Relics. The Saints Are Alive!
By Abbot Tryphon, October 19, 2019
The place of holy relics in the Orthodox Church
Because of the revolution during the period of the Protestant Reformation, the veneration of the saints, came under attack, leading to the burning of the bodies of saints, depriving them of even a Christian burial, and thus leading to perhaps the worst sin of iconoclasm. We see a continuation of this iconoclasm demonstrated by our fear of the dead by our avoidance of even the tradition of Christian burial. Increasingly we choose to cremate the remains of our loved ones, thus denying the truth that we were created in God’s image and likeness. This leads to most Americans looking upon the Orthodox practice of giving the “last kiss” to our loved ones, prior to their burial, with revulsion. We even avoid the subject of death by having their remains cremated, without even gazing, one last time, upon our dead.
Given all this, is it any wonder our Orthodox practice of venerating the relics of those whom the Church has declared as saints, is looked upon as repulsive? The number of times I’ve heard people proclaim the myth that relics of the True Cross are so numerous as to be enough to build a ship, is sickening, whereas the actual count wouldn’t even be enough to reconstruct one cross.
That there is clear evidence for us to venerate the relics of the saints is made clear in Scripture (see 2 Kings 13:21), yet this ancient practice of venerating the relics of saints is hidden from most members of the “denominations”, all the while as we Orthodoxy continue to testify our faithfulness to this ancient Christian Tradition.
Just as we Orthodox realize the benefit of receiving the blessing of a priest, or the spiritual benefit of kissing the icon of a saint, we recognize the grace-filled blessing that comes to us when we venerate the relics of the saints.
With love in Christ,
~Abbot Tryphon, The Morning Offering, https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2019/10/relics/
By Abbot Tryphon, October 24, 2019
The Saints are alive! And we therefore have friends in high places
The saints show us what a glorious destiny we have in God, and through the example of their lives, they point the way to our becoming “partakers of divine nature.” The saints, as the cloud of witnesses in heaven, are present in the divine services, worshiping the Holy Trinity with us. They, as our friends, intercede before the Throne of God on our behalf, having won the good fight, and we are encouraged by the memory and example of their lives, as we struggle on our own path to God.
When we place vigil lights placed before the icons of the saints, according to Saint Symeon the New Theologian, we are showing that without the Light, Who is Christ, the saints are nothing. It is only as the light of Christ shines on them that they become alive and resplendent.
It has been said that there are two kinds of people in the world: sinners who think they are saints, and saints who know they are sinners. A saint is a Christian who lets God’s light shine through, and whose life has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We venerate the Saints as we seek their intercession with God, but we adore and worship only God in Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We venerate the Images (Icons) as well as the relics of the saints and martyrs. Yet according to the decisions and Canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, this veneration relates not to the icons as such, but to their prototypes, or to the persons whom they represent.
The interior walls of our temples are adorned with the icons and frescoes of the saints as a reminder that we are surrounded by the cloud of witnesses, the saints, and that the Church Militant (here on earth) is not separated from the Church Triumphant (in heaven). In Christ, death does not divide us, for the saints are not dead, but alive in Christ Jesus.
Glory to Jesus Christ, Who is glorified in His saints.
With love in Christ,
~Abbot Tryphon, The Morning Offering, https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2019/10/the-saints-are-alive/