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Author Topic: Converts: Praying for intercession through the saints and the Theotokos  (Read 8007 times) Average Rating: 0
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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
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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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And FWIW, these are our Fathers too, you know.

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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,
habte selassie
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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.


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*

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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