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Author Topic: Praying to the Saints.  (Read 10704 times) Average Rating: 0
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Christianus
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« on: January 13, 2010, 01:02:10 AM »

Hi everyone, so far I think I've gotten over Theosis, I feel like I could accept it, as I've been told that we don't become omnipotent gods, but that it's a union with God or something like it.
but I"m not sure about praying to saints. Could someone give me the standard credenda (things which must be believed),
the history of praying to the saints, and proof from the Bible.
Praying to the saints is one of the things I need explained, before I convert completely.
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2010, 01:05:28 AM »

Welcome to the forum!  If you click the "intercession" tag, below, you may find some helpful past threads. 
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2010, 01:06:32 AM »

Welcome to the forum!  There was just a thread on this yesterday but more specific to prayers to the Theotokos.  You may want to look that up as I think it will help you a lot.
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2010, 01:14:57 AM »

Christianus,

I'll be honest--and I speak as one who used to be Orthodox but is not formally an Orthodox Christian at the moment--I think this issue largely boils down to Church authority. I don't think this doctrine can be traced from the Bible, through the early centuries, through the later Church Fathers, down to our time. Yes, Orthodoxy can make a case for it, and show that the doctrine doesn't violate any important Scriptural or Patristic precepts... but at the same time, there is no smoking gun, so to speak. Fwiw, what I said in this thread is probably similar to what I'd say to you... so rather than just repeating it, I'll just give you the link.
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2010, 10:55:35 AM »

To me, what it boils down to is that we are asking the saints, members of that great cloud of witnesseswho have gone before us, to pray for us, just as we ask others for their prayers.
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2010, 11:23:03 AM »

Dr. David Ford gives this response to that question:

What basis is there for asking the saints to pray for us?
As we have seen, the Church holds in high esteem the memory of exceptionally holy Christians, who during their earthly lives helped many of their fellow believers both physically and spiritually. Therefore, it should be no surprise that she encourages the faithful to seek the continued intercession of such individuals after their passage into the next world. An example of such an appeal is in a hymn to Saint Sergius of Radonezh, a very beloved monk and spiritual father to many in fourteenth-century Russia: "The Holy Spirit took up His abode in thee and operating there adorned thee with beauty. O thou who hast boldness to approach the Holy Trinity, remember thy flock gathered by thy wisdom and never forget it, visiting thy children, according to thy promise, O holy father Sergius".(Troparion for the Feast of Saint Sergius, September 25.) A similar appeal is made to Saint Herman, Orthodox evangelizer of Alaska in the early 1800's: "Having one desire, to bring unbelieving people to the One God, thou wert all things to all men: teaching the Holy Scripture and a life in accordance with it, instructing in handicrafts, and being an intercessor before the authorities, nursing men in everything like children, that thus thou mightest bring them to God; and do not leave us who sing to thee".(Stichera hymn to Saint Herman of Alaska from Great Vespers, on December 13.) Since death has been conquered by Christ, why should not such persons continue their ministry to us after they have joined Christ in heaven? A Russian Orthodox priest in the early twentieth century once chided those who do not believe in a true fellowship of prayer with the departed: "A handful of soil, a tombstone, have become [for you] unconquerable obstacles for communion with those who have departed from the world".(Father Kyril Zaits, as recorded in Missionary Conversations with Protestant Sectarians, compiled and translated by Deacon Lev Puhalo and Vasili Novakshonoff (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1973), p. 35.) Countless Christians of all lands and ages have given testimony about receiving help from God through the prayers and ministrations of saints. This is a strong indication that God is well pleased with their prayers for us and ours to them. Scripture attests to the sanctity of such prayers in the Book of Revelation: "The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Revelation 5:Cool.
                                                    
This quote is from a much longer discussion paper called "Prayer and the Departed Saints" which I found at www.protomartyr.org/prayer.html and was initially published by Counciliar Press, a part of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America

Thomas

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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2010, 12:03:20 PM »

To me, what it boils down to is that we are asking the saints, members of that great cloud of witnesseswho have gone before us, to pray for us, just as we ask others for their prayers.

