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Prayers to the saints


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#1 Dan L.

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 02:35 PM

Hello everyone,
I am a catechumen in the Antiochian Orthodox church and have been attending for 5 months. Coming from an "evangelical non-denominational" style church, it has been very eye opening for me at the depth and richness of the Orthodox faith. I am trying very hard to work on adopting an Orthodox mindset, but I still have many questions. My priest has been very patient with me, but I think that my constant bombardment of emails and questions to him may be taking advantage of his good nature. I thought perhaps joining this community, I would have the opportunity to speak with others who have gone down this road before me and can give me some guidance.

One question that has been swirling around in my head is, how do the saints and the Theotokos hear our prayers? I understand that when we offer up prayers, it is to them as intercessors much like we would ask our friends on earth to pray for us. My confusion is, obviously, God hears our prayers because he is in all places and knows all things, but the Saints don't have that ability, do they? Does God get the prayer and give it to the Saint to handle? Sorry if this seems silly, but it is something I have been wondering about. I'm sure this is a very protestant sounding question.

Edited by Fr Raphael Vereshack, 06 October 2012 - 02:30 PM.
removed formatting tags


#2 Eric Peterson

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 05:37 AM

Hello Dan! Welcome!

It's just my opinion as I haven't read anything on it specifically, but I think they hear our prayers through the Holy Spirit. But, also consider that the spiritual world is, in a way, even closer to us than the physical world--not that I can explain it.

Maybe you love someone a lot, and that person also loves you a lot, and you can maybe tell, even while separated, that that person has some need or is maybe even calling for you? Well, God loves us and His saints love us, and the love we have for them as members of the same family is one thing that connects us in an even stronger way than with our loved ones still on earth.

Hope this isn't too campy.

#3 Kyrill Bolton

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 01:33 PM

I hesitate somewhat to add to this thread but self-control has never been my strong suit. I do not know of any writings that specifically addresses your question. In accepting the question I state that this is 'beyond my pay grade' and certainly beyond my spiritual development. Having said that I will share my metaphor which I repeat has no real basis.

When one prays with the mind in the heart, (see The Art of Prayer or similar writings) the words forming the thought pattern (i.e. the prayer) enter the soul from the mind, in the soul the thought pattern is 'decoded' from worldly content and 'encoded' into some sort of heavenly language (as maybe St. Paul was writing about in I Corinthians).

After being encoded the message passes into our spirit which is the connection to the heavenly realm. This realm is not another dimension but rather a "separate reality." Here the message is available to the recipient. As to how the 'recipient' gets my specific message I don't have a metaphor nor have I found that I have a need to understand this unknown.

Coming, also, out of a Protestant past I struggled (and at times still struggle) with Saints hearing my prayers. I know the teaching that they do just not the mechanism as to how. My questions and concerns come more from my western 'prove to me' mind-set than from needing to unlearn some other doctrine. I will say that with patience (also lacking in me) my struggle with this has greatly abated.

I share my construct not holding that it has any validity but rather to say that real or not it aids me by bringing to my consciousness the need to enter my heart before praying (or to even think that my prayer is in any manner transmitted without proper preparation on my part. )

This is even more campy that Eric's post. My prayers for you in your journey to Orthodoxy, my advice: Just live it.

#4 Alice

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 03:34 PM

I like to think of the Saints as our Heavenly friends--knowing that I cannot comprehend the spiritual realm/dimension, but knowing without a shadow of a doubt of their intercessions. For instance, do you know that many times when a prayer is answered by a saint your have been praying to, that the answer comes on that saint's Feast day!
They do this, to let us know, in our mere earthly knowledge, that God answered the prayer request you had through their intercessions!

How can we explain the heavenly realm/dimension? How can we explain why those saints of Mt. Athos who have achieved Theosis, can bi-locate themselves to locations across the globe in order to help a soul in need? If such a thing can be done by a living person who has achieved the holiness/theosis of the great Saints while still on earth, how much more can this person when finally becoming a Saint in the Heavenly realm, do miraculous things for us who pray to them? I suppose the simplest answer is pure LOVE for others.

(I am presently reading a very good book about a saintly Elder of Serbia, named Thaddeus, who reposed just ten years ago, and he talks about much of this. The name of the book is 'Our Thoughts Determine our Lives'... We have such amazing books translated into English these days with the verbatim explanations, situations, and conversations of these profound spiritual mysteries by living Saints of our times who have only recently reposed...Elder Porphyrios, Elder Paisios, Elder Thaddeus, Father Arseny, etc...my suggestion is to read these books and the understanding of the spiritual, mystical world of the Church will become more understandable.)

#5 Paul Cowan

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 12:22 AM

I hope this thread maybe of value here.

Paul

#6 Dan L.

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 01:57 PM

The thread that you posted, Paul, is very enlightening. Thank you for that link. Not only did it address my question very well, it also had a great discussion on icons and miracles that I was also wondering about. Thank you everyone for your wisdom. I feel as if there is so much wisdom in the Church and I have so little...




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