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Author Topic: Converts: Praying for intercession through the saints and the Theotokos  (Read 7419 times) Average Rating: 0
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IsmiLiora
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« on: July 27, 2011, 11:25:50 PM »

This is a question for past converts or current catechumens (or heck, anyone in the Church! Answer away).

It's taken me a long time to get around the idea of prayer for intercession to the saints or the Theotokos. Actually, my defenses fell one night like a house of cards when I was praying, and I realized that there was nothing wrong in asking them for intercession. Plus, I've always loved studying the lives of the saints, so at the very least, they were great role models.

But even though I feel like my mind has adjusted to the idea, there is still a part that's dragging behind. When I venerate the icons at church on Sundays, I always hesitate when I get to the icon of the Theotokos and the infant Christ. It's almost like an unconscious hesitation. I still venerate the icon, and I do very much respect her as the mother of God, but there is still something empty in my heart. I've also tried saying prayers to the guardian angels and saints, but still, emptiness in my heart.

I'm planning on purchasing an icon of the saint that I am planning to choose for my saint name (there is no saint with my real name Grin ). I'm hoping that her life will inspire me to ask for her intercession more often. I'm also planning on purchasing an icon of the Theotokos. I don't feel a personal aversion to depictions of Mary anymore (yes, I actually did at one point), so I don't see any issues with that.

I know that it will be a process to overcome the years of not having this belief, but it really kind of [insert stronger word for "stinks" here] that my heart is not quite in the right place yet. I really do feel like I agree with the Church's practice logically, but the rest justhasn't followed yet.

Have any Protestant to Orthodox converts struggled with this? Is it just a matter of time? Is there any advice on what I can do to encourage my desire to pray for intercession and properly venerate the saints of the Church with both body and soul?
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2011, 05:36:07 AM »

I've got no problem with asking for the intercession of, or venerating the icons of, saints.  That said, I don't frequently ask the intercession of the saints.  Although, there was one time where I was desperately praying for something (that I don't really want to get into right now on a public forum) and after I had prayed fervently to Christ, the Father, and the Spirit, I then begged the Theotokos to pray for my prayer to be answered.  It was and, even today, I am certain that part of the reason (if not all of the reason) that God granted my request was because of the Theotokos' intercession.  I was in desperate need of someone's prayers that day, and the Mother of God took pity on me and prayed that my prayer would be answered affirmatively. 

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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2011, 06:20:28 AM »

There are more ways of praying to the holy Mother of God, the angels (especially your guardian angel) and the saints than only asking them to intercede for us before God.

We can also ask them more directly as in: "Most Holy Mother of God, save me." "Holy Angel, protect me through the day, drive away the snares of the devil."  "Holy Saint Joseph, help me find a place to live."   "Holy Father Nicholas, bless this journey. I place myself under your protection."


If you examine the many many prayers to the Saints in our prayer books, you will find hundreds of examples of both kind of prayer.
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2011, 06:24:58 AM »


Have any Protestant to Orthodox converts struggled with this? Is it just a matter of time? Is there any advice on what I can do to encourage my desire to pray for intercession and properly venerate the saints of the Church with both body and soul?

Yes, I struggled with this and I found that it does take time.  I still don't think I"m fully there yet.  I've never had an aversion to icons, however.  I actually like them quite a bit.  In fact, I've had one most of my adult life and started collecting them soon after finding Orthodoxy.  But, asking for intercessions or feeling some kind of closeness has been harder.   Some people seem to have such an automatic devotion & closeness to the Theotokos, but it's just not there for me.  Perhaps someday.  I do not feel particularly close to my patron saint either.  I took my name sake because it just seemed like the natural thing to do.  But its an OT saint so she seems very far away.
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2011, 06:30:19 AM »

         
Praying to the Saints


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.

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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2011, 06:30:26 AM »

There are more ways of praying to the holy Mother of God, the angels (especially your guardian angel) and the saints than only asking them to intercede for us before God.

We can also ask them more directly as in: "Most Holy Mother of God, save me." "Holy Angel, protect me through the day, drive away the snares of the devil."  "Holy Saint Joseph, help me find a place to live."   "Holy Father Nicholas, bless this journey. I place myself under your protection."


If you examine the many many prayers to the Saints in our prayer books, you will find hundreds of examples of both kind of prayer.

That is a very good observation, Father.  For some reason I know that I, for one, normally think of intercession (particularly intercession where you are asking them to prayer for a particular thing) when someone mentions prayers to the saints.  After you posted, I immediately had a "Duh!" moment, thinking (even aside from the countless prayers in the Divine Liturgy), how the Antiochian prayer book I use has prayers such as the Hymn to the Theotokos, the Angelic Salutation, A Prayer to Your Patron Saint, and A Prayer to Your Guardian Angel.  I really don't know how I forgot about them, even just assuming intercession instead of more general prayer.  I also don't know why I didn't think of the Angelic Salutation and the Hymn to the Theotokos when Ismi mentioned prayer to the saints.

