Cleveland Prayer Group Website

Why We Believe in Intercession?
By Very Rev. Dr. P. S. Samuel Cor-Episcopa, NY

I have been very interested in reading some of the comments about intercession. Before I go into any of those I would like to point out that some of our Orthodox brothers are misled by ideas foreign to Orthodoxy. I don't blame them. Our Church and all of us have become so secularized, and so ingrown as "Orthodox Christians, we do not study, or properly teach our members and our Children what is orthodoxy and what we believe. and new Churches with evangelistic fervor confront them with questions and "quoting the Bible, scandalize our ignorant members and tell them that they have to find everything in black and white in the Holy Bible as the basis of our faith and belief.

It is true, the Bible is inspired writing, it is true that it forms the basis for our faith and worship and so on. But, it (bible) is not like Q'uran. We don't believe that it is dictated by an angel , or that it came down from heaven. It is written by human beings, in spirit (inspired).

Now when some of the new sects talk about the Bible, it would appear that they found the Bible at the foot of the cross at the time of the crucifixion of our Lord. These gentle men picked it up right from Calvary and their elders got it straight from God Himself. These gentle men are slanderers; they are not of God, but demonic. They bear false witness against their brothers in spreading lies, blatant lies.

Mary

No Orthodox Christian, in his right mind, worships Mary, the Mother of God, No one uses her as a mediator between God and man. The Orthodox people, like any other human beings, respect their Mother and all other mothers. They respect their Lord's Mother more than any other woman in the world because they know that she gave Him a body, she carried him in her womb (for 9 months), she breast- fed Him, she taught Him the rudiments of the Jewish faith, she took him to the 'Church' as a baby and did not wait till He was old enough to discover for himself and so on.

Just like any other human being , she is requested to have a word put in to her son, whom she intimately knew and loved, on our behalf. Like a pastor or a "sister" asking another sister to remember her in her or his prayers. What on earth is wrong with it? Why do any one condemn Mary and those who respect her? It is Angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, that called her blessed and the righteous; it was Elizabeth who called her, "the Mother of My Lord," not any Orthodox member. What the Church added is "please pray for us ". That is all. What is wrong in it?

Bible

Where did we get the Holy Bible? Let these gentle men and women who mislead others go and study a little bit of history about the Bible and the early church, instead of assuming satanic role in misleading people. The Bible which Jesus used was the Old Testament. The New testament was not discovered, as I said earlier, at the foot of the Cross. The Story of Jesus was spread in preaching and in Liturgy (worship, prayer and "the breaking of the bread" and in story form).

The N.T. was produced in the latter part of the first century by THE CHURCH, the Apostles and their disciples who witnessed the resurrection and learned from those who have had first hand information about the life , work and the passion, resurrection of Our Lord. So it is the early Church which produced the Bible and decided what are the true genuine books to be listed in its "Canon". So naturally the Church which produced it is supposed to interpret and decide what is right and what is wrong. Taking passages from here and there out of context, to establish ones own point of view is like the devil quoting the scriptures and it should be given the same treatment as given by Our Lord.

It is our own fault, and why should we blame any one. We are not willing to take time to learn the Bible and understand the faith which we hold dear to us.

Saints

We don't pray to the saints. We don't worship them. We are taught and we know that they are sinful men like us. They have lived an acceptable life of piety, prayer and fasting and in communion with God. They have been purified by God because of their repentance and tears of remorse. They have access to God like any other believer and like, we call upon or request our friends and brothers and sisters to remember us in their prayers, we beseech and request the saints who have been perfected by God and who have a better standing than we have, we request them to join us in prayers with us to the Only Mediator and our Lord. What is wrong with that?

Death and Living

Intecessonary prayer is alright as long as it is to the living. So this means that some of us do not know what is dying and what is concept of Death and Life.

We believe that God is the source of all life. He gives life and man becomes a living person. This we see in Genesis in the creation story. God created Adam from the dust of the earth, in the image and likeness of God. He became a living being only after God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. He became a living soul. So there is an earthly element (the body) and a divine element in Man (soul).

