The calender of the Church at times provides amazing, if not profound moments, where one feast coincides with another. This year has not disappointed us in respect to these blessed coincidences. This coming Sunday, being the Sunday of the Cross, and our turning point in the Lenten journey, is also the 88th anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of our blessed St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, and Enlightener of North America.
So much has been written, and said about St. Tikhon and his Christ like leadership and love, from his care of the fledging missionary Church here in North America (and Manitoba!), to the stormed tossed and persecuted Church in Russia and Ukraine. His coming feast day this Sunday offers a wonderful insight into his life, as it falls on the third Sunday of the Great fast, the Sunday of the Cross.
As we offer thanksgiving to God for the life and work of St. Tikhon this Sunday, we do it in the presence of the Cross of Christ our Lord. Which having being brought into the centre of the Church, bears witness of what each of us must do if we desire to be with Christ and be saved, and more profoundly what Christ does for each of us (Heb. 2:9).
It is as if the Cross on this day, points us in a direction without any hesitation or deviation from the work of Christ and our journey with Him. And it is only with this cross, that each of us can transform the brokeness of this world, of our cities, neighbourhoods, friends and families, bringing the healing love of a God who enters into the the world to save it (Jn. 3:16-17).
St. Tikhon bore witness to the meaning of the cross and the saving love of the Lord, even to his very last breath. And by that witness and life, we are today, blessed. I serve a community that would have remembered him as their bishop, I have served in Churches he consecrated, I am the President of a fund raising committee dedicated to him (STAS), that in seven years has become the largest financial contributor to the Archdiocese, and I have known people and parishes blessed by his intercessions, (that is just in North America!).
Let us heed the words of our Lord as we continue our Lenten journey, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mk.8:34-35)
It is by this, that we like our blessed St. Tikhon will not only find life, but bear witness of what life is. Now, and long after we are gone.
Pray to God for us Holy Patriarch Tikhon.
Priest Gregory Scratch