Today and tomorrow there is so much going on! Of course, every day is like that, even in the liturgical calendar, but I noticed three of the events or commemorations secular and ecclesial overlap just now.
The second Sunday after Pascha is the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, when we remember Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who ministered to our Lord’s body, and the women who brought spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus, where they met an angel instead. The angel told them that Christ had risen! Joanna was one of those women, so today was my name day. 🙂
Earth Day is celebrated on April 23rd, about which I once wrote an article that I don’t know how to improve upon. And starting this evening, it’s the feast of St. George the Greatmartyr, who received the crown of martyrdom on April 23, 303.
It wasn’t until I was walking to the parking lot this afternoon at church and stopped to take a picture of the bells, that I remembered that our big bell is named after St. George. All of the bells have names, but the great one bears the name of the Greatmartyr. He has wisteria adorning, and a chain protecting him from thieves who would peddle his metal. One of our slightly smaller bells was stolen once and had to be replaced.
In the morning the bell George will be rung for the saint George. One hymn of the day includes these lines:
God raised you as his own gardener, O George,
for you have gathered for yourself the sheaves of virtue.
Having sown in tears, you now reap with joy…
May we all have good reason to rejoice on this day and every one.
From Everywhere Present by Fr. Stephen Freeman:
“The body of Christ is one Body. There is only One Church — not divided between those who have fallen asleep in Christ and those who remain behind. Whether we are here or in the hand of God, the struggle is the struggle of the whole Church. My success or failure in my spiritual life is not my private business, but the concern of a great cloud of witnesses. Neither are they watching only as disinterested bystanders. They urge us on and support us with their prayers. Were they to watch us without participating at the same time in our struggles, the watching would be like torture. As it is, their watching is prayer and participation of the deepest sort.
“It is for this reason (among many) that many services in the Eastern Church contain the phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, through the prayers of our holy fathers, have mercy on us and save us.” It is a humility of sorts, a demurring to the prayers of greater Christians — but it is also calling on a reality that abides. We are not alone. The great cloud of witnesses stands with me and in me in prayer.
“Every prayer we ourselves offer is a participation in the life of the world. We have a participation in the great cloud of witnesses, but we also have a participation in everyone who is. The prayer of a righteous few has an amazing salvific impact on the life of the world. If they’d had but a few more righteous men, Sodom and Gomorrah would still be standing. To this day we do not know how many or how few, in their righteous prayers, preserve us before God”.
Today, April 23, we remember Holy Greatmartyr, Victorybearer and Wonderworker George, and ask him to also remember us to God.