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Author Topic: Praying to the Saints.  (Read 10586 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
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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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« 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.
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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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« Reply #45 on: January 15, 2010, 02:17:45 AM »

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!"

Well, if St. Peter the Apostle healed me then I would certainly thank him, and I'm sure he would pass all the glory onto God.  The saints do the same thing.  God is glorified in his saints.  There is no designation between a saint receiving glory and the Lord Jesus Christ receiving glory.  Every praise they receive passes to Christ, as he is the fountain of grace from which all of this life and healing spring.  They are united to the spring, and abundant graces flow from Christ to them to us.
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« Reply #46 on: January 15, 2010, 02:20:40 AM »

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.

Not to pray to the Saints would be a serious wound and a serious gap in my prayer life.   Those who have never prayed to the Saints would not feel this loss.

For example tonight is Friday night and I always pray the Akathist to Saint Anastasia of Rome because she has a special interest in delivering people from potions and poisons and, these days, we pray to her to deliver those we love from alcohol and drug addiction.   Since my son is a solvent abuser and also many of his friends, this Saint and I have a special relationship and I am sure, although he may not be aware of it, she has a relationship with him too.  I love her very much and I know that she helps in many ways in dealing with this problem.

I am sure that other people here can speak of their similar love and relationships with other Saints.
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« Reply #47 on: January 15, 2010, 02:22:27 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!"

I wouldn't say it doesn't hold water, but I guess it's only half the truth.  Sometimes Orthodox do ask for the prayers of the saints, at such times the analogy would still hold up.
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« Reply #48 on: January 15, 2010, 02:24:15 AM »

For example tonight is Friday night and I always pray the Akathist to Saint Anastasia of Rome because she has a special interest in delivering people from potions and poisons and, these days, we pray to her to deliver those we love from alcohol and drug addiction.   Since my son is a solvent abuser and also many of his friends, this Saint and I have a special relationship and I am sure, although he may not be aware of it, she has a relationship with him too.  I love her very much and I know that she helps in many ways in dealing with this problem.

And this is the true devotion to the saints that I was speaking of.  Thank you for sharing this very personal and heartwarming story.  Alleluia.
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« Reply #49 on: January 15, 2010, 02:52:36 AM »

The two main lynchpins that I've used to hold this belief together in my mind up to this point are: firstly, the proper use of intercessory prayer is essentially asking God-pleasers to pray to God for you; and secondly, that intercessory prayer shouldn't dominate your prayer life or replace your primary prayers; that is, they should be used to supplement your primary prayers to God. (This last piece of helpful information was provided to me by my priest.) If what Alveus and Irish Hermit describe is the true interpretation of intercessory prayer, and the "holy friends that pray for you" line is just a comforting "nonsense" phrase that out of touch academics like to use to lull protestant converts until they are "mature" enough to embrace the real meaning of intercessory prayer, then I'd still prefer to be lulled for the time being.

*edit typo
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« Reply #50 on: January 15, 2010, 02:59:12 AM »

The two main lynchpins that I've used to hold this belief together in my mind up until this point are: firstly, the proper use of intercessory prayer is essentially asking God-pleasers to pray to God for you;

Yes, this is a totally valid and praiseworthy type of prayer but it is not the only way.

For example, if your daughter is getting involved with neo-paganism and witchcraft, you may turn in prayer to Saints Cyprian and Justina asking their direct intervention to free her from this involvement.

I suppose that really I am only a simple man who did not learn his faith in the halls of academia but from simple monks and nuns and from the peasants of the villages around the monastery.    Forgive me, my brothers and sisters, that my faith is so primitive and I have this love of prayer not just to the Holy Trinity but to the Mother of God and the Saints.
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« Reply #51 on: January 15, 2010, 03:26:13 AM »

, and the "holy friends that pray for you" line is just a comforting "nonsense" phrase that out of touch academics like to use to lull protestant converts until they are "mature" enough to embrace the real meaning of intercessory prayer,

Perhaps that is indeed the way of it in the beginning.  I recall the Anglican minister who was received and the receiving priest had not picked up on a small oddity - that the man could not bring himself to kiss an icon.  So for maybe 4 or 5 years when the rest of the church would kiss icons he would not or could not.  Even at a Vigil when the whole Church is expected to come up and kiss the feast day icon and be anointed he would stay at the back of the church and refuse.   In the end though there was some kind of breakthrough and he did begin to kiss and venerate the holy icons.
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« Reply #52 on: January 15, 2010, 03:29:00 AM »

The two main lynchpins that I've used to hold this belief together in my mind up to this point are: firstly, the proper use of intercessory prayer is essentially asking God-pleasers to pray to God for you; and secondly, that intercessory prayer shouldn't dominate your prayer life or replace your primary prayers; that is, they should be used to supplement your primary prayers to God. (This last piece of helpful information was provided to me by my priest.) If what Alveus and Irish Hermit describe is the true interpretation of intercessory prayer, and the "holy friends that pray for you" line is just a comforting "nonsense" phrase that out of touch academics like to use to lull protestant converts until they are "mature" enough to embrace the real meaning of intercessory prayer, then I'd still prefer to be lulled for the time being.

Well, you should just know what you're getting into ahead of time, like it or not.  Imagine if you happened to be like many neophytes that find out things that bother them after they join the Church, like the Mother of God being raised from the dead.  Information like that is not in all of the catechism material!

In my inquirer's class last year when we were discussing this issue about prayer to the saints I asked my priest point blank how this worked out in reality.  I asked if the faithful are only seeking prayers, or if they are asking for direct action on the part of the saints.  He seemingly reluctantly told me that yes, the faithful pray for the saints to act in their lives directly, not merely to petition God for them.  It wasn't the answer I was looking for, but at least I knew the reality of the situation.
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« Reply #53 on: January 15, 2010, 03:52:13 AM »

The two main lynchpins that I've used to hold this belief together in my mind up to this point are: firstly, the proper use of intercessory prayer is essentially asking God-pleasers to pray to God for you; and secondly, that intercessory prayer shouldn't dominate your prayer life or replace your primary prayers; that is, they should be used to supplement your primary prayers to God. (This last piece of helpful information was provided to me by my priest.) If what Alveus and Irish Hermit describe is the true interpretation of intercessory prayer, and the "holy friends that pray for you" line is just a comforting "nonsense" phrase that out of touch academics like to use to lull protestant converts until they are "mature" enough to embrace the real meaning of intercessory prayer, then I'd still prefer to be lulled for the time being.

Well, you should just know what you're getting into ahead of time, like it or not.  Imagine if you happened to be like many neophytes that find out things that bother them after they join the Church, like the Mother of God being raised from the dead.  Information like that is not in all of the catechism material!

In my inquirer's class last year when we were discussing this issue about prayer to the saints I asked my priest point blank how this worked out in reality.  I asked if the faithful are only seeking prayers, or if they are asking for direct action on the part of the saints.  He seemingly reluctantly told me that yes, the faithful pray for the saints to act in their lives directly, not merely to petition God for them.  It wasn't the answer I was looking for, but at least I knew the reality of the situation.

Yeah, I'm really glad for having an Orthodox Church in my city (that's a rarity in Japan) and having this forum to learn from.  I feel like I'm getting a fairly clear picture of Orthodoxy "worts and all."  I too would not want to be sorely surprised by something after I convert.
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« Reply #54 on: January 15, 2010, 03:57:36 AM »

I feel like I'm getting a fairly clear picture of Orthodoxy "worts and all."  I too would not want to be sorely surprised by something after I convert.

I'm not familiar with this phrase.  Can you explain it?
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« Reply #55 on: January 15, 2010, 04:34:26 AM »

I feel like I'm getting a fairly clear picture of Orthodoxy "worts and all."  I too would not want to be sorely surprised by something after I convert.

I'm not familiar with this phrase.  Can you explain it?

It means both the good and the bad or with all its imperfections.  And I don't mean to say that the topic in question (praying to saints as opposed to through saints) is an imperfection.  But there are some not-quite-ideal things about Holy Orthodoxy and I'm glad that I'm seeing them before I formally join myself to the Church.  And there are other things that can't be called imperfections but are somewhat difficult pills to swallow for some of us at first- like the topic in question.
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« Reply #56 on: January 15, 2010, 07:40:49 AM »

Here is something to knock the socks off everybody  ~  the Worship of the Saints!!

Semantics come into it.  Speakers of British English can still speak of the worship of the Saints without falling into the error of adoring them.

"Worship"?

Cached by The Wayback Machine at
http://web.archive.org/web/20001203142000/orthodox.co.uk/worship.htm

Christian communities formed in the Reformation rejected the worship of the Mother of God, of the saints and angels and of icons and relics. Indeed, the Reformation was accompanied in many places by a widespread outbreak of iconoclasm. Sculptures, paintings, relics all made their way to the flames. Sacred images which had been worshipped for centuries by devout Christians came to be seen as idols. They were not merely removed, they were treated as abominations, shattered, hacked in pieces, or burned. Not surprisingly, communities which resisted the Reformation often hid their sacred images, and restored them to use when the opportunity arose, as it did, for example, during the reign of Mary Tudor in England.

The Reformers deployed the same biblical texts to justify their destruction of images as the Eastern iconoclasts had done centuries before.

The Reformation rejection of worship of the Theotokos, the saints and angels, the icons and relics, had an odd consequence for the Protestant use of the English language. Since God was now for Protestants the sole object of Christian worship, the word "worship" gradually began to be treated as a synonym of "adore."

The English word "adoration" translates the Greek word "latreia" or the Latin "adoratio" or "adoratio latriae". Adoration is due to God and to God alone. Adoration is a mode of worship that springs from the acknowledgement of our absolute dependency on God and on our mere contingency as created beings.

Adoration is a mode of worship.

The Reformation rejection of the cult of the saints and of their relics and of the sacred images left no other mode of worship in Protestant and Reformed communities. No distinction came to be made by Protestants between adoration and the other lesser, relative modes of worship, since none of them survived in their religious practice. Nonetheless, the older, broader concept of worship still survived and survives. In England we call the mayor "your Worship," without any suggestion we are acknowledging her or him as the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. In the old version of the Marriage service the bridegroom said to his bride "with my body I thee worship," the pledge of allegiance made by a lord declared himself the monarch's "man of earthly worship." Neither monarch nor bride was expected to interpret this as an act of adoration, of latreia. And whatever objections there may be to Christians joining Masonic lodges, it would be utter silliness to argue that reference to a senior officer of the Lodge as the "Worshipful Master" is idolatrous.

Roman Catholic communities in Great Britain both retained the pre-Reformation cult of the Blessed Virgin, the saints, their relics and the sacred images, and kept alive the older use of the word "worship" as the generic term of which adoration is the supreme mode, but not the only mode.

Worship has a variety of modes. All forms of worship have a cognitive aspect - a recognition that reverence and honour are due to the object of our worship by reason of its relation to God - as well as a practical aspect, the words, gestures and postures that represent the honour and reverence we pay to the object of our worship.

Adoration is the unique mode of worship offered to God alone. We adore none other. Adoration involves acknowledgement of God as Creator and Sustainer of all that is, as our ruler and shepherd and as the sole source of our salvation. It involves more than mere acknowledgement of the reality of our relation to the Almighty: adoration involves praise and thanksgiving, celebration and petition.

A unique degree of veneration and reverence is due to the Theotokos. We worship her as the Mother of God, as uniquely close to him and as sharing in the work of God in a unique way and to a unique degree. Whenever we think of her we are drawn to think of her Son. Worship of the Mother of God, far from being an obstacle to worship of God, places us before the Signpost that points the way to Him who is the way, the truth and the life. It is her unique relation to God as the Theotokos that makes her the worthy object of our worship. It is her relation to God as His creature that absolutely forbids us to adore her.

We worship the Mother of God, but we do not adore her. We prostrate ourselves before her in prayer, kiss her icon, offer incense, flowers and lights, celebrate festivals and sing offices in her honour, but we do not adore her, since she is no less a creature than are we. She shows us human nature as fully deified as is possible to us, but she remains a creature. We love, venerate, celebrate, reverence, honour and serve her, but we do not adore her.

We worship the angels as beings above us in the order of nature, as servants and messengers of God and as our powerful protectors and helpers. Our worship begins from acknowledgement of what they are in relation to Him and in relation to us.

We worship the saints as members of our own human family who have truly "put on Christ," as icons of Christ, as exemplars of deified humanity. We worship them with profound reverence and respect.

We worship the saints and angels not for their own sake, but in virtue of their relationship to God.

We worship icons and relics not as painted wood, skilfully assembled chips of stone, and collections of ancient bones. Far from it. Even the wood of the Cross and the Life-Receiving Tomb are worshipped only because of their role in Christ's saving work. The images and the relics of the saints are worshipped as modes of their presence to us and ours to them. They are worshipped not for their own sake, but as a means of worshipping the person whose icon or relic each is, and that holy person in turn is worshipped because of her or his relationship to God.

All acts of worship draw us ultimately to the worship of God. We begin by venerating the icon of a saint, and are drawn eventually to the adoration of the God whose work the saint is, and in Whom the saint is glorified.

We revere and venerate a dead parent's photograph, we bring flowers to the grave. We treat the photographs of those we love with reverence and respect. We may place them in a special place, even put flowers before them. But the worship we offer the sacred images is rather different.
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« Reply #57 on: January 15, 2010, 12:02:33 PM »

Perhaps related to this, but perhaps not, I remember reading that in (I think) the 39 Articles the Anglicans rejected the "papal excesses" of praying to the saints but retained the "apostolic" version of the practice.  I've oft wondered what the distinction is.  I also read in that same place that the Council of Trent supposedly dealt with those "papal excesses".  Anybody know about that?  Might it have to do with this issue of praying to vs. praying through?
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« Reply #58 on: January 15, 2010, 02:24:19 PM »

Adore - Latin adorare, from ad- + orare to speak (orate), pray

Should we understand the origins of this word to be related to praying to (speaking toward) as the designating sign between veneration and adoration?

Cannot we honor and revere the depictions of the saints: kiss them and down before them; without praying to the saints; without orating adoration toward them?

Obviously there is a thin line here.
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« Reply #59 on: January 15, 2010, 05:49:42 PM »

The two main lynchpins that I've used to hold this belief together in my mind up to this point are: firstly, the proper use of intercessory prayer is essentially asking God-pleasers to pray to God for you; and secondly, that intercessory prayer shouldn't dominate your prayer life or replace your primary prayers; that is, they should be used to supplement your primary prayers to God. (This last piece of helpful information was provided to me by my priest.) If what Alveus and Irish Hermit describe is the true interpretation of intercessory prayer, and the "holy friends that pray for you" line is just a comforting "nonsense" phrase that out of touch academics like to use to lull protestant converts until they are "mature" enough to embrace the real meaning of intercessory prayer, then I'd still prefer to be lulled for the time being.

Well, you should just know what you're getting into ahead of time, like it or not.  Imagine if you happened to be like many neophytes that find out things that bother them after they join the Church, like the Mother of God being raised from the dead.  Information like that is not in all of the catechism material!

In my inquirer's class last year when we were discussing this issue about prayer to the saints I asked my priest point blank how this worked out in reality.  I asked if the faithful are only seeking prayers, or if they are asking for direct action on the part of the saints.  He seemingly reluctantly told me that yes, the faithful pray for the saints to act in their lives directly, not merely to petition God for them.  It wasn't the answer I was looking for, but at least I knew the reality of the situation.

Thanks for your honesty. The reality of the situation is that I'm simply not ready to embrace this particular aspect of this teaching.
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« Reply #60 on: January 15, 2010, 06:07:47 PM »

Adore - Latin adorare, from ad- + orare to speak (orate), pray

Should we understand the origins of this word to be related to praying to (speaking toward) as the designating sign between veneration and adoration?

Cannot we honor and revere the depictions of the saints: kiss them and down before them; without praying to the saints; without orating adoration toward them?

Obviously there is a thin line here.

I remember some of us discussing this before. Indeed there a fine line between worship and adoration. The distinction seems primarily to be of an intellectual nature. Only we can judge the purpose of our own intentions and whether we are worshipping and praying to God's creatures as ends in themselves or as conduits to His grace.

Just thought I'd add this verse as food for thought:

Quote
Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God." At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Rev 19:9

It is interesting to note that here that the greek word for worship in this passage, proskuneó, has primarly a physical aspect to it. From pros and a probable derivative of kuon (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore) -- worship. (1) Strong's Greek

*edit* added verse and explanation
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« Reply #61 on: January 15, 2010, 07:50:00 PM »

mispost.
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« Reply #62 on: January 15, 2010, 08:47:48 PM »

Quote
Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God." At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Rev 19:9

It is interesting to note that here that the greek word for worship in this passage, proskuneó, has primarly a physical aspect to it. From pros and a probable derivative of kuon (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore) -- worship. (1) Strong's Greek

Yes, I recall reading this several weeks ago as I was doing a study on the Apocalypse.  I paused when I read it, as it seems to contradict the Church's teachings.
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« Reply #63 on: January 16, 2010, 02:40:40 AM »

It means both the good and the bad or with all its imperfections.

Yes, but what is a wort?
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« Reply #64 on: January 16, 2010, 01:54:48 PM »

I think he meant "wart" :p
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« Reply #65 on: January 16, 2010, 02:02:36 PM »

It means both the good and the bad or with all its imperfections.

Yes, but what is a wort?

What you get when you take too much St. John's Wort, of course!

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« Reply #66 on: January 16, 2010, 02:14:05 PM »

Well, I knew he couldn't have meant beer wort.  That is a very good thing!  laugh
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« Reply #67 on: January 16, 2010, 06:23:17 PM »

Quote
Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God." At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Rev 19:9

It is interesting to note that here that the greek word for worship in this passage, proskuneó, has primarly a physical aspect to it. From pros and a probable derivative of kuon (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore) -- worship. (1) Strong's Greek

Is there any reply to this passage?
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« Reply #68 on: January 17, 2010, 05:16:30 PM »

Due to the overwhelming response, I'll throw my two cents in.  I have thought about this for a couple of days, and here is the best explanation I can come up with.

When I venerate icons of saints, I venerate them because the saints possess the uncreated light of God, and were made in the image and likeness of Him. I like to think of them as vessels of God's grace, and I am venerating the presence of God within them. Angels, on the other hand, were not created in God's image and likeness (as least as far as we know) and they do not participate in deification. This could be a possible explanation of why the angel rejected such worship/veneration. Angels were created as messengers of God's grace, not participants thereof.

On the other hand, this does not answer the question why we in the Orthodox Church venerate angels similarly as we do saints. (Or perhaps we don't, I could use some clarification on this?)

Perhaps this explanation raises more questions than it does provide answers, but I thought I'd at least share what I came up with.
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« Reply #69 on: January 18, 2010, 01:44:44 PM »

I didn't think this would be an issue for me after I converted to Orthodoxy a couple years ago, but it has been an ongoing one, and I feel as if it's causing me to feel spiritually 'divorced'. It sounds terrible, and sad, I know... but I guess I can't accept how if, given the opportunity to spend a couple hours glorifying God, our creator, we can choose instead to spend that time praying an Akathist, etc. It feels so basic a concept - maybe I'm totally out of touch. I know you all have your explanations as to why you pray to saints, and don't take me as disrespecting anyone. I just keep going back to how Jesus taught the apostles to pray... why did He have no other instructions except 'Our Father'.
I remember being in a Paraklesis service, this was probably about 1-1/2 years ago now... and I just had this feeling like I might not belong. I couldn't keep saying the prayers but I just sort of kept quiet. I don't know what I will do from here. I have been doing a little investigation of other belief systems. This has been a hard couple of years. I don't even know who I would speak with or if there is a point to doing so. I feel so alone.
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« Reply #70 on: January 18, 2010, 03:36:30 PM »

Just thought I'd add this verse as food for thought:

Quote
Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God." At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Rev 19:9

It is interesting to note that here that the greek word for worship in this passage, proskuneó, has primarly a physical aspect to it. From pros and a probable derivative of kuon (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore) -- worship. (1) Strong's Greek

*edit* added verse and explanation

Is proskuneo the same word used in the following bible verse?

Quote
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Rev 3:9

If it is, why would Jesus cause those of the synagogue of Satan to worship the Church in Philadelphia if worship was due to God alone?  Or maybe I'm not reading the verse correctly?

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« Reply #71 on: January 18, 2010, 04:02:58 PM »

Yes, it does appear to be of the same word origin.  Again, the best explanation I can come up with is that humans (those who comprise the Church of Philadelphia) were made in the image and likeness of God, and angels are not.
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« Reply #72 on: January 18, 2010, 04:06:04 PM »

I didn't think this would be an issue for me after I converted to Orthodoxy a couple years ago, but it has been an ongoing one, and I feel as if it's causing me to feel spiritually 'divorced'. It sounds terrible, and sad, I know... but I guess I can't accept how if, given the opportunity to spend a couple hours glorifying God, our creator, we can choose instead to spend that time praying an Akathist, etc. It feels so basic a concept - maybe I'm totally out of touch. I know you all have your explanations as to why you pray to saints, and don't take me as disrespecting anyone. I just keep going back to how Jesus taught the apostles to pray... why did He have no other instructions except 'Our Father'.
I remember being in a Paraklesis service, this was probably about 1-1/2 years ago now... and I just had this feeling like I might not belong. I couldn't keep saying the prayers but I just sort of kept quiet. I don't know what I will do from here. I have been doing a little investigation of other belief systems. This has been a hard couple of years. I don't even know who I would speak with or if there is a point to doing so. I feel so alone.

Here's my question in light of believer74's comments: is prayer to the saints essential to the Orthodox faith?
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« Reply #73 on: January 18, 2010, 04:17:14 PM »

Yes, it does appear to be of the same word origin.  

Well, then, doesn't the Rev 3:9 verse qualify as a perfectly legitimate example of worship of Saints, because it is caused by Christ himself?  Or is the issue the fact that they're not bodily alive?
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« Reply #74 on: January 18, 2010, 04:17:27 PM »

Yes, it does appear to be of the same word origin.  Again, the best explanation I can come up with is that humans (those who comprise the Church of Philadelphia) were made in the image and likeness of God, and angels are not.

Fwiw, here are some quotes, which (if accurate) seem to indicate that the angels are also made in the image and likeness of God, but to a different extent or in a different way...

"The soul is very closely connected with the body. The Fathers say that it happens with the soul what happens with an iron in a brazier; it becomes fire through remaining iron by nature. The soul is everywhere in man's body. The fact that the soul gives life to the body joined to it proves that man was made in God's image to a greater degree than were the angels." - Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, The Illness And Cure of The Soul

"We have so far explained that man's soul is in the image of God, and since the soul gives life to the attached body, the image in man is stronger than the image in the angels. Since the soul is all through the body, both the whole man and the body itself can be regarded as in the image of God. The hymn by St. John of Damascus sung in the funeral service is characteristic. 'I weep and I wail when I think upon death, and behold our beauty, fashioned after the image of God, lying in the tomb disfigured, dishonoured, bereft of form.' It is plain that in this hymn the image refers to the body which is in the tomb." -  Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Orthodox Psychotherapy: The Science of the Fathers, (Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1994), p. 118-119

"Among many other things one would say that the triadic nature of our knowledge shows that we are more in the image of God than are the angels. For not only is it triadic, but it includes every type of knolwedge. Among all created things only man possesses an intellective, a rational, and a sensory faculty" - St. Gregory Palamas, Natural Chapters, 63

"Palamas, comparing men and angels on the basis of 'image' and 'likeness,' finds that as far as the 'image' is concerned man surpasses the angels, while in the matter of 'likeness' he is patently inferior." - Georgios I. Mantzaridis, The Deification of Man: Saint Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Tradition, (Saint Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1984), p. 23

"God formed Adam with His holy hands, in His own Image and Likeness and when the angels saw Adam's glorious appearance they were greatly moved by the beauty thereof. For they saw the image of his face burning with glorious splendour like the orb of the sun, and the light of his eyes was like the light of the sun, and the image of his body was like unto the sparkling of crystal. " - St. Ephraim the Syrian, Cave of Treasures: The Creation of Adam
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« Reply #75 on: January 18, 2010, 04:20:57 PM »

I didn't think this would be an issue for me after I converted to Orthodoxy a couple years ago, but it has been an ongoing one, and I feel as if it's causing me to feel spiritually 'divorced'. It sounds terrible, and sad, I know... but I guess I can't accept how if, given the opportunity to spend a couple hours glorifying God, our creator, we can choose instead to spend that time praying an Akathist, etc. It feels so basic a concept - maybe I'm totally out of touch. I know you all have your explanations as to why you pray to saints, and don't take me as disrespecting anyone. I just keep going back to how Jesus taught the apostles to pray... why did He have no other instructions except 'Our Father'.
I remember being in a Paraklesis service, this was probably about 1-1/2 years ago now... and I just had this feeling like I might not belong. I couldn't keep saying the prayers but I just sort of kept quiet. I don't know what I will do from here. I have been doing a little investigation of other belief systems. This has been a hard couple of years. I don't even know who I would speak with or if there is a point to doing so. I feel so alone.

Here's my question in light of believer74's comments: is prayer to the saints essential to the Orthodox faith?

I think you're asking the wrong crowd.   laugh  Can you imagine going through your whole life without ever praying to the holy Mother of God or your Guardian Angel!?

Come to think of it, I guess it is mandated since Morning and Evening Prayers contain prayers to the Mother of God, to your Guardian Angel, and to your Patron Saint.


Today (18 January) is the commemoration of St. Dicuil of Lure
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints

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« Reply #76 on: January 18, 2010, 05:31:05 PM »

I didn't think this would be an issue for me after I converted to Orthodoxy a couple years ago, but it has been an ongoing one, and I feel as if it's causing me to feel spiritually 'divorced'. It sounds terrible, and sad, I know... but I guess I can't accept how if, given the opportunity to spend a couple hours glorifying God, our creator, we can choose instead to spend that time praying an Akathist, etc. It feels so basic a concept - maybe I'm totally out of touch. I know you all have your explanations as to why you pray to saints, and don't take me as disrespecting anyone. I just keep going back to how Jesus taught the apostles to pray... why did He have no other instructions except 'Our Father'.
I remember being in a Paraklesis service, this was probably about 1-1/2 years ago now... and I just had this feeling like I might not belong. I couldn't keep saying the prayers but I just sort of kept quiet. I don't know what I will do from here. I have been doing a little investigation of other belief systems. This has been a hard couple of years. I don't even know who I would speak with or if there is a point to doing so. I feel so alone.

Here's my question in light of believer74's comments: is prayer to the saints essential to the Orthodox faith?

I think you're asking the wrong crowd.   laugh  Can you imagine going through your whole life without ever praying to the holy Mother of God or your Guardian Angel!?

Come to think of it, I guess it is mandated since Morning and Evening Prayers contain prayers to the Mother of God, to your Guardian Angel, and to your Patron Saint.


Today (18 January) is the commemoration of St. Dicuil of Lure
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints



Can I imagine it? Well, I guess coming from my background, yes. Also, my prayer book doesn't include any mandatory intercessory prayers for morning, mid-day, and evening prayers. There is a section for optional intercessory prayers. 

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« Reply #77 on: January 18, 2010, 05:41:34 PM »



Quote
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Rev 3:9

If it is, why would Jesus cause those of the synagogue of Satan to worship the Church in Philadelphia if worship was due to God alone?  Or maybe I'm not reading the verse correctly?



Again, I have no qualms in particular with venerating saints. This makes sense to me. I was trying to reconcile the verse that I provided by attempting to show why the angel rejected worship by pointing out the possible distinction/nature between saints/angels. Still, it doesn't add up because <I believe> the Orthodox Church venerates angels like it does saints. (Again, if I'm wrong here, someone please point it out)
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« Reply #78 on: January 18, 2010, 05:41:58 PM »

Can I imagine it? Well, I guess coming from my background, yes. Also, my prayer book doesn't include any mandatory intercessory prayers for morning, mid-day, and evening prayers. There is a section for optional intercessory prayers. 



Here are some of the evening prayers from the Prayer Book used by Russians (in the homeland and abroad.)
http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/prayerbook/main.htm

Prayer of Intercession
to the Most Holy Mother of God
O good Mother of the good King, most pure and blessed Virgin Mary, pour out the mercy of thy Son and our God on my passionate soul and guide me in good works by thy prayers, that I may pass the rest of my life without defilement, and find paradise through thee, O Virgin Mother of God, who alone art pure and blessed.


Prayer of Intercession
to the holy Guardian Angel
O Angel of Christ, my holy Guardian and Protector of my soul and body, forgive me all my sins of today. Deliver me from all the wiles of the enemy, that I may not anger my God by any sin. Pray for me, sinful and unworthy servant, that thou mayest present me worthy of the kindness and mercy of the All-holy Trinity and the Mother of my Lord Jesus Christ, and of all the Saints. Amen.

(Here one says a prayer to one's Patron Saint.)

Queen of the Heavenly Host, Defender of our souls, we thy servants offer to thee songs of victory and thanksgiving, for thou, O Mother of God, hast delivered us from dangers. But as thou hast invincible power, free us from conflicts of all kinds that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, unwedded Bride.

