Author Topic: Omnipresence of the Departed Saints  (Read 1996 times)

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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Omnipresence of the Departed Saints
« on: July 07, 2010, 09:56:30 PM »
How can the Theotokos and all of the saints in the Church Triumphant hear our petitions?

I realize this is immediately absurd in many ways, because they do not currently have physical ears as we do, therefore to inquire about the manner of their 'hearing' us is a figurative devise to help us comprehend a Mystery. But regardless of linguistic limitations, God can hear our prayers because He is everywhere present and filling all things by His Holy Spirit. But how is this possible for the saints, as omnipresence is a divine attribute. For example, I highly doubt that hideous Belial is everywhere at once. So what gives the saints this privilege?

I have come to understand that this happens because of deification. As we unite with God, amazing things are possible. Miracles happen, because as we unite with the Source of Life, we in some way gain access to His power and can even in some cases master the elements. If this is possible, then perhaps in "Heaven" and also in the glorious age to come we gain this divine attribute in some way.

Does this understanding seem Orthodox, or is it perhaps an improper understanding?

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Omnipresence of the Departed Saints
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2010, 10:34:31 PM »
The answer is the Holy Spirit. The Saints are not omnipresent, only God is, but through the Holy Spirit they hear our prayers. In the Holy Spirit, we have communication with all the Saints, because it is the Holy Spirit that unites us, spiritually.
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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Omnipresence of the Departed Saints
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 12:48:10 AM »
I think you are both correct. But yes, essentially it is indeed a holy mystery. I have come to believe that "why" is the better question than "how" when it comes to theology. "How" deals with mechanics, and holy mysteries transcend mechanical explanations. But "why" deals with purpose, and therefore it is a more productive question. "Why" do we pray to the Saints? We do so because they are our brothers and sisters who form the Church triumphant, because we need to rely on one another, because we must confess that we need the intercession of those who preceded us and attained theosis, because the Church instructs us to do so, and because in praying to the Saints we humble ourselves before Our Lord Jesus Christ and trust the Teachings of His Church. "How" this works is a much less improtant question; and focusing on the "how" can easily distract us from recognizing the purpose of our practice. (Not in any way to say you are wrong to raise this very good question.)


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Offline Lenexa

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Re: Omnipresence of the Departed Saints
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 04:50:46 PM »
The answer is the Holy Spirit. The Saints are not omnipresent, only God is, but through the Holy Spirit they hear our prayers. In the Holy Spirit, we have communication with all the Saints, because it is the Holy Spirit that unites us, spiritually.
I am reminded of the speech of St.Paul heard by St.Dionysius the Areopagite:
Acts of the Apostles 17:21 (Now all the Athenians, and strangers that were there, employed themselves in nothing else, but either in telling or in hearing some new thing.) 22 But Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious. 23 For passing by, and seeing your idols, I found an altar also, on which was written: To the unknown God. What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you: 24 God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is he served with men's hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things: 26 And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation. 27 That they should seek God, if happily they may feel after him or find him, although he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and are; as some also of your own poets said: For we are also his offspring. 29 Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man.

I think you are both correct. But yes, essentially it is indeed a holy mystery. I have come to believe that "why" is the better question than "how" when it comes to theology. "How" deals with mechanics, and holy mysteries transcend mechanical explanations. But "why" deals with purpose, and therefore it is a more productive question. "Why" do we pray to the Saints? We do so because they are our brothers and sisters who form the Church triumphant, because we need to rely on one another, because we must confess that we need the intercession of those who preceded us and attained theosis, because the Church instructs us to do so, and because in praying to the Saints we humble ourselves before Our Lord Jesus Christ and trust the Teachings of His Church. "How" this works is a much less improtant question; and focusing on the "how" can easily distract us from recognizing the purpose of our practice. (Not in any way to say you are wrong to raise this very good question.)

Selam


This seems a good way to understand it. Perhaps that is why Silence is counseled so often by our Fathers. That there are illiterate, pious and unknown men and women who have had and have more knowledge and wisdom from God than a library speaks volumes.
How can the Theotokos and all of the saints in the Church Triumphant hear our petitions?

I realize this is immediately absurd in many ways, because they do not currently have physical ears as we do, therefore to inquire about the manner of their 'hearing' us is a figurative devise to help us comprehend a Mystery. But regardless of linguistic limitations, God can hear our prayers because He is everywhere present and filling all things by His Holy Spirit. But how is this possible for the saints, as omnipresence is a divine attribute. For example, I highly doubt that hideous Belial is everywhere at once. So what gives the saints this privilege?

I have come to understand that this happens because of deification. As we unite with God, amazing things are possible. Miracles happen, because as we unite with the Source of Life, we in some way gain access to His power and can even in some cases master the elements. If this is possible, then perhaps in "Heaven" and also in the glorious age to come we gain this divine attribute in some way.

Does this understanding seem Orthodox, or is it perhaps an improper understanding?
It doesn't seem improper at all.
We can't think of the spiritual world as material but in some sense it is as only God is totally immaterial. The vibration that brings sound giving us knowledge of others does not necessitate our being present where it originates. Often such seems to be the way of knowledge with those still in our present bodies and world of corruption who have become so close and like to the angels and saints. They hear things and see things as from afar often by extra-material means through the spiritual world. 
However those saints and angels in the spiritual world are as you wrote. They are so "close", this is much more than physical proximity, that they are able to hear our petitions and intercede and help us by the power they have from God.

Offline JLatimer

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Re: Omnipresence of the Departed Saints
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2010, 06:44:39 PM »
The answer is the Holy Spirit. The Saints are not omnipresent, only God is, but through the Holy Spirit they hear our prayers. In the Holy Spirit, we have communication with all the Saints, because it is the Holy Spirit that unites us, spiritually.

Thoughts:

Is omnipresence an essential or energetic attribute? That question may betray my general lack of theological understanding.

The Fathers teach we will become by grace everything God is by nature. I assume that includes omnipresence in some way.

Some saints are capable of bilocation even in their earthly lives.

If the angels and saints do indeed worship with us at the Divine Liturgy, for example, don't they have to be omnipresent or at least closer to omnipresent than we are to be in so many churches at once on Sunday?
1 Samuel 25:22 (KJV)
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

Offline Irish Hermit

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Re: Omnipresence of the Departed Saints
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2010, 07:10:26 PM »
I've never thought about this question.  I've always taken it for granted that the Mother of God and the Saints can hear my prayers down here at the bottom of the world (New Zealand)

Someone mentioned yesterday that we always ask the question "How" about theological issues and we should ask "Why" instead.

So ....  Why does God allow the Mother of God and the Saints to receive prayers from all over the world?

Or...... Why would God not allow them to receive prayers?

Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: Omnipresence of the Departed Saints
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2010, 09:02:02 PM »
I believe it is as said above.

The saints are in a condition such that the Holy Spirits shines from them. The Holy Spirit is everywhere. So when we pray to a saint here, we are partially in the Holy Spirit too. The same Holy Spirit that is in them. So, as long the Holy Spirit knows we are praying here and now, so does the saint who shares in the Holy Spirit grace.

About bilocation, we must remember that being in more than one place at the same time is still limited to the infinity that is to be in *all* places at the same time. So we may think that "presence" is indeed an energy which in God exists fully, and that the saints share in the limits of their humanity. As they grow in God, they can be "more present" (even to billocate, trillocate and so on) and no matter how many redudant presences they might achieve, it is still nothing in face of the infinite presence of God.
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