On May 14, 2013, the second Tuesday of Pascha, known as Radonitsa ("Day of Rejoicing"), the Paschal day of the commemoration of the dead, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia celebrated Divine Liturgy in Protection Church in the Chinese city of Harbin.
Many Orthodox Chinese Christians and Russians were in attendance, overfilling the church. Upon arriving at the church, His Holiness paused to speak with the congregation and giving them his patriarchal blessing.
His Holiness was joined in the service by His Eminence Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk, President of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate; His Grace Bishop Sergy of Solnechnogorsk, Head of the Administrative Secretariat of the Moscow Patriarchate; Protopriest Nikolai Balashov, Vice President of the DECR; Protopriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev, Rector of the Church of SS Peter and Paul in Hong Kong; Protopriest Sergy Yakutov, Dean of the Second Deanery of the Diocese of Vladivostok, and Priest Sergy Voronin, Rector of Dormition Church at the Russian Embassy to the People's Republic of China.
The Vladivostok Diocese had prepared the church for the service, and had done some renovation work, and on this day, its priests helped take the confession of all the believers who wished to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
Liturgy was celebrated upon an antimension which had at one time been in the Church of the Tabyn Icon of the Mother of God in Beijing. It bears the signature of Archbishop Viktor (Svyatin) of China and Beijing, Chief of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China in the 20th century.
The choir of Novospassky Monastery in Moscow sang at the service. The Holy Gospel was read in Church Slavonic and Chinese.
Praying at the service were Andrei Denisov, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the People's Republic of China, Vladimir Legoyda, President of the Synodal Information Department, and Sergey Paltov, Russian Consul General in Shenyang.
During the augmented litany, a special supplication was made for those who suffered from the flooding in China: "And we pray for all the victims of the floodwaters."
Commemorated also during the service were the archpastors, pastors and laity of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission and the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. Commemorative prayers were read for Metropolitan Flavian of Kiev and Galitsia; Metropolitan Innokenty of Beijing and China; Metropolitan Viktor of Krasnodarsk and Kuban; Metropolitan Mefody of Harbin and Manchuria; Metropolitan Melety of Harbin and Manchuria; Metropolitan Nestor of Kirovograd and Nikolaevsk; as well as Archbishop Simon of Beijing and China; Archbishop Dimitry of Hailar; Archbishop Nikander of Rostov and Novocherkassk; Archbishop Yuvenaly of Izhevsk and Udmurt (Schema-Archbishop Ioann); Archbishop Kliment of Sverdlovsk and Kurgansk; Bishop Simeon of Shanghai; Bishop Vasily of Beijing and China; Bishop Leonty of Enotaevsk; Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim; Archimandrite Ilarion, Archimandrite Antony, Archimandrite Gervasy, Archimandrite Amvrosy, Archimandrite Nikolai, Archimandrite Ioakim, Archimandrite Sofrony, Archimandrite Peter, Archimandrite Veniamin, Archimandrite Polikarp, Archimandrite Pallady, Archimandrite Amfilohii, Archimandrite Vasily, Archimandrite Kliment, Archimandrite Polikarp; Protopresbyter Elias Wen; Schema-Hegumen Ignaty; Hegmen Sofrony; Hegumen Innokenty; murdered Protopriest Stefan Wu; Protopriest Dimitry; Protopriest Alexander; Protopriest Pavel, Protopriest Mikhail, Protopriest Innokenty, Protopriest Ilya, Protopriest Dimitry, Protopriest Valentin; Protopriest Rostislav; Protopriest Alexander; Protopriest Dimitry; Protopriest Peter; Protopriest Nikolai; Protopriest Dimitry; Protopriest Ioan Du; Protopriest Vasily Du; Protopriest Nikolai Li; Protopriest Leonid Liu; Protopriest Mikhail Luo; Protopriest Daniil He; Protopriest Vladimir Du; Hieromonk Varsonofy; Hieromonk Simon Bai; Priest Grigory Zhu (the last rector of Protection Church), Priest Ioann; Priest Maksim; Priest Pinne Du; Priest Anikita Wang; Priest Vasiliy Luo; Priest Feofan Du; Priest Fotiy Huo; Priest Antony Yao; Priest Nikita Du; Protodeacon Falalea Mao; Protodeacon Evmeny Ying; Deacon Nikolai Zhang; Schema-Abbess Rufina; Abbess Ariadna; Monk Iakinf; and all the fathers, brothers and sisters "who labored for the Church of Christ in the land of China."
At the end of Divine Liturgy, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church addressed the clergymen and multitude of worshipers, noting in his sermon that Paschal commemoration is made on this very day, Radonitsa. In addition, considering that this year, Russia's Day of Victory, May 9, fell on Bright Week, the annual commemoration of fallen warriors who died for the faith, the Fatherland and the people, and all those who suffered and died during the Great War for the Fatherland.
