The feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God has always been celebrated in the monastery with great solemnity. The Most Holy Theotokos is greatly beloved by all Orthodox Christians and especially by monastics, who look to Her for guidance and aid in their struggles. In Mount Athos, the “garden” of the Most Holy Virgin, She is considered the abbess of all the monasteries. In our monastery, we have a thread from Her most sacred belt as well as a miraculous copy of the Pochaev Icon, the mother house, so to speak, of our monastery.
Many years ago, in the monastery, the service of the Burial of the Mother of God was served after the Vigil in the cathedral, in the cemetery chapel of the Dormition. Two years ago, this practice was renewed by His Grace Bishop Luke, only now on the day before, the forefeast. This was also spurred on in part by the wonderful gift to the monastery by His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, of a beautiful shroud of the Dormition from Kiev.
So again, this year the Burial service was served during Matins on Thursday evening, at the end of which there was a procession with the shroud around the cathedral. During the 2nd Kathisma, the so-called Lamentations were chanted, much as on Holy Satuday matins for the Lord.
For the feast itself, the Vigil was served Friday evening with all the special melodies being chanted as pertain to this feast. Vladyka served the Polyleos.
The Divine Liturgy was served by Vladyka Luke with many faithful in attendance besides the monastics, seminarians and neighbors. Many availed themselves of receiving the Holy Mysteries. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, a moleben was begun in the middle of the church, before the icons of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God and the festal icons. It being the feast of the cemetery chapel, after the beginning of the moleben, a processon proceeded to the cemetery with all participating, chanting hymns of the feast.
The procession was met by Archimandrite Nektarios and the faithful who had attended the Liturgy served in the cemetery in honor of its altar feast. The moleben processed around the church, stopping at all four corners for special petitions and the blessing of Holy Water, which had been blessed before the Liturgy.
The Pochaev Icon was placed on the altar table in the cemetery church, to stay there until next Saturday, when as the beginning of the People’s Pilgrimage feast of St. job, the icon will be brought back down to the cathedral in a Cross Procession.