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Author Topic: Converts: Praying for intercession through the saints and the Theotokos  (Read 8036 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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« 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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« 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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« 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.
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« Reply #45 on: July 31, 2011, 08:19:10 AM »

Question for converts.....

Did you find it hard to pray to the Mother of God, the angels and the Saints?

Did you gradually change?

Were there specific things which helped bring about the change?

Are there converts who never pray to the Mother of God?
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« Reply #46 on: July 31, 2011, 09:58:45 AM »

At first I found it hard to pray to the Theotokos and the saints.  However, if I didn't understand something (and I have to admit that some of the teachings about the Theotokos fit in that category), I would kind of lay it aside for awhile (instead of stressing out about it).  Often, I find that if I do that, it will slowly start to make sense to me after I learn more and immersed myself more in the life of the Church.  That is especially true with the Theotokos and the saints. 

As for the saints, I was having a hard time between who I was going to choose for my patron saint.  It was between St. Photini and St. Katherine (and I was leaning more towards St. Photini), when I woke up one day (I was working 11pm-7am at the time so it was late afternoon when I woke up) sensing that St. Katherine was praying for me.  So I can say that St. Katherine chose me, and I am very glad that she did.  Now, several have become very personal to me, including St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco and my parish's patron saint, St. Nikolai Velimirovic. 

I didn't have a problem with icons.  A few months before an Orthodox mission started where I was living at the time (I started attending services there on Transfiguration, 2000), I was taking a Russian class and found out about a Russian exhibit that was at the art museum in Portland, OR (it was an exhibit of items belonging to the Stroganov family).  The exhibit was set up like the Stroganov palace in St. Petersburg, and one of the rooms was dedicated to the religious items, and there were icons (both regular and cloth ones) all over the walls, including the plazhyenitsa that was used in the cathedral on the main family estate that was used during Holy Week, which was embroidered by family members and others in about 1597.  This was in a case away from the back wall.  I couldn't take my eyes off of it, and kept going back to look at it even though I knew I needed to go and look at the rest of the exhibit.  Just about all of the post cards I bought of the exhibit were of the icons.  I had no problem with them, and I was Baptist for 25 years, even though I'd already come to the conclusion that they were wrong about things, especially about the Eucharist not being the Body and Blood of Christ. 

It is really amazing when I look back how God prepared me very slowly for Orthodoxy.  This was very definitely one of those times.  I had enough things to adjust to when I did start going, but at least the icons didn't bother me. 
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« Reply #47 on: July 31, 2011, 10:12:52 AM »

Did you find it hard to pray to the Mother of God, the angels and the Saints?

Did you gradually change?

Were there specific things which helped bring about the change?

Initially, yes, much like it was difficult to pray with icons and call priests "Father." But praying to the Theotokos, angels and saints is part and parcel of the Faith, so I just started using the prayers of the Church and eventually became accustomed to it.
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« Reply #48 on: July 31, 2011, 12:10:41 PM »

I am only recently getting used to including Saints with special status, in my belief system, given that we are all saints as members of one body. As things are for me at the moment, I couldn't ever envisage myself praying to Blessed Mary or indeed to any other saint as I have been taught that there is one mediator between God and man - Jesus The Christ. No doubt you've heard all this before.

It's a long road ahead for me I think.

~ Dyhn
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« Reply #49 on: July 31, 2011, 02:13:02 PM »

Question for converts.....

Did you find it hard to pray to the Mother of God, the angels and the Saints?

Yes.
Did you gradually change?

Yes... it is still changing. It's a process.

Were there specific things which helped bring about the change?

I don't know.  I think just doing it helped.   When I entered the Church there were a few things I had difficulty with (prayers to the Theotokos, confession) but I trusted the Church's wisdom on these matters.  What did I know?  The Church has been practicing these things for 2000 years, I thought it best to throw myself into Her arms and trust in Her.   So, yes, there are issues and I still don't feel fully comfortable with it.  I think some/many people do right away. It is a gift that they can immerse themselves into it, but I haven't been able to in that way.   I'm still somewhat nervous and tentative about it.  It is the way I am.

I look at it as a young child who is taken into the deep end of the pool by their parent.  I trust my parent (the Church) to hold me, protect me, and know what is best for me.  But, its still scary.  I think it is only after time and practice that it will get easier and more natural.

 
Are there converts who never pray to the Mother of God?

I suspect I know of some who do not...but it's not something we talk about at coffee hour.

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« Reply #50 on: August 02, 2011, 10:32:01 PM »

Question for converts.....

Did you find it hard to pray to the Mother of God, the angels and the Saints?

I didn't find it hard to pray to the Saints and angels, but I didn't know how.  At first, I followed the prayer books and stuck with them.

Quote
Did you gradually change?

Were there specific things which helped bring about the change?

Yes.  A good friend suggested that if I had issues or questions about the Theotokos, to ask her guidance.  Obviously, there was no "hey, David, here's how it is" response, but I do believe my prayers for guidance were answered.  More to the point, in asking for her guidance and intercession, I got comfortable talking to her and that helped as much as anything.

Quote
Are there converts who never pray to the Mother of God?

What a tragedy if that is the case!  Having become accustomed to it, I'd heartily recommend attending a Paraklasis service during the Dormition Fast.  Go to a few of those and you'll have all the petitions you want!
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« Reply #51 on: August 03, 2011, 06:22:36 AM »

It is strange that for me, praying to the Saints and the Theotokos has come quite naturally. Maybe it is because I was not brought up as a protestant so I don't have that kind of baggage. Even more direct prayer such as "St. such and such, protect and save me from evil this day" don't trouble me because I know that I would go to their protection if they were here "for real" and they would certainly be able to help me in the way that we ask them to.
That said I am still a bit wary of the idea of "patron saints" because it seems a bit too much like polytheism, going to this saint or that saint when we should be going to God. But I know it is me that has to change attitude and not 2000 years of the Orthodox Church  Grin
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« Reply #52 on: August 03, 2011, 08:21:10 AM »

If you help somebody does it mean you are God? They do not help through their forces however through prayer to God so in the end God does the miracles.

In eastern Orthodox faith there can not be polytheism since beside God there is nobody like or above God.
Jesus is the mediator between God and men. You can reach to Jesus with your prayers or you can ask a Saint to reach to Jesus in your behalf.

To make it understandable. You can reach to Obama through your forces or you can ask a lobbist to do that for you. IF you have what it takes then reaching yourself can be the answer. I asked a monk to pray for me and several days later I saw a man that looked like Jesus from icons and taliking to him he asked me what to do with money. Then my life changed solving my problem.

I recommend everybody read these miracles here. In these miracles you can see living Saints intercede. On Old Law when people would go to Hell there was not possible for them to come back and help. Thus the interdiction. In New Law wehn people are children of God, the ones that go to Heaven can come back and forth and help like in Bible on Transfiguration day. If Protestant errors would be true, then St Moses and St Elijah would not be allowed to come from death on Transfiguration day which they did since they do not care about protestantism errors. EOC does not care about Protestantism errors too. On one miracle a Roman Catholic saint comes to a Protestant woman telling her that Eastern orthodox Church is the true Church:
http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/chudesa_e.htm
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« Reply #53 on: August 03, 2011, 08:33:30 AM »

Did you find it hard to pray to the Mother of God, the angels and the Saints?

At first.

Quote
Did you gradually change?

Yes.

Quote
Were there specific things which helped bring about the change?

Prayer.

Quote
Are there converts who never pray to the Mother of God?

It should be a part of any good Orthodox prayer rule.
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« Reply #54 on: August 03, 2011, 09:59:54 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.

I don't have a problem either, any more than I have a problem asking friends and fellow parishioners to pray for me. I too feel especially close to St. John Maximovitch, St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Xenia and of course my patron saint, St. Katherine. When I became a catechumen, my priest chose her for me (what did a good little Lutheran girl know from saints??? Grin) and he chose wisely indeed.
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« Reply #55 on: August 03, 2011, 10:48:43 AM »

Quote
Are there converts who never pray to the Mother of God?

It should be a part of any good Orthodox prayer rule.

From a pastoral email from my parish Priest this week:

Quote from: Archpriest Alexis Kniazeff
A lack of veneration of the Mother of God does not necessarily imply a denial of faith in the Kingdom of God.  But to venerate her and to glorify her as the true Theotokos, as the Church does, this is to confess the coming of the Kingdom of God in power.

Then he goes on to explain the Fast and Feast and exhort about as strongly as our Priest does to observe the Fast and celebrate the Feast.

As it is frequently said, the Theotokos belongs to the inner mysteries of the Church. It is from within the Church a relationship is developed.
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« Reply #56 on: August 03, 2011, 03:00:16 PM »

Quote
Are there converts who never pray to the Mother of God?

It should be a part of any good Orthodox prayer rule.

As it is frequently said, the Theotokos belongs to the inner mysteries of the Church. It is from within the Church a relationship is developed.

The Church does not have a service that I am aware of that is without some kind of prayer or hymn to the Theotokos. I was just making an observation for those who are Orthodox, that is why I used the adjectives "good" (to confess the coming of the Kingdom of God in power) and Orthodox (referring to that which is used within and by the Church).

Unless you believe I am casting pearls before swine, in which case I apologize.
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« Reply #57 on: October 04, 2011, 10:43:12 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.

Since nobody corrected this 'understanding' later on in the thread, i'm assuming that it's correct?

I'm going to stay with the topic of saints for a while until i understand it enough to either accept or reject the doctrine. It's the most problematic for me and right now i am worried for my friend who's gradually converting to this. I'm trying to be objective and ask God to reveal His truth to me but it's difficult not to be alarmed at what i'm reading.

This was posted by 'Irish Hermit' (great moniker btw):

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.

Only God can forgive sins and deliver us.
1 Timothy 2:5 There is only one mediator between God and man - Jesus the Christ


EDIT: missing word
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« Reply #58 on: October 04, 2011, 11:22:36 AM »

1st Timothy 2:5 states the ultimate authority of the Lord. The prayers of intercession to the saints & angels are subordinate to this just as we are instructed to forgive those who trespass against us in the Lord's prayer.
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« Reply #59 on: October 04, 2011, 11:33:59 AM »

I'm going to stay with the topic of saints for a while until i understand it enough to either accept or reject the doctrine. It's the most problematic for me and right now i am worried for my friend who's gradually converting to this. I'm trying to be objective and ask God to reveal His truth to me but it's difficult not to be alarmed at what i'm reading.

This was posted by 'Irish Hermit' (great moniker btw):

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.

Only God can forgive sins and deliver us.
1 Timothy 2:5 There is only one mediator between God and man - Jesus the Christ
It's good of you to keep asking questions, especially these that are so clear.

Concerning the prayer for the intercession of the Theotokos: notice that it all comes back to Christ and His work. We pray for each other that we might be saved together. Yes, the wording might seem "over the top" (that happens a lot in Orthodoxy). Try to look past the poetic aspect of it to what is really being said.

Angels do deliver us from evil:
Psalm 34:7 (NKJV): The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.
Admittedly it is God who delivers at the hand of an angel as Peter said in Acts 12.

It is not true that only God can forgive sins.
Luke 17:3 (NKJV): Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

When you pray for someone else, are you not mediating on their behalf?

As I have become more Orthodox in my thinking, I have come to realize that all too often Protestants assign one and only one meaning to a word for all contexts. In Orthodoxy, many words and expressions are broader in their meanings. I have found a much deeper and richer experience as I have come to understand that.
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« Reply #60 on: October 04, 2011, 11:34:18 AM »

The thing is many Messianic Hebrews in the the last centuries preceding the Lord's incarnation knew of intercessions of the saints & angels. The book of Enoch testifies to this, "Then I saw another vision; I saw the habitations and couches of teh saints. There my eyes beheld their habitations with the angels, and their couches with the holy ones. They were entreating, supplciating, and praying for the sons of men;..." (Enoch 39:4) as preserved in the Ethiopian canon.
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« Reply #61 on: October 04, 2011, 11:34:37 AM »

1st Timothy 2:5 states the ultimate authority of the Lord. The prayers of intercession to the saints & angels are subordinate to this just as we are instructed to forgive those who trespass against us in the Lord's prayer.

