On September 20, the 15th Sunday after Pentecost and the Sunday before the Exaltation, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. Concelebrating with His Grace were cathedral clerics: dean Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Archpriest Edward Chervinsky, Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff, and Hierodeacon Panteleimon (Jigalin; diocesan cleric). Praying in the altar was Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.
Placed on an analogion in the center of the church was the Protectress of the Russian Diaspora ‒ the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God, which the Holy Church honors on September 8/21, the feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. This year, that day marks the 725th anniversary of its finding near the city of Kursk in 1295. On its feast day, the holy icon departed for its first home in the U.S. ‒ the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY, where the church is dedicated to that great feast of the Theotokos. Thus, on Sunday, the clergy and parishioners of the Synodal Cathedral offered special reverence to the holy image, and were able to offer up their prayers to the Most Holy Theotokos.
The Synodal choir prayed beautifully and prayerfully at Liturgy. In keeping with established pandemic restrictions, a large number of parishioners prayed in church, most of whom communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of the service, His Grace greeted the clergy and faithful with the Church New Year (September 1/14), and delivered a sermon on the Gospel reading of the day.
"Today, we heard the Gospel according to Matthew, where a certain lawyer ‒ a teacher who knew the Scriptures well ‒ tempted Jesus Christ, asking Him which commandment in the Law was the greatest. And the Savior answered him: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And there is a second commandment: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Everything hangs on these commandments: our Faith, our teaching, and our theology ‒ everything that we do in our life, all our successes and accomplishments. We must all live with love for God, helping our neighbor as befits an Orthodox Christian." Pointing to the Kursk Root Icon, His Grace said that the Mother of God must be for us an example of love, humility, and obedience. For 100 years now, the icon has been carrying out its worldwide "pilgrimage," and in every city and country, the Most Holy Theotokos hears the prayers of the faithful, taking close to heart all of their cares and bringing them to her Divine Son.
Bishop Nicholas expressed his joy that the icon occupied the center of the church on this day, and reminded the faithful that "The icon must be in our hearts and must remind us to love God with our whole heart, and to do everything that we do in God’s name."
His Grace noted that it is important for a Christian to live and think according to the Church calendar, preparing in advance for the week’s feast days, which will in turn enrich and sanctify our lives.
Fr. Andrei Sommer served a moleben before the Kursk Icon for the beginning of the school year, and wished success, God’s aid, and the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos to the teachers, students, and all who require help and instruction.
New York City: On Eve of Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos & Anniversary of Finding of Kursk Root Icon, Bishop Nicholas celebrates Liturgy in Synodal Cathedral - 09/20/20