Lots of American Churches do something special for the 4th of July. Well tomorrow, for a change, some American Orthodox Churches are doing something special, and rather patriotic, too.
I’m sort of putting you on, though what I say is stone cold true. We (i.e., some of the jurisdictions with ethnic roots in Slavic lands, at least) are in no way celebrating America’s Independence Day liturgically.
But this year, the second Sunday after Pentecost falls on July 4, and on the second Sunday after Pentecost, we commemorate regional Saints — in our case, the Saints of North America. (Last week we commemorated All Saints.)
So tonight, for Vespers, I sang all these:
Come, let us praise the saints of North America,
holy hierarchs, venerable monastics, and glorious martyrs,
pious men, women, and children, both known and unknown!
Through their words and deeds, in various walks of life,
by the grace of the Spirit they achieved true holiness.
Now as they stand in the presence of Christ Who glorified them,
they pray for us, who celebrate their memory with love.
Come, let us assemble today
and glorify the luminaries of the North American lands,
the glorious martyrs and holy bishops who confirmed our faith,
the righteous dwellers in the wilderness and guides of the spiritual life!
Let us cry out to them in joy:
“All Saints of North America, known and unknown, pray to God for us!”
As the brightest sun,
as the brilliance of the Morning Star,
the precious feast of the saints of North America has dawned for us,
to illumine us and to set our hearts on fire, to imitate their godly lives,
and to follow their example of zeal for God.
Come, let us assemble today
and let us praise the elect of North America!
Having fought the good fight, you have persevered in the faith,
receiving your crowns of victory from God.
Beseech Him to deliver from every calamity and sorrow
all who keep your holy memory in faith and in love!
The earth rejoices and the heavens are glad,
O venerable Saints of America,
praising your labors and lives, your spiritual fortitude and purity of heart.
By driving away a multitude of demons
and enlightening many people with the light of the Orthodox Faith,
you have confirmed our land.
Rejoice, O mountains of Pennsylvania;
leap for joy, O waters of the Great Lakes;
rise up, O fertile plains of Canada;
for the elect of Christ who dwelt in you are glorified,
men and women who left their homes for a new land!
With faith, hope, and patience as their armor,
they courageously fought the good fight.
Comforted by the beauty of the Orthodox Faith,
they labored in mines and mills, they tilled the land,
they braved the challenges of the great cities, enduring many hardships and sufferings.
Never failing to worship God in spirit and truth
and unyielding in devotion to His most pure Mother, they erected many temples to His glory.
Come, O assembly of the Orthodox,
and with love let us praise the holy men, women, and children,
those known to us and those known only to God, and let us cry out to them:
“Rejoice, all Saints of North America and pray to God for us!”
Rejoice, O continent of North America, illumined by the holy Gospel!
Rejoice, every province, state, city, and town,
which raised up citizens of the heavenly Kingdom!
Rejoice, our venerable Father Herman, first saint of our land!
Rejoice O Martyrs Juvenaly and Peter,
for your blood has watered the seed of faith planted in Alaska!
Rejoice, O holy Hierarchs: Innocent, Tikhon, Nicholas, Raphael, and John!
Rejoice, O holy Fathers Alexis, John, and all you righteous priests!
Rejoice, all Saints of North America,
for your light has shone forth to the ends of the earth!
We beseech you to pray to Christ our God that our souls may be saved!
Today, as we celebrate the memory of all the Saints of North America,
let us praise them as is fitting,
for they lived all of Christ’s beatitudes.
Deprived of material wealth, they became rich in spirit;
meek, they inherited the earth;
mourning, they were comforted;
thirsting for righteousness, they were satisfied;
merciful, they obtained mercy;
pure in heart, they beheld the image of God;
as peacemakers, they became God’s children;
persecuted and tortured for righteousness’ sake, they now rejoice in heaven;
and they pray fervently to the Lord that He may have mercy on our souls.
Let us sound a hymn on the trumpet
and praise with one accord the Protectress of our land,
our Queen, the Theotokos:
Rejoice, for you have crowned our land with your favor,
pouring abundant grace upon it!
Therefore, the Church in America joyously celebrates your precious protection
and commemorates the multitude of your miracles.
And now deprive us not of your mercies, O Lady!
Look with favor upon us in our adversities and afflictions
and raise us up by your powerful intercession!
At Liturgy tomorrow, we’ll sing these, too:
As the bountiful harvest of Your sowing of salvation,
the lands of North America offer to You, O Lord, all the saints who have shone in them.
By their prayers keep the Church and our land in abiding peace
through the Theotokos, O most Merciful One!
Today the choir of Saints who were pleasing to God in the lands of North America
now stands before us in the Church and invisibly prays to God for us.
With them the Angels glorify Him,
and all the Saints of the Church of Christ keep festival with them;
and together they all pray for us to the Pre-eternal God.
Of course, we alway do something a little special on July 4:
On July 4, we commemorate our Father among the Saints Andrew, Archbishop of Crete, the Jerusalemite.
On this day we also commemorate the contest of the holy Hieromartyr Theodore, Bishop of Cyrene.
It is also the commemoration of the holy Martyrs Cyprilla, Aroa, and Lucia.
On this day we commemorate the holy Martyr Theodotus; and Saint Donatus, Bishop of Libya;
and the devout Martha, mother of Saint Symeon of Wonderful Mountain.
Saint Asclepias the Wonderworker reposed in peace.
The holy Hieromartyr Theophilus died by the sword.
The devout Menignus reposed in peace.
Not in a thousand years would I trade those for the mass choir at First Baptist of Dallas singing Make America Great Again. Heck, I wouldn’t even trade them for America the Beautiful and God Bless America no matter who sang them.