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May God bless you all during this Apostles' Fast, the feasts of Ss. Peter & Paul and the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles.

Synaxis comes from the Greek σύναξις which means a gathering of people. These gatherings often involve many saints: last Sunday's celebration of the synaxis of all the saints of Novgorod, Belarus, St. Petersburg, the British Isles, and all those who have suffered after the fall of Constantinople; the synaxis of Joachim and Anna celebrated after the Theotokos' nativity; the synaxis of the Elder Simeon and Prophetess Anna after Christ's presentation in the temple.

But we also use "synaxis" for feasts that include just one person, such as the synaxis of the most-holy Theotokos after Christ's nativity and the synaxis of John the Baptist after the Lord's Theophany.

How can we have a gathering of one?

We can't. Christ told us that where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them. A priest cannot celebrate the Divine Liturgy without someone else present, the word "liturgy" meaning literally "the work of the people." And so it is with these synaxis feasts. They are not gatherings of saints, they are gatherings for saints ofthe faithful who celebrate their honorable memories.

Lest we continue any confusion, we should correct the English translation "Synaxis of..." to "Synaxis for..." or "Synaxis in honor of..." when we refer to these feasts, but more importantly we should correct the state of attendance at their divine services so that they are indeed gatherings of the faithful who love them. In the divine services, we repeatedly pray to the saints that they intercede for all of us, but especially for those who love and honor them by celebrating their holy memory. Through the intercessions of the Holy Apostles and of all the saints for whom we gather in these festive weeks following Pentecost, may God be gracious unto us, bless us, cause His face to shine upon us, and have mercy on us.