The feast of the Ascension of the Lord and of Saints Great Emperors just like the Apostles Constantine the Great and his mother Helen is celebrated Thursday, 21 May 2015, in the Orthodox Church. On this occasion, the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest celebrated its historical dedication day, the place of worship having been under the protection of the Saints Emperors Constantine and Helen for 357 years.
The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church together with several hierarchs, members of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, assisted by a group of priests and deacons, on a podium specially arranged near the Patriarchal Cathedral.
The following hierarchs celebrated together with His Beatitude: His Eminence Laurentiu, Metropolitan of Transylvania, His Eminence Calinic, Archbishop of Arges and Muscel, His Eminence Casian, Archbishop of Lower Danube, His Grace Ambrozie, Bishop of Giurgiu, His Grace Visarion, Bishop of Tulcea, His Grace Siluan, Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox faithful of Hungary, His Grace Varlaam Ploiesteanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch, His Grace Ieronim Sinaitul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch, and His Grace Timotei Prahoveanul, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Bucharest.
Christ, the Lord, is the light and life of our life
After reading the Holy Gospel, the Patriarch of Romania delivered a sermon for those present at the Joy Hill and said that after the Ascension of the Lord, the Holy Spirit is the One Who will guide us to every good thing.
“We learn from today’s Gospel that Christ, the Lord, blesses and loves us even if we do not see Him. Why has He ascended to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit? It is because when He was human in the world and He was across us, seen face to face, He was Somebody in front of us. It is through the Holy Spirit who has not human image, but who wants every human to form his life according to the image of Christ that the One in front of us becomes Christ inside us. Thus, the Person who stands in front of us, Christ, the Lord, ascended to Heaven through the work of the Holy Spirit becomes the life of our life. This is why, the Apostle says “I do not live anymore, but Christ lives in me…”. When Christ appears in front of us, when He shows Himself in glory, we shall show ourselves together with Him too. Thus, Christ, our life lives in us through the Grace of the Holy Spirit, through the Holy Sacraments, through all the work of the Church. He is no longer across us, but the light and life of our life”, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel said.
There is no ascension without lowliness, there is no glorification without sacrifice
Today the Heroes of the Romanian nation were remembered in all cathedrals, churches, monasteries, cemeteries and at all the road side shrines and monuments from the country and abroad.
The Primate of the Orthodox Church explained the relations between the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord and the Day of the Heroes.
“The Day of the Heroes was established by the State and the Church in 1920 through Royal Decree and through the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church. During the communist regime it was officially dissolved, by after the changes of 1989, it was established again as day for remembering the heroes. Thus, in 2003, the Romanian Parliament issued a law which declared the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord as Day of the Heroes and as National Feast, just to show its importance. Why has the Church scheduled the day for remembering the heroes just on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord? It is to show us that there is no Ascension without lowliness, that there is no glorification without sacrifice; that Christ ascended in glory after He lowered Himself till death passing through death on the Cross, through burial and then through Resurrection and Ascension having been glorified. Thus, these are the heroes who sacrificed with sacrificial love their lives for faith, for homeland and for people, that we celebrate on the Day of the glorification of the Ascension of the Lord to Heaven”, His Beatitude explained.
Saints Emperors Constantine and Helen have a special relationship with the Christ crucified, resurrected and ascended in glory
It is also today that the Orthodox faithful celebrate the Saints Emperors just like the Apostles, Constantine and his mother Helen. They have a special relationship with Christ, based on the Holy Cross, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church also underlined.
“Saints Emperors Constantine and Helen have a special relationship with Christ crucified, resurrected and ascended in glory, because Saint Constantine saw the cross sign formed of light in the sky in broad day light, namely the sign of Christ crucified, resurrected and ascended in the glory of Heaven. It was through the sign of the Cross that He called him to victory against his adversary Maxentiu near Rome and to conversion because he became the first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire. Saint Helen discovered the Cross in the tomb, at Jerusalem. Saint Constantine saw the cross in the sky. This is why the Cross is painted between them, both of them holding the Cross. It is because Saint Constantine saw it in the sky and Saint Helen discovered the Cross on which the Saviour was crucified at Jerusalem”.
The heroes of the Romanian nation were remembered today in all the churches in the country and abroad. At the Patriarchal Cathedral the heroes were remembered within the threefold litany.
The answers at the Divine Liturgy were given by Nicolae Lungu chorus of the Romanian Patriarchate conducted by Rev Lecturer Dr Stelian Ionascu.
After the Divine Liturgy, a solemn service was celebrated and the bells were rung as sign of gratitude for the heroes who sacrificed themselves for the nation, faith and country.
The faithful present today at the religious service could venerate the holy relics of Saints Emperors Constantine and Helen, of Saint Pious Dimitrios the New, Protector of Bucharest, and of Saint Great Martyr Efrem the New laid under the canopy specially arranged on the esplanade in front of the Patriarchal Cathedral.