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Author Topic: Where was prayer to the saints in the first 300-some years of the Church?  (Read 1371 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 07, 2013, 04:05:38 AM »

This question's been tough for me recently. Why is there so little evidence of the practice for at least around 350 years of the Church's history? Is there something I'm missing? Are there historical records of the practice by any Church historians or theologians or liturgies or anything?
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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2013, 04:14:20 AM »

Luke 16:23-24 NKJV

And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’

there are a number examples here:

http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/prayers-to-saints-in-the-pre-nicene-era/
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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2013, 04:27:00 AM »

I hope to some day, hopefully soon, to examine this in some more depth. But for now this might be a start...

Why do the Orthodox pray to the Dead?

The Orthodox believe, based on the Scripture and witness of Christians throughout the centuries, that people who have passed on are not dead in the sense of being asleep or unconscious, but rather are awake and conscious. We find evidence of this in Jewish writings in the centuries before the coming of Christ (2 Macc. 15:11-14), and we also find evidence in the New Testament. For example, there is this passage in the book of Revelation:

"When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed." (Rev. 6:9-11; cf Rev. 7:9-17; 8:3-4)

In this text we get a glimpse of a heaven where the saints are very much alive and able to communicate with God. So when Scripture teaches that "neither death nor life will be able to separate us from the love of God," (Rom. 8:38-39; cf Rom. 14:8-9) we can trust that death does not seperate us from experiencing that love in a real, unbroken way. Thus the Church sees death not just as an end, but also as a beginning: for it is a new birthday, the birth into life everlasting. (cf Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, 18)

However, even supposing that some of those who have passed on are alive in heaven, a Protestant might still ask: why should we pray to them? why not pray to God alone? Perhaps the simplest answer is that Christians are connected to one another, individual cells in the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12; etc.) It is perfectly natural, therefore, due to this kinship and connection, to ask for people to pray to God on your behalf; and indeed the Scripture mentions intercessory prayer frequently (Rom. 15:30; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thes. 5:25; 2 Thes. 3:1; etc.)  The difference is that the Orthodox Church knows that this ability to intercede for us doesn’t necessarily end when someone passes on.

It is not unexpected, then, that we find inscriptions at Christian burial sites all the way back to the 1st century asking for prayers from those who had passed on. (see here for some references). We also find this practice mentioned by some early Christians, such as St. Clement of Alexandria, who says of the Christian that he prays: “in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]." (Miscellanies 7, 12) And we find in the works or Origen the following: "not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels...as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep" (Prayer 11)

In the fourth century and afterwards, as writings on doctrinal matters increased, there was naturally an increase of Christians who spoke of this practice, such as St. Methodius of Olympus (Oration on Simeon and Anna, 14), St. Gregory of Nyssa (Encomium to Martyr Theodore), St. Gregory the Theologian (Oration 18, 4), St. Basil the Great (Letter 360), St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures 23, 9), St. Augustine (Tractate 84 on John), St. John Chrysostom (Homily 26 on Second Corinthians), etc.
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2013, 09:46:14 PM »

I don't know about prayer "to" the saints, but prayer "with" the saints is older than Christianity: 
Quote
Bless the Lord, spirits and souls of the righteous
     sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
Bless the Lord, you who are holy and humble in heart,
     sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

--Song of the Three Young Men (Benedicite), 64-65.
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2013, 10:20:30 PM »

Actually, that is both prayer "with" and prayer "to". 
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2013, 10:55:36 PM »

I really need to find a good (preferably scholarly) book on the catacombs and the theology/practices evident there. I know there were things about prayers for and to the "dead" there, I just don't know specifics (other than mentioned in articles like the one linked to above). My local library has a thin book on the catacombs, but it's a mostly architectural book from what I recall.
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2013, 03:43:34 PM »

This question's been tough for me recently. Why is there so little evidence of the practice for at least around 350 years of the Church's history? Is there something I'm missing? Are there historical records of the practice by any Church historians or theologians or liturgies or anything?
Your dating is mistaken; there is plenty of very early evidence, some of it very weighty in significance.

