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blessedbeggar
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« on: January 11, 2011, 02:04:02 PM »

My wife and I are about to get our first Vigil Lamp, and have a question that seems obvious to most. I know Olive Oil is recommended....but is it blended with anything else? Is there a reason that standard lamp oil isn't used? Does it burn poorly causing buildup perhaps on Icons, etc.? Any response is appreciated.

In Christ,
Blessed Beggar

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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 02:10:00 PM »

We use normal colza oil.
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 02:15:07 PM »

My wife and I are about to get our first Vigil Lamp, and have a question that seems obvious to most. I know Olive Oil is recommended....but is it blended with anything else? Is there a reason that standard lamp oil isn't used? Does it burn poorly causing buildup perhaps on Icons, etc.? Any response is appreciated.

In Christ,
Blessed Beggar


I use regular olive oil most often, but recently I've been experimenting with infusing my own olive oil with herbs, spices and fruits. I have about 2 more weeks until this next batch is ready. It does give it a bit of a more pleasant smell. However, I don't know about using any other oils as olive oil is the only kind I have used in my lampada.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2011, 07:07:17 PM »

My wife and I are about to get our first Vigil Lamp, and have a question that seems obvious to most. I know Olive Oil is recommended....but is it blended with anything else? Is there a reason that standard lamp oil isn't used? Does it burn poorly causing buildup perhaps on Icons, etc.? Any response is appreciated.

In Christ,
Blessed Beggar


I use regular olive oil most often, but recently I've been experimenting with infusing my own olive oil with herbs, spices and fruits. I have about 2 more weeks until this next batch is ready. It does give it a bit of a more pleasant smell. However, I don't know about using any other oils as olive oil is the only kind I have used in my lampada.

In Christ,
Andrew
I use olive oil only as it is the standard.  It costs more, therefore there is a degree more sacrifice or giving in using it rather than cheaper oils.  A little essential oil e.g. rose can add to the aroma, but I think the smell of burning olive oil is very nice.  The following is from http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/xc_home.aspx#oil

In front of the icons an oil lamp should perpetually burn. Some families burn wax votive candles before the icons; however, the tradition is to burn olive oil. Electric lights are not appropriate for use as the light to burn before icons. The traditional oil lamps require an amount of attention which electricity does not, thereby directing our physical services and thoughts to God several times a day when we are required to trim the wick and refill the lamp with oil.

The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost; however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and then of themselves. A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems, one of which was not enough money to purchase food. The head of the family placed the household under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. As an offering of faith and love, the family's head promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and no money to buy either olive oil or food. Because of the strong faith shown by the family head, the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.

There are a number of different kinds of utensils designed for burning oil before icons. A very common one is the wick-float which utilizes cork to keep the wick and flame floating on the oil. The burning of oil before icons, its care and practice is described below:

1. The Glass. Any low, wide-mouth glass may be used for the lamp. Once used for this, however, the glass should not be reused for any other purpose. In Greece, most of the lamps are of clear glass, but colors such as red, blue or milk-colored are also used. [It is advisable to use a large enough glass so that the oil will last at least 10 to 12 hours.]

2. The Oil. The use of olive oil for the lamps is a tradition which we have received even from the time of our father Moses. The olive oil will burn best if left open and allowed to age (or even become rancid).

3. The Wick. To make a wick, use cotton string about one foot in length. Do not use coated or waxed string. Cotton string of about 6 ply will be thick enough. If the wick is soaked in vinegar it will burn brighter and cleaner. If this is done, the wick should be allowed to dry thoroughly before being used.

4. The Flame. The fathers of the Holy Mountain [Athos] have taught us to use a very low flame which they call apathes, passionless. The flame should burn steadily, not flickering. The lamp will burn six to twelve hours, depending mainly on the oil, but also on the size of the flame, the weather, etc. Before relighting the lamp, remove the excess carbon from the wick and twist the string slightly to shape the wick into a point. [Candle wax may be used to make a firm point for ease in "threading" the wick. It should be trimmed off before lighting.]

5. Cleaning. The napkin or tissue used to wipe the carbon and oil from the fingers should be burned in a separate place (the home censer is the best place) and not just thrown into the garbage. Be careful not to drip or spill the oil when lighting the lamp (St. Theodore of Studion imposed a canon of thirty prostrations on the church ecclesiarch who spills oil from the icon lamps). The glass should be washed periodically, and the oil replaced anew. The water in which the lamp is washed, as well as the old oil from the icon lamp, should not be poured down the drain. It is best, rather, to pour it under plants or trees, or an area that is not walked upon.

