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Praying to the saints


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#41 Nina

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Posted 03 May 2007 - 03:09 PM

Oh, I found an amazing quote pertaining this thread, that I would love to share with you all!

What Does It Mean To Believe In The Church? Thoughts About the Church and the Orthodox Divine Services

By St. John of Kronstadt

"Acknowledge that all the saints are our elder brothers in the one House of the Heavenly Father, who have departed from earth to heaven, and they are always with us in God, and they constantly teach us and guide us to eternal life by means of the church services, Mysteries, rites, instructions, and church decrees, which they have composed—as for example, those concerning the fasts and feasts—, so to speak, they serve together with us, they sing, they speak, they instruct, they help us in various temptations and sorrows. And call upon them as living with you under a single roof; glorify them, thank them, converse with them as with living people; and you will believe in the Church."

#42 Paul Cowan

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 04:26 AM

I have read this thread cover to cover so to speak. I still don't know how to pray or ask intercessions to a saint. I was recently told to pray to St. Xenia of St. Petersburg for intercession. After about 1 sentence, I am done. It just doesn't seem right to be done that quickly. I really want to do as St. Seraphim of Sarov told his nuns when he died; "Come talk to me as if I were standing before you".

He told them to just talk to him. How does one get to that point? Is this done audibly or within ones' own mind? I have tried to talk to God in the car out loud. I don't say too much and what I do say is pretty, dumb. suggestions?

Paul

#43 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 02:46 PM

I have read this thread cover to cover so to speak. I still don't know how to pray or ask intercessions to a saint. I was recently told to pray to St. Xenia of St. Petersburg for intercession. After about 1 sentence, I am done. It just doesn't seem right to be done that quickly. I really want to do as St. Seraphim of Sarov told his nuns when he died; "Come talk to me as if I were standing before you".

He told them to just talk to him. How does one get to that point? Is this done audibly or within ones' own mind? I have tried to talk to God in the car out loud. I don't say too much and what I do say is pretty, dumb. suggestions?

Paul


Short phrases are alright. We can use the verse found in the moleben; for example 'Holy Blessed Xenia pray to God for us'. Using a prayer rope helps to make this into a continuous prayer- it's very common for example to do 100 of such prayers on the rope instead of a service.

Alternatively though you could also say an Akathist to that particular saint or have a moleben to that saint said by your priest.

Often we end up doing everything together- personal prayer, lighting a candle before the saint's icon, asking to have a moleben served.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#44 Christina M.

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 08:45 PM

I have read this thread cover to cover so to speak. I still don't know how to pray or ask intercessions to a saint. I was recently told to pray to St. Xenia of St. Petersburg for intercession. After about 1 sentence, I am done. It just doesn't seem right to be done that quickly. I really want to do as St. Seraphim of Sarov told his nuns when he died; "Come talk to me as if I were standing before you".

He told them to just talk to him. How does one get to that point? Is this done audibly or within ones' own mind? I have tried to talk to God in the car out loud. I don't say too much and what I do say is pretty, dumb. suggestions?

Paul


Paul, I've had the same problem as you. Personally, for most of my life I have had a lack of zeal to pray to the saints for help. Then I realized that whenever I would read the lives of the saints, I would feel a great fervor to continue asking them for help. For example, after reading the life story of St. Nectarios, I would pray frequently to him, and after reading the life-stories of contemporary holy people, I would pray frequently to them. Especially whenever I'm having a big problem, it's those saints whom I have learned about who I always ask for help.

I would find it difficult, for example, to pray to St. Xenia without first learning her life story. Analogously, I would find it difficult to walk up to someone I didn't know and ask them to pray for me, whereas if I learn beforehand that they have lived a holy life and that they are close to God, even if I had not met them before, I would still be very inclined to get their blessing. I'm not saying that it's wrong to pray to saints who we don't know the life-stories of (since if the Church calls them Saints, we know that they all are close to God). . . I'm just saying that for those of us who are lacking a zeal to ask the saints for help, I think it's very beneficial to study their life-stories. If someone doesn't have time for reading, they could alternatively listen to homilies of their life stories, as I know there are some good ones out there in MP3 format.

