The Centennial Remembrance Of Our Holy Founder The Priest +George
This year marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the repose of the servant of God, Father George Dow Maloof, the founder and spiritual father of our parish. When he fell asleep in the Lord on 21 October 1920, he had completed twenty years of selfless service to the people of God in Boston. History records that he was a tireless labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. Fr. George enjoys a reputation for holiness as a pastor, missionary, teacher, peace-maker and spiritual father.
When Fr. Herith Ibreham visited us from the Balamand, he presented us with a priceless prayer scroll that Fr. George had kept with him throughout his adult life. As director of the Manuscript Preservation and Restoration Center at the Balamand, Fr. Herith noted that the life and work of Fr. George was well known in his homeland as a ‘holy man with a kind and generous heart’. Father noted that the name of Fr. George has been included on a list of prospective men and women whose glorification as Saints is now being considered by the Holy Synod of Antioch.
As his spiritual children here at St. George Church of Boston, we can best honour his memory by actively supporting the cause of his canonization as a Saint of the Holy Orthodox Church. As is the custom in our tradition, we can invoke his intercession on our behalf and ask Fr. George to pray to God for us.
We can use his image as a focal point of our prayers and venerate his memory as we attempt to emulate his example in our lives. Holy cards with the picture of Fr. George have been printed and are available at the candle stand. Parishioners are encouraged to take one and recite the prayer printed on the card. We hope to make his reputation known, and we encourage you to share this card with your family and friends.
To canonize someone means that the Church has decided to add that person to the official canon [list] of saints. Our church calendar lists numerous saints whom we commemorate on each day of the year. We are encouraged to remember these saints in our prayer and to ask them to remember us before God. Special liturgical services are often composed in a saint's honour and celebrated in the churches.
There are many reasons for including a person on the list of Saints. The most obvious is that the person is known to have lived a 'saintly' life in service to Christ and the Gospel. Their lives should also serve as an inspiration for all of us.
The Orthodox Church never formally developed a process for canonizing a saint. The Church understands that only God can create a Saint, not the Church. A person recognized as holy receives prayers from people who ask the saint to intervene for them in heaven. At some point, the saint's name appears on the Church's liturgical calendar and a feast day is assigned in their honour, at which point they are considered canonized. There is an informal process whereby the bishops might review the saint's history, but this is not a requirement for sainthood.
For most of the Churches' history, saints were ‘recognized’ without any formal declaration or canonization. The local parish simply began to remember in their prayers well-known holy Christians from their community. The faithful asked the holy person to pray to God for them. They also asked for the person to help in time of need. People often visited their grave to offer prayers and ask for their intercession. The faithful received comfort from their prayers, just as they had received comfort from the holy person when they were alive.
The process of ‘recognizing a person as a saint’ is still determined mainly by the local Orthodox community. An individual recognized for their ‘holiness’ during their lifetime is honoured after their death. The faithful ask for the persons blessing and prayers, and we visit their grave or shrine. Canonization does not make someone a saint it merely acknowledges that in their lifetime, the person was recognized for their saintly holiness. The Church simply holds the person up as an example worthy of imitating.
Praying to a Saint means we ask that person to pray for us, as they did when they were alive. We always ask our living loved ones to remember us in their prayers. We even ask departed loved ones – parents and grandparents – to pray for us.
During this centennial year of his repose, we earnestly ask our father the Priest George to intercede for us and offer his prayers before Almighty God for the welfare of his spiritual children.
With Blessings in this New Year, Fr. +Timothy
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