The church-school congregation of St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church of Philadelphia, PA, was blessed to be visited by our Father and Hierarch, Kyr IRINEJ, on the Third Sunday of the Great and Holy Lent – the Sunday of Cross Veneration.


On a beautiful, sunny but cold day, the faithful of St. Nicholas greeted their Father and Hierarch upon His entry into the church. On behalf of the congregation, Angelija Djurdjic presented His Grace with a token of love, a bouquet of roses. His Grace was assisted in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Milorad Orlic, parish priest, and Deacon Darko Tripkovic, Diocesan Financial Secretary. Graduate Seminarian Radovan Micic beautifully chanted the responses. Alex Kasic, Jovan Djurdjic, Milutin (who read the Epistle in Serbian) and Savo Stojmirovic assisted as Altar Servers. The children of the church-school contributed to the beauty of the service with the chanting of The Lord’s Prayer, in both languages, and as the communion hymn, “Save, O Lord Your Chosen People”, and the Troparion of the Cross.


In his inspired and edifying homily, His Grace emphasized his joy to be with us in our honorable and God-fearing community, particularly on this day, the mid-point of Great and Holy Lent. A day that contains all the preparatory Sundays preceding Great and Holy Lent, and all the Sundays that, through the Gospels, reveal Who is the Lord Jesus Christ, and why He came into this world – for our sake and for our salvation. This Sunday also, clearly, and resoundingly, reveals what we have to undertake for our salvation. We cannot simply, ad hoc, conjecture where we have missed the mark and fallen short of salvation. Like a mathematical equation, Great and Holy Lent takes us systematically through the events that resulted in our exclusion from paradise – not as a punishment, but a remedy to enable our return, through repentance, to a life of continuous communion of love with God. A relationship realized through the Tree of Life. Following Adam and Eve’s sin, the Tree of Life was withdrawn from us, so that humankind would not live eternally in its fallen state, but it re-emerged on Golgotha – precisely the Cross of Christ Who, as the Offerer and the Offered, enables to us to regain what our foreparents had lost.


Following Divine Liturgy, a wonderful reception was prepared by the dedicated Circle of Serbian Sisters. His Grace expressed his paternal gratitude to all for a joyous and blessed day.

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