Subordinate or not, why is any other mediation necessary when we are told in the word that we can approach the throne of God's grace boldly and with confidence, Hebrews 4:16 and in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence, Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...

Where is that confidence if this quote below is true:

"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 #62 on: October 04, 2011, 11:42:31 AM »

1st Timothy 2:5 states the ultimate authority of the Lord. The prayers of intercession to the saints & angels are subordinate to this just as we are instructed to forgive those who trespass against us in the Lord's prayer.

Subordinate or not, why is any other mediation necessary when we are told in the word that we can approach the throne of God's grace boldly and with confidence, Hebrews 4:16 and in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence, Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...

Where is that confidence if this quote below is true:

"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?"
I'll make sure to re-quote the above to you when you post something in Prayer Requests.

PP
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« Reply #63 on: October 04, 2011, 11:49:21 AM »

Try to look past the poetic aspect of it to what is really being said.

Angels do deliver us from evil:
Psalm 34:7 (NKJV): The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.
Admittedly it is God who delivers at the hand of an angel as Peter said in Acts 12.

It is not true that only God can forgive sins.
Luke 17:3 (NKJV): Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

When you pray for someone else, are you not mediating on their behalf?

As I have become more Orthodox in my thinking, I have come to realize that all too often Protestants assign one and only one meaning to a word for all contexts. In Orthodoxy, many words and expressions are broader in their meanings. I have found a much deeper and richer experience as I have come to understand that.

Thanks for including scripture in your answer, i've noticed a few people doing that more when they reply to me than others. It helps and makes me feel like you understand where i'm coming from.

I take most of your points, especially the 'one meaning per word', but i don't accept at all the poetry comment *laughs*
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« Reply #64 on: October 04, 2011, 11:52:28 AM »

1st Timothy 2:5 states the ultimate authority of the Lord. The prayers of intercession to the saints & angels are subordinate to this just as we are instructed to forgive those who trespass against us in the Lord's prayer.

Subordinate or not, why is any other mediation necessary when we are told in the word that we can approach the throne of God's grace boldly and with confidence, Hebrews 4:16 and in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence, Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...

Where is that confidence if this quote below is true:

"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?"
I'll make sure to re-quote the above to you when you post something in Prayer Requests.

PP

*laughs* Okay, i see what you mean.

However, that quote is still problematic to me.
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« Reply #65 on: October 04, 2011, 12:09:09 PM »

1st Timothy 2:5 states the ultimate authority of the Lord. The prayers of intercession to the saints & angels are subordinate to this just as we are instructed to forgive those who trespass against us in the Lord's prayer.

Subordinate or not, why is any other mediation necessary when we are told in the word that we can approach the throne of God's grace boldly and with confidence, Hebrews 4:16 and in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence, Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...

Where is that confidence if this quote below is true:

"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?"


The Lord's prayer is first and foremost in Orthodoxy stressing that we must forgive others if we are to be forgiven. We can pray no other way than to the Trinity in the Lord's prayer . This is prayer of intercession and the Lord states that God is of the living in Matthew 22:32. We understand that saints and angels are living and praying beings. We are given a long list of the faith of the  old covenant saints in Hebrews 11. They are referred to as a "cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 12:1 and we look to Jesus Christ "the author & finisher of our faith" in Hebrews 12:2. Do you not see this as evident also when you read through Ephesians 2 & 3? Do you not understand that St. Paul speaks of saints in heavenly & earthly places like in Ephesians 2:19?

Was typing this as other replies were also posted.
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« Reply #66 on: October 04, 2011, 12:11:12 PM »

1st Timothy 2:5 states the ultimate authority of the Lord. The prayers of intercession to the saints & angels are subordinate to this just as we are instructed to forgive those who trespass against us in the Lord's prayer.

Subordinate or not, why is any other mediation necessary when we are told in the word that we can approach the throne of God's grace boldly and with confidence, Hebrews 4:16 and in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence, Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...

Where is that confidence if this quote below is true:

"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?"
I'll make sure to re-quote the above to you when you post something in Prayer Requests.

PP

*laughs* Okay, i see what you mean.

However, that quote is still problematic to me.
I used to have problems with it too until I realized a very simple fact. We, when we pray for others are usually distracted by the cares of our own lives. It's not selfish, but nature. If I pray for you, no matter how determined to be focused on God, I will allow things to creep in. It dosen't make my prayers less effective but it can really discourageme, or at the least makeme not focused on the Lord and I would not be in the right heart-attitude for prayer.

The saints are at the throne of God. They do not suffer from the cares or worries of this world. They make supplications at the feet of God Himself. Not only this, but the fact the those who  die in Christ are not dead at all but alive in Him, to me, means that I can ask them for prayer just as I would ask my friends to pray for me. It is a stumbling block to be sure. I totally understand.


PP
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« Reply #67 on: October 04, 2011, 12:26:44 PM »

I used to have problems with it too until I realized a very simple fact. We, when we pray for others are usually distracted by the cares of our own lives. It's not selfish, but nature. If I pray for you, no matter how determined to be focused on God, I will allow things to creep in. It dosen't make my prayers less effective but it can really discourageme, or at the least makeme not focused on the Lord and I would not be in the right heart-attitude for prayer.

The saints are at the throne of God. They do not suffer from the cares or worries of this world. They make supplications at the feet of God Himself. Not only this, but the fact the those who  die in Christ are not dead at all but alive in Him, to me, means that I can ask them for prayer just as I would ask my friends to pray for me. It is a stumbling block to be sure. I totally understand.


PP

I remembered a verse in James which says the effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much and was just about to post it when i read the two sentences prior where the context is praying for one another. *smiles*
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« Reply #68 on: October 04, 2011, 12:31:00 PM »

Are you talking about the part where he says to confess our faults one to another or the part where he says to call the elders of the church to have them anoint the sick and pray over them?
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« Reply #69 on: October 04, 2011, 12:39:53 PM »

Question for converts.....

Did you find it hard to pray to the Mother of God, the angels and the Saints?

[b]I do not find it hard since my understanding is that this is alongside perpetual prayer to the Trinity as long as my understanding is sound on this.[/b]

Did you gradually change?

I had reached a basic & affirmative understanding of this while still heterodox.

Were there specific things which helped bring about the change?

The need to have greater understanding of prayer and that God is working for us & not to test God by an earthly scientific proof method in a fallen world.Are there converts who never pray to the Mother of God?
As I previously stated, my understanding is that in veneration I am seeking her prayers alongside my ongoing prayer to God.
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« Reply #70 on: October 04, 2011, 12:45:54 PM »

Are you talking about the part where he says to confess our faults one to another or the part where he says to call the elders of the church to have them anoint the sick and pray over them?

Confessing our faults, though both would be relevant.
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« Reply #71 on: October 04, 2011, 01:06:27 PM »

Are you talking about the part where he says to confess our faults one to another or the part where he says to call the elders of the church to have them anoint the sick and pray over them?
Confessing our faults, though both would be relevant.

While neither one is traditionally understood by the Orthodox Church to refer to praying to saints, they are understood as bearing witness to two sacraments of the Church that Protestants view at best as "can be done but not a sacrament" to at worst as being "not even Christian".

But anyway, while I have admitted that to the best of my knowledge there is no account of someone seeking the intercession of a saint in the NT, it is stated that they are aware of us and do offer up our prayers to God. I forget the other thread I just recently mentioned this on, but I think you're active in that thread (I could be wrong).

One other point is brought up though. Mediator. What is the basis and narture of Christ's one mediation between God and man?

Please forgive me for not volunteering to do a study on it right now. Everytime I set out to do a study on something to later on reply to a post I get sidetracked and never finish it. It is food for thought though, and would be a good topic for discussion. Without searching through my concordance for verses (please forgive me for the hasty reply), I would say it has to do with the cross and the nature of the incarnation. The saints are not the Word made flesh, and our salvation is not ultimately based on their death and resurrection. We do not get them confused with, make them equal to, or place them above Christ.
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« Reply #72 on: October 04, 2011, 01:33:12 PM »

Subordinate or not, why is any other mediation necessary when we are told in the word that we can approach the throne of God's grace boldly and with confidence, Hebrews 4:16 and in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence, Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus...

Since you refer to “mediation”, I wanted to point out that when the Scriptures say that “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5),” this is referring to Christ’s unique role as the “Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).”  See also Hebrews 8:6 and 12:24 regarding Christ as “Mediator”.  It is only Christ Who died on the cross, Who rose from the dead, Who ascended into heaven, Who sent down His Holy Spirit, Who forgives sins, and Who has made it possible for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  The saints intercede for us before the throne of God, but they are not mediators of the new covenant, as there can only be one Mediator, Christ.   

Where is that confidence if this quote below is true:

"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?"

If you read our prayer books and divine services, you will see that the majority of prayers are addressed directly to the Lord and the Holy Trinity, so no Orthodox Christian has ever ceased praying directly to God or chosen to ask exclusively for the prayers of the saints instead, on account of being “too sinful” or for any other reason.  In the Divine Liturgy, just before we say the Lord’s Prayer, the priest says: “And make us worthy, Master, with confidence and without fear of condemnation, to dare call You, the heavenly God, Father, and to say:  Our Father….”, which reflects the verses you quoted.  We ask the saints to pray for us, not because God will not pay any attention to us on account of our sins, but because in the Orthodox Church we feel the closeness and nearness of the saints, it brings joy to God when we ask the saints to pray to Him for us, and because the prayers of the righteous are more effective than the prayers of sinners.  We are not saved as isolated individuals but as members of the body of Christ.  When we confess the same faith that the saints and Fathers confessed since Apostolic times, when we worship in the same way as did the saints and Fathers who came before us, when we partake of the same Mysteries of which they partook, and when we read their lives, we sense our bond with them in the body of Christ as a stronger bond than what we share even with our own biological families, as the Lord said, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother (Matt 12:50)."  Furthermore, we develop a bond with our guardian angel that is given to us at baptism, with the saint whose name we were given and who has been specially appointed to pray for us, with saints whose churches we visit, whose icons and relics we venerate.  As we read the lives of the saints, we find among them some who are particularly like ourselves, who perhaps experienced similar trials, or who had a dominant passion that corresponds to our dominant passion.  This familiarity and closeness in the body of Christ makes it very natural for us to ask for their prayers on our behalf.  When we know that a saint’s particular prayer was answered, and we find that we have the same need, it is very natural for us to ask for them to pray for us just as they prayed for themselves or others and were heard by God in the past.  While we never cease praying directly to God, it is true that our prayers are sometimes not heard on account of our sins, knowing that  “The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayers of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29)” and “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12).”  For this reason also we ask for the prayers of those who are fellow members of the body of Christ, knowing that they lived righteously on earth and found favor with God.  It is, in fact, even more natural to ask for their prayers than it is to ask for the prayers of those living around us.   

Throughout the entire history of the Church, the faithful have asked the saints to pray for them and God has been pleased to answer these prayers.  Never has this resulted in “cults” developing around certain saints to the exclusion of Christ as sole Mediator or God as the source of all power and authority.  Neither has there been a single instance in the history of the Church where prayers to the saints, and the prayers of the saints on our behalf, have been the subject of controversy or debate.  For the Protestant who does not share the Faith of the Apostles, saints, and martyrs; who does not worship as they did; who does not have them present in his “worship”; who does not receive the same communion which they received; and who is not part of the same body; obviously for such a Protestant the saints themselves will seem very far off indeed, and consequently the idea of asking for their prayers will likewise seem unnatural.  It is not so, however, nor has this ever been the case, in the Orthodox Church. 
   

