On Sunday, October 4, the day of the Leavetaking of the feast of the Exaltation of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City, co-served by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. Concelebrating with the hierarchs were cathedral dean Archpriest Andrei Sommer and clerics Archpriest Edward Chervinsky, Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff, and Hierodeacon Panteleimon (Jigalin).
The Synodal choir sang beautifully. The service was held under the aegis of the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. Cathedral parishioners gathered to venerate the Cross of the Lord and pray before the wonderworking icon of the Theotokos; most confessed their sins and communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas greeted everyone present with the feast, and addressed the faithful with a sermon.
"One week ago, we celebrated the Exaltation of the Cross of the Lord, and today we bid it farewell. But, as we heard in the Gospel today, the Lord tells every Orthodox Christian that we must be, if not at the Lord’s side, then striving to be so. Christ tells us directly: ‘Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’ (Mark 8:34).
"The Lord further poses the question: what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world ‒ riches and beauty and joy ‒ but only for this temporal, and not for eternal, life? What will it profit his soul? That is why we must always consider the Cross, and worthily bear our own cross, which is given to each one of us for our correction and salvation.
"This is the last time this year that the cross will be triumphally celebrated, but we can ourselves unceasingly praise it by our prayers and the bearing of our own, personal cross. Let us believe, pray, and hope on God’s mercy, as did the Canaanite woman from today’s second Gospel reading. This pagan woman beseeched Jesus Christ to help her. ‘O Lord, thou son of David,’ she cried, ‘Have mercy on me! My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.’ She was not asking for the immediate healing of her daughter; her most important words were a plea for mercy. She goes on to cry, ‘O Lord, help me!’ The apostles were troubled that a pagan woman was disturbing the Teacher, but the Lord beheld her deep faith. He came to save every person, but foremost the lost people of Israel. He attempted to enlighten, to awaken the teachers of Israel, but many of them did not believe on Jesus Christ. But Christ came to save all men. And this pagan woman is the very image of this world. We, too, can believe and hope in God’s mercy. And the Lord can have mercy on us and on those around us, by the power of the Cross delivering us from our sins and from everything that prevents us from following after Jesus Christ."
His Grace noted that, on this day, the Holy Church also honors the memory of the Holy Hierarch Demetrius, Metropolitan of Rostov ‒ a teacher and writer, who left us as instructive examples many volumes of the "Lives of the Saints" and holy God-pleasers, who also called out to the Savior for mercy.
The hierarchs and clergy then served a short moleben before the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord, after which the faithful venerated the Cross, and Fr. Andrei Sommer took it away from the center of the church back into the altar.