St Philips Fast had begun. The Entry of the Theotokos had been celebrated. Once more "Christ is born" had resounded.

For Orthodox Christian New York, this meant that the time had come to radiantly celebrate "the wondrous appearance of the most precious image of the Mother of God" November 27/December 10 the feast day of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God and the patronal feast of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign. This day has served as a central event in the spiritual life now for several generations of the citys faithful. However, it is honored not merely by those living in the environs of New York City: the entirety of the Church Abroad sees in the icon the great symbol of unity of those "living in the diaspora" and a pledge of our conciliarity with those living "in the homeland."

Naturally, this radiant feast is often accompanied by other significant events meetings of the Council of Bishops and, sometimes, hierarchal consecrations.

Thus, this year, in accordance with the resolution of the Council which took place, the consecration of a new hierarch His Grace Job, Bishop of Stuttgart was performed.

A tradition has taken root, by which the bishop visiting from around the world will visit some of the local parishes.

The day after the feast Saturday, December 11 in keeping with this tradition, three bishops Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, and Bishop Job decided to serve the resurrectional All-Night Vigil in the small, humble parish of the Holy Myrrh-Bearing Women in Brooklyn.

Prior to the start of the service, parish rector Archpriest Paul Ivanov arrived with the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God and with it blessed the church an all of the worshippers. Vigil was served in the presence of the icon. Then followed the greeting of Metropolitan Mark. The diaconal service was performed by visiting Deacon Nicholas Ilyin (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY) and parish Deacon Fiodor Tulbur. Also taking part in the service was parish cleric Archpriest Vasyl Yurina.

The Polyeleos began with the magnification of the wonderworking icon, with all three hierarchs taking part. After the Polyeleos, Metropolitan Mark delivered a lesson on the word of God and the importance of teaching oneself to remain in the presence of God, using every means the Church has given to the faithful to accomplish this.

The parish presented to the German guests icons of their Heavenly patrons (Venerable Mark the Ascetic of Egypt and Venerable Job of Pochaev). The parish rector presented Bishop Nicholas with a huge five-volume set of the journal of the Holy Hierarch Nicholas, Apostle to Japan. Metropolitan Mark gifted the parish a silver Communion spoon, the craftwork of the monastery in Munich, of which he serves as rector. Bishop Job led the Great Doxology.

The service was sung by the parish youth choir.

At lunch following the service, the bishops, as well as Fr Nicholas, noted with great pleasure that the traditions of church singing and the rubrics received by our Church Abroad are being presented in the parish. Many kind and sincere words were spoken by both guests and parishioners.

The parish of the Holy Myrrh-Bearing Women expressed their gratitude to the hierarchs for their prayers, interaction, and consolation; and to Bishop Nicholas for his ever-present care and participation. The feast came to an end, but the grace, peace, and warm memories it imparted remained.




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