There are many jewels in the Orthodox Church Faith. Intercessory prayer is one of them, which is also known to us as the Communion of the Saints. It is to remember that “Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). Church is eternal since it is built on Jesus Christ, the Son of God and this eternity is also shared by the apostles and prophets as well. By virtue of being added to the eternal Church by means of baptism, every believer has the privilege to share this eternity within the Church achieving a saintly life through prayer and spiritual discipline, however our sinfulness and frailty cause us to fail to reach sainthood. Remember that Saint Paul addresses to all the members of the individual churches as “Saints”, purportedly the goal of our call. Because of this saintly status as we have gained through baptism, we are One Body of Christ, being fellowship with one another, strengthen each other in prayer; which is a heavenly mantra or heavenly language, talking to God, and regardless of how far away we are of each other. When we are in Christ through the holy communion, we achieve the privilege of immortality, or incorruptibility of our humanity, as the salvation means the immortality of the whole person, including our body as well. Our prayer for each other, as we ask our fellow members, can continue even if we depart from this world to our heavenly abode, because it is only a change of status.
Early churches were founded in the name of the Apostles. Martyrs’ bones were gathered and kept as sacred under the altar as they were considered holy and powerful for the spiritual inspiration and empowerment of each church member. The early Church Father Tertullian says” the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. This means how powerful they were in spreading the message of endurance in suffering for Christ with love, sacrificing their life with Martyrdom. Their life is precious in the presence of God and the early church believed they pray for others every day. It was added in the Church doctrines as one of the main tenets of the Church even from 4th century. According to the earliest available document the early Church Fathers namely: Shepherd of Hermas, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen (2rd century) refer in their apologetic writings say “the saints in glory pray for us”. There was an inscription found on a tombstone from AD 300, the dead man is asked “to rest in peace and to pray for us”. All Churches, except the Protestant tradition Churches, still uphold this early practice of the intercession through the Saints, because we believe that they stay in a higher spiritual level having higher spiritual power than ours and they still can pray for us, regardless of their present status, whether alive or departed. Remember, we are not praying to the saints but praying for their intercession, means; we are praying through the saints.
Saint Stephen Pray for us!
Copyright 2020 The Saint Stephen's Orthodox Church.