On June 3, on the Sunday of All Saints, as well as feast of the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian.
The Rector stressed the idea that to be a Saint is a vocation for every Christian person. We are called to be Saints, to be Holy by receiving Holy Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation. To become a Saint is a possible task, however, it is a supernatural task because our holiness depends on God’s help and His grace. It requires our efforts, our talents and spiritual strength, but it also depends on God’s help. If we will desire to please the Lord, He will assist us with His grace.
Holiness is one of the qualities of God. Only God is truly and always Holy. But He created man according to His image and likeness and He desired us to be holy. The first people, Adam and Eve, were holy in paradise; only the fall deprived them of that quality. But our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to restore fallen humanity, to return us to holiness and to give us a capability to acquire it.
The way to attain holiness is simple: to live spiritual life in Christ, to keep the Commandments, to receive the Sacraments. This is understood. But there is one more thing mentioned in today’s Gospel lesson: it is necessary to seek God and to inquire what is eternal, not temporary. The Lord says: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10, 37). Many, especially not religious people, would say that these are cruel and harsh words. But if you think of it well, we realize that God is the most important. These words of Christ do not teach us not to love our parents, children or spouses. No! But they teach us that God is above everything and everyone. And our human love has its source in God who is the Absolute Love. If there was no God, there would be no love and even life at all.
Therefore, an important idea of today’s Gospel lesson is to set our priorities correctly. We ought to love eternal God more than everything else which is His creation, including ourselves and our neighbors. We need to sacrifice many things in our lives for Him like Holy Apostles did. They left everything and followed Christ. But note that the Lord does not demand everyone to sacrifice everything but to give up certain things according to our calling. This is why there are different kinds of Saints, with different endeavors and various ways of life. But all their lives were leading them to God and to His Heavenly Kingdom.
The choir prayerfully performed hymns in honor of All Saints and of the holy Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir before Holy Communion.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in English conveying the ideas of his Russian homily.
After the sermon the Rector congratulated the Malyshew family on the occasion of the name day of their daughter Elena. Fr. Igor wished our youngest parishioner God’s blessings and intercession of her heavenly patron, Holy Equal to the Apostles Empress Helen. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was sung.
Following the service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals at the coffee hour. A toast in honor of the youngest parishioner celebrating her name day was raised.