On 13 June 2013, the Orthodox Church celebrated the Ascension of the Lord and the Day of the Heroes. In all the places of worship from the country and abroad, after the Divine Liturgy, remembrance services were celebrated for those who sacrificed themselves for defending the Romanian people.
At the Patriarchal Cathedral the religious service was celebrated by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
His Beatitude spoke in the sermon delivered about the meaning of the Gospel and significance of the feast.
“Jesus Christ, our Saviour, took the disciples out of Jerusalem and went to Betania, in the Olives Mount, and blessed them. He ascended to Heaven while He was blessing them; He ascended to Heaven in glory and blessing His disciples just to show us that the Church of Christ lives on the blessing of Christ, and they answered this blessing worshipping Him; worshipping Him means recognising His divinity and showing gratitude for everything He has done for them and for the salvation of the humankind”, His Beatitude said according to Trinitas TV.
The Patriarch of Romania has also spoken about the apostles’ joy when they came back to Jerusalem after the Ascension of the Lord: “The disciples rejoiced because Christ promised them He would send them the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father, the Comforter about whom He spoke to the disciples before His passions and death. The Holy Spirit would help the disciples understand that Christ is no longer present only in front of them as when He was in the world, but mysteriously present in their souls, inside them, and this is why the disciples rejoiced when they came back because Christ, our Lord, would send them the Holy Spirit. They used to spend all their time in the temple, praying, praising and blessing God. This is the end of today’s Gospel. Therefore, their expectation was not a passive but an active one, praying and praising God”.
The feast of the Ascension of the Lord is the feast of the Ascension of the human nature to Heaven: “Christ went to prepare a place in Heaven so that wherever He is, in the glory, love, peace, and happiness of the Most Holy Trinity, His disciples should be too with Him in Heaven as well as all those who believe in Him. Thus, the feast of the Ascension of the Lord to Heaven shows us that Christ has not ascended to Heaven for Him, but to raise to Heaven all those who believe in Him after the universal Resurrection and after the Last Judgement, rewarding with eternal joy the belief in and fulfilment of His will in the world. This is why the feast of the Ascension of Christ, our Lord, is the feast of the Ascension or raising of the man to the eternal life. When Adam sinned God told him: for dust you were and to dust you will return. We see now that Christ, our Lord, raises the body made of dust into the glory of God-the-Father”, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel explained.
After the celebration of the Divine Liturgy the Patriarch of Romania showed the importance of honouring the heroes who died while doing their duty for our freedom, delivering a speech entitled the Sacrificial love of the heroes must be honoured with gratitude, from which we render the following: “The Church has chosen the feast of the Ascension of the Lord as a remembrance day of the heroes in order to teach us that there is a mysterious relationship between the Cross of sufferance, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, our Lord, to Heaven one hand, and the sacrifice of the heroes of the nation who gave their lives for the freedom, unity and dignity of the Romanian people, on the other hand. The cult of the heroes, namely their remembrance from generation to generation, of those who sacrificed themselves for defending their faith and homeland, is a true culture of the Romanian soul who believes, feels and confesses that love is stronger than death. The multitude of the memorial services for the heroes of the nation has always been a strong factor for cultivating the conscience of our national unity and continuity from generation to generation. The remembrance of the Romanian heroes from all times, as well as the cult of the dead, in general, represents acts of constancy, continuity and unity in soul and senses throughout the generations. On this feast day the graves of the Romanian heroes from the country and broad should not be without burning candles and flowers through which we express our gratitude and love as remembrance prayer stronger than death, namely the uninterrupted spiritual relationship with the heroes who gave their lives in the past for our existence today”.
Then, His Beatitude celebrated the memorial service for the heroes of the nation.
For Romanians, the Ascension Thursday is the day for remembering the heroes too. In order to emphasise the character of national symbol and of memorial of all the Romanian heroes, the Cathedral for the Nation’s Salvation is mainly dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord. His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel explained in the religious service celebrated at the Patriarchate, the reasons why the Cathedral for the Nation’s Salvation is mainly dedicated to the Ascension.
“On the occasion of this great holy feast we celebrated the remembrance of the Romanian heroes and we hope that in a few years time this remembrance be done in the new Patriarchal Cathedral, the Cathedral for the Nation’s Salvation dedicated mainly to the Ascension of the Lord and to the Day of the Heroes. The second dedication day is that of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the First Called, Protector of Romania, but the desire to have the Ascension of the Lord as main dedication day and Day of the Heroes belonged to the late His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist, having been approved by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church”, the Patriarch of Romania said.
Remembrance services of the heroes have also been celebrated in the Metropolitan and Episcopal cathedrals from Diaspora, as well as in the churches of the communities of the Orthodox Romanians from abroad.
“We thank God because the right faith, national being and integrity of the Romanian soul have been preserved through the sacrifice of many heroes of the Romanian nation. This is why we said in our speech for bringing homage to their memory that we must honour them through remembrance prayers and good deeds designed to show our love for Christ, the Defeater of death, for the Church, country and people. This remembrance is a spiritual force designed to keep the Romanians from everywhere in unity of soul and feeling from generation to generation. This is why the Romanian Patriarchate appealed that this day should be for remembrance services of the Romanian heroes not only in the parish churches and monasteries of the country, but also abroad wherever there are Romanian Orthodox faithful, in all continents”, His Beatitude explained.
The answers at the Divine Liturgy were given by “Nicolae Lungu” chorus of the Romanian Patriarchate conducted by Rev. Stelian Ionaşcu.
The faithful present today received small icons of the feast of the Ascension of the Lord on behalf of the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church.