Myrhh-streaming Icon / Peter & Fevronia
We are truly blessed today… As on every Sunday, we celebrate the bright resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and on this day, we commemorate the right-believing Prince Peter and Princess Fevronia – the patrons of family, faith, and fidelity; and, if this were not enough to fill our hearts with joy, we have the tremendous blessing of receiving the Most Holy Mother of God in her myrrh-streaming Hawaii Iveron icon!
Let us hear a word about the righteous Peter and Fevronia… Prince Peter and Princess Fevronia were benevolent rulers and always helped their people with alms and prayers. They treated all as if they were their own children. They were true benefactors of their city and ruled with truth and humility. They gave shelter to pilgrims, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and helped the poor in their misfortune.
When death was nearing, Peter and Fevronia prayed to God that they both might die in the same hour. And they requested that they be buried in the same tomb and in a common coffin in which their bodies would be separated only by a partition. Before their deaths they took monastic vows, Prince Peter becoming Brother David, and Princess Fevronia, Sister Euphrosinia.
After their deaths, some of the people decided that Prince Peter should be buried in the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, which was within the walls of the city of Murom, and that Princess Fevronia should be buried in the Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, which was outside the walls of the city. The body of Prince Peter was put in a casket and was placed in the cathedral, where it was left overnight. The body of Princess Fevronia was put in another casket and placed in the church outside the city walls. A tomb, which had earlier been carved from a huge rock as a resting-place for Peter and Fevronia, remained empty in the yard of the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin.
The next morning the people went to the caskets of Peter and Fevronia and found them empty. The bodies of the holy prince and princess were found together in the tomb of stone, which they had ordered prepared for them. The people, not understanding the meaning of this event, once more placed the bodies in separate caskets. On the following day the bodies of Prince Peter and Princess Fevronia were once again found together in the tomb of stone. Since that time no man has dared to disturb their holy bodies, but left them in their common tomb in the yard of the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, which is located in the city of Murom. To this day, those who approach the holy relics of Peter and Fevronia with prayer, always receive comfort and healing.
In honor of these beloved saints, the Russian Orthodox Church marks their commemoration as a special day of blessing and honor for Orthodox families. Peter and Fevronia are beloved as the patron saints of family, faith, and fidelity.
It is a fitting thing that our Most Holy Lady Theotokos would come to us today… for in the assembling of all those who are here today, we must surely look upon one another as family. We are truly brothers and sisters in Christ and we share our love of our Mother, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who gathers us together under her protecting veil.
I remember so clearly the reassuring words of my spiritual father, the ever-memorable Archimandrite Anastassy… he said: ‘In Orthodoxy there are no orphans.’ And it is true… God calls us to come out from the world and be separate and ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty’. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to call upon God as our Father. And, from the cross, in the person of His beloved disciple, Christ tells us ‘Behold your mother’… gifting us with her holy intercessions and concern.
What a remarkable thing! As Orthodox Christians we literally have the same Blood flowing through our veins – as we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ from the same Chalice.
And so, look around you… look upon the icons of the saints on the walls. These are your elder brothers and sisters in the faith. Look around the room here… these are your brothers and sisters in the faith. And here in the midst of us all is our Most Blessed Mother!
This remarkable icon has been gushing forth myrrh for nearly 12 years now. The icon is a simple printed copy of its predecessor, the Montreal myrrh-streaming icon, which was with us from 1982 through 1997, when its guardian, Brother Jose Munoz-Cortes was martyred, and the icon was taken and has not been seen since. The Hawaii icon, which you see here before you, has been a source of consolation and healing for these past twelve years to so many. As Deacon Nectarios can attest better than anyone else, the miracles that have occurred in the presence of this icon and through the myrrh which streams from it, are innumerable.
I remember hearing from Fr Nectarios one time, that a Greek elder had remarked that all icons are windows into heaven, but somehow, this particular window has been left open… and the grace of God flows in and out from this open window, bestowing blessings upon us all.
God is so merciful to us. We are a blind and foolish people. Sometimes it takes an obvious miracle to wake us up out of our spiritual slumber and slothfulness. A myrrh-streaming icon is an inexplicable miracle which we behold before our very eyes. Thank God for His great condescension that He would encourage us with such a miracle. And let us pray to God that the eyes of our soul may be opened to recognize the ‘not so obvious’ miracles that surround us every day.
It is a great joy to see so many people gathered here in honor of the Mother of God and hungering to see this miracle and receive her blessing. Yet, one must ask… do we realize that every time the Divine Liturgy is served, we stand before the greatest miracle of all? Mere bread and wine are transformed into the very Body and Blood of Christ! Our churches should be overflowing with faithful people crowding the church to not only behold such a miracle, but to actually partake in this through Holy Communion.
May we all be blessed and enriched here in the presence of the Most Holy Theotokos in her Hawaii icon. And may this undeniable and evident miracle encourage us and strengthen our faith. God’s love is extended to us through these touchpoints of grace. May that grace do its work upon our hearts so that they may be purified, for as Christ has indicated: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’.