Father Michael Pallad

Pastor's Page

A Month of Fellowship, Prayer and Worship

At 113 years of age, Saint Haralambos fell asleep in the Lord. You might imagine that his last year was spent peacefully, but you would be wrong. In his final year on this earth, Saint Haralambos was put to the ultimate test, choosing to endure savage torture rather than deny his faith in Christ.

What type of people would torture a man at his age? What were his crimes? The pious saint only continued to preach, teach and baptize in the face of the ultimatum given him by the local authorities. Saint Haralambos was not persuaded in the least, and was attracting more attention in his village. Finally ordered beheaded, as the executioner was carrying out his orders, a voice was heard from heaven, “Well done my good and faithful servant; enter now into the joy of your Master.” At that moment, the saint gave up his life without having been executed.

Praised in his festal hymn as “an unshakable pillar of the Church of Christ,” Saint Haralambos is an example of how strong faith can give us courage to face anything in life.

This month we remember and celebrate the life of our patron saint. Vespers are celebrated on Friday, Feb. 9 at 3 pm, shortly before the opening of our festival at 5 pm. Saturday morning we will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at 9 am, shortly before the opening of our festival at 11 am. Sunday morning’s Divine Liturgy is starting at 9 am, one hour earlier than normal, and shortly before the opening of our festival at 11am.

The following weekend we begin Great Lent and enter into a 7-week period of spiritual disciplines including fasting, works of charity, and prayer.

Certainly the month of February is a busy one for our parish. But with the combination of fellowship, prayer and worship, this is the type of busyness that is appropriate for our church community.

Let’s come together to work for a successful festival, remembering the celebration of our patron saint during the same weekend. Then let us switch gears to begin the period of Great Lent and challenge ourselves to reach greater spiritual heights through prayer, fasting and works of charity. What may seem impossible for you and I, is always possible with God’s help.

We work together for a successful festival, and we should also work together during Lent. How? By attending the weeknight Lenten services (see the calendar for dates and times). It is encouraging to worship together with our church family just as we work together in festival booths. Your presence in church services is uplifting to your brothers and sisters in Christ.

The bonds of fellowship we form at the festival are strengthened by praying together. If you’re not sure, I challenge you to give it a try. But make an honest effort for the seven weeks of Lent, and you will see the results.

Our patron saint Haralambos would challenge us today if he were here. And since none of us has reached the age of 113, we really have no good excuse not to push ourselves to increase our faith and love of God. Let’s not allow spiritual laziness become our excuse, and let us instead remember and imitate the incredible example of Saint Haralambos, the beloved patron saint of our parish.

St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church | Peoria, Arizona