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prayingserb
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« on: January 19, 2007, 10:15:53 AM »

This has been bothering me for a while now. This verse makes it clear that we can only pray to God thru Christ, no one else - NOT Mary. Can someone please explain how this verse is interpreted by an (orthodox) christian, because (right now) it's confusing me. Thank you!


1 Timothy 2:5 (New King James Version)
New King James Version (NKJV)


 
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2007, 10:27:29 AM »

+ Irini nem ehmot,

I have never thought of the Holy Theotokos as a mediator, but as an intercessor.  I was looking up the difference and came across these defintions that I hope clarify the issue:

Quote from: 'Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary'
Mediator

one who intervenes between two persons who are at variance, with a view to reconcile them. This word is not found in the Old Testament; but the idea it expresses is found in Job 9:33, in the word "daysman" (q.v.), marg., "umpire." This word is used in the New Testament to denote simply an internuncius, an ambassador, one who acts as a medium of communication between two contracting parties. In this sense Moses is called a mediator in Gal. 3:19. Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). He makes reconciliation between God and man by his all-perfect atoning sacrifice. Such a mediator must be at once divine and human, divine, that his obedience and his sufferings might possess infinite worth, and that he might possess infinite wisdom and knowlege and power to direct all things in the kingdoms of providence and grace which are committed to his hands (Matt. 28:18; John 5:22, 25, 26, 27); and human, that in his work he might represent man, and be capable of rendering obedience to the law and satisfying the claims of justice (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15, 16), and that in his glorified humanity he might be the head of a glorified Church (Rom. 8:29). This office involves the three functions of prophet, priest, and king, all of which are discharged by Christ both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation. These functions are so inherent in the one office that the quality appertaining to each gives character to every mediatorial act. They are never separated in the exercise of the office of mediator.

Quote from: 'The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition'
Intercession
1. Entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer or petition to God in behalf of another.

It would seem to me that a mediator is one of equal standing with the person he is mediating with on behalf of another, whereas an intercessor is not of equal standing.

Please pray for me.
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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2007, 11:45:48 AM »

prayingserb,

You probably ask your friends to pray for you, right?  That is the same thing as asking Mary to pray for you.  Because we are baptized into Christ ("all you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" from Galatians) we share in his role as mediator but in a secondary sense, as an intercessor.

Mary is not dead because all who die in Christ are still alive; hence asking her to pray for us is the same as asking any other Christian to pray for us.

Anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2007, 12:16:20 PM »

Anastastios, that is probably the best explanation I have ever heard in regards to praying to the Theotokos!
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2007, 03:00:00 PM »

I prefer intercessor for Mary myself, but in the Antiochian service books (like Nasser's Prayers and Services and also in the Kazan Byzantine Project) for several Theotokia, you will find Mary referred to as Mediatress rather than Intercessor.  I don't know if getting into a huge debate as to which term is more appropriate is a good thing.  It's like arguing with Protestants about using the word "save" with Mary.  Save does notonly mean the work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of men.

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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2007, 07:19:19 AM »

So from the replies I have got, it's made clear that asking Mary to pray for me (and the saints) is NOT them being a Mediator. So, the verse '' For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, '' means what exactly?

 thank you.
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« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2007, 11:57:42 AM »

So from the replies I have got, it's made clear that asking Mary to pray for me (and the saints) is NOT them being a Mediator. So, the verse '' For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, '' means what exactly?

 thank you.

That instead of the various high priests of the Jewish Temple, there is one true High Priest, Christ our God, who sacrifices himself instead of a bull for our sins.

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« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2007, 08:31:15 PM »

This has been bothering me for a while now. This verse makes it clear that we can only pray to God thru Christ, no one else - NOT Mary. Can someone please explain how this verse is interpreted by an (orthodox) christian, because (right now) it's confusing me. Thank you!


