SERMON FOR ALL SAINTS OF NORTH AMERICA 2017
fr_basil
SERMON FOR ALL SAINTS OF NORTH AMERICA 2017
Beloved,
In a little more than a month from now, God willing, Matushka and I will be going on a pilgrimage to Scotland and Northumbria. There, we will visit and pray at sites associated with many ancient Western Saints. Some of their names are Columba, enlightener of Scotland, Ninian, Brendan the Voyager, St. Kentigern, or “Mungo” as he is known locally, Cuthbert, the venerable Bede, Aidan, and many more.
The sad part is that most of the original churches, shrines, monasteries associated with these saints, and most of their relics have been destroyed. Why? The Protestant reformers destroyed nearly everything that was originally Orthodox, but later became Roman Catholic. Why did they do it? It was all about political power for one thing. And for another,  violent rhetoric turned into violent actions. The same social sicknesses we suffer from today. It’s all so very sad. But do you know what’s even more sad? Recently a Scottish Social Attitudes survey found that 52% of the population said they were not religious at all, compared with 40% in 1999. England and Wales are even worse. Only about 40% of the population identifies as Christian, but The Church of England only gets about 8% of those who identify themselves as Anglican in Church on a Sunday. Those who identify themselves as Catholic do better at about 25%, but that’s still not encouraging. Churches are empty, faith is eroding very fast. The Queen, who is, herself, a very devout and praying woman, does what she can to encourage faith, but she is having little effect. What can be done?
To me, the answer is simple: Orthodoxy. Did you know that Alice-Elizabeth, Princess of Battenberg and Mother-in-Law of Queen Elizabeth II, became and died an Orthodox nun? She did! Did you know that Prince Charles, the eldest child and heir apparent of Queen Elizabeth II, has visited the monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos several times, sometimes publicly and sometimes privately? Did you know that He made the sign of the Cross at Diana’s funeral in Orthodox fashion, as did his two sons? Well, none of this really matters unless the Royals actually become Orthodox, which is totally contradictory to the Law of the Realm. But I can’t help but remember the words of St Arsenios of Paros (+1877) who said: “The Church in The British Isles will only begin to grow when She begins to again venerate Her own Saints."  
All of this long introduction is just to suggest to all of us living in North America that we need to do the same thing. We need to honor and venerate OUR saints. That’s why this Sunday is appointed on the Church calendar as the Sunday of All Local Saints. Do we see destruction, vitriol, anger, violence, and hatred in our land? Remembering and praying to our local saints has great power to effect change; first in us and then throughout the country. Do we wish for the Gospel to be preached and received in America? Do we wish to see our churches full? Let’s begin by extolling and magnifying the saints that God has sent to us. Let’s get to know them, their lives, their miracles. Let’s attend their feasts with joy. Why? Because they are the flowers of Paradise that God has planted in OUR garden, for OUR benefit. They are the God-pleasers. Listen to what the Lord Himself says through the Prophet and King David:
“As for the saints that are in the earth, They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.(Ps. 16:3)”
St Justin Popovitch said: “The godbearing Saints are the light of the world, the luminaries of the world, for this reason the darkness of sin cannot overcome them. They are not however light in and of themselves, but on account of Christ who is in them. They are but the faithful possessors and bearers of the light of Christ.”
And finally, a word from the Elder Joseph the Hesychast:
“Let us also live in imitation of All the Saints, to have them always as aids and protectors. Let us imitate their struggles and virtues and especially humility, faith, hope and love.”
Amen.

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