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.

Oh Lord…Instill in us also reverence for Your blessed commandments so that, having trampled down all carnal desires, we may lead a spiritual life, both thinking and doing all those things that are pleasing to You. This is a segment from the Prayer of the Holy Gospel, which precedes the Gospel reading in the Divine Liturgy. This prayer helps those in attendance to understand the purpose of reading the Holy Gospel: To accept the commandments of the Lord with faith and devotion, so that they may grow in fulfilling them. Through the Gospel, the people will be helped in overcoming the passions (the flesh and otherwise), as well as living a spiritual life. Ultimately, this will lead to body and mind being united in one goal, which is to please God.

Before His glorious Ascension to Heaven, which is celebrated in these days, our Lord Jesus Christ made an important promise to His disciples: “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). The Kontakion of the feast also refers to these words of the Lord: “O Christ our God… You ascended in Glory, uniting the earthly with the heavenly… and cried out to those who love You, ´I am with you and no one is against you´". How is it possible for Jesus to always be with the disciples, when they saw Him disappear into heaven and “leave”? This defies human reason!


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