A tour of St Andrew’s Orthodox Church in Riverside California by it’s Pastor, Fr Josiah Trenham. Fr Josiah is the author of the podcast The Arena on Ancient Faith Radio
Month: October 2011
Vladyka Mark – Visit to Kazakhstan
In September, 2011, a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia brought the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” to Kazakhstan. During the icon’s stay in Almaty, Archbishop Mark, who headed the delegation, granted an interview to the magazine Light of Orthodoxy in Kazakhstan.
— Vladyka, tell us please about the life of the Russian Orthodox Church in Germany. Who comprise the majority of your parishioners, Russian emigres or native Germans? What language is used during divine services?
— Until 1990, our parishioners were mostly emigres of the first and second waves, that is, those who fled Russia after 1917 and after World War II. Many of them gradually moved to America and Australia, so our parishes began to decline by 1990. When the borders opened, Germans from the Soviet Union were allowed to relocate to Germany, so there was an infusion of new blood, mostly from Kazakhstan. Before 1990, the language of our divine services was half Church Slavonic and half German, but by the early 1990’s we started serving mostly in Church Slavonic.
But now we again have a tendency towards using German, because the children of the immigrants don’t have the same motivation to preserve the Russian language and culture as the old emigres did, and for this reason we serve partly in German. It is usually like this: a priest serves in Slavonic, while the Gospel, Epistle and one or two litanies are read in German. In some parishes it’s the opposite, once a month they serve in German, but the Epistle and some litanies are read in Slavonic.
As far as Germans who have converted to Orthodoxy are concerned, they are few, but a small percentage exists in every parish. There are also people among our parishioners who come to Germany temporarily, for work or school: college students, professors and scholars.
— Do you have converts to Orthodoxy from Catholicism or Protestantism?
— There are such people, but they represent a very small percentage. Our priests are working in this direction. We have a yearly seminar for people who are interested in Orthodoxy, and we acquaint them with our lives and some of them accept Holy Baptism.
— You minister to parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia not only in Germany, but in Great Britain, too. Is the church situation there different?
— Yes, it is different. As I said, in Germany, there is a large percentage of parishioners who are from Kazakhstan, so-called Russian Germans. You don’t find these people in Great Britain. There, the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church have a small number of Greek Russians, but not many at all. Mostly these are people who moved to the country for various reasons, mostly for work, some of them moved there permanently, others only for a time.
— You were born and reared in a Protestant family. How is it that you, a German by blood, became a bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church?
— When I was a young man, I studied in the philological department, Slavistics and Old Russian, Ancient Russian literature, Church Slavonic. That is how I became acquainted with the spiritual literature of Old Rus. A greater impression was made on me by the works of St Nilus of Sora. When I read them, I understood that I must become a monk, choose the path of service to the Church. I grasped that the Truth was in Orthodox Christianity. That is why there was no question that I must leave Protestantism.
But I did not immediately become a monk, I prepared for many years: I would travel to Mt Athos, and learned a great deal from the old Russian startsy there. Since we needed priests in Germany, I was ordained to the priesthood. I did not dream of becoming a hierarch, but that was what the Church decided.
— You actively participated in the process of reunification of the Russian Church Abroad with the Moscow Patriarchate. What changed in your life after this finally took place?
— It is very significant that we now have the opportunity to have such close contact, to pray together, to serve together. This is the most important thing. We now participate in all the events of Russia, we participate in the Councils of Bishops. I think this is of great importance.
— We know that after the reunification of the Churches, some members of ROCOR did not recognize the unification and preferred an independent path in church life, for instance, Lesna Convent in France. What can be said now about this group?
— Sadly, these people are so blinded, so fanatical, that they are incapable of recognizing the actual situation in Russia, in the Russian Church, and so they have torn themselves away from the Church. This causes us great pain, because among them are parishes, monasteries that were dear to us. They broke off, without seeking counsel, some even giving no hint that they were disturbed by the process of reunification, simply declaring suddenly that they are no longer with us. A schism such as this in any organism is painful, and, of course, many of us suffer greatly from what happened. On the other hand, in numbers, this is a very small percentage and does not represent the real face of our Church.
— Is this your first visit to Kazakhstan?
— Yes, the first.
— What are your impressions?
— I had read a great deal about Kazakhstan and also heard much from my parishioners. But one gets a more profound impression in person. I must say that I was very happy to have the possibility to come to know the believers of your country. In Astana and Almaty, we met civil representatives and I understood that the attitude towards the Church and the faithful is positive here. This is very important for us. I think that many of those who left this country in the 1990’s did so to escape what they feared would be heightened tension with the government. At the same time, as I see it now, this relationship is very positive. I think that the Orthodox people here have a future and must hold fast to their faith, their rules, their way of life.
