On the night of Sunday, May 2, the clergy and parishioners of the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City celebrated a long-awaited event – the great and radiant feast of Christ’s Resurrection. Officiating the festal divine services was the First Hierarch of the Russian Church, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, co-served by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, cathedral dean Archpriest Andrei Sommer, cathedral clerics: Archpriest Edward Chervinsky, Abbot Zosimas (Krampis), and Protodeacon Nicolas Mokhoff, as well as Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY) and Hierodeacon Panteleimon (Jigalin; diocesan cleric).
The choir sang magnificently under the direction of conductor Vadim S. Gan. At the beginning of Passion Week, the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God had returned to the cathedral, and its presence gave the feast day even greater spiritual joy.
Toward the end of Midnight Office, at the singing of "Do not lament Me, O Mother…", the Shroud is lifted up and taken into the altar. The hymns conclude with faith in Christ’s Resurrection. And if, two millennia ago, the Savior’s disciples and even the myrrh-bearing women were lost and confused, the tragedy has already ceased for us in the present day: God is no longer suffering on the Cross; He has descended to Hades and is releasing the dead therefrom.
Thus, the culmination of the feast: all light is extinguished in the church, and from the altar, quietly at first, begins the sticheron of the feast – "Thy Resurrection, O Christ Savior…". With the icon of Christ’s Resurrection and Paschal hymns, the procession streams out of the altar, into the church, and out into the street, into the courtyard of the Synodal Headquarters – to tell the world that Christ had risen. Bishop Nicholas led the procession and returned to the cathedral, where he was greeted by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad.
The bishops, followed by the clergy, announced Christ’s Resurrection to the people. In the altar, the priests changed their vestments and, it seems, practically flew around the church as they congratulated everyone.
The Paschal Matins service concluded with the reading of the Catechetical Sermon of the Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom, which Bishop Nicholas read aloud. Russian liturgical rubrics since the 16th century bear witness to it, and it expresses the all-encompassing and all-forgiving character of Pascha.
Divine Liturgy was then celebrated, upon conclusion of which virtually all those present communed of Christs’ Holy Mysteries, and shared in a Paschal meal. The sun was beginning to rise when the faithful began to head for home, proclaiming to a still quiet city the glad tidings of the Resurrection of the Savior of the world, the glad tidings that nothing could overshadow.