Canonization of Saints - Main Idea behind the Process
In the Orthodox Christian Church Saints are believed to be selected by God and that Christ lives through them.
Through the Holy Spirit, Saints affect the lives of thousands of individuals every day.
Their own personal lives and tribulations are to show the Faithful that they too can overcome difficulties and draw nearer to Christ.
Christ is the lamp that came from the Heavens to cast a radiant light across a world full of shadows and darkened hues. This is the light that all Christians are called to become. A radiant beam that displays God for all the world to see, even in the midst of the storms. There are those, for reasons only known by God and Christ, who have been set aside for greater things. These individuals are called to exist at a higher level, and or to suffer at a higher level, than many are. They inspire, educate, and lead the weary through the life they have been called to live. Their grace and dignity in which they have lived their faith screams loudly for a lost world to recognize and honor. One of the greatest recognition bestowed on any of the Faithful would be that as a Saint.
In the Orthodox Faith, there are specific qualifications that an individual must pass before they can be elevated to the Glorification of Sainthood. The first is that the individual is deceased, and was an active member of the Orthodox Church. Unlike that of the Roman Catholic Church there is not a requirement for the act of miracles, but a large number of Saints are attributed with conducting miracles. Typically, the individual is recognized in the local community for how they had lived their lives and the way that they had demonstrated their Orthodox Faith. As people in the community revere the individual, Bishops will meet to pray and reflect on information regarding the individuals life. After careful examination of the individuals life and faith, if there is an agreement among the Bishops that veneration is deemed, then the individual is to be canonized.
With Canonization, a full liturgical cycle is preformed for their honor and a hymn and icon
are established. The process usually occurs over several days, focusing on prayer. One of the most significant concepts to note is that the days of prayer begin with praying for the individual, but by the end of the process the prayers are offered to the Saint.
Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra, Mount Athos is one of the more noted authorities regarding Saints and the Orthodox Church. One of the passages in his book; The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, explains eloquently the importance of honoring and drawing near to these individuals that have been touched by God. He states, "If we live with all the saints (Eph. 3:18) by attentively reading their lives each day as we walk in the spiritual garden of Synaxarion, we shall discover little by little those whom our heart especially goes out to. They will become our close friends in whom we love to confide our joys and sorrows; whose lives we love to read time and time again, as well as to chant their troparia and to venerate their icons
. These close friends will be the guides of our choice and a great comfort to us along the straight and narrow way that leads to Christ."
In the Orthodox Church the Saints are individuals that are believed to have Christ, himself residing in them by the Holy Spirit. It is not the individual themselves, but Christ that performs the miracles, and leads to the path of spiritual growth. Saints are believed to be set aside by Christ, to help individuals on their personal walk in faith. On understanding the importance of Saints and personal faith Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra explained; "when we stumble through sin, they will raise us up again. When we are tempted to give up hope, they will remind us that they have suffered for Christ before us, and more than us, and they are now the possessors of unending joy." Blessed be the Saints, and their amazing dedication to Christ!
"Canonization" n.d. Retrieved on May 25th, 2009 from Academic dictionaries and encyclopedias
Archimandrite Cyprian (1996). "A Few Remarks on the Traditional Procedures for the Recognition of Saints in Orthodoxy." Retrieved on May 25th, 2009 from Orthodox Christian Information Center.
Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra, Mount Athos. (1996). "Introduction to The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church." Retrieved on May 25th, 2009 from Orthodox Christian Information Center.
Schroedel, Jenny. (2005) The Everything Saints Book: The inspiring lives of martyrs and miracle workers throughout history. Chapter: "Canonization in the Eastern Orthodox Church."
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