How to Approach the Saints

Archpriest Alexei Uminsky | 29 October 2012

Icons grant help; miracles exist. I myself have repeatedly witnessed remarkable miracles from saints and their relics or from other manifestations of their holiness left to us as their legacy. But it seems to me that we approach saints for some kind of miracle, completely ignoring the fact that he or she came to resemble Christ. But this is not what we need: we need to have some portion of our needs met by them. The saints themselves are of no concern.

The impression exists that the Blessed Matrona is just waiting to have as many candles as possible placed before her, as if she lived on these candles. Or someone is just waiting to bring even more flowers to a reliquary. What does this have to do with the saint’s life, if people come to him with prayer or simply with requests, given that they often do not understand what prayer is? “Give me! Give me!” What kind of prayer is this?

After all, if we look at the litanies – at what we say “grant this” about – we ask for a righteous death, for a good account at the judgment seat of Christ. We ask for things that have nothing to do with “give this to me now.” We ask for something entirely different. At the end of the litanies we say we that commit our whole lives unto Christ God: all that is mine is Thine.

Of course, we give thanks to God and the saints for having left us signs of their resemblance to Christ and the signs of what a person who comes to resemble Christ can become. What riches man can attain if he is not afraid to receive God’s gift while saying: “I only need this; the rest I do not need”! The saints show us how rich man can grow in God. These are their riches, their riches in Christ, which reveal the signs of their resemblance to Christ.

But if we see their riches apart from their lives, and we simply need to drag something away from them, to get it and nothing more – then we are misunderstanding something and acting like pagans, for instance. They also have their revered sites. Hindus in India have a multitude of places of pilgrimage, a multitude of places where their gurus live, whom they believe to be saints; there are a multitude of places to which they flock to get something for themselves. In Islam as well there are a multitude of revered places and Islamic shrines to which they go. The meaning, the inner urge and motivation are one and the same in India, in Mecca, and in the Monastery of the Protection. Basically speaking, in most cases.

 

Transcribed by Tamara Amelina.

Translated from the Russian

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