Pious Orthodox faithful take oil frequently from the lamp and bless themselves, making the sign of the Cross on their foreheads.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 07:08:47 PM by SubdeaconDavid » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2011, 07:48:56 PM »

My wife and I are about to get our first Vigil Lamp, and have a question that seems obvious to most. I know Olive Oil is recommended....but is it blended with anything else? Is there a reason that standard lamp oil isn't used? Does it burn poorly causing buildup perhaps on Icons, etc.? Any response is appreciated.

In Christ,
Blessed Beggar


I use regular olive oil most often, but recently I've been experimenting with infusing my own olive oil with herbs, spices and fruits. I have about 2 more weeks until this next batch is ready. It does give it a bit of a more pleasant smell. However, I don't know about using any other oils as olive oil is the only kind I have used in my lampada.

In Christ,
Andrew
I use olive oil only as it is the standard.  It costs more, therefore there is a degree more sacrifice or giving in using it rather than cheaper oils.  A little essential oil e.g. rose can add to the aroma, but I think the smell of burning olive oil is very nice.  The following is from http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/xc_home.aspx#oil

In front of the icons an oil lamp should perpetually burn. Some families burn wax votive candles before the icons; however, the tradition is to burn olive oil. Electric lights are not appropriate for use as the light to burn before icons. The traditional oil lamps require an amount of attention which electricity does not, thereby directing our physical services and thoughts to God several times a day when we are required to trim the wick and refill the lamp with oil.

The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost; however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and then of themselves. A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems, one of which was not enough money to purchase food. The head of the family placed the household under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. As an offering of faith and love, the family's head promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and no money to buy either olive oil or food. Because of the strong faith shown by the family head, the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.

There are a number of different kinds of utensils designed for burning oil before icons. A very common one is the wick-float which utilizes cork to keep the wick and flame floating on the oil. The burning of oil before icons, its care and practice is described below:

1. The Glass. Any low, wide-mouth glass may be used for the lamp. Once used for this, however, the glass should not be reused for any other purpose. In Greece, most of the lamps are of clear glass, but colors such as red, blue or milk-colored are also used. [It is advisable to use a large enough glass so that the oil will last at least 10 to 12 hours.]

2. The Oil. The use of olive oil for the lamps is a tradition which we have received even from the time of our father Moses. The olive oil will burn best if left open and allowed to age (or even become rancid).

3. The Wick. To make a wick, use cotton string about one foot in length. Do not use coated or waxed string. Cotton string of about 6 ply will be thick enough. If the wick is soaked in vinegar it will burn brighter and cleaner. If this is done, the wick should be allowed to dry thoroughly before being used.

4. The Flame. The fathers of the Holy Mountain [Athos] have taught us to use a very low flame which they call apathes, passionless. The flame should burn steadily, not flickering. The lamp will burn six to twelve hours, depending mainly on the oil, but also on the size of the flame, the weather, etc. Before relighting the lamp, remove the excess carbon from the wick and twist the string slightly to shape the wick into a point. [Candle wax may be used to make a firm point for ease in "threading" the wick. It should be trimmed off before lighting.]

5. Cleaning. The napkin or tissue used to wipe the carbon and oil from the fingers should be burned in a separate place (the home censer is the best place) and not just thrown into the garbage. Be careful not to drip or spill the oil when lighting the lamp (St. Theodore of Studion imposed a canon of thirty prostrations on the church ecclesiarch who spills oil from the icon lamps). The glass should be washed periodically, and the oil replaced anew. The water in which the lamp is washed, as well as the old oil from the icon lamp, should not be poured down the drain. It is best, rather, to pour it under plants or trees, or an area that is not walked upon.

Pious Orthodox faithful take oil frequently from the lamp and bless themselves, making the sign of the Cross on their foreheads.
I must have not come across with any "pious Orthodox faithful" since none did all of these things.
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2011, 09:21:56 PM »

Quote
The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost; however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and then of themselves. A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems, one of which was not enough money to purchase food. The head of the family placed the household under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. As an offering of faith and love, the family's head promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and no money to buy either olive oil or food. Because of the strong faith shown by the family head, the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.

having been the beneficiary of such miracles myself- (and i do have some awesome reports, having been widowed young and with 6 children)  and with no disrespect intended to our Holy Lady, i must ask- what power does the Theotokos have to do such things? Again- please, no disrespect intended, this is a genuine question...while i hear this kind of thing said and even in prayer- whenever i pin someone down to explain, i am always told that no, Mary does not actually "save" us in the general sense of the word, nor is our Lady able to "work" a miracle- more to the point, the Theotokos is our intercessor - and a mighty one- and THAT is the power that is exerted...is this so and am i just to assume that is what is meant? or does our Holy Lady actually have the means by which the natural world can be manipulated? i find this all somewhat confusing....
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2011, 09:42:39 PM »

