St. Nicholas Visits 0xnard

A Mini-Pilgrimage Report, by Joanna

August 15-16 the myrrh-streaming icon of St. Nicholas visited Holy Trinity Church [SIR] in 0xnard escorted by Fr. Elias of St. Nicholas mission in Las Vegas. Fr. Elias [R0CA-A] is the icon's God-appointed caretaker.

Holy Trinity is being sued by R0C0R-MP for their property because they did not submit to the MP union. Archbishop Chrysostomos [SIR] is also being sued by R0C0R-MP because he gave "harbor" to Holy Trinity.

This icon was revealed as myrrh-streaming in 1996. Fr. Elias told us the story of its origin: It is a just paper print from St. Isaac's in Wisconsin where they mount and sell icons. Icons with imperfections they would give away to pilgrims. This one had a defect in the laminating.

Just before the feast of St. Nicholas, Fr. Elias and a reader stopped by their church [Michigan City, Indiana] on their way to a certain monastery. Earlier the icon had been placed on the center analoy in anticipation of the feast.

When they unlocked the door and entered the church, they found the scent of myrrh filled the church. Fr. Elias froze, and the reader went searching for the source of the scent. Then Fr. Elias noticed a glistening coming from the icon. Coming closer he saw three streams of myrrh, one coming down the center and one on either side of St. Nicholas' face.

Was this good or bad?

He dabbed up some myrrh and put it in his pocket. Later, at the monastery, he showed it to the abbess who said, "This is holy myrrh, where did you get it?" They went back to the church with some nuns. Exorcism prayers were read over the icon.

For the next 13 years Fr. Elias has taken the icon all over to be venerated by the faithful for the strengthening of faith.

This just-past Saturday August 15th, at 1pm, the Holy Trinity church was waiting for the arrival of the icon with great anticipation. The church was preened and adorned with flowers. The icon was late in coming, which made the expectation even more intense. Nobody chattered.

Minutes before the escorting vehicle arrived, having been alerted by a cell phone call, the starosta asked everyone to step outside. The faithful all arranged themselves to line the pathway leading to the church. The church bell was rung slowly until the vehicle pulled up, then the bells let loose and the choir started singing.

Fr. Elias held the icon high into the air and entered the church and the people followed him inside in such an orderly fashion which, of course had not been rehearsed, but somebody might think it had. This added to the dignity of the occasion, the honoring of a royal visitor.

While we sang the akathist to St. Nicholas, I noticed a growing patch of what appeared to me to be condensation inside the glass cover of the icon. After the akathist everyone venerated the icon and was anointed with myrrh.

Fr. Elias told us that ever since the decision was made to visit Holy Trinity, the myrrh-streaming had increased. Now it was profuse. He opened the case so we could see more closely. Many people had their baptismal crosses dipped into the pool of myrrh that had collected at the bottom of the icon case. Many eyes were teared at the outpouring of this miracle. The scent filled the church.

A security guard, who had been hired to protect the icon from being kidnapped, came inside the church to see what was happening and was drawn into the circle of faithful there. I walked passed him while someone was trying to explain to him what was happening and asked him, "Are you brand new?" He said in a surprised way, "I'm the guard!" as if he was surprised at himself for being there.

At liturgy, Sunday, Fr. Elias gave the sermon which included the warning that the myrrh does not work any kind of magic. The miracle is our church and the faithful and the Eucharist.

After liturgy a moleben was served and again an anointing. More people were present than Saturday and so was even more myrrh present. It over-flowed out of the case and soaked into the cloths covering the analoy. Fr. Elias opened the case and repaced the saturated cotton with dry cotton. Scent filled the church and again people started tearing at the heavenly sign.

Holy Trinity is a special parish. It is the only parish from R0C0R on the west coast that did not go along with the union.

Even more specially, it was not the priest who led this flock around the pitfall of the union. The priest they had at the time was actually pro-union. It was the flock who decided not to go along with the union. So the pinko priest had to leave. The flock asked for Fr. James Thornton, who had served them for a time in the past, to be given to them. Fr. James received the request as a calling from God.

Holy Trinity is beautiful with hand painted icons on all the walls and ceiling. There is a balance of English and Russian that is so well worked out it seems effortless. What struck me the most is the hardest to describe: their genuine love for one another. Not that 'brotherly love' that can be seen on display where the people are strainedly trying [emotion and sentiment gives it away]. But this is innate from the inside out. I doubt I'm explaining this well. Maybe I should just say it felt natural and it was very comfortable to be there.

Is God going to allow the R0C0R-MP to win its law suit? The parish expects to know by the end of this year. In the meatime, my impression -speaking with a few parishioners- is that this flock is trusting God. They are ready to accept whatever He brings or allows. They have that peace that comes from loving God and trusting Him, both as individuals and as a group.

Across the street from Holy Trinity is a vacant lot. There is a scenario in my imagination ... what if R0C0R-MP wins the law suit, and the people are forced out of their church building? They could go across the street and pitch a tent. Their building would become another MP monument - another MP real estate holding. All the LIFE would be in the tent. A powerful living symbol -a statement- and a 'sign against'.

Just before leaving, I went back inside the church for a last look. The cases of relics had been put away. Two "treasure chests" of relics, among the relics: a piece of the Cross, a piece of Christ's robe, Theotokos robe, St. John Baptist, many Holy Apostles, St. Mary Magadalene. [Also St. John of Shanghai's vestments are there in the church.]

