On June 2, 2019, the 6th Sunday after Pascha, commemoration of Gospel’s Blind Man, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations (DECR), celebrated Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Elevation of the Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia’s Diocese of Western Europe.
His Eminence was assisted by His Grace Vicar Bishop Alexander of Vevey, vicar of the ROCOR; Archpriest Pavel Tsvetkov, the cathedral’s ecclesiarch; Archpriest Peter Perekrestov, Senior Priest of the Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy for All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco; and Hieromonk Ioann (Kopeikin), Pro-Rector for Development, SS Cyril and Methodius Institute of Post-Graduate Studies (CMI).
In the cathedral is a reliquary with a part of the relics and belt of St John, Archbishop of Shanghai the Wonderworker of San-Francisco. The shrine had been brought to Swiss parishes with a blessing of Archbishop Kirill of San Francisco and Western America and Bishop Irenaeus of Richmond and Western Europe, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the glorification of the saint.
After the Prayer of Fervent Supplication, Metropolitan Hilarion lifted up a prayer for peace in Ukraine.
In his sermon after the service, Metropolitan Hilarion conveyed to the congregation a blessing from His Holiness Kirill, Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia. Then he spoke about the Gospel’s story about the healing of a man born blind, stressing that the Lord healed the blind man not only physically but also spiritually, bringing him to faith in Christ not just as man but as God Incarnate.
“Every Gospel’s story speaks of Jesus Christ as God,” His Eminence said, “and He continues to live in our midst, with us and in us, for when we partake of the Holy Communion, the Lord Jesus Christ comes to dwell in us entering into our human essence.” Speaking about the difference between Christianity and other religions, he said that the difference between the life of a Christian and that of a non-believer is the same as the life of a blind one and a sighted one. “Externally, everything in our life as Christians seems to be similar to the life of other people, but inwardly our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ makes us aware of the meaning of our life and all that happens in it.” His Eminence concluded his sermon with the traditional exclamation “Christ is Risen!”
Then Bishop Alexander greeted Metropolitan Hilarion and presented him with an Icon of All Saints in memory of their joint prayer and a leaflet about the restoration of the church of the Elevation of the Cross.