Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
You have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant. Hebrews 12: 22-24
Good morning Prayer Team!
Again, we offer this spiritual worship for those who repose in the faith, forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics and for every righteous spirit made perfect in faith.
This sentence concludes the prayer of Consecration. Again, this entire prayer is said quietly by many clergy, so you’ll have to either listen carefully or follow along in the Liturgy book in order to hear it. These prayers, even the ones we don’t hear out loud, are so important to the celebration of the Liturgy that I continue to comment on them.
Two things come to my mind as I offer these prayers every week. The first is our connection with the church triumphant. I have already commented on this in another reflection, that when we offer the Gifts, “for all” that “all” are represented—those who are alive (the church militant) and those who have passed away (the church triumphant). The Prayer of Consecration is an affirmation that we, the church militant, again come before the Lord offering this sacrifice on behalf of ourselves. We ask for the Holy Spirit to come down upon us and upon the Gifts we are presenting.
After the Gifts have been consecrated, we affirm that we are not only offering these Gifts for ourselves, but for those who have gone before us. We offer the Gifts on behalf of and in concert with all the saints. We name the church triumphant in several categories—forefathers, fathers, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors and ascetics. When I pray for these categories, I not only think of specific saints, like the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I think of “evangelists” in the sense of people who have worked to spread the Gospel, former Sunday school teachers who have passed away as an example. Our “forefathers” include grandparents and ancestors. Our “fathers” include our parents, including my own father. When I think of “patriarchs” I think of all the clergy who have served. “Prophets” include the prophets of the Old Testament but I also think of those who speak with a prophetic voice, those who have spoken with conviction about the mighty works of God.” “Apostles” remind of those who have recruited others to the faith. I think of teachers, those who have taught me and others the faith, when I hear “preachers”. “Evangelists” remind me of those who have spread the Word with enthusiasm. “Martyrs” are those who have died for Christ, and also those who have lived for Him. “Martyr” means witness, so everyone who gives witness in Christ, whether they are killed for their faith or not, is called to be a martyr. “Confessors” are spiritual fathers who act as guides for the faithful. “Ascetics” are those who have lived their lives cloistered from the world, in monasteries, where they have devoted their lives to prayer.
Which bring us to final category: every righteous spirit made perfect in the faith. This accounts for everyone that we can think of: our parents, friends, co-workers, everyone we can remember who has lived as a Christian.
My second thought as I offer this prayer is, of all the lists one can be on in life, the most important list is “the righteous spirits who have been made perfect in faith.” We are concerned with being on the honor roll when we are students. We love being recognized for awards and promotions. Many people are obsessed with being remembered when they are gone. I once had someone who said to me “See my name on that building Father? No one will remember you when you are gone but they will remember me.” To which I replied, “I don’t care if anyone remembers me when I’m gone, as long as the Lord remembers me in His Kingdom. Because if I’m not on His list, what good is all the other stuff that I’ve done? However, if I’m on His list, I really don’t need to be on any other.” Think about this statement: I (your name) want to be on the list of people made perfect in the faith. Think about this statement and hold it up to other accomplishments and goals of your life.
Lord, help me always to remember what is important in my life. No matter what I do or fail to do in my life, help me always remember the goal of life is to be with You forever. Remember me in Your Kingdom and help me to perfect my faith today and every day. Amen.
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