Most glorious, Ever-Virgin, blessed, Mother of Christ our God, present our prayer to thy Son and our God, and pray that through thee He may save our souls.

I put all my hope in thee, O Mother of God. Guard me under thy protection. O Virgin Mother of God, despise not me, a sinner, needing thy help and protection, and have mercy on me, for my soul hopes in thee.


Today (18 January) is the commemoration of St. Dicuil of Lure
See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints

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« Reply #79 on: January 18, 2010, 05:50:17 PM »

Ya, I just use a little pocket Antiochian prayer book. It does list particular intercessory prayers, but does not include them in the prescibed morning/evening prayers.

Can I imagine it? Well, I guess coming from my background, yes. Also, my prayer book doesn't include any mandatory intercessory prayers for morning, mid-day, and evening prayers. There is a section for optional intercessory prayers.  



Here are some of the evening prayers from the Prayer Book used by Russians (in the homeland and abroad.)
http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/prayerbook/main.htm

Prayer of Intercession
to the Most Holy Mother of God
O good Mother of the good King, most pure and blessed Virgin Mary, pour out the mercy of thy Son and our God on my passionate soul and guide me in good works by thy prayers, that I may pass the rest of my life without defilement, and find paradise through thee, O Virgin Mother of God, who alone art pure and blessed.


I have to say that I've never encountered this particular prayer before, and I must confess that it troubles me a great deal.

Here I see much correlation between the mediatrix and "dispenser of mercy" role ascribed to the Theotokos, found in Roman Catholicism.

Indeed, these are not the things that one might encounter during catechesis... Undecided
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« Reply #80 on: January 18, 2010, 05:54:45 PM »

Ya, I just use a little pocket Antiochian prayer book. It does list particular intercessory prayers, but does not include them in the prescibed morning/evening prayers.

Can I imagine it? Well, I guess coming from my background, yes. Also, my prayer book doesn't include any mandatory intercessory prayers for morning, mid-day, and evening prayers. There is a section for optional intercessory prayers.  



Here are some of the evening prayers from the Prayer Book used by Russians (in the homeland and abroad.)
http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/prayerbook/main.htm

Prayer of Intercession
to the Most Holy Mother of God
O good Mother of the good King, most pure and blessed Virgin Mary, pour out the mercy of thy Son and our God on my passionate soul and guide me in good works by thy prayers, that I may pass the rest of my life without defilement, and find paradise through thee, O Virgin Mother of God, who alone art pure and blessed.


I have to say that I've never encountered this particular prayer before, and I must confess that it troubles me a great deal.

Here I see much correlation between the mediatrix and "dispenser of mercy" role ascribed to the Theotokos, found in Roman Catholicism.

Indeed, these are not the things that one might encounter during catechesis... Undecided

Really?! Huh

What's objectionable about this?
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« Reply #81 on: January 18, 2010, 05:56:56 PM »

I have to say that I've never encountered this particular prayer before, and I must confess that it troubles me a great deal.

Here I see much correlation between the mediatrix and "dispenser of mercy" role ascribed to the Theotokos, found in Roman Catholicism.

Indeed, these are not the things that one might encounter during catechesis... Undecided

That's interesting. Do lines such as "Most holy Theotokos, save us" in Church services bother you?
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« Reply #82 on: January 18, 2010, 06:04:26 PM »

I have to say that I've never encountered this particular prayer before, and I must confess that it troubles me a great deal.

Here I see much correlation between the mediatrix and "dispenser of mercy" role ascribed to the Theotokos, found in Roman Catholicism.

Indeed, these are not the things that one might encounter during catechesis... Undecided

That's interesting. Do lines such as "Most holy Theotokos, save us" in Church services bother you?

I believe the phrase is vague enough that one is able to inject many different interpretations into it and come up with arguments that, while they may not please the protestant converts mind, may at least calm it. The phrases in the prayer listed above by Irish Hermit seem much more narrow-focused to me.
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« Reply #83 on: January 18, 2010, 06:07:37 PM »

Ya, I just use a little pocket Antiochian prayer book. It does list particular intercessory prayers, but does not include them in the prescibed morning/evening prayers.

Can I imagine it? Well, I guess coming from my background, yes. Also, my prayer book doesn't include any mandatory intercessory prayers for morning, mid-day, and evening prayers. There is a section for optional intercessory prayers.  



Here are some of the evening prayers from the Prayer Book used by Russians (in the homeland and abroad.)
http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/prayerbook/main.htm

Prayer of Intercession
to the Most Holy Mother of God
O good Mother of the good King, most pure and blessed Virgin Mary, pour out the mercy of thy Son and our God on my passionate soul and guide me in good works by thy prayers, that I may pass the rest of my life without defilement, and find paradise through thee, O Virgin Mother of God, who alone art pure and blessed.


I have to say that I've never encountered this particular prayer before, and I must confess that it troubles me a great deal.

Here I see much correlation between the mediatrix and "dispenser of mercy" role ascribed to the Theotokos, found in Roman Catholicism.

Indeed, these are not the things that one might encounter during catechesis... Undecided

Really?! Huh

What's objectionable about this?

I object to the Romish teachings of mediatrix. Also, I was taught during catechesis that mercy was given to us by the Holy Sprit, through Christ, Originating from the Father, and is in fact the very energies of God.
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« Reply #84 on: January 18, 2010, 06:08:47 PM »

Ok, I think that's fair. I guess in my better moments as an Orthodox Christian I just took prayers like that as a combination of two things: the idea that intercessory prayer works, and the idea that God can use people to save others (both of which seem to be biblically-based concepts). But the prayer does seem to be a bit more specific.
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« Reply #85 on: January 18, 2010, 08:00:58 PM »

Saint Gregory Palamas underwrites your worthy thoughts in his glorious
sermon in praise of the All-Holy on the festival of her Dormition...

http://web.archive.org/web/20060306224511/http://www.praiseofglory.com/dormitionpalamas.htm

"For while she alone stood between God and the whole human race, God became
the Son of Man and made men sons of God; she made earth heavenly, she
deified the human race, and she alone of all women was shown forth to be a
mother by nature and the Mother of God transcending every law of nature, and
by her ineffable childbirth-the Queen of all creation, both terrestial and
celestial. Thus she exalted those under her through herself, and, showing
while on earth an obedience to things heavenly rather than things earthly,
she partook of more excellent deserts and of superior power, and from the
ordination which she received from heaven by the Divine Spirit, she became
the most sublime of the sublime and the supremely blest Queen of a blessed
race.

"But now the Mother of God has her dwelling in Heaven whither she was today
translated, for this is meet, Heaven being a suitable place for her. She
"stands at the right of the King of all clothed in a vesture wrought with
gold and arrayed with divers colours" (cf. Ps. 44:9), as the psalmic
prophecy says concerning her. By "vesture wrought with gold" understand her
divinely radiant body arrayed with divers colours of every virtue. She alone
in her body, glorified by God, now enjoys the celestial realm together with
her Son. For, earth and grave and death did not hold forever her
life-originating and God-receiving body -the dwelling more favoured than
Heaven and the Heaven of heavens...

-oOo-


"O divine, and now heavenly, Virgin, how can I express all things which pertain to thee? How can I glorify the treasury of all glory? Merely thy memory sanctifies whoever keeps it, and a mere movement towards thee makes the mind more translucent, and thou dost exalt it straightway to the Divine. The eye of the intellect is through thee made limpid, and through thee the spirit of a man is illumined by the sojourning of the Spirit of God, since thou hast become the steward of the treasury of divine gifts and their vault, and this, not in order to keep them for thyself, but so that thou mightest make created nature replete with grace.

"Indeed, the steward of those inexhaustible treasuries watches over them so that the riches may be dispensed; and what could confine that wealth which wanes not? Richly, therefore, bestow thy mercy and thy graces upon all thy people, this thine inheritance, O Lady! Dispel the perils which menace us. See how greatly we are expended by our own and by aliens, by those without and by those within. Uplift all by thy might: mollify our fellow citizens one with another and scatter those who assault us from without-like savage beasts. Measure out thy succor and healing in proportion to our passions, apportioning abundant grace to our souls and bodies, sufficient for every necessity.

"And although we may prove incapable of containing thy bounties, augment our capacity and in this manner bestow them upon us, so that being both saved and fortified by thy grace, we may glorify the pre-eternal Word Who was incarnate of thee for our sakes, together with His unoriginate Father and the life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto the endless ages. Amen."



Please see the entire sermon at
http://web.archive.org/web/20060306224511/http://www.praiseofglory.com/dormitionpalamas.htm

Also

http://www.oca.org/FSsermons-details.asp?SID=4&ID=9
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« Reply #86 on: January 18, 2010, 08:05:49 PM »

Also from Saint Gregory Palamas...

"No divine gift can reach either angels or men, save through her mediation.
As one cannot enjoy the light of a lamp … save through the medium of this lamp, so every
movement towards God, every impulse towards good coming from Him is unrealizable save
through the mediation of the Virgin. She does not cease to spread benefits on all creatures."
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« Reply #87 on: January 18, 2010, 08:27:50 PM »

If only we Orthodox would hold fast to our traditional position.  But so often when dialoguing with Catholics we are tempted to try and offer too much of an explanation.  When faced with the precision of Catholic definitions, we sometimes think that we have to respond in kind - if Catholics have their precision defintions, then we must have ours.  Well, the fact is that we don't.  And we don't have to compete with Catholics matching definition for definition.

And so, to all the catechiemsn who are starting to worry that the Orthodox over emphasise the work of the Mother of God in salvation and grace.... we don't... 

These words from Vladimir Lossly show the quiet and reticent Orthodox approach to her...


The doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation have been proclaimed as dogmas,
for they belong to the public preaching of the Church; but the glorification of Our Lady belongs
to the Church’s inner Tradition:

‘It is hard to speak and not less hard to think about the mysteries which the Church keeps
in the hidden depths of her inner consciousness ... The Mother of God was never a theme
of the public preaching of the Apostles; while Christ was preached on the housetops, and
proclaimed for all to know in an initiatory teaching addressed to the whole world,
the mystery of his Mother was revealed only to those who were within the Church … It is not so
much an object of faith as a foundation of our hope, a fruit of faith, ripened in Tradition.

Let us therefore keep silence, and let us not try to dogmatize about the supreme glory of
the Mother of God’


V. Lossky, ‘Panagia,’ in The Mother of God, edited by E. L. Mascall
Quoted in "The Orthodox Church" by Bp Kallistos Ware.


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« Reply #88 on: January 18, 2010, 08:54:35 PM »

Also from Saint Gregory Palamas...

"No divine gift can reach either angels or men, save through her mediation.
As one cannot enjoy the light of a lamp … save through the medium of this lamp, so every
movement towards God, every impulse towards good coming from Him is unrealizable save
through the mediation of the Virgin. She does not cease to spread benefits on all creatures."


Where is the apostolic or scriptural basis for this teaching? Surely we can't just rely on the fact that it was supposedly preserved within the "secret tradition" of the Church until St. Gregory decided to reveal it to us?
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« Reply #89 on: January 18, 2010, 10:52:13 PM »

Also from Saint Gregory Palamas...

"No divine gift can reach either angels or men, save through her mediation.
As one cannot enjoy the light of a lamp … save through the medium of this lamp, so every
movement towards God, every impulse towards good coming from Him is unrealizable save
through the mediation of the Virgin. She does not cease to spread benefits on all creatures."


What is this particular quote taken from?

What is the general context of the passage from which this was taken?
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« Reply #90 on: January 19, 2010, 12:38:54 AM »

Saint Gregory Palamas underwrites your worthy thoughts in his glorious
sermon in praise of the All-Holy on the festival of her Dormition...

...since thou hast become the steward of the treasury of divine gifts and their vault, and this, not in order to keep them for thyself, but so that thou mightest make created nature replete with grace.

"Indeed, the steward of those inexhaustible treasuries watches over them so that the riches may be dispensed; and what could confine that wealth which wanes not? Richly, therefore, bestow thy mercy and thy graces upon all thy people, this thine inheritance, O Lady! Dispel the perils which menace us. See how greatly we are expended by our own and by aliens, by those without and by those within. Uplift all by thy might: mollify our fellow citizens one with another and scatter those who assault us from without-like savage beasts. Measure out thy succor and healing in proportion to our passions, apportioning abundant grace to our souls and bodies, sufficient for every necessity.

"And although we may prove incapable of containing thy bounties, augment our capacity and in this manner bestow them upon us, so that being both saved and fortified by thy grace, we may glorify the pre-eternal Word Who was incarnate of thee for our sakes, together with His unoriginate Father and the life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto the endless ages. Amen."



And here we have the "treasury house of merit" become manifest.  I've certainly learned alot about Orthodox theology in this thread!  Tongue

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_House_of_Merit
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« Reply #91 on: January 19, 2010, 12:58:09 AM »

Saint Gregory Palamas underwrites your worthy thoughts in his glorious
sermon in praise of the All-Holy on the festival of her Dormition...

...since thou hast become the steward of the treasury of divine gifts and their vault, and this, not in order to keep them for thyself, but so that thou mightest make created nature replete with grace.

"Indeed, the steward of those inexhaustible treasuries watches over them so that the riches may be dispensed; and what could confine that wealth which wanes not? Richly, therefore, bestow thy mercy and thy graces upon all thy people, this thine inheritance, O Lady! Dispel the perils which menace us. See how greatly we are expended by our own and by aliens, by those without and by those within. Uplift all by thy might: mollify our fellow citizens one with another and scatter those who assault us from without-like savage beasts. Measure out thy succor and healing in proportion to our passions, apportioning abundant grace to our souls and bodies, sufficient for every necessity.

"And although we may prove incapable of containing thy bounties, augment our capacity and in this manner bestow them upon us, so that being both saved and fortified by thy grace, we may glorify the pre-eternal Word Who was incarnate of thee for our sakes, together with His unoriginate Father and the life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto the endless ages. Amen."



And here we have the "treasury house of merit" become manifest.  I've certainly learned alot about Orthodox theology in this thread!  Tongue

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_House_of_Merit

My personal opinion?  Saint Gregory would not have had any concept of the Roman Catholic treasury of merits (Christ's and the Saints') anywhere in his mind.   I think that would be reading into it something he did not intend.  Saint Gregory's words (sometime very effusive ands simply drenched in his love for her) on the Mother of God have not been dogmatized by the Church but remain, as do nearly all thoughts on Mary, within the realm of personal theological opinions (theologoumena.)   You may accept them, you may reject them.

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« Reply #92 on: January 19, 2010, 01:10:05 AM »

Also from Saint Gregory Palamas...

"No divine gift can reach either angels or men, save through her mediation.
As one cannot enjoy the light of a lamp … save through the medium of this lamp, so every
movement towards God, every impulse towards good coming from Him is unrealizable save
through the mediation of the Virgin. She does not cease to spread benefits on all creatures."


What is this particular quote taken from?

What is the general context of the passage from which this was taken?

http://www.voxpopuli.org/b1_ch4.php

in Miravelle, ibid., p. 136; Ed. of Sophocles Oikonomos, Athens, 1861, 159; PG 151, 472A

I *think* this comes from a Palamas sermon on the Annunciation.   But Saint Gregory wrote so many wonderful sermons on the Mother of God that it is hard to keep them all straight in your head.  Now and again he comes up with some ideas totally unique to himself such as how she was purified from sin.

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« Reply #93 on: January 19, 2010, 01:16:56 AM »

Also from Saint Gregory Palamas...

"No divine gift can reach either angels or men, save through her mediation.
As one cannot enjoy the light of a lamp … save through the medium of this lamp, so every
movement towards God, every impulse towards good coming from Him is unrealizable save
through the mediation of the Virgin. She does not cease to spread benefits on all creatures."


Where is the apostolic or scriptural basis for this teaching? Surely we can't just rely on the fact that it was supposedly preserved within the "secret tradition" of the Church until St. Gregory decided to reveal it to us?

I agree that it seems unlikely.  But, for example, there is no apostolic or scriptural basis for a belief in the Dormition and Assumption of the Mother of God and for the first 400 years of the Churchs life nobody had any idea about it.  It was kept a secret, known only to the clergy of Jerusalem.  I'll find the details and post them.

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« Reply #94 on: January 19, 2010, 01:23:02 AM »

You might say this is a case of knowing how to keep a secret. The history of
the end of Mary's life was genuinely new to most of the Church when it was
made public in the fifth century. The facts of the matter were kept private
among the clergy of the Jerusalem Church, and only became public during the
Council of Chalcedon. At that time the Emperor and Empress demanded  that
her body be sent from Jerusalem to Constantinople;  they belived it was in a tomb
in Jerusalem.

This was a case where there was a Tradition - a
passing-along of knowledge - that was intentionally kept private. I
personally suspect the remarkable near-silence of Scripture about the Mother
of God was deliberate on the part of the Apostles; St John (her guardian)
and the rest of the Evangelists kept her privacy.

The more picturesque details of the "transitus Mariae" literature had yet to
be developed, but in the mid-400's some basic information was revealed by
the Jerusalem clergy. I'm attaching a quote from the "Euthymiac History"
quoted by St John of Damascus, for details.


In his second homily on the Dormition of the Mother of God, Saint John of
Damascus refers to events recounted in the 40th chapter of the Life of St
Euthymios:

"It was said above that Saint Pulcheria erected many churches for Christ in
Constantinople. One of these is the church in Blachernae, built at the
beginning of the reign of the divinely-appointed Emperor Marcian [who
acceded to the throne August, 450]. When the two of them built a worthy
house there for the all-glorious and all-holy Mother of God, the ever-virgin
Mary, and adorned it with every sort of decoration, they hoped to find her
holy body, which had been the dwelling-place of God. And summoning Juvenal,
the Archbishop of Jerusalem, and those bishops from Palestine who were
staying in the capital because of the synod then being held in Chalcedon
[October, 451], they said to them: We have heard that the first and most
outstanding church of the all-holy Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, is
in Jerusalem, in the place called Gethsemane, where her life-giving body was
put in a coffin. We now wish to bring this relic here, to protect this royal
city."

"Juvenal answered on behalf of them all: "There is nothing in the holy,
inspired Scripture about the death of Mary, the holy Mother of God; but we
know from ancient and wholly reliable tradition that at the time she so
gloriously fell asleep, all the holy Apostles who were traveling the world
for the salvation of the peoples were lifted up in a single instant of time
and were gathered at Jerusalem. And as they stood by her, they saw a vision
of angels, and heard the divine chanting of the higher powers. So it was
that she gave her soul in an ineffable way into God's hands, surrounded by
the glory of God and all heaven.

"Her body, which had been God's dwelling place, was brought for burial
amidst the singing of the angels and the Apostles, and laid to rest in a
coffin in Gethsemane; and the angelic dancing and singing continued without
pause in that place for three days. But after three days the song of the
angels ceased; the Apostles were there, and since one of them - Thomas - had
not been present [for her burial] and came at he end of three days, and
wished to reverence that body which had housed God, they opened the coffin.
And they could not find her body, which had been the object of such praise;
all that they found were her burial wrappings. And being overcome by the
ineffable fragrance that came out of the wrappings, they closed the coffin
again. Amazed by this miraculous discovery, they could only draw a single
conclusion: The one who had deigned to become flesh in her own person and to
take his humanity from her, the one who willed to be born in human flesh as
God the Word, the Lord of glory, and who had preserved her virginity intact
even after childbirth, now chose, after her departure from this world, to
honour her pure and immaculate body with the gift of incorruptibility, and
with a change of state even before the common, universal resurrection."