I remembered another story Fr. Elias tells about this icon and St. John, which might help explain this miracle. See related post [click here].


Unprofitable Servant said...

Glory to God, who is truly glorified in His saints! The people of this long-suffering parish are truly blessed, and fortunate to have remained united as a parish to resist the Evil One and his servants in the MP-ROCOR, including their former false pro-union priest.

Sadly, the same was not true for my former ROCOR parish, where the MP-ROCOR usurper Metropolitan Laurus (Skurla) succeeded in placing an MP-ROCOR priest to divide and scatter our flock for several years prior to the signing of the Act of Canonical Communion in 2007.

Like Holy Trinity parish, we once had a remarkably peaceful, harmonious Russian- and English- speaking parish. Then Metropolitan Laurus's MP-ROCOR priest arrived in our midst, like a cankerous tare among the wheat. It was far too easy for this false shepherd to scatter and mislead our flock-- playing upon ethnic, linguistic, and personality differences to create rancor and malice. After his first year, this false priest even began to give his sermons only in Russian, despite the fact that more than half of his original parish were English- speaking Americans...

I can't help but think that we were being punished for our sins and unworthiness, and I have continued to wonder, to this day, why this betrayal and loss was visited upon our parish. Why did we also not stand together like the people of Holy Trinity parish in Oxnard, with or without our building and the blessed Russian icons? A tent wold have sufficed for our tabernacle, but the people of our former parish are now scattered to the four winds in a city with no Old Calendar Orthodox Church other than the MP-ROCOR parish that was once our home.

Sad but true.

mmcxristidis said...

Years ago, 1996-7 a priest who has since gone pro-union gave me a small paper copy of this icon along with a plastic baggie containing a cotton ball soaked with the miraculous myrrh.
Glory to God! it has dried up but still gives off a most pleasant, sweet aroma.
Holy St Nicholas, intercede with the most Holy Trinity that if it is God's will, those who bring these shameful lawsuits against your church will never prosper, will repent, and will return into communion with the true ROCOR

Joanna Higginbotham said...

Another myrrh-streaming icon in an isolated [Hawaii] parish stuck in MP-R0C0R, possibly a warning. Add the faithful of this parish to our prayers, help them escape the MP.

Joanna Higginbotham said...

After gently chiding me for failing to ask his blessing for my mini-pilgrimage to 0xnard, Fr. Gregory answered my question about whether the St. Nicholas miracle icon could be taken as a validation of our R0CA-Agafangel jurisdiction. He wrote:

"As to 'validation', I seriously doubt that presence of myrrh-streaming icons can be construed either way with any security. They can be a consolation, a warning, a call to repentance -- and they don't come with any notes attached! The Church has always treated such phenomena with great caution, usually requiring that the icon be removed from the hands of its original "owner" into the safe-keeping of a bishop for a considerable period of time of prayer and exorcisms. This is just plain prudence, guarding against both charlatanism and the machinations of the evil one. (So was it done with the Montreal Iveron icon; Vl. Vitaly kept it in his cell for several weeks before returning it to José's keeping.) Take it for the blessing it is for you & refrain from much interpretation."

V. Rev. Fr. Elias Warnke said...

As to the comments of Fr. Gregory, his quite correct. This Icon was validated by Met. Vitaly at Synod, kept at Jordanville for one month and there is the fact of thirteen years of miraculous events, documented and in some cases verified by doctors.
In my humble experience as the Holy Icon's guardian and the experience of those who have witnessed its presence, over 100k people around the world, this blessing is offered for the strengthening of our faith in the most disturbing of times and a call to true repentance.
Whether it validates anything I can only quote the words of the then Archbishop Laurus who said at the second anniversary of Br. Jose's repose, "The Mother of God chose to take Her Icon from us because we were not worthy, but in her infinite love she asked our Lord to send her favorite Saint, Nicholas to offer us another chance to repent."

Joanna Higginbotham said...

A 1966 0RTH0D0X LIFE has an article with selections from St. John of Kronstadt on the Theotokos. In the introduction it says that the Roman Catholics do have [or did have at that time, at least] in their possession a few miracle-working icons of the Theotokos.

For example, the Wonderworking Icon of the Czenstochowa Mother of God in Poland, and the particular Byzantine Wonderworking Image of the Mother of God of the Passion which they possess and venerate under the title: "0ur Lady of Perpetual Help," as well as several others in southern Italy and elsewhere.

About this the article says:

"She has relatively seldom, and then only in Her great Mercy and despite their errors, revealed Her Wonderworking Grace and manifestations to the schismatic and increasingly apostate Latins. Nor is it without significance that most of the Wonderworking Ikons of the Mother of God that the Latins do have, for the most part derive originally from the 0rthodox East and are simply 0rthodox Ikons which have fallen into Latin hands, Ikons through which She in Her great Mercy continues to manifest Her Grace."

- January/February 1966 issue No. 97, page 24

Reader Daniel said...

The Wonderworking Icon of the Czenstochowa Mother of God in Poland: this was originally 'a gift from a Russian prince to a Polish prince', so says an official Catholic Polish history of this icon, published by the Polish Paulist Fathers, with imprimature, etc. Also, it is reputed to be one 'painted by St. Luke', and widely venerated by Orthodox also. The Poles admit themselves, that they received this most precious holy icon, from Orthodox hands!