The role of the saints in our lives as Christians
Growing up Lutheran I always believed the veneration of saints by Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians was a form of idolatry. They were idolaters because they “worshiped saints”. This worship of the saints was a major stumbling block for most protestants, since worship was only to be offered to God. The distinction between veneration and adoration was unknown to us. Adoration is reserved for God alone, while veneration is the respect we show to the saints.
The historic Church has always venerated the saints because the Church is undivided. The Church Triumphant (in heaven) and the Church Militant (on earth) is one, undivided. When the Church is at worship the cloud of witnesses (those who’ve won the battle and are in heaven with God) are united in this worship before the Throne of God with those on earth. When we enter into the communal worship of the Church here on earth, we are mystically united with the saints in heaven. Death does not separate us from those who’ve gone on before us, for in Christ, there is no death.
The saints being alive in Christ are not dead. When we venerate the saints we are showing love and respect to those who’ve gone on before us. Kissing an icon of a saint is much the same as kissing a bible. We show our love and respect for the Word of God by offering a kiss, just as we do when expressing our love of our mother or grandmother. When we kiss a photo of a loved one we are not worshiping the person, but demonstrating in a concrete way our love for the person. This is the very thing we are demonstrating when we kiss the icon of a saint.
When we are in need of prayer we don’t head for the nearest tavern and ask the man slumped over the bar to pray for us (God may not have heard from this fellow for a very long time), rather we ask for prayers of those who are close to God. No one is closer to God than those who’ve lived holy lives, or who have died as martyrs, so we know they are alive in Christ, and have His ear. We don’t just ask a friend, we ask a saint to pray for us because, Christ is glorified in His saints (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
With love in Christ,
Wednesday April 13, 2016 / March 31, 2016
Fifth Week of the Great Lent. Tone four.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Venerable Hypatius the Wonderworker, bishop of Gangra (ca. 360).
Repose of St. Jonah, metropolitan of Kiev, Moscow, and all Russia (1461).
St. Innocent of Moscow, enlightener of Alaska and Siberia (1879).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1938).
St. Hypatius the Healer of the Kiev Caves (14th c.).
Venerable Apollonius, ascetic of the Thebaid (395).
Martyrs Abdas the Bishop and Benjamin the Deacon, of Persia (424).
Venerable Hypatius, abbot of Rufinus in Chalcedon (446).
Appearance of the “Iberian” (“Iveron”) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Righteous Joseph the Fair, son of Jacob (ca. 1700 B.C.).
38 Martyrs, beheaded by the sword under Julian (361-363).
Saint Akakios the Confessor, Bishop of Meletinia (249-251).
Venerable Blaise of Amorium and Mt. Athos (908) (Greek).
Martyr Menander (Greek).
St. Stephen the Wonderworker, monk (Greek).
4 Who has performed and done it,
Calling the generations from the beginning?
‘I, the Lord, am the first;
And with the last I am He.’”
5 The coastlands saw it and feared,
The ends of the earth were afraid;
They drew near and came.
6 Everyone helped his neighbor,
And said to his brother,
“Be of good courage!”
7 So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith;
He who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil,
Saying, “It is ready for the soldering”;
Then he fastened it with pegs,
That it might not totter.
8 “But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.
9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
‘You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
11 “Behold, all those who were incensed against you
Shall be ashamed and disgraced;
They shall be as nothing,
And those who strive with you shall perish.
12 You shall seek them and not find them—
Those who contended with you.
Those who war against you
Shall be as nothing,
As a nonexistent thing.
13 For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’
14 “Fear not, you worm Jacob,
You men of Israel!
I will help you,” says the Lord
And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
The Sign of the Covenant
17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. 8 Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
20 A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment,
But a man of understanding walks uprightly.
22 Without counsel, plans go awry,
But in the multitude of counselors they are established.
23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth,
And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
24 The way of life winds upward for the wise,
That he may turn away from hell below.
25 The Lord will destroy the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.
26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
But the words of the pure are pleasant.
27 He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,
And a good report makes the bones healthy.
31 The ear that hears the rebukes of life
Will abide among the wise.
32 He who disdains instruction despises his own soul,
But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.
33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.
16 The preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits.
3 Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.
4 The Lord has made all for Himself,
Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
5 Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.
6 In mercy and truth
Atonement is provided for iniquity;
And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice.
9 A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.