What Legacy Do We Leave Behind? - Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Webster, MA (2023)

What Legacy Do We Leave Behind?

What legacy will each of us leave behind when we leave this earth? It’s an interesting question, and maybe one that we may feel a little uncomfortable reflecting on, because it forces us to think about our death. And yet, I think it is something extremely important that all of us should think about from time to time (more often than not!). If we would die today, what would people say about us? How would they eulogize us? What would they look at in our lives, and lift up as something inspiring, as something which blessed others, as something faithful, as something eternal? Will we even have an eternal legacy?

Think about that. Do you and I have a legacy that will last into eternity?

St. John Chrysostom has a beautiful saying, “A rich man is not one who has much, but one who gives much. For what he gives away remains his forever.”

What we give for others lasts forever. How we serve others lasts forever. What we do in love for others lasts forever. This is the eternal legacy of Christians. It’s NOT what we did for ourselves. Or how we enriched ourselves. Or how we were all about our own family and our own loved ones. A legacy that lasts into eternity is one that is about giving to others, loving others, and especially serving those in need. Remember Christ’s words at the Last Judgment - “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did to me.”

This past week I attended two funerals. From an outside perspective the one funeral would be considered a terrible tragedy, and the other simply a deep loss. First, I attended the funeral of Emily Dabrowski, an almost 18 year old senior from Shepherd Hill who died unexpectedly from complications with mono. A week prior she had been snowboarding and living the life of a vibrant high school senior getting ready to graduate and go on to college. The next week she suddenly died, leaving her family, friends and everyone in shock. The second funeral was of the mother of a dear friend who was in her mid-80s. Mary Barbas’ death might not be considered a terrible tragedy because of her age, but it was still the loss of a dear and faithful woman.

As I attended these two funerals, I was struck by the legacy that each of these women left behind. The funeral for Emily was at St Joseph’s Church in Charlton with 500 people attending, including 100 or more teenagers who were probably experiencing death for the first time. I was praying so much that the funeral itself would serve as a great witness to all those who attended, but especially to the teenagers, helping them understand this tragedy. And what a beautiful service it was! There were two eulogies about the life and faith of this dear 18 year old girl, and then two homily responding to the questions of “WHY” God would allow this to happen and how death is not the end for those who believe. I appreciated so much the pamphlet they handed out to everyone which said, Emily Dabrowski “Born to Earthly Life January 21, 1999” and “Born to Eternal Life Friday, January 6, 2017.” Death is not the end, but for those who walk with the Lord here and now, death is but the beginning of a new life in eternity!

So the legacy that Emily left behind was one of eternity. She was eulogized for being, on one hand, a typical teenager but on another hand, having a faith and passion to serve the poorest of the poor. For three summers in a row, Emily went to Haiti on a mission trip to serve at an orphanage there. And during her time in Haiti, she wrote in her journal how she felt God calling her to serve the orphans, and to maybe even one day open up a new orphanage for those in need. She found her greatest fulfillment in life serving others in the “greatest place on earth” - Haiti. She was a young woman seeking out the will of God, struggling to discern what God was calling her to do, and preparing to go and serve Him.

She was also a typical teenager who liked to have fun, who enjoyed snowboarding and playing volleyball and just sitting with her phone surfing the net and engaging in social media. But what was highlighted at her funeral was not her hobbies and typical teenage adventures, but it was her faith and actions. This is what will last into eternity - her passion and desire to help others, especially the poorest of the poor – the orphans in Haiti.

As I listened to these eulogies and words offered about her life, it really made me think about the legacy of all of us. What will each of us leave behind one day when we leave this earth? And no one knows when that time will come! I have done a number of funerals over the past 22 years as a priest, and I can honestly and bluntly say that some people leave behind a beautiful legacy of loving others, helping others, serving others, and reaching out to others. Others leave behind an egocentric legacy – doing things for themselves and maybe for their family. But being known for playing golf, or loving the Patriots, or being a financial success in business, or having a passion for some other hobby – these do not mean much in eternity. These are not a legacy to praise and lift up at the end of our lives.

So, what legacy will we leave behind?

The second funeral I attended was of Mary Barbas, a faithful member of the Annunciation Church in Woburn her entire life, a servant who was always ready to help people in her town, in the Metropolis and throughout the world. I remember as a seminarian how she would welcome students in her home, offer hospitality and kindness to all. She reached out especially to the foreign students from Africa as well as to the locals. She was a faithful servant. My koumbaro, Fr. Ted Barbas, told me that the last two weeks of her life were the most beautiful experience he has ever had. His mother was dying, and yet she was surrounded by the love of her six children and 16 grandchildren. She took the time to speak with each child or grandchild, and say goodbye, offering them her words of wisdom and love. She was the sister of one priest, the sister-in-law of another priest, the mother of a third priest, and the adopted mother of numerous other priests. She lived a life of love for others, and died in utter peace, leaving behind her legacy of divine love.

