Sunday, June 11, 2017: Sunday of All Saints, Bartholomew the Holy Apostle, Barnabas the Holy Apostle, Revelation of the Hymn Axion Estin to a monk on Mt. Athos by the Archangel Gabriel.
How can we explain our zeal in attending this solemn gathering today, beloved, if not by the fact that our brothers and sisters who have been called away from us to Christ have summoned us all here? Gladly then let us come to Christ with songs of praise, for our departed ones have inspired us to glorify God for them on earth, while they join the choirs of angels in praising him in heaven, and provide a spiritual meal for us. Filled with the delights of paradise, they place before us the wine of compunction. They now enjoy the consolations of heaven and are kindling a light to enlighten their own hearts as they move toward the unapproachable light.
The saints already with Christ have drawn away the saints from among ourselves. Those who were once with us have departed from us, returning to their true homeland and leaving us orphans. They have passed from a state of corruptibility to one of incorruptibility; they have gone from this world and risen again in Christ, exchanging their tent-dwelling for the heavenly Jerusalem. Leaving to us the emptiness of this life, they have attained to the bliss of heaven; leaving to us our earthly worries, they have passed to a land without worry. They have left behind the winds and waves of this world and have anchored in harbors of perfect calm.
Yet even while they seemed to be with us they were not so in reality, for their minds were turned to God. They lived on earth as citizens of heaven. Having here no lasting city, they sought a heavenly one; having no earthly riches, they sought the riches of heaven. They were strangers and sojourners as their ancestors were. Strangers to the world, to the things of the world, and to the ways of the world, their whole heart was absorbed in the things of heaven; they were the things they thought about and were concerned about. They longed for the beauty of heaven, its mansions and dwellings, its choirs and hymnody, its feasts and its eternal blessedness.
The saints contemplated, sought, and hastened toward these things, and so at last they attained them. Their striving was rewarded by admission to the heavenly bridal chamber. Because they labored they now exult. Because they were not negligent they now rejoice. Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints.
St Anastasius of Sinai