Christ is born! Glorify Him!
God has given us His saints as a testament to the extraordinary power and grace of a life that is entirely devoted to Him. The saints are witnesses (martyri in Greek) to His love, vessels of the Holy Spirit, grace-filled embodiments of Christ Himself. The blessing from the Divine Liturgy is shown in them: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit…”
The saints are of the world, in that they have flesh and blood; yet they are not of this world, being a manifestation of the kingdom of God. (In Greek, the word “holy” or “saint” is, agios, which literally means “not of the earth.”) The divine grace which dwells in them is seen in their physical bodies, whether as an uncreated light, or through miraculous events, or simply by the radiating joy experienced by those in their presence.
Thus when a saint has ended the course his or her earthly life and is born into eternal life, the body which remains continues to bear the grace and holiness of the saint. For this reason, there are numerous incorrupt relics of saints – some more than a millennium old. On the island of Corfu, St. Spyridon the Wonderworker has remained incorrupt, with skin and hair, for more than 1,500 years. On Mt. Athos, the head of St. John Chrysostom resides at Vatopedi Monastery, where his ear is still intact. In San Francisco, the body of St. John Maximovich lies in rest, decades after his repose, emanating fragrance and remaining incorrupt. St. Job of Pochayev’s incorrupt relics are kept in the monastery which he founded in the Ukraine more than 400 years ago. In Thessaloniki, Greece, Great Martyr Demetrios the Myrrh-Gushing exudes fragrant myrrh, which at times literally floods the church which bears his name.
To the rational Western mind—with a Christianized Gnosticism that exalts the mind and debases the body—these miraculous relics remain enigmas, problems to be scientifically “solved.” To the Orthodox Christian faithful these are natural expressions of a grace-filled life in Christ, which is not limited to the spirit and mind, but also expresses itself in the body.
Through the relics of saints—whether incorrupt or not—the faithful receive divine grace. For this reason the Church has celebrated the Divine Liturgy, the Holy Eucharist, upon the relics of saints (kept within a consecrated altar).
Our humble parish of St. John the Baptist, even though we are without a consecrated altar, is blessed nonetheless to have the relics of four saints. These four saints—St. John the Baptist, St. John Chrysostom, St. Seraphim of Sarov, and one of the Holy Innocents slain by King Herod—impart God’s grace upon our community in an ineffable way. The presence of their relics brings their true presence in our midst.
However these saints’ relics have not had a proper home, until now. Through the generous donations of a few parishioners, we now have a reliquary to house the relics of these four blessed saints (and, God willing, other saints someday). Once the relics are placed inside, we will have the opportunity to venerate these relics each Saturday at Vespers, asking for their intercessions.
To the left are the four engraved icons which are on the four exterior sides of the reliquary. From the top to the bottom, these are St. John the Baptist, St. John Chrysostom, St. Seraphim of Sarov, and Christ with the Holy 14,000 Innocents slain by King Herod.
May their presence be a spiritual present in our lives, which imparts God’s grace to each of us!
Engraved Icon of the Holy Innocents
Engraved Icon of St John Chrysostom
Engraved Icon of St John the Baptist
Engraved Icon of St Seraphim of Sarov