March 14, 2016
New York City: On Eve of Great Lent, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates Liturgy in Synodal Cathedral

On Cheesefare Sunday, March 13, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City. The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad returned on the eve of Great Lent from his archpastoral visit to the Diocese of Australia & New Zealand. His Eminence was concelebrated by Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan and cathedral clergy: senior priest Archpriest Andrei Sommer, Archpriest Vasiliy Raskovskiy, Hieromonk Eutychius (Dovganyuk), Priest Vitaly Lalyukov, Hieromonk Tikhon (Gayfudinov), Protodeacons Nicolas Mokhoff and Vadim Gan, and Deacons Nathan Mousselli and Dionysius Lvov.

At the service, a multitude of parishioners communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.

Upon completion of the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed the faithful with a sermon, in which he reminded them of the meaning of Cheesefare Sunday – the commemoration of Adam’s expulsion from Paradise.

"Today the Holy Church reminds us of the greatest of all tragedies, which took place in Paradise when our first-parents Adam and Eve lost the edenic life through disobedience. The Lord made man the crown of His creation, and bestowed great gifts upon him: reason and an immortal soul. Man was to live in harmony with God and the surrounding nature, preserving it and being its good guardian. The Lord also created man in His image and likeness: with a soul immortal, like He Himself is immortal, and man was to gradually achieve godliness. So, too, must we become like God in the virtues, in love and mercy. The Lord gave man free will. As one of the Holy Fathers said, that which is done through coercion is no virtue.

"The first man in Paradise did not know sin, and the enemy of mankind, who had fallen away from God before, in his envy tempted the first people, Adam and Eve, telling them that they could become equals of God, and they violated the one rule they were given – obedience – and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Violating this commandment, they were cast out of Paradise and wept over this great loss… Thus, suffering, pain, and our inclination toward sin entered into the world. This injury was the result of disobedience. But the Lord in His great mercy did not allow man to die utterly, and sent His Only-Begotten Son – the Lord Jesus Christ – that He might expiate our sins and give us a chance to be renewed and reborn, and to become heirs not only of life in Paradise, but even in His Heavenly Kingdom."

His Eminence called on the faithful to spend the period of Great Lent wisely – forgiving their neighbors, augmenting their prayers and love for one another, abstaining from certain foods, rejecting unhealthy habits and, most importantly, acquiring a need for God, so that, upon the conclusion of the Forty-Day Fast, they might joyously greet Pascha.

Metropolitan Hilarion congratulated cathedral cleric Archpriest Vasiliy Raskovskiy on the 25th anniversary of his ordination, wishing him God’s aid in his further service to the Holy Church.

Upon completion of the service, the cathedral sisterhood prepared a traditional blini luncheon in the church hall for the clergy and parishioners.

That evening, Vespers and the Rite of Forgiveness were served in the Synodal Cathedral.

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese