His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco – Reflection on the Feast of Saints Constantine and Helen 2020
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
On the 21st of May, our Church commemorated two of its most significant saints, Constantine the Great and his mother, Helen. As these are two very common names among our people, first, let me wish “Hronia Polla!” to all of you who celebrated your feast day. May our Lord bless you with many happy and healthy years.
These two individuals transformed Christianity in profound ways. Constantine will always be remembered for his vision of the Cross on the evening before a battle in the year of Our Lord 312 that secured his place as Emperor and began his journey to the Christian faith. He authored the Edict of Milan, which granted Christians the freedom to worship. Later he moved the capital of the Roman Empire, establishing a city, New Rome, which we know more commonly as Constantinople, the city of Constantine. And he oversaw the First Ecumenical Council, held in the year of Our Lord 325 in Nicaea, which authored our Creed.
Helen, Constantine’s mother, will always be associated with her work in the Holy Lands, where she uncovered the sites of Christ’s life, building churches at the place of His Nativity, on the Mount of Olives, and of course, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and her discovery of the Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For centuries, pilgrims have visited these sacred places to walk where our Lord walked and strengthen their faith and devotion to Him.
For us today, Saint Constantine the Great is an example of leadership. Helen is an example of faith and piety. A hymn of matins for their feast praises them, saying, “You, Christ, anointed Constantine and Helen with the oil of gladness and they advanced Your work.” While both of them had great authority and wealth that they could use for the good of the Christian people, their lives point to what an individual can do to grow and expand the Church. Each of us can use our talents, our treasure, and our time to help the Church.
In these days to come, our parishes will need more help than usual merely to adhere the protocols associated with reopening. Even small acts will make a big difference. The dynamics of our parish life will be different going forward, perhaps for many months, and each of us can make a difference for the good of our Church. We can look to the example of two of these two great saints, Constantine and Helen, for inspiration. May they pray to Christ our God for us all.
Christ is Risen! Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη!