May 22, 2015

Holy Relics and Pastoral Theology

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Orthodox Church is a "laboratory of the resurrection," and it can even be said that it is a laboratory of sacred relics.

The revelation and manifestation of God offered to the saints takes place through deification. A person receives the revelation after participating in the uncreated deifying energy of God. Therefore, revelation is very closely associated with the deification of a person. The highest degree of divine revelation is Pentecost. When a person arrives at deification, they become entirely deified, in both soul and body, which is why we have the existence of grace-bestowing and incorrupt relics. The sacred, incorrupt and wonderworking relics certify the truth of the revelation and the experience of deification.

It is very typical that when visiting the monasteries of Mount Athos, one will find that the greatest act of kindness displayed by monastics is the offer to embrace sacred relics. Even the smallest cell of Mount Athos has sacred relics. And when you visit them you are first led to the sacred church to embrace them, since they are the greatest inheritance and blessing of the hut.

The presence of the Grace of God in sacred relics is manifested in various ways. Sometimes they are incorrupt, sometimes they give off a fragrance, sometimes they exude an oily myrrh substance, sometimes they work miracles, etc. These things are felt by those who have faith and pure spiritual senses.

From the book The Person in the Orthodox Church. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.