Visiting the expanses of Kazakhstan, I feel in my heart that this is truly an antimension under the open skies. Every populated place here is connected with the name of a New Martyr or Confessor, every kilometer of Kazakhstan soil was bathed with the blood of those suffering for Christ.
Karaganda occupies a special place on the spiritual map of the country, having preserved until this day a living memory of the death camps—Karlag, Steplag, Peschanlag, and other horrible places of torture and executions of innocent people. A great holy man of God shone in Karaganda, Elder Sevastian, in whose podvig we see witness for Christ as was the continuation of the prayerful podvigi of the holy Elders of Optina.
— You often accompany the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God on its pilgrimages to various countries. What does this holy icon mean to you?
— Even as a layman, I frequently had the opportunity to pray before this icon. Later, as it turned out, the first month of my priesthood I was appointed to travel together with another priest and this icon to several of our parishes. I saw how the people were drawn to this holy image and witnessed miracles happening in its presence. So not only I but many of our clergymen became very attached to this miracle-working icon.
— Could you share one of the miracles you witnessed?
— At one parish I had attended for many years as a layman, I accompanied the icon not only to church but to the homes of sick people. We took the icon to one very old woman whom I knew well; she had been unable to walk for several years. She asked that we warn her in advance of our arrival so that she could have her son come and open the apartment. But when we arrived, she opened the door herself and after that, she would walk to church by herself, and for several years. This was the first genuine miracle that I witnessed. But later I was witness to very many miraculous events.
— Allow us to thank you on behalf of our readers for heading the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia which allowed us to venerate this great holy icon of the Orthodox Church.
— We are very thankful to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, who blessed the visit of the Hodigitria of the Russian diaspora to your country.
I would like to thank His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan, the head of this Metropolitan District, for organizing the visit of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God to Kazakhstan. It was his good initiative that the people of Astana, Karaganda and Almaty, over two hundred thousand of them, and over a short period of time, could venerate the holy icon.
I also thank the archpastors of the dioceses of the Kazakhstan Metropoliate, Vladyka Metropolitan Seraphim of Borjomi and Bakurian, and the clergymen and faithful for sharing this joy of common prayer.
— May the Lord save you, Vladyka, thank you for this interview. I hope that we will once again see you on Kazakhstan’s soil.
Metropolitan District of Kazakhstan/Patriarchia.ru
Слово без дела ― суетно и неплодотворно
Белгород, 17 сентября 2011 года. В праздник обретения мощей и 100-летия прославления святителя Иоасафа, епископа Белгородского, Святейший Патриарх Кирилл возглавил служение Божественной литургии на Соборной площади Белгорода на месте разрушенного Богородице-Рождественского монастыря.
“I Dreamt of the Priesthood Since Childhood”
– Vladyka, please tell us about your “new homeland.” Where were you born?
– I was born in Western Canada, in the Province of Alberta, where there were a great many Ukrainian settlers. My parents immigrated to Canada in 1929 from Ukraine, which at that time was part of Poland. They had lived in Volhynia guberniya. After World War One, Poland was granted the western part of Ukraine—Volhynia oblast, Galicia, etc. During World War II, the Soviet Union seized these territories. But by that time, my parents were already in Canada. At home we spoke Ukrainian, and English at school. My first language is English.
– Did you not speak any Russian as a child?
– I began to study Russian only when I enrolled in Seminary, in New York State, where I received my theological training.
– What memories do you have from your childhood?
– At that time, all the Ukrainians lived on farms. Canada is an enormous country and there are vast tracts of land, such as in Texas and Oklahoma. For the first few years, we lived far from school, and along with other school-age children, I walked two-and-a-half miles to school every day. Sometimes someone would give us a ride. During the spring, when it was muddy, it would stick to our shoes, and it would be hard to walk. But it was fun, and safe—we all knew each other. During the winter, if the ditches were filled with ice and not covered by snowdrifts, I would skate part of the time to the bus, or take another road. I had a very pleasant childhood, absolutely free of any harmful influences. No one even knew that illegal drugs existed… Since early childhood I loved the Church and decided that I would become a priest at the age of six or seven.
– Do you remember your first visit to church?
