God’s gift on the day of Pentecost did not remain vain and fruitless for the disciples of Christ. They brought forth the fruits of holiness, that is, having received the Lord into their souls, into their lives, they manifested their love and faith to God, and to the whole world they manifested what the divine life could do when it indwelt in man. On the first Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate the memory of all those who, like the Apostles, received the gift of the Holy Spirit fruitfully and not in vain, all the saints known and unknown, all the saints whom God knows, all the people who have become worthy of their God. And we rejoice that the world responded to God’s gift with love. But it is not enough to rejoice, be glad that in others God’s gift is not in vain. St. John Chrysostom tells us that it is only by our lives that we can glorify God, and only by our lives can we honour the saints whom we love and venerate. In the same way it is only by our lives that we can show to the departed whom we loved and respected, that their lives were not in vain because we have borne the fruit of what they taught us.
Today each one of us is celebrating not only the day of All Saints, but also of those saints who are close and dear to us, akin in heart and soul. Concentrate on the lives of these particularly; they have captivated our hearts to begin with by the charm of their personality, and then by a certain affinity with our own minds. If we are capable of responding with awe and wonder, joy and love to someone’s life and achievement, it means that between us there is something in common, that he makes manifest what we are capable of in the depths of our soul but which we fail to achieve through cowardice, weakness and inexperience. Let us each concentrate on the saints who are akin to us and learn from them how to live. Then our veneration and praise of them will be not just empty words, but will become a living witness to their truth, and at the same time a transfiguration of our own hearts and our own lives. And this refers not only to the saints of God, manifested and honoured, but to the people in our lives who have left on us the mark of their nobility and loftiness of spirit, their purity of life. This constitutes both the veneration of saints and prayer for eternal memory for the dead.
Published: RUSSIAN ORTHODOX NEWSLETTER, No. 19, June 1971