On Sunday, 16 March 2008, on the day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery reposed in the Lord. May the Lord grant him rest in His Kingdom!
On May 6/19, the Feast Day of St. Job of Pochaev, a new abbot for Holy Trinity Monastery was elected. Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, and Bishop Peter of Cleveland traveled from New York City to take part in the election. They were met with the ringing of bells, as Archimandrite Luke and the brotherhood waited in church to greet their new First Hierarch and Metropolitan.
On June 15, 2008 the Monastery solemnly celebrated the feast of Pentecost with Metropolitan Hilarion. At the end of the Vespers Service, the newly elected abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, Archimandrite Luke, was given the abbot’s staff as a symbol of his new role as a pastor and shepherd of the brotherhood entrusted to him. His Eminence expressed his warm wishes and expressed his heartfelt prayers that the Holy Spirit grant him enlightenment, strength and wisdom to carry out his duties. After the common meal a reception was held at the skete of the late Metropolitan Laurus for all present.
On Monday of the Holy Spirit, we had the honor to have His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion serve with us again. The Very Rev. Michael Boikov was awarded the jeweled cross for his service to the Church. Rev. Deacon Aleksey Dyuka was ordained to the priesthood and will now serve the Church in China. Deacon Nikolai Olhovski, received the double Orarion for his service and dedication to Metropolitan Laurus and the Church, Andrei Psarev, instructor of Russian Church History and Canon Law at Holy Trinity Seminary was made a subdeacon, and Arsenii Pilguik, a graduate of Holy Trinity Seminary was tonsured a reader for the German Diocese. May God help them in their service to the Church and grant them much strength. At the end of the liturgy Protodeacon Joseph read Grammata from the Synod of Bishop to Protodeacon Victor Lohmatov thanking him for his over 50 years of service, support and self sacrifice in assisting the late Metropolitan Laurus and working for Holy Trinity Monastery.
On Tuesday, June 17, the Very Rev. Archpriest Gabriel Kin reposed in the Lord after a period of sickness by which he prepared his soul for the Heavenly Kingdom. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Averky in 1969 and served for many years the Western American Diocese. After many years of service as a missionary priest he settled in Richfield Springs, close to the Monastery, where he served. He also taught for a number of years at Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary. He will be remembered for his love and dedication to the Mother of God, his piety, pure heart, and love towards people. May the Lord grant him Eternal Rest!
The Elders of Optina are commemorated on October 10. They were officially glorified on May 12, 1990 in the Cathedral Church of Saint Nicholas in Montreal, Canada. The chapel to the Optina Elders, as well as our monastery's bell tower were completed in 1988 as part of the millenian celebration of Orthodoxy in Russia. It is located on the third floor of the monastic dormitory and adorned with the original icon that was used for the glorification, and many other holy relics of saints. Services are held at the chapel during the winter season.
Read here an account of the glorification of the Holy Elders of Optina. The Elders of Optina brought many people to salvation through their prayers and their God given wisdom and enlightenment. They have inspired and guided countless of faithful to a true understanding of the spiritual life. May they help us in our difficult times to lead a proper spiritual life based on humility and truth.
Saint Herman Press has published an excellent series of the lives of the Optina Elders. These books are highly recommended as they inspire one towards the spiritual life and are contemporary examples of people striving towards holiness. These books may also be purchased through our bookstore.
The Monastery of St. Herman of Alaska in Platina and the St. Xenia Skete in Wildwood are greatly threatened by fires that have been ravaging many parts of California the past few days. Please pray that God will protect them and all those in immediate danger of losing their properties.
The directory of the Hierarchy, Clergy, and Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia is available online in PDF format. This edition will be revised to reflect the current changes, and will be posted with corrections in the near future.