Quote
The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost; however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and then of themselves. A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems, one of which was not enough money to purchase food. The head of the family placed the household under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. As an offering of faith and love, the family's head promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and no money to buy either olive oil or food. Because of the strong faith shown by the family head, the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.

having been the beneficiary of such miracles myself- (and i do have some awesome reports, having been widowed young and with 6 children)  and with no disrespect intended to our Holy Lady, i must ask- what power does the Theotokos have to do such things? Again- please, no disrespect intended, this is a genuine question...while i hear this kind of thing said and even in prayer- whenever i pin someone down to explain, i am always told that no, Mary does not actually "save" us in the general sense of the word, nor is our Lady able to "work" a miracle- more to the point, the Theotokos is our intercessor - and a mighty one- and THAT is the power that is exerted...is this so and am i just to assume that is what is meant? or does our Holy Lady actually have the means by which the natural world can be manipulated? i find this all somewhat confusing....

The prayers of a righteous man avails much.  (James 5:16) - Her Son, our Lord Jesus hears her prayers and answers them quickly.  She in and of herself can do nothing - just as you or I in and of ourselves can do nothing - but God, who hears her gracious prayers for us can do all things.  She saves us much like the person who calls 911 when they witness a car accident saves the person who is injured in the car.  That person doesn't do the actual hands on work, but without that call, the person in the car might perish.  She is full of His grace - and in that grace, she holds His ear.  She is pure, holy and sanctified, if there is anyone who is truly a righteous 'man' . . . .heh. . .she is.
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2011, 11:08:09 PM »

Quote
The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost; however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and then of themselves. A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems, one of which was not enough money to purchase food. The head of the family placed the household under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. As an offering of faith and love, the family's head promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and no money to buy either olive oil or food. Because of the strong faith shown by the family head, the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.

having been the beneficiary of such miracles myself- (and i do have some awesome reports, having been widowed young and with 6 children)  and with no disrespect intended to our Holy Lady, i must ask- what power does the Theotokos have to do such things? Again- please, no disrespect intended, this is a genuine question...while i hear this kind of thing said and even in prayer- whenever i pin someone down to explain, i am always told that no, Mary does not actually "save" us in the general sense of the word, nor is our Lady able to "work" a miracle- more to the point, the Theotokos is our intercessor - and a mighty one- and THAT is the power that is exerted...is this so and am i just to assume that is what is meant? or does our Holy Lady actually have the means by which the natural world can be manipulated? i find this all somewhat confusing....

The prayers of a righteous man avails much.  (James 5:16) - Her Son, our Lord Jesus hears her prayers and answers them quickly.  She in and of herself can do nothing - just as you or I in and of ourselves can do nothing - but God, who hears her gracious prayers for us can do all things.  She saves us much like the person who calls 911 when they witness a car accident saves the person who is injured in the car.  That person doesn't do the actual hands on work, but without that call, the person in the car might perish.  She is full of His grace - and in that grace, she holds His ear.  She is pure, holy and sanctified, if there is anyone who is truly a righteous 'man' . . . .heh. . .she is.
I've never really thought about it that way before, although I have been venerated the Theotokos since my RC days. Excellent analogy, BethAnna! I'm going to have to use that. Smiley

To reiterate what others have said, the Mother of God can do nothing on her own without her Son. Also, she does not "save" us in the sense of salvation. From what I understand the use of "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" is in terms of her helping us.

In Christ,
Andrew
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2011, 12:22:36 AM »

I really appreciate the analogy and the attempt to explain, but it seems unintentionally bureaucratic.  I mean no offense, but it implies that the Lord is perhaps too busy or would prefer not to listen to our prayers directly.  In other words, why can't we be the ones to dial 911 ourselves?

I understand that tradition tells us that this is an appropriate way to conduct prayer, but I still struggle with it.  For what it's worth, Fr. Thomas Hopko's podcast on the subject uncharacteristically failed to help me much either. That's another story for another vigil lamp question thread.  Grin

 
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2011, 12:25:30 AM »

We can and we do (call 911 ourselves) but how many times have you asked for a friend or family member to pray for you? 

There was a time when I was fallen - truly deeply completely in sin, and I thank God for those of my friends and family and all the saints for praying for me, including the Theotokos. . .because at that time, I assuredly could not pray for me. 
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2011, 12:45:24 AM »

We can and we do (call 911 ourselves) but how many times have you asked for a friend or family member to pray for you? 