EDIT: You barely beat me Father.
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2011, 06:45:56 AM »

Here is an older thread to browse through

Praying to the Saints

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,25351.0.html

I like what Alveus says in message 37
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2011, 06:51:41 AM »

You may want to read the books of Maccabees. They mention prayer for the departed. This should be in any printing of the Septuagint or the Orthodox Study Bible.  angel
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2011, 07:06:19 AM »


 I do not feel particularly close to my patron saint either.  I took my name sake because it just seemed like the natural thing to do.  But its an OT saint so she seems very far away.

Do you know about the

"Optina Five Hundred"

See message 8 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13644.msg190191.html#msg190191

It may bring you into closer contact with your heavenly patron.

Also,  see if you can get an icon of her for your icon corner.
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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2011, 08:17:18 AM »

Try using some of the Theotokia and other hymns of the Church as your prayers. This morning during my paper route I found myself singing (rather silently - after all, it was 5 a.m.  Smiley) the (Tone 4) Theotokion of the Resurrection sung at Orthros: "The mystery which was hidden from everlasting...." The words became very much alive as I realized that I was truly singing this to the Theotokos in her honour.

I can also recommend the Megalynaria sung in the Divine Liturgy. Once you begin to realize to whom these hymns are addressed, and that ultimately it is Christ who is honoured, many former inhibitions will begin to fall away.
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« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2011, 09:31:27 AM »

  As a convert, I never really had a problem with praying to the Mother of God.  At first it took time for me to get used to her not as a bible character anymore, but the Mother of the Savior, whose womb was more spacious than the heavens!  I have no problem asking for her intercessions, but I just make sure I ask God, as well (I don't want to put the Mother of God over her Son, our Lord).  There are some saints, though, who I don't know if I'll ever get used to praying to.  Like St. John the Baptist.  He's in my icon corner with a look on his face almost like he's growling at me.  I've never really asked for his intersession.   

  Then, there are some saints like St. Paraskeva of Iasi, St. Anastasia of Serbia, and St. Tikhon of Moscow, who I constantly feel in my life.  They are my three favorite saints.  Even just looking at their icons across the room makes my heart start to pray before my mind get's the memmo.  Also, when I pray for help or intercessions from them, it is most usually granted, and I know at that very moment that what happened had nothing to do with me, but with God and the intercessions of His holy saints.  Then when I sinned (and I know I've sinned), I'll enter my room and look at the icons and feel so very bad.  I even have a hard time asking forgiveness of God for my sins because He helps me so much, and how do I repay Him?  By sinning.  makes me want to cry.

  I also think it is important to have a connection with the saint, but not just their life.  It is important to think their icon is beautiful.  Of course, an icon is an icon is an icon, and should be treated as such.  I find it much easier when I see the Mother of God looking down at me, and I can look into her eyes and marvel at her splendor!

Just my thoughts on the topic.
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« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2011, 09:45:30 AM »


 I do not feel particularly close to my patron saint either.  I took my name sake because it just seemed like the natural thing to do.  But its an OT saint so she seems very far away.

Do you know about the

"Optina Five Hundred"

See message 8 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13644.msg190191.html#msg190191

It may bring you into closer contact with your heavenly patron.

Also,  see if you can get an icon of her for your icon corner.


I've had her icon in my icon corner since I was Chrismated.  The thing is it is an ugly icon...she's very serious or angry looking.  I've had other Orthodox women, who share my name, say the same thing. We all dislike THAT icon!   The problem was it was impossible to find a nice one of her that wasn't a commissioned icon (no other copies).  Finally, about 6-12months ago I found a very nice mounted icon of her. 
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Tikhon.of.Colorado
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« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2011, 09:47:34 AM »


 I do not feel particularly close to my patron saint either.  I took my name sake because it just seemed like the natural thing to do.  But its an OT saint so she seems very far away.

Do you know about the

"Optina Five Hundred"

See message 8 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13644.msg190191.html#msg190191

It may bring you into closer contact with your heavenly patron.

Also,  see if you can get an icon of her for your icon corner.


I've had her icon in my icon corner since I was Chrismated.  The thing is it is an ugly icon...she's very serious or angry looking.  I've had other Orthodox women, who share my name, say the same thing. We all dislike THAT icon!   The problem was it was impossible to find a nice one of her that wasn't a commissioned icon (no other copies).  Finally, about 6-12months ago I found a very nice mounted icon of her. 
How wonderful!!!!

And you know, if nothing else, you can print out an icon and try to mount it yourself.

May I ask?  Is it St. Juliana? (that's what it looks like from your picture)
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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2011, 09:51:51 AM »

Thank you all for your replies so far! I have read through the attached links.

I will have to say, if I am having difficulties praying for intercession, I honestly think that I will have more trouble praying TO the saints and the Theotokos. What "powers" do they have? How can they influence my life besides the stories of their own lives and intercession? I really have to ponder that one and read more about it.

Guardian angel, I can understand. But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.

I am glad that I don't have an aversion to icons anymore. In fact, I think they are beautiful and can't stop staring at them before the DL. Smiley They bring such a sense of peace to me and I hope to have a full icon corner soon!

A good note, after reading genesisone's comment: I find myself constantly, randomly chanting "By the prayers of the Theotokos, Savior, save us!" So I guess I AM actually giving the Theotokos some due respect without even acknowledging it! It's just something that I need to keep working on. I drag my feet to prayer sometimes and feel like I'm just saying the words, but I figure that this is a case where I actually just need to do it: I just need to pray, need to read about the lives of the saints, etc. etc. etc. Enshallah my heart will come around in time.

