For the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the community of St. Tikhon’s monastery and seminary was blessed by the visitation of His Beatitude Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of all America and Canada, who celebrated both Vigil and Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in the monastery Church. Monks, Seminary staff, and students all served with the Metropolitan, including Hierodeacons Mark and David, 3rd year seminarian Deacons Timothy Kolb, Moses Locke, and Augustine Lewton, 2nd year subdeacon Herman Garrison, as well as Subdeacon Roman Ostash. Hymns and responses were sung by the St. Tikhon’s Community Mixed Choir, directed by Rdr. Benedict Sheehan.
In a pastoral homily, His beatitude reminded all present of both the cosmic and the personal levels of grace in the feast of the cross, saying that “The cross, which we celebrate and exalt on this day, is above all the sign of God’s mercy towards us...Together as members of the human race, we all receive God’s mercy. We have eternal life open to us… But each of us here has also received mercy individually. By whatever individual and unique path, we have each been privileged to enter the life of the Church, and having received mercy it calls to us in turn to offer this to others who come to us and to the Church looking for that same mercy. We are all commended to be servants of Christ, whatever our weaknesses, flaws, and sins, both voluntary and involuntary. The message of the cross is an encouragement to us as Christ’s flawed servants, because it reminds all of us that our Church life depends not on eloquence or wisdom, but on the power of God."
His beatitude also specifically exhorted and challenged the seminarian community (and all Christians) at the commencement of a new academic year: “For seminarians the study of theology is meant to be a rigorous preparation for the challenges of being a witness of the Gospel in an era when you will be rigorously questioned about your faith, and what you believe and practice, and why. Still, with all your good and faithful attention to learning, what people will be looking for will be a demonstration of the 'spirit in power', and this is the power of God that can only emerge from your own sense of weakness, your own sense of needing God’s mercy, forgiveness, and strength. The cross is our trophy and invincible weapon of peace, but being a follower of the cross means being willing to be regarded as foolish in a world that praises rationality and wisdom. The cross puts before each of us some hard questions: Am I prepared to be misunderstood? Am I prepared for mockery? Am I prepared to suffer for the sake of Christ? Am I prepared to pour my life out for others? Am I prepared to be identified as a follower of Christ crucified? Am I prepared to voluntary take up the cross? As seminarians you all know that to be a servant of the crucified Christ is a difficult thing. But you also know that it brings a joy unavailable anywhere else. That’s why you’re here. And that calling is one that is extended to every Christian.”
Article by Seminarian John S. Parker