Why Are There Saints in the Orthodox Church?
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Orthodox Christians often celebrate the lives of various saints. They’re often mentioned during church services and their icons are often on display in various places throughout the church. Many Orthodox Christians are even named after saints! Who are the saints exactly and why do we honor them in the Orthodox Church?
Sainthood is a Gift
According to Webster’s Dictionary, a saint is “a person who is officially recognized by the Christian Church as being very holy because of the way he or she lived.” The Orthodox Church maintains that there is only one who is truly holy and that is God. That is why the church looks at sainthood as a gift that is given to a human being by God through the Holy Spirit. In other words, these individuals are honored as saints because they lived their lives in an exceptionally holy way and they serve as examples to others as to how Christians should truly live their lives.
Christians Are Saints
Technically speaking, all Christians can be called saints, as long as they received the Holy Spirit through Holy Chrism and were baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. In this way, each Orthodox Christian has become “sanctified” or made holy, through these gifts. This was especially true in the early days of the church when the word “Saint” actually meant “Believer”. However, in today’s terminology, saints are different from every day folk because the church has made a special effort to honor them.
Types of Saints
However, the Orthodox Church has gotten away from calling all Christians saints. This term is largely reserved for a select group of people who led exceptionally holy lives. Here are the categories as to the types of saints that can be found in the Greek Orthodox Church:
- Apostles. These individuals are mentioned in the Holy Bible and were the first to spread the news about Jesus Christ. The term “apostle” and “disciple” are used interchangeably. However, Judas isn’t really considered an Apostle since he is the one who betrayed Jesus.
- Prophets. Some of the saints were considered prophets. One of the best examples of a saint who was a prophet was John the Baptist because he preached to crowds about Christ’s true identity of being the Son of God.
- Martyrs. These are people who valiantly lost their lives because they were Christians. Saint Catherine, for example, is considered a Holy Martyr because she died because of her faith.
- Church Fathers. Church Fathers came about in the early days of the church. They are known for being exceptionally wise and devout and their teachings are still adhered to today. Saint John Climacus, who wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent, is an example of a church father.
- Monastics. These are saints who lived their lives in solitude in order to live holy lives and contemplate the existence of God. Many of them wrote, prophesied, and prayed diligently. They’re a model example of true holiness.
- Just. All other saints are called “the Just” because, even though they weren’t martyrs, monastics, or church fathers, they lived exceptionally holy lives.
By studying whom the saints were, Orthodox Christians can better understand what it truly means to be holy.
Categorized in: Religion
This post was written by GreekBoston.com