10th Anniversary of Brother Joseph Murder. The Day of Commemoration in Moscow. October 31, 2007.

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Ten years have elapsed since brother Joseph was martyred in Greece. Each year throughout that time, Orthodox people have gathered together in various places around the world to honor the memory of a person who lived a holy life: Joseph Munoz-Cortes, curator of the Iveron-Montreal Myrrh-streaming Icon of the Mother of God.

On the last day of October, the weather in Moscow was dry. The autumn wind drove swirls of yellow leaves along the sidewalks and overpasses. It was a mid-week evening, and people were hurrying about their business. I came out of the Krasnoselsk Station of the Metro, and went to the Church of All Saints, built at the close of the 19th Century on the grounds of the then-thriving Monastery of St. Alexei. It was there that something took place which so recently had seemed inconceivable – prayerful commemoration of Brother Joseph.

The Panikhida was served by Archpriest Victor Potapov, rector of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Washington. Praying together were old acquaintances and others who had never before met: elderly people, quite young people, parishioners and guests from far-off America. What brought them together in the same place and at the same time was their love for Brother Joseph.

Fr. Victor addressed us before the Panikhida. He said that on the very day on which in the United States of America, they celebrate Halloween, an awful celebration of the evil spirits, we had gathered together to honor in prayer the memory of a remarkable man who had devoted his life to serving the Mother of God and Her revered Icon, the Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon Brother Joseph, who had been secretly tonsured into the monastic rank with the name Amvrossy, in honor of Venerable Elder St. Amvrossy of Optino, had never been to Russia, although he had dreamed of bringing the Miraculous Holy Icon to the Orthodox people of Russia. And although Brother Joseph had never physically been to Russia, he was now with us in spirit! This was because it was here in Russia, where people were praying for him, that veneration and glorification of this 20th Century martyr and spiritual struggler was taking place.

Priest George Pavlovich concelebrated with Archpriest Victor. The choir of the Church of All Saints sang on the kliros. Beeswax candles were distributed to the faithful. When they were lit, a light honey fragrance spread throughout the church and mingled with the warm and tender sounds of liturgical chant. The prayers were chanted calmly, at an unhurried pace, so that each word was impressed on people’s hearts and retained in their consciousness. Everyone joined in singing “Memory Eternal.” The Panikhida came to a close, the candles were extinguished, people venerated the Cross, and then partook of commemorative wine and pastry. After chatting among themselves, they quietly departed, with a feeling of thanksgiving. There was a sense of peace and joy in my soul, almost as if we had been with Brother Joseph himself. I wanted to say the following words to him:

Alas, you never came to Russia,
Yet for Russia, always prayed.
God sent you forth to serve,
And you went off to His bridal chamber.
Although you never came to Russia,
The Orthodox know you well.
They pray to God for you,
And run to you in prayer.
Both Icon and Akathist they have written
Ahead of your glorification
You’ve instilled in people hope,
And set a good example, Joseph,
On how to love with sacrificial love.
For all those taking it easy,
You paid with your own blood.
You teach us patiently and humbly to endure,
And are synonymous with Podvig!
You never came to Russia,
But for Russia, always prayed.
Glory to God for all things!

Tatiana Philipieva
October 31, 2007, Moscow, Russia

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