Yeah, I heard a protestant pastor tell me, that moses can watch me from heaven, even though he doesn't believe in praying to saints.
I guess this verse does facilitate this credence for me.
Could someone ask me a bunch of questions to see how orthodox I am in beliefs?
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2010, 12:04:00 PM »

Welcome to the forum!  If you click the "intercession" tag, below, you may find some helpful past threads. 

Thanks for welcoming me, but I didn't find that intercession tag.
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2010, 12:20:42 PM »

Welcome to the forum!  If you click the "intercession" tag, below, you may find some helpful past threads. 

Thanks for welcoming me, but I didn't find that intercession tag.

It's way at the bottom of the page below the last reply.

But here it is Intercession tag for your convenience.
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2010, 01:41:01 PM »

When I read the prayers "to" the saints from my prayer books, what I find is not prayers "to" them, but, more often, statements about the faith they revealed during their lives, how this was Christ working through them, and a request that they pray "for" us.

Clearly, this is not the same meaning as when I pray "to" God Himself.
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2010, 05:27:32 PM »

When I read the prayers "to" the saints from my prayer books, what I find is not prayers "to" them, but, more often, statements about the faith they revealed during their lives, how this was Christ working through them, and a request that they pray "for" us.
Clearly, this is not the same meaning as when I pray "to" God Himself.

Exactly. Thank you. Well said.
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2010, 06:56:42 PM »

I see that the Orthodox in the new World are starting to pick up the odd post-Vatican II idea that we do not pray TO Saints but only THROUGH them.   In this country children in Roman Catholic schools are now taught not to pray TO Saints, despite the fact that there are prayers from Pope John Paul II to Saints and to the Mother of God.

A quick flick through Orthodox prayerbooks, akathists, etc., will show that we pray TO the Saints.
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2010, 07:28:01 PM »

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2679 Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus' mother into our homes, for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.
-oOo-

The innovative teaching being fed to Catholic school children that they should not pray to Mary is in fact a corruption of the Roman Catholic faith.
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2010, 08:04:22 PM »

I see that the Orthodox in the new World are starting to pick up the odd post-Vatican II idea that we do not pray TO Saints but only THROUGH them.   In this country children in Roman Catholic schools are now taught not to pray TO Saints, despite the fact that there are prayers from Pope John Paul II to Saints and to the Mother of God.

A quick flick through Orthodox prayerbooks, akathists, etc., will show that we pray TO the Saints.

I agree that even in my limited exposure to Orthodoxy (I've only been exploring it for about a year), I've found examples of people praying TO saints.  This came to mind when reading this thread because people who are having trouble with prayers to/through saints, and are told that we don't pray TO saints, will be disappointed/startled when they find out this is not the whole truth.
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« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2010, 08:05:38 PM »

I see that the Orthodox in the new World are starting to pick up the odd post-Vatican II idea that we do not pray TO Saints but only THROUGH them.   In this country children in Roman Catholic schools are now taught not to pray TO Saints, despite the fact that there are prayers from Pope John Paul II to Saints and to the Mother of God.

A quick flick through Orthodox prayerbooks, akathists, etc., will show that we pray TO the Saints.

I have noticed that as well. We say "Most Holy Theotokos, save us". We don't ask to "be saved" by her prayers, we ask her to save us.

Of course, everything a Saint is - the holiness and perfection - is ultimately God. Even the Theotokos, the greatest creation of all and second only to the Trinity, does not have this power of herself. But when the saints unite themselves to God as perfectly as they have, they become conduits of God's Energies (or in Western-speak, Grace).

As to prayer to saints in general, there are examples of this in the Bible. In Luke 9, Elijah and Moses are aware of earthly events. In Luke 16, the deceased rich man intercedes for his brothers. In Revelation 5, the saints in heaven offer the prayers of the righteous to God. In the Old Testament, in Zechariah 1, an angel intercedes for Jerusalem. In Tobit 12, an angel presents prayers to God. In 2 Maccabees 15, the deceased Onias and Jeremiah pray for the Jews.

