2017 is a year of many anniversaries, among which is the decennial of the appearance of the myrrh-streaming Montreal-Hawaiian Icon of the Mother of God. Traveling across the North American continent (as well as to the Republic of Georgia), the Mother of God brings peace and healing of soul and body through her fragrant myrrh.
This autumnal visitation of the myrrh-streaming image to the dioceses, parishes, and monasteries of the United States is scheduled in honor of the decennial. The icon began its travels in California on September 29, and is currently visiting the East Coast.
On Saturday evening, October 21, the holy icon arrived at Holy New Martyrs & Confessors of Russia Church in Brooklyn, NY.
All-Night Vigil was led by Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. His Grace was co-served by Archimandrites Augustine (Nikitin; professor at St. Petersburg Theological Academy) and Elevferiy (Skiba; dean of Inexhaustible Chalice Church in Brooklyn), Archpriests Alexander Belya (dean of New York City) and Serge Lukianov (diocesan secretary and parish rector), Hieromonk Vladimir (Zgoba; rector of Unexpected Joy Church on Staten Island, NY), Archpriests Boris Oparin (rector of St. Joasaph of Belgorod Church in Brooklyn), Petro Kunitsky (parish cleric), and Paul Ivanov (rector of Holy Myrrhbearers Church in Brooklyn), Priest Michael Volzhansky (parish cleric), and Protodeacons Leonid Roschko (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ) and Petr Utkin (parish cleric).
The church could barely contain those who came to pray to the Queen of Heaven, and the people continued to arrive throughout Vigil. During the service, the clergy and people sang an akathist to the Iveron Montreal-Hawaiian Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Upon completion of the akathist, Bishop Nicholas addressed the faithful with a sermon, saying, in part: "Every Sunday of the seventh tone, we hear the singing of the prokeimenon: ‘the Lord blesseth His people with peace’. We feel this peace especially at this very moment. But we lose this peace as we depart from the church. Beyond the walls of the church are enticements, temptations, discord; but here, in church, we feel God’s light, God’s blessing, and peace. The resurrectional Vigil is special, because every Sunday we celebrate a Little Pascha. Christ arose from the dead and grants us eternal life.
"…On the first day after His Resurrection, Christ came to His disciples and said, ‘Peace be unto you.’ The apostles were overjoyed, but the Apostle Thomas was not with them. Later, when he joined them, they said, ‘We have seen the Lord, our Teacher.’ And the Apostle Thomas said, ‘Unless I will not see Him myself and touch His wounds, I will not believe.’ And the following Sunday, when the apostles were gathered together again and the Apostle Thomas was with them, the Lord came and once more said, ‘Peace be unto you.’ He invited the Apostle Thomas to reach out his hand and feel His wounds. And the Apostle Thomas cried out, ‘My Lord and my God!’
"Today we greet the Mother of God, who gave birth to the Savior. And this peace of God that abides with us this very minute, is the peace that the Lord brought to His disciples when He said, ‘Peace be unto you.’ How do we hold on to this peace? To accomplish this we must have firm faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Savior, risen from the dead. Let us also glorify the Mother of God as Theotokos, honoring her memory daily, and this peace of God will abide within each of us, will be present in our lives, in our hearts and minds. Let us not doubt, but constantly proclaim that the Lord is our God, and He will bless us with His peace and strength."
While the people continued to approach and venerate the myrrh-streaming icon, the parish sisterhood invited the clergy to a brotherly supper.
Late that evening, the holy image departed for Holy Trinity Church in Vineland, NJ, where – under the aegis of the myrrh-streaming Hawaiian Icon – Divine Liturgy was served on Sunday, October 22.