In the Holy Trinity Monastery, the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God has always been celebrated with special solemnity. Part of this is due, undoubtedly, to the fact that the Mother of God is especially venerated by monastics as our heavenly abbess, the directress to Heaven. Also, this is due to the fact that the feast is tied in to our Labor Day weekend celebration of the memory of our heavenly protector, the Venerable Job of Pochaev, as will be explained shortly.
Taking advantage of the usual sunny and pleasant August weather, many pilgrims assembled to participate in the feast of the Theotokos, Her falling asleep. The Vigil was celebrated with the usual monastery solemnity, with the Litiya being held outside in front of the church. The monastery choir, directed by Reader Nicholas Kotar, sang the special melodies according to the practice of the monastery, including the Theotokion at the Vespers entrance, using several tones. When people approached to venerate the icon of the feast, they were anointed with myrrh from the Hawaiian Iveron Myrrh-streaming icon.
As has been the practice for many years, the Vigil and Divine Liturgy were served simultaneously in English in the Dormition church in the monastery cemetery. The liturgy in the monastery catholicon was attended by many pilgrims from all over the United States and Canada. Many communed of the Holy Mysteries. In his sermon, Igumen Theophylact spoke of the great humility of the Theotokos, how this goes hand in hand with sanctity, and how Her whole life served, and still serves to bring people to Her Son. Even having passed on to eternal life, she continues to be active and more so, in aiding in our salvation. Having lived in obscurity during Her earthly life, upon her falling asleep and being translated to the heavenly realms, She began to show in a magnified way Her true greatness and love for mankind.
Upon completion of the Divine Liturgy, a moleben was commenced in the cathedral. Upon chanting “The Lord is God,…” a procession started up to the cemetery, with the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God, a copy of the original one, which was gifted to the brotherhood while still in Slovakia and considered by many to be miraculous. With all the bells ringing, the faithful followed the choir and the clergy to the cemetery church of the Dormition while chanting the hymns of the feast.
Upon entering the cemetery, the procession was greeted by the bells of the cemetery church and Archimandrite Nektarios, who had served the English liturgy and those who had attended the liturgy. The moleben was continued while circling the church with the usual petitions and blessing with the icons and holy water. At the end, the prayer to the Mother of God was intoned, and the Many Years was sung.
As previously mentioned, the Dormition feast in the monastery is linked to our Labor Day weekend celebration of St. Job. The Pochaev Icon after the moleben is left on the altar table of the cemetery church of the Dormition, until Saturday of the Labor Day weekend, when another procession from the cathedral to the cemetery accompanies the return of the icon to the catholicon. At that time, hymns of the Dormition are chanted in procession back to the main monastery church. This celebration shows the strong links the Holy Trinity Monastery has with Pochaev, from which so many of our traditions come.
Glory to God for all things!