WELCOME TO OUR PARISH!
With open arms we welcome all who desire to discover, experience, and live the Orthodox Faith, which is above all earthly boundaries and nationalities! continue reading
"The believing mind is a temple of God which it is meet for a man to adorn daily and to burn incense therein, inasmuch as it it God Who dwells there."
St. Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis, and a devoted disciple of St. John Chrysyostom
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is with great joy that I would like to announce that the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God will be visiting our parish over the first weekend in April: Saturday, April 5th and Sunday, April 6th.
This miraculous icon is over 800 years old, and has been venerated by countless faithful over the centuries. St Seraphim of Sarov himself was healed as a child after venerating this same icon. We are truly blessed to have this icon visit us during Great Lent. We should make every effort to venerate this holy icon, pray to the Mother of God, and attend the Vigil service and Divine Liturgy. This is an excellent opportunity for us to lay our cares and worries at the feet of our loving Mother, to confess our sins, and receive healing in Holy Communion. You can contact Fr. Christopher at (314) 520-2441 to schedule a time for confession, or you can confess during Vigil on Saturday night.
The Wonderworking Kursk Root Icon
of Our Lady of the Sign
To the champion leader and good directress who guideth us to the heavenly Kingdom, come ye, let us who here have no continuing city all bow down, beseeching her all-powerful aid, recalling the miracles that from times past to this day have been wrought through her Icon; and let us cry out with a loud voice: Rejoice, O Sovereign Lady, who dost ever reveal signs of thy mercy unto the world!
That the grace of God is present in the world around us is clear to all believers, here in England as in all lands. Yet there are also special events which bring grace. Such are the interventions of the Mother of God in human affairs. Such is the extraordinary appearance of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God over 700 years ago in faraway Russia.
In the late thirteenth century Russia was devastated by the Tartars. Thus the site of the town of Kursk (300 miles south of Moscow) had become a wilderness. Now it happened one afternoon in September 1295 that a man out hunting there noticed an icon lying face down at the root of a tree. Surprised, the hunter picked it up and saw that it was an image of the Mother of God of the Sign. From the place where the icon had been picked up a clear spring of healing water gushed forth. This happened on the 8th September, the Feast of the Birth of the Mother of God. With the help of friends the hunter built a small chapel and placed the newly-found icon in it. When news of this spread, many came to this chapel to venerate the icon and pray about their sorrows and needs. There the Mother of God healed all who came to Her with faith.
A local prince, hearing of the Icon, demanded that it be brought to him. With great solemnity it was carried to the town gates and a huge crowd gathered to greet it. Only the prince was missing, since, lacking faith, he did not consider it necessary to greet the Icon and was struck blind. Acknowledging his wrongdoing, the prince ran out to meet the Icon and publicly confessed his sin. He was healed immediately and promised to build a church in honour of the Birth of the Mother of God, which was done. However, it soon became obvious that it was not the will of the Mother of God that the Icon remain there. Each time it was in the new church, it was miraculously transported back to the now deserted chapel.
As the years passed, veneration of the Kursk Icon of the Mother of God grew. Thus a pious local priest often used to visit the chapel and hold services there, especially on the Feast of the Birth of the Mother of God, the anniversary of the Icon's discovery. In 1385 Tartars again invaded the area. Finding the chapel in the woods where the priest was praying, they tried to set fire to it. Three attempts to burn it down were made, but to no avail. The Tartars were sure that the priest was putting out the fire by some sort of magic. When the priest explained that the reason for their failure was the miraculous power of the Icon, the Tartars took the Icon from the chapel and chopped it in half. One part they threw into bushes nearby, the other they carried a mile deeper into the forest and threw away. Then they proceeded to burn down the chapel and took the priest prisoner.
While in captivity, the priest did not lose heart. He resisted the efforts of the Tartars to make him renounce his faith, relying on the prayers of the Mother of God: his prayers were not in vain. Once, while the priest was tending sheep and singing hymns to the Mother of God, a group of Orthodox Christians overheard him and, paying his ransom, they took him home.
At the first opportunity the priest began to search for the Icon. To his great joy he found both halves of it close to the site of the burnt chapel. Placing them side by side, he was amazed to see that they immediately grew together, leaving only a fine line where the split had been. He hurried to spread the news and the Icon was triumphantly returned to the church. Yet again it miraculously travelled back to the place of its discovery. This happened several times and it was decided to restore the chapel in the woods, where the Icon remained for some 200 years.
