The clergy and parishioners of the Church of the Holy Great-Martyr and Healer Panteleimon in Hartford, CT recently celebrated their patronal feast day. Bishop Luke of Syracuse, vicar of the Eastern American Diocese, came to share in the joy of the feast. Praying alongside the hierarch on Saturday, August 8, at All-Night Vigil and on Sunday, August 9, at Divine Liturgy were parish rector Dionysy Nalitov and Protodeacon Peter Markevich (cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, accompanying His Grace).
The parishioners, who gathered to pray to the Holy Healer Panteleimon, communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. Singing at the divine services were Claudia, Eudokia, and Evan Nalitov.
Upon completion of Liturgy, Bishop Luke greeted everyone with the feast and addressed them with a sermon, in which he said, in part:
"Martyr in Greek means ‘witness.’ All of us, Orthodox Christians, are called to be witnesses for our Faith before the world. For now, no one in our country is demanding that we sacrifice our own bodies for Christ. Nevertheless, we must be witnesses, confessors. There are various ways to become a witness or confessor. For instance, despite the various restrictions placed on you because of the viral pandemic, you have managed to be present here and prayerfully take part in today’s service. According to the teachings of the holy desert-dwellers, there are other opportunities to become a confessor-witness, as well. For us today, at least, it is not the shedding of martyric blood, but any manifestation of self-denial for Christ’s sake, for the sake of our salvation, means bearing witness. As soon as man refuses sin, turns away from his passionate and sinful desires ‒ in word, deed, or through ‒ the Lord will accept this struggle as though it were martyr’s blood.
"Sometimes monasticism is called a voluntary martyrdom, because a monk or nun must be obedient and reject his or her own will. The same happens in Christian family life, as well, were all of the members must reject self-love, must love one another and live in peace, or else the home will be overrun by chaos, anarchy, and unpleasantness."
Bishop Luke noted that, in today’s godless society, remaining a faithful member of the Orthodox Church is in itself, even without any special feats, a powerful witness before the world.
The hierarch, clergy, and faithful then served a moleben and went in procession around the church with banners and icons. In the parish hall, the sisterhood prepared a festal luncheon for all.