Once we have this initial zeal to pray more frequently to the saints, then we realize how much help they give us, and in a mystical way we feel very comforted by their presence, which makes us want to pray more frequently*to them. Whereas if we don't pray enough to them then we are missing out on these blessed experiences, and they would be difficult for us to comprehend. Hence praying to them will teach us better how to pray to them, since God "gives prayer to the one who prays" (I Sam 5:9).

In regards to talking to God in the car and not knowing what words to say, my spiritual father told me that it's best to just say the Jesus Prayer at times like those. If we don't feel like saying the Jesus Prayer, then if we just force ourselves in the beginning to say it, it will soon (with the grace of God) become very easy for us, and we will get to the point where we don't want to stop. I believe that someone who practices the Jesus Prayer frequently ends up preferring that simple prayer over "freestyle" prayer, except in the times when he needs specific help for a specific problem. But of course everybody is different.

#45 Paul Cowan

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 02:59 AM

Short phrases are alright. We can use the verse found in the moleben; for example 'Holy Blessed Xenia pray to God for us'. Using a prayer rope helps to make this into a continuous prayer- it's very common for example to do 100 of such prayers on the rope instead of a service.

Alternatively though you could also say an Akathist to that particular saint or have a moleben to that saint said by your priest.

Often we end up doing everything together- personal prayer, lighting a candle before the saint's icon, asking to have a moleben served.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


Fr. bless,

I have the Akathist to St. Xenia. 1) What does this service like in church rather than just reading it prayerfully at home? 2) What exactly is a moleben and 3) what does that look like? 4) Do not these two services put more work on the priest if I ask him to perform them and 5) under what circumstances should I ask them to be served? Sorry for all the questions. 6) What chanter support will he need and 7) do I need to get a chanter or two there as well or 8) can he do it himself? I am good with bullet point answers if you prefer. Thanks

Paul

#46 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:15 PM

Fr. bless,

I have the Akathist to St. Xenia. 1) What does this service like in church rather than just reading it prayerfully at home? 2) What exactly is a moleben and 3) what does that look like? 4) Do not these two services put more work on the priest if I ask him to perform them and 5) under what circumstances should I ask them to be served? Sorry for all the questions. 6) What chanter support will he need and 7) do I need to get a chanter or two there as well or 8) can he do it himself? I am good with bullet point answers if you prefer. Thanks

Paul


1. In church the Akathist can be done with priest(s) chanting the various Ikos & Kondaks and the choir repeating the last line of each. Or the choir can sing the entire Akathist to a special melody.

2. It is a special service of intercession to Christ, the Theotokos or the saints; it can also be for thanksgiving; or many other purposes also (even blessing fields, bees, etc).

3. Impossible to describe- you'd have to see it in action.

4. Yes- but that's what we're here for:).

5. In times of need.

6. Can be done with just the priest; moleben is much easier alone, but the akathist is possible. Ask for a moleben to begin with.

7 & 8- see #6.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#47 Father David Moser

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 04:04 PM

Fr Raphael is pretty complete, however, if I might expand upon a couple of his answers.

2. It is a special service of intercession to Christ, the Theotokos or the saints; it can also be for thanksgiving; or many other purposes also (even blessing fields, bees, etc).


A molieben is literally a "prayer service". It varies widely in form however in its more "complete" (whatever that means) form it is modeled on daily matins with an opening psalm (not 6) and a litany followed by "God is the Lord". Then troparia with theotokia, the 50th psalm and a canon (usually only the refrains are sung) with sedalia after odes 3 & 6. After 6 there may also be a gospel reading. After 9 the trisagion is repeated, the tropar and the triple litany. After the litany a special prayer may be added to the saint or for the particular need from the book of needs. After this the dismissal. It is also customary to sing the "Many Years" for the person on whose behalf the molieben is offered. Of course this structure can be modified and shortened all the way down to the blessing, the trisagion and maybe a tropar, the special prayer the dismissal (not unlike say the theophany house blessing). I have seen all kinds of variations between these two "extremes".

4. Yes- but that's what we're here for:).


This is also why it is customary to offer the priest an extra gift when he does these occasional services - you are asking him to do something "above and beyond" his regular duties and to show your appreciation that he is willing to do this, it is good to offer a gift (usually monetary, but not always - for example last time I did a pannykhida I was given the remainder of the bottle of vodka that was used afterward to toast the memory of the departed)

5. In times of need.


This need not be catastrophic need - but can be a personal need that is more urgent than usual. Also there is a thanksgiving molieben that can be said as an expression of gratitude for an answer to prayer.


