All Saints Day - Fathers Day - A Chrismation

Today in our Church we celebrate three very special occasions: 1) In our church calendar we honor and remember all the saints, known and unknown, who have lived before us; 2) In our secular calendar we honor and remember our fathers on this Father’s Day;  3) And in our church family, we celebrate and welcome the entrance of Jared Quill into full communion of our Church Family through the Sacrament of Holy Chrismation.

ALL SAINTS DAY: On the first Sunday after Pentecost, we remember the thousands and millions of men and women who lived holy lives, seeking first the Kingdom of God. Each day, our Church calendar commemorates a few of the “official” saints of history.  Every year since the time of Christ, though, there have been faithful people carefully working out their salvation! Many are anonymous, and will never be “officially canonized” as saints by the Church. And yet, their witness and lives touched those with whom they had contact, and today we remember and honor them.

St. Paul refers to all these saints in today’s Epistle Reading, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfection of our faith” (Heb 12:1,2). St. Paul reminds us that all around us stand a great cloud of witnesses who offer an example for us to imitate.  Like them, we are to cast aside every sin that holds onto us, and run into the arms of Jesus Christ. 

In other words, St. Paul encourages each of us to become saints! For remember, sainthood is not reserved for only a few people!  Sainthood should be the normal calling for all of us. The good news is that God has given each of us the potential to reach this goal, and He waits for all of us to become living saints! Last week on Pentecost, we talked about how we all have received and were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Through this help we can fulfill our potential as saints!

Remember, saints are not perfect people, but saints are sinners who live in constant repentance, who have accepted the mercy of God and have filled their lives with His Grace. In other words, they are people who commit their lives to Jesus Christ and His teachings each and every day, and thus strive to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit within them!    I like to summarize sainthood as not doing great things, but doing everyday things with great love, all for the glory of God!

FATHER’S DAY: Today we also pause and thank God for our fathers, and all the father figures who have played special roles in our lives. Of course, the greatest example of a father is our Father in Heaven, whose unconditional love, everlasting mercy and rich compassion are a model and prototype that all father’s should strive to imitate in our own lives.

The role of fathers as protectors and spiritual leaders of the family cannot be overstated, as we are facing the social and spiritual consequences of a crisis of absent fathers and father-figures in our society today.

Our prayer for all the men of our Church is that they fulfill their calling as faithful fathers (or faithful father figures) and spiritual leaders in our families and in the lives of our youth. May we men strive to model the holy virtues of our heavenly Father - virtues of divine love, compassion,  mercy, and forgiveness. May we men protect and guide our families from the evil temptations and influences of society, and live up to our calling as the spiritual leaders and guides our families need. And of course, we can do this by being the first to set an example of holiness, of faith, of love, and of purity.

HOLY CHRISMATION: Today we also have the special blessing of welcoming Jared Quill into full communion in our Church Family. Jared and his wife Stephanie, along with their precious children Katerina and Sophia, have been regularly coming to our Church and have been actively involved in our Church Family for the past year. Although Jared has been coming to the Orthodox Church for years with his family, he recently went through our Orthodoxy 101 classes and decided to accept the Mystery/Sacrament of Holy Chrismation, becoming an Orthodox Christian. He adopted St. Gerasimos as his patron saint. He will now be able to fully participate in all the Sacraments of our Church, and continue his spiritual journey of faith within the Orthodox Church. We will hear from him about why he made this decision to become Orthodox, but we want to warmly welcome him into the embrace of the Church and cry out “Axios!” (“He is worthy!”)

All Saints Day, Father’s Day, and a Chrismation. In many ways, these three celebrations all go hand-in-hand. As we honor our fathers, we also remind all fathers of their call towards sainthood. And as we reflection on saints, we remember that we can only become saints by being filled with and inspired by the Holy Spirit, which is what happens during the Mystery of Chrismation. May all of us in the Church strive to follow this path of being filled with God’s Spirit, and with fulfilling our calling and potential to become saints of the Lord!

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