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« Reply #73 on: October 04, 2011, 01:50:50 PM »

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.
It doesn't mean forgive in an eternal sense. The fellow has to watch you sin all day!

I also bet this is an adapted RC or RC influenced prayer.
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« Reply #74 on: October 04, 2011, 02:04:23 PM »

Try to look past the poetic aspect of it to what is really being said.

Angels do deliver us from evil:
Psalm 34:7 (NKJV): The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.
Admittedly it is God who delivers at the hand of an angel as Peter said in Acts 12.

It is not true that only God can forgive sins.
Luke 17:3 (NKJV): Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

When you pray for someone else, are you not mediating on their behalf?

As I have become more Orthodox in my thinking, I have come to realize that all too often Protestants assign one and only one meaning to a word for all contexts. In Orthodoxy, many words and expressions are broader in their meanings. I have found a much deeper and richer experience as I have come to understand that.

Thanks for including scripture in your answer, i've noticed a few people doing that more when they reply to me than others. It helps and makes me feel like you understand where i'm coming from.

I take most of your points, especially the 'one meaning per word', but i don't accept at all the poetry comment *laughs*
I spent over 50 years as an Evangelical (not the Pentecostal type, though they and we shared a lot), so I think I do have a pretty good idea where you're coming from. Prayer to the saints was probably the biggest hurdle for me too. Not so much on an intellectual level, but as part of my regular practice. In fact, I still have a lot to learn there.

By the poetry part, I'm trying to get you to look past the emotional, "touchy-feely" parts of the prayers and hymns. It's possible to take some things too literally and miss the real point. Here's a mundane example: Boy says to girl, "I'd climb every mountain, swim every ocean, fight every wild beast in the jungle just to be with you." No sane person is going to expect that to be taken literally, but no one denies that it's a deep expression of love and care. Similarly, many Orthodox prayers and hymns may appear to be beyond reasonable. But I'm gradually learning that when seen in the full context of our services, hymnography, writings of the Fathers that words like these are highly emotional (i.e. poetic) expressions of truth.

It's easy to pull things out of context and be sadly mistaken. For example, in another thread I mentioned a bumper sticker that I noticed. "Jesus paid for our sins". My first (and very silly) thought was "Oh, good. Now I can sin for free!" A bigger context is important. It takes time and experience to see some things for what they really are.

I do appreciate your questions. They seem respectful and show that you are doing your best to understand. You've probably told us elsewhere, but would you remind me what opportunities you've had to attend Orthodox worship services?
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« Reply #75 on: October 04, 2011, 02:12:35 PM »

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.

I also bet this is an adapted RC or RC influenced prayer.
Not necessarily. I don't know the origin of this particular prayer, but if you read the hymns and prayers for the Archangels (Nov Cool, you'll see that they are full of petitions for protection and deliverance.
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« Reply #76 on: October 04, 2011, 03:05:54 PM »

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.

I also bet this is an adapted RC or RC influenced prayer.
Not necessarily. I don't know the origin of this particular prayer, but if you read the hymns and prayers for the Archangels (Nov Cool, you'll see that they are full of petitions for protection and deliverance.
I didn't mean the petitions, I meant " that I may not anger my God by any sin" and the way the end of the prayer is structured.
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« Reply #77 on: October 04, 2011, 04:15:42 PM »

I spent over 50 years as an Evangelical (not the Pentecostal type, though they and we shared a lot), so I think I do have a pretty good idea where you're coming from. Prayer to the saints was probably the biggest hurdle for me too. Not so much on an intellectual level, but as part of my regular practice. In fact, I still have a lot to learn there.

By the poetry part, I'm trying to get you to look past the emotional, "touchy-feely" parts of the prayers and hymns. It's possible to take some things too literally and miss the real point. Here's a mundane example: Boy says to girl, "I'd climb every mountain, swim every ocean, fight every wild beast in the jungle just to be with you." No sane person is going to expect that to be taken literally, but no one denies that it's a deep expression of love and care. Similarly, many Orthodox prayers and hymns may appear to be beyond reasonable. But I'm gradually learning that when seen in the full context of our services, hymnography, writings of the Fathers that words like these are highly emotional (i.e. poetic) expressions of truth.

It's easy to pull things out of context and be sadly mistaken. For example, in another thread I mentioned a bumper sticker that I noticed. "Jesus paid for our sins". My first (and very silly) thought was "Oh, good. Now I can sin for free!" A bigger context is important. It takes time and experience to see some things for what they really are.

I do appreciate your questions. They seem respectful and show that you are doing your best to understand. You've probably told us elsewhere, but would you remind me what opportunities you've had to attend Orthodox worship services?

I accept your point and thank you for explaining. I understand, to a degree, the various forms of writing in scripture and can clearly see when a pattern is emerging or a rhythm in the writing which tells the reader not to take every word literally. So i do understand that some prayers may take this form as well. However, i am conscious that we shall have to account for every word we pray and speak so i would be equally as cautious in what ii pray and who toas i would what i sang in church, which is why i stopped singing those bloody awful Matt Redman songs.

To answer your question, no i haven't visited a service, i wasn't really intending to. A friend of mine is serious about converting to Orthodoxy and asked me to look into it. Methinks more for my benefit than a second opinion for her.
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« Reply #78 on: October 04, 2011, 04:52:12 PM »

Since you refer to “mediation”, I wanted to point out that when the Scriptures say that “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5),” this is referring to Christ’s unique role as the “Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).”  See also Hebrews 8:6 and 12:24 regarding Christ as “Mediator”.  It is only Christ Who died on the cross, Who rose from the dead, Who ascended into heaven, Who sent down His Holy Spirit, Who forgives sins, and Who has made it possible for us to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  The saints intercede for us before the throne of God, but they are not mediators of the new covenant, as there can only be one Mediator, Christ.

I haven't read it that way before; now i do, it actually makes more sense. Thanks!

If you read our prayer books and divine services, you will see that the majority of prayers are addressed directly to the Lord and the Holy Trinity, so no Orthodox Christian has ever ceased praying directly to God or chosen to ask exclusively for the prayers of the saints instead, on account of being “too sinful” or for any other reason.  In the Divine Liturgy, just before we say the Lord’s Prayer, the priest says: “And make us worthy, Master, with confidence and without fear of condemnation, to dare call You, the heavenly God, Father, and to say:  Our Father….”, which reflects the verses you quoted.  We ask the saints to pray for us, not because God will not pay any attention to us on account of our sins, but because in the Orthodox Church we feel the closeness and nearness of the saints, it brings joy to God when we ask the saints to pray to Him for us, and because the prayers of the righteous are more effective than the prayers of sinners.

I was following, right up to the emboldened part.
We are no longer "sinners" we have a new nature the old one has died? We are adopted Ephesians 1:5, grafted in Romans 11, sealed with the Spirit Ephesians 4:30 and we are joint heirs with Christ Romans 8:17

We are not saved as isolated individuals but as members of the body of Christ.  When we confess the same faith that the saints and Fathers confessed since Apostolic times, when we worship in the same way as did the saints and Fathers who came before us, when we partake of the same Mysteries of which they partook, and when we read their lives, we sense our bond with them in the body of Christ as a stronger bond than what we share even with our own biological families, as the Lord said, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother (Matt 12:50)."
Yeah i see where you're going.

Furthermore, we develop a bond with our guardian angel that is given to us at baptism, with the saint whose name we were given and who has been specially appointed to pray for us, with saints whose churches we visit, whose icons and relics we venerate.  As we read the lives of the saints, we find among them some who are particularly like ourselves, who perhaps experienced similar trials, or who had a dominant passion that corresponds to our dominant passion.  This familiarity and closeness in the body of Christ makes it very natural for us to ask for their prayers on our behalf.  When we know that a saint’s particular prayer was answered, and we find that we have the same need, it is very natural for us to ask for them to pray for us just as they prayed for themselves or others and were heard by God in the past.  While we never cease praying directly to God, it is true that our prayers are sometimes not heard on account of our sins, knowing that  “The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayers of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29)” and “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12).”  For this reason also we ask for the prayers of those who are fellow members of the body of Christ, knowing that they lived righteously on earth and found favor with God.  It is, in fact, even more natural to ask for their prayers than it is to ask for the prayers of those living around us.
I don't have a problem with any of this. Though the concept is new to me, i can see it does line up with the word.
The only part that i have probllems with is that you identified us as "the wicked" when we sin. I think it means the wicked as in permanently, consistently wicked. We are identified as righteous, because of Christ. If it is the case that we are wicked when we sin and righteous when we don't, then how is our status based on what Christ did on the cross? Surely then our standing before God is down to what we do or don't do and i can't accept that.

Is it any wonder if we are wicked when we sin, that we are not permanently identified as wicked because from the moment we wake up it's hard not to have thoughts that are sinful. I'm guessing that you believe we can reach a state of perfection if we try hard enough?
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« Reply #79 on: October 05, 2011, 02:55:03 AM »

The only part that i have probllems with is that you identified us as "the wicked" when we sin. I think it means the wicked as in permanently, consistently wicked. We are identified as righteous, because of Christ. If it is the case that we are wicked when we sin and righteous when we don't, then how is our status based on what Christ did on the cross? Surely then our standing before God is down to what we do or don't do and i can't accept that.

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am first" (I Tim 1:15). "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not." Note the present tense. It's not that we are doubting the salvation (redemption, justification) we have received in Christ anymore than St. Paul was. But we attempt to maintain a full recognition of our own sinfulness and unworthiness specifically so that we can always maintain a full awareness of our utter dependence on Christ.

Quote
Is it any wonder if we are wicked when we sin, that we are not permanently identified as wicked because from the moment we wake up it's hard not to have thoughts that are sinful. I'm guessing that you believe we can reach a state of perfection if we try hard enough?

Definitely not. We believe that Christ can (and will) make us perfect--if we will just get out of his way (i.e., submission). Those we celebrate as 'saints' are those who who have shown the fruits of this submission.

(Also, I don't believe its been mentioned here, but I know as a fundamentalist converting to Orthodoxy it helped make sense of 'prayer to the saints' for me--Orthodox do not simply ask the intercession of the saints. We also ask for the intercessions of our living brethren. And we ask for the intercessions of our dead brethren as well. When an Orthodox believer's parents repose, that Orthodox will continue to pray for and to them. The same goes for Orthodox friends and acquaintances. My bishop, who I knew personally and greatly respected, reposed recently. I now ask for his intercession just as I asked for them while he was alive--but I do so now at the same time as I pray for the intercessions of my guardian angel, my patron saint, the Theotokos, etc).
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« Reply #80 on: October 05, 2011, 07:10:35 AM »

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am first" (I Tim 1:15). "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not." Note the present tense. It's not that we are doubting the salvation (redemption, justification) we have received in Christ anymore than St. Paul was. But we attempt to maintain a full recognition of our own sinfulness and unworthiness specifically so that we can always maintain a full awareness of our utter dependence on Christ.

So noted. Thanks.
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« Reply #81 on: October 05, 2011, 07:14:43 AM »

The Lord's prayer is first and foremost in Orthodoxy stressing that we must forgive others if we are to be forgiven. We can pray no other way than to the Trinity in the Lord's prayer . This is prayer of intercession and the Lord states that God is of the living in Matthew 22:32. We understand that saints and angels are living and praying beings. We are given a long list of the faith of the  old covenant saints in Hebrews 11. They are referred to as a "cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 12:1 and we look to Jesus Christ "the author & finisher of our faith" in Hebrews 12:2. Do you not see this as evident also when you read through Ephesians 2 & 3? Do you not understand that St. Paul speaks of saints in heavenly & earthly places like in Ephesians 2:19?