PS Trevor, I know what you mean about the St. John the Baptist Icon. I was browsing the web and looking for some icons, and some of them looked so stern that I didn't want to buy them! I know that I need to look past it and get over the "art" aspect.
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2011, 10:16:55 AM »

^Thanks, Ismi, It's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. 

The saints aren't like polytheistic gods where they all do something for you.  In Orthodoxy, we don't really have "patron saints" of things (like firefighters, plumbers and streetlamps).  They are all special examples given to us by God to imitate.  We ask them to pray for us. 

example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.

It's important to remember that we ask the saints to pray for us.  Anything they "do for us", or make happen, is a result of their prayers to God the Father, as they are His saints.

I'm sure you've heard in Church: "For the entreaty of a Mother has great power to win the favor of the Master..."  It's the same way with saints. 

I'm a sinner, the lowest of the low.  But the saints are glorified by God!  When they pray to God...It's not as though they have influence over Him, but He hears their prayers especially, since they are His saints.

I hope this makes sense!!!!!!!  Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2011, 10:55:34 AM »

Thank you all for your replies so far! I have read through the attached links.

I will have to say, if I am having difficulties praying for intercession, I honestly think that I will have more trouble praying TO the saints and the Theotokos. What "powers" do they have? How can they influence my life besides the stories of their own lives and intercession? I really have to ponder that one and read more about it.

Guardian angel, I can understand. But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.

I am glad that I don't have an aversion to icons anymore. In fact, I think they are beautiful and can't stop staring at them before the DL. Smiley They bring such a sense of peace to me and I hope to have a full icon corner soon!

A good note, after reading genesisone's comment: I find myself constantly, randomly chanting "By the prayers of the Theotokos, Savior, save us!" So I guess I AM actually giving the Theotokos some due respect without even acknowledging it! It's just something that I need to keep working on. I drag my feet to prayer sometimes and feel like I'm just saying the words, but I figure that this is a case where I actually just need to do it: I just need to pray, need to read about the lives of the saints, etc. etc. etc. Enshallah my heart will come around in time.

PS Trevor, I know what you mean about the St. John the Baptist Icon. I was browsing the web and looking for some icons, and some of them looked so stern that I didn't want to buy them! I know that I need to look past it and get over the "art" aspect.

I understand how you feel. I also admire your honesty and openness. The theological explanation of asking for intercessions is one thing, the practical application is another. There is no doubt in my mind that we are asked to intercede for each other, to ask for folks, living or dead, to pray for us. There is no question that the Church gives us thousands of saints whose intercessions we can ask. Indeed, we do exactly that throughout the year as each day offers us at least one more opportunity to ask for a saint's intercession. However, it is difficult to ask someone that you do not know. We know each person of the Holy Trinity, and we can relate to Christ the most on a personal level as God incarnate. We also know a bit about the Theotokos, whom we are also called to glorify and venerate. However, that is not a personal or intimate way to relate to her.

It is quite interesting how our services reveal new truths to us, no matter how often we had participated in them. In any case, during the Great Lent, Holy Week and paschal services, I became more aware than ever of the person-to-person relationship that women had with Him during His earthly sojourn--Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene, and especially His mother, our dear Theotokos. (Not to say that He did not have such relationships with men). I simply got to know these women saints better as I shared in their sorrows and joys.

We are all familiar with the Paschal revelation: "Before the dawn, Mary and the women came and found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They heard the angelic voice: “Why do you seek among the dead as a man the One who is Everlasting Light? Behold the clothes in the grave! Go and proclaim to the world: The Lord is risen!” He has slain death, as He is the Son of God, saving the race of men." It was befitting that she who have birth to our savior was the one to proclaim His resurrection.

Then, we hear as special hymn to the Theotokos throughout the Paschal season: "The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin! Again I say: Rejoice! Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb! With Himself He has raised all the dead! Rejoice, all you people! Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem! The Glory of the Lord has shone on you! Exalt now and be glad, O Zion! Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!" It just blows me away to imagine the sorrow the Theotokos at the foot of the Cross and then her joy at His resurrection. I also mourned my child. I also was comforted to behold him, side by side with my departed mother, as I was close to death. I can relate to the Theotokos, so I now can ask for her intercession more naturally and freely.

Regarding a saint that you can relate to, it would be good to study their lives and choose one that you can talk to.
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« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2011, 11:00:56 AM »

I will have to say, if I am having difficulties praying for intercession, I honestly think that I will have more trouble praying TO the saints and the Theotokos. What "powers" do they have? How can they influence my life besides the stories of their own lives and intercession? I really have to ponder that one and read more about it.

Guardian angel, I can understand. But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.

Think of it this way -- the above is like asking "what can a nurse do besides comfort me, care for me and communicate my condition to the doctor -- why don't I just have the doctor come in every time?"  You say it as if intercession is unimportant.  As if the Father doesn't answer the prayers of His Saints.  As if the Saints interceding for us amounts to naught.

