Saint Dumitru Monastery celebrated its summer feast day, the Ascension of the Lord, on Saturday, June 4, 2022. The feast began the evening before with the service of Great Vespers with Litya, and continued in the morning with Matins and Divine Liturgy. His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae concelebrated the Liturgy together with eight priests and one deacon.
In his sermon, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae made references to the Ascension of our Savior, underlining several meanings that the feast bears: “What meanings are possible for us to understand from this event described by the Holy Evangelist Luke? Christ ascended to heaven to fulfill a dispensation for us humans. This is what the kontakion of the feast says: ‘When You had fulfilled the dispensation for our sake, and united earth to heaven: You ascended in glory.’ And what exactly is this dispensation that the Savior fulfilled through His ascension into heaven? It is the dispensation of the salvation of mankind. The Son of God descended to earth, He assumed our flesh, He lived among us, going so far as to endure slander and crucifixion, all in order to conquer sin – which is man’s separation from God – thereby offering His life to God in our name. This is why He extended His arms upon the Cross, so that He might gather us all together and offer us to God. He made this supreme sacrifice to erase Adam’s sin of disobedience. He accepted death on the Cross not to remain confined to the grave, but to conquer death. For this is what we sing in the troparion of the Resurrection: “Trampling down death by death.” You all understood these meanings on the night of Holy Pascha and throughout the following period. Therefore, Christ, Who is the Son of God come down to earth, passed through death so that He might conquer it, and now at His Ascension, He fulfills this dispensation. He ascends into the bosom of the Holy Trinity, bringing with Him our human flesh, which bears the wounds of His Passion on His palms and His side.
“Christ, Who has ascended to the heavens and is enthroned at the righthand of the Father, is the foundation of our hope that we also will eventually arrive in the house of the Father. For this reason, when we serve a memorial service or a funeral, we speak about the dead as being asleep in the Lord or reposed in the Lord. They are not condemned to eternal non-existence, as some people say, but they are reposed in the Lord. Christ Himself awaits us so that He might receive us in His Father’s house. And from there, from the house of the Father, from His place at the Father’s righthand, Christ will send the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, in 10 days’ time. At that moment, they will become strong, perceptive, full of the Holy Spirit so that they might proclaim the Gospel of the Resurrection. Therefore, we observe how this feast is not just one among many, but truly reveals to us many mysteries: first, that man just like us is at the righthand of the Father; second, that Christ awaits us in His Father’s house; and last but not least, that Christ will send His Holy Spirit Who by enlightening us all, enables us to become proclaimers of the word of the Gospel.
Besides gifting us with his word of instruction, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae also granted each of the faithful a copy of a special icon, which was painted for the occasion of the commemorative year of the hesychast saints Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory Palamas, and Paisie Velichikovsky of Neamț, as celebrated this year in the Romanian Patriarchate. This icon depicts not only these three hesychast saints, but also two dear American saints: John Maximovitch and Nikolai Velimirovich.
The church service was followed, as is custom, by a communal agape meal. This warm, peaceful, beautiful, and grace-filled feast was made possible by the loving sacrifices especially of several devoted pilgrims of the monastery and by everyone present: clergy and faithful (and many children).