1 Timothy 2:5 (New King James Version)
New King James Version (NKJV)


 
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,



I think we need to be careful to understand the context of what is written here and therefore it is important to bear in mind the thoughts of St Paul while composing these words. St Paul throughout the epistle seems to be speaking of sound doctrine and heresy therefore it is important to try to garner some form of understanding of what he is referring to. It seems that St Paul is opposing a kind of gnostic docetism, a movement that would have been quite prevalent in the early days of Christianity. Therefore he refers to only one God and one mediator and the man Christ Jesus in order to contradict the plurality of many of the ancient societies as well as their understanding of infinite emanations from God and the mere appearance of Christ rather than real incarnation.

St Paul is in no way referring to the mediatorship or intercession of saints here but rather he is referring to the economy of salvation which was wrought by Christ in His incarnation by uniting man with God. And as such therefore He is the only mediator in that it is through His life-giving body and blood that He is able to give salvation to man and accomplish his theosis.

Therefore, the term mediator here needs to be understood in its proper sense for Christ also says do not call anyone father as you have only one Father. Surely this should not be taken literally. We are also told in scripture that both Christ and the Holy Spirit make intercession for us. Should the saints then cease their intercession since we have both Christ and the Holy Spirit interceeding or is this also to be understood in a different sense.

To understand the sense of the term 'Mediator' above in any other way would not also mean an abrogation of the intercession or mediatorship of the saints but also of the church, the clergy and the sacraments. And yet St Paul speaks of himself and the apostles as ambassadors or mediators for Christ.

Furthermore, in the most basic understanding an individual can mediate to provide spiritual counsel or even to pray for you. Surely the person who prays for another is in some sense a mediator.

To simplify it can be understood that Christ mediates through the salvation He provides while the saints mediate by bringing us to Christ. He is the bridegroom and the source of life while they are the friends of the bridegroom who eagerly call to us to drink from the spring of life. He is the bread of life and they fill the mouths of the babes with this true food.
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2007, 09:04:30 PM »

This has been bothering me for a while now. This verse makes it clear that we can only pray to God thru Christ, no one else - NOT Mary. Can someone please explain how this verse is interpreted by an (orthodox) christian, because (right now) it's confusing me. Thank you!


1 Timothy 2:5 (New King James Version)
New King James Version (NKJV)


 
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,



I think, although Catholic, New Advent does a good job defining what mediating is.

Quote
A mediator is one who brings estranged parties to an amicable agreement. In New Testament theology the term invariably implies that the estranged beings are God and man, and it is appropriated to Christ, the One Mediator. When special friends of God -- angels, saints, holy men -- plead our cause before God, they mediate "with Christ"; their mediation is only secondary and is better called intercession (q.v.). Moses, howover, is the proper mediator of the Old Testament (Galatians 3:19-20).

I think of it that whenever we ask the saints for intercession, the common factor that lies between us is Christ. Our prayers that we ask of them are meant not to particularly focus on them, per se, but rather use these heavenly forces to help guide us to the glory of God. They are also our friends and companions and are not frozen figures but very involved in our lives - as they beseech God continually for the salvation of the world. Praying, or rather talking, with them is the way in which we simply ask another brother or sister in Christ to ask God, on our behalves, for a favor, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father.

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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2007, 07:55:30 AM »

I thank all of you for your help!

I'm starting to understand the intentions of asking Mary for prayers, but I'm wondering.. is there any biblical support for it?

thank you!
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2007, 08:24:57 AM »

I thank all of you for your help!

I'm starting to understand the intentions of asking Mary for prayers, but I'm wondering.. is there any biblical support for it?

thank you!

I think it's necessary for an Orthodox Christian to first have a reasonable grasp of the Orthodox conception of Tradition before they delve into any other issue, be it the intercession of Saints, Liturgical worship etc. else they will be consistently and subconsciously prone to seeking and needing Biblical evidence in order to feel comfortable with a certain idea or practice. That is not say that there is something wrong with seeking Scriptural evidence per se; but if the lack of explicit, unequivocal, or replete Biblical evidence leads one to disappointment, then there certainly is something wrong that only a proper understanding and appreciation of Orthodox Tradition can rectify. I am speaking generally here though, prayingserb; please do not interpret me as making any assumptions with regard to the intent underlying your question, or the mindset in which it was asked, or indeed your knowledge of Orthodox Tradition.

