Kursk Root Icon Visits Diocese - 01/28/11

On Friday, January 28, the historic miracle working Kursk Root Icon visited St. Michael Church in Jermyn, as well as Holy Trinity Church in Wilkes Barre the following day.  Read an article in the Wilkes Barre Times-Leader here.  

The visit of the icon brought 100 faithful to St Michael's and close to 200 at Holy Trinity, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox. The following editorial expresses one person's reaction to the event:

Icon symbol of power of faith and much more
By Mark Guydish

Atheists may not believe in God, but only a fool denies the potential of faith.

And while the avarice and power lust of man can misdirect, manipulate and otherwise mal-adapt that potential to twisted purpose, it’s unwise to forget that faith spawns endless good, from soup kitchens to free health clinics, from Christmas toys for poor tots to an infectious and appropriate message of treating others as we would be treated.

Faith erected grade schools, high schools and colleges, hospitals and clothes closets, food pantries and homeless shelters. And the motivation to offer such services crosses denominational lines and geographical boundaries.

No, you don’t need religion to have those things, but it helps. And yes, religion can be corrupted and twisted to serve personal ambitions, but for every instance of such misuse there are thousands of examples of religion done right. They just don’t get the attention precisely because they are doing what religion is supposed to be doing.

Wyoming Valley was blessed -- literally to believers, figuratively to the rest -- with a brief visit Saturday of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church on Saturday. And whether you count yourself as devout, devoutly atheistic or somewhere in between, I think our area is a little better for it.

I’m not talking about any miracles attributed to the Icon, though there are many. Countless wonders have been ascribed to the relatively small depiction of multiple figures of the gold-clad mother of God, and some of the roughly 200 attendees during a service displaying the venerated object yearned, at least a little, for such history to repeat itself.

“I hope it helps me with the effects of a stroke,” Pittston resident Connie Padrezas told Times Leader correspondent Janine Ungvarsky.

Hope never hurts
Personally, I’d suggest sticking to a doctor’s advice while visiting the icon, but I also know hope, tempered with pragmatism, never hurts. By lifting hearts the icon surely helped many feel a bit lighter and see our tough times as a bit brighter.

I doubt very much our plague of corruption was wiped out with the event, or that strained government budgets were suddenly made flush with cash and residents rewarded with lower taxes (those things would be miracles these days). I’m talking about a facet of the icon’s appearance that is symptomatic of another miracle: the melting pot that forms our regional identity.

This cherished relic was found more than seven centuries ago in a Russia being overrun by Tartar invaders, and its survival alone merits admiration. Its trip to our little neck of the woods from such a far off locale along such a storied past speaks not merely to the power of religion but to the powerful ethnic heritage that makes up so much of this region’s history. The icon came here not by faith alone, but by the rugged will of immigrants who made Wyoming Valley home long ago, and in turn collectively made our home the place it is.

The icon reminds us that our history is world history, and that attribute is the hallmark of this country. Pittston’s Maryann Stanley put it succinctly after seeing the icon.
“This is special,” she said. “It’s 700 years old and it has been good for other people. And we’re Russian and Lithuanian in heritage. I’m so intrigued by the history of this.”

I thank Holy Trinity for bringing the mystery of our amalgamated heritage to the forefront for an evening.