Yes i do see that and i'm still thinking about it.
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« Reply #82 on: October 05, 2011, 07:35:53 AM »

I was following, right up to the emboldened part.
We are no longer "sinners" we have a new nature the old one has died? We are adopted Ephesians 1:5, grafted in Romans 11, sealed with the Spirit Ephesians 4:30 and we are joint heirs with Christ Romans 8:17
---
The only part that i have probllems with is that you identified us as "the wicked" when we sin. I think it means the wicked as in permanently, consistently wicked. We are identified as righteous, because of Christ. If it is the case that we are wicked when we sin and righteous when we don't, then how is our status based on what Christ did on the cross? Surely then our standing before God is down to what we do or don't do and i can't accept that.

Is it any wonder if we are wicked when we sin, that we are not permanently identified as wicked because from the moment we wake up it's hard not to have thoughts that are sinful. I'm guessing that you believe we can reach a state of perfection if we try hard enough?

To add to witega’s response, in the Orthodox Church we do not have the Protestant idea of “imputed righteousness” such as you seem to be referring to.  We are called to be holy, called to be blameless, called to be without sin, but whether or not we stand before God as righteous or as sinners depends upon our deeds.  Christ died for the sins of the entire world, but the entire world does not therefore stand sinless before God without baptism and repentance.  Through baptism we are washed clean, but we are in fact sinners if we continue in sin after baptism and do not repent.  After baptism we must continue to confess our sins and repent in order to stand blamelessly before God.  You mentioned, among other verses, Romans 8:17 to the effect that we are “joint heirs with Christ” yet this text is conditional, saying that we are “joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  Similarly we read, “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight-- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister (Col 1:19-24).”  Romans 4 speaks of the righteousness “imputed” to Abraham “by faith”, not apart from works but apart from the works of the law, namely circumcision.  This is a major point of difference between the patristic Orthodox understanding of “works” and the misunderstanding of Martin Luther and his followers.  The latter misinterpreted St. Paul’s words regarding the insufficiency of the works of the law as though works in general were being referred to, in contrast to the words of St. James where he says that “faith without works is dead (James 2:20 and 26).”  St. James also asks, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect (James 2:22)?”  For Abraham, while his righteousness was apart from the law & circumcision (as St. Paul was saying in his letter to the Romans), this righteousness was not on account of mere faith, as in belief that is separate from works, but rather on account of his “faith working together with works (James 2:22).”  For, in the letter to the Hebrews it is stated that, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11: 8 )”  and, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense (Hebrews 11:17-19).”  So, we are made righteous by faith, but true faith expresses itself in works, not the works of the law, but the works of obedience to Christ’s commandments.  As it also says, “He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4).”

If it is indeed wrong to assert that Christians who “believe” and are baptized can still be referred to as sinners, or that after their baptism (or perhaps you would say after their “born again experience”?) God sees them already as holy and righteous regardless of their deeds afterwards committed, why would it be said in the letter to the Hebrews that we should “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:13).”?  How can we pursue holiness if we already have holiness?  Why also would St. John say that “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).”?  If we are already pure before God on account of what Christ did on the cross, how can anyone speak of purifying himself?  It is true that we receive the remission of sins through baptism, but most of us continue to sin after baptism.  In the Church we say that confession and repentance constitutes a “second baptism” which renews the first.  For, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10).”

Those among the departed who the Orthodox Church refers to as “saints”, are precisely those who were faithful to the end, who did the will of God, who followed Christ’s commandments, who purified themselves “as He is pure”, who pursued holiness, and whose prayers were very powerful on account of their righteousness.  Since no one here on earth can say that they are holy and without sin, even the righteous here on earth ask for the prayers of the saints who are before the Lord, feeling a special kinship with them.  But, again, no Orthodox Christian ever ceases to pray to God directly as well, which can be seen from the prayers found in the prayer books used by all Orthodox Christians, the prayers said in the divine services by all, and the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me” which all Orthodox Christians should strive to say ceaselessly with their lips and in their hearts.   
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« Reply #83 on: October 08, 2011, 03:50:03 PM »

Yes, it was difficult at first, to feel comfortable. It was explained to me that we ask each other to intercede for us in prayers, so why not ask also that the saints pray for us who are already "there"? I trusted the Church, whose collective mind is much smarter than mine, to be correct and have not regretted it since!
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« Reply #84 on: December 27, 2011, 05:23:02 AM »


Those among the departed who the Orthodox Church refers to as “saints”, are precisely those who were faithful to the end, who did the will of God, who followed Christ’s commandments, who purified themselves “as He is pure”, who pursued holiness, and whose prayers were very powerful on account of their righteousness.  Since no one here on earth can say that they are holy and without sin, even the righteous here on earth ask for the prayers of the saints....  


Reading over these threads once again there are still a few things i need to ask so forgive me for going back to them.

Given that much of your focus as Christians is on your deeds and how worthy you are to take the Eucharist (or not), how can there be such disparity between those 'saints' on earth and those in heaven?

I mean, if on earth you all feel and possibly are so unworthy to receive the sacraments because of your sinful lives, then how can the church judge and know another person to be worthy? I really do not understand this at all.
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« Reply #85 on: December 27, 2011, 09:44:41 AM »


Those among the departed who the Orthodox Church refers to as “saints”, are precisely those who were faithful to the end, who did the will of God, who followed Christ’s commandments, who purified themselves “as He is pure”, who pursued holiness, and whose prayers were very powerful on account of their righteousness.  Since no one here on earth can say that they are holy and without sin, even the righteous here on earth ask for the prayers of the saints....  


Reading over these threads once again there are still a few things i need to ask so forgive me for going back to them.

Given that much of your focus as Christians is on your deeds and how worthy you are to take the Eucharist (or not), how can there be such disparity between those 'saints' on earth and those in heaven?

I mean, if on earth you all feel and possibly are so unworthy to receive the sacraments because of your sinful lives, then how can the church judge and know another person to be worthy? I really do not understand this at all.
I think you will find much of this fine line expressed in the 1st chapter of the 1st letter of John which calls us to confess our sins as we are to strive to be worthy of walking in the light of the Lord and have fellowship as brethren. It is also St. John who most clearly illustrates the Eucharist in chapter 6 of his Gospel. St. Paul reminds us to always give thanks in ephesians & also cautions to not take the Eucharist unworthily in 1st Corinthians 11. The Eucharist is thanksgiving & we must strive to partake of it worthily since it is the free gift of our Lord's salvation to us & we must do this in faith.
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« Reply #86 on: December 27, 2011, 02:30:56 PM »

Given that much of your focus as Christians is on your deeds and how worthy you are to take the Eucharist (or not), how can there be such disparity between those 'saints' on earth and those in heaven?


Because Paul compares the Christian walk to running a race that must be finished. We in this life are still running with patience and hope. Those who are departed have already finished running. While we do have a number of saints whose lives we use as examples of how we are to follow Christ and believe that Christ is faithful to his promise of rewarding a life lived with such faith, these are only people that were well known for one thing or another and our list of commemorated saints is not an all inclusive list of those who will be standing on the right hand at the judgement. There are many who have lived quiet lives in imitation of Christ whose deeds done in faith may never be known by anyone until the day of judgement.
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« Reply #87 on: December 27, 2011, 02:50:33 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Just a thought:

Perhaps the underlying tension that many converts experience with approaching Our Lady the Virgin in particular, is that folks from a Protestant background tend to harbor negative sentiments towards the veneration of the Virgin.  One of the defining lines of Protestantism is an almost vitriolic rejection of Our Lady, and it becomes to one crux that many folks debate against Orthodox or Catholic.  For example, when discussing my Orthodoxy with Protestants, most inevitably tell me, "The Church is cool.. but the problem is they worship the Virgin as a Goddess" or something along those lines, but the bone of contention is almost always the Virgin Mary.  So that being said, when folks who grew up believing in this unnecessary hostility and dichotomy perhaps have subconcious guilt when approaching Our Lady?

Perhaps because so much of their previous theology and religion was built up in opposition to the Church, often revolving around misunderstandings of Our Lady, that folks harbor this guilt and shame, even if again subconcsiously, and it is this underlying guilt that creates this distance some converts experience when coming to venerate Our Lady.  That being said, let the cards fall where they fall.  From my experience with the Virgin Mary, she is not a symbol, she is real, therefore let her speak for herself.  Allow yourselves to experience the Virgin Mary in your lives without any assumptions, without any intentions, without anything but simple experience, and then let your heart do the deciding.  We don't in the Church intend to force or coerce veneration, it has to be natural, but like all natural things, it must then come about naturally.

Confront the inner and underlying tensions that have defined life previous to Orthodox.  Many Christians define their faith in terms of opposites, "I am not a Muslim" or "I do not follow the Law of the Jews" or "I do not pray to Mary or the Saints" and so when these folks come to Orthodox this is the baggage they are carrying.  Let that go slowly, patiently, accepting both our own human weaknesses and limitations while also embracing the Grace of God which Our Lady Virgin Mary is truly Filled With.

stay blessed,
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« Reply #88 on: December 27, 2011, 03:40:54 PM »

We are not so much "focused on doing good deeds" as following Christ's example to love one another. How else to show it but by our "deeds", feeding His sheep, etc.?
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« Reply #89 on: December 27, 2011, 04:01:23 PM »

I used to have problems with it too until I realized a very simple fact. We, when we pray for others are usually distracted by the cares of our own lives. It's not selfish, but nature. If I pray for you, no matter how determined to be focused on God, I will allow things to creep in. It dosen't make my prayers less effective but it can really discourageme, or at the least makeme not focused on the Lord and I would not be in the right heart-attitude for prayer.

The saints are at the throne of God. They do not suffer from the cares or worries of this world. They make supplications at the feet of God Himself. Not only this, but the fact the those who  die in Christ are not dead at all but alive in Him, to me, means that I can ask them for prayer just as I would ask my friends to pray for me. It is a stumbling block to be sure. I totally understand.


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I remembered a verse in James which says the effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much and was just about to post it when i read the two sentences prior where the context is praying for one another. *smiles*

And, since the world is pretty short on righteous persons, we have the saints to pray for us. They have great boldness before the Lord.
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« Reply #90 on: December 27, 2011, 04:25:07 PM »

It's becoming obvious that American Orthodox do not pray to Saints in the same manner as their Orthodox brothers and sisters in the home countries but instead they restrict themselves to asking the Saints to intercede for them with God.

Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this divergence from traditional Orthodoxy has occurred in America? 

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« Reply #91 on: December 27, 2011, 04:29:24 PM »

It's becoming obvious that American Orthodox do not pray to Saints in the same manner as their Orthodox brothers and sisters in the home countries but instead they restrict themselves to asking the Saints to intercede for them with God.

Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this divergence from traditional Orthodoxy has occurred in America? 



Could you explain the difference? 
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« Reply #92 on: December 27, 2011, 04:29:42 PM »

And a secondary question:

The Church is almost literally awash with liturgical and devotional material to the Mother of God, to the Angels and to the Saints.  

Do American Orthodox make use of these prayers to the Saints, and Akathists and Canons, or do they eschew them since they go beyond asking for intercession?

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« Reply #93 on: December 27, 2011, 04:35:01 PM »

I don't see this as a dichotomy. Looking at hymnography, there is the constant motif of asking the saint to pray to God on our behalf for the salvation of our souls, and for Him to grant us mercy. The standard refrain in the Canons at Matins is Holy/Saint XXX, pray to God for us.
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« Reply #94 on: December 27, 2011, 04:35:18 PM »

It's becoming obvious that American Orthodox do not pray to Saints in the same manner as their Orthodox brothers and sisters in the home countries but instead they restrict themselves to asking the Saints to intercede for them with God.

Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this divergence from traditional Orthodoxy has occurred in America? 



Could you explain the difference? 

If you run back through the thread you will find illustrations of prayer to the Mother of God and to the Saints which is other than asking them to intercede with God.  The prayers in our daily morning and night prayers are an example.
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« Reply #95 on: December 27, 2011, 04:35:23 PM »

And a secondary question:

The Church is almost literally awash with liturgical and devotional material to the Mother of God, to the Angels and to the Saints.  

