All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (Hamilton, ON, Canada)

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November - December 2011

VIRTUE: A GREAT GIFT

At this time of year, it is always easier to write about some topic related to Christmas.

I'm not going to do that.

Our parish has the unique situation of celebrating its secondary feast day - the Martyrs of North America - on the same day as Civil Christmas, December 25th. As such, our patronal feast is often overlooked, which is a true loss to the faithful, for whom the lives of the North American saints provide crucial examples for us.

Most people at this time of year will be focusing on "getting" and "giving", while most Christians will strive to remember that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season".

Few of us - even the most faithful - would consider asking for spiritual gifts, at Christmas or at any other time. Yet it is an undertaking worthy of every Christian to seek the virtues that we find in the saints, the holy ones of God.

We are often reminded that the lives of the saints are the Bible in practice; to this end, each faithful Christian might ask themself at this season, what is the Christian virtue that I need most?

• Do I need to gain the boldness for Christian Orthodoxy that St Peter the Aleut showed before the conquistadors who killed him?

• Do I need to acquire the humility to live and work as a Christian, steadfastly and in secret, without any recognition, like St. Juvenaly, first martyr of North America?

• Should I pray for the wisdom to build up my family in the faith, as did St Jacob Netsvetov?

• Must I constantly ask God's help to care for all the people for whom I am responsible in my work, that God will protect them from evil, as did St Tikhon?

As we approach Christmas, let us set our minds on the higher things, the virtues of Christ which will last us throughout this life, which will accompany us into eternity, and which will - with God's help - make us more and more like the saints of this land.

- FrG+

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