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Author Topic: Praying to saints?  (Read 3125 times) Average Rating: 0
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starboss
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« on: June 23, 2004, 11:56:57 AM »

Hi all.  I'm new here and had a question about praying to saints to intercede for them.  I am considering converting to an orthodox church with my wife.  But I have to say, I am a little uneasy about praying to saints who have already been taken to be with the Lord.  Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 that the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  The Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.  
1 Timothy 2:5-For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.  And when the apostles ask Jesus how to pray He says nothing about praying and asking things from dead saints.  Saints that are alive and with us is a different story I believe.  But praying to saints just feels like worship to me.  Does anyone has any verses that support this view of the orthodox church?   If I am incorrect about this belief, please correct me.  Thank you.

God bless
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2004, 12:01:45 PM »

There is no death with Jesus Christ. Christ has overthrown death.  The saints are still alive after their passing from this world. If we would be willing to ask for the prayers of someone saintly in this life, why not ask for their prayers after they have passed over to life eternal. The reason we'd ask for their prayers during their earthly life is because they are closer to God than us, no? The prayer of a righteous man availeth much., etc. So, since they are still alive, but now alive in the heavenly kingdom, why not continuing praying to these saints of God who are closer to God than we are.

Edit: I'd recommend reading Fr. George Florovsky's On the Veneration of the Saints

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/florov_veneration.aspx
« Last Edit: June 23, 2004, 12:04:35 PM by Bogoliubtsy » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2004, 12:25:54 PM »

Welcome Starboss,
You wrote, that "the Spirit Himself Intercedes for us"  

We invoke the Spirit as follows,

Oh heavenly King, Oh Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art Everywhere and Fillest All Things, treasury of blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us and save our souls oh Gracious One...............

I think it is this omnipresent  Holy Spirit (EVERYWHERE AND FILLING ALL THINGS) that is exactly what allows the faithful departed and those of us here to pray for each other. Just a thought. I pray God blesses you in your search for fullness of Truth.

Spiros
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starboss
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2004, 12:44:14 PM »

Welcome Starboss,
You wrote, that "the Spirit Himself Intercedes for us"  

We invoke the Spirit as follows,

Oh heavenly King, Oh Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art Everywhere and Fillest All Things, treasury of blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us and save our souls oh Gracious One...............

I think it is this omnipresent  Holy Spirit (EVERYWHERE AND FILLING ALL THINGS) that is exactly what allows the faithful departed and those of us here to pray for each other. Just a thought. I pray God blesses you in your search for fullness of Truth.

Spiros
Thank you for your replies.  Is their any scripture that holds up this belief?  I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just trying to figure this out. Wink

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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2004, 01:10:53 PM »

Check this link: http://www.protomartyr.org/prayer.html

(especially Part II)
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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2004, 10:04:15 PM »

ICXN's Link covers all the bases better than I ever could
But I also thought of CS Lewis, who was uncomfortable praying TO but happily Prayed WITH the saints. For Orthodox, I think we go a step further with this logic. We pray TO, FOR and WITH Them all at the same time, as the Reality of Jesus Christ transcends our time and place here......
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2004, 11:59:09 PM »

Is their any scripture that holds up this belief?  I'm not trying to be difficult, I'm just trying to figure this out. Wink

There are verses which speak of an awareness the departed have of things on earth; the martyrs under the altar in Revelation know they haven't yet been avenged and plead to God for this.  Further, the rich man is still aware of his wicked brothers...granted, the pleas of this wicked man are of no avail (no surprise there, both due to his wickedness and also due to his asking for an apparition or sign of some sort, which is NOT or should NOT be the point of asking for prayers), but the idea of the connection not being completely severed between the here and now and the great Hereafter is made.

As for a verse specifically showing the intercession of the departed, we have a verse in Revelation (forgive me; I don't have a Bible in front of me right now) where "elders," seen by everyone I've read to be departed belivers, are offering bowls of incense, which are "prayers of the saints," to God.  The incense is not seen ascending to the Throne on its own, but rather through the hands of those who've gone before.

I know this doesn't specifically mention OUR praying to the saints, but it gives us some revelation (no pun intended) that, of the little that's been shown concerning the afterlife, we know that we are not separated from the departed by the death of the body, and that the departed ARE connected to us somehow.

That, coupled with the fact that the earliest Christians prayed for the souls of their departed directly while living in catacombs (we have prayers etched on tombs and gravestones) and asked the apostles (who were some of the first martyrs) to pray for them (prayers likewise inscribed around graves of departed believers), one can reasonably infer that this was indeed an apostolic practice.

