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Homily for 6/22/08 - P1 - All Saints

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  • Fr David Moser
    Hebrews 11:33 - 12:2 Matthew 10:32-33; 37-38; 19:27-30 Today is the Sunday of All Saints – the day on which we honor not one or two saints, but all the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 22, 2008
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      Hebrews 11:33 - 12:2
      Matthew 10:32-33; 37-38; 19:27-30

      Today is the Sunday of All Saints – the day on which we honor not one or
      two saints, but all the saints. There are saints that are well known –
      such as St Nicholas or St George – and saints that are totally unknown
      to us who will only be revealed to us in the Kingdom of Heaven. There
      are many types of saints, martyrs and confessors, apostles, ascetics,
      holy fathers and mothers, wonderworkers, and so on. There are saints
      from every walk of life, monastics, clergy, laity, rulers, peasants,
      men, women, wise men and fools. In fact, we are all called to be saints,
      that is we are all called to become holy, to become set apart from the
      world, to be filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit and to become like
      Christ.

      If indeed we are all called to become saints, is it then not important
      to know what it is to be a saint; how do we define sainthood? A saint is
      one, who exhibits God’s goodness in his life. Saints are forgiven
      sinners living out their lives in the forgiveness God has given them. A
      saint is someone who lets God’s light shine through. (St Symeon the New
      Theologian reminds us that the reason we place vigil lights in front of
      the icons of the saints is to remind us that without the Light, Who is
      Jesus Christ, the saints are nothing. It is only as the light of Christ
      shines on them that they become alive and resplendent.)

      These are some glorious definitions of saints, however, there is another
      definition that is very important. A saint is one who is constantly
      conscious of being a sinner and rarely, if ever, conscious of being a
      saint. It has been said that there are two kinds of people in the world
      – sinners who think they are saints and saints who think they are
      sinners. If we would become saints, then the path is the path of
      repentance, of seeing our own sins and repenting before God for them. A
      saint sees in himself the sins of others – he does not look at the speck
      in the eye of his neighbor, but rather struggles to remove the log in
      his own eye. Often the things for which we judge others are the sins
      which are hidden deep in our own hearts.

      As members of the Body of Christ, that is the Church, saints are the
      hands of God by which He accomplishes His work in this world. Even after
      their deaths they continue to perform works of love as intercessors in
      heaven who pray for us. The saints are those who, having struggled their
      whole lives, have been filled with the grace of God and have become like
      Christ. We too, all of us Christians, are engaged in the same struggle,
      we walk the same path and the saints, having gone on before us, help the
      rest of us to advance closer to the goal of becoming like Christ, of
      being filled with the life of the Holy Trinity.

      Frequently we call out to the saints, asking them to pray for us.
      Because they stand about the throne of God, as is described in the book
      of the Apocalypse (i.e. Revelation), their prayers are constantly before
      the throne of God. The Gospel commands us to “Confess your faults to one
      another, pray for one another, that ye may be healed, the effectual
      fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” Our intercessions for
      one another are powerful and especially powerful are the prayers of
      those who are righteous. Therefore, we seek the prayers not only of our
      neighbor, but also we ask those who are revealed to us by God as
      righteous ones, that is the saints, to pray for us. From the earliest
      times the Church has taught us, her children, to seek the prayers of the
      saints. In the ancient liturgy of St James we hear the prayer
      “Especially we perform the memory of the holy and glorious, ever-virgin
      blessed mother of God. Remember her, Lord God, and by her pure and holy
      prayers have mercy on us.” St Cyril of Jerusalem describing the liturgy
      in Jerusalem says, “Thus we remember in the liturgy those deceased
      earlier (Patriarchs, apostles, martyrs confessors) so that through their
      prayers and intercessions God would accept our prayers.” The saints
      surround us and as we heard in the epistle today, they encourage us to
      lay aside the weight of sins which cling to us and to run the race set
      before us so that we too may stand with them and enter with them into
      the Kingdom of Heaven.

      Each of us is, by the grace of God, a saint in the making. We are made
      in the image of God, by baptism we are enlivened and born again in
      Christ, by chrismation we are filled with the Holy Spirit, by Holy
      Communion we partake of Christ, by our repentance our sins are purged,
      by prayer we commune with God, and by the righteousness of our lives, we
      act out our union with Him. We are becoming saints. Bishop Kallistos
      (Ware) writes, “it must not be thought for one moment that there are no
      saints except those publicly honored as such. Those who are mentioned in
      the calendar are but a small fraction of the whole communion of the
      saints; besides them there is a great host whose names are known to God
      alone and these are venerated collectively (today) on the Feast of All
      Saints.”

      When we honor all the saints today, we celebrate God’s accomplished work
      of salvation. Archbishop Paul of Finland wrote, “in glorifying the
      saints’ struggle and victory the Church is in fact glorifying God’s work
      of salvation, the work of the Holy spirit; it experiences the salvation
      already accomplished in them, the goal towards which the members of the
      Church militant are still pressing. St John of Kronstadt also wrote,
      “How the Creator and Provider of all has honored and adorned our nature!
      The saints shone with His light and are hallowed by his grace, having
      conquered sin and washed away every impurity of body and spirit; they
      are glorious with His glory, they are incorruptible through his
      incorruption. Glory to God, Who has so honored, enlightened and exalted
      our nature.” The saints are our examples and helpers and point the way
      for us to become, like them, “partakers of the divine nature”


      Significant portions of this homily were closely paraphrased from an
      article by Fr Anthony Coniaris. This article can be read in its entirety
      on the internet at:
      http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/saints_a_coniaris.htm

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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