The Protestant notion you are trying to overcome is that the Saints are "dead," "up there in heaven," as if they are separated from us.  I would guess it's also a bit of "I can pray to God, why would I ever want to pray to the Saints?"  A friend of mine who is an Orthodox priest, and also a convert, wrote a nice blog post once that was quite pithy.  He said "an argument against intercession of the Saints is an argument against intercessory prayer in general."  What he meant was, if you don't have a problem asking your friends and family to pray for you, how much less should you have a problem asking the Saints to pray for you?  Whereas the truth is they are very much alive, very much here with us, and very much a part of our lives.  They are our closest friends and family.  The question is why would you not ask them to pray for you?

I had a bit of a breakthrough when I learned to stop looking at the iconostasis as a wall or barrier, and started looking at it as a window or, better yet, an unobstructed view of the altar as it really is, surrounded by the Saints and angels.  Once I realized the Saints and angels on the iconostasis are actually here with us and ever interceding for us, asking them to do so was as natural as anything could be.
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« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2011, 11:04:44 AM »

There is no doubt in my mind that we are asked to intercede for each other, to ask for folks, livin g or dead, to pray for us. There is no question that the Church gives us thousands of saints whose intercessions we can ask. Indeed, we do exactly that throughout the year as each day offers us at least one more opportunity to ask for a saint's intercession. However, it is difficult to ask someone that you do not know.

This is a good point.  One great way to get comfortable with intercessory prayer is to "get to know" the Theotokos and the Saints.  I read up on my patron Saint (John the Theologian) and those of my wife and children.  I taught them about their patrons, and we discussed their lives and how they intercede for us often.  My oldest daughter (7) used to think it was odd asking a painted icon depiction to pray for her.  But once she learned that Saint Elizabeth the New Martyr suffered and died for the Church, healing the wounded and caring for the dying as she herself died, she gained a newfound respect and admiration for her and now has no problem either asking for her intercession or telling anyone who will listen about her life and martyrdom.
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« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2011, 11:11:54 AM »

Thank you all for your replies so far! I have read through the attached links.

I will have to say, if I am having difficulties praying for intercession, I honestly think that I will have more trouble praying TO the saints and the Theotokos. What "powers" do they have? How can they influence my life besides the stories of their own lives and intercession? I really have to ponder that one and read more about it.

Guardian angel, I can understand. But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.

I am glad that I don't have an aversion to icons anymore. In fact, I think they are beautiful and can't stop staring at them before the DL. Smiley They bring such a sense of peace to me and I hope to have a full icon corner soon!

A good note, after reading genesisone's comment: I find myself constantly, randomly chanting "By the prayers of the Theotokos, Savior, save us!" So I guess I AM actually giving the Theotokos some due respect without even acknowledging it! It's just something that I need to keep working on. I drag my feet to prayer sometimes and feel like I'm just saying the words, but I figure that this is a case where I actually just need to do it: I just need to pray, need to read about the lives of the saints, etc. etc. etc. Enshallah my heart will come around in time.

PS Trevor, I know what you mean about the St. John the Baptist Icon. I was browsing the web and looking for some icons, and some of them looked so stern that I didn't want to buy them! I know that I need to look past it and get over the "art" aspect.

I understand how you feel. I also admire your honesty and openness. The theological explanation of asking for intercessions is one thing, the practical application is another. There is no doubt in my mind that we are asked to intercede for each other, to ask for folks, living or dead, to pray for us. There is no question that the Church gives us thousands of saints whose intercessions we can ask. Indeed, we do exactly that throughout the year as each day offers us at least one more opportunity to ask for a saint's intercession. However, it is difficult to ask someone that you do not know. We know each person of the Holy Trinity, and we can relate to Christ the most on a personal level as God incarnate. We also know a bit about the Theotokos, whom we are also called to glorify and venerate. However, that is not a personal or intimate way to relate to her.

It is quite interesting how our services reveal new truths to us, no matter how often we had participated in them. In any case, during the Great Lent, Holy Week and paschal services, I became more aware than ever of the person-to-person relationship that women had with Him during His earthly sojourn--Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene, and especially His mother, our dear Theotokos. (Not to say that He did not have such relationships with men). I simply got to know these women saints better as I shared in their sorrows and joys.

We are all familiar with the Paschal revelation: "Before the dawn, Mary and the women came and found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They heard the angelic voice: “Why do you seek among the dead as a man the One who is Everlasting Light? Behold the clothes in the grave! Go and proclaim to the world: The Lord is risen!” He has slain death, as He is the Son of God, saving the race of men." It was befitting that she who have birth to our savior was the one to proclaim His resurrection.

Then, we hear as special hymn to the Theotokos throughout the Paschal season: "The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin! Again I say: Rejoice! Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb! With Himself He has raised all the dead! Rejoice, all you people! Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem! The Glory of the Lord has shone on you! Exalt now and be glad, O Zion! Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!" It just blows me away to imagine the sorrow the Theotokos at the foot of the Cross and then her joy at His resurrection. I also mourned my child. I also was comforted to behold him, side by side with my departed mother, as I was close to death. I can relate to the Theotokos, so I now can ask for her intercession more naturally and freely.

Regarding a saint that you can relate to, it would be good to study their lives and choose one that you can talk to.

God bless you, Second Chance!
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« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2011, 11:17:51 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.

It's possible of course that it was God but I'd certainly give thanks to Saint Silouan and regard him as the man who led you to it.  Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh

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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2011, 11:23:22 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.