"When the imperial couple heard this, they asked Archbishop Juvenal to send
them the holy coffin, properly sealed, with the funeral garments in it of
the glorious, all-holy Mary, Mother of God. And when he had sent it, they
placed it in the church of the holy Theotokos that had been built at
Blachernae."


"There is nothing in the holy, inspired Scripture about the death of Mary,
the holy Mother of God; but we know from ancient and wholly reliable tradition
that at the time she so gloriously fell asleep, all the holy Apostles who were
traveling the world for the salvation of the peoples were lifted up in a single
instant of time and were gathered at Jerusalem. And as they stood by her,
they saw a vision of angels, and heard the divine chanting of the higher powers.
So it was that she gave her soul in an ineffable way into God's hands, surrounded
by the glory of God and all heaven.

"Her body, which had been God's dwelling place, was brought for burial amidst
the singing of the angels and the Apostles, and laid to rest in a coffin in
Gethsemane; and the angelic dancing and singing continued without pause in
that place for three days. But after three days the song of the angels ceased;
the Apostles were there, and since one of them - Thomas - had not been present
and came at he end of three days, and wished to reverence that body which had
housed God, they opened the coffin. And they could not find her body, which had
been the object of such praise; all that they found were her burial wrappings. And
being overcome by the ineffable fragrance that came out of the wrappings, they
closed the coffin again. Amazed by this miraculous discovery, they could only
draw a single conclusion: The one who had deigned to become flesh in her own
person and to take his humanity from her, the one who willed to be born in human
flesh as God the Word, the Lord of glory, and who had preserved her virginity intact
even after childbirth, now chose, after her departure from this world, to honour her
pure and immaculate body with the gift of incorruptibility, and with a change of state
even before the common, universal resurrection."

When the imperial couple heard this, they asked Archbishop Juvenal to send them
the holy coffin, properly sealed, with the funeral garments in it of the glorious, all-holy
Mary, Mother of God. And when he had sent it, they placed it in the church of the
holy Theotokos that had been built at Blachernae.
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« Reply #95 on: February 19, 2010, 08:50:17 PM »

With respect to the OP and the discussion as it has unfolded, permit me a shotgun response to the points and issues raised so far.

Support for the worship/veneration of the Saints: The most fundamental support is the Tradition. We do not go to the Scriptures to shift through it to find what we will to prove, disprove, proof-text, or decry any practice of the Church. The Scripture is a reflection of the Church, an early record of the Life of the Spirit moving and teaching in the Church, not a fundamentally foreign external systematically calibrated barometer and balance for us to use as an instrument of personal judgement concerning the Church and its faith.  That is a totally unorthodox and inappropriate use of Scripture. We do not understand the Church in its light, rather we understand it in the light of the Church. Glad to get that caveat off at the start.  

That said, the Scripture most definitely informs our faith individually and as a Body and we can find much in it to offer a great deal of support for the relationship the Church knows it has with God's Saints.  Consider this from the Letters of St. Paul. He says the Church is the Body of Christ. He says that the Body is joined together in the Spirit by those bonds which every joint supplieth. Elsewhere in the Scripture the Apostles teach we understand the spiritual by way of the natural. So tell me what natural body has no communion with itself? What body has members that are not members of each other? Does not St. Paul teach us that this is the very case with the Body of Christ that we as members of His Body are in fact members of each other.  The last time I checked disattached members equal dead or soon to be dead members? My right hand is not my left, but left my left hand be injured and you may bet that through the direction of my head and its gifts my right hand is right there tended to my left hand.  Further, all the other members of my body adjust to ease any jarring or discomfort to my injured member.  If these things are true of a natural body, how much more are they true of the Body of Christ, whose bonds and forged by the very Spirit of God? Did or did not Christ conquer the power of Hell, Death, and the Grave? Did He or did He not make a show of them openly? If He did, then tell me, where has Death now found the power to sunder the Body of Christ, to dissever member from member, to unjoin what the Spirit Himself unifies? Or do you say that either we, or those now with the Lord are not anymore members of Christ's Only Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?  

So how can the Church not know, experience, and persevere in the knowledge of her own members whether here or with the Lord? The bond of the Spirit is unbroken. And if the bond between us is in the Spirit, then how else is that union of member to member not realized and communicated in that most fundamental activity of the Spirit...prayer?

And speaking of communication, does not nature teach us by analogy this as well.  Life in God and thus life in the Church is experiencial.  My left thumb does not "know" about my right thumb in any objective sense.  Rather they know each other as mutual members of the same body, the same blood and nervous system, in the insensible (unless disturbed) bond of being the same flesh and of the acts of one thumb coordinated with and for the other. They move and work together in union with same governing head (mine), as does the Church with its head Christ. My body communicates itself to itself.  So it is with us in Christ together with His Saints.  They do not communicate about Christ as some distant disconnected party. They communicate Christ just as water communicates itself as water and fire communicates fire. Touch a dry cloth to a wet sponge and the cloth also becomes wet. Touch a candle wick to a glowing coal and it will catch fire. Touch a Saint in prayer and receive the grace of the Holy Trinity.

This last illustration answers the question of how do they hear/answer so many requests.  What are words when there is simple presence? No lit match ever wrote an essay to convince a piece of paper to burn. Touch one sheet of paper to a flame or touch ten thousand at the same time...makes no difference to flame.  All that is required is that what touches fire is able to receive fire.

With respect to Mary and Scripture. There is of course nothing explicit. But it is interesting to Note in the last book of Scripture, the only book composed after her repose, we are given an image of a glorious woman who gave birth to the Manchild, the ruler of nations. She is then caught away.  The next thing we are shown is the Ark in Heaven. And who does the Church teach the Ark to be. Finally who is it speaking jointly with the Spirit at the end of the Book, who together with the Spirit calls, "Come."  It is not without cause the Church sings, "Rejoice, Unwedded Bride."

With respect to Mary or any of the saints saving us, we are taught by both God's books, the Holy Scripture and His creation. Do not St. Paul and the Apostles enjoin us each one to endeavor to save our brother? How then should the blessed Theotokos or any of the Saints fall short of that exhortation? The rub is we who are of Protestant extraction are still thinking of "salvation" in forensic terms...as in save us from Judgment, help us be not guilty.  But the Church teaches the heart of salvation is not forensic justification, but salus...health from whence the word "salvation" is derived.  And isn't the type of healing we need also a function of the Body.  Consider if one member is injured or infected, does not the rest of the body labor through its immune system to purge any foreign germ and knit back together any breach?  How is this different when we who are wounded and ill with our passions call upon our healthy members to share their life with us...to heal us by their communion with us, to make us more like them, more like Christ?  How can we who yet labor and struggle in the world not cry out Holy Theotokos, Save us!

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« Reply #96 on: February 19, 2010, 11:35:56 PM »

With respect to the OP and the discussion as it has unfolded, permit me a shotgun response to the points and issues raised so far.

Support for the worship/veneration of the Saints: The most fundamental support is the Tradition. We do not go to the Scriptures to shift through it to find what we will to prove, disprove, proof-text, or decry any practice of the Church. The Scripture is a reflection of the Church, an early record of the Life of the Spirit moving and teaching in the Church, not a fundamentally foreign external systematically calibrated barometer and balance for us to use as an instrument of personal judgement concerning the Church and its faith.  That is a totally unorthodox and inappropriate use of Scripture. We do not understand the Church in its light, rather we understand it in the light of the Church. Glad to get that caveat off at the start.  

That said, the Scripture most definitely informs our faith individually and as a Body and we can find much in it to offer a great deal of support for the relationship the Church knows it has with God's Saints.  Consider this from the Letters of St. Paul. He says the Church is the Body of Christ. He says that the Body is joined together in the Spirit by those bonds which every joint supplieth. Elsewhere in the Scripture the Apostles teach we understand the spiritual by way of the natural. So tell me what natural body has no communion with itself? What body has members that are not members of each other? Does not St. Paul teach us that this is the very case with the Body of Christ that we as members of His Body are in fact members of each other.  The last time I checked disattached members equal dead or soon to be dead members? My right hand is not my left, but left my left hand be injured and you may bet that through the direction of my head and its gifts my right hand is right there tended to my left hand.  Further, all the other members of my body adjust to ease any jarring or discomfort to my injured member.  If these things are true of a natural body, how much more are they true of the Body of Christ, whose bonds and forged by the very Spirit of God? Did or did not Christ conquer the power of Hell, Death, and the Grave? Did He or did He not make a show of them openly? If He did, then tell me, where has Death now found the power to sunder the Body of Christ, to dissever member from member, to unjoin what the Spirit Himself unifies? Or do you say that either we, or those now with the Lord are not anymore members of Christ's Only Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?  

So how can the Church not know, experience, and persevere in the knowledge of her own members whether here or with the Lord? The bond of the Spirit is unbroken. And if the bond between us is in the Spirit, then how else is that union of member to member not realized and communicated in that most fundamental activity of the Spirit...prayer?

And speaking of communication, does not nature teach us by analogy this as well.  Life in God and thus life in the Church is experiencial.  My left thumb does not "know" about my right thumb in any objective sense.  Rather they know each other as mutual members of the same body, the same blood and nervous system, in the insensible (unless disturbed) bond of being the same flesh and of the acts of one thumb coordinated with and for the other. They move and work together in union with same governing head (mine), as does the Church with its head Christ. My body communicates itself to itself.  So it is with us in Christ together with His Saints.  They do not communicate about Christ as some distant disconnected party. They communicate Christ just as water communicates itself as water and fire communicates fire. Touch a dry cloth to a wet sponge and the cloth also becomes wet. Touch a candle wick to a glowing coal and it will catch fire. Touch a Saint in prayer and receive the grace of the Holy Trinity.