There was a time when I was fallen - truly deeply completely in sin, and I thank God for those of my friends and family and all the saints for praying for me, including the Theotokos. . .because at that time, I assuredly could not pray for me. 

Thanks very much for your response.  I honestly have never asked a friend or family member to pray for me, but I can see the benefit in  and reasoning for doing so.   
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2011, 02:44:08 PM »

This prayer to and miracles from the saints really encapsulates a larger soteriological understanding within Orthodoxy. No one is saved on his own. Essentially, everyone you interact with is for your salvation...good and bad.

For those who are our "enemies", those who work antagonistically in our lives, they are for our salvation because it is through them we practice virtue. Christ teaches us to love our enemies, pray for our persecutors, etc. These people are given to us by God that we may do those things commanded of us.

And that who are "friends", our helpers and those in the Church with us, are for our salvation because they guide us and intercede before Christ. In addition to offering an encouraging word or an occassional hand up, the pious Christian prays for those in need (including those who are their enemies, remember). They are intermediaries for us. When we cannot or are not praying for ourselves, they pray for us. Even when we are earnestly praying for ourselves, still they pray for us. As was quoted above "the prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

This doesn't mean we have to get God's attention because He isn't watching right now and we need to catch His ear so He knows our plight. Never. It is that we exist in his Body, the Church, which is established by Christ for our salvation. It is through participation in the sacramental life of the church that saves us, which includes our Baptism, confession of sins, partaking of the Eucharist, and righteous prayer. "Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them."

In the same vein, those saints of the church who work miracles do so because of Christ who lives through them. Scripture records many miracles of the Apostles, for example. The healing power of St. Peter's shadow, or St. Paul's handkerchiefs. We read many miracles from the lives of the saints, etc. We say that these people "work miracles", and we do not lie or twist words...these people truly do! For they will that these miracles occur, and they do! However, this works because they have been so united with Christ. They are deified humans who partake of God's energies...these are people who "walk with God." Truly they work the miracles, but only because they are with Christ who works through them. Just as St. Peter willed the beggar to be healed so that he may walk, yet did so in the name of Christ.

This is what we mean when we speak of people, living and departed, who work miracles.
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2011, 11:51:19 AM »

Quote
The use of pure olive oil may be objected to because of its high cost; however, God is beneficent to those who think first of spiritual matters and then of themselves. A family with which I am familiar had a multitude of problems, one of which was not enough money to purchase food. The head of the family placed the household under the protection of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. As an offering of faith and love, the family's head promised that the lamp in the icon corner would burn only pure olive oil and that it would be allowed to go out only after there was no more food on the table and no money to buy either olive oil or food. Because of the strong faith shown by the family head, the Theotokos has miraculously provided the family with enough money to purchase both olive oil and food for months on end.

having been the beneficiary of such miracles myself- (and i do have some awesome reports, having been widowed young and with 6 children)  and with no disrespect intended to our Holy Lady, i must ask- what power does the Theotokos have to do such things? Again- please, no disrespect intended, this is a genuine question...while i hear this kind of thing said and even in prayer- whenever i pin someone down to explain, i am always told that no, Mary does not actually "save" us in the general sense of the word, nor is our Lady able to "work" a miracle- more to the point, the Theotokos is our intercessor - and a mighty one- and THAT is the power that is exerted...is this so and am i just to assume that is what is meant? or does our Holy Lady actually have the means by which the natural world can be manipulated? i find this all somewhat confusing....
there is an interesting story I read, I think it was in Father Arseney (my favorite book).  there was a very pious young Russian woman.  she was stalked onn her way home and was abducted by two thugs, who intended to rape her.  all the way, she prayed the Jesus prayer.  all of the sudden, the two men dropped her and stared at what seemed to be nothing with fear. then, they went away and the girl walked home. later the next day the men came back, and there was an icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir out with a vigil lamp in front of it.  the man looked and said "that's her...that's the one."  it turns out, the Mother of God had come to the young woman's salvation.   

The Mother of God is a constant intercessor for suffering Christians!
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2011, 01:09:02 PM »

Whenever i pin someone down to explain, i am always told that no, Mary does not actually "save" us in the general sense of the word, nor is our Lady able to "work" a miracle- more to the point, the Theotokos is our intercessor - and a mighty one- and THAT is the power that is exerted...is this so and am i just to assume that is what is meant? or does our Holy Lady actually have the means by which the natural world can be manipulated? i find this all somewhat confusing...

You made this so easy by bringing up the Mother of God's ability to manipulate the natural world. How did Moses part the Red Sea? How did Joshua stop the sun? How did St. Mary of Egypt walk on water?