It's possible of course that it was God but I'd certainly give thanks to Saint Silouan and regard him as the man who led you to it.  Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh



really?  I don't think that I have an accurate understanding of this, then.  Saints can interces for us in ways other than just praying for us?
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« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2011, 11:29:04 AM »

I will have to say, if I am having difficulties praying for intercession, I honestly think that I will have more trouble praying TO the saints and the Theotokos. What "powers" do they have? How can they influence my life besides the stories of their own lives and intercession? I really have to ponder that one and read more about it.

Guardian angel, I can understand. But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.

Think of it this way -- the above is like asking "what can a nurse do besides comfort me, care for me and communicate my condition to the doctor -- why don't I just have the doctor come in every time?"  You say it as if intercession is unimportant.  As if the Father doesn't answer the prayers of His Saints.  As if the Saints interceding for us amounts to naught.

I don't think that intercession is unimportant -- far from it. I was responding to Irish Hermit's assertion that we can pray TO the saints in addition to praying THROUGH the saints. That I cannot quite wrap my head around. I've been looking through my prayer book (GOA-published) and I do notice asking for comfort and protection. That even I can accept.

But I really don't know about asking them for favor in a job interview or something like that. It sounds like my relatives praying to my dead grandparents and other relatives, and then saying that it wasn't God, but them who got them the job, car, etc.

Hm...while I'm musing on this, God has used others to heal on this earth. I've also read about people being healed from touching relics. But let's say that I prayed TO a saint for healing. Who would I pray to? Wouldn't it be God's will as to who could heal me?

Am I even making any sense?
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« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2011, 11:31:41 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.
Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh

The ability to stand on your head is made possible by God  angel
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« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2011, 11:39:55 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.

It's possible of course that it was God but I'd certainly give thanks to Saint Silouan and regard him as the man who led you to it.  Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh



really?  I don't think that I have an accurate understanding of this, then.  Saints can interces for us in ways other than just praying for us?

Yes, definitely.
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« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2011, 11:43:59 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.

It's possible of course that it was God but I'd certainly give thanks to Saint Silouan and regard him as the man who led you to it.  Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh



really?  I don't think that I have an accurate understanding of this, then.  Saints can interces for us in ways other than just praying for us?

Yes, definitely.

how interesting!  Would you mind sharing some examples?
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« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2011, 11:46:28 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.
Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh

The ability to stand on your head is made possible by God  angel

The plumber couldn't unblock your clogged pipes wthout God making it possible. But you still have to ask the plumber to come and visit,and you still need to say thank you and pay him for his work.   You can't refuse to pay him by telling him - without God you would not have been able to unclog the pipes.  Ditto for the miracles of healing worked by Saint John of San Francisco.
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« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2011, 11:50:10 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.
Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh

The ability to stand on your head is made possible by God  angel

The plumber couldn't unblock your clogged pipes wthout God making it possible. But you still have to ask the plumber to come and visit,and you still need to say thank you and pay him for his work.   You can't refuse to pay him by telling him - without God you would not have been able to unclog the pipes.  Ditto for the miracles of healing worked by Saint John of San Francisco.

oh, this makes sense!!!!  Thank you, Irish Hermit!  I'll go thank St. Silouan for my prayer rope...  Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2011, 11:51:36 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.

It's possible of course that it was God but I'd certainly give thanks to Saint Silouan and regard him as the man who led you to it.  Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh



really?  I don't think that I have an accurate understanding of this, then.  Saints can interces for us in ways other than just praying for us?

Yes, definitely.

how interesting!  Would you mind sharing some examples?

You seem to be saying that all that happens is that we make use of the Saints to obtain what we want from God because God will not pay much attention to our own prayers because we are unimportant and sinful but if the Saints ask Him He might be more inclined to answer?

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« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2011, 11:53:23 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.

It's possible of course that it was God but I'd certainly give thanks to Saint Silouan and regard him as the man who led you to it.  Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh



really?  I don't think that I have an accurate understanding of this, then.  Saints can interces for us in ways other than just praying for us?

Yes, definitely.

how interesting!  Would you mind sharing some examples?

You seem to be saying that all that happens is that we make use of the Saints to obtain what we want from God because God will not pay much attention to our own prayers because we are unimportant and sinful but if the Saints ask Him He might be more inclined to answer?



that is what I've come to understand.
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« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2011, 11:53:55 AM »

Example:  I'm looking for a new prayer rope, as mine broke.  I ask St. Silouan to help me find a prayer rope sometime.  Then, I go to a garage sale and find one.  What a miracle! It wasn't St. Silouan who helped me find it.  It was through his prayers to God that He (God) helped me find it.
Saints can do such things standing on their heads and, honestly, I would wonder if Saint Silouan felt he had to involve God at all.   laugh

The ability to stand on your head is made possible by God  angel

The plumber couldn't unblock your clogged pipes wthout God making it possible. But you still have to ask the plumber to come and visit,and you still need to say thank you and pay him for his work.   You can't refuse to pay him by telling him - without God you would not have been able to unclog the pipes.  Ditto for the miracles of healing worked by Saint John of San Francisco.