This last illustration answers the question of how do they hear/answer so many requests.  What are words when there is simple presence? No lit match ever wrote an essay to convince a piece of paper to burn. Touch one sheet of paper to a flame or touch ten thousand at the same time...makes no difference to flame.  All that is required is that what touches fire is able to receive fire.

With respect to Mary and Scripture. There is of course nothing explicit. But it is interesting to Note in the last book of Scripture, the only book composed after her repose, we are given an image of a glorious woman who gave birth to the Manchild, the ruler of nations. She is then caught away.  The next thing we are shown is the Ark in Heaven. And who does the Church teach the Ark to be. Finally who is it speaking jointly with the Spirit at the end of the Book, who together with the Spirit calls, "Come."  It is not without cause the Church sings, "Rejoice, Unwedded Bride."

With respect to Mary or any of the saints saving us, we are taught by both God's books, the Holy Scripture and His creation. Do not St. Paul and the Apostles enjoin us each one to endeavor to save our brother? How then should the blessed Theotokos or any of the Saints fall short of that exhortation? The rub is we who are of Protestant extraction are still thinking of "salvation" in forensic terms...as in save us from Judgment, help us be not guilty.  But the Church teaches the heart of salvation is not forensic justification, but salus...health from whence the word "salvation" is derived.  And isn't the type of healing we need also a function of the Body.  Consider if one member is injured or infected, does not the rest of the body labor through its immune system to purge any foreign germ and knit back together any breach?  How is this different when we who are wounded and ill with our passions call upon our healthy members to share their life with us...to heal us by their communion with us, to make us more like them, more like Christ?  How can we who yet labor and struggle in the world not cry out Holy Theotokos, Save us!



I must say, I really enjoyed reading what you wrote.
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« Reply #97 on: February 20, 2010, 11:56:26 AM »

Thank you Seraphim98 for your thoughts. You captured the sense and tone of what I had been taught from youth regarding the Saints, the Theotokos and Scripture. It brought to mind the type of explanation of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition that a long deceased priest I knew frequently used in retreats and Lenten missions that I attended over the years. Do not burden yourself with the comment you made about your background and 'forensic' salvation, I fear that is an American affliction that impacts us all.
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« Reply #98 on: February 21, 2010, 12:48:50 PM »

You might say this is a case of knowing how to keep a secret. The history of
the end of Mary's life was genuinely new to most of the Church when it was
made public in the fifth century. The facts of the matter were kept private
among the clergy of the Jerusalem Church, and only became public during the
Council of Chalcedon.

I hate to play the devil's advocate here, but while this is a very honest interpretation, and I certainly appreciate that, as opposed to proclaiming everyone knew all about Mary in the year 120AD, (because I don't think history shows that) this raises a lot of questions about the trustworthiness of the clergy in general. What other "secrets" might the Church have kept or still keep? and in fact, isn't it possible for basically anyone to argue a radically new doctrine and just say "well, we really knew all about it since Apostolic times, we just didn't tell anyone outside of an inner circle of people until now"? How would we know what they say is true or not? Would we be forced to accept said doctrine on blind faith and trust in the clergy? How trustworthy can they really be if they're keeping secrets for 500 years? What else might they be keeping secret? (Secret Gospel of Mark???)

Granted in Orthodoxy we're not really required to have an opinion one way or the other on Mary's death. In a way it's an esoteric doctrine, (not dogma) which I think is appropriate given the circumstances. So I guess that makes my points/question moot. I guess I'm just thinking out loud as it were. Smiley
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« Reply #99 on: February 21, 2010, 04:39:27 PM »

Quote
isn't it possible for basically anyone to argue a radically new doctrine and just say "well, we really knew all about it since Apostolic times, we just didn't tell anyone outside of an inner circle of people until now"?


Doctrines are best expressed through the Church's liturgical and iconographic deposit, derived from scripture, patristic writings, rulings of ecumenical councils, etc. Bit hard to disguise a "radical new doctrine" within them without folks finding out pronto, and acting accordingly.
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« Reply #100 on: February 21, 2010, 04:46:58 PM »

If I am not mistaken, St. Basil the Great, or perhaps another of his generation spoke about things that were once kept private among the baptized but were only in his time being committed to writing and to more open disemination...primarily because it was safe to do so.  For example, it was not until just before baptism that some things concerning Christ were taught to catechumens, and other things such as the Holy Eucharist were only fully discussed with them after baptism. In its early days the Church was very careful to guard its most precious things to keep them out of the eye of scorners and out of the mouth of mockers.  This is why little was made public during Mary's natural life, to preserve her privacy and safety. Only when society had largely become Christian or at least Christian friendly did the Church openly speak of these things.  Some things were always to share with whosoever will, and others belonged to the Holy, just as the priest still intones to this day, "Holy Things for Holy", which invitation is not given before the Deacons issue the instruction to seal the meeting with , "The doors, the doors."  And the faithful before communion still say, "I will not speak of Thy Mysteries to thine enemies..."  As you can see this sense of caution about Holy things among us is very deep and very ancient.

I do not balk at all at the idea that certain information concerning the Theotokos was not widely reported or known in those early times. Such guardianship of precious information was and is entirely consistent with the needs and practices of the times, and the ethos of the Church concerning the Holy at all times.

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« Reply #101 on: February 21, 2010, 04:58:17 PM »

Quote
If I am not mistaken, St. Basil the Great, or perhaps another of his generation spoke about things that were once kept private among the baptized but were only in his time being committed to writing and to more open disemination...primarily because it was safe to do so.

Perhaps you are thinking of On the Holy Spirit, 27 by St. Basil? I believe St. Cyril of Jerusalem said similar things about the sacraments, though more briefly, somewhere in his Catechetical Lectures.
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« Reply #102 on: February 21, 2010, 05:28:32 PM »


Granted in Orthodoxy we're not really required to have an opinion one way or the other on Mary's death. In a way it's an esoteric doctrine, (not dogma) which I think is appropriate given the circumstances. So I guess that makes my points/question moot. I guess I'm just thinking out loud as it were. Smiley

Is the body of the Mother of God buried in a grave in Palestine?

Dear NP,

I cannot agree with you.  Speaking as a priest I would deny communion to a person who denied the dormition and bodily assumption of the holy Mother of God.   If it were some newly awakened doubts and hopefully transient ones, we could be lenient for a time but if it was a firm and settled denial communion would be withdrawn.

Can you imagine a situation where a priest believed he had the freedom to deny it as you have said.  The priest could stand in front of his parish and say:  'I don't believe in this so we won't we celebrating the services for the assumption during the two week fast, in fact you don't have to fast at all, and we won't be having any celebration on the 15th to honour her bodily assumption.  Her body was not taken to heaven, it is mouldering away in a grave somewhere in Palestine.'  

Such a priest would find himself called to his bishop's office and sharply rebuked.  If he did not learn the error of his opinion I imagine he would be dismissed from the priesthood.

So yes, you are required to have an opinion and a belief, and that must be the tradition of the Church,  And no, it is not an "esoteric doctrine" which you may reject, not without forfeiting communion and even, in the case of a priest, being defrocked.
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« Reply #103 on: February 22, 2010, 06:26:44 AM »


Granted in Orthodoxy we're not really required to have an opinion one way or the other on Mary's death. In a way it's an esoteric doctrine, (not dogma) which I think is appropriate given the circumstances. So I guess that makes my points/question moot. I guess I'm just thinking out loud as it were. Smiley

Is the body of the Mother of God buried in a grave in Palestine?

Dear NP,

I cannot agree with you.  Speaking as a priest I would deny communion to a person who denied the dormition and bodily assumption of the holy Mother of God.   If it were some newly awakened doubts and hopefully transient ones, we could be lenient for a time but if it was a firm and settled denial communion would be withdrawn.

Can you imagine a situation where a priest believed he had the freedom to deny it as you have said.  The priest could stand in front of his parish and say:  'I don't believe in this so we won't we celebrating the services for the assumption during the two week fast, in fact you don't have to fast at all, and we won't be having any celebration on the 15th to honour her bodily assumption.  Her body was not taken to heaven, it is mouldering away in a grave somewhere in Palestine.'  

Such a priest would find himself called to his bishop's office and sharply rebuked.  If he did not learn the error of his opinion I imagine he would be dismissed from the priesthood.

So yes, you are required to have an opinion and a belief, and that must be the tradition of the Church,  And no, it is not an "esoteric doctrine" which you may reject, not without forfeiting communion and even, in the case of a priest, being defrocked.

I've been told something quite different by a ROCOR archpriest. I'd rather not name him on a public forum, but he told me that there were certain things in Orthodoxy which aren't essential doctrines but instead fall under the category of theological opinions which are optional, but not necessary to be of the Orthodox faith. He used the dormition of the Theotokos as an example of this.
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« Reply #104 on: February 22, 2010, 07:37:51 AM »


Granted in Orthodoxy we're not really required to have an opinion one way or the other on Mary's death. In a way it's an esoteric doctrine, (not dogma) which I think is appropriate given the circumstances. So I guess that makes my points/question moot. I guess I'm just thinking out loud as it were. Smiley

Is the body of the Mother of God buried in a grave in Palestine?

Dear NP,

I cannot agree with you.  Speaking as a priest I would deny communion to a person who denied the dormition and bodily assumption of the holy Mother of God.   If it were some newly awakened doubts and hopefully transient ones, we could be lenient for a time but if it was a firm and settled denial communion would be withdrawn.

Can you imagine a situation where a priest believed he had the freedom to deny it as you have said.  The priest could stand in front of his parish and say:  'I don't believe in this so we won't we celebrating the services for the assumption during the two week fast, in fact you don't have to fast at all, and we won't be having any celebration on the 15th to honour her bodily assumption.  Her body was not taken to heaven, it is mouldering away in a grave somewhere in Palestine.'  

Such a priest would find himself called to his bishop's office and sharply rebuked.  If he did not learn the error of his opinion I imagine he would be dismissed from the priesthood.

