Patronal Feast at the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Trenton, New Jersey
A Celebration of Spiritual Unity
Our Lord and God Jesus Christ pointed out a faithful sign by which we can evaluate the events and phenomena of our life: “By their fruits shall ye know them.” (Mt. 7:16). Two hierarchs of the ROCA, Bishop Stefan of Trenton and North America and Archbishop Andronik of Syracuse and St. Nicholas, concelebrated the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Assumption Church of Trenton. The joy of the Great Feast and the Patronal Feast, the solemn worship service, the deep consolation from joint prayer and fraternal fellowship -- all this created a unique spiritual atmosphere of unity in Christ. The fruits of this welcome event were felt in the hearts and seen in the faces of all the participants of that holy day. Bishops Stefan and Andronik were joined by Hieromonk Ignatiy (Krutkov) and Hierodeacon Paul (Lipin). At the end of the Divine Liturgy, a short molieben to the Theotokos was celebrated, after which Archbishop Andronik, as a sign of spiritual support and brotherly love, presented Vladyka Stefan with an icon of the Theotokos brought from Romania. To which Vladyka responded with gratitude and offered a heartfelt homily about the protection of the Mother of God, and also spoke of the hierarchs of the Church Abroad, who once served in that church.
One can speak a long time figuratively of the taste of honey, but we can sense the aroma and enjoy its effect only after having tried it. So too in the life of the church; we can speak much of a desired unity, but only through the practical steps which lead to a joint Eucharist, do we understand fully the words of the psalmist, “Behold now, what is so good or so joyous, as for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 132:1) Having experienced the abundant reward and joyous consolation from the jointly celebrated feast, the soul is filled with the hope that our unity will grow stronger, despite the inevitable difficulties of human weaknesses and the forces arrayed against the church. The process of unification will persuade inevitably other parts of the once united ROCA to come together.