Nevertheless, there is indeed Biblical evidence for the practice of seeking the intercession of the departed Saints; this evidence isn't really explicitly pertinent to that very practice, but of the premises that logically justify that practice i.e. 1) seeking the intercessions of the righteous is commanded by God, 2) the intercessions of the righteous are efficacious, 3) those in the heavenly realm--Angels and Saints--are living and capable of knowing our condition on earth, 4) the favour that the righteous have with the Lord continue to influence His providential discretion as to the outcome and nature of circumstances and incidents on earth subsequent to their departure. You can find all the Biblical references pertinent to these premises in H.H. Pope Shenouda III's Comparative Theology (pp. 75 - 96), which can be viewed and downloaded here.
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2007, 09:39:32 AM »

I thank all of you for your help!

I'm starting to understand the intentions of asking Mary for prayers, but I'm wondering.. is there any biblical support for it?

thank you!

St Paul at times asks for the prayers of his congregation while at other times prays for his congregation. Simon the magician asks for the prayers of St Peter after having tried to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit and St James asks his parishioners to pray for one another. The rich man in hades also raises his eyes up to Abraham pleading for his help not to mention also the numerous references to intercessions to be found in the Old Testament...

I suppose if one feels that they can turn to a saintly person while alive and seek and trust in their love and prayers for them then in no way would that person abandon them in the after-life but rather their prayers for them would carry even greater fervour...
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2007, 03:11:32 PM »

When the wedding ran out of wine, the servants went to the Theotokos. She told them, "do whatever my Son tells you do to" and even though He says, "Lady, it is not my time yet" He fulfills their need at her request.

The prayers of a righteous man avails much.
Pray for one another..and other James 5:16 type things.
There's lots of biblical support! The difference is in the interpretation of the biblical passage!

Anyone want to post the links to catacomb tombs that ask for the prayers of hte deceased/etc to show other types of praying to saints/the departed in Christ?
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2007, 10:34:41 PM »

This has been bothering me for a while now. This verse makes it clear that we can only pray to God thru Christ, no one else - NOT Mary. Can someone please explain how this verse is interpreted by an (orthodox) christian, because (right now) it's confusing me. Thank you!

1 Timothy 2:5 (New King James Version)
New King James Version (NKJV)

5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

Your interpretation is confusing the "mediation" spoken of with the act of intercession.  The mediation spoken of by St.Paul in his first letter to St.Timothy pertains to the order of salvation; namely, it is Christ Who joins man to God, by Himself being fully human and fully Divine.  It is also He alone Who in being born a man like us in all things but sin, and by His Death and Resurrection that we have the hope of everlasting life.

Indeed, the passage from which you took 1st Timothy 2:5 refutes the position you've articulated.  1st Timothy chapter 2 opens with a call by St.Paul for Christians to intercede (that's the word the Apostle uses) for all men.  This means that in the economy of salvation, it matters to God (and as such, to the person being prayed for) that someone has prayed for person-so-and-so.  It can have important consequences for the person being prayed for, even if they are in utter darkness and would never express any desire to be prayed for or receive the benefit of God's mercy.

Now, if prayer on behalf of others is possible for those "called to be Saints" in this world (the "Church Militant"), then why cannot we benefit from the prayers of the "Church Triumphant" (those known Holy Ones who died manifestly in the grace and peace of the Lord)?  Why can we not ask for their intercession, and receive it?  Are those who have gained by "dying in Christ" at the advantage or disadvantage with regard to their ability to perceive what is going on across the border of the grave?  Do they not see down upon us as those living on higher ground, or are they still prisoners of death and as those who cannot glorify God, as was true of those righteous souls who died before the coming of Christ?

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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2007, 10:54:40 PM »

I would like to add that it is important to emphasize concepts, and not get too hung up on words.  It is possible for one word to be used in different contexts to signify different ideas.  This is certainly the case of the word "mediator."  While for clarity's sake I (as others have) made the distinction between "mediation" and "intercession", really one could just as easily speak in terms of "one form of mediation" versus "another form of mediation."