On The Feast of All Saints of Russia
Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco
The feast of All Saints of Russia is not a feast of just righteous ones, but of saints. God is filled with holiness; "Holy is the Lord our God." But man is created in the "image and likeness" of God, and the Lord at creation blew into him the power to partake of the Divine essence and thereby come closer to God, and the closer a man is to God, the holier he is. Saints are those who have partaken of the Divine essence and made it their own; to God, they become "His own." The saints enjoy blessedness, for God is blessed. From them there is light for men. Through them the power of God is revealed. Saints retain all that is characteristic of the human condition; they know everything that is ours. They are near to God, but they are also near to us; they walked and dwelt among us. The people of Holy Russia venerated them, kissed their icons and holy relics, wanted to be as close as possible to the saints, touched holiness, and the Russian land was filled with it. Holy Prince Vladimir demonstrated the regenerating power of the Divine essence upon himself. Previously wild and passionate, he was completely reborn, so that he became a new person, radiating light and joy, and was called "beautiful sun." Do not think that contact with holiness is the fate of only the Russian nation. No! All peoples can live in the spirit that Holy Russia lived and lives in, and then they are close and comprehensible to each other. St. Anthony of the Kiev Caves and St. Anthony the Roman were men of different countries, but together they built the Russian Church, and they are equally near and dear to her. Until recent times we did not have martyrs, but there was a multitude of saints. They influenced the direction that the Russian people took; the people loved them and tried to follow them, and this determined the way of life. All of life was illuminated, until spiritual apostasy began, which led to a fall. But Holy Russia is alive. When the persecution began, strugglers were revealed, confessors, and now we have martyrs. The spirit of Holy Russia lives. Holy Russia is part of the Ecumenical (i.e., the entire) Church. Celebrating the saints, we desire to be together with them and to acquire the power of God through their holiness. They know us, our nature, our characteristics and spirits, and they know our souls, too-what is necessary for us. We are close to them as children are close to parents. The Apostle Peter prayed for his disciples. St. Demetrius of Thessalonica rushes to help the Greeks because this is his own nation. Sts. Boris and Gleb help their relatives (e.g., Alexander Nevsky), and their own Russian people.
On Tuesday July 15, the Russian Orthodox Scouts of the St. George Pathfinders of America visited Holy Trinity Monastery for their annual pilgrimage accompanied by the Very Rev. Serge Lukianov. A moleben was served at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, followed by a tour and lunch for all our guests.
On June 21, 2008, Hegumen John (Berzins) of the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America was consecrated to the episcopacy in the Church of the Nativity of Christ in Erie, PA. He was given the title Bishop of Caracas and will administer the South American parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
Divine Liturgy and the rite of consecration, and the rite of nomination held the evening before, were celebrated and performed by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, President of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Grace Bishop Daniel of Erie, and His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland.
The election of Fr John as Bishop of Caracas took place at the recent Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, and, in accordance with the Act of Canonical Communion signed on May 17, 2007, was confirmed by His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The divine services of June 21, as is customary in the Old-Rite Church of the Nativity in Erie, were performed in the ancient tradition. Participating were a multitude of clergymen who gathered in the city for the Orthodoxy in the 21st Century Conference, including Priest John Miroliubov, Secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Committee on Old-Rite Parishes.
On July 23, 2008, Olga, the mother of the Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, Archimandrite Luke, reposed in the Lord. After a period of sickness, the Lord took her on the eve of her patronal feast day. She was born in 1926 in Philadelphia coming from a long line of priests in her family and married to Peter Murianka who reposed in 2001 and is also buried at Holy Trinity Monastery. May the Lord grant the newly departed servant of God Olga eternal rest in His Heavenly Kingdom.
Having learnt about the hostilities in Tshinvali and its outskirts, I call upon the warring parties to cease fire and return to the path of dialogue. Blood is being shed in South Ossetia and people are being killed and this makes my heart to grieve profoundly. Among those who have lifted their hand against each other are Orthodox Christians. What is more, those who have come into conflict are Orthodox nations who are called by the Lord to live in brotherhood and love. I am aware of the appeal to peace made by His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Iliya of All Georgia. I also make my ardent appeal to those who have gone blind with hatred: stop! Do not let more blood be shed, do not let today’s conflict be expanded many times over! Show common sense and virtue: sit at the negotiation table for talks with respect for the traditions, views and aspirations of both the Georgian and Ossetian peoples. The Russian Church is ready to unite efforts with the Georgian Church and help in achieving peace. May our God, Who ‘is not a God of disorder but of peace’ (1 Cor. 14:33), be our Helper in this endeavor.
