“Lord, when Thou hadst fulfilled the mystery of Thy dispensationThou didst take Thy Disciples with Thee up onto Olivet and ascended!” (stichera for the feast).

Near the place of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ on the holy Mount of Olives is the Russian Holy Ascension Convent. On the day of the Ascension the patronal feast of the temple is celebrated with special solemnity.

In advance, the sisters of the monastery cleaned the temple and decorated it with flowers.

The all-night vigil was led by the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky). The clergy of the monastery – Archimandrite Vasily (Druzhinets), IgumenIona (Galishnikov) and Deacon Vyacheslav Batalsky co-served with the Head of the MissionDuring the polyeleos before the icon of the holiday, they solemnly glorified the feastday with the singing of the Megylarion! The sisters and pilgrims venerated the holy image and were anointed with holy oil.

On the very day of the feast, after midnight office and the consecration of water (which is always served on patronal feast days), the Head of the Mission was greeted at the entrance to the church. The aforementioned priests served with the addition of Hieromonk Theodore (Kirike) from the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene. Together with the abbess of the conventMotherVarvara (Novikova), the Abbess of the Monastery of GethsemaneMother Elisabeth (Smelic), who came to the festivities with some sisters also prayed. Also, the elder sister of the Bethany community of the Resurrection of Christ, mother Maria (Wall) arrived with the sisters and children of the boarding school.

Towards the end of the service, the Primate of the Greek Patriarchate, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, arrived. The hierarchs of the Patriarchate – Metropolitans Isychiy, Theophanes, Aristarchus, Joachim with clergy and the Consul General of Greece in Jerusalem – Evangelos Vlioros – accompanied the Patriarch.

The Patriarch greeted Fr. Roman, Abbess Varvara with her sisters. Archimandrite Roman thanked His Beatitude for his love and asked him to continue praying for the monastics and for the Russian pilgrims in the Holy Land.

Remarks of His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem after the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives at the Eleona Monastery – 10 June 2021

Your Eminences,
Your Graces,
Dear Father Romanos, Respected Clergy,
Beloved Monastics, 
Sisters and Brothers,

On this glorious Feast of the Ascension, which is the seal of the resurrection, we join in the words of the ancient hymn:

O Christ our God,
upon fulfilling your dispensation for our sake,
you ascended in glory, uniting the earthly with the heavenly.
You were never separate but remained inseparable, 
and cried out to those who love you,
“I am with thee and no one is against you.”

Here we understand the profound meaning of the Ascension, that, though our Lord Jesus Christ has gone to the Father to prepare a place for us, even so, we are still intimately connected with him. As the hymn says so clearly, we are inseparable.

This unbreakable relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, which finds its greatest expression in this life in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, is the assurance of our final deification. This is the goal of every Christian, and this goal of complete union with God must be the daily focus of our spiritual lives. And this assurance is also our strength and consolation in times of suffering and difficulty,

Last year on this feast, we were not able to be with you. But this year our joy is full in our ability to be in this holy place on this day. And so, we are reminded forcefully that the Holy Places, which Divine Providence has placed under the guardianship and protection of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, are not just archaeological curiosities; on the contrary, they are living witnesses to our sacred history and are places of prayer, worship, and most especially, the Divine Eucharist.

it is in this action of the Divine Liturgy that the Mother Church of Jerusalem gathers all in the embrace of the true Orthodox ecumenical spirit. We are glad today to have with us representatives from Orthodox national Churches, so that we may show to the world our united Orthodox faith and witness. This is a powerful visible sign of our unity, which is a precious gift that must be nurtured and sustained by all.

And yet it is further the case that we have the responsibility to ensure that the Holy Places are open to all people of good will without distinction, for the true Orthodox ecumenical spirit welcomes all, so that all may know the spiritual refreshment of those places that are signs of the divine-human encounter. In this way, the Patriarchate guarantees the Christian character of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

We rejoice therefore on this great feast, and we pray that our crucified, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus may enlighten our hearts and strengthen us for our mission.

Amen.

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