By: Archpriest Victor Sokolov (+2006)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Very often, we tend to perceive summer as leisure time, and unfortunately, we include our spiritual life in this. We tend to lay back spiritually and "take it easy." This is most obviously reflected in our diminished attendance at church services. And we are probably also less alert in our ascetic efforts: praying, fasting, spiritual reading, charitable works...
This, perhaps, can be somewhat explained by the fact that there are no major Church feasts between the great festival of Pentecost and the majestic celebration of Christ's Transfiguration on August 6. But, if we glance at the summer pages of the Church calendar, we will find some important things for us.
The first Sunday after Pentecost is dedicated to the memory of All Saints. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ's disciples, thus baptizing the Holy Church. The presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested by its fruits. Saints are those who bore these fruits, in every generation they were well pleasing to God; therefore, it is very logical to celebrate their memory immediately after the Feast of Pentecost.
The second Sunday after Pentecost is reserved for the commemoration of all Saints of the local Church: the Russian Church commemorates all the Saints who shone in the Russian Land. In Greece, they celebrate the memory of all Greek Saints. The monks of Mount Athos venerate their predecessors who labored for the Lord on the Holy Mountain. In Great Britain, the Orthodox reverence the Saints of the British Isles, and so on. This year, for the first time, we, the Orthodox Church in America, will sing praises to All the Saints of America. Thus far, the Church has glorified our Venerable Father Herman of Alaska, Wonderworker of All America; Saint Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow, Enlightener of the Aleuts and Apostle to America, the New Martyrs of Alaska, Juvenaly, the Priestmonk, and Peter the Aleut, and Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, the Confessor, Enlightener of North America. But, there were very many more saintly men and women in this land, who may or may not be glorified by the Church on Earth, but who are glorious in the heavens...
During June alone, the Church also pays tribute to such saints as the newly-glorified Righteous John of Kronstadt (June 8), St. Cyril of Alexandria (June 9), Prophets Elisha (June 14) and Amos (June 15), Apostle Jude, the Brother of the Lord (June 19), Protomartyr of Britain Alban (June 22), Ss. Peter and Fevronia, Wonderworkers of Murom (June 25), and many other wonderful saints. On June 29, the Church commemorates the patron saints of our parish, The Holy Glorious and All-praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, and on June 30 - all Twelve Apostles.
On June 24, we will celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist, who, according to the Lord Himself, was the greatest born of woman. His life, as the lives of all the saints, equips our souls with sure guidance to the Kingdom of Heaven. Calling us together to celebrate the memory of a saint, the Church, as a considerate mother, assures us that sainthood is not impossible, that everyone is capable of living in accordance with Christ, that His commandments are addressed and applicable to everyone.
Everyone is created a saint for everyone is created in the image and likeness of God, Who is holy. Accepting and being conscious of this, we will be aware of our sins and treat our sinfulness not as something excusable ("after all, we are just human beings…") but as a rebellion against the Creator. Maybe in this, there lies a summer lesson for us all.
June 1, 1991
This article is Copyright Archpriest Victor Sokolov and is used on www.holy-trinity.org with permission.