From the Prolog by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
In the third year of His preaching, the Lord Jesus often spoke to His disciples of His approaching passion but at the same time of His glory following His suffering on the Cross. So that His impending passion would not totally weaken His disciples and that no one would fall away from Him, He, the All-wise, wanted to partially show them His divine glory before His passion. For that reason, He took Peter, James and John with Him and, with them, went out at night to Mt. Tabor and there was transfigured before them: "And His face shone as the sun and His garments became white as snow" (St. Matthew 17:2). There appeared along side Him, Moses and Elijah, the great Old Testament prophets. And, seeing this, His disciples were amazed. Peter said: "Lord, it is good for us to be here: if You will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah" (St. Matthew 17:4). While Peter still spoke, Moses and Elijah departed and a bright cloud overshadowed the Lord and His disciples and there came a voice from the cloud saying: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear Him" (St. Matthew 17:5). Hearing the voice, the disciples fell to the ground on their faces as though dead and remained that way, lying in fear, until the Lord came near to them and said: "Arise and be not afraid" (St. Matthew 17:7). Why did the Lord take only three disciples on Tabor and not all? Because Judas was not worthy to behold the divine glory of the Teacher, Whom he will betray and the Lord did not want to leave him [Judas] alone at the foot of the mountain so that the betrayer would not, by that, justify his betrayal. Why was our Lord transfigured on a mountain and not in a valley? So as to teach us two virtues: love of labor and godly-thoughts. For, climbing to the heights required labor and height represents the heights of our thoughts, i.e., godly-thoughts. Why was our Lord transfigured at night? Because, the night rather than the day is more suitable for prayer and godly-thoughts and because the night, by its darkness, conceals all the beauty of the earth and reveals the beauty of the starry heavens. Why did Moses and Elijah appear? In order to destroy the error of the Jews, as though Christ is one of the prophets; Elijah or Jeremiah or some other that is why He appears as a King above the prophets and that is why Moses and Elijah appear as His servants. Until then, our Lord manifested His divine power many times to the disciples but, on Mt. Tabor, He manifested His divine nature. This vision of His Divinity and the hearing of the heavenly witness about Him as the Son of God, should serve the disciples in the days of the Lord's passion, in strengthening of an unwavering faith in Him and His final victory.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
There, where Israel defeated Sisar
There also condescended, the Heavenly King
Prayer, to go and to nightly vigils,
The glory of His Transfiguration, to manifest,
And the faith of His followers, to confirm
In the eternal victory of Him the Victor.
There, divine light from Himself, He released
Dispels the thick darkness, and illuminated Tabor;
The Light, for a long time, which in Himself contained
From which, to the world, a little at a time dispensed
Abundant rays, now released,
Jubilant rays, sweet rays.
The glow of humanity, to reveal to heaven,
To earth and to men, the Divine Truth.
Let the firmament, its Representative see,
Let the earth recognize God, the Savior.
Why did our Lord not manifest His divine glory on Tabor before all the disciples instead of before three of them? First, because He Himself gave the Law through the mouth of Moses: "At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established" (Deuteronomy 19:15). Therefore, three witnesses are sufficient. These three witnesses represent three main virtues: Peter Faith, for he was the first to confess his faith in Christ as the Son of God; James Hope, for, with faith in the promise of Christ, he was the first who laid down his life for the Lord, being the first to be slain by the Jews; John Love, for he reclined on the bosom of the Lord and remained beneath the Cross of the Lord until the end. God is not called the God of many but rather the God of the chosen. "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). God often valued a faithful man more than an entire nation. Thus, on many occasions, He wanted to destroy the entire Jewish nation, but because of the prayers of righteous Moses, spared that nation to live. God listened more to the faithful Prophet Elijah than to the entire unbelieving kingdom of Ahab. Because of the prayers of one man, God towns and people. Thus, the sinful town of Ustiug was to be destroyed by fire and hail had it not been saved by the prayers of the one and only righteous man in it, St. Procopius, the "fool for Christ" (July 8).