Being all that as it may, what helped me overcome this hurdle was to realize that those people in heaven are not dead, they are alive. They are a "great cloud of witnesses", and they can somehow see our world while they are in God's very presence. I always knew that, but I had never taken it to its logical conclusion -- to pray to them.

The Bible clearly teaches that prayer can have more or less weight based on the righteousness of the person (James 5). Those who have already finished the race and are in heaven have more powerful prayers than we who are sinful are able to muster.
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« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2010, 10:20:00 AM »

A quick flick through Orthodox prayerbooks, akathists, etc., will show that we pray TO the Saints.
I cannot agree with this statement.
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« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2010, 11:49:01 AM »

A quick flick through Orthodox prayerbooks, akathists, etc., will show that we pray TO the Saints.
I cannot agree with this statement.

Never mind,  I've been praying to the Mother of God and to the Saints for many decades, in fact all my life.  Probably not going to stop now.   laugh

Surely you know the refrain repeated at least 12 times in the Akathist to the Mother of God?

"Since you have invincible power deliver us from all dangers."

And that is only the tip of the iceberg.  Have a look at some of the Akathists on the website of Fr John Whiteford, to the Mother of God and to the Saints
http://www.saintjonah.org/services/akathists.htm


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« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2010, 11:58:01 AM »

A quick flick through Orthodox prayerbooks, akathists, etc., will show that we pray TO the Saints.
I cannot agree with this statement.

I see that you are a member of the Serbian Church and so you will know the many hymns in which the Serbian people pray to Saint Sava.

This is from the most famous of them:

Da zivimo svi u slozi,
Sveti Savo ti pomozi.
Pocuj glas svog roda,
Srpskoga naroda!

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« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2010, 12:20:01 PM »

I see that the Orthodox in the new World are starting to pick up the odd post-Vatican II idea that we do not pray TO Saints but only THROUGH them.   In this country children in Roman Catholic schools are now taught not to pray TO Saints, despite the fact that there are prayers from Pope John Paul II to Saints and to the Mother of God.

A quick flick through Orthodox prayerbooks, akathists, etc., will show that we pray TO the Saints.
Through them. That's so of like using a person, like being friends with someone because of his money.

If we do not pray to saints, we deny God the opportunity to glorify them, and as Numbers 12 shows, His is zealous for the honor of His saints.

There are plenty of instances where God tells others to have a saint pray for them (e.g. see the ending of Job).  As St. Dositheos of Gaza pointed out, drawing a circle on the groung with a point in its center, just as the lines from the circle approach each other the closer they get to the center, so too the Faithful unite themselves to the saints as they approach God.
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« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2010, 12:21:42 PM »

To me, what it boils down to is that we are asking the saints, members of that great cloud of witnesseswho have gone before us, to pray for us, just as we ask others for their prayers.

Yeah, I heard a protestant pastor tell me, that moses can watch me from heaven, even though he doesn't believe in praying to saints.
I guess this verse does facilitate this credence for me.
Could someone ask me a bunch of questions to see how orthodox I am in beliefs?

Post here and discuss:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,321.0.html
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« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2010, 01:26:11 PM »

I see that you are a member of the Serbian Church and so you will know the many hymns in which the Serbian people pray to Saint Sava.

This is from the most famous of them:

Da zivimo svi u slozi,
Sveti Savo ti pomozi.
Pocuj glas svog roda,
Srpskoga naroda!
I was born and raised in the Serbian Church but began attending an OCA parish as the birth of my first child approached. Seeing that I do not speak Serbian, I knew that she wouldn't either and I wanted her to understand the services we would be attending.

My statement that we do not pray 'to' the Saints is based upon what several priests within the Serbian Church taught me during my life.
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« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2010, 03:43:20 PM »

I found this article to be helpful.

http://www.protomartyr.org/prayer.html
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Christianus
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« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2010, 06:23:25 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).
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« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2010, 06:25:36 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

The tone of your post my be a wee bit too demanding.  laugh
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« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2010, 06:42:02 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

The earliest icons go back to the time of creation, as evidenced by the following: 





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« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2010, 07:46:07 PM »

I found this article to be helpful.

http://www.protomartyr.org/prayer.html

Extract from the link:

"Can the saints answer our prayers directly? Is it within their power to grant our requests?

The prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ here on earth are only effective insofar as
God answers them. It is the same with the intercessions of the saints in heaven for us. They
can never answer prayers of their own accord or in their own power; they can only beseech
Christ on our behalf. To imagine that prayer to the saints means that they can grant our
requests apart from Christ is a totally unacceptable idea according to Orthodox theology and
practice. So when we pray to the saints, the understanding is always clear that we are
asking them to help us by praying to God, and not by their own power or actions apart from Him."


This is nonsense, a reflection of the modern fear of usurping Christ in prayer, a quite baseless fear since prayer to the Saints does not diminish Him.

When one serves a Moleben to Saint Xenia of Petersburg to ask her to help find a wife or husband, she is quite able to take a hand in this.

When one is coming in for a plane landing in a gale and prays for a safe landing to Saint Nicholas he is quite able to accomplish it.

Yes, of course, *everything* takes place by the power of God but that applies also to the plumber who arrives to fix your leaky pipes.  He too could not fix your pipes without God.
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« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2010, 07:54:40 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also depictions from the Old Testament.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 08:21:46 PM by Irish Hermit » Logged
Christianus
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« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2010, 08:04:34 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm
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« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2010, 08:24:41 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm

These are Greek Christian images in the catacombs.  For the first 200 plus years the Church of Rome was Greek speaking and Greek was the language of its Liturgy.  You will find that the inscriptions on these icons in the Roman catacombs are often in Greek.
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« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2010, 08:45:20 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm

These are Greek Christian images in the catacombs.  For the first 200 plus years the Church of Rome was Greek speaking and Greek was the language of its Liturgy.  You will find that the inscriptions on these icons in the Roman catacombs are often in Greek.

So modern orthodox images are influenced by the ones in Rome?
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2010, 08:51:44 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm

These are Greek Christian images in the catacombs.  For the first 200 plus years the Church of Rome was Greek speaking and Greek was the language of its Liturgy.  You will find that the inscriptions on these icons in the Roman catacombs are often in Greek.
I know, but I want images from the east, not Romae images.
Don't you know of one older than these greco-roman images?

Well, these are first century images.   The common opinion is that there is no Christian art before the first century.  laugh
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« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2010, 08:56:07 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm

These are Greek Christian images in the catacombs.  For the first 200 plus years the Church of Rome was Greek speaking and Greek was the language of its Liturgy.  You will find that the inscriptions on these icons in the Roman catacombs are often in Greek.
I know, but I want images from the east, not Romae images.
Don't you know of one older than these greco-roman images?

Well, these are first century images.   The common opinion is that there is no Christian art before the first century.  laugh

first century is 1-99 ad
so at most I"ll take these to be second century images but they are third century images, so far the romans are being credited with modern orthodox images, unless anyone has a different point of view.
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« Reply #32 on: January 14, 2010, 08:59:10 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm

These are Greek Christian images in the catacombs.  For the first 200 plus years the Church of Rome was Greek speaking and Greek was the language of its Liturgy.  You will find that the inscriptions on these icons in the Roman catacombs are often in Greek.
I know, but I want images from the east, not Romae images.
Don't you know of one older than these greco-roman images?

Well, these are first century images.   The common opinion is that there is no Christian art before the first century.  laugh

first century is 1-99 ad
so at most I"ll take these to be second century images but they are third century images, so far the romans are being credited with modern orthodox images, unless anyone has a different point of view.

The Romans were the epitome of orthodoxy in those days.
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« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2010, 09:01:49 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm

These are Greek Christian images in the catacombs.  For the first 200 plus years the Church of Rome was Greek speaking and Greek was the language of its Liturgy.  You will find that the inscriptions on these icons in the Roman catacombs are often in Greek.
I know, but I want images from the east, not Romae images.
Don't you know of one older than these greco-roman images?