– Yes. We would go to Holy Trinity Church in the farming village of Spirit River, where everyone was Ukrainian. First there was a little church, which at the time seemed very big to me. After a while, they built a new, bigger church. It was consecrated by Archbishop Panteleimon, who headed the Diocese in Canada. He often visited our parish and served there, because we had a dearth of priests, and divine services were not held often: once a month or even every two months. Archbishop Panteleimon himself traveled 400 miles by bus to visit us in order to conduct services on days off. He was my idol, I revered him. Once he gave me his blessing and said: “Someday you will be a priest,” as though he could see my future.
Services were held in Church Slavonic. My mother sang on the kliros, and though I really wanted to serve in the altar or go to the kliros, I was afraid, because only adults served in the altar then, and they didn’t allow children there for some reason. I yearned to go, but just didn’t dare. It was only after I joined the seminary that I could frequent the kliros, because I could sing. I learned the order of divine services, which are very complicated—you have to know when to go where at what time, learn the order of divine services. Later I learned to serve as an acolyte and I continued to serve until my ordination. All this was at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.
– Vladyka, you graduated seminary in 1972, and in 1976 you graduated from Syracuse University with a Master’s Degree in Slavic Studies and Literature. Why did you decide to also get a lay education, having already gotten theological training?
– Our Vladyka Laurus blessed several monks to enroll in the university to obtain academic status and have the chance to teach at seminary. Our seminary already has state accreditation from the State of New York, and Vladyka wanted to elevate the quality of teaching of Russian language and literature so that the quality of our seminary education in these subjects would improve. We studied Church Slavonic, Old Russian and Old Slavonic at the university. A very kind, nice man by the name of Yakov Panteleimonovich Gursky taught this subject, and there were also other Russian and American teachers.
– Vladyka, it wouldn’t be totally inappropriate for me to call you a colleague, for you were the editor-in-chief of a magazine at one time…
– Starting with my second year at Seminary at Jordanville, I began to work as a typesetter, when I didn’t even know Russian yet. I was appointed to typeset Orthodox Life in English, the editor of which at the time was Archimandrite Konstantin (Zaitsev)—a highly-educated but older person born in St Petersburg before the Revolution. As a result of his age, it was difficult for him to execute the duties of editor, and so that job was soon assigned to me. After some time my boss in the print shop, Hieromonk Ignaty told me to do the Russian typesetting, too. This helped me learn the Russian language a great deal, because while typesetting, you had to read and proofread, and even correct, text.
– Now the main problem faced by any editor is financing. What was your main headache at the time?
– My biggest challenge as editor-in-chief was to find material. There were no financial issues, since we had our own printing presses at the monastery. But we had to collect materials and do translations. Some people we knew would submit texts. There were a great many biographies of saints translated then, which I asked not only monastics but visiting laypersons, too. Russian articles were translated into English. Our journal was published six times a year. It is still published today, but improved, with a new format. Things were a lot more difficult then. It was hard to work with the old linotype machines. Molten lead was used for the galleys. The press would often jam, and we had to clean out the metal. Sometimes it would splash in your face, your beard, your feet. Sometimes you couldn’t do any work for a whole day as a result, having to clean the equipment instead. Sometimes the typeset assemblage would fall apart and you had to begin all over again…
– Vladyka Hilarion, you have a beautiful lay name—Igor Kapral. Was it hard to abandon it and get used to a new, ecclesiastical name? Why were you given the name Hilarion?
– Sometimes a priest can request a specific name. I didn’t, but I had a feeling it would be Hilarion. I liked the name, I revered Metropolitan Hilarion, who entered Russian history books as the first Russian metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia. Archbishop Averky (Taushev), who tonsured me, gave me that name. Of course, when you are tonsured and given a new name, it is difficult at first to get used to it. But I was happy that I got this name, because my saint is Schema-monk Hilarion of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra. Vladyka Averky thought that he was a metropolitan first, only later taking on the schema. But some scholars think these were two different saints. The Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra has the relics of St Hilarion, and whenever I am there I always venerate them.
– In 1974, you were ordained a priest, and in 1984 you were already made Bishop of Manhattan. In lay terms, that is a brilliant, skyrocketing career…
– At first I served a few years as a priest-monk in the monastery, as I worked at the printing press. I was often sent to parishes to replace priests who were away. I celebrated Pascha and other church holidays in Cleveland, where there was no priest at all, and in Pennsylvania… In this way I learned the practical aspects of serving in parishes. This proved very important in preparing me for service as a bishop. A bishop really should know the local conditions in distant parishes.