Its fame spread far and wide in Russia and it became known as the 'Kursk Root Icon', as it had been found at the root of a tree. In 1597 it was solemnly brought to Moscow and met by a great multitude. The Icon was placed in a special gilt frame on which were depicted the Lord and the Old Testament prophets, holding scrolls in their hands with prophecies of the future conception and birth of Christ by the Holy Virgin Mary and prefigurations of the Holy Mother of God. Then the Icon was returned to Kursk and a large sum donated for a hermitage to be built on the site of its discovery. This was called the Kursk Root Hermitage.
On account of the dangers of renewed Tartar invasions, the Icon was transferred to Kursk. There it remained until 1615. In its absence, in 1611, the Tartars completely destroyed the Hermitage. The Icon was then taken to Moscow for safekeeping. A year later Kursk itself was besieged, this time by Poles. The townsfolk prayed fervently to the Mother of God, vowing to build a monastery in honour of the Miraculous Kursk Icon of the Sign in their city in case of victory. Their prayers were heard, for several townsfolk and captive Poles clearly saw the Mother of God with two radiant monks on top of the town wall. She sternly chased away the besiegers and as a result the siege was lifted. A monastery in honour of the Icon of the Sign was built and the people of Kursk urgently pleaded for the return of the miraculous Icon, for it was still in Moscow. In 1618 the Tsar agreed and also the Kursk Root Hermitage was rebuilt.
Many pages of history are associated with the Kursk Icon. Cossacks were blessed by it in 1676. By special decree copies of the miraculous icon accompanied armies and in 1812 people prayed before such an icon during the invasion of Russia by atheist revolutionaries.
In 1898 others tried to destroy the Kursk Icon by placing a huge bomb in the Cathedral of the Sign. They wanted the bomb to go off during the Vigil Service, thus killing many. However, the bomb went off during the night instead. Worried monks ran to the church and were shocked at the devastation. The gilded canopy above the icon was destroyed and the marble steps leading up to the Icon smashed. A massive cast iron door was torn off its hinges and thrown outside, where it had cracked an outside wall. All the windows were shattered. Yet, despite this, the Icon was untouched, even the glass in the frame was intact. The anarchists' intent had been to ridicule the Icon, but in fact it was glorified all the more for this double miracle: the Icon had been preserved and no one had been hurt.
After the 1917 Revolution the Kursk Icon left Russia, surviving intact, and it accompanied those Orthodox who were fleeing the greatest persecution and martyrdom the world has ever seen, in which millions were slaughtered for their Faith. The Icon was carefully carried from place to place until 1927, when it was placed in Holy Trinity Church in Belgrade in Serbia.
During the Second World War Belgrade was bombed mercilessly. Whole quarters of the city were flattened and many were killed. Yet houses visited by the Icon of the Sign were miraculously spared. Air raids occurred during services, yet the Church of the Holy Trinity containing the miraculous Icon of the Mother of God was safer than any air raid shelter.
Sister Barbara, a nun from the Orthodox convent in Normandy in France, recounted this example of an amazing occurrence, told her by a Serbian soldier in 1941:
"Among us the Kursk Icon is greatly venerated. When this Icon visited our town, a miracle happened and was written down by members of the clergy. A great multitude had come to venerate the Icon. A wealthy man came in his car not to pray before the icon, but simply out of curiosity. Seeing the crowds of people, he laughed and said: 'Such ignorant and uneducated people. They think that a mere piece of painted wood can work miracles!'
"He continued on his journey. The road went through the mountains, and was winding and precarious. On a particularly difficult curve, the rich man lost control of his car which slipped off the road and headed towards a precipice. Suddenly, before this faithless person, the image of the Kursk Icon appeared, as if alive. The rich man cried out in despair: 'O Queen of Heaven, save me!'
"It seemed as if an invisible hand stopped the car which was about to be thrown over the cliff. The man carefully put the car into reverse and guided it safely back onto the road. He immediately returned to the village where the Icon was, fell down before it and with tears repented of his former unbelief. He placed a large candle before the Icon and began to tell everyone of the miracle which he had experienced."