Death can appear fearful to some. We live in a society that tries to deny death, ignore death, hide death, and never discuss death. And yet it is something we all will face numerous times in our own lives, and one day we will confront it at the end of our life. Death will come, and even though it appears to be the end, it is NOT the end!

Death is overcome by Jesus Christ and His victorious resurrection. So we never have to fear death, and death is not a tragedy – whether it comes as an 18 year old teenager or as an 85 year old elderly person. As the priest said to us at Emily’s funeral, “When Emily opens up her eyes, she will not be in darkness but will see the light of God. And when she reaches out, she will feel the loving embrace of Christ hugging her and saying, ‘Emily, you did make a difference in this world.. Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

We can also look at death and say, “My life may end, but my legacy will continue.” My legacy of love, of service, of kindness and giving, of faithful and goodness. My legacy will inspire others to continue the good work of love!

So today I want each of us to sincerely reflect on what legacy we are leaving behind in our own lives. Maybe as you go home from church today, talk about your legacy with your spouse, with your kids or parents, with someone else. Ask them what legacy they see in you, and what you see in them. And whatever that legacy may be up till now, it is never too late to change it and to improve it.

Leave a legacy that will touch the lives of others, a legacy that will inspire others, and a legacy that will last into eternity!

FAQs

What legacy are you leaving behind sermon? ›

Summary: It is wise to realize that our years are limited in this earth and someday, God will call us home. And so, we must gain a heart of godly wisdom and leave behind a good memory or a good legacy for others to remember us by. and I know it won't be long before God calls me home to heaven.

Who is the patron saint of the Greek Orthodox Church? ›

Saint Andrew the Apostle

After the Ascension of the Saviour, he preached in various lands; and having suffered many things for His Name's sake, he died in Patras of Achaia, where he was crucified on a cross in the shape of an "X," the first letter of "Christ" in Greek; this cross is also the symbol of Saint Andrew.

What are the beliefs of Orthodox christianity? ›

Orthodoxy affirms that the Christian Faith expresses and points to the gracious and mysterious relationship between God and humanity. God became man in the person of Jesus Christ not to institute a new philosophy or code of conduct, but primarily to bestow upon us “new life” in the Holy Trinity.

How will you be remembered sermon? ›

What will you be remembered for? You will be remembered for what you are doing in your life today. It will be too late to change things at your funeral. Let me encourage you to live out your life of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in the world in which you live right now.

How do I leave a biblical legacy? ›

10 Ways to Leave a Legacy of Faith
  1. Spend time with God in Bible study daily. ...
  2. Pray without ceasing. ...
  3. Weave the Gospel in every aspect of your home and family life. ...
  4. Read the Bible as a family. ...
  5. Practice what you preach. ...
  6. Ask forgiveness. ...
  7. Give generously. ...
  8. Take care of yourself.
29 Mar 2017

What is my legacy examples? ›

My Family Role: I will conduct myself in family life in a manner that enriches our home by my presence. My family will be happy when I'm home. I will be a leader to my extended family. My Work: I will influence people with example, in walking my talk, in principle-centered living.

How are Orthodox saints chosen? ›

The Orthodox Church works from the premise that the Church does not make saints, but rather, only God makes saints. In this sense, the Orthodox Church's canonization does not involve bestowing sainthood.

Do Orthodox Christians worship saints? ›

Intercession of the Saints is a Christian doctrine held by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Catholic churches. The practice of praying through saints can be found in Christian writings from the 3rd century onward.

Who does the Orthodox Church pray to? ›

In its public worship, however, the church usually prays only to those whom it has officially proclaimed as saints." In the Orthodox Church there are six classifications of Saints: The Apostles, who were the first ones to spread the message of the Incarnation of the Word of God and of salvation through Christ.

Why can't you cross your legs in Greek church? ›

Did you know that it is considered improper to cross your legs in an Orthodox Church? This is one of those rules that a lot of people don't seem to adhere to. In the eyes of the church, this represents a form of arrogance that stands in the way of our relationship to God.

Do Orthodox Christians pray the rosary? ›

The Roman Catholic devotion of praying the Rosary is not a part of the Orthodox Christian Tradition, as this devotion in its present form dates from about the 15th century—hundreds of years after Roman Catholicism separated herself from the Orthodox Church.

Does Orthodox Church pray to Mary? ›

Devotions to Mary are far more ingrained and integrated within Orthodox liturgy than in any other Christian traditions, e.g., there are many more hymns to Mary within the Eastern Orthodox yearly cycle of liturgy than in Roman Catholic liturgy.

