Monday, 10 September 2018
The Karoussos Icons 3
We have seen that we human beings take and use the things of God’s creation and fill them with meaning. And we have seen that God Himself has created us with both the ability and the yearning to do this. We know that this is true because God designed the whole of the sacramental life of the Church (the world’s sure means to salvation) around everyday things. They are portals, gateways into the supernatural world and life of grace.
So we now turn to the word of the saints. We are used to invoking the saints (asking for their prayers and their help) in our everyday lives. If you do not, then you are missing a trick. In the same way that I will ask you to pray for me, so we should be asking the saints as well. The saints are those Christian brothers and sisters of ours, who have died and been found worthy of the courts of Heaven. Their souls, we can be sure, are praising God in the heavenly choir. They have been perfected and have attained the purpose for which all life has been created, namely the worship of Almighty God. It is only in doing this that our souls find true rest and true peace.
The saints are not just there to inspire us, though of course they do that. There are many people who inspire me. Those who stood up to the Nazis in the war, or to terrible injustice inspire me. Members of my own family who struggled through a poor working class life, and still managed to get food on the table through honest work inspire me. But apart from their example, they cannot help me become a better person. Mr Mandela might show me stoic resistance in the face of barbarity and racism, but if I find myself in the same situation, I would prefer someone to help me get out of it or help me cope with it, rather than showing me what they did. Example is all well can good, but it does not go as far as I need. Ask any teacher - you can put a thousand examples on the board, but you have to show someone and help them for them to really get it. Saints are much more than just examples. You can read about examples in a book, but how much better if you can speak to them and apply how they lived and what they said to your life and your situation. And how better still, if they could present your case to someone who can really change the situation… someone with real clout.
Welcome to our teaching about the saints. Yes their lives inspire us. But much more than that, they can help us see and put into action the things that we need to do to live lives which are better and more honourable, so that we can be with them for ever in heaven. And more even that that. They can put in a good word for us with Him upstairs. Of course I can do that as well, but they actually live there and they see Him every moment of every day. They’ve got privileged access.