I knew Pennsylvania pretty well, and I often visited Washington, DC, when I was Bishop of Manhattan. In 1995, I was given the title of Bishop of Washington, but that only lasted one year: in 1996, I was sent to the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand. In America, my work stretched throughout the Eastern American Diocese, which included Maine, New York, Washington and Florida. I often visited the southern states, and sometimes I was invited to parishes of the Chicago Diocese.
Since 1996, most of my life has been connected with Australia—there full-time for 12 years, then two or three years of visiting them for periods of time. At first I was sorry to leave my diocese on the Eastern Seaboard of the US, because we had been opening new churches here, I ordained many clergymen here, so it was hard to say goodbye. But I accepted the obedience laid upon me, left for Australia and came to love the flock there a great deal, and again it was hard to leave. I hoped to remain there for the rest of my life. Many people begged me not to leave, to stay in Australia, because I remain to this day Ruling Bishop of Sydney, Australia and New Zealand. I hope that a vicar bishop is found soon who could live there and help me. Now I have no such vicar, so the ongoing diocesan matters are left to me alone to tend to.
– But the Orthodox believers of this country do not want a different bishop, preferring that you remain their ruling bishop. Why is that?
– Before me, Australia had not had a regular bishop for five years. Archbishop Paul, my predecessor, fell seriously ill and could not rule. Various bishops were sent there, but the lack of a bishop in a diocese leads to various problems and conflicts, that is why it is important for an archpastor to be there. Some parishes and priests wanted to be independent of the diocese. When they left for another church, they took church property with them, and the church buildings. We had to protect the interests of the diocese and stem this. Even before me, a Property Trust had been set up for the diocese, though it had its flaws.
We worked on the text of the founding document and amended it, and sent it to all the priests and parishioners for consideration. In the end, at a specially-convened diocesan assembly, at which both clergy and laypersons participated, it passed a vote. It was then submitted to Parliament. After the New South Wales Parliament approved it, everyone relaxed. This was a great accomplishment.
The diocese had a shortage of priests then, we had to find candidates, do missionary work, because there were Australians who wanted to convert to Orthodoxy. We had to strengthen the diocese and its church life.
– Vladyka, after the death of Metropolitan Laurus, the Council of Bishops of ROCOR elected you the sixth Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and elevated you to the rank of metropolitan. Was this a surprise to you or did you sense that events would unfold in such a way?
– I very much feared that this would happen, because Vladyka Laurus had appointed me his deputy with the approval of the Council of Bishops. Vladyka hoped that I would replace him. I hoped that Vladyka Laurus would live for a long time, and didn’t even want to imagine becoming metropolitan. But after his death, which was a great shock to me, I anticipated this moment, the [decision of the] approaching Council, with fear and trembling. Unfortunately, I was elected. I feared this because it is such a heavy cross to bear. But I thank God that day after day, problems are being handled, though they are replaced with new ones, but by Divine mercy they also get resolved. One must pray fervently for God to help.
– What is your main mission as First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad?
– My main duty as the Primate is to be the senior bishop in our Orthodox family, which is scattered throughout the Western world. I must also convene meetings of the Synod of Bishops, at which bishops gather three or four times a year, as well as other representatives of dioceses. I convene the Council of Bishops, to which all the hierarchs of the Church Abroad come, to discuss and decide the fundamental questions in the life of the Church. So the role of the First Hierarch is to unite everyone, to keep them all together. When bishops convene in Russia, or some important church event takes place, the First Hierarch acts as representative of the Russian Church Abroad. The First Hierarch also has his own diocese. As I said, my own dioceses include both those of Eastern America and Australia and New Zealand.
– Vladyka, how many parishes now comprise the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia?
– It is difficult to answer this question. Not long ago we had 500 parishes, but I think we have many more now. Although after the reunification in 2007, some parishes, for instance, in South America and a few American states, broke away. A great many new communities have sprung up in their place, consisting of Russians who are now scattered throughout the whole world, and new missions are being formed. Recently 12 priests have appeared in Indonesia, there is a mission in Haiti, where we have two priests, and about 7 native Haitians will soon be going to the Russian Orthodox seminary in Paris, France. I am hoping that they become Orthodox clergymen. The Dominican Republic now has a community, and there is one in Costa Rica. South America is a problem, financially, and because of the lack of clergymen and the schism. In Guatemala there is a large group of people, mostly local natives who wish to convert to Orthodoxy. There are many examples of America priests, Catholics and Lutherans who accept Orthodoxy together with their entire parishes. Some of them wish to preserve the Western Rite, and we give our consent. The Western Rite was actually permitted by the Russian Orthodox Church in the 19th century. Now we have 20-25 such communities.
