God for all things!
Archpriest Victor Potapov
Special thanks to Yuri Gripas for
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