SOLDIERS FOR CHRIST & HIS HOLY CHURCH
Each November, the Church commemorates the souls of the departed on the Saturday closest to the feast of the Great Martyr Demetrios - one of the famous early soldier-martyrs for Christ.
It is providential that such a feast consistently falls within days of Canada's civil Remembrance Day holiday on the Church Calendar - a day Canadians universally recall the sacrifice of those who fulfilled Christ's words that "No greater love hath a man than this: that he should lay down his life for his friend," (John 15:13).
Indeed, without such self-sacrifice in two world wars and other conflicts, Canadians may well not have enjoyed the religious freedom our country enjoys today. Orthodox Christians owe these soldiers a debt, and it is suitable that we should commemorate the souls of faithful soldiers so close to the feast day of one of their soldier-patrons who prays for them before the Throne of God.
St. Demetrios, St. George, St. Menas, and others make up only a few of the soldiers whose names dominate the witness of the early Church. It was their courageous witness which converted others - even pagans, and enemies of Christ - into friends and brothers who shared in the same Communion with the Lord's Body and Blood.
Martyrdom is the most powerful witness to Christ, and it is wisely said that it is the blood of the martyrs which is the seed of the Church. This should never be lost on us who hope for the growth of the Holy Orthodox Church in our land, since it is each of us, through scores of tiny acts of self-sacrifice manifest the power and love of Christ to people here, today.
Few of us will ever shed our blood for Christ, yet each one of us can and must lay down our lives as a witness, that the Church may grow in all times and places.