A Sermon on the Sunday of All Saints
by Metropolitan Moses
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Last Sunday we celebrated Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Holy Apostles, which granted to mankind God’s greatest gift; that is, sanctification through the New Testament Priesthood. It was from this time that the Apostles were given the charism to perform the Holy Eucharist. It is from this point that all who are baptized in Christ, put on Christ and receive Him into themselves through the Holy Eucharist.
On this Sunday, one week later, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints and the Gospel reading chosen by the Holy Fathers for this feast begins with the words:
“The Lord said unto His disciples, Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in the Heavens. And whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in the Heavens.” (Matt 10:32-33)
Holy Pentecost manifested the work of the Holy Spirit in the world, that is, the potential of the renewal of all mankind in Christ. The Apostles preached, the seed of the knowledge of God was implanted in the hearts of many, and when the time came, the Church blossomed forth the holy Martyrs. During the feast of All Saints we commemorate especially the martyrs and confessors of our Holy Church.
As it is written in the Service of All Saints in the “Glory” for Vespers:
O Divine Choir of Martyrs, foundation of the Church, perfection of the Gospel, ye have fulfilled in deed the sayings of the Savior; in you the gates of Hades, that yawned against the Church are shut; the flow of your blood hath dried up the libations of idolatry; your slaughter gave birth to the plenitude of the faithful. Ye did amaze the incorporeal hosts, and now stand crowned before God. Unceasingly entreat Him in behalf of our souls.
The word “martyr” means witness — and witnessing and confessing the Son of God before men is the foundation of the Church and the foundation of all the virtues. We are called upon to worship God in spirit and in Truth and to confess Him before men.
This witnessing for Christ never came easily. As our Savior encouraged and forewarned the disciples:
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be glad: for great is your reward in the Heavens: for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you.” (Matt 5:11-12)
We all must ask ourselves: Have we readied our minds to endure such things for the sake of witnessing to the fact that we are Orthodox Christians?
If one examines the state of so-called world Orthodoxy and studies the history, it is evident that many local churches have compromised their witness to the truth of Orthodoxy and confession of Christ for the sake of political objectives. The very next verse in the Gospel applies to the consequences of this compromise:
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt hath lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot by men.” (Matt5:13)
We are salted with the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are salted with the Gospel truth. As our Savior said in today’s Gospel, we must confess that truth. A local Church that has lost the savour of the confession of Gospel truth loses all.
Our Christ tells us in today’s Gospel reading that if we are to be worthy of His love, we must love Him more than all things. He also forewarned us that being faithful to this love would at times be a cross.
He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. (Matt 10:37-38)
We are to love all men unto salvation. That means that in a spirit of love, we are called upon to witness for the truth and not compromise it. If there comes a time when anyone would attempt to separate us from Christ, we are required to show a self-sacrificing love by standing for the truth. This is not easy, but this stand for the truth will be unto our salvation and perhaps unto the ultimate salvation of those who are trying to lead us astray. This is not the easy way; this is the way of the Cross.
The heresy of ecumenism overturns all of the above. Our Savior said that “God is a spirit and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Ecumenism is based on the principle that there is no singular truth and doctrine is of no significance. Our Savior calls all men to be united to Him in love of the truth. Ecumenism calls men to be united to every error in total indifference to the truth.
In order to understand the great gulf that separates the mindset of the false shepherds who trivialize the significance of the pan-heresy of Ecumenism today and the saints of the Church, it is important to note that the martyrs of the first centuries were not killed because they worshipped Christ. They were killed because they worshipped Christ exclusively.
The Roman pagan authorities built temples that were intended to house all of the gods. That is where the term “pantheon” came from. The word “pantheon” in Greek is from two words “theos”(god) and “pan” (all). The pagan rulers were willing to place a statue of Christ in their pantheon, but they wanted Christians to also worship the Roman gods and the genius of the emperor. As we know from the lives of the saints, the Christian confessors proclaimed the Holy Trinity as the one true God and refused to acknowledge the pagan gods.
Today, the pan-heresy of Ecumenism attempts to unite all spiritual errors into a one world super-church. The betrayers of Orthodoxy who participate in this heresy participate in an attempt to place Christ in the pantheon of all the false gods.
There are many so-called spiritual leaders today found in the Ecumenist jurisdictions who claim to love the saints and to be their disciples. Are they really?
Saint Peter was crucified upside down and Saint Paul was beheaded because they confessed Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch was devoured by lions because he confessed Christ. Is it reasonable to say that these saints would encourage Orthodox Christian laity to be members of a local church that participated in the pan-heresy of Ecumenism? Would it be reasonable to claim that any of the saints would encourage Orthodox Christian laity to partake of the mysteries at liturgy wherein a local bishop who professed ecumenism was commemorated?
The words of our Savior in the Gospel reading for the feast of All Saints are a light in the darkness of the confusion of our day. We are called upon to confess Christ before all men. We confess Him by preserving and proclaiming the “faith once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) If we count family or anything of more value than our love for Christ, we are unworthy of Him. The saints and confessors of every age and station in life have given us examples of how we must live. I pray that none of you are ever confused by the false spiritual leaders of our day into compromising your confession of faith.
May you all Confess Christ in spirit and in truth. May you confess Him also by your way of life. May you proclaim that you are His disciples by the self-sacrificing love that you show one to another. May the examples of the saints inspire and guide you in your life and may you and your families partake of the grace of the Holy Spirit that illumined the saints from ages past, through Christ Jesus our Lord.