6. Can be done with just the priest; moleben is much easier alone, but the akathist is possible. Ask for a moleben to begin with.


For the most part you yourself can assist in chanting or singing the responses. The priest himself may ask the parish reader to be present and help out

Fr David

#48 John Bundstein

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 05:16 PM

I am happy to see this thread has already been revived. I noticed several mentions of a Saint Anastasia
in the thread, I am aware of two saints by that name which one is being refered to here? I am interesed for a couple of reasons.

#49 Paul Cowan

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 05:31 AM

Thank you Frs. Rapheal and David. I will ask my priest about serving these.

Paul

#50 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 04:02 PM

If you are present during a house blessing this is a very abbreviated moleben. (that's why my answer was so brief yesterday- I had to leave soon to bless homes).

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#51 Jeff Otto

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 08:45 PM

Praying to the Saints:  Omniscience and Omnipresence

 

I understand the concept that the Church is composed of both the living and the dead, a “great cloud of witnesses” from whom we can ask intercession on our behalf.  When we pray to the Saints, do we have to pray out loud?  If not, and we pray silently, doesn't this ascribe omniscience to the Saints, an attribute which should be reserved for God alone?  Either silent or oral prayer to the Saints also implies omnipresence, since anyone anywhere can pray to them.  In short, are we ascribing omnipresence and omniscience to the Saints when these attributes should be ascribed to God alone?  Any resources concerning this would be appreciated.  Thanks! 


Not by sight—


Jeff O.

 

"To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."      --John Henry Cardinal Newman



#52 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 02:54 PM

Dear Jeff,

 

When we pray to the Saints, do we have to pray out loud?  If not, and we pray silently, doesn't this ascribe omniscience to the Saints, an attribute which should be reserved for God alone?

It doesn't matter whether we pray aloud or in silent, man is not omniscient but it does not matter because when we pray, we pray in the Holy Spirit and not alone, neither are the saints alone but with God and illuminated by him. 

 

Either silent or oral prayer to the Saints also implies omnipresence, since anyone anywhere can pray to them.  In short, are we ascribing omnipresence and omniscience to the Saints when these attributes should be ascribed to God alone?

Again we pray as Christians in the Holy Spirit, Who is everywhere present and fillest all things, and so the saints who stand around God can hear us. 

 

Also there have been saints who whilst on earth have been reported as having heard and answered peoples prayers, this is not because of an attributes of them but because it is God who works wonders in his Saints, as we sing in the psalms "Thou alone art God who workest wonders", and on week days at the 2nd Antiphon we sing O Son of God who art wondrous in Thy saints" and again at the end of the Holy Gospel according to Mark "And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."

 

In Christ.

Daniel,


Edited by Daniel R., 27 July 2014 - 02:54 PM.


#53 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 06:05 PM

I concur in what Daniel says and would only add that holy men and women (both alive and departed) of the Church can know the thoughts of people and so it should not be surprising that they hear our silent prayers.



#54 Anna Stickles

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 11:22 PM

This is a good example Andreas because we see in the biographies of these holy men and women that when questioned about their clairvoyant knowledge they admit that they do not know everything or all thoughts, but only what God allows them to know according to His will and purposes in the life of the one being counseled. 



#55 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 11:31 PM

We know, furthermore, that saints have communicated with the living but, yes, all is done by God's will. A parallel is the communication of angels with people.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 27 July 2014 - 11:31 PM.


#56 Jeff Otto

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 02:49 AM

Daniel R. (et al)--

 

Thank you for your succinct answer, that makes perfect sense the way you explained it.   :)

 

I am an Evangelical (raised Methodist) considering conversion to Orthodoxy.  My question stems from a defense against Catholicism (was it by Calvin himself?) which stated that only God is omniscient and omnipresent, therefore praying to the Saints and Mary is useless because they can't hear our prayers.  Obviously this is not what Holy Tradition teaches, thus I was seeking the "why" of the issue.  



#57 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:13 AM

What would be the point in having saints at all if they were cut off from us? Not only do they hear us but by God's grace we connect with them through the holy icons and blessed relics.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 28 July 2014 - 09:14 AM.


