Monday, November 15, 2010

Elder Paisios Responds to Protestant Inquiries On Saints and Icons


Question: The Lord taught us to pray to God the Father. The Orthodox Church prays to the Theotokos and the Saints who were people. Is this correct?

Answer: Listen, all prayers go to God. We pray to the Panagia and the Saints, that is, we request that they pray also to the Lord for us; their prayer has great power.

Question: Yes, but the Panagia and the Saints were people and they died. They do not hear us, nor are they present everywhere. Perhaps God is angry that we pray to them.

Answer: My child, to God no one dies. When someone dies, they died to us who still live on earth. They do not die to God. And if that person has boldness before God, they learn from Christ that we are requesting their prayers, though Christ listens and rejoices. The prayer of the righteous has great power.

Question: The Lord says: 'I am the Lord your God. Do not make idols or images. Do not venerate these, nor worship them, for I am the Lord your God and I am a jealous God.' The Orthodox Church venerates icons. Is this correct?

Answer: Listen, the mother who has her child in a war fears for him day and night. She has much to worry about. Suddenly she receives a letter from her child with a photo inside. When she sees it, what does she do? She takes it into her hands and kisses it, she puts it to her chest to touch her heart. So what do you think? Such a mother with such passionate desire that she has for her child, do you believe she is kissing a photograph? She believes she is kissing her child. The same is believed by those who have a passionate desire for the Panagia and the Saint they are venerating. We do not venerate icons because they are icons, but because of the Saints. And these not because they are people who exist, but because they suffered for Christ. It is true that God is jealous. Not however for His own, but for the devil. The Father is not jealous of His children. Do not worry, the Lord rejoices when He sees you honoring and loving His Mother and His Saints.

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