Here is one important example already in Christmas Liturgy c. AD 250 (mentioned in the Energetic Procession link, but here is more detail).


“Beneath Thy Compassion”: Earliest known prayer to the Theotokos: "Under your mercy we take refuge, Theotokos! Do not despise our petitions in tribulation, but rescue us from danger, Only Pure, Only Blessed One."
Extant Coptic ms. dates paleographical circa 250 AD  (E. Lobel); liturgical content -unlikely to represent a sudden revolution of praxis. Coptic context was the Christmas Vespers service.
Multiple ancient versions of the prayer Coptic, Greek, Syriac, Armenian and Latin -wide geographical distribution / acceptance. Still used in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches (e.g. http://youtu.be/cj6lNLVBbBg )
Acquired by the John Rylands Library (University of Manchester) in 1917 (cf. Catalogue of the Greek and Latin Papyri in the John Rylands Library, III, Theological and literacy Texts, Manchester 1938, pp. 46-47; John Rylands Papyrus #470).
Context of origin in persecution.
"Theotokos" in liturgical context two hundred years before the controversy linked to Nestorius and resolved in 431AD by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus. The term is also attested at the same date in a letter from Bishop Dionysius to Paul of Samosata. Origen is said to have used the term in his commentary on Romans by the early historian Socrates (Hist. Eccl. VII, 32 – PG 67, 812 B). This commentary, unfortunately, is now lost.
Perpetual Virginity (cf. the Epiphanian view still traditionally held in Eastern Orthodoxy represented in the Protevangelium of James, the Gospel of Peter and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, probably all from second-century Syria).

As has been mentioned too there is a great deal of earlier epigraphical data which attests Christian prayers to the dead, e.g. Cemetery of Callisto "Live in eternal peace and pray for us"), Cemetery of Domitilla (multiple examples asking for intercession for the living left behind), Cemetery of the Giordani on the Via Latina, etc. e.g. IANVARIA BENE REFRIGERA ET ROGA PRO NOS [sic]: " Januaria, be refreshed, and pray for us!"  http://www.archive.org/stream/christianepigrap00maruuoft/christianepigrap00maruuoft_djvu.txt

Similar praxis is also bountifully attested in Jewish context before Christ (cf. 2 Mac. 12, 43-46 and https://faculty.biu.ac.il/~testsm/Angels_Intermed.html ).



The early and universal doctrine of the Communion (koinonia/fellowship -Bonhoeffer translated the word "life together") of the Saints is found in very early creeds: the Apostle's Creed and its precursor, the Roman Creed. It is attested in tomb inscriptions in the catacombs and early liturgy in multiple geographical regions. This understanding passes through to Christianity from Judaism and is attested in the Deuterocanon and extra-canonical early Christian literature and letters. These are but selective examples (see others in the link from Energetic Procession in a previous post). From the beginning Christians have understood the Church to be a single living body: visible, invisible, and indivisible -all three. Not even death can separate us from Christ's body. Christ said "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" -John 11:25-26 "Within the Mystical Body there takes place a unique communication and correlation: within that communion the gifts of the Holy Spirit -the power to forgive sins, to transmit salvation, to suffer by proxy for one another, and the power of intercession- become effective. And these powers extend down to the domain of the dead, for God is "a Lord of the living, not the dead." -Ernst Benz, The Eastern Orthodox Church: Its Thought and Life.