Do American Orthodox make use of these prayers to the Saints, and Akathists and Canons, or do they eschew them since they go beyond asking for intercession?

Father Ambrose

I try to use them, but not regularly.  I think they're beautiful.  At one time I kept the Akathist-  "Mother of God Nurturer of Children" in my purse to pray while waiting in lines, etc.  I've gotten out of the habit though.
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« Reply #96 on: December 27, 2011, 04:36:51 PM »

It's becoming obvious that American Orthodox do not pray to Saints in the same manner as their Orthodox brothers and sisters in the home countries but instead they restrict themselves to asking the Saints to intercede for them with God.

Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this divergence from traditional Orthodoxy has occurred in America? 

I can't speak about anything except my own experience here, but if there is indeed a difference, perhaps it has to do with culture? Or in my case, lack thereof. I wasn't taught to pray by anyone in Orthodoxy. The talk about prayer life when I was becoming Orthodox was essentially:

Catechist: Do you have a prayer book?
Justin: Yeah. I've been using the X one.
Catechist: That's a great version. Just be as consistent as you can.
Justin: [advice goes in one ear and out the other] Ok, great.
Catechist: And you're attending services. So basically we are done talking about prayer. Next is dogmatic theology vis-a-vis the interrelationships between the persons of the Trinity. We will spend about 2 months on this.

 Wink Cheesy  So, yeah, no one was there since childhood to teach me, mostly by actions, how to be Orthodox. I read, I read, I talked with other people who read and read... and that was mostly it. I'm sure this has left a lot of gaps...

Regarding the question in your last post, I have used prayers/akathists/etc. to saints from time to time, though generally if I have done a canon it's been the canon of repentance. That has more to do with what I think will be of some benefit, though, and isn't based on anything specifically to do with saints. I think.  Huh
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« Reply #97 on: December 27, 2011, 04:38:15 PM »

I don't see this as a dichotomy. Looking at hymnography, there is the constant motif of asking the saint to pray to God on our behalf for the salvation of our souls, and for Him to grant us mercy. The standard refrain in the Canons at Matins is Holy/Saint XXX, pray to God for us.

There is no dichotomy in traditional Orthodoxy.  But, I many be wrong, some (converts in the West?) wish to make a restriction, limiting prayer to the Saints to the intercessory prayer for which you give examples.
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« Reply #98 on: December 27, 2011, 04:42:20 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

It's becoming obvious that American Orthodox do not pray to Saints in the same manner as their Orthodox brothers and sisters in the home countries but instead they restrict themselves to asking the Saints to intercede for them with God.

Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this divergence from traditional Orthodoxy has occurred in America? 



Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Just a thought:

Perhaps the underlying tension that many converts experience with approaching Our Lady the Virgin in particular, is that folks from a Protestant background tend to harbor negative sentiments towards the veneration of the Virgin.  One of the defining lines of Protestantism is an almost vitriolic rejection of Our Lady, and it becomes to one crux that many folks debate against Orthodox or Catholic.  For example, when discussing my Orthodoxy with Protestants, most inevitably tell me, "The Church is cool.. but the problem is they worship the Virgin as a Goddess" or something along those lines, but the bone of contention is almost always the Virgin Mary.  So that being said, when folks who grew up believing in this unnecessary hostility and dichotomy perhaps have subconcious guilt when approaching Our Lady?

Perhaps because so much of their previous theology and religion was built up in opposition to the Church, often revolving around misunderstandings of Our Lady, that folks harbor this guilt and shame, even if again subconcsiously, and it is this underlying guilt that creates this distance some converts experience when coming to venerate Our Lady.  That being said, let the cards fall where they fall.  From my experience with the Virgin Mary, she is not a symbol, she is real, therefore let her speak for herself.  Allow yourselves to experience the Virgin Mary in your lives without any assumptions, without any intentions, without anything but simple experience, and then let your heart do the deciding.  We don't in the Church intend to force or coerce veneration, it has to be natural, but like all natural things, it must then come about naturally.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #99 on: December 27, 2011, 04:46:23 PM »

It's becoming obvious that American Orthodox do not pray to Saints in the same manner as their Orthodox brothers and sisters in the home countries but instead they restrict themselves to asking the Saints to intercede for them with God.

Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this divergence from traditional Orthodoxy has occurred in America?  



perhaps what you are comparing is old world cradle Orthodox vs newer American convert.  I bet these thing grow and blossom with time.  It might be interesting find out how prayers have changed with those who embraced Orthodoxy 15-20-30 yrs ago.
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« Reply #100 on: December 27, 2011, 04:51:17 PM »

If you run back through the thread you will find illustrations of prayer to the Mother of God and to the Saints which is other than asking them to intercede with God.  The prayers in our daily morning and night prayers are an example.
Father,

By "other than" you mean that, instead of explicitly saying "pray to God" or "intercede to God" they say things like, "Help me, save me, O Theotokos"?

And you are saying that, as it is intercession regardless whether or not it is explicitly stated by some sort of legal disclaimer words like "intercede for us" or "pray to God for us", there is no real difference?
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« Reply #101 on: December 27, 2011, 04:52:34 PM »

It's becoming obvious that American Orthodox do not pray to Saints in the same manner as their Orthodox brothers and sisters in the home countries but instead they restrict themselves to asking the Saints to intercede for them with God.

Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this divergence from traditional Orthodoxy has occurred in America?  



perhaps what you are comparing is old world cradle Orthodox vs newer American convert.  I bet these thing grow and blossom with time.  It might be interesting find out how prayers have changed with those who embraced Orthodoxy 15-20-30 yrs ago.

Maybe it's a relationship vs. formal things? It's easier for some to just ask for intercessions. To develop relationships with the saints takes more time and effort, in a way. I have found that reading the Lives of the saints and having their icons nearby is very helpful in this. And, I think, that there are some saints each of us is closer to than others--that is, we remember others more, we ponder them, we talk to them, etc. I think, also, that one can be very excited about a saint for awhile, and then it sort of fades and maybe reappears when needed, but of course the saint never forgets. The saint is like your mother who keeps every picture and remembers every dandelion you give her. Of course this is true, they emulate God.
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« Reply #102 on: December 27, 2011, 04:55:43 PM »

Regarding the question in your last post, I have used prayers/akathists/etc. to saints from time to time, though generally if I have done a canon it's been the canon of repentance. That has more to do with what I think will be of some benefit, though, and isn't based on anything specifically to do with saints. I think.  Huh

People develop a love and a close relationship with particular Saints, by reading about them, by simply standing in front of their icon in church where the Saint himself may come forth to aid and guide the person, to inspire him or to rebuke him.   As the relationship grows between the two, there is a growing desire to deepen the relationship and this impels us to start using prayers to the Saint.  We start to pray in our own words or pray using the Akathist to the Saint or a Canon.   This prayer "holds' us in the presence of the Saint for 15 or 20 minutes.   

The benefit?   There will be benefits of course... guidance in life, protection from harm and from evil, courage to face adversity and sickness.... but the benefits are really secondary to the love and joy of developing a close relationship with such wonderful and holy people.
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« Reply #103 on: December 27, 2011, 05:02:07 PM »

If you run back through the thread you will find illustrations of prayer to the Mother of God and to the Saints which is other than asking them to intercede with God.  The prayers in our daily morning and night prayers are an example.
Father,

By "other than" you mean that, instead of explicitly saying "pray to God" or "intercede to God" they say things like, "Help me, save me, O Theotokos"?

And you are saying that, as it is intercession regardless whether or not it is explicitly stated by some sort of legal disclaimer words like "intercede for us" or "pray to God for us", there is no real difference?

The best way to learn about these things is to read.... read the lives of the Saints,  and, if you have access to such things, read church magazines from Russia, Greece. Serbia, Romania......  There will be material in there which immediately highlights the paucity of restricting prayer to the Mother of God and the Saints to intercessory prayer.
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« Reply #104 on: December 27, 2011, 05:03:13 PM »

And a secondary question:

The Church is almost literally awash with liturgical and devotional material to the Mother of God, to the Angels and to the Saints.  

Do American Orthodox make use of these prayers to the Saints, and Akathists and Canons, or do they eschew them since they go beyond asking for intercession?

Father Ambrose

I think this varies on the individual and the parish they were raised in.

The UOC parish I was raised in did not have a lot of services outside of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday. I was not aware of the Akathists and Canons until I started investigating Orthodoxy more intently as an adult, and attended OCA and GOA parishes. It was in the OCA and GOA parishes that I was introduced to Vesper services, Akathists, Paraklesis, and other "minor" services in the Church.

I did not grow up in a parish with a lot of converts. If anyone was a convert, it was because they had married someone who was Orthodox, and converted as a result. The priest that is currently serving the parish has been there for over thirty years, and is the first American raised priest to serve said parish. (He was born to Ukrainian parents in Germany in one of the camps after the war.) The reason I state this is to emphasize that the Orthodox culture I grew up in was not heavily influenced by American ideas of Orthodoxy, but rather, Ukrainian immigrants and their descendents, and how Orthodoxy should fit in America.
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« Reply #105 on: December 27, 2011, 05:04:00 PM »

Regarding the question in your last post, I have used prayers/akathists/etc. to saints from time to time, though generally if I have done a canon it's been the canon of repentance. That has more to do with what I think will be of some benefit, though, and isn't based on anything specifically to do with saints. I think.  Huh

People develop a love and a close relationship with particular Saints, by reading about them, by simply standing in front of their icon in church where the Saint himself may come forth to aid and guide the person, to inspire him or to rebuke him.   As the relationship grows between the two, there is a growing desire to deepen the relationship and this impels us to start using prayers to the Saint.  We start to pray in our own words or pray using the Akathist to the Saint or a Canon.   This prayer "holds' us in the presence of the Saint for 15 or 20 minutes.   

The benefit?   There will be benefits of course... guidance in life, protection from harm and from evil, courage to face adversity and sickness.... but the benefits are really secondary to the love and joy of developing a close relationship with such wonderful and holy people.

And if, God-willing, you get to heaven, you're not surrounded by people who know you and you don't know them. That's more like PK hell, or at least everyday life.
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« Reply #106 on: December 27, 2011, 05:04:47 PM »

There will be material in there which immediately highlights the paucity of restricting prayer to the Mother of God and the Saints to intercessory prayer.
Father,

I'm saying, isn't it all really intercessionary prayer in the end, so we shouldn't really worry about it being some sort of formal request for representation?
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« Reply #107 on: December 27, 2011, 05:06:23 PM »

And a secondary question:

The Church is almost literally awash with liturgical and devotional material to the Mother of God, to the Angels and to the Saints.  

Do American Orthodox make use of these prayers to the Saints, and Akathists and Canons, or do they eschew them since they go beyond asking for intercession?

Father Ambrose

I think this varies on the individual and the parish they were raised in.

The UOC parish I was raised in did not have a lot of services outside of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday. I was not aware of the Akathists and Canons until I started investigating Orthodoxy more intently as an adult, and attended OCA and GOA parishes. It was in the OCA and GOA parishes that I was introduced to Vesper services, Akathists, Paraklesis, and other "minor" services in the Church.

I did not grow up in a parish with a lot of converts. If anyone was a convert, it was because they had married someone who was Orthodox, and converted as a result. The priest that is currently serving the parish has been there for over thirty years, and is the first American raised priest to serve said parish. (He was born to Ukrainian parents in Germany in one of the camps after the war.) The reason I state this is to emphasize that the Orthodox culture I grew up in was not heavily influenced by American ideas of Orthodoxy, but rather, Ukrainian immigrants and their descendents, and how Orthodoxy should fit in America.

In the Fr. Arseny books, several people have memorized akathists or at least troparia, apart from church services. By playing CDs over and over, I've memorized a few troparia There should be more CDs...
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« Reply #108 on: December 27, 2011, 05:32:54 PM »

There will be material in there which immediately highlights the paucity of restricting prayer to the Mother of God and the Saints to intercessory prayer.
Father,

I'm saying, isn't it all really intercessionary prayer in the end, so we shouldn't really worry about it being some sort of formal request for representation?