Christ archetypically shows us that as sons of God we are lords over creation. As we align ourselves to the grace of God, we can even command the natural elements. As we experience theosis and are deified and participate in the inner life of the Holy Trinity, we likewise attain to some of the qualities of the Divine Nature, such as commanding matter as masters of the cosmos. We do not become God in essence, but we partake of His Nature and are made 'gods' by His grace at work in us.

So it makes perfect sense that the Mother of God can stop a storm or help us in times of trouble. She ultimately does this, of course, by the power of the Trinity, but that doesn't mean she has no part in it. Remember all of that about us being "co-workers" with God? This is the glory that God shares with His saints. As we move from glory to glory even into eternity, we are changed and made supra-whole.

I think a great comparison is where the Lord Jesus says to call no man father, no man good, and no man teacher (I hope I'm quoting that right). It's not that we are literally not supposed to call anyone any of these titles, but rather to always recognize that God Himself is the ultimate source of Fatherhood, Goodness, and the Perfect Teacher, and that rather we derive all of these roles in human life from His perfection. The same can be said of others saving us and helping us, even if the means are more supernatural.

Regarding going to anyone besides "directly to God", If God wanted to be all alone, He wouldn't have shared his divinity with us, and He wouldn't have admonished us to pray for one another. As another poster stated, we are not saved alone. This is even further illustrated by the fact that the Holy Trinity is itself a communion of love. God is a composite unity, and so is His Body the Church, being united on earth and in the heavens and constituted in its fullness in the community.
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« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2011, 01:26:47 PM »

Allow me to nitpicky and say that God is not "composite" in any way.
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« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2011, 01:27:56 PM »

Whenever i pin someone down to explain, i am always told that no, Mary does not actually "save" us in the general sense of the word, nor is our Lady able to "work" a miracle- more to the point, the Theotokos is our intercessor - and a mighty one- and THAT is the power that is exerted...is this so and am i just to assume that is what is meant? or does our Holy Lady actually have the means by which the natural world can be manipulated? i find this all somewhat confusing...

You made this so easy by bringing up the Mother of God's ability to manipulate the natural world. How did Moses part the Red Sea? How did Joshua stop the sun? How did St. Mary of Egypt walk on water?

Christ archetypically shows us that as sons of God we are lords over creation. As we align ourselves to the grace of God, we can even command the natural elements. As we experience theosis and are deified and participate in the inner life of the Holy Trinity, we likewise attain to some of the qualities of the Divine Nature, such as commanding matter as masters of the cosmos. We do not become God in essence, but we partake of His Nature and are made 'gods' by His grace at work in us.

So it makes perfect sense that the Mother of God can stop a storm or help us in times of trouble. She ultimately does this, of course, by the power of the Trinity, but that doesn't mean she has no part in it. Remember all of that about us being "co-workers" with God? This is the glory that God shares with His saints. As we move from glory to glory even into eternity, we are changed and made supra-whole.

I think a great comparison is where the Lord Jesus says to call no man father, no man good, and no man teacher (I hope I'm quoting that right). It's not that we are literally not supposed to call anyone any of these titles, but rather to always recognize that God Himself is the ultimate source of Fatherhood, Goodness, and the Perfect Teacher, and that rather we derive all of these roles in human life from His perfection. The same can be said of others saving us and helping us, even if the means are more supernatural.

Regarding going to anyone besides "directly to God", If God wanted to be all alone, He wouldn't have shared his divinity with us, and He wouldn't have admonished us to pray for one another. As another poster stated, we are not saved alone. This is even further illustrated by the fact that the Holy Trinity is itself a communion of love. God is a composite unity, and so is His Body the Church, being united on earth and in the heavens and constituted in its fullness in the community.
Alveus, thank you for your description and definition. In fact, this helps me to have a better relationship with the Saints. Glory to God!
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« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2011, 01:46:51 PM »

Allow me to nitpicky and say that God is not "composite" in any way.

Sorry, please alow me to clarify. I didn't mean to suggest that the Trinity is somehow divided. We all know that it is undivided. I was thinking of something I read by Fr. James Bernstein where he notes that in the Shema, when in Hebrew the Jews state that "The Lord God is One", that the singular actually speaks of a composite unity and thus alludes to the Trinity, so that there is multiplicity in the singularity. Basically, that it is not the rigid and static "One" of the Muslims.
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« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2011, 02:59:13 PM »

Allow me to nitpicky...

Me too.

The Mother of God is a constant intercessor for suffering Christians!

The story you mentioned, however, is not one of intercession but intervention. Thank you for relaying the event, regardless.
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