Wednesday, 5 November 2014
The Intercessions of the Saints
'Brethren, pray for us' (1 Thes 5:25)
'And pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison' (Col 4:3)
'I appeal to you brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints.' (Rom 15:30-31)
The Saints are those who are in full communion with God : alive or physically dead - known or unknown. Fr Zacharias of Essex tells us that eternal life is a continuation of our loving relationship with Christ, with the only difference being that this relationship is fuller, and clearer. This means that the Saints who have passed away physically are indeed in full communion with Christ; so just as we would ask our Christian friends ( who are physically present ) for their prayers and strength, we should certainly do the same with the Saints who lived and struggled, following the Lord, having reached the goal which is sanctification and unity with the Source of Life. (1 Cor 1:30) As humble servants of God, the Saints, through history, have shown us 'the way' (John 14:6) in which we should live a life in Christ, through their teaching, asceticism, struggle and miraculous lives. As an elder from the Holy Mountain said, the Saints are our solar lights in times of darkness, who lead us on the right path to Christ, The 'Light of the World.' (John 8:12) In our spiritual lives, we do not make decisions, and live according to our own judgements, but we take advice from our fellow Christians and struggle, pray and learn as a communion of people in one body (Rom 12:5). The Saints are examples to us all - that as sinners and unworthy servants of God, we can indeed trample down upon death (Paschal Troparion) with the Risen Christ, and live with Him in eternal communion and unity. From their example, we are given hope and reassurance that through 'fighting the good fight of faith' (1 Tim 6:12) our hearts can be cleansed, and our spirits can be renewed, (Psalm 50) no matter how sinful we are.
As St Basil writes, the Saints are our 'common friends of the human race, strong ambassadors and collaborators in fervent prayer.' ( Letter 360 )
'We should seek intercessions and the fervent prayers of the saints because they have special boldness (parresia) before God.' St John Chrysostom