[Archpriest John Matusiak/OCA Communications Office] - On Tuesday, December 4, 2001, the second day of his one-week official visit to Moscow at the invitation of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, concelebrated the Divine Liturgy on the Great Feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple [Old Style] with His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Rus.
Hundreds of faithful packed the historic Cathedral of the Dormition in the Moscow Kremlin for the festal celebration. The massive 15th century cathedral, an engineering wonder of its time, had been used as a museum during the years of communist oppression. After the fall of communism in the early 1990s, the cathedral once again became the venue for the celebration of liturgical services on major feasts and other special occasions.
“We have celebrated this Liturgy in this venerable Temple dedicated to the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God,” Metropolitan Theodosius said in his remarks at the end of the Liturgy. “This temple is sacred to the Russian people for, throughout the centuries, it has witnessed many historic moments in the life of this nation, both times of national and world crises and times of great joy.
“As we gather here today we are all keenly aware of the days in which we live,” Metropolitan Theodosius continued. “The citizens of the United States of America as well as their friends throughout the world - indeed, all people of good will - have recently suffered a tragedy that is understood not only in the sudden loss of innocent lives, but is also understood as a loss in a sense of security and freedom. The events of September 11 and what has transpired in their aftermath are to be understood within the context of history.”
Metropolitan Theodosius concluded by calling upon the Mother of God to intercede for Patriarch Aleksy, the faithful Russian people, and the faithful in America and throughout the world.
“Let us all pray that we who honor the Theotokos today will be inspired by her holy example, dedicating ourselves - with the assistance of her prayers and intercession - to our common work, our shared mission, of proclaiming the Gospel message of Jesus Christ,” Metropolitan Theodosius said.
Following the festal Liturgy, Patriarch Aleksy and Metropolitan Theodosius visited the Monastery of Our Lady of the Don, where they concelebrated a service of Thanksgiving before the relics of Saint Tikhon of Moscow in the monastery’s main cathedral. Thousands of faithful filled the cathedral and the spacious grounds surrounding it.
It was in the monastery’s old cathedral that Saint Tikhon had been buried after his death in April 1925. When the monastery was closed by the communists, the relics of Saint Tikhon were hidden beneath the cathedral, where they were discovered by workmen in the mid-1990s.
In his remarks to Patriarch Aleksy at the monastery, Metropolitan Theodosius reflected on the role Saint Tikhon continues to play in the life of the Orthodox Churches of Russia and America.
“Saint Tikhon served Christ’s Holy Church, both as your predecessor in the patriarchal throne, and as my own predecessor as Ruling Bishop of the Church in North America,” Metropolitan Theodosius said. “Thus, our common veneration of his life and honoring of his holy relics holds a special significance for all who honor his holy memory.
“Saint Tikhon is venerated and loved throughout the Orthodox Church in America for his dedicated commitment to the mission of the Church in North America,” Metropolitan Theodosius continued. “He worked tirelessly to bring the truth of the Orthodox faith not only to those who had immigrated to America from Russia and other Orthodox lands at the beginning of the twentieth century, but also strived to insure that the fullness of the Gospel that is the Orthodox Faith would become known and accepted by those who were not of traditionally Orthodox ethnic backgrounds. This is the legacy that we, as the Church sojourning in America, have received and which we strive to perpetuate. Indeed, a great number of those who live the Orthodox faith in America are converts who have accepted the Orthodox Faith because we have chosen to heed the example of Saint Tikhon and go beyond the traditional bounds of ethnicity or national origin.”
Metropolitan Theodosius presented Patriarch Aleksy with a rare manuscript handwritten by Saint Tikhon during the late 19th century. The manuscript was recently discovered in the archives of the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of Sitka and Alaska.
“This manuscript is a treasure both to the Church in Russia and the Church in America, for it represents the archpastoral ministry of one who served the Church in his life and who continues to intercede for her before the Throne of God,” Metropolitan Theodosius said upon presenting the manuscript to the Patriarch. “I am hopeful that Your Holiness will receive this gift from the Orthodox Church in America as yet another reminder of the many bonds that unite us.”
On Wednesday, December 5, Metropolitan Theodosius will visit the Monastery of the Holy Trinity and Saint Sergius and the Moscow Theological Academy in Sergiev Posad, some two hours drive from Moscow, where he will address the monastic community and the faculty and students.