Re: [SORForum] On Saints and Intercession
- I would like to thank Thomas Joseph for his thoughtful reply on the
possibility of saint in different traditions. This is a very important
topic, because the possibility of recognizing holiness in Christian
traditions other than our own is surely an important step in the process of
healing the painful divisions among those who profess Christ.
Personally, I find the evidence to be persuasive that the Roman Catholic,
Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglo-Catholic traditions (and
probably others) have all produced holy men and women. But, I am curious to
learn the official position of the Syrian Orthodox Church on this matter.
> 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,
> Thomas Joseph
> (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.)
> "Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger."
> (James 1:19)
> Syriac Orthodox Resources: http://sor.cua.edu