Well, these are first century images.   The common opinion is that there is no Christian art before the first century.  laugh

first century is 1-99 ad
so at most I"ll take these to be second century images but they are third century images, so far the romans are being credited with modern orthodox images, unless anyone has a different point of view.

p.s. these images at Rome might even be from the first century but I don't know, I heard that they were late second century images to third century images. I guess that the orthodox can thank the contribution of Greco-Christian romans contributing so much to orthodox art.
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« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2010, 09:31:54 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).
The orthodox owe the Romans because they received their images from them, or they got their images elsewhere, but where?

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm

These are Greek Christian images in the catacombs.  For the first 200 plus years the Church of Rome was Greek speaking and Greek was the language of its Liturgy.  You will find that the inscriptions on these icons in the Roman catacombs are often in Greek.
I know, but I want images from the east, not Romae images.
Don't you know of one older than these greco-roman images?

Well, these are first century images.   The common opinion is that there is no Christian art before the first century.  laugh

first century is 1-99 ad
so at most I"ll take these to be second century images but they are third century images, so far the romans are being credited with modern orthodox images, unless anyone has a different point of view.

p.s. these images at Rome might even be from the first century but I don't know, I heard that they were late second century images to third century images. I guess that the orthodox can thank the contribution of Greco-Christian romans contributing so much to orthodox art.
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Irish Hermit
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« Reply #35 on: January 14, 2010, 09:37:22 PM »

What are the earliest church Icons in existance, I think I saw some in some churches in palestine, they had icons, but I don't know.
So what are the earliest icons in history? prove to me that Icons are an ancient tradition, I want first and second century icons (pictures too to prove that they existed).

You can find icons throughout the Roman Catacombs of this period. They are of Christ and also from the Old Testament.
Wow they're old,thanks Irish Hermit, but I've been thinking of early Greek christian Images I'd be grateful if you found some for me.
http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/catacombs/catacombs.htm

These are Greek Christian images in the catacombs.  For the first 200 plus years the Church of Rome was Greek speaking and Greek was the language of its Liturgy.  You will find that the inscriptions on these icons in the Roman catacombs are often in Greek.
I know, but I want images from the east, not Romae images.
Don't you know of one older than these greco-roman images?

Well, these are first century images.   The common opinion is that there is no Christian art before the first century.  laugh

first century is 1-99 ad
so at most I"ll take these to be second century images but they are third century images, so far the romans are being credited with modern orthodox images, unless anyone has a different point of view.

p.s. these images at Rome might even be from the first century but I don't know, I heard that they were late second century images to third century images. I guess that the orthodox can thank the contribution of Greco-Christian romans contributing so much to orthodox art.

Of course, we were one Church in those days.   And a major influence in Orthodox art came from the Egyptians.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 09:37:49 PM by Irish Hermit » Logged
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« Reply #36 on: January 14, 2010, 11:06:50 PM »

I found this article to be helpful.

http://www.protomartyr.org/prayer.html

Extract from the link:

"Can the saints answer our prayers directly? Is it within their power to grant our requests?

The prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ here on earth are only effective insofar as
God answers them. It is the same with the intercessions of the saints in heaven for us. They
can never answer prayers of their own accord or in their own power; they can only beseech
Christ on our behalf. To imagine that prayer to the saints means that they can grant our
requests apart from Christ is a totally unacceptable idea according to Orthodox theology and
practice. So when we pray to the saints, the understanding is always clear that we are
asking them to help us by praying to God, and not by their own power or actions apart from Him."


This is nonsense, a reflection of the modern fear of usurping Christ in prayer, a quite baseless fear since prayer to the Saints does not diminish Him.

When one serves a Moleben to Saint Xenia of Petersburg to ask her to help find a wife or husband, she is quite able to take a hand in this.

When one is coming in for a plane landing in a gale and prays for a safe landing to Saint Nicholas he is quite able to accomplish it.

Yes, of course, *everything* takes place by the power of God but that applies also to the plumber who arrives to fix your leaky pipes.  He too could not fix your pipes without God.