To contemplate the Providence of God, which rewarded the virtue of Ruth and Boaz (The Book of Ruth):
1. How Ruth, being left a widow, remained faithful to Naomi, her aged mother-in-law and, by her labors, fed both, Naomi and herself;
2. How the wealthy Boaz was merciful and helped these two poor women;
3. How Boaz and Ruth entered into marriage from whom was born Obed, the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.
About the exaltation of the Church of God
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it" (Isaiah 2:2).
This prophecy pertains to the Church of Christ. However much of this prophecy could seem to be mysterious to the Jews before Christ, so much more is it completely clear for us today. Mountain or height: the house of the Lord is truly established "in the top of the mountains", i.e., in the heights of the heavens, for the Church of Christ, first, is not sustained by the earth but rather by the heavens and finally, one part of the members of the Church (and now, a greater part) is to be found in heaven, while the other part is still on earth.
Further, the Church of Christ is "exalted above the hills", i.e., above all earthly and human greatness. Human philosophy and art and all the cultures of people as well as all earthly values represent only the low hills in comparison to the infinite heights of Christ's Church. For it was not difficult for the Church to create all of those hills, while neither one of them, nor all of them together, in the course of many thousands of years, was able to create the Church.
Finally, the prophet says: "all nations shall flow into it." To what, truly, up to now, have all the nations flowed if not into the Church of Christ? The Temple of Jerusalem was inexcessible to the Gentiles under the penalty of death. The Church, however, from the beginning called all nations on earth, obedient to the command of the Lord: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations" (St. Matthew 28:19).
This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, a vision from afar, a vision truthful and wonderful.
O Wonderful Lord, we give You unceasing thanks that You have made us worthy to be the children of Your Holy and True Church that is exalted above all the worldly heights.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
On Wednesday, August 20, 2008 Archimandrite Luke served a pannykhida in memory of Archimandrite Jospeh, one of the co-founders of Holy Trinity Monastery, and Archimandrite Vladimir, a well known and beloved spiritual Father of the Monastery. They both reposed on this day, 1970 and 1988 respectively.
THE DORMITION OF THE MOST-HOLY BIRTH-GIVER OF GOD
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
The Lord Who, on Mt. Sinai, commanded by His Fifth Commandment: "Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12), showed by His own example how one should respect one's parent. Hanging on the Cross in agony, He remembered His mother and indicating to the Apostle John, said to her: "Woman behold your son" (St. John 19:26). After that, He said to John: "Behold your mother" (St. John 19:27). And so providing for His mother, He breathed His last. John had a home on Zion in Jerusalem in which the Theotokos settled and remained there to live out the end of her days on earth. By her prayers, gentle counsels, meekness and patience, she greatly assisted the apostles of her Son. Primarily, she spent her entire time in Jerusalem often visiting those places which reminded her of the great events and of the great works of her Son. She especially visited Golgotha, Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives. Of her distant journeys, her visit to St. Ignatius the Theophorus [God-bearer] in Antioch is mentioned, as well as her visit to Lazarus (whom our Lord resurrected on the fourth day), the Bishop of Cyprus, her visit to the Holy Mountain [Athos] which she blessed and her stay in Ephesus with St. John the Evangelist [The Theologian] during the time of the great persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. In her old age, she often prayed to the Lord and her God on the Mount of Olives, the site of His Ascension, that He take her from this world as soon as possible. On one occasion, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and revealed to her that within three days she will find repose. The angel gave her a palm-branch to be carried at the time of her funeral procession. She returned to her home with great joy, desiring in her heart once more to see in this life, all of the apostles of Christ. The Lord fulfilled her wish and all of the apostles, borne by angels in the clouds, gathered at the same time at the home of John on Zion. With great rejoicing, she saw the holy apostles, encouraged them, counseled them and comforted them. Following that, she peacefully gave up her soul to God without any pain or physical illness. The apostles took the