My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS ARE OUR
INSPIRATION AND EDIFICATION
"Glorify God in His Saints" (Psalm 150:1)
"Who could number the "cloud of witnesses’ (Hebrew 12:1) that surrounds us? Who could name each one of the "living" who with Christ, through Christ, and in Christ have triumphed over death and have access to the Throne of God, the Saints in whom the Lord rejoices (Isaiah 41:16) and takes his rest (Isaiah 57:15)
They have become fellow-citizens with the Angels and brethren of Christ. Like diamonds and all precious stones, they refract the light, sending forth everywhere in many-colored beams the peerless light of the Threefold Sun… The Saints who shine the divine light have become gods by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to the extent that "baptized into Christ they put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). To the extent that they have taken up their cross with Christ (Matthew 16:24), so as to crucify in themselves the "old man" (Romans 6:6), full of passions, sins, and all uncleanness, they have been able to share also in the glory fo Christ’s Resurrection. By partaking in Christ’s Passion through martyrdom, ascesis, tears, and practice of all the evangelic virtues, the Saints have overcome death with Him. They are henceforth "alive to God" (Romans 6:11), for Christ has made His abode with them. "I have been crucified with Christ," they cry; "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). Christ has ascended into Heaven, yet He has not abandoned the Church on earth; Christ has ascended into Heaven, but He has sent us the Holy Spirit Who makes all the Saints "christs," gods by Grace. "The work of our Lord Jesus Christ and even His Person, at once Divine and human, are recapitulated and extended in the Church by the Lives of the Saints through the action of the Holy Spirit."
Some people, whose minds and hearts are insensible to the spiritual life, are bored by the lives of the Saints.’It’s always the same story’, they say. Indeed, it is always the same story of Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Virgins, and holy lay people in centuries past. All of them have had a heart on fire with love for the Lord and have partaken in His Sacrifice by the freewill offering of themselves so as to have a share in His Resurrection. All of them have been baptized into His death by the baptism of water, by the baptism of blood, by the baptism of tears, to make a way within themselves for the new life of the Spirit that "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6) may dwell in their hearts and overspread their bodies.
The Saints live in Christ Jesus, and Christ lives in them. He repeats without ceasing, in the Saints, even to the end of the world., the unique mystery of His death and of His Resurrection, of the Incarnation of God and of the deification (theosis) of man.
The Saints do the work of Christ because by faith and grace they are united to Him. It is Christ Himself, dwelling in them by the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:10), who works miracles, converts, idolaters, reveals the hidden wisdom of spiritual knowledge, reconciles enemies, and fortifies the bodies of His Saints to meet the most dreadful torments with joy; so that the Gospel continues to be written, even to this day through the evangelic labors of the Saints. Thus, whether near at hand or far away, whether ancient or modern, the Saints are trustworthy guides to Christ Who dwells in them. "Be ye, imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1), the Saints say to us with Saint Paul. If we want to make the image of Christ shine within us, we must often cast our eyes upon the Saints to find real, practical examples of how to live. We ought to look on the lives of the Saints in a similar way. By reading and comparing them, we will learn how to move forward in the life in Christ.
If we live "with the Saints" (Ephesians 3:18) by attentively reading their lives each day as we walk in the spiritual garden of the Synaxarion, we shall discover little by little those whom our heart especially goes out to. They weill become our close friends in whom we love to confide our joys and sorrows, whose lives we love to read time and again, as well as to chant their hymns and to venerate their holy icons.
We have three ways of bringing the Saints daily into our spiritual lives, by chanting the hymns and church services dedicated to them, by venerating their holy icons and by reading their lives in the Synaxarion. Christians who live in the world may not be able to go to church every day to chant the praises of the Saints but, whether alone or in the family, everyone can chant the troparion (hymn) of the Saint of the day, everyone can venerate the holy icon, everyone can devote a few minutes to reading the life of the Saint. Blessed is he who is able, every day, to read the Life of the Saint whom the Church commemorates.
Saint Symeon the Metraphrastes stated: "The lives and praises of the Saint are like the stars in brilliance. Because of their number, we do not know the names of all the Saints; still, they amaze us by their radiant majesty, as do the stars, which while fixed in their position in the heavens, illumine all that is below, being seen by the Indians, yet not concealed from the Scythians, shining upon the land and guiding by their light those at sea. Similarly, the radiance of the Saints, though their holy relics be entombed in sepulchers, is not bounded by the ends of this earth here below. Therefore, we marvel of their lives and are amazed at how God has glorified them that please Him."
It is imperative that the Orthodox Christian study and contemplate the Lives of the Saints. Today more than ever before Christians need spiritual role models to imitate and be inspired by their exemplary holy life. The Saints of the Church are comprised of devout men, women, and children who made the ultimate sacrifice for our Savior Jesus Christ.
Now, more then ever before, Christian believers, need to follow the good example of the Saints by emulating their godly, righteous, virtuous, pious, and humble lives. When we stumble through sin, they will raise us up again, when we are tempted to give up hope, they will remind us that they have suffered for Christ before us, and more than us; and that they are now the possessors of unending joy. The Saints never considered themselves as exraordinary or holy. They understood themselves to be ordinary believers, and followers of Christ, in other words, people like you, and me, who are willing to die for Christ.
Christian persecution has continued for centuries, and it seems, quite certain, that it will ever cease. The pressing question is however, wll we be strong enough to suffer the horific tortures suffered by them? Will we have the faith and the courage to sacrifice everything for Christ’s sake? We won’t know this of course until the hour of our martyrdom is at hand. (Source: The Synaxarion. The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church)
THROUGH THE PRAYERS OF THE HOLY THEOTOKOS, THE HOLY APOSTLES, OUR HOLY FATHERS, OUR HOLY MOTHERS, HOLY MARTYRS, AND HOLY CONFESSORS, O LORD JESUS CHRIST, HAVE MERCY ON US, AND SAVE US. AMEN.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostom
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George