September 3, 2013
Brooklyn, NY: "The Lord patiently stands over the heart of every man, waiting for it to open unto Him" – An Article on the Blessing of the Ocean on the First Feast of the Savior

There is something unusual and awe-inspiring about this feast – the Procession of the Life-Creating Wood of the Cross of the Lord. This feast is a reminder of the salvation of the very heart of Orthodoxy at that time, the Great Constantinople, the Second Rome, from a terrible epidemic that threatened – as it seemed to many at the time – the Faith in the Savior itself.

As the soul prepares for the feast, it is as though it hears the ancient chronicler: "…And the Most Holy Patriarch exited, surrounded by all of his clergy, and performed a profession with the Honorable Wood of the Cross of the Lord; they performed molebens and blessed the water, and sprinkled the city and faithful..."

According to your faith be it unto you! And here it seems so very simple! We need but cast off the very shadow of a doubt, and fall down, our lips parched from thirst, at the rushing waterfall of the Lord’s grace. And that is all… "The Lord patiently stands over the heart of every man, waiting for it to open unto Him." He stands here, over my sinful and wretched heart. Will I open it? Will I accept the things around me as a child?..


The Church of Our Lady "The Inexhaustible Chalice" in Brighton long prepared for this feast. And, finally, the newly ordained Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov) arrived, a priceless gift from the First Hierarch – his beloved cell attendant. He celebrated the Heavenly Liturgy and everyone departed in procession, as has been the tradition of the community since its inception. Everyone processed undistracted, as though going into deathly battle against the hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The priest blessed with holy water profusely, hither and yon. The procession took the shape of a large circuit, which cut off a significant part of Brighton. Orthodox people have believed from time immemorial that, when such a circle is etched in the ground, the forces of Hades will not cross it.

The reverend hieromonk entered the water intently, fully vested, as everyone experienced the moment when the Holy Spirit descended on common water, the moment when it was transmuted into a piece of Eternity – into Holy Water. En masse, the faithful followed the priest’s example and asked him to submerge them in the holy water in the name of the Holy Trinity. Parishioners were joined by passersby, who bore witness to the Water Blessing, many of whom then followed the procession back to the little church on Brighton First Place.

O Lord! Help every soul come to Thee, by the paths down which Thou leadest Thy sheep!!!


Photos: Russell Rowland

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese