On Saints and Intercession
- --- In SOR-Forum@egroups.com, maurnicus@a... wrote:
> Grace and peace be with all,
> I know we have many mutual saits with our roman catholic brethren..
> but naturally after the schism, we recognize many different saints.
> What is our view on Roman Catholic Saints? Is devotion to any of
> them allowed?
I think it is relevant to discuss the question of who is a saint and
consider why the sainthood of a person may matter to us.
In Syriac, the saints are the "qaddishe" or the holy--ones whose
lives on earth were marked with holiness. A saint is also one who
offers a model of Christian life for others to emulate. They are
visible symbols of how mortals can rise above the sinful nature that
we inherited through the first Adam and gain redemption in the second
Adam--Lord Jesus Christ. To the extent that one offers a model of
exemplary Christian life, he or she becomes a saint in our sight.
But the Church also recognizes that the saints, however holy, were
also mortals born with a sinful nature. Prayers commemorating the
saints and seeking their intercession often ask of God to forgive
their shortcomings in this world.
The Syriac Orthodox Church has no rigorous procedure of elevating a
person to sainthood, as in the Roman Catholic Church; rather the
popular recognition of a person's holiness leads the Church to
consider him or her a saint. In the early Church, the names of the
righteous were recorded in a Book of Life. The practice evolved into
the diptychs, read during the liturgy of the divine mysteries. In the
Syriac Orthodox Church, different versions of the diptychs evolved in
different monasteries and regions, commemorating saints recognized
locally, along with the universally acknowledged saints. Perhaps the
only formal elements of the Church's recognition of a person's
sainthood is in the inclusion of the name in the diptychs and in the
permission to use the hymns of devotion to saints (Quqalyon -
Zadeeqé) during commemorations and at the tomb.
In our weak and sinful nature, we ask for the intercession of others
in the presence of God. The Church consists of all the faithful--both
living and departed. Thus, we may ask for the intercession of the
living or of the faithful departed. We are not limited in whose
intercession we may seek. Obviously, the intercession of one who is
holy in God's sight is superior to that of one less worthy. Hence, we
commonly ask for intercession of those the Church considers saints.
Given the above, I don't believe that the doctrines of the Church
prevent a Syriac Orthodox Christian from attributing sainthood to or
seeking the intercession of a Roman Catholic who happened to live in
the time following the schism. However, if such a person promoted
views contrary to the teachings of the Syriac Orthodox Church during
his or her life on earth, then the Church could not consider them a
model for exemplary Christian life.
In the love of our Lord,
(Disclaimer: Having had no formal training in the doctrines of the
Syriac Orthodox Church, I speak with no authority in these matters.
I ask for correction if I have erred.)