I think it's very important to mention this important semantic issue, because there are prayers which refer to the Saints (especially the Blessed Virgin) as being "mediatrix" or something similar.  If someone is hung up on terminology (for example "mediator vs. intercessor") and does not grasp the actual concepts properly, they may have an occasion to be needlessly scandalized.

As Anastasios pointed out, the unique mediation of Christ is that He alone serves as the basis for our relationship to God.  He is our reconciliation, and is permanently such, in eternity; quite unlike the different priests and sacrifices of the Old Testament, none of which could provide any solution to the basic problem of the "original sin" (which became a hydra in the form of the many particularly sins of man.)  This is why for Christians, the Bishops (and by extension, their Presbyters/Priests) do not exercise a different Priesthood than Christ - when they act as Bishops (or in the capacity given to the Priests), they act as Christ - they occupy the place Christ did at the Table of the Mystical Supper, while during the Eucharist our Altars in fact become the same as the Table of the Mystical Supper.  In that sense, all Priests are "vicars of Christ."  That is a very different idea of Priesthood than was embodied in the old law; besides the fact that he was no basis for salvation, it's not as if the Levitical Priests could be said to act in some kind of mystical "oness" with Moses.  Indeed, almost to underline the point, God made the Priests of the Old Law descendants of Aaron (Moses' brother.)

So the sense in which Christ is uniquely our mediator with the Divine is of an entirely different order than the mediation of creatures (whether they be Saints or Angels) on behalf of one another before God.  Further, that type of mediation is dependent upon and subsidiary to the Person and work of Christ.
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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2007, 10:24:24 AM »

prayingserb, realise some of your questions have been answered but will still address as haven't read everything.

Christ is the only mediator between God the Father and man when it comes to salvation (just as the Jews of old only had one high priest at a time). This does not mean that other people cannot mediate/interceed for us in prayer. Here are some reasons:

People talk to other people before going to God:
St. John 12:20-2  And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

People need to pray for others as God does not accept/hear everyone's prayers:
Job 42:8  Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
Isaiah 59:2  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Saints do not die but only depart:
St. Matthew 22:32  I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Second St. Timothy 4:6  For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

Departed souls speak with God about things on earth:
Revelation 6:9-10  And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Often Protestants link intercession with prayers for the dead. Were you doing this or were you only interested in intercession?
(In regards to the latter see Maccabees and 2nd St. Timothy 1:16-8 if required.)

Hope that assists and please ask if more is needed.
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« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2007, 10:39:27 AM »

So from the replies I have got, it's made clear that asking Mary to pray for me (and the saints) is NOT them being a Mediator. So, the verse '' For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, '' means what exactly?

 thank you.
I have heard that the greek here for "one" means sole or primary. We are in fact all co-mediators with Christ but mediation is not absolute like Christ's because our acts of mediation rely on the primary and ultimate mediation of Christ. In other words, it is because of Christ's mediation that our prayers for others become fruitful.
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« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2007, 12:47:15 AM »

thank you for your replies. IE, thank you for adding the scriptures, this is exactly what I was asking for, biblical support. And my questions are all from interest and my desire to learn more about intercession.
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« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2010, 07:10:30 PM »

That instead of the various high priests of the Jewish Temple, there is one true High Priest, Christ our God, who sacrifices himself instead of a bull for our sins.

Doesn't the intermediary work of the priest in bringing the Eucharist in some way violate this principle?  In other words, for Christ to be fully present with us, we still need a go-through guy.
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« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2010, 07:55:38 PM »

This has been bothering me for a while now. This verse makes it clear that we can only pray to God thru Christ, no one else - NOT Mary. Can someone please explain how this verse is interpreted by an (orthodox) christian, because (right now) it's confusing me. Thank you!


