At the same time the Saints were celebrated, this day as well as in Apostle Paul-St. Alypius Church in Antalya, as every year, with the faithful crowd participation.
Below is the Speech of Metropolitan and pictures of Vespers and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.
Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 4th Ecumenical Council
In every Divine Liturgy our Lord Jesus Christ is present among us with His entire Body, in the form of the Holy Bread and His Sacred Blood. The holy Angels surround the Holy Altar together with the Saints, especially those whose memory we celebrate on that day. We may not see them with our physical eyes, yet we feel their presence with our hearts and souls. They come to us in order to hear not only our hymns and our thanks, but also our sufferings and our petitions, which they will convey to the Holy God, Who is the source of all good.
The miraculous events that take place during the feast days of the Saints are a testimony that the Saints love and protect the place of their descent, the place where they lived and martyred or where they were buried. They also love the Churches which are devoted to their name, the people and their families who come to honor them, and, as the saying goes: “the love and prayer of the Saints never fail”.
Therefore can we imagine how many Saints, whose memory we celebrate today, are present and surrounding the Holy Altar at this moment! There are the 630 God-inspired Fathers of the 4th Ecumenical Council in Chalkidon, across Constantinople, whose memory is celebrated by Orthodox faithful all over the world. Among them, there are the 18 Bishops from the Metropolis of Pisidia, Attaleia, Sidi and Alanya, which at the time was called “Kalon Oros”.
Present among them are also the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, who were the first to preach the Gospel in this area.
There is also the first woman Martyr, who died at the Amphitheater of Antioch in Pisidia and has been called Equal-to-the Apostles.
In addition, there are the eight Bishops, with Artemon being the first one who was ordained by St. Paul in Pisidia. We should also mention the 56 Priests, Martyrs, New Martyrs and Saints, with the Martyr Nestor whose holy Relics were found in Pergi through a sacred Revelation. These Relics were kept at the chapel of the Greek Girls’ School which is located close by. There are also the 70 Saints of our Metropolis whose names are known to us and therefore we can read their lives. Last year we published their Synaxarion in Russian. Finally, there are the 15,000 Martyrs of Pisidia, whose memory we celebrated yesterday, July 16th.
Our beloved Saints become aware of our problems through Jesus Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and they receive the grace to assist us in our need. And they do help us through their love and they continue their sacred mission they were doing while living on this earth. Saint Porphyrios, a contemporary Saint who I had the special honor and blessing to have met him many times, used to say: “when I leave this world and go to heaven I will be much closer to you and I will be praying for all of you”. Let us not forget that the intercession of the Saints is a doctrine of our Church. The Saints intercede for the bodily and spiritual well-being of the Christians who struggle on this earth and ask for their assistance. As you probably know, many miracles have happened through the intercession of the Saints and the grace emitted from their relics.
Very impressive is one recent miracle performed by St. Marina, whose memory we celebrated today, July 17th. A young child called Andreas from Cyprus was suffering from leukemia and he was taken to a special hospital in the USA where he would undergo a spinal-marrow transplant. His parents prayed fervently to St. Marina. On surgery day St. Marina appeared in the surgery room presenting herself as the boy’s personal doctor and took part in the surgery. The American head Surgeon was very impressed by her performance and later told Andreas’s parents: “Since you had such a good doctor, why did you come to me?” Since then, the young boy recovered completely and is quite well.
Let us then ask the Saints whose memory we celebrate today about all our problems and difficulties, being absolutely sure that they will hear our prayers and they will intercede to the All-merciful God to watch over us in any way He knows that will be for our own well-being.
St. John Chrysostom says: “Honoring a Martyr, means imitating the Martyr”, meaning, true honor and love toward the saints is trying to imitate them. Not in the miracles they perform, but in their faith and pious life which attracted God’s grace and through which they perform “signs and enormities”. We, too, ought to honor “the friends of God” through our lives and prayers. St. Paul is very clear on this: “be my imitators as I imitated Christ”. What we need is true imitation of the Saints, daily struggle with prayer, studying often the Holy Scriptures and frequent participation in the Holy Sacraments of our Church.
May the Saints intercede for us all. Amen.