Friends in High Places

Asking the prayers of those who have won their place in Paradise

The concept of Christ as the “sole mediator between God and man”, assumes that “mediator” means “intercessor”. But, there is a more profound meaning, not merely an intercessor but the reconciliation of God and man in the reality of the hypostatic union of God and man in the person of Jesus Christ. That is the real meaning of “mediator”. The Latin source of the word, mediare, “place in the middle”, makes it clear that the Protestant view that we can not ask the saints for help is missing the point. Once we understand that, then the whole argument against the intercession of the saints has no basis in fact.

The Bible indeed directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray with us. In Psalms 103, we pray, “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!” (Psalms 103:20-21). And in Psalms 148 we pray, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!” (Psalms 148:1-2).

Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, we read: “[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God” (Rev. 8:3-4). And those in heaven who offer to God our prayers aren’t just angels, but humans as well. John sees that “the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). The simple fact is, as this passage shows: The saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.

It is true that we have Christ as the only intercessor before the Throne, but that never stopped any of our Protestant brethren from asking fellow believers to pray for them. All Christians ask the friends of God to pray for them all the time. When we ask for the prayers of our friends and fellow believers, we are seeking their intercession before the Throne of God. In the same way we can ask those who have gone on before us to pray for us because they are alive in Christ, and offer their prayers to Christ just as do our friends in this life, who are believers. We all, both those in heaven and those still upon this earth, pray before the same “sole mediator between God and man”, Jesus Christ. It is Christ through whom we approach the Throne of the Father. Why would we not want to ask for the prayers of those who have already won their place in Paradise, and are already standing before the Throne of God, worshiping the Holy Trinity?

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photos: Subdeacon Nicholas, together with his friend Daniel, came down for a weekend retreat from British Columbia.

The Elder Ephraim
On Saturday we received the news that Elder Ephraim of Arizona has fallen asleep. May his memory be eternal! We now have a new intercessor for America in heaven.

Monday December 9, 2019 / November 26, 2019
26th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed
Venerable Alypius the Stylite of Adrianopolis (640).
Dedication of the Church of St. George at Kiev (1051).
Repose of St. Innocent, first bishop of Irkutsk (1731).
New Hieromartyrs Nicholas, John, Gregory and Nazarius, Basil, Basil, Ilia, Basil, Daniel, Michael priests, New Hieromartyr Tikhon (1937).
New Hieromartyr Peter (after 1937).
Venerable James the Solitary of Syria (457).
Venerable Stylianos of Paphlagonia, monk (5th – 6th c.) (Greek).
Venerable Nicon Metanoeite (“Preacher of Repentance”) of Armenia (998).
New Martyr George of Chios (1807) (Greek).
Venerables Athanasius and Theodosius of Cherepovets (1382), disciples of St. Sergius of Radonezh.
St. Silas, bishop of Persidos (Greek).
St. Peter, patriarch of Jerusalem (552).
St. Acacius of Mt. Latros (6th c.) (Greek).

The Scripture Readings

1 Timothy 1:1-7

Greeting

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,

2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

No Other Doctrine

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

Luke 19:37-44

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:

“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Abbot Tryphon

About Abbot Tryphon

The Very. Rev. Abbot Tryphon is Igumen of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington. Situated in the heart of a beautiful forest, surrounded by the Salish Sea, the monastery is reached by ferry from either Seattle, or Tacoma, Washington.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for your article. As a convert from the Methodist church, I still struggle at times with the concept of praying to the saints in heaven. Now I feel a bit better and can relax more when I venerate my favorite icon in church: St. Seraphim of Sarov.

  2. It also keeps us humble to know we cannot totally rely on ourselves for prayer but DO need the help from family, friends and all those in Heaven. Better we pray together than apart.

    Lovely photos and May Elder Ephraim’s memory be eternal!

    God bless and please pray for my family…..thankyou!

  3. When I think of the saints I cannot help but think of communion with Christ. Through the Baptism and Eucharist, the two, God and man, have become one. We have entered into Christ’s resurrection through Baptism, and remember and know God and His Body making Him and His Church part of us through communion. Those in Christ pray with the living, there are no dead in Christ. Praying with the saints is so natural to the spiritual man in Christ.

  4. Abbot Tryphon,

    I am a convert from a Reformed background. I had an extreme difficulty with the answers I received to “why” pray to anyone other than the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. But, while I became convinced of this through the not often embraced or understood Divine Council theology of the Bible, your first sentence would have disarmed me instantly. Apologetics are, and should always be, all about loving a person to Christ – and you show this regularly when you comment on matters of defending our Faith. God bless you.

    Matthew Lyon

  5. As a Protestant, I take your message to heart. If we ask our living friends to pray for us, why indeed should we not ask the same of those who have passed? Certainly God listens to them.

    1. The logic is all the clearer when you think of the Cloud of Witnesses and that we are destined to rule and reign with Christ. Think of the parable of the talents, “you’ve been faithful over this now…”. Our impoverished imagination of heaven which it totally unbiblical, and worse, that we have equated salvation with this impoverished view of heaven – again, ruling and reigning, set in charge over greater resources, judging angels, the worship of God in His majesty… FYI, I always write in a way as if I’m talking to my former self before I was Orthodox, so take no offense please to any polemical tone it’s directed as if I were talking to myself. That’s just my method I guess..

      God bless you brother,
      Matthew

  6. I just want to comment on the beautiful photo of Elder Ephraim. He looks so peaceful, indeed as though is is sleeping. For people who are concerned about the appearance of the deceased when they are not embalmed and “made up” – this peaceful and natural photo shows just the opposite. For those reading this who don’t know, Orthodox clergy are never embalmed and are buried in their natural state.

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