On February 23, 2020, on the Sunday of the Last Judgment (Meatfare), the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the St. Matrona of Moscow Cathedral in Miami. The service was led by Archimandrite Alexander Belya.
At the end of the liturgy Archimandrite Alexander consecrated new holy vessels and icons donated by benefactors of the cathedral. These consisted of a silver Eucharistic set (Chalice, Discos, Asterisk, and Lzhitza), a decorated Epistle book, large icons of the Optina Elders and St. Paisius the Athonite, and two small icons of the holy martyr Pavel Zhytomyrsky.
Archimandrite Alexander then blessed the congregation and wished them the help and grace of God in endeavoring to observe the upcoming Great Lent. He also thanked the families that helped in the decoration of the cathedral.
The Chalice or Holy Communion Cup of the Eucharist is one of the most significant items found on the altar. It symbolize the cup that the Savior gave to the Apostles during the Last Supper and said, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the Covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mathew, 26:27-28). Both the clergy and the faithful receive Holy Communion from the Chalice. It is however, distributed by the clergy to the laity by a special spoon Lzhitza). The Discos or Paten, is a small round plate on a little stand. During the Divine Liturgy the middle part of the prosphora (bread used for the Eucharist) is placed on the Discos, symbol of the Lamb which is transformed into the body of Christ. The Discos symbolizes the Bethlehem manger where Christ was born, and at the same time the tomb in which Christ’s body was placed and from which the Lord had risen. The Asterisk or Star, which is placed on top of the Discos during the Sacrament of the Eucharist, symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem.
The icon of the Synaxis or Commemoration of the Elders of Optina, depicts a group of 14 Righteous Fathers who in XIX-XX centuries struggled valiantly in prayer at the Optina Pustyn Monastery, one of the spiritual centers of Church life in Russia. They are SS. Leonid, Macarius, Moses, Anthony, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole the Elder, Isaac the First, Joseph, Barsanuphius, Anatole the Younger, Nectarius, Nikon, and Isaac the Second. The legacy of the Optina Elders is one of the spiritual treasures of Russian Orthodoxy.
The blessed Elder St. Paisios the Athonite is considered the greatest man of faith of our time and one of the most revered Greek Elders of the 20th century. He was a monk of the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos in Greece) known for his spiritual endeavors, teaching, and prophecies. The Saint is also widely revered in the Russian Church.
The Holy Martyr Pavel Zhitomirsky a newly canonized saint of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. He served in the rural churches of modern day Zhytomyr and Kiev regions. He was martyred under the Bolsheviks in 1919. The relics of St. Paul Zhitomirsky are venerated today by the faithful in the Spaso-Preobrazhenski Cathedral of Zhytomyr.