– Vladyka, how does the process of gathering parishes happen in practice?
– Very naturally, very normally. We can breathe easy, because there is no division now, no quarrels or accusations, and we can move forward together in love and mutual understanding. The path of schism is unconstructive and leads to nothing good. One Church has not consumed the other, there is no inequality in our relations. Many priests from Russia now visit us, and we can pray together. This greatly enriches our spiritual life. We can participate in conferences and our youth can socialize.
– Vladyka, these are not the simplest of times: there is a global economic crisis, catastrophes and natural disasters occur, people are frightened by talk of the end of the world. How is a person to endure all this? Whence comes spiritual strength?
– Of course, it is in faith. One should remember that God suffered for us, and suffers now together with us now. The cause of all tragedies is the sinfulness of mankind. One must pray that God protect us from such things, and remember that God is love, He desires our salvation. All earthly things are perishable and temporary, while ahead of us is eternity, which will be blessed and joyous.
– Your favorite prayer, which you would recommend that all Orthodox Christians learn?
– O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, Who art in all places, and fills all things; Treasury of good things, and Giver of Life, come dwell in us and cleanse us from our every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.
– Thank you for your time, Vladyka.
New York-Oklahoma City
Journal of Archimandrite Cyprian
JERUSALEM: October 23, 2011
The Journal of Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern) Has Been Discovered
On October 6, 2011, the forum known as the Jerusalem Orthodox Seminar resumed its work. The second compendium of scholarly works from the 2009-2010 seminar has also been published (Ierusalimskij Pravoslavnij Seminar. Vypusk 2 [Jerusalem Orthodox Seminar. Second Edition], Jerusalem/Moscow, Indrik, 2011, 208 pp.)
The first lecture at the forum was devoted to the forthcoming publication of the journals of Fr Cyprian (Kern), who served as Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem from 1928-1930 (Deacon Alexander Zanemonets, speaker). Fr Cyprian (1899-1960) is renowned mostly for his participation in the “Paris School” of Russian theology, a professor at St Sergius Theological Institute and teacher of Protopriest Alexander Schmemann, Protopriest John Meyendorf and Protopriest Boris Bobrinskoy.
Long before his Paris period, while still living in Serbia, the 28-year-old Hieromonk Cyprian was appointed by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to be the Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. The main fruit of the two-year sojourn of Archimandrite Cyprian in the Holy Land was the preparation of a book on his great predecessor as Chief of the REM, Archimandrite Antony (Kapustin). The Mission at the time was headed by Archbishop Anastassy (Gribanovsky), who was living in Jerusalem but later became the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.
The Jerusalem journal of Fr Cyprian (approximately 300 meticulously handwritten pages) was recently discovered, which now bear witness to the inner life of the man in his youth, but also brings testimony about the “Russian Palestine” of the British Mandate period. The life of the Mission and Russian monasteries, along with the Jewish-Palestinian conflict of the time is recorded, as well as the many contacts with the British authorities and the correspondence with the Russian diaspora. Finally, the journal reveals the evolution of Fr Cyprian himself, about whom is little known from this period of his life.
Проповедь в праздник Покрова Пресвятой Богородицы
Калининград, 14 октября2011 года. В праздник Покрова Пресвятой Владычицы нашей Богородицы и Приснодевы Марии Святейший Патриарх Кирилл совершил Божественную литургию в кафедральном храме Христа Спасителя города Калининграда. За Литургией Предстоятель Русской Церкви и сослужившие Его Святейшеству архиереи совершили хиротонию архимандрита Вениамина (Кириллова) во епископа Ардатовского и Атяшевского.
Some video from our feast day . . .
