Chicago – on the 4th Sunday of Great Lent, the Cathedral was graced by the presence of the miraculous myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God “Softener of Evil Hearts”. Arriving shortly before Vigil service on Saturday night, the parishioners and a great multitude of visitors waited in long lines to venerate the icon. Approaching the icon, one first noticed what appeared to be condensation under the glass. Then with sudden joy it became obvious that this was actually myrrh. At the veneration of the Gospel, all were anointed with oil, which had been mixed with myrrh collected on cotton swabs earlier in the day from the icon. As Bishop Peter noted in his sermon, any icon can potentially be miraculous. It is God’s dispensation which manifests this to us. However, while given to us as a blessing and a comfort, we should not lose sight of the fact that when we venerate an icon, we actually reverence the one whom it represents.
The icon was in church again for hierarchical Divine Liturgy on Sunday and remained in church during the afternoon for a near steady stream of Orthodox believers from the area who came to venerate it. At three o’clock the “passion service” (vespers with reading of a Passion Gospel) was served. The icon was carried out of the church as the congregation sang “Beneath Thy Compassion.” As the final refrain “O My Holy Theotokos, Save Us” was chanted and she drove off, all present were left with a very real feeling that we had been graced by the actual presence of the Mother of God. Glory to God in all things!