But plumbers coming to the house is normal. I don't think saints are stuck where they are exactly, but... how exactly would saints help me find my keys, or avoid crashing my car? I've heard of demons trying to influence us--our thoughts and activities--without violating our free-will... are you saying that saints can also do so?
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« Reply #30 on: July 28, 2011, 01:38:43 PM »


 I do not feel particularly close to my patron saint either.  I took my name sake because it just seemed like the natural thing to do.  But its an OT saint so she seems very far away.

Do you know about the

"Optina Five Hundred"

See message 8 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13644.msg190191.html#msg190191

It may bring you into closer contact with your heavenly patron.

Also,  see if you can get an icon of her for your icon corner.


I've had her icon in my icon corner since I was Chrismated.  The thing is it is an ugly icon...she's very serious or angry looking.  I've had other Orthodox women, who share my name, say the same thing. We all dislike THAT icon!   The problem was it was impossible to find a nice one of her that wasn't a commissioned icon (no other copies).  Finally, about 6-12months ago I found a very nice mounted icon of her. 
How wonderful!!!!

And you know, if nothing else, you can print out an icon and try to mount it yourself.

May I ask?  Is it St. Juliana? (that's what it looks like from your picture)

No, the photo isn't of a saint (and it isn't St. Juliana).  The photo actually (and my apologies for going totally OT) was from a gift box I received from Marc1152 when I was Christmated (I think  Huh). He purchased a soap sampler from Holy Cross Monastery and I guess this is how their boxes are decorated.  I loved the picture so much, but couldn't really keep the box, so I took a photo of it...then I thought - hey! that would make a great avatar. 
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« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2011, 07:52:35 PM »

I will have to say, if I am having difficulties praying for intercession, I honestly think that I will have more trouble praying TO the saints and the Theotokos. What "powers" do they have? How can they influence my life besides the stories of their own lives and intercession? I really have to ponder that one and read more about it.

Guardian angel, I can understand. But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.

Think of it this way -- the above is like asking "what can a nurse do besides comfort me, care for me and communicate my condition to the doctor -- why don't I just have the doctor come in every time?"  You say it as if intercession is unimportant.  As if the Father doesn't answer the prayers of His Saints.  As if the Saints interceding for us amounts to naught.

I don't think that intercession is unimportant -- far from it. I was responding to Irish Hermit's assertion that we can pray TO the saints in addition to praying THROUGH the saints. That I cannot quite wrap my head around. I've been looking through my prayer book (GOA-published) and I do notice asking for comfort and protection. That even I can accept.

But I really don't know about asking them for favor in a job interview or something like that. It sounds like my relatives praying to my dead grandparents and other relatives, and then saying that it wasn't God, but them who got them the job, car, etc.

Hm...while I'm musing on this, God has used others to heal on this earth. I've also read about people being healed from touching relics. But let's say that I prayed TO a saint for healing. Who would I pray to? Wouldn't it be God's will as to who could heal me?

Am I even making any sense?

Don't worry, I'm cradle-born and I still don't like the idea of praying to X saint when I've lost my keys, Y saint when I want a promotion and Z saint when I have a cold.

I am willing to be convinced that this is all kosher, but so far have not been.
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« Reply #32 on: July 28, 2011, 08:30:19 PM »

Yes,  I suppose that silly uneducated people can go too far in that direction.

All the same, people who are looking for what these days is called a life partner will get the priest to serve a Moleben (a supplicatory Prayer Service popular with Slavs) to Saint Xenia of Saint Petersburg.  And it is very common for people travelling to ask the protection of the holy Archangel Raphael.  Saint Panteleimon the Unmercenary Doctor is often asked for assistance in long term sickness.
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« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2011, 08:36:44 PM »

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 relationship with other Saints.

Don't people writing here ever pray Akathists and Canons?    I love my dog-eared copy of the Akathist to Saint Seraphim of Sarov,  and to Saint Nil Sorsky.
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« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2011, 08:45:52 PM »



Don't people writing here ever pray Akathists and Canons?    I love my dog-eared copy of the Akathist to Saint Seraphim of Sarov,  and to Saint Nil Sorsky.

I have prayed the Akathist for those who have Fallen Asleep many times - it is the one that addresses those who have died suddenly (suicide/murder/abuse) or those who aren't faithful Orthodox, etc..  I've also prayed the Akathist to St. Nicholas (during the Nativity Fast), of Thanksgiving (also during the Nativity fast, just a different year), to Jesus, Light to those in Darkness (during Lent).  

I used to keep the Akathist to the Mother of God Nurturer of Children in my purse to pray throughout the week while I was waiting in line or during other times when I was waiting around.  Of course, I never  got through the whole thing then, but at least I was praying for my children several times during the day.  I need to get back in the habit of doing that again.
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« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2011, 08:55:23 PM »

I also have difficulties praying to specific saints for specific things. I understand that it's a normal Orthodox practice, I guess I just never really got into the habit of doing that. When I pray to saints it's not for specific needs, but more just general prayers (Holy St. Justin, well pleasing to God, pray unto God for me... etc.)  But then, I'm terrible at keeping up with prayers generally. I usually only pray a canon when prescribed (e.g. Midnight Office for Sunday... not that I'm consistent praying it), or the canon of repentance the night before confession.
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« Reply #36 on: July 28, 2011, 09:00:10 PM »



Don't people writing here ever pray Akathists and Canons?    I love my dog-eared copy of the Akathist to Saint Seraphim of Sarov,  and to Saint Nil Sorsky.

