Every day we read during matins about the lives of the saints (the synaxaria), their devotion to Christ even until death, the miracles that they performed through their prayers and their remarkable ascetic feats – some lived on pillars and others in deserts. Indeed many of them form an impression that the saints were not ordinary people like us. Many think that those saints who had the courage to face the beasts that were released to devour them with joy or those who kept the peace of their souls even during the harshest trials and tribulations lived in monasteries and hermitages and not in societies like us!

Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 4th Ecumenical Council
Feast Day of all the great saints who have shone in Pisidia and Pamphylia

In our daily worship services we make repeated references to the Saints of our Church, with the All Holy Mother of Christ the Savior taking receiving first place. The Celebrant frequently exhorts: “Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints …” In our common worship we commemorate the Saints and honor them with hymns and supplications, seeking their intercessions with God. This is done every day throughout the whole year. There are even days where thousands of Saints are honored, like today, when we celebrate the festal gathering (Synaxis) of more than 15,000 Saints of Pisidia and Pamphylia. This is done in addition to the commemoration of the 630 Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (in 451 A.D.).

Among the series of prayers that we address to God in the beginning of the Holy Liturgy and other divine services we add the following request: “For our deliverance from all... necessity”.

The most frequently heard exhortation of the Church which the faithful who attend daily Services hear is, “Let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.” The Celebrant says this multiple times (as many as ten during Matins and the Divine Liturgy), and some may wonder: Why is this repeated so much?

The Church is surrounded by a cloud of martyrs and other saints. On every day through the year, we honor their memory. However today, on the Sunday after Pentecost, we honor and celebrate all the saints together, both known and unknown. We commemorate those who loved and dedicated their lives to Christ in pure faith, no matter how they ended their earthly lives (be it martyrdom or in peace). If we can distinguish a common feature among all of them, I believe it is this spirit of sacrifice, which arose from their faith and love for Christ.

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