Referring to the divine services performed in Protection Church, His Holiness noted:
"We prayed first of all for those who sowed the seeds of Orthodoxy in China, who preserved devotion to the Lord and Savior. In 1993, I had the opportunity to visit Harbin; Fr Grigory Zhu was still among the living: he accompanied me and told me about this church, and about the Orthodox community in Harbin. I think that a significant number of Orthodox Chinese who prayed during today's service were still very young adults, or even children, then. I wish to thank all of you, dear Orthodox Chinese brothers and sisters, for having preserved the Orthodox faith despite the difficult circumstances. After the death of Fr Grigory, this church has not had a regular priest, and despite this you still gathered for prayer, supported your community, your parish.
"I came to China to pray with all of you, to meet the leadership of this nation, with those who are responsible for religious life. We had a special bond with each other during Liturgy. I prayed to the Lord that He would extend His mercy to Russia and to China, so that peace and prosperity would reign in our countries, so that friendship, cooperation, mutual support would strengthen the bonds between Russia and China. I also prayed that the life of the Chinese Orthodox Church would flourish, for it is a Church that confessed devotion to the Lord and Savior over many long decades.
"Today's Gospel reading was from John. We heard remarkable words. The Lord Jesus Christ said: 'For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved' (John 3:17). Some of His listeners at the time probably understood that the Savior came to save Israel from Roman occupation. But the Lord is saying something else—something that had nothing to do with that historical moment when the people of Israel were under Roman occupation. The Lord is speaking of an eternal truth, which is just as real today as it was two thousand years ago.
"And another passage from today's Gospel reading helps us understand the meaning of these words: 'I came to save the world.' Continuing the theme of judgment, the Lord says: 'And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world' (John 3:19). What wondrous words! The Lord did not say that a terrible Divine judge came, Who would justify some and condemn others, elevate one group and punish another. He said that light came into the world. We know perfectly well how visible everything is in bright light. Every speck of dust is visible, every stain, whatever is left unseen in the semi-darkness. In the absence of bright light, a great deal of that which is ugly does not look so bad, while the beauty of the truly beautiful cannot be appreciated, because it goes unseen. But under clear illumination, everything is visible, even the smallest mark, which is invisible against a black background, and barely visible against gray.
"What does the judgment of God consist of? It consists of the fact that light has come into the world, that in this light we see truth and we see lies, and people can discern between truth and lies and good and evil. They have this opportunity because God implanted a conscience into our nature—a remarkable instrument which works equally well in the soul of a Russian person and in the Chinese soul, in the soul of anyone else. The conscience allows us to discern between good and evil. God came to the world in order to strengthen the human conscience, so that nothing would darken it. Then whoever lives by their conscience will fulfill Divine laws. This relates to both believers and unbelievers, it happens that even unbelievers have the same attitude towards their conscience and moral law.
"And if it is so, then hope remains that people will live in harmony and accord, because harmony and accord are also moral concepts.
"During the course of my meeting with the President of the PRC, Xi Jinping, we discussed the fact that in traditional Chinese culture, many values are preserved which are also characteristic of Christian culture. This means that there is a common moral foundation, a common basis for life and for cooperation. I am certain that if China and Russia preserve this foundation, they will be a force throughout the world, in a world where such concepts are often obscured.
"Today we commemorated reposed hierarchs and priests who carried out their service in China. We will never forget their names—they will be inscribed in gold letters in the history of the Church of China. I am certain that the future of Chinese Orthodox Christianity will be bright and joyous.
"I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the city of Harbin holds a special place in our hearts. This city is directly associated with Russia—its history and culture. It is right here that the greatest number of Chinese Orthodox Christians lived. Today I celebrated a Patriarchal Liturgy here in the presence of believers of the Chinese nation.
"For me, this is a day of particular spiritual intensity. I address the believers of China and our Russian Orthodox Christians who come here in large numbers, often for medical care for their children, and I would like to invoke upon them God's blessing. Each of us has a special plea to God, and the Lord pours out His mercy upon those with earnest faith.
"May the Lord through His mercy preserve the Orthodox Christian community of Harbin and this marvelous city. May He spread His blessing upon Russia and China, enabling friendship and the flourishing of our peoples."
In memory of this Patriarchal service in Harbin, His Holiness gave Protection Church an altar-table Gospel and a copy of the Epistles, as well as an icon of the Mother of God.
The parishioners welcomed His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
"We eagerly awaited you, and express our earnest welcome to you, with assurances that we will eternally preserve this church," said Ekaterina Yui Shun, the Parish Warden.
The members of the community then brought His Holiness traditional Chinese textiles with the images of Protection Church in Harbin and roses, as well as a quotation from the Gospel of Matthew.
Also greeting the Patriarch was Sergei Yeremin, director of the Historical Department of the Russian Club in Harbin.
After divine services, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill spent some time with the congregants. At their request, His Holiness posed for a photograph with them for posterity's sake.
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church then encouraged the children who came to Harbin for medical treatment, spoke to their parents and blessed them all.
The Chinese faithful expressed their heartfelt thanks to His Holiness Vladyka for the possibility of praying at Divine Liturgy and partake of the Holy Gifts of Christ.
Everyone was then given small icons of the Resurrection of Christ.