My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.
HONORING AND VENERATING THE HOLY RELICS OF
OUR SAINTS, THE PRICELESS TREASURE OF OUR
HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH
"And the Logos/Word became flesh
and dwelt among us, and we beheld
His glory, the glory as of the only-
begotten of the Father, full of grace
and truth" (St. John 1:14).
The above verse taken from John 1:14 speaks about the humanity or human nature of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Logos/Word became man without ceasing to be fully God: the mystery of God Incarnate. By His Incarnation, matter has been magnified with Divine glory. "God has become flesh, has become human so that the ENTIRE MAN, THE ENTIRE BODY, MIGHT BE FILLED WITH God. and with His miracle-working forces and powers. In the God-Man, the Lord Christ, and His Body, all matter has been set on a path toward Christ – the path of theosis (deification), transfiguration, sanctification, resurrection, and ascent to an eternal glory surpassing that of the Cherubim…Through its Divine and human existence in the Church, the HUMAN BODY, AS MATTER, AS SUBSTANCE, IS SANCTIFIED by the Holy Spirit and in this way PARTICIPATES IN THE LIFE OF THE HOLY TRINITY. MATTER THUS ATTAINS ITS TRANSCENDENT, DIVINE MEANING AND GOAL, ITS ETERNAL BLESSEDNESS AND ITS IMMORTAL JOY IN THE God-Man." (Saint Justin Popovich)
According to Saint Justin, "The holiness of the Saints, both the holiness of their souls and of their bodies derives from their zealous grace-and virtue-bestowing lives in the Body of the Church of Christ, of the God-Man. In this sense, HOLINESS COMPLETELY ENVELOPES THE HUMAN BODY. THE HOLINESS OF THE SAINTS DOES NOT HOLD FORTH ONLY IN THEIR SOULS, BUT IT NECESSARILY EXTENDS TO THEIR BODIES; SO IT IS BOTH THE BODY AND THE SOUL OF A SAINT ARE SANCTIFIED. Thus we, in piously VENERATING THE Sins, also VENERATE THE ENTIRE PERSON, IN THIS MANNER NOT SEPARATING THE HOLY SOUL FROM THE HOLY BODY. Our pious veneration of the Saints’ holy relics is A NATURAL PART OF OUR PIOUS RESPECT FOR AND PRAYERFUL ENTREATY TO THE SAINTS."
"Clearly", writes Saint Justin, "during his life on earth, the Saint, by A CONTINUOUS AND SINGULAR GRACE-AND VIRTUE-BESTOWING SYNERGY OF SOUL AND BODY, ATTAINS TO THE SANCTIFICATION OF HIS PERSON, FILLING BOTH THE SOUL AND BODY WITH THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SO TRANSFORMING THEM INTO VESSELS OF THE HOLY MYSTERIES AND HOLY VIRTUES… Establishing themselves in the Holy Spirit through grace-bestowing ascetic labors, the Saints PARTICIPATE IN THE LIFE OF THE HOLY TRINITY, BECOMING sons of the Holy Trinity, temples of the Living God (2 Corinthians 6:16); THEIR WHOLE LIVES THUS FLOW FROM THE Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit."
By piously venerating the holy relics of the Saints, the Church reveres them as temples of the Holy Spirit, temples of the Living God, in which God dwells by Grace even after the earthly death of the Saints. And by His most wise and good will, God creates miracles in and through these holy relics. Moreover, the miracles which derive from the holy relics, and there are numerous, WITNESS ALSO TO THE FACT THAT THEIR PIOUS VENERATION BY THE FAITHFUL IS PLEASING TO GOD.
The pious veneration of holy relics is nothing new or unprecedented but originated from Divine Revelation. We see in the Old Testament God ordained to celebrate with miracles the holy relics of righteous people who were pleasing to Him. Thus, by THE TOUCH of this Prophet Elisea, a dead man was resurrected. The tomb and bones of this Prophet, who had prophesied to Jeroboam the destruction of idolatrous altars, were greatly revered in Judea. The Patriarch Joseph also left a testament to the sons of Israel to preserve his bones in Egypt and, during their exodus, to carry them to the promised land (Genesis 50:25).
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came to deify and to make Christ-like the entire human being, both the soul and body, and this by the resurrection, insuring thereby victory over death and eternal life. The Resurrection hymn chanted at Pascha reinforces this, "Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling upon Death, and has BESTOWED Life to those in the tombs." And the holy Apostle Paul adds, "And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!… But he who is joined to the Lord IS ONE SPIRIT WITH Him… For you were BOUGHT AT A PRICE; THEREFORE GLORIFY GOD IN YOUR BODY AND IN YOUR SPIRIT, WHICH ARE GOD’S" (1 Corinthians 6:14-20).
The holy Apostle of the Nations Paul emphatically reminds us all that "the body", our body, belongs to God not as people today contend that the body is their own and can use it anyway they determine to use it. "It’s my body," they say, and "I can use it as I desire." They even consider the baby inside of them as part of their body and can be aborted, kill it, at will. The Christian believer believes that the body belongs to God, the Creator of the body. The body, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, is sacred, and CANNOT be used as an instrument of sin and abuse. Therefore, we are commanded to treat our body with reverence and to keep it holy and pure. This is one of the reasons why our Holy Orthodox Church teaches abstinence from "foods" is the first discipline of the Fast, which also includes prayer and almsgiving. Outside the Great Orthodox Cathedral of Agia Sophia, there was a fountain and the inscription on it for the faithful to see and read was, Nipson anomemata, me monon opsi. In other words "wash away your transgressions, not only your face," before they entered the holy church and participated in the Divine Eucharist.
We must never forget, as Saint Pauls says, that our bodies are "members of Christ" 12:20, "But now indeed there are many members, YET ONE BODY." And immediately following the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Holy Baptism we chant: "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." Saint John Chrysostom adds: "We have many improper wishes, but we must repress them, for we can."
I concur with Saint Paul when he says to the Thessalonians: "Therefore, brethren, STAND FAST AND HOLD THE TRADITIONS WHICH YOU HAVE TAUGHT, WHETHER IN WORD OR OUR EPISTLE" (2 Thessalonians 2:15)..
"Glory Be To GOD