If nothing else these examples should suffice to alert you to the need to revise your figure of 350 AD -not sure how you derived that date!
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2013, 03:59:46 PM »

In Roman Britain, there were churches named after saints.
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2013, 04:44:29 PM »

The first prayer to saints according to my knowledge was when they did the first communion after the sleep of Mother Mary. There to the deacon while he was praying to God for the breed she appeared and from his fear he said Υπεραγία Θεοτόκε σωσόν ημάς which I think is translate as Mighty-holy Theotokos save us?
And from then on they used it every since the priests bless the holy bread.
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 02:58:41 AM »

Prayer to the saints is in the Old Testament:

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In the Old Testament, in the 2nd book of Maccabees 5:12-16, there is another reference to a prayer to saint:

12: What he saw was this: Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. 13: Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. 14: And Onias spoke, saying, "This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God." 15: Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave it he addressed him thus: 16: "Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries."
We see in the first part of 2nd Maccabees 15, 1-11, that Nicanor, a tyrant is planning to attack God’s people, the Jews. Onias is the chief priest of the Jews, sees Jeremiah, in heaven, praying for the Jews. Onias appeals to Jeremiah. Jeremiah helps by giving a gift from God to fight against Nicanor the tyrant. He aids his people also by praying for the people of the holy city. We have just seen the passage in Jeremiah 15, where there is a reference Moses and Samuel making intercession in Jeremiah’s time. He also gives a gift of a sword to help in victory. Now that Jeremiah is in God’s presence he prays for the people, just as Moses and Samuel did in Jeremiah 15.
http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/prayers.html
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 03:21:39 PM »

This question's been tough for me recently. Why is there so little evidence of the practice for at least around 350 years of the Church's history? Is there something I'm missing? Are there historical records of the practice by any Church historians or theologians or liturgies or anything?

  I think it would take a highly partisan Protestant viewpoint to see the intercession of saints as a late developement, all evidence points to it being more widespread early on.    Protestant scholars are aware of this, but they choose to believe that such practices are diversions or not essential.  The Fathers that Protestants revere the most, such as Augustine, were aware of the practice and even commended it to some extent.
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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2013, 04:04:29 PM »

Prayers to Saints is earlier then our earliest complete Bible and the Nicene Creed. It's makes more sense to reject the Trinity as a 'post-Christian innovation' than to reject prayers to the Saints.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub_tuum_praesidium c. 250

http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/codex/date.aspx c. 350

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed c. 381
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« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2013, 04:19:45 PM »

Answer me this: How does this,and a vast multitude of others like it, relate to the religious practices of Apostolic Christianity?   http://www.lakewoodchurch.com/Pages/Home.aspx

My point is that the question itself is absurd. Christianity developed through the end of the Apostolic, the Patristic and eras of the Councils.

If you want a religion that fell out of the sky or was presented wrapped with a bow, try Islam or Mormonism....they have "neater" origin stories than do Christianity or Judaism.

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« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2013, 04:35:54 PM »

Were not Moses and Elijah present on Mt. Tabor?.. Didnt the Apostles that were present fall on their faces and offer to build tabernacles for them ?

Doesn't this prove that the Saints and Prophets are alive and should be venerated as they were on Mt. Tabor?  
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« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2013, 06:05:55 PM »

Saints were commemorated (memorialized) during the Divine Liturgy and other Divine Services of the church,  prior to 350,

"Having commemorated all the saints, again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord."
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« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2013, 06:36:42 PM »

Saints were commemorated (memorialized) during the Divine Liturgy and other Divine Services of the church,  prior to 350,

"Having commemorated all the saints, again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord."

I agree with your point, but not necessarily with the evidence. 
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« Reply #16 on: October 10, 2013, 10:20:39 PM »

Saints were commemorated (memorialized) during the Divine Liturgy and other Divine Services of the church,  prior to 350,

"Having commemorated all the saints, again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord."

I agree with your point, but not necessarily with the evidence.  

     I'm not sure when all this terminology was included in the Divine Liturgy (and admittedly the inaudible prayers noted below are from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom---the most recent Liturgy, only a shorter version of St. Basil's and St. James' earlier Liturgies), but I'm sure much of it certainly predates the middle of the 4th century:

"Commemorating our Most Holy...Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary with all the saints..."

Priest (Mystically): "And for the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, the holy glorious and all laudable Apostles; Saint(s) whose memory we commemorate, and all Thy saints, at whose supplications look down upon us, O God."

