On Wednesday, March 15, the myrrh-streaming Icon of the Mother of God "Softener of Evil Hearts," currently traveling the Eastern American Diocese from Moscow, visited St. Michael’s Cathedral in Paterson, NJ.
Archpriest Serge Lukianov (diocesan secretary, accompanying the Icon) led the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, co-served by parish rector Archpriest George Zelenin and Deacon Andrei Logvinenko. Praying in the altar was Priest Dimitri Jakimowicz (cleric of the Western American Diocese).
Despite the morning weekday service and a large snowfall, roughly three dozen parishioners braved the blizzard to lift up their prayers to the Mother of God.
March 15 is a day of particular historic significance. It was on this day 100 years ago that Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne, effectively ending the Russian Empire and changing the course of world history. On the same day, the "Reigning" Icon of the Mother of God miraculously appeared, as if to reassure the Russian people that, although the earthly Tsar was now gone, the Queen of Heaven still watched over them. It was on the subject of this historic day – one filled with both horror and hope – that Fr. Serge gave his sermon.
After the service, the priests traveled to the site of the parish’s new church building in Wayne, NJ, currently the location of a wooden chapel dedicated to the Icon of the Mother of God "Unexpected Joy." They blessed the land with the myrrh-streaming Icon, asking the blessings of the Queen of Heaven on this new undertaking.