On Thursday, July 28, when the Holy Church celebrates the memory of the baptizer and enlightener of Rus’, the Holy Equal-of-the-Apostles Great Prince Vladimir, Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan paid an archpastoral visit to St. Vladimir Memorial Church in Jackson, NJ, where he celebrated Divine Liturgy for its patronal feast day.
Concelebrating with His Grace were: Archpriests Serge Lukianov (dean of New Jersey) and Serge Ledkovsky (deputy rector of the memorial church), Abbot Eutychius (Dovgan; abbot of St. Nicholas Skete in Freehold, NJ), Priests Nikolaj Kostur (cleric of the Serbian Orthodox Church) and Anthony Williams (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ), and Protodeacons Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY) and Paul Drozdowski (cleric of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral).
The parish choir sang the divine service.
Despite its being a workday, a multitude of parishioners and guests prayed in the church, most of whom communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas greeted everyone with the patronal feast, and addressed those present with a sermon, in which he noted, in part, that the church in Jackson "is a blessing given to us by our preceptors, who built it. And our duty is to continue their labors, preserving within ourselves the image of God, being an example of a good Christian, and raising up the young people in the Faith.
"One can have everything, but if we do not have purpose in his life, a striving for Christ, then you could say that we have nothing at all. And Prince Vladimir gave us this wealth, this example, this blessing, this culture, Можно иметь все, но если у человека нет смысла жизни, стремления ко Христу, то, можно сказать, all of which we must preserve and hand over to those around us.
"Last night, we served the litia, and the worshippers heard a special exclamation spoken by the serving priest, which can be understood only by a baptized and faithful person, who can put its words to use in his own life. The serving priest said: ‘Hearken unto us, O God our Savior, Thou hope of all the ends of the earth and of them that be far off at sea: and be merciful, be merciful, O Master, regarding our sins, and have mercy on us’.
"‘Hearken unto us, O God our Savior’ ‒ only a person of faith will speak such words. If a person does not believe in God, then they are meaningless to him. But we believe, we hope on God, and call out with the priest: ‘Hearken unto us, O God our Savior, Thou hope of all the ends of the earth’. Our only hope in this world is, of course God. Unfortunately, people live today for this world, for themselves, to satisfy their own flesh, their passions; but where is the meaning, where is the repentance?
"‘…and of those that be far off at sea’. These words apply to all those who are traveling. When we travel, we also pray.
"‘… and be merciful, be merciful, O Master, regarding our sins, and have mercy on us’. We ask God for His mercy, forgiveness, and understanding, and glorify Him as the Savior of the world.
"These words bring meaning to our lives – a life in Christ and with Christ. Only such a live is the correct path. Meanwhile, a life without Christ is darkness and emptiness.
"Today we thank Prince Vladimir and his grandmother Princess Olga for giving us an example of baptism, and of showing us how to fully embrace the Faith of Christ."
Bishop Nicholas called on the faithful to try, in these difficult times, to pray for the salvation of the world, for our neighbors, and to remember that the beginning of peace is within us, in our faith in the Risen Savior.
The clergy served a short moleben to the Holy Prince Vladimir, after which the protodeacon intoned the Polychronion for all those Vladimirs celebrating their namesday that day.
The clergy and faithful then walked over to the church hall, where a festal luncheon was organized, and during which their informal interaction continued.