On Monday, August 1, the feast of Venerable Seraphim, Wonderworker of Sarov, despite its being a workday, a large number of the faithful gathered in St. Seraphim Memorial Church to the Re-Establishment of Unity in the Russian Church in Sea Cliff, NY. The church was filled with worshippers young and old. The festal divine services, served according to the hierarchal rite, stood out for their exceptional majesty and profundity. A triumphal and joyous atmosphere united all of the participants of the feast, whose faces shone with joy and calm.
The evening prior, the lesser blessing of the water was performed, along with the singing of an akathist to Venerable Seraphim and All-Night Vigil with the litia, blessing of the loaves, and magnification to the saint. Upon completion of the evening service, the rector, Fr. Serafim Gan, invited all of the clergy, singers, and worshippers to a large reception at his residence, organized by his wife and mother, which proceeded in a friendly atmosphere.
On the day of the patronal feast itself, His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, celebrated Divine Liturgy, co-served by the rector and local and visiting clergy, to the exultant singing of the parish choir under the direction of N.M. Miro. Prior to the start of Liturgy, His Grace tonsured Vladimir Gaberman a reader.
Upon completion of Liturgy, a short moleben was served before the festal icon, with the reading of a prayer to the venerable saint. Bishop Nicholas then delivered a sermon on the feast, and after the dismissal congratulated the rector, clergy, and parishioners on their patronal feast.
In reply, parish rector Fr. Serafim greeted and thanked the archpastor, clergy, altar servers, singers, and worshippers, saying that the memory of Venerable Seraphim consoles the Orthodox, who continue to stand before God in prayer for the restoration of peace; prayer which, in the words of Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom; +2003) of Sourozh, "is born from the horror of compassion."
Fr. Serafim the congratulated Bishop Nicholas on the 10th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood ‒ which had been performed by the departed Metropolitan Hilarion at the altar of St. Seraphim Church ‒ and presented him as a gift a rare historical document, framed and signed by the Holy Hierarch and Wonderworker Jonah (Pokrovsky; +1925) of Hankou far back in 1924, noting that the reposed Metropolitan Hilarion often called this holy hierarch to mind in the final months of his life: his miracles, his ascetic feats, and his very active work in the Church, aimed at serving children, youth, the poor, missionary work, and education. Concluding, the rector wished Bishop Nicholas the prayerful aid of the above-mentioned archpastors in the fulfilling of his weighty service.
The feast concluded with a traditional and sumptuous meal offered by the parish sisterhood, led by E.M. Mikheev. The luncheon proceeded in an atmosphere of joy, spiritual unity, and togetherness. Warm words of greeting were offered by Abbot Eutychius (Dovgan; abbot of St. Nicholas Skete in Freehold, NJ), Archpriest Dimitri Jakimowicz (rector of St. Nicholas Church in Stratford, CT), parish Protodeacon Paul Wolkow, and A.S. Slobodskoy. As the luncheon drew to a close, the rector, expressing once more his gratitude to the archpastor, clergy, subdeacons, acolytes, singers, sisterhood, and benefactors, wished them all peace of mind, mutual respect, patience with one another, and brotherly love, around the acquirers of which "thousands will be saved," asking of all forgiveness for his shortcomings and their holy prayers.
On Saturday, August 6, the feast day of the Holy Martyr Christina of Tyre and the Holy Right-Believing Princes & Passion-bearers Boris and Gleb, on the threshold of the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr & Healer Panteleimon, the parish rector celebrated Divine Liturgy in the summer Church of St. Panteleimon in Kittatinny, NJ, which is attached to St. Seraphim parish, co-served by Protodeacons Paul Wolkow and Eugene Kallaur and with the prayerful singing of the choir under the direction of Natalia P. Gill. Upon completion of the service, a moleben was served to the church’s Heavenly patron, and a bountiful luncheon was then served at the summer home of the church’s longtime caretaker A.N. Ryl.
The radiant memory of these beloved saints long illumined the souls and hearts of the faithful. These patronal days are a wonderful opportunity to remember how important it is to live in peace and to also be inclined to gratitude for God’s innumerable acts of goodness, given to us in this life. Additionally, they remind us of the path that man today must walk. There is only one path – with God. And if we will strive to walk this path, then no dangers ‒ neither in the life of society nor of the state ‒ will shake our spirit, neither will any sorrows or temptations break us or darken our lives. For is God is with us and we strive according to our abilities to be with Him, then there is no power in the world that can overcome the power of God, which lives and acts in Christ’s Church. The life of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov in particular inspires the people to actively strive for salvation, to carry the joy of the Risen Christ in their whole lives and in all of their actions, great and small.
May the Lord help us in this!
Translation by the Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese.