FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

ON THE FIRST DAY FOLLOWING SUNDAY OF PENTECOST,
OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH COMMEMORATES
ALL SAINTS
WHO SHONE FORTH THROUGHOUT ALL THE WORLD,
NORTH AND SOUTH, EAST AND WEST.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn). Fourth Tone

ADORNED in the blood of Thy Martyrs throughout all the world as in
purple and fine lines, Thy Church, through them, doth cry unto Thee,
O Christ God: Send down Thy compassion upon Thy people; grant
peace to Thy commonwealth, and great mercy to our souls.

Kontakion Hymn of All Saints, Plagal of Fourth Tone

AS FIRST-FRUITS of our nature to the Planter of created things, the world
presenteth the God-bearing martyred Saints in offering unto Thee, O Lord.
Through their earnest entreaties, keep Thy Church in deep peace and divine
tranquillity, through the pure Theotokos, O Thou Who art greatly merciful.

On this holy day, the Sunday after Pentecost, we Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of All Saints, from all over the inhabited world, to Asia in the East, to Europe in the West, and beyond. Libya and farther, and regions both North and South.

We rejoice spiritually on this day, celebrating the memory of the Saints. It is significant that this day is dedicated to the Saints, after the Descent of the Holy Spirit, thus signifying THE COMMUNION OF THE HARVEST OF SAINTS WHO CONFESSED THE COESSENTIAL TRINITY. Therefore, we commemorate today ALL THE SAINTS, INCLUDING THE ASSEMBLY OF PROPHETS, WHO PROCLAIMED THE COMING O CHRIST TO THE WORLD; THE CHOIR OF APOSTLES, WHO CAUGHT NATIONS AND WERE FISHERS OF MEN; THE COMPANY OF THE MARTYRS, WHO ENDURED THE TORTURES FOR THE SAKE OF THE Orthodox Faith AND RECEIVED THE CROWN OF CONTEST; THE BEEHIVE OF THE VENERABLE ASCETICS NOW WITH THE ANGELS, ASKING THEIR INTERCESSIONS THAT WE MIGHT BE RESCUED FROM VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE ENEMIES. These choirs include NOT ONLY THE APOSTLES, THE ASSEMBLIES OF MARTYRS AND ASCETICS AND TEACHERS, AS WELL AS THE RIGHTEOUS TOGETHER WITH THE HIEROMARTYRS, BUT ALSO THOSE BEFORE THE LAW WITH PATRIARCHS AND PROPHETS.

We also take this opportunity to honor THOSE WHO REMAIN UNKNOWN TO US, though known to God and the Church Triumphant (Church in Heaven). Again, many of these Saints may be honored in local churches in different parts of the inhabited earth who, for reasons unknown, are not known worldwide. Therefore, that we may VENERATE AND INVOKE THOSE SAINTS who hailed from every part of the earth, the holy Fathers designated this salutary and jubilant festival for those Saints from earliest times to our own times, whether known or unknown. Saint Gregory of Sinai tells us that "ALL WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE FULLNESS OF THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST IN THIS LIFE ARE OF EQUAL SPIRITUAL STATURE." And that "THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN HOLD INNER CONVERSE TOGETHER, COMMUNICATING MYSTICALLY THROUGH THE POWER OF THE Holy Spirit."

Now the Sunday after Pentecost originally commemorated the holy Martyrs. But this feast was expanded in the 9th century TO INCLUDE ALL THE SAINTS, BOTH KNOWN AND UNKNOWN THROUGHOUT THE AGES. With the repose of the ever-memorable Empress Theophano the Wonder-worker, (895-897 A.D.) her husband, Emperor Leo VI, desired to build a church dedicated to her. The funeral, held at the Church of the Holy Apostles, witnessed countless miracles and cures that took place before her precious relics. She rejected his proposal to build a church in her name as did the Church leaders at the time, during her lifetime and so soon after her repose. Leo, therefore, with the consent of the Church, that the Feast of All Saints should be ENTERED IN THE CHURCH CALENDAR ON THE SUNDAY AFTER THE FEAST OF PENTECOST. When he dedicated a new church to All Saints, which was near to the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople, he added, "Theophano is among the righteous. Therefore, when the Feast of All Saints is commemorated, she is also to be celebrated, to the glory of God Who is wondrous in His Saints.

Today, we hear chanted: "Some were beheaded, others were dismembered in their arms and their whole bodies. All the Saints became sharers of the Passion of Christ." Who, therefore, was "the Martyr, the Faithful One the firstborn of the dead, and Ruler of the kings of the earth?" IT IS JESUS CHRIST… Who loveth us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and the might to the ages of the ages. Amen [Revelation 1:4-6]…

",,,So it was with those who confessed the Faith, keeping the words of Christ within them Who had said, "WHENEVER THEY LEAD YOU AWAY AND DELIVER YOU UP, CEASE TAKING THOUGHT BEFORE WHAT YE SHOULD SAY, NEITHER BE MEDITATING. BUT WHATSOEVER SHALL BE GIVEN TO YOU IN THAT HOUR, BE SPEAKING THIS, FOR YE ARE NOT THE ONES WHO SPEAK, BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT" (Matthew 13:11). They did not grow fainthearted, even if their outward man was being utterly destroyed, yet the inward man WAS BEING RENEWED DAY BY DAY. They believed that the lightness of their momentary afflictions worked for them a more and more surpassing eternal weight of glory. They did not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen ARE TEMPORAL, but the things which ARE NOT SEEN ARE ETERNAL…

"…Saint Theophylact counsels that "THE NEW MAN, ACCORDING TO GOD’S PURPOSE, ALWAYS ABOUNDS TOWARD GOD AND TO FULL DIVINE KNOWLEDGE." How does this come to pass? "Put off from yourselves all these things: WRATH, ANGER, MALICE, BLASPHEMY, FOUL LANGUAGE OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. CEASE LYING TO ONE ANOTHER, SINCE YE HAVE PUT OFF THE OLD MAN WITH HIS PRACTICES, AND HAVE PUT ON THE NEW THAT IS BEING RENEWED TOWARD FULL KNOWLEDGE ACCORDING TO THE IMAGE OF THE ONE WHO CREATED HIM" (Colossians 3:8-10). We are then told to put on for ourselves, as elect of God, compassion from our inward parts, KINDNESS, HUMBLENESS OF MIND, MEEKNESS, LONG-SUFFERING, BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER, AND GRACIOUSLY FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, IF ANYONE HAS A COMPLAINT AGAINST SOMEONE. "Even as the Christ graciously forgave you, thus also do ye. And over all these things, PUT ON LOVE, WHICH IS THE BOND OF PERFECTION" (Colossians 3:13-14).

Saint Bede reminds us that "because the King of kings and heavenly Priest united us to His own body by offering Himself for us, there is not one of the saints who has not spiritually the office of priesthood, in that he is a member of the Eternal Priest."

By the intercessions of Thine Immaculate Mother, O
Christ God, and of all Thy Saints from the ages, have
mercy and save us, as Thou alone art Good and the
Lover of mankind. Amen.

[ Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

_______________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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