On Sunday, June 25, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. His Eminence was co-served by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Archimandrite Augustine (Nikitin; professor at St. Petersburg Theological Academy), Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov; abbot of Holy Protection Skete in Buena, NJ), and cathedral clerics: senior priest Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Archpriest Vasiliy Raskovskiy, Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk), Hieromonk Nikolai (Letsin), and Protodeacons Vadim Gan and Dionysius Lvov.
A multitude of parishioners and Orthodox from other New York churches came to pray and commune in the cathedral in the days of the Apostles’ Fast. Singing the divine service was the hierarchal choir under the direction of Peter Fekula.
Upon completion of the Liturgy, Fr. Tikhon addressed the faithful with a homily on Christ the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount and the significance of the Beatitudes:
"To be hungry, persecuted, as we read in the Beatitudes, could this hold the key to human happiness? If we meet someone on the street and ask him, ‘What does being blessed mean to you,’ he will say, ‘For your children to be well fed, to have a roof over your head, for your children to receive a good education, for everyone around us to be healthy, for our family to be well off.’ Another, possibly bolder, person might say, ‘For me, being blessed means having a good job, a good salary, enough money to go on vacation.’ But Christ says, ‘Blessed are the persecuted, blessed are the hungry, those who thirst…’ How can we unite these two different vectors, these two contrary viewpoints? And the Lord explains to us why mankind is blessed in these tribulations specifically, and not in enrichment, nor in the accumulation of earthly treasure and material wellbeing, but rather in spiritual qualities. And He leads us to the realization that we cannot serve two masters. ‘You cannot serve both God and mammon,’ says Christ. ‘Mammon’ is an Ancient Hebrew word, which in translation to the English means wealth and excessive enrichment. The Lord, as it were, places these two concepts far away from one another, separates them and says that blessings for mankind are not comprised of enrichment, nor of a full belly. Blessings for mankind come not through comfort, power, or money; blessings for mankind are tied to that which binds man: and he is bound to eternal blessedness in God – not here on earth, but in the Heavenly Kingdom, which begins here. This means that our wealth is not earthly glory; our wealth is not material wellbeing, or some kind of prosperity. The wealth of the Christian is his virtues. It is his love for his neighbor, it is his humility, his obedience to the will of God. He loves himself as one made in the image of God; not as one who uses up earthly things, but as one who must fulfill the will of God. Surely, this is the essence of mankind’s blessedness."
Upon completion of the service, the faithful communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries and then proceeded to the church hall, where the cathedral sisterhood had prepared a lenten luncheon for the clergy and parishioners.