Priest (Mystically): "Wash away, O Lord, the sins of all those here commemorated, by Thy precious blood: through the prayers of Thy saints."

Priest (Mystically): "We give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, that Thou hast vouchsafed... to feed us with Thy heavenly and immortal mysteries....through the prayers and intercessions of the glorious Theotokos...and all Thy saints..."

                                                             THE DISMISSAL

"...He who rose from the dead, Christ our true God, through the intercessions of His...Mother...at the supplication of the...Prophet John...the...Apostles...and right victorious martyrs...the...ancestors of God Joachim and Anna, of Saint [Patron and Protector of the parish], Saints N. [N.N.] whose memory we commemorate this day, and of all the saints..."




     It should also be noted that many of the early Divine Services were celebrated upon the graves of the martyrs.  The "Holy Table" ("Altar") symbolizes that tradition, and is why "relics" of saints are embedded into the Holy Table at a church's consecration.
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« Reply #17 on: October 10, 2013, 10:43:31 PM »

    The earliest Christian liturgies did not have extensive litanies.  These only appear after Christianity becomes a state religion.   
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« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2013, 12:37:27 AM »

    I'm not sure when all this terminology was included in the Divine Liturgy (and admittedly the inaudible prayers noted below are from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom---the most recent Liturgy, only a shorter version of St. Basil's and St. James' earlier Liturgies), but I'm sure much of it certainly predates the middle of the 4th century:

"Commemorating our Most Holy...Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary with all the saints..."


Forgive me, I wasn't clear.

I fully agree with you re: celebrations of the Liturgy at the tombs of martyrs, the entombment of relics in altars to this day, and with the use of the prayers you've cited.  I'm not sure if those prayers and litanies pre-date 350 or the legalisation of Christianity, but even that wasn't my main issue. 

"Having commemorated all the saints, again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord" occurs, IIRC, right after the conclusion of the anaphora.  At the time these services were developing, I'm not sure that "saint" had the restricted connotation we assign to it today, I think "saint" was understood in that way but also in the way St Paul used it in his letters, as a synonym for the baptised.  And in the anaphora, it is not merely the "heavenly" saints that are commemorated, but all the "saints", even the faithful on earth according to their ranks. 

Moreover, the space between the end of the anaphora and the praying of the Our Father was, in many Liturgies, the moment of the fraction, and the litany at this moment was a privileged moment of prayer recapitulating the commemoration just made in the anaphora.  I don't think the Byzantine rite currently has the fraction at this moment in the Liturgy, but it maintains the structure of prayer at that moment. 

All this to say that, in this context, "the saints" are not necessarily just the ones we can paint on icons, but also the ones venerating those icons.     
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« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2013, 01:02:34 AM »

I'm not expert in this area.  Your point is plausible.  However, in regard to "Having commemorated all the saints..." I think if we examine the Greek word that we often translate to "commemorate," which is an appropriate translation, so is "remembered" too, but "mnymonefsandes," would more precisely mean "memorialized," "remembering" the departed being the "saints" to whom it refers.
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« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2013, 01:22:55 AM »

I'm not expert in this area.  Your point is plausible.  However, in regard to "Having commemorated all the saints..." I think if we examine the Greek word that we often translate to "commemorate," which is an appropriate translation, so is "remembered" too...

Actually, for this, I'm used to the OCA translation, which is "Having remembered"...I used "commemorated" because I was quoting you.  Wink

Quote
...but "mnymonefsandes," would more precisely mean "memorialized," "remembering" the departed being the "saints" to whom it refers.

Does μνημονεύσαντες actually have this restricted meaning?  Or is it simply that we associate it with that nowadays and are reading it back into the Liturgy?  I need to search for my Greek lexicon.

I know that in Syriac, for example, the equivalent word is used for the feasts of the saints, memorials for the faithful departed, and commemorating the living during the anaphora.  Perhaps Greek is more precise in its terminology here than Syriac, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had as much latitude. 