I can't say that I agree with this.
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« Reply #37 on: January 14, 2010, 11:34:34 PM »

The thread is really getting sidetracked with icons!

Prayer to the saints is what goes on with any simple and pious Orthodox Christian in any traditional setting.  There are regional saints which are enshrined and seen as patrons and protectors of that temple and even that city.  People come and ask those saints for their help. 

"Saint So-And-So, please help my brother to find a job, my daughter to get pregnant, and so on and so forth."

Whether or not some PhD wants to argue about Orthodoxy on paper, in the real world this is how it works.  I remember someone either on here or in a book I read recounting a moving story about a mother who's child's life was on danger.  She ran with him in her arms as quickly as she could to the local church and laid him in front of the icon of the Mother of God on the iconostasis and cried out for her to save her son, who couldn't breathe.  Shortly thereafter, his breathing returned to normal, and ever since then she has had the most fierce devotion to the Mother of God.  Mary saved the kid.  Orthodox Christians do this all of the time with their own patrons, and there is nothing wrong with it.

Don't listen to the "hypothesizers" on here.  People are praying to the deified saints, and they are acting as conduits for the divine energies of Christ.  If they are glorified by their works, then Christ is glorified.

To be fair though, I usually say things like "save me by your powerful prayers" or "pray to God for us."  Usually I am sending up a request for them to pray for me, not asking them to help me get a high score on an exam.  And even if I was, I would probably ask them to help me get a high score by their powerful prayers.  I've just programed myself to address them that way, because I had no innate sense of how to go about it as a Catholic/Protestant convert (I never prayed to a saint once in my Catholic upbringing; I was never taught to).  But that sort of nuance seems uncommon based on my small amount of interactions with the culturally Orthodox.
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« Reply #38 on: January 15, 2010, 01:41:52 AM »

I found this article to be helpful.

http://www.protomartyr.org/prayer.html

Extract from the link:

"Can the saints answer our prayers directly? Is it within their power to grant our requests?

The prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ here on earth are only effective insofar as
God answers them. It is the same with the intercessions of the saints in heaven for us. They
can never answer prayers of their own accord or in their own power; they can only beseech
Christ on our behalf. To imagine that prayer to the saints means that they can grant our
requests apart from Christ is a totally unacceptable idea according to Orthodox theology and
practice. So when we pray to the saints, the understanding is always clear that we are
asking them to help us by praying to God, and not by their own power or actions apart from Him."


This is nonsense, a reflection of the modern fear of usurping Christ in prayer, a quite baseless fear since prayer to the Saints does not diminish Him.

When one serves a Moleben to Saint Xenia of Petersburg to ask her to help find a wife or husband, she is quite able to take a hand in this.

When one is coming in for a plane landing in a gale and prays for a safe landing to Saint Nicholas he is quite able to accomplish it.

Yes, of course, *everything* takes place by the power of God but that applies also to the plumber who arrives to fix your leaky pipes.  He too could not fix your pipes without God.

In a practical sense, under what circumstances would someone choose to pray to a saint vs. asking for a saints prayers vs. praying directly to God? 

A nascent thought: At first I thought that perhaps it would be like being alive when the apostles were still with us after the ascension of the Lord.  One could walk up to the apostles and ask them directly to heal your sick child and not just ask them to pray for the healing of your sick child.  But then I thought it would be strange to ask the apostles to do this miracle if it was before Christ ascension and he was standing right there.  Wouldn't it make more sense to ask Christ directly?  And I thought that aren't the apostles no more close to us than Christ is now- which is not to say far but both are in heaven.  But then I realized that even after Christ's ascension he was always right there- just physically.  Hmmm... Huh
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« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2010, 01:50:20 AM »

In a practical sense, under what circumstances would someone choose to pray to a saint vs. asking for a saints prayers vs. praying directly to God?

Well, since you asked for the practical answer, I would say you pray to a particular saint whenever the problem is in some way their "specialty."  Some of these specialties are ridiculous, such as St. Barbara the Martyr being the patroness of artillerymen.