Yes and no!  Saint Nicholas is quite able to lift your 3 year old son out of a storm water drain.  He does not have to first hive off and say to  God:  "Someone has asked me to intercede with You to rescue their boy. Can I do it, or not?"

The Mother of God can calm a storm at sea, cure a sick child, rescue you from a burning building.  She and the Saints are not in some sort of paralysis until someone has asked them to intercede with God.
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« Reply #109 on: December 27, 2011, 05:40:38 PM »

There will be material in there which immediately highlights the paucity of restricting prayer to the Mother of God and the Saints to intercessory prayer.
Father,

I'm saying, isn't it all really intercessionary prayer in the end, so we shouldn't really worry about it being some sort of formal request for representation?

Yes and no!  Saint Nicholas is quite able to lift your 3 year old son out of a storm water drain.  He does not have to first hive off and say to  God:  "Someone has asked me to intercede with You to rescue their boy. Can I do it, or not?"

The Mother of God can calm a storm at sea, cure a sick child, rescue you from a burning building.  She and the Saints are not in some sort of paralysis until someone has asked them to intercede with God.

God forbid that they should be! "Sorry, St. N. for interrupting your party in heaven, but..."
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« Reply #110 on: December 27, 2011, 06:03:35 PM »

There will be material in there which immediately highlights the paucity of restricting prayer to the Mother of God and the Saints to intercessory prayer.
Father,

I'm saying, isn't it all really intercessionary prayer in the end, so we shouldn't really worry about it being some sort of formal request for representation?

Yes and no!  Saint Nicholas is quite able to lift your 3 year old son out of a storm water drain.  He does not have to first hive off and say to  God:  "Someone has asked me to intercede with You to rescue their boy. Can I do it, or not?"

The Mother of God can calm a storm at sea, cure a sick child, rescue you from a burning building.  She and the Saints are not in some sort of paralysis until someone has asked them to intercede with God.
Father, I agree.

You know, it's surprising how much evangelical baggage in the American Church I have found out about lately, among converts from such groups.  Wink
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« Reply #111 on: December 28, 2011, 08:42:35 AM »

What if as an individual one does not feel particularly faithful towards praying to intricate personalities of the cloud of heavenly witnesses and just feels that, although these saints are present, I am at the mercy of God for whatever will transpire and it is up to me to confess my sin & strive to follow the commandments? Personally I do not have much faith in this otherwise & may start to wonder what really comes first within Orthodox faith?
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« Reply #112 on: December 28, 2011, 12:46:21 PM »

What if as an individual one does not feel particularly faithful towards praying to intricate personalities of the cloud of heavenly witnesses and just feels that, although these saints are present, I am at the mercy of God for whatever will transpire and it is up to me to confess my sin & strive to follow the commandments? Personally I do not have much faith in this otherwise & may start to wonder what really comes first within Orthodox faith?

The last thing any saint would want, would be to be a stumbling block on someone's path to Christ. You are not required to have a relationship with particular saints anymore than you are required to have relationships with your fellow parishoners. You can go to Church, stand in a sea of strangers, and it's still the Divine Liturgy. It's still worship of God and it's still the Body and Blood of Christ you are offered.

Of course, deliberately holding yourself aloof your fellow parishoners is, ultimately, just hurting yourself as you restrict your own participation in the Body of Christ, and the same is true of cutting yourself off from the 'cloud of heavenly witnesses'.

But there is no need to 'force' it, any more than you need to force relationships with your fellow parishoners. Let it develop organically. Concentrate on Christ--but talk to Him about your issues. At liturgy listen to all the hymns which will leave no doubt about the focus of Orthodoxy, but will introduce you to saint after saint. Acknowledge the saints by venerating their icons when they are presented to you out of simple politeness, just as you  acknowledge your fellow living Christians with a polite 'hello' even if that's the current extent of your relationship. At the start or end of your evening prayers, spare a minute or two to try just saying something (not necessarily a 'prayer' or request) to your Guardian Angel and your patron saint. And over time the relationships will grow naturally, just as your relationships with your fellow living parishoners do, and as they do, you do will find that it actually deepens your relationship with Christ, the Head of the Body you are more and more fully participating in. But you don't have to force anything.
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« Reply #113 on: December 28, 2011, 02:16:03 PM »

What if as an individual one does not feel particularly faithful towards praying to intricate personalities of the cloud of heavenly witnesses and just feels that, although these saints are present, I am at the mercy of God for whatever will transpire and it is up to me to confess my sin & strive to follow the commandments? Personally I do not have much faith in this otherwise & may start to wonder what really comes first within Orthodox faith?

The last thing any saint would want, would be to be a stumbling block on someone's path to Christ. You are not required to have a relationship with particular saints anymore than you are required to have relationships with your fellow parishoners. You can go to Church, stand in a sea of strangers, and it's still the Divine Liturgy. It's still worship of God and it's still the Body and Blood of Christ you are offered.

Of course, deliberately holding yourself aloof your fellow parishoners is, ultimately, just hurting yourself as you restrict your own participation in the Body of Christ, and the same is true of cutting yourself off from the 'cloud of heavenly witnesses'.

But there is no need to 'force' it, any more than you need to force relationships with your fellow parishoners. Let it develop organically. Concentrate on Christ--but talk to Him about your issues. At liturgy listen to all the hymns which will leave no doubt about the focus of Orthodoxy, but will introduce you to saint after saint. Acknowledge the saints by venerating their icons when they are presented to you out of simple politeness, just as you  acknowledge your fellow living Christians with a polite 'hello' even if that's the current extent of your relationship. At the start or end of your evening prayers, spare a minute or two to try just saying something (not necessarily a 'prayer' or request) to your Guardian Angel and your patron saint. And over time the relationships will grow naturally, just as your relationships with your fellow living parishoners do, and as they do, you do will find that it actually deepens your relationship with Christ, the Head of the Body you are more and more fully participating in. But you don't have to force anything.

Thanks for your post and I will ponder what you say here. I realize I have plenty of sin to deal with via confession etc. & I mean no disrespect to  more involved personal venerations. I am also well involved in parish life from choir, to council, to janitor etc. I even read a daily account of a given saint on a calendar during morning prayer before leaving for work. Regrettably, I have a tendency to remember  & nitpick about less inspring accounts than those that seem more truly so. The saints I revere do not seem to have many recorded miracles associated to them & personally this seems more consoling. Guess I'll work it out somehow.
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« Reply #114 on: December 28, 2011, 04:11:41 PM »

Personally I do not have much faith in this otherwise

Worrisome, since prayer and communication with the Saints is part of the communion saints, and that forms an integral part of our doctrine and tradition.  I hope that your faith in this area will grow.  From my own experience I would feel that it will.  Some converts have initial problems with these things (praying to the Saints, the belief that the Mother of God was taken into Heaven) but with time their belief starts to fall into line with the rest of the believers.


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& may start to wonder what really comes first within Orthodox faith?

Wondering is good because you need to investigate all aspects of Orthodoxy in order to make a reasoned decision to convert.  

"what really comes first...." I am a monk although I have to live in a parish situation.  My daily prayer rule would constitute around 2-3 hours plus to God in the Holy Trinity, probably about 20 minutes to the Mother of God, and less to the Saints. But I read an Akathist a day, to Saint Seraphim of Sarov, to Saint Nil Sorksy or to Saint Anastasia.  This would take another 15 minutes.

Would you be able to live in our Church where you will have brothers and sisters in the faith who pray in this way?
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« Reply #115 on: December 28, 2011, 04:16:41 PM »

...I read an Akathist a day... to Saint Nil Sorksy
Father,

I did not know he had an Akathist. Where could I obtain it?
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« Reply #116 on: December 28, 2011, 04:19:30 PM »


Thanks for your post and I will ponder what you say here. I realize I have plenty of sin to deal with via confession etc. & I mean no disrespect to  more involved personal venerations.

It is not "personal veneration" really.   You've probably never been exposed to the full daily cycle of Services?  Matins in particular has quite a large amount devoted to the Saints who are commemorated on that day....  a large number of verses and prayers to the Saints of the day, plus of course the lengthy Canon to the Saint.   This removes it from the field of personal veneration and places it in the liturgical worship of the Church.
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« Reply #117 on: December 28, 2011, 04:22:16 PM »

...I read an Akathist a day... to Saint Nil Sorksy
Father,

I did not know he had an Akathist. Where could I obtain it?

Here's something online in English

http://saintnilus.blogspot.com/2009/12/akathist-hymn-to-st-nilus-wonderworker.html

and Slavonic

http://stnil.narod.ru/acathist.htm
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« Reply #118 on: December 28, 2011, 04:31:42 PM »

...I read an Akathist a day... to Saint Nil Sorksy
Father,

I did not know he had an Akathist. Where could I obtain it?

Here's something online in English

http://saintnilus.blogspot.com/2009/12/akathist-hymn-to-st-nilus-wonderworker.html

and Slavonic

http://stnil.narod.ru/acathist.htm
Thanks, Father. He's a favorite of mine.
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« Reply #119 on: December 28, 2011, 05:07:40 PM »

If you run back through the thread you will find illustrations of prayer to the Mother of God and to the Saints which is other than asking them to intercede with God.  The prayers in our daily morning and night prayers are an example.
Father,

By "other than" you mean that, instead of explicitly saying "pray to God" or "intercede to God" they say things like, "Help me, save me, O Theotokos"?

And you are saying that, as it is intercession regardless whether or not it is explicitly stated by some sort of legal disclaimer words like "intercede for us" or "pray to God for us", there is no real difference?

The best way to learn about these things is to read.... read the lives of the Saints,  and, if you have access to such things, read church magazines from Russia, Greece. Serbia, Romania......  There will be material in there which immediately highlights the paucity of restricting prayer to the Mother of God and the Saints to intercessory prayer.

Under the Grapevine, A Miracle by St. Kendeas of Cyprus

“When Christina becomes seriously ill, her mother prays constantly for her, until one day a holy man appears on a white horse and takes her to his church to be healed. Christina returns to the family farm, where she runs to her parents to tell them about the holy grandfather who helped her. This true story, Under the Grapevine: A Miracle by Saint Kendeas of Cyprus describes the miraculous healing of a young girl in Cyprus by a much-loved local Saint who lived more than one thousand years ago.”

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« Reply #120 on: December 29, 2011, 02:15:33 PM »


Thanks for your post and I will ponder what you say here. I realize I have plenty of sin to deal with via confession etc. & I mean no disrespect to  more involved personal venerations.

It is not "personal veneration" really.   You've probably never been exposed to the full daily cycle of Services?  Matins in particular has quite a large amount devoted to the Saints who are commemorated on that day....  a large number of verses and prayers to the Saints of the day, plus of course the lengthy Canon to the Saint.   This removes it from the field of personal veneration and places it in the liturgical worship of the Church.
My wording was off, I really meant an individual's piety but used an example of piety (this topic) out of proper context. Nonetheless this does not change my previously mentioned anxieties (such as they are) which are rooted in  apathy & passive frustration. Acquaintances, friends etc. do not come to mind but individuals like our archdiocese hierarchs, who I do not know personally but certain policies they utter,  some overall old world ways of dubious tradition etc. make serious commitment to the church seem like wasted time since it seems to do  little to help people in America.  It is not theology or worship of the church that come to mind but the finer points of its expression that do not seem worth considering in an institutution that seems to lack vibrancy  & commitment (in America overall, not individual parishes withstanding, some are outstanding I know). I do thank you for your posts Father (irish hermit) & I will ponder them also. I also leave myself open for criticism here since my sinful flaws are evident. Surely I have spoken in great generality here but I do not want to digress from this & start argument on secondary matters.
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« Reply #121 on: January 03, 2012, 01:29:19 AM »

Okay, so I think this has been asked before but I'm not sure it's really been answered. Under what circumstances should one ask not for intercession but for help from a saint. I'm not saying I challenge that they can help, but I've been a protestant for 40 years, I'm used to just going straight to God. So, if a saint can help but so can God, what's the incentive for asking the saint rather than just asking God?
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« Reply #122 on: January 03, 2012, 02:04:26 AM »

So, if a saint can help but so can God, what's the incentive for asking the saint rather than just asking God?

