Apostles’ Fast 2013

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Christ is among us! He is and always will be!

Having celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit and the completion of the manifestation of the Divine Trinity last Sunday on Pentecost, today the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints. This feast and its placement immediately after Pentecost is significant because the saints of the Church are those who make known the Holy Spirit in the world. Unlike the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has no Divine Person to reveal Him. While Christ our God makes the Father known: He who sees Me see the Father (John 14:9); and the Holy Spirit makes known the Son: the Spirit of Truth…He will bear witness to Me (John 15:27); it is the saints who, by their lives and actions, make the Holy Spirit known in the world.

We are all called to be saints: this is our divine vocation. In Baptism and Chrismation we were set on fire by the Divine Spirit and were sent to be apostles for Christ to our world! But has our fire for Christ grown cold? Is our precious gift of the fire of baptismal grace scarcely smoldering for lack of the fuel of prayer? Is it being suffocated by the corruption of the world and all its material temptations that threaten to snuff it out?

Let us fan the spark of this baptismal fire into the flame of zeal for Christ and His Church like the Apostles who, within a few short years, brought the saving truth of the Gospel to the ends of the earth! Traditionally, on the Monday following All Saints Sunday (27 May 2013), the Church begins a time of fasting and prayer to prepare us for the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on 29 June. Although the Melkite Synod has shortened the fasting period to ten days, beginning on 19 June, we may still observe the traditional fast beginning tomorrow. We are given this “Apostles Fast” in order to fan into flame the grace of the Holy Spirit within us and to reflect upon the hardships endured by the Apostles as they preached Divine grace and truth to the world.

This year, during the Apostles Fast, it is particularly appropriate that we remember our brothers and sisters who now suffer for their faith, in the lands of the Apostles, especially in Syria. I ask that during these coming days you consider fasting at least three days each week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) in solidarity with our suffering Christian brethren. In addition, I ask that you offer the money you save by fasting for relief of our brothers and sisters in dire need because of the war in Syria. These donations will be collected by your pastor on the weekend of 30 June and sent immediately to our finance office for transfer to the Patriarchate for Syrian relief. Even though you may have already given to this cause, please consider giving again as the suffering our fellow Christians endure continues to persist and increase.

May Christ God, through the intercession of the holy and glorious Apostles worthy of all praise, bless all those who suffer persecution for the sake of His name and bless you and your families abundantly.

With my prayers and blessing, I remain

Your father and shepherd,

Most Reverend Nicholas J. Samra
Eparchial Bishop of Newton