#58 Anna Stickles

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 01:21 PM

Daniel R. (et al)--

 

Thank you for your succinct answer, that makes perfect sense the way you explained it.   :)

 

I am an Evangelical (raised Methodist) considering conversion to Orthodoxy.  My question stems from a defense against Catholicism (was it by Calvin himself?) which stated that only God is omniscient and omnipresent, therefore praying to the Saints and Mary is useless because they can't hear our prayers.  Obviously this is not what Holy Tradition teaches, thus I was seeking the "why" of the issue.  

 

Just a couple of notes of things to think about.  The Scholastic theological tradition inherited by Calvin understood God's attributes in terms of reified or static principles that defined God's being.  

 

Orthodoxy understands God's attributes as ways of describing His operations/energies which we can participate in and become conformed to, to a greater and greater degree. This is how we grow in His likeness. Unlike with the Protestants who divide things into communicable and incommunicable attributes, we understand God's attributes/operations/energies (no single English word quite captures it alone) as being wholly communicable by grace to the degree that we are purified and submitted to His will and way of being. 

 

To add the prefix "omni" to any particular operation like knowing or power is just to say that He is not limited in them. And we do teach that no man will ever reach the fulness that exists in Christ the God-man, the fulness of the Godhead bodily. We are ever advancing and never reaching the limit because God Himself is limitless.  What exists in Christ by virtue of the hypostatic union, we have by virtue of a willing participation by grace.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 28 July 2014 - 01:28 PM.


#59 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 03:22 PM

In invoking the intercession of the saints, the Church believes that the saints, who interceded with the Lord for the peace of the world and for the stability of the holy churches of Christ while living, do not cease doing this in Christ's heavenly, triumphant Church, and listen to our entreaties in which we invoke them, and pray to the Lord, and become bearers of the grace and mercy of the Lord. St. Nectarios of Pentapolis, Modern Orthodox Saints, Vol. 7 by. Constantine Cavarnos

We ought to have the most lively spiritual union with the heavenly inhabitants, with all the saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, prelates, venerable and righteous men, as they are all members of one single body, the Church of Christ, to which we sinners also belong, and the living Head of which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is why we call upon them in prayer, converse with them, thank and praise them. It is urgently necessary for all Christians to be in union with them, if they desire to make Christian progress; for the saints are our friends, our guides to salvation, who pray and intercede for us. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.

 

At the heart of the Orthodox faith is the Divine Liturgy. This is our existential encounter with the Holy Trinity, the heavenly host, and the saints. In the Creed, we say that the Church is One; the Church militant and the Church triumphant are joined together. The Church is the Body of Christ and is not separated into those who have departed this life and those who live on earth.


We pray that the Holy Spirit will descend upon us and upon the gifts of bread and wine and make them truly and really the Body and Blood of Christ. God the Father is present as well, obviously, so the Trinity is present and active in the Liturgy.


The Church teaches that angels are present at every Liturgy. That is why we chant the Trisagion and Cherubic Hymns.


We are also taught that the saints are present at every Liturgy.


The Divine Liturgy is not an image or even a reflection of the Heavenly Liturgy but an active participation in it, heaven and earth, the living, the saints, and the heavenly host joining together in worship of God.


How could all this be if the saints were separated from us?



#60 Loucas

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 01:07 AM

Praying to a Saint, well we believe what we have been taught by Faith and tradition as well as scripture. The Saints intercede to the Lord on our behalf, and when being Baptised we take a name of a Saint and then we are compelled to learn all we can about our Saint to, as Paul said, be imitators of them. We should pray to the Saints with deep emotion and respect. We should approch them with resolve that they see and hear our sincere prayers. We should even talk to them as they are our Big Brother or Sister. Never doubt that they are praying for us. Look upon the Icon of the Saint with a strong feeling of love and respect. We can always and should turn to the traditional prayers to our patron Saint, but also we should pray to them in an intimate and trusting manner, as one would trustingly and lovingly talk to our family member. So certainly,      Holy Apostle and Evangelos Luke, intercede to our merciful Lord that our souls may be saved from sin.     but also... Agios Louka' I struggle daily, but your name and your life give me courage to continue the contest. Run with me so I may complete the trial as you did and win the prize. But in any prayer, try very hard to concentrate, and to visualize the Saint, and with deep love, respect and trust open your heart before them.






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