On the Sunday of All Saints, we honour the men and women who lived in unity with God, resisted the temptations of the flesh, and overcame this world. Christ brought them together in a unity of faith and love.
Every saint in this assembly is our example to follow. Each believer has a patron saint, whom they may not see but with whom they have a spiritual connection by virtue of their faith. Our patron saints help us through our life journey and guide us to our salvation. They bring our needs and requests to the Lord. With humility and wisdom, we ask them to intercede with the Lord on our behalf.
Some people have asked me why we needed the assistance of the saints. "What purpose do they serve? Cannot we talk to the Lord directly," they wondered. Of course, we should pray to our Lord and approach Him personally. We have a lot of things to ask for. We pray to the Lord to give us the strength, will and perseverance to be His good servants, and we benefit when our saints ask Him the same on our behalf. The prayers of the saints are powerful. When we say, “Saint Nicholas, pray to God for us,” we know that he will pray; when we venerate his relics, we know that he will intercede for us at the Lord’s throne.
Our saints inspire us to achieve sanctity by dedicating our lives to our Lord. We can be His servants in many ways – by keeping the house or taking care of our daily errands. Saint John the Warrior was captured and enslaved by the heterodox. Throughout his captivity, he never stopped serving God for a minute as he performed a great variety of jobs. His captors knew that. We follow his example by acting with faith, humility under all circumstances. You do not have to a part of the assembly of the saints to be pleasing to God and be saved! I am confident that there are saints among you. We may not know their names but will discover them at some point. We will remember standing next to these people, unaware of their sainthood. We might notice how they stood out among others in not having a high opinion of themselves; or by how gratefully they accepted all the things that happened to them in their lives. We would remember them bearing their cross with great patience, calm and self-control. I expect that to most people their virtues would go unnoticed, but God will see them all. A well-known book called “Everyday Saints” talks about people who are on their way to sainthood, but maybe not quite there yet.
It is God’s providence for us to become saints. Sadly, most will not realize it and follow different life plans. Some will want to be film stars, politicians, or rich and famous. But the more far-sighted will turn their eyes towards sainthood and ask for the Lord's help. Their wish will be pleasing to the Lord, and but there will be many things to do and many hurdles to overcome. We will need to adopt a different set of values and change our lives in many ways. Let us hope that none of us will be discouraged or tempted to turn back.
Let us all draw our inspiration from being members of the same church with our saints. We are a militant church where Christians on earth are struggling against sin. Our saints are the triumphant church in heaven. The militant and the triumphant churches meet during worship as the saints and angels join in our singing. The icons at church depict our saints with remarkable simplicity consistent with the Orthodox tradition. Our churches keep the relics of the saints. Our connectedness with our saints and our church is as strong as ever. Our physical existence on earth is like living on a heap of material objects destined for the waste dump. Our physical lives lead us to our grave; for dust you are and to dust you will return. But our Lord came to this world to spare us from death and give us everlasting life. So let us sing along with the saints and angels, “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”
My warmest greetings to all of you on the Feast of All Saints.
The real war is going on inside us; there is a sin within us, and we are all called upon to defeat it. Let us all pray, my dear brothers and sisters, for peace to return to our lives, and for the turmoil to end. Sermon by Father Andrey Lemeshonok.