Sunday of the All Saints
The Reading from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Hebrews (11:33-12:2a)
Brethren: All the saints through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword. Out of weakness they were made strong, waxed valiant in battle, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. And others endured the trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea moreover, of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented (of whom the world was not worthy). They wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Therefore, seeing we also are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew (10:32-33, 37-38, 19:27-30)
The Lord said to His disciples: ‘Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father Who is in Heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Who is in Heaven. […] 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.’ […] Then Peter answered and said unto Him, ‘Behold, we have forsaken all and followed Thee. What shall we have therefore?’ And Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, that ye that have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that hath forsaken houses or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first.’
Troparion of the Resurrection (Tone 8)
HFrom on high didst Thou descend, O Compassionate One, to burial of three days hast Thou submitted, that Thou mightest free us from our passions. O our Life and Resurrection, O Lord, glory be to Thee.
Troparion of All Saints (Tone 4)
Adorned in the blood of Thy martyrs throughout all the world, as in purple and fine linen, Thy Church, through them, doth cry unto Thee, O Christ God: Send down Thy compassions upon Thy people; grant peace to Thy flock and to our souls great mercy.
Kontakion of All Saints (Tone 8)
To Thee, O Lord, the Planter of creation, the world doth offer the God-bearing martyrs as the first-fruits of nature. By their intercessions, preserve Thy Church, Thy commonwealth, in profound peace, through the Theotokos, O Greatly-merciful One.
SYNAXARION FOR THE SUNDAY OF ALL SAINTS
Our most godlike Fathers decreed that we should celebrate the present feast after the descent of the All-holy Spirit, as showing in a certain way that the coming of the All-holy Spirit acted through the Apostles like this: sanctifying and making wise human beings taken from our mortal clay and, for the completion of that fallen angelic order, restoring them and through Christ sending them to God, some by the witness of martyrdom and blood, others by their virtuous conduct and way of life; and things beyond nature are achieved. For the Spirit descends in the form of fire, whose natural momentum is upwards; while dust, whose natural momentum is downwards, ascends on high, that dust which forms our mortal clay, the flesh added to and made divine by God the Word, which a short time before, had been exalted and taken its seat at the right hand of the Father’s glory. But he now also draws all those who wish, according to the promise, just as God the Word had manifested the works of reconciliation and what was the end, most suitable to its purpose, of his coming to us through flesh and of his dispensation, namely that he brings those who were rejected before to union and friendship with God—human nature offering to God the ungrateful people from the nations like first fruits—those who were outstandingly well-pleasing to him. This is one reason that we celebrate the feast of All Saints.
A second reason is because, though many people have been well-pleasing to God, they were through outstanding virtue unknown to humanity by name, or for some human reason or other, but nevertheless have great glory in God’s sight. Or again, because there are many who have lived following Christ in India, Egypt, Arabia. Mesopotamia and Phrygia and in the lands beyond the Black Sea, even as far as the British Isles themselves; in short, in both East and West, but it was not easy to honour them all properly because of their vast numbers, in the way that ecclesiastical custom has been received. And therefore, so that we may attract the help of them all, wherever on earth they were well-pleasing to God, and generally for those who would later become Saints, the most godly Fathers ordained that we should celebrate the feast of All Saints, honouring the earlier and later ones, the unknown and the known — all those in whom the Holy Spirit has dwelt he has made holy.
A third reason is this. It was necessary for the Saints who are celebrated individually day by day to be gathered together on one day, in order to demonstrate that, as they struggled for the one Christ and all ran the race in the same stadium of virtue, so they were all fittingly crowned as servants of one God and sustained the Church, having filled the world on high. They stir us also to accomplish the same struggle in its different and many forms, to the degree of power that each of us has to press onwards with all eagerness.
For all these Saints from every age the revered and wise Emperor Leo erected and vast and very beautiful church. This is very near the church of the holy Apostles, within the city of Constantine. He built it originally, it is said, for his first wife Theophano, who was outstandingly well-pleasing to God, which was indeed a marvel in the midst of turmoil and in royal palaces. When he informed the Church of his idea, he did not succeed in making it agree with his wishes
The most wise Emperor, with the approval of the whole Church, dedicated to all the Saints everywhere in the world the building that had been erected, observing that ‘Since Theophano is a Saint, let her be numbered with the rest.
Note that we are celebrating everything that the Holy Spirit, in giving good things, has made holy. I mean the highest and sanctifying Minds, that is to say the Nine Orders; the Ancestors and Patriarchs; the Prophets and sacred Apostles; the Martyrs and Hierarchs; the Priest Martyrs and Ascetic Martyrs; the Ascetics and the Just and all the choirs of holy women and all the other anonymous Saints, with them let there be all who will come afterwards. But before all, in all and with all, the Saint of Saints, the most holy and quite incomparably mightier than the angelic Orders, our Lady and Sovereign, Mary, Ever-Virgin.
At the prayers of your all-pure Mother, Christ God, and of all your Saints from every age, have mercy and save us, for you alone are good and love mankind. Amen.