So yes, you are required to have an opinion and a belief, and that must be the tradition of the Church,  And no, it is not an "esoteric doctrine" which you may reject, not without forfeiting communion and even, in the case of a priest, being defrocked.

I've been told something quite different by a ROCOR archpriest. I'd rather not name him on a public forum, but he told me that there were certain things in Orthodoxy which aren't essential doctrines but instead fall under the category of theological opinions which are optional, but not necessary to be of the Orthodox faith. He used the dormition of the Theotokos as an example of this.

True, the Dormition/Assumption is not an essential doctrine for salvation since it does not fall within the essential christological scheme of our salvation.   But it is not an optional belief.  Your ROCA archpriest is indeed a heretic if you have understood him correctly and he has told you that a Christian may deny that the body of the Mother of God was taken into heaven but remains somewhere in Palestine.  Although you understandably do not wish to name him, you may if you wish name me and relay to him what I have written.

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« Reply #105 on: July 28, 2011, 06:28:47 AM »

Wrong thread
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« Reply #106 on: July 28, 2011, 12:02:26 PM »

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.

Asterikos,

I am bumping this older thread because we are obviously starting to run over the same issues in the new thread.
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« Reply #107 on: July 28, 2011, 12:17:44 PM »


Granted in Orthodoxy we're not really required to have an opinion one way or the other on Mary's death. In a way it's an esoteric doctrine, (not dogma) which I think is appropriate given the circumstances. So I guess that makes my points/question moot. I guess I'm just thinking out loud as it were. Smiley

Is the body of the Mother of God buried in a grave in Palestine?

Dear NP,

I cannot agree with you.  Speaking as a priest I would deny communion to a person who denied the dormition and bodily assumption of the holy Mother of God.   If it were some newly awakened doubts and hopefully transient ones, we could be lenient for a time but if it was a firm and settled denial communion would be withdrawn.

Can you imagine a situation where a priest believed he had the freedom to deny it as you have said.  The priest could stand in front of his parish and say:  'I don't believe in this so we won't we celebrating the services for the assumption during the two week fast, in fact you don't have to fast at all, and we won't be having any celebration on the 15th to honour her bodily assumption.  Her body was not taken to heaven, it is mouldering away in a grave somewhere in Palestine.'  

Such a priest would find himself called to his bishop's office and sharply rebuked.  If he did not learn the error of his opinion I imagine he would be dismissed from the priesthood.

So yes, you are required to have an opinion and a belief, and that must be the tradition of the Church,  And no, it is not an "esoteric doctrine" which you may reject, not without forfeiting communion and even, in the case of a priest, being defrocked.

This assumes the priest survives the wrath of God or the congregation. Smiley
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« Reply #108 on: July 28, 2011, 09:45:28 PM »

So, the things that were proclaimed upfront in evangelism were the deity of Christ, His saving death, and the Resurrection.

Everything else-the Trinity, Eucharist, Mary, baptism, the Saints-these were what was only told to catechumens, right?

On topic, I think of the Saints directly helping us as being just an extension of earthly miracles done through Prophets and Apostles. All of it is done "by the Finger of God." Clearly the liturgy also speaks of their intercession though, so it's a both/and not an either/or.
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« Reply #109 on: July 28, 2011, 11:39:45 PM »

In my inquirer's class last year when we were discussing this issue about prayer to the saints I asked my priest point blank how this worked out in reality.  I asked if the faithful are only seeking prayers, or if they are asking for direct action on the part of the saints.  He seemingly reluctantly told me that yes, the faithful pray for the saints to act in their lives directly, not merely to petition God for them.  It wasn't the answer I was looking for, but at least I knew the reality of the situation.

It would be interesting to know if there are Orthodox Christians here who have been told by their priest or catechist that they should not pray to the Mother of God and the Saints?
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« Reply #110 on: July 28, 2011, 11:49:32 PM »

In my inquirer's class last year when we were discussing this issue about prayer to the saints I asked my priest point blank how this worked out in reality.  I asked if the faithful are only seeking prayers, or if they are asking for direct action on the part of the saints.  He seemingly reluctantly told me that yes, the faithful pray for the saints to act in their lives directly, not merely to petition God for them.  It wasn't the answer I was looking for, but at least I knew the reality of the situation.

It would be interesting to know if there are Orthodox Christians here who have been told by their priest or catechist that they should not pray to the Mother of God and the Saints?

Do you mean not to pray to them asking for direction intervention (as opposed to just intercessory prayers on our behalf)? For my part I don't don't really recall being given specific instructions on that point, though I could be forgetting.
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« Reply #111 on: July 29, 2011, 12:02:18 AM »

Do you mean not to pray to them asking for direction intervention

Yes.  For example two monthss ago we learnt that our youngest brother has terminal cancer.  We now pray the Akathist to the Mother of God the Queen of All (Pantanassa) for him.  It contain dozens of prayers to her such as " Heal thine ailing people, All Merciful Queen" and "Say the word that my soul may be healed and my weakened body strengthened, for you have unconquerable power.." and "Send down your healing upon your servants who run to you..."

Are there priests telling their people not to use such prayers?
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« Reply #112 on: July 29, 2011, 12:15:42 AM »

I can't recall a priest telling me that... my own reluctance is probably the result of non-Orthodox baggage I still carry.
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« Reply #113 on: July 29, 2011, 01:51:08 AM »

So when do you pray to the Saints and when to God? Jesus is the Great Physician, after all.
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« Reply #114 on: July 29, 2011, 02:39:17 AM »

So when do you pray to the Saints and when to God? Jesus is the Great Physician, after all.

When do you pray to Jesus for his intercessions to the Father, and when do you pray directly to the Father?

When do you ask your friends to pray for your healing, and when do you just skip all the extras and do it yourself?

These kinds of questions aren't necessarily the best angle to tackle this from.
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« Reply #115 on: July 29, 2011, 10:24:01 AM »

I suppose you have a point.

So, the things that were proclaimed upfront in evangelism were the deity of Christ, His saving death, and the Resurrection.

Everything else-the Trinity, Eucharist, Mary, baptism, the Saints-these were what was only told to catechumens, right?

On topic, I think of the Saints directly helping us as being just an extension of earthly miracles done through Prophets and Apostles. All of it is done "by the Finger of God." Clearly the liturgy also speaks of their intercession though, so it's a both/and not an either/or.
Thinking about it more, the "to/through" thing is perhaps in some ways a false dichotomy. I can't recall any miracle performed by a Saint in Scripture which was not itself accompanied by prayer.
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« Reply #116 on: July 29, 2011, 12:25:35 PM »

Why shouldn't we ask the departed Saints for their prayers? We ask each other for their prayers and it is comforting to know that others are praying for us.

When you ask for the prayers of the departed Saints, the first thing you are doing is acknowledging that "Christ is risen!" and these Saints are alive in Him because He has trampled Death and bestowed Life upon those in the tombs.

Virtually every prayer we say is imbued with a bold statement of Christ's Resurrection and His promise of Eternal Life for all that believe in Him.
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« Reply #117 on: July 29, 2011, 12:53:12 PM »

The Canon of Prayer to our Guardian Angel....

People here who follow the Russian way of preparing for Holy Communion will know very well the Canon to the Guardian Angel since we have to read it in the days before we receive Holy Communion.

Here it is
http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english/prayerbook/main.htm

If you look at it you will see it is an intertwining of all the types of prayer we have been talking about.
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« Reply #118 on: July 29, 2011, 01:05:50 PM »

That's very nice, thanks.  Smiley Of course, if I wasn't such a ninny and would actual sit down and pray these more often, my doubts would probably vanish.  Undecided laugh
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« Reply #119 on: July 29, 2011, 04:17:40 PM »

So when do you pray to the Saints and when to God? Jesus is the Great Physician, after all.

You think when you pray to a saint, God isn't listening, or to God that the saints aren't listening? Or that the saints, who by God's grace have become like Him have no power to heal in imitation of Christ? No, they are all working together for the glory of God, and God honors and glorifies those who have honored and glorified Him.
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« Reply #120 on: July 29, 2011, 04:21:27 PM »

So when do you pray to the Saints and when to God? Jesus is the Great Physician, after all.

When do you pray to Jesus for his intercessions to the Father, and when do you pray directly to the Father?

When do you ask your friends to pray for your healing, and when do you just skip all the extras and do it yourself?

These kinds of questions aren't necessarily the best angle to tackle this from.

The intercessions of God the Word and of the Holy Spirit are of a different nature than the prayers of the saints. So, we don't ask Christ to pray for us, that just seems odd.

We pray for ourselves, and we ask for the prayers of others and the saints. In many cases, if we don't pray for ourselves, how much healing can we expect? We pray in community.
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« Reply #121 on: July 29, 2011, 09:57:47 PM »

So when do you pray to the Saints and when to God? Jesus is the Great Physician, after all.

You think when you pray to a saint, God isn't listening, or to God that the saints aren't listening? Or that the saints, who by God's grace have become like Him have no power to heal in imitation of Christ? No, they are all working together for the glory of God, and God honors and glorifies those who have honored and glorified Him.
I agree... And let's leave it at that, since I just found myself typing the same old things I have here a thousand times.

I'm just going in circles.
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« Reply #122 on: July 30, 2011, 12:46:43 AM »

What Does It Mean To Believe In The Church? Thoughts About the Church and the Orthodox Divine Services
By St. John of Kronstadt

"Acknowledge that all the saints are our elder brothers in the one House of the Heavenly Father, who have departed from earth to heaven, and they are always with us in God, and they constantly teach us and guide us to eternal life by means of the church services, Mysteries, rites, instructions, and church decrees, which they have composed—as for example, those concerning the fasts and feasts—, so to speak, they serve together with us, they sing, they speak, they instruct, they help us in various temptations and sorrows. And call upon them as living with you under a single roof; glorify them, thank them, converse with them as with living people; and you will believe in the Church."
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