As for why the epistles make no mention of it, well, they were pastoral epistles, not devotional ones.  They were meant to combat certain errors and challenges, not necessarily to elaborate on already existing (and legitimate) practices.

Finally, for a more thorough exposition of verses (both Jewish and Christian) dealing with the subject, click on these words right here.

So that's my quarter (I've obviously gone far beyond two cents here).  Glad to have you aboard, sir!  -íPaz contigo!

Pedro
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2004, 10:30:40 PM »

Veneration of saints has occured since times in the early church.  Honestly, whether one chooses to acknowledge this or not, the protestant change to NOT venerate saints is the new (and incorrect -- a deviation from historical, apostolic christianity) thing.  

And the very church that put together the Bible (where many seek written "justification" for honoring saints) was the church that canonized and honored saints, many of whom were killed for their faith.  How can one accept one and not the other?

There are thousands of canonized (and many more who will never be canonized, known only to God) saints.... and they are alive with us in Christ!  We face so many temptations in every day life.... asking a saint to pray for us on our behalf, or to help us, is so important!  We cannot do it on our own.... they have gone before us, and we should let them lead us!

Not embracing the richness of the many Christian forefathers and mothers is like robbing oneself of crucial help in living a Christian life.  Would we drive a car, not knowing how to drive and with no gas, hoping that it works?  No!  Why then would we be Chrisitians and not venerate the many saints who have preceded us in our life in Christ, and ask for their help?
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2004, 10:56:23 PM »

Starboss,

I readily remember how odd this seemed to me before I converted.  But I immediately felt better when I learned that the phrase "pray to St. ___" means solely to ask St. ___ to pray to God on my behalf.  In NO way does this equate to "worship."

Yes, the Holy Spirit does pray for us.  But it does not follow that nobody else does!

One of the gospels includes the reminder that only a tiny amount of what Christ said and did is recorded in the scriptures.  Not only does that address your hesitancy, but it also gives Biblical support for the Orthodox Christian understanding of the authority and role of Holy Tradition.  The Bible is a subset of Holy Tradition.  It is not an independent item to be set up in opposition to Holy Tradition.  One of the several paradigm shifts that a Protestant must go through when giving sober consideration to Orthodoxy is that the Church gave us the Bible; the Bible did NOT give rise to the Church.  Everything the Bible teaches is borne out in the teachings of Holy Tradition.  Nothing taught us through Holy Tradition contradicts what is in the Bible.  This leads straight into another of those "paradigm shifts" -- namely, that Holy Scripture is NOT to be interpreted by the whims of the individual.  (see whichever Epistle of St. Peter contains that warning)  The Holy Fathers, whose collective commentary on the Bible are part of Holy Tradition, are our guide to the scriptures.  

I do not believe that to pray for someone is the same thing as to be their "mediator" in the restricted sense that the term belongs to Christ alone.

There is a passage about prayer for the dead in one of the Books of the Maccabees -- one of the books honored by the Orthodox and Catholics.  

At any rate, it may take a lot of effort for you and your wife to  set aside your established Christian framework in order fairly to place yourself (as a learner) within the differing Christian framework of Orthodoxy.  You really do have to strip your mind clean, so as to speak, and learn "from scratch."  The results, though, will be life-transforming and impossible to relinquish, once you fall in love with the faith!  

Christ is among us!

4Truth
« Last Edit: June 24, 2004, 10:57:52 PM by 4Truth » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2004, 12:15:25 PM »

I do not believe that to pray for someone is the same thing as to be their "mediator" in the restricted sense that the term belongs to Christ alone.

This is true, though I'd warn that people who interceed in prayer are in fact called "mediators," as you can see in the link I provided above.

The important thing to keep in mind is this: when different people (or even the same person!) uses the same word in different places, it (the word) does not necessarily mean the same exact thing -- mediator may mean "one Mediator between God and man" via an atonement, which is Christ's place alone; it may mean simply "praying for someone," which is open to Christ, the Holy Spirit, and every Christian on earth and in heaven.

In no place are words set in their meanings.
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« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2004, 01:44:54 PM »

Peace Starboss,
may the Lord bless you in your search for the truth.

As for saints' intercessions, I want to add a little something to what the very respected members of the forum already said.

Consider this analogy:
The Lord Jesus Christ has one body,and one body only, and all the beliefers who are going through their journey on earth and all the saints who have departed in faith are members in this body.
All the members of the body feel the pain of another member. The FEEL it, unless they are paralyzed parts of the body or amputated parts. They also make all their effort in helping the other member, who might be struggling with sin, in need of heavenly intervention in his life,.......
 For sure all who believe in our Lord Christ as the savior cannot consider the body of Christ as paralyzed.
I am not talking symbolicly, this is the very truth.
I believe that rejecting the intercession of the saints in rejecting the ONE BODY OF CHRIST concept.

