Once, all Christians in the world were Orthodox. For the term “Orthodox” means “straight path.” The Orthodox church can trace it’s roots all the way back to the founding fathers – the Apostles appointed by Jesus Christ. It was, sadly, over time that there have been so many movements away from this original apostolic foundation. And many of them have attacked Orthodoxy stating that we worship icons of saints. Absurd! We worship nothing and/or no one other that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as One God.
But Saints do play a very important part in our daily lives as Christians. There are 3 main reasons why Saints play an integral part of our spiritual life.
1) They set a path for us to follow. “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you.”(a) “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith you follow, consider the outcome of their conduct.”(b) As humans, we fall prey to the desires of flesh, the distractions of the eye, and the mis-leadings of vain thoughts and feelings. We look to the lives of Saints that we may learn the right path to the glory of God. For many of those that we rever as saints, were at one time sinners just like us. They were murderers, rapists, fornicators, and thieves who, through Grace of God, learned to overcome their sinful life. To defeat the desires of the flesh and live a life with Christ. That from them we may learn how we too can overcome the daily temptations of the flesh. Least we forget that Moses was a murderer, David was both a murderer and fornicator, and St. Paul was ruthless prosecutor of Christians.
2) They pray for us. We see the request of the rich man in Hades asking Abraham for the poor man in Abraham’s bosom to testify to his still living brothers so they do not end up in Hades(c). In the Book of Job, we read about God’s wrath towards Job’s friends who did do right by the eyes of God. And God sends them to Job so that Job may pray for them to spare their eternal life(d). In Revelation we read “…the twenty four elders fell before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense – which are the prayers of saints.(e)” This is again “…Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the alter. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.”(f) We do not pray to the Saints, but through Saints. Since they are already glorified by God, they no longer need pray for themselves. So we ask and entreat their prayers on our behalf.
3) They Defend Us. Abraham defended the city of Sodom and Gomorrah(g) even though he knew no one in these two cities (except his nephew Lot and his family). Moses defended the Hebrews from God’s wrath in the desert. A modern day example of how Saints defend us is the use attorneys. The accepted practice, in today’s court system, is to hire an attorney – knowledgeable in the procedures of court law – to defend us. This attorney uses all his experience on our behalf. The presence of the attorney places no limitations on the Judge, or his ability to render a decision. But an attorney has more experience with dealing with the judge directly. In matters of passing judgement on our actions and deeds we entreat as much help as possible on our behalf.
May the Prayers of the Saints on Our Behalf be Heard.
And Glory Be to God Always, Amen.
(a) 1Corinthians 11:1
(b) Hebrews 13:7
(c) Luke 16:19-31
(d) Job 42:7
(e) Revelation 5:8
(f) Revelation 8:3
(g) Genesis 18