Well, it's a relationship within a family, our much larger family which is already in the next life, it's not really a question of, what do I get out of it?

There will be benefits from a relationship with a Saint... guidance in life, protection from harm and from evil, courage to face adversity and sickness.... but the benefits are really secondary to the love and joy of developing a close relationship with such wonderful and holy people.
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« Reply #123 on: January 03, 2012, 12:13:49 PM »

The way it was explained to me:

We ask our friends and family to pray for us. That does not mean we question our ability to pray to the Lord, but would like their intercession as well.

As the Saints are not only alive (as Christ Himself said), and part of the Church still, but they are at the feet of our Lord and are not distracted with jobs, bills, SIN, stresses, or their own prayer requests.

Why would we not?

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« Reply #124 on: January 03, 2012, 12:18:09 PM »

To go along with what primuspilus said...

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." - James 5:16

Not that God doesn't listen to the prayers of sinners of course.
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« Reply #125 on: January 03, 2012, 03:14:57 PM »

Okay, so I think this has been asked before but I'm not sure it's really been answered. Under what circumstances should one ask not for intercession but for help from a saint. I'm not saying I challenge that they can help, but I've been a protestant for 40 years, I'm used to just going straight to God. So, if a saint can help but so can God, what's the incentive for asking the saint rather than just asking God?

I, personally, do not see a difference between asking for a saint's prayer and a saint's help.
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« Reply #126 on: January 03, 2012, 11:10:28 PM »

Well, let's see if I can put this any better. But, first I am grateful, for all your responses though, it seems that for the most part I did not phrase my question well enough to be understood.

Primuspilus: good answer to where I was previously, you've posted something similar before and it really did help me move past a sticking point, thank you.

Asteriktos: likewise a good answer and one that has helped me move along the path.

Shanghaiski: If I have understood some of what I've read on the part of several posters but especially Irish Hermit (Father Ambrose, I think?) while Saints can help us by praying to God for us, they can also take direct miraculous action themselves on our behalf.

Father: thank you, I think your response may come closest to answering what I was actually asking. I'll come back to this.

So then…

Saints, Mary included, are alive and can hear our prayers and pray for us, check, I'm there with that.

Saints intercede by praying to God just like fellow Christians here on earth do, check, I'm good there.

Saints can do miracles, and are willing to help us not only by praying for us, but also by taking direct action, even without talking to God first. Check, I can go along with that too.

What I'm asking, and perhaps I can use a small story to explain this, is in what circumstance would I ask a Saint to help me by taking direct action rather than simply by praying for me? Because as a protestant (or perhaps I should say ‘former Protestant' now), that is what a prayer to a Saint asking anything other than ‘pray for me’ is saying. Also why would I ask a Saint to do this when I can just ask God?

So on to the story: I'm in a room moving, say, boxes. Right next to me is a large extremely strong man (God), who is totally willing and obviously able to help me. Beyond him is another lesser man (a Saint) who is also willing to help, and though less, still able. Now from a Protestant perspective I would ask the large man right next to me to help me, and probably wouldn't even notice the other man was in the room. From an Orthodox perspective I would know the other man was in the room, but the large man is still closer, He's willing, and so able that if I do ask him to help me I don't need to ask anyone else he can finish the job in nothing flat all by himself. So why would I bypass the large man right next to me to ask for help from the lesser man beyond him?

Now back to your answer Father, and I really didn't mean "what's the incentive” from a selfish what's in it for me perspective, if I understand what you're saying is that while the relationship with the larger man (God) is important, there is also a value to having a relationship with the lesser man (the Saint). So then if that's correct the reason why I might sometimes, and when is random and up to me, bypass the closer larger man  and ask the smaller man beyond him is that I want to develop a relationship with the smaller man too.

So hopefully, I've explained myself better and not muddied things up, and hopefully, I've figured out something new and taken another step.

Father, one more thing, if I am understanding and explaining you correctly let me also ask are there other reasons beyond relationship building to bypass the larger man and ask the lesser man to help me? Also, are there specific times to ask the lesser man to help me rather than it just being ‘random’ and 'up to me’?

Thanks again to everyone.
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« Reply #127 on: January 04, 2012, 12:08:18 AM »

What I'm asking, and perhaps I can use a small story to explain this, is in what circumstance would I ask a Saint to help me by taking direct action rather than simply by praying for me? Because as a protestant (or perhaps I should say ‘former Protestant' now), that is what a prayer to a Saint asking anything other than ‘pray for me’ is saying.

I think what Shanghaiski was getting at is that there is no practical difference. Let's presume I have something that I need help with. I pray, "St. Nicholas, please help me with this." Now, St. Nicholas can pray to God for me in regards to the task. He can take some kind of direct action. He can do both. If you accept idea that St. Nicholas can do either or both, then do you really care which he does? If I ask for prayers and he takes direct action (or vice versa), I'm just going to presume that St. Nicholas has a better grasp of what's needed than I do.

Quote
Also why would I ask a Saint to do this when I can just ask God?

Given the above, I think this just brings us back to the 'why ask your fellow (living) Christians for prayers, when you can just ask God'? Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding, but I think you may be getting hung up on trying to distinguish something like the following:

"Okay, money's tight. Do I
A) Ask God for money
B) Ask the Theotokos for money
C) Ask the Theotokos to pray to God for money"

But I would say that B and C are basically the same thing. And that A, B, and C are no more exclusive of each other than if I add additional options:
"D) Ask my brother to pray to God to help my financial situation
E) Ask my brother for a loan"

A, B+C, and D are not exclusive--you don't have to pick one. The recommendation in fact would be that if you need help, then do all 3, on the principle that the more help the better.

I tossed in E, because it gets at the relationship aspect of all this. Maybe I have a relationship with my brotheer that makes E a realistic option on top of the other choices. Maybe I don't. Maybe it's my particular relationships mean that it's easier to ask my best friend for a financial help than my brother (or vice versa). The saints are not simply pictures on wood. They are living members of the Church with whom we should be building relationships. I came to Orthodoxy from a very low Church background. Prayer to the saints was something that took me quite a while to spiritually integrate even after I had intellectually accepted it. At this point, I have never asked St. Barsanuphius to pray for me. I don't know that I ever will--but that is in large part because I don't really know anything about St. Barsanuphius--his name just stuck in my head so he's an example I can pull out now of a saint I don't know well. On the other hand, I ask for the help of my patron saint and another dozen or so saints that I have developed a strong affinity for--beginning with reading their lives or their writings and then growing as I communicate with them. And maybe someday, maybe I'll read St. Barsanuphius' life and I'll have that spark of recognition and begin to go to him in particular too. Or maybe someday I'll share a problem with a friend or confessor and the friend will say, "you know who I found particularly helpful when I was dealing with something like that...."

My point is that once you begin to develop relationships with the saints, then the idea of 'why should I ask X instead of God' largely resolves itself. In the first place, as above, you don't ask X instead of God--you ask both. And in the second place, you ask for the same reason you ask your friends, your fellow parishoners, your family--because it's just natural to take the things that are troubling you not only to God, but to your friends and respected mentors--including the ones already in heaven.
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« Reply #128 on: January 04, 2012, 12:27:20 AM »


Beyond him is another lesser man (a Saint) who is also willing to help, and though less, still able. Now from a Protestant perspective I would ask the large man right next to me to help me, and probably wouldn't even notice the other man was in the room. From an Orthodox perspective I would know the other man was in the room, but the large man is still closer, He's willing, and so able that if I do ask him to help me I don't need to ask anyone else he can finish the job in nothing flat all by himself. So why would I bypass the large man right next to me to ask for help from the lesser man beyond him?

You actually are not obliged to ask any Saint for anything.  That is not an obligatory part of the relationship with him or her.

People develop a love and a close relationship with particular Saints, often by reading about them and something strikes a chord in their heart.  Or by simply standing in front of their icon in church where the Saint himself may come forth to aid and guide the person, to inspire him or to rebuke him.

As the relationship grows between the two, there is a growing desire to deepen the relationship and this impels us to start using prayers to the Saint. They do not have to be “asking” prayers.   We start to pray in our own words or pray using the Akathist to the Saint or a Canon. This prayer "holds' us in the presence of the Saint for 15 or 20 minutes.

Here is a small section from the Akathist to Saint Nil Sorski..... not one prayer of supplication/asking anywhere in sight, only prayers of love and praise. .

Emulating the life of the angels and patterning thyself on those who were great among the fathers, thou didst cut thyself off wholly from the confusion of the world, and, manfully arming thyself for the struggle of asceticism, didst carefully follow the way of the commandments of God, O blessed one; wherefore, we who honor thy most sacred memory with faith do bless thee with these praises:

Rejoice, O emulator of the life of the angels;
rejoice, follower of the life of the fathers of old!
Rejoice, courageous vanquisher of invisible foes;
rejoice, earnest fulfiller of the commandments of God!
Rejoice, careful preserver of the divinely inspired Traditions of the fathers;
rejoice, codifier of rules for the monastic life of asceticism!
Rejoice, most pure mirror of the virtues;
rejoice, sweet-sounding timbrel of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, image of profound humility;
rejoice, zealous doer of the will of God!
Rejoice, for through thee have we learned to tread the straight path;
rejoice, for through thy mediation for us before God we hope to receive salvation!
Rejoice, O venerable Nilus, wonderworker of Sora!


http://saintnilus.blogspot.com/2009/12/akathist-hymn-to-st-nilus-wonderworker.html
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« Reply #129 on: January 04, 2012, 12:28:20 AM »

I, personally, do not see a difference between asking for a saint's prayer and a saint's help.
Amen and amen. It is a distinction without a difference.

It's becoming obvious that American Orthodox do not pray to Saints in the same manner as their Orthodox brothers and sisters in the home countries but instead they restrict themselves to asking the Saints to intercede for them with God.
Father, I suppose as always the distinction needs to be made between American Orthodox converts and cradles. I know more than one "ethnic" old lady -- how I hate the distinction, but what can one do? -- whose devotions make the converts blush.

Quote
Does anybody have any thoughts as to why this divergence from traditional Orthodoxy has occurred in America?  
I know I have in the past hammered on the convert literature that gets passed around in American circles, and I certainly don't mean to beat that horse (or that metaphor) any more than necessary, but I think that's at least part of it. How Orthodox beliefs get explained is often done in such a fashion that is perhaps a little too sensitive to possible Evangelical baggage, and so people get a "soft" version of the faith. This in turn gets carried on into their Orthodox life once in the Church, and as they share it.

(I could also comment that a devotion to the cult of the saints that looks like something more than just asking a neighbor to pray for you is also not as marketable to seekers, but I am probably just being cynical. Lord have mercy. I realize that people need to crawl before they can walk.)

I have observed that people coming from a background of no faith have much less trouble with this sort of thing than people who have been raised Protestant.
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« Reply #130 on: January 04, 2012, 12:36:32 AM »

I think what Shanghaiski was getting at is that there is no practical difference. Let's presume I have something that I need help with. I pray, "St. Nicholas, please help me with this." Now, St. Nicholas can pray to God for me in regards to the task. He can take some kind of direct action. He can do both. If you accept idea that St. Nicholas can do either or both, then do you really care which he does? If I ask for prayers and he takes direct action (or vice versa), I'm just going to presume that St. Nicholas has a better grasp of what's needed than I do.
That makes sense to me.


A, B+C, and D are not exclusive--you don't have to pick one. The recommendation in fact would be that if you need help, then do all 3, on the principle that the more help the better.