May the Lord bless you and yours with his abundant heavenly blessings.

Peace,
Stavro
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2004, 02:02:21 PM »

Thank you, Stavros.  That was beautiful!

4Truth
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2004, 10:59:34 PM »

I also thank you Stavro, that was very beautiful, biblical,  and profound!
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« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2004, 01:25:40 PM »

Very nice, Stavro.
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2004, 10:26:44 PM »

Thank you all for your posts.  It is really starting to become clear now.  Not only that but it feels right as well.  Peace.
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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2004, 08:38:26 PM »

Starboss,

I wish you well in your search for understanding and Truth. Forgive me if I point one thing I noticed in your original post, and indeed in others. You referred to "Paul". This fashionable familiar reference seems a little disrespectful if one is referring to the Holy Apostle Paul. Indeed it seems, to me at least, disrespectful when referring to any Saint or great Christian ascetic struggler. Please do not misunderstand I do not seek to 'tell you off', but simply to make a point.

When one referrs to a physician, general or a congressman, we honour them with an appropriate title but not an Apostle or other saint? Is this a protestant, catholic or 'Western' usage? Wink
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starboss
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« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2004, 08:56:27 PM »

I'm sure he will forgive me
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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2004, 09:46:10 PM »

Alright.  Apostle Paul.  Sorry.  Don't really know the rules yet.  Like I said at the beginning, I am considering the orthodox faith.  I have not become orthodox as of yet.   :-";"xx
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« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2004, 02:44:24 PM »

Hey, don't worry about it, starboss.  Grin

I called my bishop "sir" the first time I met him.  Tongue  He smiled, didn't bat an eye, and kept going in the conversation.  It wasn't until later that the Deacon told me it was "Your Grace" when talking to him...but "newbies" are (or should be!) granted plenty of slack.
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« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2004, 09:43:27 PM »

LOL I have to laugh at that last comment. I had read Fredrica Matthewes-Green's "12 Things you should know..."  and still out of habit when the priest gave me his blessing the first time I met him, I said "God Bless You." I was so flustered and then we both just laughed.  

When you are new like I am, mistakes like this are common.

Now, about the OP.

I have been protestant my whole life and have had anti-catholic propaganda spoken repeatedly, even in my home by my own family.  Most of which was "We don't pray to anyone but Jesus, and they pray to Mary and others they call saints."

(I am quoting, I would have said Theotokos or at least Holy Mary, Mother of God but that is now how my family spoke to me about this since I was a little girl. And of course, I believe there are Saints, at least now.)

I am currently in a crisis time in my life with much distress. I have been asking people to pray for me a lot because this is a very bad situation and I need all the prayers I can get. I have called people I haven't seen in a long time and asked for prayer and emotional support.

And until I discovered the "great cloud of witnesses" (a quote of St. Paul the Apostle) I had no idea the richness of the assistance and extended family that I have.

I still can't say that I "pray" to different Saints. Instead I request that they pray for me. (It is the same thing, but changing the word makes it easier for me at the moment and does no harm as I am respectful in all requests. IMHO)

For example: I have said this: "St. Joeseph the Betrothed, you know what it is like to doubt a marriage. But your heart and mind was open when the Angel of God came to you. Please pray that my husband's mind and heart will be open to the direction of the work of the Trinity." And I still end with "Amen" because "Amen" means basically "let it be so". But usually I say "Thank you" before the Amen.

The Saints are alive.  They understand humans as they are human.  They love us as we are a part of their family.  Just as you would not hesitate to pray for me who you don't even know, they are not hesitant to pray for us even though on earth they died before our great great great great grandmother was born.
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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2004, 10:25:53 PM »

That was a beautiful testimony, thornygrace.
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« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2004, 11:20:52 PM »

Quote
The Saints are alive.  They understand humans as they are human.  They love us as we are a part of their family.  Just as you would not hesitate to pray for me who you don't even know, they are not hesitant to pray for us even though on earth they died before our great great great great grandmother was born.

It was a beautiful post. Thank You.

It reminds me why I love being in church around all the icons and people I love. I see the kids kiss grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters greeting each other  then going to kiss the icons. sometimes the reality that there is no boundary between us and the saints breaks through and it is joyous to behold.   :'(  <We need a smiley for happy tears>
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