On Thursday, March 2, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, accompanying the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, visited Our Lady of Tikhvin Church at the Diocesan Center in Howell, NJ, where he led Great Compline with the reading of the Great Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. Praying at the service were the clergy and a multitude of parishioners.
Addressing the faithful, His Grace greeted them with the start of Great Lent and, in the words of the Canon, called on them especially in these days to entreat mercy from the Lord. He pointed to the prayer of Venerable Ephraim the Syrian as an example of lenten practice: "A spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me."
"Before we commence our lenten struggle, we must behave chastely, and have humble-mindedness, patience, and love," reminded Bishop Nicholas. "We can go through all of Lent, strictly fasting, laboring, attending all of the divine services, making prostrations, but if we do not do this with patience, with humility, then Lent can pass us by in vain." His Grace called on the faithful to keep as a personal example the life of the Most Holy Theotokos, to attempt to change our selves, and to maintain these traits in ourselves even after the Fast.
Upon completion of the Great Canon, many made their confessions, in order to commune of Christ’s Holy Mysteries the following day.
On Friday, March 3, Bishop Nicholas served the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in Our Lady of Tikhvin Church. His Grace was co-served by the dean of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral and Our Lady of Tikhvin Church Archpriest Serge Lukianov, Archpriests Boris Slootsky and Seraphim Chemodakov (cathedral clerics), Priest Dimitri Jakimowicz (cleric of the Western American Diocese), and Protodeacons Leonid Roschko and Paul Drozdowski (cathedral clerics). The divine service, for which a large number of parishioners gathered for the first week of Great Lent, took place under the aegis of the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora – the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God.
Upon completion of the Liturgy, the clergy served a moleben to the Holy Great-Martyr Theodore Tyro, and blessed the kolyva.
Bishop Nicholas called on the faithful to remember the words of the Great Canon throughout Lent: to "awaken, flee sin, and seek God," and be guided by these words on the salvific path alongside Christ, in order to worthily greet His glorious Resurrection from the dead.