I think this may be on target with me, I think I've read a number of stories about the intervention of Saints where it seems people would ask the Saint for help, seemingly to the exclusion of asking God for help but perhaps they are directly asking God also. I think I was getting stuck thinking it was one or the other and that there would be circumstances that would make it appropriate to ask one rather than both. Hmmm...
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« Reply #131 on: January 04, 2012, 12:58:19 AM »

Here is a small section from the Akathist to Saint Nil Sorski..... not one prayer of supplication/asking anywhere in sight, only prayers of love and praise. .

Thank you again Father this was an aspect of prayer to Saints that had not yet fully occurred to me, though perhaps it should have.

People develop a love and a close relationship with particular Saints, often by reading about them and something strikes a chord in their heart.  Or by simply standing in front of their icon in church where the Saint himself may come forth to aid and guide the person, to inspire him or to rebuke him.

Here also, I can now, see how as one is reading about a Saint or standing in front of the icon or praying an Akathist that would lend itself to a situation where a more intimate conversation between just yourself and the Saint would occur and a request may be made to a Saint exclusively, at least for that moment. Thank you this has been most helpful.
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« Reply #132 on: January 04, 2012, 01:14:37 AM »

I think this may be on target with me, I think I've read a number of stories about the intervention of Saints where it seems people would ask the Saint for help, seemingly to the exclusion of asking God for help but perhaps they are directly asking God also. I think I was getting stuck thinking it was one or the other and that there would be circumstances that would make it appropriate to ask one rather than both. Hmmm...

I've read many similar (if not the same) accounts, and I'm sure that in many cases, prayers were going up through multiple channels, but there was something about the timing or the manner of the response that made it clear that the Saint was the particular avenue of grace in this case. In other cases, the individual may have just gone directly to the saint--but that was dictated by the personal relationship. Someone who's patron saint is St. Nicholas, who's always had a strong relationship with that saint, might go directly to St. Nicholas, whereas another person would go to their guardian angel, a third would simply go directly to God, and a fourth would be busy praying to all 4. This is not a 'theological question' for which there is one right answer.

Let me give you one example from my own life: I have no musical ability. I'm not literally tone-deaf, but I do seem to be effectively so. My patron saint is St. Caedmon, an Anglo-saxon monk and poet. The fact that he publicly chanted the hymns he composed was not part of why I took him as my patron saint, but it is a well-attested aspect of his life. When asked to read in the Church, I got into the habit of 'praying' to St. Caedmon. I put praying in quote marks, because it wasn't a thought-out thing or even a clear request for anything at all. More a request for sympathy to someone who I knew had been in the situation. And after a while, as I got more comfortable in my relationship with him, I started doing the same thing not only when I was reading but just anytime I was singing in the Church--something along the lines of 'don't let me distract others by doing this too badly." In neither case (i.e., reading or singing) did it ever occur to me as something I should be praying about or asking some specific help on. I was just turning to what I knew to be a sympathetic ear.

I had been doing this for about 10 years when my daughter, who got all the musical talent in the family, commented, "It's weird. You're always off-key; except when you're singing in Church."

Could I have gone to God about this? Obviously. Would I have gotten the same results? No idea. But it wasn't a deliberate choice of 'should I go to God or should I go to St. Caedmon or should I go to both.' It's just that on that particular issue, with the particular interpersonal dynamics, St. Caedmon was the one I was talking to about it.
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« Reply #133 on: January 04, 2012, 01:29:42 AM »

This too is helpful witega, thank you.
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« Reply #134 on: January 04, 2012, 12:26:17 PM »

I have a hybrid Baptist/Orthodox background (Mom was Baptist, Dad was Orthodox), so I too struggled with praying to the saints for a while.

I think the problem is we get hung up on the fact that we can't see them, even though they can see us.

Going back to Witega's loan analogy, let's say you and your best friend are out shopping. You go to pay for an item, and you're a dollar short. Without thinking twice about it, because he's your best friend, you ask your friend, "Hey Joe, can I borrow a single, and I'll pay you back when we get to my house?"

Joe gladly gives you the single, and you're able to make your purchase. You thank God for putting such good friends in your life.

Now, no one here would say that such a transaction would represent a lack of faith in God because you asked your friend for a single instead of getting down on your knees and asking God to give you a dollar. You're perfectly comfortable asking Joe because Joe is a good friend, a blessing from God. Someone you have a relationship with and can rely on.

It's the same with the saints. God has blessed us with these role models of righteousness, people who were flesh and blood, just like you and me, and lived a wonderful Christian life. Some were pious from day one, others had a rocky beginning and found the Lord later in life.

I remember a priest telling me that he loved St. Nicholas Planas because unlike many saints who are monastics, St. Nicholas Planas was a married priest with a child, just like him. He was also from the same island that this priest's mother was from. So in many ways, this priest identified with St. Nicholas in a way that we can't always identify with Christ.

Christ was a single male living in Israel who never married and never had kids. For many of us, that's difficult to identify with. So, by looking to the saints, and finding someone we can identify with, and how they led their Christian walk, it helps us in our Christian walk.

Just like our friends in real life do.

Now, to go back to your moving the box analogy.

This is a big box. Lots of weight associated with it. God is a big guy, He can handle it, but since all three of you are in the room, why not each take a corner and move it together?

After all, haven't you ever been in a situation where you have prayed about something, and you know God has heard your prayer, and you know he can handle it, but you still ask your wife, your friend, or pastor to pray for you as well? After all, multiple prayers can't hurt, right?

It's the same with praying to the saints.

During the Divine Liturgy, we address many prayers to God directly. Many hymns of praise are sung directly to Him. Yet look at the closing prayers of the Liturgy:

Quote
Priest: Glory to You, O God, our hope, glory to You.

May Christ our true God (who rose from the dead), as a good, loving, and merciful God, have mercy upon us and save us, through the intercessions of His most pure and holy Mother; the power of the precious and life-giving Cross; the protection of the honorable, bodiless powers of heaven; the supplications of the honorable, glorious, prophet, and forerunner John the Baptist; the holy, glorious, and praiseworthy apostles; the holy, glorious, and triumphant martyrs; our holy and God-bearing Fathers (name of the church); the holy and righteous ancestors Joachim and Anna; Saint (of the day) whose memory we commemorate today, and all the saints.

People: Amen. Lord, grant long life to him who blesses and sanctifies us.

Priest: Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us and save us.

People: Amen.

source

So even though we go to God directly, we, in the immortal words of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, "get by with a little help from our friends."  laugh
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« Reply #135 on: January 05, 2012, 12:21:30 AM »

Thanks HandmaidenofGod, I was already okay with the idea that Saint's could help us, I just was stuggling with why would we ask them rather than simply ask God. I am now seeing that this is a function of the relationship we have with them.

I am new enough to this that I don't have a Patron Saint yet (hmmm...any Saints that like motorcyles?) but I'm developing something of a relationship with St. Nicholas of Myra due to the fact that someone gave me two icons of him, so I've got one in the icon corner at home and one in my office at work. I've been venerating him and asking for his prayers at least twice a day on average. I'm starting to see how I might just ask for help one of these times vs. just asking for prayers.
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« Reply #136 on: January 05, 2012, 01:41:57 AM »


I am new enough to this that I don't have a Patron Saint yet
You could try St. Robert if Bob is indeed your given name.

Quote
(hmmm...any Saints that like motorcyles?) but I'm developing something of a relationship with St. Nicholas of Myra due to the fact that someone gave me two icons of him, so I've got one in the icon corner at home and one in my office at work. I've been venerating him and asking for his prayers at least twice a day on average. I'm starting to see how I might just ask for help one of these times vs. just asking for prayers.
Or this could work. ;-)
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« Reply #137 on: January 05, 2012, 02:08:15 AM »

Thanks for the link, Agabus, and for the rest of the affirmation too. Smiley
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« Reply #138 on: January 05, 2012, 02:13:47 AM »

There’s also Saint Rupert or Saint Robert on 27 March, 29 March and 25 September.


St. Rupert (Hrodbert, Robert, Rupprecht) of Salzburg, Bishop
---------------------------------------------------------
Died in Salzburg, Austria, on March 27, c. 710-720; feast day formerly
March 27; feast of the translation of his relics is kept
in Bavaria and Austria on September 25.

There have been varying opinions as to where Rupert was born and when
(with variations of 100 years). While more reliable sources make him a
Frankish nobleman, others, including Colgan insist he was an Irishman
with the Gaelic name Robertach


For more go to
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celt-saints/message/4151
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« Reply #139 on: January 06, 2012, 12:22:58 AM »

Thank you Father, another good suggestion. Though I suppose in the interest of covering all bases, I may have to starts a thread at some point asking if anyone knows of any Saints who may not share my name but do share even more of my interests. Those other than motorcycling that is, since i doubt there's many Saints into that. laugh
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« Reply #140 on: January 06, 2012, 05:47:34 AM »

A cloud of witnesses - alive.... loving you... wanting to help you.

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« Reply #141 on: January 06, 2012, 10:02:52 PM »

I'm a Protestant convert, I recently converted into Orthodoxy from Protestantism about eight months ago, I'm a catechumen right now. Hmm, I honestly never really had any trouble when it came to venerating the icons or asking for the intercession of the Saints. In fact, I even started asking for intercession as a Protestant a few months before I officially converted to Orthodoxy. I remember I used to ask CS Lewis to pray for me, lol. When I first started asking for intercessions through the icons at my Parish I honestly had no idea why we were doing it or why it was right, but I still went along with it because I felt in my heart that it was correct, even since my last few months as Protestant.

I trusted the Orthodox Church about many things, in fact, when I first came to Orthodoxy about eight months ago I did not know anything really about our faith but I still participated in everything because I trusted the Church. Perhaps the biggest theological factor that led to my conversion was when our Savior said that He would never allow the gates of Hades to prevail against His true Church. And I figured that the Eastern Orthodox Church was the true Church because it is the oldest so I took everything on trust while converting.

I did not start to read the literature and learn our beliefs until a few weeks after startng my catechism. It is a gradual process but I trust everything in our Church and I am slowly learning it. I am choosing St. Augustine of Hippo as my Patron since he is my favorite and I feel I have the most similarities and a special connection with him compared to the other Saints.

My advice to you: You seem like you have no problem asking for intercessions, but you are just worried that you are not worthy to venerate an icon and ask for intercession. That is noble and all, but you need to realize that the more unworthy you are, the more you need intercession. And no one but God alone is going to be the sole judge. St. John Chrysostom said himself that neither the santified or unrighteous are permitted by God to judge others. Do you really want God to help you through your problems and spiritual state? Then you need to ask for intercessions so that He will help you.

Also, by the way, hope this is not too personal, but what age are you? I'm curious about the age of converts to Orthodoxy. I'm fifteen and I just converted.
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You're really on to something here. Tattoo to keep you from masturbating, chew to keep you from fornicating... it's a whole new world where you outsource your crosses. You're like a Christian entrepreneur or something.
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« Reply #142 on: January 07, 2012, 01:04:40 AM »

James, thank you for your story. Don't know if your asking me about age since I'm not the OP, but since I've been pretty active on this end of the thread, and don't mind sharing my age, I'm 46, I think. (Is the memory the first thing that starts to go?)  laugh  My hats off to you for converting at 15, especially if your family is not joining you.
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« Reply #143 on: January 07, 2012, 02:40:40 AM »

James, thank you for your story. Don't know if your asking me about age since I'm not the OP, but since I've been pretty active on this end of the thread, and don't mind sharing my age, I'm 46, I think. (Is the memory the first thing that starts to go?)  laugh  My hats off to you for converting at 15, especially if your family is not joining you.

I was talking to the OP but thanks anyway Smiley
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You're really on to something here. Tattoo to keep you from masturbating, chew to keep you from fornicating... it's a whole new world where you outsource your crosses. You're like a Christian entrepreneur or something.
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James, you have problemz.
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