On June 19, on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, the Church celebrates memory of All the Saints who pleased the Lord by their pious lives. On that day we had a nice service at St. George Church. Our parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On the First Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate feast of All Saints. We pay our respects to all men and women who lived their lives as holy and God-pleasing people, the just and righteous ones. It should be understood because as a result of the Descent of the Holy Spirit the Church was born, and members of the Church became able to acquire holiness. The Saints we honor are the people who conquered evil in their own lives, in their own souls, just as our Lord Jesus Christ did it for the whole world”.
“It is the nature of the human existence that if every person overcomes evil in himself, he achieves a victory that affects other people and the whole world. Universal evil, being conquered even in one single person, suffers a great loss. Even one single holy person means a lot to the whole world. By their very existence the holy men and women whom we call the Saints, bring down to the earth a great blessing from God. St. Barsanophius teaches that a prayer of three holy men once preserved the world from total destruction. Because of the Saints, even of those who are unknown, the course of the universal events changes. Every Saint has a significance because by his life he crosses the boundaries of earthly history and reaches into eternity. The Saints are the salt of the earth. They are the sense of human existence. The very earth is preserved because of them. When the earth would stop producing the Saints, the force which preserves the world from a disaster will disappear. In the Old Testament we read that Abraham asked God whether the Lord would spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of ten righteous men. The Lord answered: “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten” (Gen. 18, 32). St. Siluanos says: “The world stands by the prayer, and when the prayer will weaken, the world will perish.””
“Many people do not understand the connection between the religious life of an individual and the well-being of the world, between internal warfare against evil within one person and everlasting life. People often think that spiritual life of an individual is significant only for him and that it will cease to exist if it stops to exist in the soul of an individual. But in reality the spiritual life of the Saints affects the life of the whole world. And if there will be no Saints in the world, the world will end”.
“Therefore, today we honor those people who became the best out of human race. Today’s kontakion calls them “the first-fruits of nature” offered by the universe to the “Planter of creation” who is God. Such sacrifice, the lives of the God-bearing martyrs, along with the holy Apostles, Venerable Fathers and Mothers, all other Saints, became possible after our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled His work of redemption of humanity. Now the redeemed humanity could bring forth the fruits of holiness and faithfulness. Some holy men and women could be found even before that, in the Old Testament. These were righteous people living according to the will of God despite the great abyss of sinfulness in which the whole humanity was kept. Their number was not so great. But in Jesus Christ thousands and millions of people could reach holiness. In fact, all Christians are called to be holy, to be Saints. This is why when St. Paul composed his letter to the Colossians he wrote the following address, “To the Saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse” (Col. 1, 2)”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us honor those holy men and women, because of whom the world existed. Let us, by ourselves, conduct spiritual life and our own warfare against evil. In that warfare we need to be supported by the assistance of divine grace. Such grace is acquired in the Holy Church. But we also have to be mature and independent in our own actions. Lately I had to notice that you are not paying attention to our parish life. I forgot to announce that on Pentecost Sunday our services started at 9 am, not at 10, as usually. But that information was in our monthly schedule which is available on the paper and on our website. In addition, I made an announcement on the website regarding our Pentecost services. Just in case, I decided to text most of our parishioners about that. What happened? Almost no one knew about that! Almost everyone replied that they were not aware of the change in schedule. Then on Pentecost Sunday I forgot to announce that the week after Pentecost is a compact, privileged week, and there is no fasting. So, I texted almost all of you about that. And again, most of you did not remember that. Well, that information was also in our monthly schedule, the paper version. It seems that you do not pay attention, do not study the schedule, are not aware of what is going on in the Church and parish life. You seem to act like children who need someone to remind you, to lead you. But most of you are Orthodox Christians, members of the Church for years. You are churched and attend the temple. Thus you have to be mature and independent in things like paying attention to the calendar and to the schedule. On the other hand, some our parishioners think that they are independent enough to decide for themselves to leave the parish or to change the spiritual father. First, they should be mature to pay attention to the feasts, fasts and schedules, and then think of making important decisions of their spiritual life.”}
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, again, let us properly conduct our spiritual life: along with the Holy Church and by being mature in our actions. In that spiritual life let us imitate the Saints and strive for holiness, because we are Christian people. Then we will be able to receive the awards promised by our Lord Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel, then we will inherit eternal life”.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian land” at the Great Entrance.
During preparation for Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performs hymns dedicated to All Saints.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements, especially reminding the faithful of the beginning of St. Peter’s Fast on the next day. He also repeated, in the Russian language, his concern regarding lack of parishioners’ attention to our schedules and the Church calendar.
After the announcements Fr. Igor congratulated our men on the occasion of Father’s Day. The traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was proclaimed. Then he also greeted our relatively new parishioner, Iuliana Avram on her past birthday and proclaimed the Polychronion on her behalf.
Following the liturgical services the Rector and parishioners enjoyed coffee and delicious meals prepared by Iuliana Avram to celebrate her birthday.