Lenten Retreat of the Eastern American Diocese

(Howell, NJ, March 17, 2015)—Archpriest Anastasy Yastrelis and Deacon Daniel Gregoire drove to New Jersey to attend the Lenten Retreat of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Church Abroad (ROCOR). Our clergy from Ss. Cyril and Methodius joined His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan and Bishop George of Mayfield to greet the myrrh-streaming Icon of the Mother of God “Softener of Evil Hearts.”  A moleben was then served before the holy icon.

They listened as the Bishops read a message from Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad. Vladyka pointed out that clergy meet every year during Lent “to receive salvific counsel, a deeper inspection of our souls, brotherly interaction and, most importantly, liturgical communion at God’s altar table.” He emphasized that “our Lenten journey is not one of despondency and deep sorrow. Instead, it is a time of spiritual renewal, in which repentance gains us forgiveness, begets hope, fortifies our faith, and leads us to eternal life.”

Vladyka prayed that participants will renew spiritual strengths, an inclination toward prayer, inner peace, fortitude, and humility in bearing the labors of Great Lent and in joyously greeting Christ’s Glorious Resurrection.  This will be celebrated at midnight on Pascha, Sunday, April 12, 2015.

On the first day, Archimandrite Demetrios, chaplain at Nativity of the Mother of God Convent in Saxonburg, PA, began the work of the retreat talking about the role of faith in the labors of the Holy Fathers. He included many examples of the salvific power of the Orthodox Faith from his own personal life and many years of spiritual experience. After lunch, the diocesan clergy had a lively discussion of many pastoral and practical matters facing the Church today.

That evening, Fr. Anastasy and Fr. Daniel participated in an Akathist before the Mother of God “Softener of Evil Hearts” icon, followed by Matins.  The prayer rule for Holy Communion was read. After Matins, clergy and matushki had an opportunity to make a full confession before the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on the following day (March 18).

There will be more information on the other days of this refreshing annual Retreat, held at St.

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