The Sunday of All Saints is a special day of the Orthodox Church and we have a few tips for getting the most out of this day of piety and celebration. If you are unfamiliar with the Sunday of All Saints, you will be glad to know that it is the day of remembrance for those who have passed away, but there are also plenty of ways to make it a meaningful day for you.
Patriarch Jacob is the Good Thief
During the iconoclast era the Glykophilousa Icon aka the Sweet-Kissing Icon of the Holy Church of the Nativity miraculously travelled by sea to its new home. Interestingly it was saved from the ravages of time and sex by a devout woman in the ninth century. This icon is now commemorated on Bright Monday, March 27.
The gizmo aficionado will recognize the icon’s name, but what makes it so special is the fact that it has a long and storied history. It is believed that the icon was originally a gift from a devout wife to her senatorial husband. She prayed to the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos each and every day of her life.
St. Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Maria
Mary and Martha are two Biblical sisters who are often confused with each other. While they are not the same person, both are revered by the Orthodox Church. They were a sister duo that became close friends of Jesus. In fact, they were one of the first groups of people to see his miracles.
There are a number of stories of Mary and Martha in the Bible. However, the most notable is the one about their brother Lazarus. Several of the Bible’s gospels detail this story.
St. John the Holy Martyr Abbot of Monagria
The All Saints’ Day (November 1st) is an important feast day for the Orthodox Church, a celebration of the life and work of the saints. It is also the feast day of St John the Holy Martyr Abbot of Monagria. He is one of the saints mentioned in the “Ladder” – an ancient list of the martyrs of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Some of the saints mentioned in the Ladder include St. Basil the Younger, who was a monk and anchorite near Constantinople. Other notable names in the list include Euphrasius and Alexandra.
St. Alonios and Sophia the ascetic
On the Sunday of All Saints, Orthodox Christians commemorate the holy righteous, the Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs and Holy Righteous. This year the feast is held on 27 June. It is followed by light Lent and ends on 30 June. The saints honored on this day include St John the holy martyr Abbot of Monagria, St Lazarus’s sisters Martha and Maria, St Alonios and Sophia the ascetic and many more.
One of the most important Fathers of the Church is Saint Cyril. He was born in Alexandria in about 380. He is also known as the “father of the Church.” His contributions greatly influenced the formulation of Orthodox Theology.
Recognizing the presence of the icon and yourself
Icons have been a part of Orthodox Christianity since the early days. They have a very long and storied history, though the number of icons that survived in the early days of the faith is small. The Orthodox Church uses religious pictures to help worshippers move from the realm of the ephemeral to the realm of the eternal. For example, an icon of Mother Mary holding Jesus is a nice touch.
As far as icons go, the best ones are the most elaborate and the most evocative. If you are planning to buy one, be sure to do your homework.
Ascension of Christ
Ascension of Christ is a special day for Christians. It celebrates the final victory of Christ for mankind. The human nature became deified, and was accepted by the Father.
Christ ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father. He also gave his disciples the power of the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel throughout the world. Jesus told his disciples that they would be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Afterwards, Jesus told the apostles that they would go out into the whole world and make disciples of all nations. On his ascension, Christ sent angels to comfort people.