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New York: Bishop Nicholas serves Lenten Divine Services in New York City, State

As the radiant feast of the Resurrection of Christ approached, Bishop Nicholas led Lenten divine services in parishes across New York City and State.

On Friday, March 30, the eve of Lazarus Saturday, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan led Matins and the sacrament of Holy Unction in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. His Grace was co-served by cathedral senior priest, Archpriest Andrei Sommer; Archpriest Edward Chervinsky (cathedral cleric), Archpriest Alexander Botschagow (rector of Holy Fathers Church in New York City), and Hieromonk Zosimas (Krampis; rector of the Synodal English Mission). The Church was filled to capacity with worshippers wishing to participate in the Sacrament. With the prayerful singing of the cathedral choir, the excerpts from the Epistle and Gospel were read. In accordance with the rite of Holy Unction, all were anointed with holy oil.

Addressing the parishioners, Bishop Nicholas reminded all that Holy Unction does not replace the sacrament of repentance, but the Lord gives us an additional opportunity to cleanse ourselves from all our sins – voluntary or involuntary, so that with a clean heart and bright mind, we might greet the feast of Christ’s Glorious Resurrection.

On March 31, Lazarus Saturday, Bishop Nicholas visited Holy Myrrhbearers Church in Brooklyn, NY, where he, along with parish rector Archpriest Paul Ivanov and Protodeacon Vadim Gan (cleric of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign), celebrated Divine Liturgy. Bishop Nicholas noted that, since his list visit on the Sunday of the Veneration of Cross when he performed the Sacrament of Holy Unction, he was delighted to once again visit the parish and pray with its clergy and parishioners on Lazarus Saturday – on the so-called "Half-Sunday," by this meaning that elements of the Sunday resurrectional service are incorporated therein. Praying at Liturgy were students of the parish school. All of the worshippers partook of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.

In his sermon to the faithful, Bishop Nicholas remarked that Lazarus Saturday is a "feast of friendship." The Lord visited the sisters of His friend Lazarus – Martha and Mary – in order to comfort them and awaken Lazarus himself. Christ comes to each of us personally, in order to awaken us from the sleep of sin. His Grace stressed how important it is for us to surround ourselves with good church friends, who are there to help us to carry our cross unto salvation.

After Liturgy, a festal meal was served, where interaction between the archpastor, rector, and parishioners continued.

On the evening of April 1, the feast of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem, Bishop Nicholas led the Sacrament of Holy Unction in Holy Protection Church in Nyack, NY, co-served by parish clerics: pastor emeritus Archpriest George Larin, Archpriest Elias Gorsky, Priest Ignatius Green, Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis, and Deacon Andrei Podymow, as well as Archpriest George Zelenin (rector of St. Michael Cathedral in Paterson, NJ), Archpriest George Lardas (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Stratford, CT), Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), and Hierodeacon Panteleimon (Jigalin).

The church was filled with faithful. The service was held in Church Slavonic and English, in order to give new members of the parish an opportunity to understand the sacrament.

The moving singing of the choir created for a unique prayerful spirit. All were anointed with holy oil. After the service, a general repast was served, during which Bishop Nicholas wished all a prayerful completion of Passion Week, that they might greet the radiant feast of Pascha with spiritual joy.

On Holy Wednesday, April 4, Bishop Nicholas celebrated the last Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts for this year in the Synodal Cathedral. His Grace was co-served by cathedral clerics: Archpriests Andrei Sommer and Edward Chervinsky, and Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff. Praying in the altar was the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York.

Many faithful partook of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. Bishop Nicholas congratulated Metropolitan Hilarion, the clergy, and parishioners with the solemn day and reminded them of the words of the Holy Hierarch Theophan the Recluse: "All of us must bear our cross, believers and non-believers alike. But it is easier to carry it as a Christian, with thanksgiving and devotion to the will of God."

In the concluding days of Great Lent, His Grace reminded the faithful to participate in the important services for Orthodox Christians and to approach the Holy Mysteries.

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