The Protection (Pokrov) of the Most Holy Mother of God
The Protection (Pokrov) of the Most Holy Mother of God
“The Virgin today doth stand forth within the Church, and with the choirs of the Saints invisibly for us doth pray to God: angels with hierarchs make reverence, and apostles with prophets sing forth: for us the Birthgiver of God prayeth the Praeternal God” — this miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-X Century at Constantinople, in the Blakhernae church where there was preserved the Robe of the Mother of God, Her Head-Veil (mathoria) and part of the Belt-Sash, transferred from Palestine in the V Century. On Sunday, 1 October, during the time of the all-night vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ Saint Andrew (Comm. 2 October) at the fourth hour of the night lifted up his eyes towards the heavens, and beheld coming through the air our MostHoly Lady Mother of God resplendent with an Heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. The holy Baptist of the Lord John and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knee the MostHoly Virgin began with tears to pray for Christians and for a long time was at prayer. Then, coming nigh the Prestol’-Throne, She continued Her prayer, which having completed She then took from Her head the veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The MostHoly Lady Mother of God was resplendent with Heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in Her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun”. Saint Andrew gazed atrembling at the miraculous vision and he asked of his disciple Blessed Epiphanios standing alongside him: “Dost thou see, brother, the Queen and Lady, praying for all the world?” Epiphanios answered: “I do see, holy father, and I be in awe”. The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored of the Lord Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people, calling on His MostHoly Name and hastening in recourse to Her intercession. “O Heavenly King, — sayeth in prayer the Immaculate Queen standing aethereally amidst the Angels, — accept every person, that prayeth unto Thee and calleth on My Name for help, let them not go empty away unheard from before My Visage”. Saints Andrew and Epiphanios, granted to behold the Mother of God at prayer, “for a long time did gaze at the protecting veil spread over the people and the lightning like flashes in glory to the Lord; as long as the Most Holy Mother of God was there, so likewise was the protecting veil visible; but with Her departure it likewise became invisible, and though having taken it with Her, She left behind the grace of having been there”. At the Blakhernae church was preserved the memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God. In the XIV Century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Aleksandr saw within the church an icon of the MostHoly Mother of God praying for the world, and written such, as depicting Saint Andrew in contemplation of Her. But the Greek Church does not know this feast. [trans. note: i.e. does not historically celebrate this feast. Our Russian source is here reticent concerning the historical circumstances occasioning the necessary protective intercession of the Mother of God, and it reflects a great irony, that for the Russians rather than for the Greeks this should be an important feast, since it celebrates the Divine destruction by a storm of a large pagan-Russian fleet under Askold and Dir which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867, or per the Russian historian Vasiliev on 18 June 860.
The Russian Primary Chronicle of Saint Nestor notes this miraculous deliverance following the all-night vigil and the dipping of the garment of the Mother of God into the waters of the sea at the Blakhernae church, but without mention of Saints Andrew and Epiphanios and their vision of the Mother of God at prayer. These latter elements, and the beginnings of the celebrating of the feast of Pokrov, seem to postdate Saint Nestor and the Chronicle. A further historical complication might be noted under the 2 October entry for Saint Andrew — that of his demise in the year 936. Either this year of death might not be quite reliable, or that he survived into quite extreme old age after the vision of his youth, or that his vision involved some historically later pagan-Russian raid which met with the same fate. The below suggestion likewise that the Saint Andrew of the vision was a Slav (or a Skyth per other sources, such as S. V. Bulgakov) — is a nice touch, but not necessarily chauvinism: the extent of historical South Slavic penetration and re-population into Greece is the stuff of scholarly disputes].
In the Prologue, a Russian book of the XII Century, is contained a description about the establishing of the special feastday in honour of this event: “For lo, when we heard, — we realised, how wondorus and merciful was the vision and moreover an expectation and intercession on our behalf, without celebration… and it transpired, that Thy holy Pokrov-Protection should not remain without festal-celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!”. Wherefore in the festal celebration of the Divine-services to the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Church intones: ” With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with the PriestMartyrs and Sainted-hierarchs pray Thou for us sinners, glorifying the feast of Thine Protection in the Russian Land”. And moreover, it would seem that Saint Andrew, contemplating the miraculous vision, was a Slav, taken captive and at Constantinople given over into slavery to the local inhabitant named Theognost.
Churches in honour of the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God appeared in Russia in the XII Century. Widely known on its architectural merit is the temple of the Pokrov at Nerla, which was built in the year 1165 by holy Prince Andrei Bogoliubsky. Through the efforts of this holy prince was also established in the Russian Church the feast itself, the Pokrov-Protection of the Mother of God, in about the year 1164. At Novgorod in the XII Century there existed a monastery of the Pokrov of the MostHoly Mother of God (the so-called Zverinsk monastery); at Moscow also under tsar Ivan the Terrible was built the cathedral of the Pokrov of the Mother of God at the church of the Holy Trinity (known as the church of Saint Basil the Great).
On the feast of the Pokrov-Protection of the MostHoly Mother of God we implore the defense and assist of the Queen of Heaven: “Remember us in Thine prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we perish not by the increase of our sins, protect us from every evil and from grievous woes; for on Thee do we hope, and venerating the feast of Thine Pokrov, Thee do we magnify”.
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