The first half of the month of July has many feast days dear to the heart of an Orthodox Christian. Some of them are especially poignant and filled with the sense of recently experienced pain and world-shattering tragedy, such as the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Royal Family, their faithful servants, as well as of the Venerable Martyr Great Duchess Elizabeth. Yet, other feasts convey to us the timeless peace and tranquility, as we are reminded that we are protected by the prayers of great spiritual giants: the Holy Glorious Prophet John the Forerunner, the Holy Pre-eminent Apostles Peter and Paul, and the Right-believing Princes Peter and Princess Fevronia. Among the latter kind of feasts, one cannot help mentioning the translation of the precious relics of our father among the saints Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, the wonderworker, the Igumen of all Russia.
It should be a great consolation for any Orthodox Christian, who considers the Russian Church as his spiritual home, to be under the guidance and protection of this glorious monastic saint.
The feast of Venerable Sergius is especially loved by monks. The small monastic community in House Springs, MO, is not an exception. On the eve of the feast, Vigil was served in the monastery church of St John Chrysostom by priest Sergii Alekseev, and the hymnody was sung by the nuns. The monastic singing, especially during the Vigil, which by nature knows no haste, was “timeless and soul uplifting”, according to one of the worshippers.
The following morning, the Divine Liturgy was served by priest Sergii, Archpriest Martin Swanson prayed in the altar and communed of the Dreadful Mysteries, and sub-deacon Thomas Nichols helped in the altar and read Hours and the Epistle.
During the Augmented Litany, petitions were added for all those who celebrate their name day on the feast of Ven. Sergius. At the Litany for the Departed, many of the reposed bearing the name of St Sergius were commemorated, including the earthly husband of the Venerable Martyr Elizabeth, whose feast coincides with that of Ven. Sergius, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. Many of the faithful who prayed at the Divine Liturgy confessed and partook of Holy Communion.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy Fr Sergii extoled the role of St Sergius as the igumen of all Russia, a spiritual authority for both monastics and laity. One cannot be an Orthodox Christian without being obedient to the Church. But how do we realize this obedience in our lives? Hieromartyr Ignatius, the God-bearer, Bishop of Antioch gives us a direct answer: “Where the bishop is, there is the Church”. However, church authority is never sought by the one who has been granted it: when the brotherhood of St Sergius’ community refused to be obedient to him, he simply departed from them. Once they were left as orphans, the disobedient monks realized what they had done and hastened to ask for the saint’s forgiveness and begged him to return and rule them as their spiritual father. Obedience in the Church is always founded on love: the spiritual shepherd loves his flock and his flock follows the shepherd in the spirit of love.
After the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy all the faithful were invited for the festal meal graciously prepared by the nuns. At the table, “Many years” were sung to the nuns, including nun Sergia who was celebrating her name day.
Venerable Father Sergius, pray to God for us!
Submitted by a participant