The Saints: our living helpers and friends
By Abbot Tryphon
“According to St. Symeon the New Theologian, vigil lights are placed before the icons of the saints as a way of showing that without the light, who is Christ, the saints are nothing. It is only as the Light of Christ shines upon them that they have become alive and resplendent.
“The saints show us what a glorious destiny we have in God. Through the example of their lives, they point the way to our becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) The saints, as the cloud of witnesses in heaven, are present in the divine services, worshipping 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. [The icons at the top represent the “cloud of witnesses” – a reminder that the saints are always with us.]
“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. Saints are Christians who let God’s light shine through them and whose lives have 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 – to the persons they represent.
“The interior walls of our temples are adorned with icons of the saints as a reminder that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses* (Hebrews 12:1) – 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.”
From The Morning Offering by Abbot Tryphon. This is a book of daily readings that will help you “keep yourself oriented toward Christ all throughout the day.” It is available in our bookstore.
The Very Rev. Fr. Tryphon is abbot of All-Merciful Savior Monastery on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound.