Communion and Intercession of the Saints

Praying for the Dead

 

Compiled by: Metropolitan Archbishop +Joseph Thaddeus, OSB, SSJt., Ph.D.

   In 2 Maccabees 12:44-45 we learn

"For if he were expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superflous and foolish to pray for the dead.  But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.  Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sins."

   By praying for the dead, we hope to obtain their pardon.  And St. John reveals in the Book of Revelation that the dead can also pray for the living (5:8; 8:3).   He even compares the prayer of the saints before the throne of the Lamb to "golden bowls of incense."  Death does not shatter the unity of Christ's body: the members of the Church (faithful) who are still struggling in this world (this life) and those who have already recieved their reward in the next, are a part of the same body (of Christ).  This is more than just the communion of the saints, they intercede for us through prayer as we intercede for them through our prayers too.

   Saints are those who perpetuate the Church's Pentecost, those who are living witnesses of the presence of the Holy Saint.  That is why the Orthodox Catholic Christian celebrate the feasts of the Saints.

Question:  Is one borne a saint?

Reply:   No!  A saint is not borne.  An individual who is, after they have gone to their repose (death), been acclaimed a "Saint" is an unusual individual who has lived their lives in struggle, much the same as we do in this life, so they too.  A Saint was a sinner in every respect as ourselves in this life, the same as you and me.  A Saint did sin!  St. Paul says, "I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate," (Romans 7:15).  This is part of the human condition.  We follow our impulses, we pursue our personal interests, the interest of personal gratification.

   When a man comes to Jesus Christ, he takes on a new desire, a new man, putting aside the "old man" in very slow degrees through out one's life.  That is to say, coming to recognize that one's earthly passions (more than just physical or sexual passion) has to be dealt with, one-by-one.  This brings one closer to the newness in Jesus Christ until he is able to say within himself the same as St. Paul (Galatians 2:20), ... "... it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me."  For St. Paul is able to do the Father's Will for the "old self was crucified with Him [ie: Christ] so that the sinful body (nature) might be destroyed and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.  Let not sin therefore reign in your moral bodies to make you obey their passions," (Romans 6:6-7, 12).

   The Apostles of Jesus Christ, even after the day of Pentecost, had to continually struggle in this life to maintain themselves free from sin so that the Holy Spirit may continue to dwell within.  Although they did falter or stumble from time to time, so also they, by the Grace of God through Holy Spirit, maintained their desire to bring the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ to the faithful by example and word, even unto their various deaths.

   To honor the Saints as Orthodox Catholic Christianity does, has partially been partially explained.  To honor their relics (their remains) cannot be fully written here, but a meager attempt is better than no attempt at all.

   God is unknowable.  To know, to understand, are notions of the human mind.  To know the nature of a plant, of water, of metal, of an animal, or of any other material thing, one analyzes it and in this way gains a certain knowledge of it.  But there is a mystery hidden in matter.

   As given by God through his creation, all materiality in its natural state for the most part, contains the created energy of God's handiwork.  So too is this true for each human being, especially those who truly struggled and succeeded in maintaining themselves to the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ through Holy Spirit.  Remember that it was said, "If only these stones could cry out," refers to the fact of God's Divine energy flowing in and through all things and beings, animate and inanimate.  Thus, as a human grows, their God given energy coupled with Free Will alters the energy of Grace within, bringing one closer to God, expanding that Grace by God, according to each one's own nature and degree of true struggle to maintain and work toward the desire to be one with God.  If one's desire, coupled with their God given Free Will is re-directed by the passions of one's own being whereby they further engage in those passions, they loose that divine Grace, that holy energy and fall into the depths of spiritual and material despair.   Positive or negative... for Christ or against Christ... this is one of the differences between those whom we call "Saints" and those who are not.  The Saints truly struggled with themselves against the snares of the Evil One.  Thus, in each step of their lives here on earth, they acquired more from God.

   When such a blessed person goes to their repose (death), their body retains some of the energy left behind by the departing soul.  Thus the relics (body) of such a blessed one who has in this life struggled in spirit and truth, as were many of the prophets... honored, respected and revered; so the Saints too are revered.  Their remains (relics) carry on in their corporeal form, through the energies left behind, by the blessing of God through Holy Spirit, cause for what is termed as 'miracles' to occur as a means to Glorify God.

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