On Tuesday evening, October 31st, we held a Vespers service in honor of St John of Kronstadt. Liturgy followed on Wednesday at 7am.
Each year, on this evening, we invite the children of the parish to come to church to celebrate this beloved saint and to provide an alternative to the Halloween activities which occur on this night.
Like most American holidays, the meaning of Halloween has been obscured by trivialization and mass-marketing. Just as the Nativity has been reduced to snowmen and reindeers and the great feast of Pascha has been reduced to easter bunnies and chocolate eggs, so too has the Anti-Christian origins of Halloween been reduced to costumes and trick-or-treats. Nevertheless, those dark origins and practices continue to this day and we avoid them.
Gratefully, we have a wonderful saint whose celebration outshines all darkness... St John of Kronstadt!
After serving the Vespers for St John, the children gathered at the bottom of the steps to hear a word of encouragement in their faith related to St John. Fr Martin told the story of a kingdom and a castle that was filled with great treasures. But thieves were able to break in and steal the treasures. The king called on his advisors to resolve this probem and they proposed building a mote all around the castle, building a drawbridge gate, and setting a guard at the gate. The guard would let down the gate for the friends of the king, but he would keep the gate closed if thieves and enemies of the king's treasure attempted to get in.
St John of Kronstadt spoke about the human heart in just this way... our heart is the place of great treasures (love, joy, peace, etc.), but we must set a guard to stand watch in order to not let thieves come in and steal away this good treasure. Those thieves are anger, jealousy, selfishness, etc. It is important for us to establish this gate and guard about our heart to test whether something is good or bad. We invite the good and we reject the bad.
Following the little sermon, all stood to sing the magnification to St John and then, after the children venerated his icon, they were presented with a small treasure of 'goodies' in a bag.
May God bless our young people and keep the treasure of their hearts safe!