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In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
Today is such a joyous day. It’s the Sunday of All Saints. This is the last day of the Pentecostarion. Do you remember how it seems like just yesterday we were welcoming the Lenten Triodion? Now we’re saying goodbye to the Pentecostarion! This is the wonderful cycle of feasts and fasts that the Church gives us to bring a little order to our lives. Did you ever wonder why the Church picked this particular Sunday to be the day to remember all of the saints together? It’s easy! Last Sunday was Pentecost – the day on which the Holy Spirit was poured out on all the earth bringing with Him the power to sanctify and deify. In other words, Pentecost made it possible for human beings to become saints, and so today we celebrate them all, known or unknown. After all, the saints are the ones who drank most deeply from that river of grace that was poured out on that day. Listen to the holy words of St John of Kronstadt:
“If you wish to pray to Our Lady, call upon Her that She may make you worthy of offering Her your prayer, praise, or thanksgiving from the whole heart, unfeignedly. If you wish to pray to an angel, ask the Lord to make you deserving of worthily offering him your prayer, or of hymning the grace, brightness, and goodness of his nature; if to a saint, invoke the Holy Spirit, by Whose holiness the saints are sanctified, that you may worthily call upon him or ascribe praises and thanksgivings to him; for we all can only pray worthily and vivifyingly through the strengthening of the life-giving Holy Spirit. God's saints are the pure breathings of the Holy Spirit. "The wind (the Spirit) bloweth where it will" (That is, He breathes in any soul He pleases.) The Holy Virgin was superabundantly sanctified and purified by the Holy Spirit. The angels, too, are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and live and breathe by Him.”
Beloved, this day also has something very important to say to us. It says that not only should we honor the saints today, but that we are to become saints as well. Listen to the way St Paul addresses his first letter to the Christians in Corinth:
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord...” That’s how he addresses them. He calls them “sanctified” and then he calls them “those who are called to be saints.” Now let me let you in on a little secret: These two words, “sanctified” and “saints” both derive from one Greek word in the original text. Ἁγιάζω and ἁγίοις both derive from the Greek word ἅγιος. A – gios. It means “those who are unlike this world.” “A” means “not” and “geos” (like geology or geophysics) means “this world.” So the saints, the “holy ones,” are those who are “not of this world.” They have joined themselves to another world.  The Lord Jesus said in His High Priestly prayer:
“The world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:14-18).
And later on, the Lord said to His disciples:
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
What we clearly see are two things: 1. We are saints, and 2. We are in the process of becoming saints. So, you might ask, how can this be? How can we “be” saints and at the same time be “becoming” saints? The reality is that both are true at the same time. In holy baptism St Paul says “ye are washed, ye are sanctified (i.e. made saints), ye are justified (made righteous) in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). In Holy Baptism we were born again, pure, sinless, saints. But at the same time, we all continue to sin, so we continue to struggle to become that which we were in the beginning, with God’s help. So we were saints, and we struggle to become saints. Because the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, we have all the power we need.
Now many of you may know that Western Christians celebrate All Saints on a different day, November 1st. That’s why All Saints Eve, All Hallows Eve, or “Halloween,” falls on October 31. But it wasn’t always that way. From its earliest days, the Church celebrated All Saints in the Spring following the Feast of Pascha. In East Syria and eventually in Rome it was May 13. St John Chrysostom indicates that the first Sunday after Pentecost was the traditional day in Constantinople– as it is in our Orthodox Church today. The celebration of All Saints on November 1, is traced to Pope Gregory III (731–741). He built a chapel in St. Peter's in Rome to house the relics "of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the righteous made perfect who are at rest throughout the world.” The date of the dedication of that new chapel was November first. Pope Gregory then moved the date of the general celebration of All Saints to 1 November and the 13 May feast was suppressed. So now you know the rest of the story.
May the Lord, through the prayers of His Most Pure and Holy Mother, by the intercessions of the honorable bodiless powers of heaven, and all the saints, bless you this day and every day. Amen.


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