coffin with her body from which an aromatic fragrance emitted and, in the company of many Christians, bore it to the Garden of Gethsemane to the sepulchre of [her parents], Saints Joachim and Anna. By God's Providence, they were concealed from the evil Jews by a cloud. Anthony, a Jewish priest, grabbed the coffin with his hands with the intention of overturning it but, at that moment, an angel of God severed both his hands. He then cried out to the apostles for help and was healed since declaring his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Thomas was absent, again according to God's Providence, in order that a new and all-glorious mystery of the Holy Theotokos would again be revealed. On the third day, Thomas arrived and desired to venerate [kiss] the body of the Holy All-pure one. But when the apostles opened the sepulchre, they found only the winding sheet and the body was not in the tomb. That evening, the Theotokos appeared to the apostles surrounded by a myriad of angels and said to them: "Rejoice, I will be with you always". It is not exactly known how old the Theotokos was at the time of her Falling Asleep but the overwhelming opinion is that she was over sixty years of age.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE MOST-HOLY BIRTH-GIVER OF GOD [THE THEOTOKOS]
Thus spoke the Lord Most High
From your heart, Virgin pure,
Living water, to flow,
That, those who thirst, drink Christ -
We are all boastful of you!
So that the thirsty, drink Christ:
By Him, the bitter to be sweetened,
By Him, the blind to be washed
And by Him, the sorrowful, to heal their grief
We are all boastful of you!
Beverage, from eternity arrived,
The arid time, the brook filled,
And again, toward the heavens raised;
The world exhausted, became refreshed-
We are all boastful of you!
O All-pure One, glory to You,
O Mother of God, glory to You!
For us, to the Living Christ, You gave birth
The living water of grace -
We are all boastful of you!
Each one of the faithful can learn much, indeed very much, from the life of the Virgin Theotokos. However, I would like to mention here only two things. First, she had the habit to frequently on Golgotha, on the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to go to Bethlehem and to other places famous because of her Son. At all of these places, especially Golgotha, she prayed on bended knees. By this, she gave the first example and incentive to the faithful to visit the holy places out of love toward Him Who, by His presence and by His passion and glory, made these places holy and significant. Second, we learn how she, in her prayer, prayed for a quick departure from this life that her soul, at the time of her separation from the body, not see the prince of darkness and his horrors, and hidden from the dark regions not encounter the power of Satan. Do you see how terrible it is for the soul to pass through the toll-gates [mitarstva]! When she, who gave birth to the Destroyer of Hades and, who herself has frightening power over demons prayed thusly, what then is left for us? Out of very great humility, she commended herself to God and did not trust in her own deeds. So much less should we trust in our deeds and even more we should commend ourselves into the hands of God, crying out for His mercy, especially for mercy at the time of the departure of the soul from the body.
To contemplate the wondrous proof by which Samuel confirmed his words before the people (1 Samuel 12 - 1 Kings 12):
1. How Samuel told the people it is evil before the Lord that they seek a king for themselves beside the Lord, the King;
2. How for the confirmation of his words, he called upon God to permit thunders and rain;
3. How the thunders and rain descended and how the people were frightened of God and of Samuel.
About the most glorious Child
"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Upon whom of mortal man, in human history could all of these titles, all of this authority, all of this glory apply? There is no one. That is why St. Chrysostom says: "It is impossible to understand this in regard to any other man but only in reference to Christ." The prophet here clearly expresses two natures in the Savior of the world: the Human and the Divine. "A Child is born," this signifies a purely human nature. "Unto us a Son is given," this unites the two natures in one person: the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin in the person of the Incarnate Lord. However, the remaining titles signify the divine nature of the Lord Jesus. His government is "upon His shoulder," i.e., the government is His. His own government and is not borrowed. "Mighty Counseller," is this not the Holy Trinity? The angel or messenger and herald of this Triune Counsel is the Son of God, the Pre-eternal Word. "Wonderful Counseller," for all that is wonderful, all that is an amazement, all that is new which came to mankind is from Him and through Him.