After the Second World War the Icon was taken to Germany, where it remained for five years, comforting the Orthodox flock all over Western Europe, wearied by the tribulations of the War. Then it was taken to America. Initially it was kept at a hermitage, but later it was moved to the purpose-built Orthodox Cathedral of the Mother of God of the Sign in New York City. Many believe that if this Cathedral and the area around it were spared in the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, it was because of the presence of the Icon there.
Today the Icon is taken from Orthodox parish to parish all over the world and its fame is international. It is known for countless miracles, healings and for assistance in misfortunes. It is significant that St John the Wonderworker (+ 1966), who was the Orthodox Archbishop in London in the 1950's and was recently canonised by the Orthodox Church, passed away before this very Icon. How we should venerate this great and remarkable Icon! It is a well-spring of miraculous grace which is offered to us through God's mercy by the Mother of our Lord, the Mother of all faithful Christians. For seven centuries faithful people have prayed before the miraculous Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God and received help according to their faith. That its feast-day is the same as that of our own beloved Felixstowe Icon of the Mother of God can only draw us even nearer to cry out from the depths of our hearts:
Most Holy Mother of God, Save us!
Troparion Tone 4
Having obtained thee as an unassailable rampart and wellspring of miracles, O Most Pure Mother of God, thy servants quell the assaults of enemies. Wherefore, we pray to thee: grant peace to our land, and to our souls great mercy.
Kontakion Tone 8
We thy people celebrate thy venerable Icon of the Sign, O Mother of God, whereby thou dost grant thy people a wonderful victory against their enemies. Wherefore we cry unto thee with faith: Rejoice, O Virgin, thou boast of Christians.
Another Kontakion Tone 6
Come ye faithful, let us radiantly celebrate the wondrous appearance of the most precious Image of the Mother of God, and drawing grace therefrom, let us cry out with compunction: Rejoice, O Mother of God, Blessed Mary, Mother of God!
On the occasion of the beginning of Great Lent
From a homily delivered by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (+2003) on March 16, 1986.
We are now moving from the "strange land" (this refers to the state mentioned in the Psalm "By the waters of Babylon" - Ed.) into the land of glory, to meet our Living God, as children of His Kingdom. For us, the church building is now an image of our situation: we stand in semi- darkness, and see the Glorious Light of God, His own dwelling place—the Altar—ﬁlled with the light of Glory. We know that Christ brought Light into the world, that He is the Light, and that we are children of the Light. Now we are hurrying to move out of the darkness into the dusk (the sunset), and from the dusk into the bright shining glory of the uncreated Divine Light.
In any journey, when we have just left a familiar place, we are still ﬁlled with familiar feelings, memories, and impressions. Then they gradually begin to fade away, until nothing is left but our focus on moving toward our goal. This is why the penitential canon of St. Andrew of Crete is read during the ﬁrst week of Lent. For one last time, we reﬂect on ourselves, for one last time we shake the dust from our feet, for
one last time we remember the wrongs of former years.
Before approaching the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on which day we remember that God was victorious, that He came and brought truth into the world, brought life, and life abundantly (John 10: 10), brought joy and love as well—we turn one last time toward ourselves and to one another to ask forgiveness: Loose me from the bonds my unworthiness has fashioned, the bonds that fetter me; from the bonds that are fashioned of sinful acts and sinful neglect, of what we did to others, and of what we could have done but did not, things that could have Before approaching the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on which day we remember that God was victorious, that He came and brought truth into the world, brought life, and life abundantly (John 10: 10), brought joy and love as well—we turn one last time toward ourselves and to one another to ask forgiveness: Loose me from the bonds my unworthiness has fashioned, the bonds that fetter me; from the bonds that are fashioned of sinful acts and sinful neglect, of what we did to others, and of what we could have done but did not, things that could have brought such joy, such hope, and that could have shown that we were worthy of God's faith in us…
Therefore, over the course of this coming week, let us reﬂect upon ourselves one last time, let us look at one another, and become reconciled to one another. Peace and reconciliation does not mean that our problems have ceased to exist. Christ came into the world in order to reconcile the world to Him and in Himself, with God, and we know at what cost He did so: helpless, wounded, defenseless, he gave Himself up to us, saying: do what you will, and when you have performed the ultimate evil, you will see that My love was unwavering, that it was there in time of joy and in time of piercing pain, but that it remained, always, love.