I have prayed the Akathist for those who have Fallen Asleep many times - it is the one that addresses those who have died suddenly (suicide/murder/abuse) or those who aren't faithful Orthodox, etc..

Recently did this for my mother. Much thanks to Schultzi for the help.
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« Reply #37 on: July 29, 2011, 11:20:47 AM »

But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.

What can any of us do but pray for one another? Yet, we ask each other for their prayers and it is comforting to know that others are praying for us.

So when you ask for the prayers of the departed Saints, keep in mind that 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.

This is one of those things that sets us apart from the Protestants, IMHO; 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.

I hope this helps you.
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« Reply #38 on: July 29, 2011, 11:41:02 AM »

I'm planning on purchasing an icon of the saint that I am planning to choose for my saint name (there is no saint with my real name).

There might be a saint for your real name, if that's what you would prefer. If you look at what your real name means, you might find a saint with a name that means the same thing. For example, Photini and Svetlana are drevied from Greek and Russian for "light." Lucia and Claire are closely related to these, as they derive from Latin and French for "light."
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« Reply #39 on: July 29, 2011, 11:42:05 AM »

[sizew=10pt] But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.[/size]

This saddens me,that anybody Orthodox would ask this question.

People who do not know the answer should begin to read the lives of the Saints.

They can do extraordinary things-change the course of rivers, appear in visions to give advice or to reprimand.... but no, I won't go on.  Please start reading.  Maybe the life of Saint John Maximovitch.
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« Reply #40 on: July 29, 2011, 11:44:16 AM »

My real name is actually derived from a specific place and time. Smiley It's quite rare, although people would certainly recognize it (I think it was a famous name in the 50's, although it originated many years before that).

But I really do love the saint that I picked. I feel a real connection with her life story and find her incredibly inspiring. I just need to take that next step.
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« Reply #41 on: July 29, 2011, 12:49:09 PM »

[sizew=10pt] But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.[/size]

This saddens me,that anybody Orthodox would ask this question.

People who do not know the answer should begin to read the lives of the Saints.

They can do extraordinary things-change the course of rivers, appear in visions to give advice or to reprimand.... but no, I won't go on.  Please start reading.  Maybe the life of Saint John Maximovitch.


In reading the lives of the saints I never came away with that idea. I guess I need to read them again...  Undecided
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« Reply #42 on: July 29, 2011, 01:30:41 PM »

[sizew=10pt] But what can my patron saint do besides intercede? Honestly? Hm.[/size]

This saddens me,that anybody Orthodox would ask this question.


She is a catechumen, Father, or are they called chatachumen on this list.  Grin (forgive the foolish humor, I mean no offense to anyone of course).

The following stories regarding the help and prayers of St. Irene Chrysovalantou may be helpful to read in this context:

Quote
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/07/five-miracles-of-saint-irene.html

Five Miracles of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou

Below are a few of the thousands of miracles attributed to St. Irene Chrysovalantou which the recipients responded to with thankful letters addressed to the Saint and published in the bi-monthly periodical "Saint Irene Chrysovalantou" distributed by the Monastery dedicated to this Saint in Lykovrisi (read more here). These were published in the September-October 2009 issue.

1. Healing of Leukemia

Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, I thank you for hearing my prayers and healing my daughter of fifteen years old who was admitted to a hospital in Vancouver because the doctors diagnosed her with leukemia.

We prayed to Saint Irene Chrysovalantou to cure our child and she worked her miracle. I went to the hospital and gave my daughter the icon of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou to have next to her and pray for her health. I also gave her a piece of holy apple to eat. As soon as she ate it she felt a weight lifting from her.

The same night she dreamt that she was thirsty and she asked for water. She saw Saint Irene holding an apple in her hand coming near to her to give her some apple. The next morning when she woke up she felt completely well and the doctors were amazed with the progress in her health.

May Saint Irene give to all health and peace and have us under her protection.

The parents,
Konstantinos and Aikaterini Agriomitrou
Vancouver, Canada

2. The Childless Receive A Child

Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, thousands of thanks for the miracle which you worked for me.

After thirteen whole years of marriage full of pain, worry, sadness and a big emptiness in my life because I did not have a child, you came to give me an adorable little boy, my Chrysovalanti. You gave me so much joy and happiness that I cannot describe it.

I prayed to you day and night to help me feel the joy of motherhood and you helped me. I had vowed that if I had a child I would call it by your name.

One night, when I thought I was asleep, a door suddenly opened from the east (there was not a door there normally). I saw a woman coming in dressed in black. I was very frightened and I started to call for my husband and mother. Then I saw the woman coming close to me and standing at my bedside. She said three times: "Do not be afraid".

I continued to shout because I did not realize it was Saint Irene Chrysovalantou. Then I heard my mother saying: "Do not be afraid, it is Saint Irene Chrysovalantou and she has come to tell you that you will have a child." Emotionally I turned around to see you, but you had gone.

After that I was certain that Saint Irene would help me and finally I was pregnant. Every day I smeared holy oil on my tummy and thank God I had my baby with no problems.

