My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE SAINTS
Those who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness; obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still, others had a trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented--of whom the world is not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise. God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God (Hebrews 11:33-12:2).
The Epistle (Letter) of Saint Paul to the Hebrews, read on the Sunday after Pentecost when we commemorate All Saints, is a powerful testimony to the holy Saints of the Heavenly Church! In the early Church, this feast was known as "The Feast of All Christ's Witnesses". The hymn of this feast states: "To You, the Author of creation, the Church does offer the God-bearing Martyrs as the first-fruits of nature..."
Our Christian Orthodox Church, born on the day of Pentecost, has been established on the Holy Cross and the Resurrection of Our Lord and has triumphantly and heroically marched through history because of these saintly witnesses of faith. They are not few in number, but "a cloud of witnesses"; innumerable, thousands, millions, known and unknown; men, women, and children, who gave everything, their blood, and their lives, for Christ's love!
These holy Saints were and continue to be the most chosen and wondrous people. They were heroic and illumined personalities. People as we are, but they possessed the grace of God that enabled them to surpass all odds. With their great faith, they are pinnacles of virtue and holiness! With all the strength of their soul, they loved and worshipped Christ! With all their might they gave themselves to Christ our Redeemer! Not for one moment did they doubt or hesitate to offer their lives as a sacrifice for salvation in Him! In the Fourth Century Saint Basil the Great wrote: "For the Christian, the tortures endured by the martyred saints that included: being burned at the stake; the sword; fed to wild animals; being fastened to iron spikes that tore their skin are not reason to be traumatized but inspired!"
The first Church and all the Saints gave their witness for Christ Our Lord. In the many trials they faced that sometimes led to giving their very lives, they excelled in their commitment and conviction to our Savior. It is in remembrance of these virtues that your Department of Stewardship Ministries has chosen as its ministry campaign - The Stewardship of the Saints. (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)
Thanking you for the support and efforts you offer our beloved Saint Andrew Greek Orthodox Parish and our holy Church in America.
With agape in Our Redeemer Christ,