SAINT ALEXANDER NEVSKY FEAST DAY
Every parish Saint’s day at every church is a day of joy and spiritual expectation. The bishop arrives, clergy and believers from neighboring parishes are participating, the children are excited…We also like to imagine that the birds will be singing, the sun will be shining, the flowers in bloom. And then, there is the procession around the church, at which time the sacred icons, relics, banners, the Holy Gospel will leave their sacred home to bring blessing to everything surrounding the house of God, -- the grounds, the walls and, of course, the people, enjoying the fresh breath of nature. This is an inexplicable tender experience, so well known to us from childhood.
The 74th feast day of Saint Alexander Nevsky cathedral at Lakewood, established in 1936, was, indeed, permeated with this feeling of joy and expectation. Heavy rain with strong gusts of wind the night before the holiday set things in a mood of apprehension, but Saturday arrived with sunshine bursting through the clouds, and the holiday was set for rejoicing. Vladika Jerome, bishop of Manhattan, made his way to the church on a path, streamed with flowers by the children. He was met by nine priests and three deacons, and a large gathering of the faithful. There was also a busload of pilgrims from New York, with three priests from the area.
The service proceeded orderly and in fervent prayerfulness, augmented by the cathedral choir with its uplifting singing. At the little entry, in conformance with the decision of the Holy Synod, the long-time rector of the cathedral protopresbyter Valery Lukianov was awarded the right to wear a second pectoral cross. As Vladika put on the award, Axios was intoned by the serving clergy and the choir.
With the weather cooperating, a picturesque procession around the church took place with praises to St. Alexander, the sprinkling of holy water and the reading of the Gospel. Bishop Jerome delivered a spirited sermon in Russian and in English. Three blessed gramatas were awarded to members of the parish, who have for many years toiled fervently for the welfare of the parish.
The parish center hall was filled to capacity. Everyone enjoyed the trapeza, lovingly prepared by the Sisterhood. It is always nice to see people gather for the feast, enjoy each other’s company, meet old friends, share their concerns and joys.
At the dinner Ephraim Willmarth, a fourth year student from the Holy Trinity Seminary, was awarded the annual scholarship from the Parish Endowment Fund, specifically established for the purpose of promoting education, associated with Church studies or service.
God be praised for granting us another inspiring and spiritually rewarding day in the church and its community, dedicated to the blessed memory of the Champion of Faith Saint Prince Alexander Nevsky.