This is the example which we can, and must follow, if we want to be Christ's own. Forgiveness begins at the moment we say to one another: I know how fragile you are, how deeply you wound me, and because I am wounded, because I am a victim—sometimes a guilty victim, and
sometimes an innocent victim—I can turn to God, and from the depths of my pain and suffering, shame, and sometimes despair, can say to the Lord: Lord, forgive him! He knows not what he does! If he only knew how his words wound me, if he only knew how much destruction he is bringing into my life, he would not be doing it. But he is blind, he is immature, he is fragile; and yet I accept and welcome him, I will carry him or her as the good shepherd carries the lost sheep, for we are all lost sheep of Christ's ﬂock. Or I will carry him or her or them, just as Christ carried the cross: even unto death, unto cruciﬁed love, when we receive the power to forgive everything, because we have agreed to forgive everything and anything that might be done to us.
Therefore, let us enter into Great Lent, as people who move out of utter darkness into dusky semi-darkness, and from the dusk into the light, with joy and light in our hearts, having shaken the dust from our feet, loosing and casting off all of the entanglements that keep us in slavery: in slavery to greed, envy, terror, fear, envy, mutual misunderstanding, and self-absorption—for we live imprisoned by ourselves, while God has called us to be free.
Then we will see that step-by-step, we are crossing, as it were, a great sea, from the shore of utter darkness and semidarkness, into the Divine Light. Along the way we will encounter the Cruciﬁxion. At the end of the journey, day will come, and we will face Divine Love in its tragic perfection, before it overcomes us with inexpressible glory and joy. First the Passion, ﬁrst the Cross—then the miracle of the Resurrection. We must enter into the one and the other. Together with Christ we must enter into His Passion, and together with him enter into the great rest and the brilliant light of the Resurrection.
For myself, I ask of you forgiveness for everything I should have done but did not, for the fact that I do things in a disorganized manner, and for many, many things that should be done but remain undone.
But let us support one another in this journey of mutual forgiveness and love, and let us remember that on the difﬁcult path, at a critical moment, quite often someone from whom we had expected no good, someone we had considered a stranger or even an enemy, extends a hand. Sometimes. such a person sees what we need, and responds to it. Therefore, let us open our hearts and eyes, and let us be ready to see it and respond.
Let us ﬁrst approach the Icon of Christ, our God and our Savior, Who paid a heavy price for the power to forgive. Let us turn to the Mother of God, who gave up her only-begotten Son for our salvation. If she could forgive, who could deny us forgiveness? Then let us turn to one another. And while we move about, let us already begin to hear, not a penitential chant; but let it be as if we hear from afar the approaching hymn of the Resurrection, [the hymn] that will become louder at the half-way mark of the journey, when the time comes to bow down before the Cross, and then will ﬁll the church and the entire world on the night when Christ was risen and victorious. Amen.
(for English, click near the Canadian flag)
A Beautiful Sermon for Lent
(and for any time of the year)THE CUP OF CHRIST
by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
Two beloved disciples asked the Lord for thrones of glory,
and He gave them His Cup
The Cup of Christ is suffering. But for those who drink from it on earth, the Cup of Christ grants participation in Christ's Kingdom. It prepares for them the thrones of eternal glory in heaven. We stand in silence before the Cup of Christ, nor can any man complain about it or reject it; for He, Who commanded us to taste it, first drank of it Himself. (continue reading at monachos.net)
I am father, saith Christ, I am brother, I am bridegroom,
I am dwelling place, I am food, I am raiment, I am root, I am foundation . . .
Help support our church—make a donation here!
Upcoming Services & Events
|Sunday, 7 / 20 April |
2:00 Agape Vespers
followed by festal meal
|Monday, 8 / 21 April |
9:00 Paschal Liturgy w/ procession
|Tuesday, 9 / 22 April |
|Wednesday, 10 / 23 April |
|Thursday, 11 / 24 April |
|Friday, 12 / 25 April |
|Saturday, 13 / 26 April |
|Monthly Calendar >|
Sheet Music Download
Carol Surgant, at Orthodox Church Music
, has English choral arrangements of traditional Russian chant available as free downloads, including selections from Vespers, Matins, and Liturgy for upcoming Sundays and feasts. Music Downloads...