Saints are people who have faced the evils of this world and through their love of God, and strength of faith have overcome the evils by the grace of God and have become examples for us to do the same. When we are feeling like life is too hard, our troubles are too many or too great a burden, we can look to the saints and the lives they led, the hardships they went through, even to the point of their deaths, and yet see their faith and know that if they can do it, so can we! For this reason we honour them.
Synaxis of the Twelve Holy Apostles
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew, the First-called; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, who was also the Evangelist and Theologian; Philip, and Bartholomew (see also June 11); Thomas, and Matthew the publican, who was also called Levi and was an Evangelist; James the son of Alphaeus, and Jude (also called Lebbaeus, and surnamed Thaddaeus), the brother of James, the Brother of God; Simon the Cananite (“the Zealot”), and Matthias, who was elected to fill the place of Judas the traitor (see Aug. 9).These men’s lives were changed once having come to know Christ our Lord; they showed us this was a change not out of duty, but of love—by their most precious sacrifice. They left families, jobs, homes, earthly comforts—they gave all, even themselves. By tracing their travels on a map we see the drive within them; their love for Christ Preaches at Pentecost; to share His love and salvation with others. They comforted, helped, freed from fear, guilt and sin, healed from sickness, all, regard-less of danger and obstacles. They opened mankind’s eyes to Truth and Love and bestowed us the Gospel of joy and hope. We remember them especially and honour them through the ages. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God. (Amen.)
Brothers and Sisters, on this day we observe a very meaning-filled celebration, after the many radiant Sundays of Great Lent and of the Season of Pascha, leading up to the glorious feast of Pentecost. Pentecost, as last week’s Gospel reading told us, was “the last and greatest day of the feast,” in Saint John’s words, and, as it was celebrated by the Jewish nation in the time of Christ, it was a very festive holiday celebrating the harvest. Special offerings and sacrifices were prescribed by the Law for this holiday.
Many think that the saints are far from us. But they are far from those who distance themselves from them, and very close to those keep the commandments of Christ and have the grace of the Holy Spirit. In the heavens, all things are moved by the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is on earth too. He lives in our Church. He lives in the Mysteries. He is in the Holy Scriptures. He is in the souls of the faithful. The Holy Spirit unites all things, and therefore the saints are close to us. And when we pray to them, then the Holy Spirit hears our prayers, and our souls feel that they are praying for us.
~ St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, XII.3