Even medical Doctors can not say with certainty whether a person is dead and actually what time he/she dies. Is it when the heart stops? No. Is it when the pulse stops? No! Or is it when he/she stops functioning? No. So what is death from a medical point of view? We Christians believe that a man dies when his body and his soul separate from one another, to "breathe last." The earthly body remains down here, and becomes dust again. The soul which is alive and goes to some place (let us say for now) It can be in paradise like that of the thief, it can be in sheol like that of the rich man and so on.

Let us go back to Adam Story. God told him not to eat of the fruit of the tree that was in the middle of the garden, and if he ate, he would die. We know that Adam ate the fruit, and, as God said, he died. The story continues. God comes down in the cool of the day for an evening walk and Adam was not around as usual. So not finding Adam He calls him and enquires, "where art thou?"

Surprisingly enough, Adam was not "dead" and he answers God! Was Adam living or dead? Did God tell a lie? what was the meaning of God saying that "You would die"? Was it a physical death or a spiritual death?

In Jewish concept there are two kinds of death. One is physical death, and they used to say "he joined his fathers" for this death. The other death is spiritual death, which happened to Adam after eating the fruit. He said he was hiding behind the trees, he could not face up and come in the presence of God and he had to hide, there was a wall of partition between him and God. So the very same place "paradise" became Hell for Adam after his fall. The only difference is in his condition of whether he can have full communion with God or not. There is God's presence even in Hell, the only thing is that man cannot turn to God in hell, but in paradise or heaven, man is in the presence of God enjoying the bliss in full communion with God.

So Now let us decide what is death ? When some one dies, it is physical death and that he/she is not "dead" but entering into a new life. This is why the Orthodox people uses the word 'departing' for physical dying, so not to confuse. So our friend who insisted that the saints or a faithful believer is dead, he means that his physical body has separated from his soul, which continues to live, as the soul of the thief went to paradise with our Lord.

Read about the worship that goes on in heaven in the book of Revelations (Chapter 4). Or as some one quoted the story of the rich man and Lazarus. What sort of picture do we get about the people who died and went to heaven (Abraham's bosom) Abraham is a "dead man." He is speaking to the rich man who is also 'dead'! How does the rich man know about the condition of his relatives 'living' on earth? Why should the rich man beg Abraham to help his relatives. How does Abraham know what is happening down on earth?

Was not the rich man interceding on behalf of his living relatives? How does one explain this phenomenon? Abraham, while living in Palestine, interceded on behalf of Sodom (his nephew Lot) that is perfectly O.K. But after he has passed from this life into a new life with the Lord, he should not intercede for any one ?

According to the Orthodox belief (based on scriptures) Those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son Of Man, will have eternal life. They never die. They live for ever. So the Orthodox people have a prayer in their Liturgy for the departed 'show mercy to the departed because Your Body and blood are in their organs" Those who have participated in the Body and Blood of our Lord never 'die", they abide in the Lord as a 'branch of the Vine' and the life of the Lord flows through them and they live for ever.

So the departed ones ARE NOT DEAD. THEY LIVE FOR EVER. THEY ARE NOT silent. THEY WORSHIP GOD, THEY OFFER INCENSE, THEY SING LIKE THE LIVING ONES DO ON THIS EARTH DURING THEIR WORSHIP. THEY CAN PRAY AND NATURALLY THEY CAN INTERCEDE, THOUGH THEY ARE NOT TAKING THE PLACE OF OUR LORD.

Our faith is truly Biblical, passed down to us from the Apostles and we are the Church of the Apostles with a true understanding of the faith of the Apostles and the fathers. We are proud of our heritage and we are not apologetic about it at all. Only those who have been misled by the new teachings should go back and learn our faith and our practices and see how majestic, wonderful and heavenly they are. Ours is the true faith based on the teachings of the Apostles as instructed by Christ and recorded in the Holy Bible: the O.T, the Bible of our Lord and the N.T , the Bible about our Lord.

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