"The Mighty God," what would Arius and his modern adherents, who deny the divinity of the Lord Jesus, say to this? "The Prince of Peace," for from Him is lasting peace; outside Him is war, without and within. "The Everlasting Father," [the Father of future times] as He is the Lord of the past, so also is He the Lord of the future. Furthermore, He is also the Father of the Church, the Creator of the new world, the Founder of the Kingdom of God.
Isaiah himself, the son of Amos, saw this wonderful and true vision some seven hundred years before it was revealed to the entire universe.
O Lord Jesus, You are to the prophets the most glorious prophecy and to the faithful, the most glorious revelation. Unlock our mind that the wonderful glory of Your majesty can enter into it and unlock our heart so that it would be filled by Your life-creating love.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
On Labor Day Weekend, every year, the Monastery celebrates the Pochaev Icon of the Mother fo God and St. Job of Pochaev. This year also coincided with the memory of the Martyrs Florus and Laurus, the patron saints of the late Metropolitan Laurus and Archimandrite Flor. On Saturday at 3:00 PM the faithful in procession walked to the cemetery chapel dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos to greet the Pochaev icon which was left there on the feast of Dormition. The faithful walked under the icon of the Mother of God asking for her heavenly protection, and then all, singing hymns to the Mother of God, returned to the main cathedral. The Pochaev icon was placed in the middle of the church and the icon of St. Job of Pochaev next to it. A moleben with an Akathist to St. Job was served followed by small vespers and the rule for Holy Communion. At 7:00PM vigil begun with Litia around the church and the blessing of the loaves. On Sunday two liturgies were served, one at 6 and the other at 9:00.
May the Mother of God and St. Job of Pochaev bless all the pilgrims, protect this monastery and strengthen the monastics in their service to the Church.
Thank you to all the visititng clergy and faithful for their love and support.
On September 8, 2008, after the Divine Liturgy, a moleben for the beginning of classes was served. On September 9, the Rector of Holy Trinity Seminary, Archimandrite Luke, spoke to all the students, advised them, and encouraged them to seek true wisdom which is derived from the Church. May God bless the instructors and students so that this year may be fruitful and spiritualy edifying.
On the feast of the Exalatation of the Holy Cross his Grace, Bishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, presided in the vigil and divine liturgy. During the liturgy, hieromonk Theophylact of Holy Trinity Monastery, was awarded the gold cross for his service to the Church and the Monastery. May the Lord grant him strength to continue working in the vineyard of the Church.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Many times in the past our dear abbot Metropolitan Laurus sent out appeals asking you to help support our beloved Monastery. Once more, we are in a position where we need your help. The township in Jordanville is proposing to build a wind farm with 40 wind turbines, each to be 399 feet high. The closest one will be 1.14 miles from the monastery. All of the turbines will be to the east of the monastery and will be clearly visible. As desirable as it is to have clean energy, this project is being built without adequate consideration for the health of the residents living closest to the wind turbines. Research indicates that the noise from the wind turbines can disturb sleep, affect health, well being and productivity. Blood pressure and heart rate can be affected and cause cardiac arrhythmia as well as a host of other health problems. The most vulnerable people are the old, the ill, the blind, hearing impaired, fetuses, babies and children. The proposed wind farm will also affect the scenic landscape surrounding the monastery. Anyone who has gone to our hilltop cemetery to pray, or walked up to the cross on the hill, will remember the incredible feeling of peace. This calming of the soul will be impacted by the view of 40 turbines spinning, as well as the noise they create. We are afraid that the monastery, as a place of spiritual retreat will be jeopardized. We are hoping that the Historical Preservation agency will declare Holy Trinity Monastery as a Historical Site, and as such, we will be eligible for some protection from this type of development. The Historical