What will God remember you for? ›

Every promise God has made to you will be fulfilled when He remembers you. This season, God will remember you for good in Jesus name.

What makes a person to be remembered? ›

Achieving this is simple. In order to be remembered as someone who is kind, compassionate, and helps others, you have to actually BE someone who is kind, compassionate, and helps others. This means setting aside your ego and doing good because you feel motivated to, whether you will be remembered for it or not.

How do you say you will always be remembered? ›

Ways to Say 'You'll Always Be Remembered' on a Headstone or Plaque
  1. “Lives forever in the memories we keep.” ...
  2. “You touched my heart. ...
  3. “My memory loves you. ...
  4. “Until I take my final breath, you will live in my heart.” ...
  5. “There are no goodbyes for us. ...
  6. “Too well loved to ever be forgotten.” ...
  7. “Always loving, always loved.”
29 Aug 2022

What kind of legacy can you leave? ›

Leaving your legacy can also mean giving something that commemorates your life. It could come in the form of a charitable donation; trust accounts for specific purposes, such as education or insurance; sentimental objects; or writings and photos that family, friends or a community can cherish.

What is the best legacy to leave? ›

Ideas for Leaving a Legacy to Better the World
  • Raise your children (and grandchildren) well. ...
  • Volunteer. ...
  • Share your lessons. ...
  • Love. ...
  • Take initiative.
6 Jun 2022

How do I leave behind a legacy? ›

9 Ways to Leave Behind a Legacy
  1. Write down family traditions. Even if you no longer do them, traditions give us all a sense of belonging. ...
  2. Write down family stories. ...
  3. Write down stories about you. ...
  4. Pass along skills. ...
  5. Write down family recipes. ...
  6. Family photos (who's who) ...
  7. Take a DNA test. ...
  8. Start a Family Tree.
26 Mar 2020

How do I find my legacy? ›

How To Find Your Calling And Your Legacy.
  1. Your calling gives your life meaning.
  2. Find good mentors and never stop practicing.
  3. Don't stop moving toward your goal and always learn from your mistakes.
  4. Live a portfolio life that's filled with interesting challenges and variety.
18 Jun 2018

What are the three types of legacy? ›

[16] There are three types of legacies – general, demonstrative and specific.

How do you determine your legacy? ›

Here are five ways to leave a great legacy:
  1. Support the People and Causes That are Important to You. ...
  2. Reflect and Decide What is Most Important in Your Life. ...
  3. Share Your Blessings With Others. ...
  4. Be a Mentor to Others. ...
  5. Pursue Your Passions Because They Are Infectious.
27 Apr 2015

What legacy do I want to leave Meaning? ›

Leaving behind a legacy means making an impact that will last long after you die. It could be financial, with something you create, or through the people you touch while you're alive. The good news is, it's never too late to start working on building a legacy that will outlive you.

What is your legacy in life? ›

Your legacy is every life (person) you've touched.

It's how you've “shown up” to every one of them. Who you've helped or mentored or taught. And those who've been moved by your role model and journey. It's your behavior.

What legacy will you leave Meaning? ›

In essence, “legacy” is what you leave behind when you're gone. It's that “thing” that you did either for better or worse, and it's most often the “thing” for which you are most remembered.

What is a good legacy? ›

Leaving a great legacy isn't about what you've amassed in physical assets, wealth or accomplishments. These are just yardsticks. Rather, it's how you can use what you have to improve what you see happening around you, and then help those people who will carry that work on into the future.

How do I choose a legacy? ›

Updated mobile browser experience
  1. Tap in the top right of Facebook.
  2. Scroll down and tap Settings.
  3. Tap Personal Information, then tap Account Ownership and Control.
  4. Tap Memorialization settings.
  5. Tap Choose Legacy Contact and follow the on-screen instructions.

How do you leave a powerful legacy? ›

10 Ways to Leave a Legacy
  1. Live your legacy. ...
  2. Live like you mean it. ...
  3. Love like your life depended on it (it does). ...
  4. Keep a journal. ...
  5. Share the family stories with your children. ...
  6. Be honest. ...
  7. Ground your purpose in a greater purpose. ...
  8. Give your family the gift of time.

What are five words that you would use to describe your personal legacy? ›

legacy
  • inheritance.
  • bequest.
  • heritage.
  • patrimony.
  • gift.
  • present.
  • heirloom.
  • offering.

Why is it important to leave a legacy behind? ›

A legacy gives you an opportunity to live for a purpose that's bigger than yourself. It allows you to change your family tree, not just for your children, but for generations to come! You can decide to use everything you have—wealth, resources, talent and relationships—to bless those around you.

What does it mean to carry a legacy? ›

: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest. She left us a legacy of a million dollars. : something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. the legacy of the ancient philosophers. The war left a legacy of pain and suffering.

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