On Friday, November 6, the feast day of the Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow," Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan paid an archpastoral visit to Joy of All Who Sorrow Church in Philadelphia, PA, where he celebrated Divine Liturgy for the parish’s patronal feast.
Concelebrating with His Grace were: Archpriest Serge Lukianov (dean of New Jersey), Priest Valery Sukholobov (parish rector), Priest Anthony Williams (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Diocesan Cathedral in Howell, NJ), Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY), and Deacon Stephanos Bibas (cleric of St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr Church in Rocky Hill, NJ).
At the Little Entrance, for his dedicated service to the Holy Church and tireless labors on behalf of the parish, Fr. Valery was awarded the right to wear the gold pectoral cross.
A large number of parishioners gathered for the festal divine service, most of whom communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. The choir sang triumphally and sweetly under the direction of conductor Elena Shibaeva.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas greeted the clergy and faithful with their patronal feast, and said in his sermon, in part:
"The Mother of God shows us an example, an image of humility and prayer. Gazing upon her festal icon, we much correct our own lives and acquire that which we lack in our spiritual lives. Recall the words of Venerable Ambrose of Optina, who said: ‘If there is no calm in you, then there is no humility, either.’ We see today many disturbances, and we ourselves grow aggravated. But we see an example of humility in the Mother of God. She accepted the obedience of becoming the birthgiver to God Himself, answering the Archangel Gabriel with her words, ‘Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.’
"The elder Anatolius of Optina said that, if for some reason we experience tedium, hardship, or confusion, this means that we have forgotten about our Lord Jesus Christ and are not praying to Him. The Mother of God, after the Ascension of the Lord, visited the placed frequented by her Divine Son ‒ she traveled to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, and prayed there for herself and for the entire human race. We much also constantly remember our Savior, so that we might not face tedium or hardship, and so that we might have spiritual and bodily health. And the Lord will hear our prayers, and our life will be easier, though anything that the Lord sends us must be accepted with gratitude and humility."
His Grace called on the faithful to make haste with a pure heart to the Mother of God, and the Queen of Heaven will preserve us and direct us along the true path.
The clergy then served a short moleben.
On behalf of His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, Bishop Nicholas awarded George Jablokov and Maria Greendyk diocesan gramotas for their dedicated service to the parish.
The rector thanked His Grace for his visit and prayers on the feast, and noted that the bishop’s visit instilled in the clergy and parishioners inspiration and courage. The parish sisterhood prepared a festal lenten luncheon, during which interaction between the clergy and parishioners continued.