Preservation agency will meet on December 3, 2008 to decide our case. During the next couple of days, we request that you send a letter to the Historical Preservation agency and indicate how special Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary is to you in terms of its spiritual importance and cultural significance. Over the decades and generations, Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary have been a place where pilgrims come to pray and to celebrate the Holy Church feasts. It has helped to train priests and teach our children the Orthodox faith. With your help, we hope this tradition will continue in the next and future generations. Please address your letter to: Ruth Pierpont, Director Field Services Bureau New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation Peebles Island, P O Box 189 Waterford, NY 12188 USA If possible a copy of the letter should be sent to : Holy Trinity Monastery (Wind Project) P.O. Box 36 Jordanville, NY 13363 USA We also ask that you include us in your prayers. Archimandrite Luke Abbot
On October 23, the Holy Church commemorates the memory of the Holy Optina Elders. We have the blessing of having a chapel dedicated to their memory in the main monastery dormitory and relics of Saint Ambrose, Saint Anatoly the Younger, and Saint Nektary of Optina. The lives of these holy men serve as examples for all christians and a guide to true spirituality.
On Saturday, October 11, our monastery had the great joy of solemnly celebrating the memory of the Saints of the Kievan Caves Monastery. The services were presided by His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, with the participation of many clergy. The Monastery is blessed to have a reliquary of many of the Saints of the Kiev Caves, whose presence serves as a reminder of the sanctifying grace that God bestows to those who serve Him in humility and truth. On the eve of the feast, Joseph McLellan was tonsured to the small schema by His Eminence, and received the name of the Holy Hierarch Joasaph, Bishop of Belgorod. On the following day Fr Joasaph was ordained to the dianconate. May our Lord Jesus Christ help the newly ordained hierodeacon Joasaph so that he serve the Church in piety, and may Saints Joasaph and the Saints of the Kiev Caves be to him a constant support and inspiration to attaining holiness.
On Friday, December 5, Bishop John of Caracass and clergy of Holy Trinity Monastery served the first pannykhida for the repose of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy. Patriarch Alexy will be remembered for his love of the Church and his unceasing efforts to revive the Church in Russia and bring forth unity between the Church in Russia and the Russian Church Abroad. May the Lord grant him His Heavenly Kingdom.
Speech of Bishop Elect Archimandrite George
read at the Service of Nomination
Saturday, December 2008
at Holy Trinity Monastery
God-loving Hierarchs, dear Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters in Christ!
It is with fear and trembling that I stand before you now, with the realization that along with the day of my baptism, this is probably the most important day of my life. Since the day that I learned that my name had been presented as a candidate to the episcopacy, I have been in a state of bewilderment, wondering how this could happen, and thinking that somehow it simply would not happen. However, as we all know, the ways of man are one thing, and the ways of God are another.
I was born in the Midwest, in Illinois, raised in a pious Roman Catholic family, with an older brother who is a Roman Catholic priest, and an aunt who is a nun. I attended a Roman Catholic elementary school and high school. In elementary school I attended mass daily, served as an altar boy and sang in the choir. My parents were good Christian examples, my father especially being a remarkably meek and patient man. In spite of all this, when I became a young man I began searching for something more, not even knowing what that might be. Eventually my travels brought me to California where God opened my mind and heart and revealed to me His Orthodox Church. I truly felt like the person in the Gospel parable who found the pearl of great price. I quit my job and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Mt. Athos. It is there that I firmly decided to become a monk. Upon returning home I joined the Russian Church in San Francisco and went to Platina, where Frs. Herman and Seraphim told me to go to Holy Trinity Monastery, here in Jordanville, where I arrived in September, 1975.