1 Timothy 2:5 (New King James Version)
New King James Version (NKJV)


 
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

The sort of mediation being spoken of in this passage is understood to be distinct from intercession.
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« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2010, 07:59:36 PM »


So from the replies I have got, it's made clear that asking Mary to pray for me (and the saints) is NOT them being a Mediator. So, the verse '' For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, '' means what exactly?

 thank you.

It means that Jesus Christ mediates the divine life to us through the hypostatic union, through His becoming consubstantial with us. It's a soteriological mediation, it means He is our only redeemer.
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« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2010, 08:01:09 PM »

That instead of the various high priests of the Jewish Temple, there is one true High Priest, Christ our God, who sacrifices himself instead of a bull for our sins.

Doesn't the intermediary work of the priest in bringing the Eucharist in some way violate this principle?  In other words, for Christ to be fully present with us, we still need a go-through guy.

We didn't necessarily need it, this is just the form that He thought most appropriate to mediate the Real Presence to us.
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« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2010, 09:44:33 PM »

We didn't necessarily need it, this is just the form that He thought most appropriate to mediate the Real Presence to us.

We don't need the deifying Body and Blood?
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« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2010, 11:24:31 PM »

We didn't necessarily need it, this is just the form that He thought most appropriate to mediate the Real Presence to us.

We don't need the deifying Body and Blood?

I was talking about the "go-through guy", not the Real Presence. I was explaining that Jesus didn't necessarily need the Mystery of Holy Orders to convey to us the Real Presence, for the Holy Spirit could have consecrated the Real Presence through really anyone He wants, but the mediation of the Real Presence through Holy Orders was deemed the most appropriate way.
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« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2010, 12:26:19 AM »

That instead of the various high priests of the Jewish Temple, there is one true High Priest, Christ our God, who sacrifices himself instead of a bull for our sins.

Doesn't the intermediary work of the priest in bringing the Eucharist in some way violate this principle?  In other words, for Christ to be fully present with us, we still need a go-through guy.

The idea of a sacramental priesthood in the Church does not diminish Christ's place as the High Priest who offers Himself as a sacrafice.

The idea of a sacramental priesthood in the church is found in the NT. It was the apostles who "laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost" Acts 8:17. In Acts 28:8 "Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him". James 5:14 says "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing himo with oil in the name of the Lord:".This authority was passed on through the laying on of hands. Compare 1 Tim 4:14 "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." with 2 Tim 1:6 "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." where St Paul refers to the ordination as coming from "my hands"  within the context of "the hands of the presbytery". St Peter says in 1 Pet 5:1 "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder" pointing out that the authority of the apostles did not die with them but was passed down. Not to mention the word for elder is "presbyteros" which is where we get the english word "priest".

As far as the need for a priest in the celebration of the liturgy, It's not about "needing a priest", but rather having the whole body gathered together to celebrate the liturgy. Three elements are needed that I am aware of:

1) The priest presides. That is his place in the body. His place in the liturgy is to serve as an icon of Christ, not to replace Him. That is why there are vestments. Even Christ told St Peter to "feed my sheep", giving him the duties of being a shepherd, not the shepherd, over Christ's flock.

2) The people are central to celebrating the liturgy. You can not have "the work of the poeple" without "the people". It is my understanding that is not possible for an Orthodox priest to celebrate a liturgy by himself because the "amen" of the people is necessary in the prayers, especially in the anaphora and epiclesis.

3) The antimension on the altar is necessary. This is basically the bishop's permission, as head of the local church, to celebrate the liturgy.

With these three elements you have all the members of the Body gathered togather as the Body of Christ with the priest and the people under the oversight of the bishop. Having all the members gathered together as the Body in the local church, joined in faith and communion with all the other local churches as the same Body receiving the same Body and Blood is the definition of what it means to be "catholic", that is "according to the whole".

So to sumit up, we don't "need the priest as a go-to guy", but rather we need all the members gathered together as one Body as stated in 1 Cor 12:20-21 "But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you."
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2010, 01:49:25 AM »

Great explanation. BTW, I don't think i've welcomed you to the forums. Welcome!
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« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2010, 11:30:22 PM »

Thanks.
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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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