Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Praying to the Saints

Since I’m thinking of St. Kendeas today, it’s probably a good time to share some thoughts on another Orthodox practice that leaves Protestants scratching their heads.  Why do they do that?  Don’t they know we can speak directly to God without going through any intercessors?
Well, yes, we do know that.  We pray to God directly all the time:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner... among other prayers.  Like Protestants, we also ask our church family, friends, or other christians to remember our loved ones in prayer circles.  Why do we ALL do that?  Why do we ask others to pray for us if we alone can speak directly to God?   1 Timothy 2 speaks to this.  St. Paul urges that “entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.”  
Just as we ask our loved ones on earth to pray for us, so too, do we ask the prayers of the saints, who are alive in Christ, members of the Church Triumphant (2 Corinthians 5:8 says when we are absent in the body, we are then present with the Lord.)  Death is no defeat for the Christian! Why would Christians stop praying for one another because they have crossed over to the Kingdom of Heaven?  Jesus is there interceding for us (Romans 8:34) and Revelation 5 tells us of the prayers of the saints in heaven.  
It’s really as simple as that.  
Back to St. Kendeas.  He is a little known saint from the small island of Cyprus, although that may be changing in America thanks to Chrissi Hart.  She is the author of Under the Grapevine:  A Miracle by Saint Kendeas of Cyprus.   In her book, she recounts the true story of how her grandmother was helped and healed by God through this Wonder-Working Saint.  It is a beautiful story and I encourage you to add this title to your bookshelf.  My children love the story and so do I.    I think of St. Kendeas and ask his prayers for my niece because I know he has care for the little ones, for those who are ill and love Jesus Christ.  

Icon of St. Kendeas, Wonder-Working Saint of Cyprus
(lived between the 7th and 10th century)

Troparion (a special hymn composed for this saint on his feast day - Oct. 6)
Having hallowed through struggles the Jordan wilderness and the island of Cyprus,  You shone out upon all through remarkable battles as a fixed star.  
Therefore, having seen the fullness of your wonders, O God-bearing Kendeas, we lift our voices:  
Glory to You, O Christ, through him who extols.  
Glory to You through him who magnifies.  
Glory to the One who through you heals illnesses for all.

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