Here I was blessed to study in the seminary and become a novice by Archbishop Averky, and I was instructed in the monastic life, both by word and example, by the many fathers here at that time, such as Frs. Vladimir, Sergei, Anthony, Gury, Jonah, and Tikhon, who all showed much fatherly love and care for the young monks and novices and always encouraged us. When Vladika Laurus became the abbot in 1976, he became like a genuine father for me, always showing great love and patience. After graduating from the seminary I was given a blessing to go to Mt. Athos to live, in 1981. I had hoped to stay there, but God judged otherwise. As St. Ambrose of Optina says: “The all-good Providence of God always arranges what is most beneficial for us, while in our ignorance, we very often strive for the very opposite.” I returned here in 1986 and Vladika Laurus ordained me a hierodeacon that year, and a hieromonk in 1987. As a hieromonk and later as a confessor I came to see how the grace of God works through us sinful creatures, in spite of our many weaknesses and infirmities, as St. Paul says: “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me” (Phillip. 4:13). It is this, and monastic obedience, which gives me the strength to accept the decision of the Council of Bishops that I be consecrated a bishop, all the while being conscious of my sins and unworthiness. Perhaps the only training I have for this exalted position is monastic obedience, and I think it is significant that I was not asked, or given a choice, but merely informed of the Bishops’ decision, allowing me only to say, “May it be blessed.”
I ask you, holy archpastors, to pray for me, that my heart and mind be always open to the Word of God and that I may have the strength and courage to obey it. I ask you to continually guide me and instruct me as I start out on this new path, and later on that you admonish me whenever you see that I am making a mistake, that I, and the flock entrusted to me, may profit from your wisdom and experience. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I ask for your prayerful support, that God may continually strengthen me and guide me by His Holy Spirit to do His work, “for the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” I ask all of you to pray that the Lord have mercy on me, that at the Last Judgment, as it says in the prayer of consecration of a bishop, I may stand unashamed before His throne and receive the great recompense which He has prepared for them that have endured sufferings for the preaching of His Gospel.
On Friday December 5, after the service of Compline, the Very Rev. Protopriest John Shaw was tonsured to the schema by His Grace, Bishop John of Caracas in the main Cathedral of the Monastery. He received the name of St. Jerome of Stridonium. May our Lord Jesus Christ through the intercessions of St. Jerome grant Hieromonk Jerome wisdom and enlightenment as he prepares himself for his high calling as a Bishop.
On Sunday, December 7, the Very Rev. Archimandrite George was consecrated to the episcopate by His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland and His Grace Bishop John of Caracas, receiving the title of Bishop of Mayfield. His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion could not be present, as was preparing to attend the funeral of Patriarch Alexey in Russia.
In a festal and joyous atmosphere, the brotherhood of the Monastery, pilgrims and clergy from many states joined in prayer and witnessed a truly solemn and grace-filled event. Hundreds of people came, even though the weather was not conducive to travel, thus showing their love and support for the Russian Orthodox Church in her consecration of a convert Bishop to serve the pastoral needs of the many Orthodox Christians whose primary language is English.
The newly consecrated Bishop George also ordained hierodeacon Joasaph to the priesthood. Fr. Joasaph is preparing to serve the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. In his acceptance speech Bishop George reminded us that "the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few." May Christ our Lord help His Grace Bishop George and Hieromonk Joasaph to labor in the vineyard of the Church, so that by their efforts and struggles God will grant them His Grace to bear abundant fruit unto the salvation of souls.
Eis Polla Eti Despota!
On Sunday, December 28, 2008, Rodion Aragon was ordained to the diaconate by His Grace, Bishop George of Mayfield in the Cathedral of Holy Trinity Monastery. Rodion is a first year seminarian at Holy Trinity Seminary from Costa Rica. God willing Father Rodion will be ordained to the priesthood in the near future so that he may serve and begin a new parish in Coronado, Costa Rica. Preparations for a new church are being made in honor of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. May God help him and strengthen him in his new service to the Church.