Thank you Saint Irene Chrysovalantou from deep in our hearts and please always protect everyone and us.

Please protect our Chrysovalanti. I am sending a photograph of him too.

With love and respect,
Maria Charilaou
Lemesos, Cyprus


3. Healing Of An Unconscious Man Following An Accident

I too want to thank you, Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, for the miracle which you worked for us.

My husband after a car accident remained unconscious in big shock. At the hospital where he was for two weeks fighting for his life the doctors, in spite of their efforts, did not give us much hope of survival. They said that if his heart could cope he would live.

I, who was expecting my second child, put all my hopes in you Saint Irene Chrysovalantou and I smeared some holy oil from your oil lamp on my husband which I always have in the house.

After two weeks one morning my five year old daughter woke up and said: "Mummy, Saint Irene Chrysovalantou came to our house and she told me not to cry because my daddy would get better. He will wake up from being unconscious and speak to you."

The next day he recovered and we asked him what he would like, and he said he wanted Saint Irene Chrysovalantou's holy apple and to see his daughter. I fasted for three days and I gave the holy apple to my husband to eat.

In the morning when he woke up the doctors examined him and they told my husband that he had fluid in the brain and they would have to operate in a week. When the time came for the operation there was a test to be done and they found nothing. They were amazed how it had happened. I knew it was a miracle from you and he did not have to go through the inconvenience of an operation.

I vowed to come to your Monastery to pray when we were on leave from our work and to thank you from near. Now my husband is at home and we are happily waiting for the birth of our second child. We shall always thank you for as long as we live.

With faith and respect,
Kate Rosenli
Germany

4. Healing of Painful Kidney Stones

Thank you Saint Irene Chrysovalantou from deep in my soul for the miracle which you worked for me.

I had bad pains in my right side and I was admitted to the hospital for tests which showed I had a stone in my kidneys. They had me often under observation because the pains continued to torment me.

One night when I went to bed I read one of your magazines which my wife had brought to me in the hospital to read of your miracles. After I read them my eyes filled with tears and with true faith I prayed that you would work for me a miracle too to avoid the pain and operation I would go through.

Your miracle did not take long to work Saint Irene Chrysovalantou.

That same day at midnight I woke up afraid, thinking that something was cut inside me and the pain I felt inside me was unbearable. I went back to sleep without any painkiller.

In the morning when they x-rayed me your miracle had worked. The x-rays were clear. There was no stone on the kidney.

After a while the doctor came and he said smiling: "You are lucky and you don't need the operation. There is nothing wrong with you." So I left the hospital completely well thanks to your miraculous intervention, Saint Irene Chrysovalantou.

I thank you from deep in my soul and pray that you will have us always keep us under your protection and we will always call on you when in difficulty.

Your humble servant,
Savvas Orphanidis
Germany


5. A Mother Prays For the Health of Her Children

I thank you wholeheartedly Saint Irene Chrysovalantou for the miracles which you worked for me too.

My child was just nine months when he had problems with his kidneys. We took him to a very good hospital in Athens where after many tests they told us that for a year he must take antibiotics and if things did not improve then he must have an operation.

When we returned home and talked to someone I know, she told me that for a young child to take antibiotics over such a long period was disastrous for my child's health. So I decided to stop the antibiotics and instead three times a day I put three drops of oil from your oil lamp in his milk which he drank, and I also smeared some holy oil on his kidneys.

You worked your great miracle sweet Saint Irene, as a year later, after many tests, my little Nicholas was completely healthy and today he is a young man aged 27.

After that miracle you enabled me to hold in my arms a second child who bears your name Chrysovalantou, as after having my first child I was unable to have a second child which I so much wanted.

For nine whole years I waited for this joy and my faith in you gave me hope. I visited your Monastery at Lykovrisi and I got some holy apple and holy oil which I drank regularly and smeared some on me.

After some tests which I had for other reasons I found out I was five months pregnant. You protected me Saint Irene and I gave birth very well to my little Chrysovalantou who today is 18 years old.

Thank you sweet Saint Irene Chrysovalantou for your help towards me, and please always protect my family and all those who call on your miraculous power.

Theodora Noula
Mesologgi, Greece
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orthonorm
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« Reply #43 on: July 29, 2011, 01:35:41 PM »

chatachumen

Nice! Now come up with a pun for someone like me who is way more loquacious.
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pasadi97
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« Reply #44 on: July 30, 2011, 08:25:32 AM »

In Bible we see St Paul asking Christians to pray for him . We see people asking Apostles to pray and for some people, Apostles praying did bring other people to life. So asking living to pray for them through intercession is in Bible so nobody should have something against it.

http://www.gotquestions.org/intercessory-prayer.html
In Acts 12:5 we see the Church praying intercessory prayers for Apostle Peter.

So the problem may be praying to the departed Saints for intercession. Here there is a story: http://www.manastir-lepavina.org/vijest_en.php?id=4090  and there a priest is asked to go ask a Saint pray for a problem however he said that Saint is dead. In that night he has a vision where saint came to him and struck him telling him that he, The Saint, is living and told priest to be believer. http://www.manastir-lepavina.org/vijest_en.php?id=4090 Read the story before the last one.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 08:34:56 AM by pasadi97 » Logged
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