These sort of "specialties" in a way may me sympathetic to Protestant criticisms of the "Cloud of witnesses" resembling a pantheon, with each saint replacing a Graeco-Roman god/goddess of this or that situation.  I always thought back in my Protestant days that it would be interesting to make a sort of comparative chart between the Graeco-Roman pantheon and the "Roman Catholic" witness of saints, just to see how similar they really are.

Anyway, may God forgive my weakness of faith.  St. Barbara, pray for our troops!
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« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2010, 01:56:59 AM »

Whoops, I just realized I provided the same article you did before me, Thomas. Sorry about that.  Embarrassed
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« Reply #41 on: January 15, 2010, 02:05:14 AM »


These sort of "specialties" in a way may me sympathetic to Protestant criticisms of the "Cloud of witnesses" resembling a pantheon, with each saint replacing a Graeco-Roman god/goddess of this or that situation.  I always thought back in my Protestant days that it would be interesting to make a sort of comparative chart between the Graeco-Roman pantheon and the "Roman Catholic" witness of saints, just to see how similar they really are.


I've never heard of that criticism before. Interesting. I have to be honest, In a way it almost seems like the person who can remember the most saint names and their appropriate intercession strenghts will have a leg up over the simple person who just prays to Jesus for help.
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« Reply #42 on: January 15, 2010, 02:12:21 AM »

The thread is really getting sidetracked with icons!

Prayer to the saints is what goes on with any simple and pious Orthodox Christian in any traditional setting.  There are regional saints which are enshrined and seen as patrons and protectors of that temple and even that city.  People come and ask those saints for their help. 

"Saint So-And-So, please help my brother to find a job, my daughter to get pregnant, and so on and so forth."

Whether or not some PhD wants to argue about Orthodoxy on paper, in the real world this is how it works.  I remember someone either on here or in a book I read recounting a moving story about a mother who's child's life was on danger.  She ran with him in her arms as quickly as she could to the local church and laid him in front of the icon of the Mother of God on the iconostasis and cried out for her to save her son, who couldn't breathe.  Shortly thereafter, his breathing returned to normal, and ever since then she has had the most fierce devotion to the Mother of God.  Mary saved the kid.  Orthodox Christians do this all of the time with their own patrons, and there is nothing wrong with it.

Don't listen to the "hypothesizers" on here.  People are praying to the deified saints, and they are acting as conduits for the divine energies of Christ.  If they are glorified by their works, then Christ is glorified.

To be fair though, I usually say things like "save me by your powerful prayers" or "pray to God for us."  Usually I am sending up a request for them to pray for me, not asking them to help me get a high score on an exam.  And even if I was, I would probably ask them to help me get a high score by their powerful prayers.  I've just programed myself to address them that way, because I had no innate sense of how to go about it as a Catholic/Protestant convert (I never prayed to a saint once in my Catholic upbringing; I was never taught to).  But that sort of nuance seems uncommon based on my small amount of interactions with the culturally Orthodox.

Well then if this is really the practical application of praying to the saints, as you say, then old familiar analogy to intercessory prayer: "It's no different than asking your friend to pray for you!" doesn't hold water. If it is as you say it is, then there really is a difference; a substantial one. If you ask a friend to pray for your illness, and that prayer is answered, you most likely would thank your friend for their prayers and glorify God for answering it.  Surely you wouldn't come up to that person later and say, "thanks for healing me!"
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« Reply #43 on: January 15, 2010, 02:13:17 AM »

I have to be honest, In a way it almost seems like the person who can remember the most saint names and their appropriate intercession strengths will have a leg up over the simple person who just prays to Jesus for help.

Are you saying that you think this is true, or that you think this is the view that is propagated by the Church?
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« Reply #44 on: January 15, 2010, 02:15:01 AM »

I have to be honest, In a way it almost seems like the person who can remember the most saint names and their appropriate intercession strengths will have a leg up over the simple person who just prays to Jesus for help.

Are you saying that you think this is true, or that you think this is the view that is propagated by the Church?

That is my current impression, given my perspective and background, which is of course subject to change (well, my perspective is, at least).
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