Regarding how best to understand "saint" in the Liturgy, I'm reminded of the priest's blessing at the Little Entrance:

Quote
Εὐλογημένη ἡ εἴσοδος τῶν ἁγίων σου, Κύριε, πάντοτε· νῦν καὶ ἀεὶ...

I've heard at least three or four different translations of the bolded words in as many jurisdictions, which makes me think that "saint" has a wider application in the Liturgy than we usually assign it. 

Anyway, just a hunch. 
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« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2013, 03:11:44 PM »

Maybe it was kept secret only to be written down later. Its not unbelievable that what we have from those years (though important) is but a scant bit of early Christian practice. Christian practice was the one thing the early fathers were most vague on, till about the fourth and fifth century when these things started to be written more extensively and things became more formalized.
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« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2014, 04:13:49 PM »

Maybe it was kept secret only to be written down later. Its not unbelievable that what we have from those years (though important) is but a scant bit of early Christian practice. Christian practice was the one thing the early fathers were most vague on, till about the fourth and fifth century when these things started to be written more extensively and things became more formalized.
I would not put too much reliance on the possibility of secret traditions.  This is what the gnostics did.  The reply was that the Church's traditions had always been taught openly.

Evidence for commemoration of saints on their "birthdays", the anniversaries of their deaths, appears in the later 2nd century, around the same time as the earliest clear evidence for an annual Easter.  Evidence for celebrating martyrs' martyrdoms at least once (not necessarily repeatedly) with praises and thanksgivings appears even earlier, in Ignatius's letter to the Romans: 
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[L]et me be a libation poured out to God while there is still an altar ready for me.  Then you may form a loving choir around it and sing hymns of praise in Jesus Christ to the Father, for permitting Syria's bishop, summoned from the realms of the morning, to have reached the land of the setting sun.

In the Ten Articles of 1536, the English bishops, relying on the learning then available to them, considered many traditional devotions to be acceptable in light of Scripture and early tradition: 
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Of images.  As touching images, truth it is that the same have been used in the Old Testament, and also for the great abuses of them sometimes destroyed and put down; and in the New Testament they have been also allowed, as good authors do declare.  Wherefore we [i.e. King Henry VIII] will that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us to their spiritual charge, how they ought and may use them.  And first, that there may be attributed unto them, that they be representers of virtue and good example, and that they also be by occasion the kindlers and stirrers of men's minds, and make men often remember and lament their sins and offenses, especially the images of Christ and our Lady; and that therefore it is meet that they should stand in the churches, and none otherwise to be esteemed:  and to the intent the rude people should not from henceforth take such superstition, as in time past, it is thought that the same hath used to do, we will that our bishops and preachers diligently shall teach them, and according to this doctrine reform their abuses, for else there might fortune idolatry to ensue, which God forbid.  And as for censing of them, and kneeling and offering unto them, with other like worshippings, although the same hath entered by devotion, and fallen to custom; yet the people ought to be diligently taught that they in no ways do it, nor think it meet to be done to the same images, but only to be done to God, and in his honor, although it be done before the images, whether it be of Christ, of the cross, or of our Lady, or of any other saint beside.

Of honoring of Saints.  As touching the honoring of the saints, we will that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that saints now being with Christ in heaven be to be honored of Christian people in earth; but not with that confidence and honor which are only due unto God, trusting to attain at their hands that which must be had only of God; but that they be thus to be honored, because they be known the elect persons of Christ, because they be passed in godly life out of this transitory world, because they already do reign in glory with Christ; and most specially to laud and praise Christ in them for their excellent virtues which he planted in them, for example, of and by them to such as are yet in this world to live in virtue and goodness, and also not to fear to die for Christ and his cause, as some of them did; and finally to take them, in that they may, to be the advancers of our prayers and demands unto Christ.  By these ways, and such like, be saints to be honored and had in reverence, and by none other.

