1/14 October - the feast day of the Protection of the Mother of God. Every year by the grace of God on this day our cathedral parish triumphantly celebrates its patronal feast day. This year, God granted us to be doubly fortunate to also have with us the wonder-working icon "Our Lady of the Sign", the Kursk-Root image of the Mother of God. A great multitude of faithful had the opportunity to not only pray on the "namesday" of our parish, but to also venerate the wonder-working image of the Theotokos. As Vladika Peter remarked, the patronal feast day is like a second Pascha for any given temple.
On the eve of the feast at the Vigil service, Vladika Peter expressed his thanks especially to the Sisterhood and all those who helped to prepare the temple for the feast day and called upon all present to come on the feast day itself to the Divine Liturgy (listen to the sermon). Glory be to God that notwithstanding it being a weekday, the temple was completely full!
It is especially comforting that our temple is named after the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Andrew, the fool-for-Christ, once was swept up into the heavens, as was the Apostle Paul, but he did not see the Blessed Mother of God there present and it was revealed to him that She frequently visits the fallen world to help people and comfort those who sorrow. St. Andrew, with his discipline Epifanius, witnessed the Protection of the Mother of God in the temple at Vlahernius, when the Most Blessed appeared and saved Constantinople. We sinners also dare to hope on Her, that She shelter us under Her cloak and help us.
At the Divine Liturgy there were many of the faithful present. By invitation of Vladika Peter, the Divine Services were led by the Romanian archbishop of Northern America, His Grace, Vladika Nikolai. Concelebrating were the Greek bishop of Mokissoss, Dimitry (the vicar bishop of the Greek Chicago Metropolitan Iakovos), Bishop Peter, 24 priests, 8 deacons and a full staff of altar servers. At the Little Entrance, Bishop Peter elevated priest Jeremiah Loch (St. Innocent's church in Wheaton, IL) to the rank of archpriest; awarded priests Michael Carney (St. Herman of Alaska church in Lake Odessa, MI), Lubomir Kupets (St. Vladimir's church in Houston, TX), and Christopher Allen (military chaplain who holds the rank of lieutenant in the US Army and is stationed on the base in Okinawa) with the right to wear a kamilavka; elevated the deacon Basil Gilliland (St. Panteleimon church in Minneapolis, MN) to rank of protodeacon; and awarded the senior protodeacon of the diocese Vadim Gan (cathedral cleric) with the right to wear a kamilavka. AXIOS!
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, a procession with the cross with singing of the moleiben took place. On a bright sunny day, according to ustav, a stop at each corner of the church was made accompanied by a blessing in turn with the cross, the patronal icon, the Kursk-Root icon and the icon of St. Romanos the melodist (patron saint of the pontifical choir). Upon return back to the temple, "Many Years" was intoned for 1) the clergy, 2) this country and the Russian lands, and 3) the choirmaster, singers and all Orthodox Christians.
Afterwards, all were invited to the parish hall to a feastal banquet which was lovingly prepared by our dear Sisterhood. We have to also note that our Orthodox brother Georgians, who have been using our temple to conduct services in the Georgian language as they do not yet have a church of their own, also prepared an incredibly tasty meal of Georgian shishkabob in a gesture of thanks to our parish.
With words of greeting, Archbishop Nickolai, Bishop Dimitry and then Bishop Peter all stepped forth with speeches. Vladika Peter then introduced Fr. Matthew, visiting from Russia, who presented the cathedral with an image of the Vladimir Mother of God and described his journey to Orthodoxy and spiritual growth which coincided with the holiday of the Protection of the Mother of God. His story captivated all who listened with great interest.
And thus, concluded our church feast day, the celebration of our second Pascha. May the Lord save all who helped share in this celebration!