It is now the second Sunday of this Great Lent that, in accordance with requirements by City authorities in connection with the ongoing epidemic crisis, Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City was celebrated without parishioners present. On March 29, the 4th Sunday of Great Lent, dedicated to Venerable John Climacus, Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas celebrated Liturgy; concelebrating with His Grace were cathedral dean Archpriest Andrei Sommer and Deacon Nicholas Ilyin (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY).
The cathedral organized an online live-stream feed of the divine services, so that in these Lenten days, parishioners could pray in their own homes and hear the sermons traditionally delivered for them by the serving clergy.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas thanked the clergy for their shared prayer, and in his sermon said, in part:
"On this Sunday, we commemorate Venerable John Climacus, who was the abbot of the monastery on Mount Sinai," said Bishop Nicholas. "This great ascetic left us a great spiritual inheritance. For forty years, he labored in fasting and prayer, and then served another four years as the abbot of the Sinai monastery. It is difficult for us to fast for 40 days, but the venerable saint, who was born and raised and lived just as we all do, dedicated his life to God. We are not expected to labor for 40 years, but to spend at least 40 days in fasting and prayer, in order to ponder the spiritual life and to evaluate what the Lord has done for us. Let us follow the example set down by St. John Climacus, and strive for the remaining days of the fast and Passion Week, at least to some extent, to lay aside our cares and analyze our soul, to ask God’s forgiveness and help."
His Grace also touched on the Sunday Gospel reading, which tells of a man whose son was sick, and who sought Jesus Christ with all his heart, in order to ask the Lord to heal His son.
"The father came to the Lord with humility and asked for help. This is a particular relevant lesson for us today ‒ we can be saved, healed physically and spiritually, only with God’s help. And only if we do not demand it, but with humility ask for His help and the forgiveness of our sins."
Bishop Nicholas spoke about the services that will be held in the cathedral throughout the next week, and asked the faithful to read the Great Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, which will be read in full on Wednesday evening.