Of praying to Saints.  As touching praying to saints, we will that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach our people committed by us unto their spiritual charge, that albeit grace, remission of sin, and salvation, cannot be obtained but of God only by the mediation of our Savior Christ, which is only sufficient Mediator for our sins; yet it is very laudable to pray to saints in heaven everlastingly living, whose charity is ever permanent, to be intercessors, and to pray for us and with us, unto Almighty God after this manner:  All holy angels and saints in heaven pray for us and with us unto the Father, that for his dear Son Jesus Christ's sake we may have grace of him, and remission of our sins, with an earnest purpose, not wanting ghostly strength, to observe and keep his holy commandments, and never to decline from the same again unto our lives' end:  and in this manner we may pray to our blessed lady, to St. John Baptist, to all and every of the apostles or any other saint particularly, as our devotion doth serve us; so that it be done without any vain superstition, as to think that any saint is more merciful, or will hear us sooner than Christ, or that any saint doth serve for one thing more than other, or is patron of the same.  And likewise we must keep holydays unto God, in memory of him and his saints, upon such days as the church hath ordained their memories to be celebrated; except they be mitigated and moderated by the assent or commandment of the supreme head [i.e. the king], to the ordinaries, and then the subjects ought to obey it.
  I think many of these propositions could still be supported from early tradition, though not everything would come in under the originating poster's A.D. 300 cut-off. 

ADDITIONAL NOTE (in case it somehow matters to those reading my posts):  I very seldom address any statement or request to saints or angels other than what appears in Scripture, e.g. in Psalm 148, "Praise him, all his angels!"  So some of the devotions described above I don't use.  I do keep festival days in honor of the saints.  I accept that the image of the holy rood, and discreet religious pictures and carvings, are suitable to be displayed in church-houses.  I accept that church-houses may  be named in honor of saints (though I reject the sloppy terminology that calls this "dedicating" the church-house "to" the saint).  What I am arguing here is not that all these old customs are necessarily early, or even necessarily good ideas;  only that I recognize that those who use some of the traditional devotions that I refrain from using can make a case, from the practices of the first few centuries of Christianity, for the voluntary adoption, by devout individuals, of some of these customs, though not for making them compulsory for all believers.
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Forþon we sealon efestan þas Easterlican þing to asmeagenne and to gehealdanne, þaet we magon cuman to þam Easterlican daege, þe aa byð, mid fullum glaedscipe and wynsumnysse and ecere blisse.--Byrhtferth of Ramsey
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« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2014, 11:20:37 PM »

I am not relying on secret traditions, merely making the suggestion that such doctrines were only written down later while having been passed down orally. We have that in the case of the sign of the cross which the fathers who first wrote about insisted was an apostolic practice, despite not being found in the bible. You provided the example of easter which I certaintly think was an apostolically ordained holy day despite it not being found in scripture, based on the second century writings. The secret knowledge that the Gnostics had was not public within the general communities of gnostics, but was only given to the select few within their circle (at least it seems to me, although apparently these didn’t prevent others from learning of it ie Iranaeaus), meanwhile in the church it seems things were not kept that secret, except maybe from the nonbeliever or the Catechumen (I am reminded of the catechism of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem who says these things should not be written down or taught to those unworthy to hear them). I am all to aware however we cannot trust every account of tradition which is handed down to us, like some of the legendary accounts of martyrs which come very long after the event and we must also be critical.

Now I do happen to trust the church on this important matter and ultimately it does come down to whether we trust the tradition handed down to us. Do we trust it historically or based on our faith in the church as a whole? Its good to have both but If we are to reject the veneration of saints or other traditions we must ask; are there good reasons to dismiss such a tradition as invented or not having been practiced before? Is this a matter on which those in the same faith can disagree upon? This all said is not implying you are against this practice of honouring the saints which I think you are not, if I understood you.
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Thank you.
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« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2014, 11:25:00 PM »

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In solidarity with the "Nasara" (i.e. Christians) of Iraq & Syria

On hiatus from posting. PM me if you wish to contact me. Forgive me if my posts have lacked humility or tact

NOTE: Some of my older posts may not reflect my current views
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