Moscow, December 4, 2014
On December 4, 2014, the Great Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple, His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’ concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada and His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese, Chair of the Orthodox Church in America’s Office of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, in the historic 15th century Patriarchal Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin.
The day also marked the 97th Anniversary of the Enthronement of Saint Tikhon of Moscow, which took place in the same cathedral. Saint Tikhon, who served as Bishop, and later Archbishop, of North America from 1897 to 1907, is widely remembered for convening the First All-American Sobor in Mayfield, PA.
Also concelebrating were His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chair of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate; His Grace, Bishop Sergiei of Zolnechnogorsk, Chair of the Patriarchate’s Administrative Secretariat; His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Podolsk; His Grace, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; Mitered Protopresbyter Vladimir Divakov, Secretary to Patriarch Kirill for the city of Moscow; and other area clergy. Members of the OCA delegation who concelebrated were Archimandrite Alexander, OCA Representative to the Moscow Patriarchate and Dean of the Church of the Great Martyr Catherine, Moscow; Archpirest John Jillions, Chancellor; Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, Secretary; Archpriest Nazari Polaitko, Secretary of the OCA Archdiocese of Canada; and Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Secretary to Metropolitan Tikhon. Also present were Protopresbyter Leonid Kishkovsky, OCA Director of External Affairs, and the lay members of the OCA delegation.
The choir of the Zaikonospassky Monastery, established in Moscow’s Kitai-Gorod quarter by Boris Gudonov in 1600, sang the liturgical responses.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Patriarch Kirill warmly welcomed Metropolitan Tikhon and the members of the OCA delegation. As he presented Metropolitan Tikhon with a panagia and pectoral cross, Patriarch Kirill remarked that the cross, resting on the center of one’s chest, signifies how the cross is at the very center of a Christian’s life. In response, Metropolitan Tikhon presented Patriarch Kirill with an icon of the Sitka Mother of God.
Metropolitan Tikhon’s Greetings to Patriarch Kirill
Dormition Patriarchal Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin
Great Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple
December 4, 2014
Your Holiness, Beloved Brother in the Lord and Concelebrant:
It is a profound joy to greet Your Holiness on this Feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple. Our concelebration gives expression to our unity in faith and love, and therefore witnesses to the Eucharistic unity of the Holy Churches of Russia and America. By our concelebration, by standing together before the Holy Altar, we bring to God both Russia and America. Together we ask God for the wisdom and grace to bring the Word of God to our societies and our world.
The Orthodox Church in America has received many gifts from the Church of Russia. The first Russian Orthodox missionaries came to Alaska two hundred and twenty years ago from Valaam Monastery, planting the seeds of the Orthodox faith in North America. The Monk Herman, a member of the missionary group coming to Alaska in 1794, by his humility and love and faithfulness became the first Orthodox saint in the New World, being canonized by the Orthodox Church in America in 1970. The great missionary of the 19th century, Innocent [Veniaminov], began his priestly service in Alaska and multiplied his talents as a missionary both in Alaska and Siberia, ending his life as Metropolitan of Moscow. Saint Innocent was canonized in 1977 by the Church of Russia at the request of the Orthodox Church in America. Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, served as Archbishop of the Orthodox Mission in North America at the beginning of the 20th century, guiding the Mission in its growth across the United States and Canada, and foreseeing the future of the Mission in an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.
In 1970, the Church of Russia granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America, fulfilling the prediction of Saint Tikhon. By this action of the Russian Orthodox Church, the young Orthodox Church in America became a Sister Church.
The history we have briefly described includes much suffering and many troubles, as well as many joys and achievements. The 20th century was a time of persecution for the Church of Russia, with many martyrs and confessors bearing witness to Christ. At the end of the last century, a time of renewal and rebirth began for the Church of Russia. Today, we see the Russian Orthodox Church doing its missionary work in Russian society, preaching the Word of God and serving the people in works of charity in the name of Christ.
For the Orthodox Church in America, the 20th Century also was a time of trials and tribulations. The Russian Revolution and the persecution of the Church in Russia was reflected in Church life in America. For decades, normal communication between Russia and America was not possible. The Church in America gained in strength and awareness of its mission and identity. Today, the Orthodox Church in America has seen fruits of missionary growth in the number of missions and parishes, monasteries and theological schools, Orthodox education for children and young people, and the publication of scholarly and popular works of theology. Our historical and spiritual connection to the Church of Russia is very real, yet the diversity of the Orthodox Church in America connects us with the Orthodox Christians in Romania and Albania, in Poland and the Czech Lands and Slovakia, in Bulgaria and Ukraine, in the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem and Greece.
Your Holiness, this Liturgy of the Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin is a feast of faith, a feast of joy, a feast of love. We feel the presence of Saint Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow, and Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow. Above all, we thank God for His abundant love and mercy.
May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all.