Saints

There are a couple traditional approaches to how saints and the icons of saints are applicable towards the life of the Orthodox Christian. I know that the Orthodox Church went through a period of time where icons were removed, but then later brought them back for every day use. To me, a saint is a Christian role model no longer physically present on Earth in order for me to learn and socialize with. Their icon is like a photograph. I look at the photo and I'm reminded of someone who is still alive in the heavenlies. I might ask someone here on Earth to pray for me, but then again, I might ask someone in heaven to do the same. Both are alive and the one in heaven has a higher perspective on life. Most of the individuals listed here have something to do with apocatastasis.

St. Isaac of Nineveh

Life: 630-700
Bio: A native of Beth Katraye on the Persian Gulf, our present region of Qatar. The Nestorian Patriarch George consecrated Isaac Bishop of Nineveh, which lasted for about five months before Isaace withdrew. Some sited reasons being that he felt it was beyond his ability to guide the people, some jealousy towards his youthful age of leadership, some resistance towards his take on God's mercy and moreover, he yearned for solitude. First going into the mountains to live with the hermits. Later, he went to the monastery of Rabban Shabur in Iran.
Quote: And what is a merciful heart? It is the heart's burning for all of creation, for men, for birds, for animals and even for demons. At the remembrance and at the sight of them, the merciful man's eyes fill with tears which arise from the great compassion that urges his heart. It grows tender and cannot endure hearing or seeing any injury or slight sorrow to anything in creation. Because of this, such a man continually offers tearful prayer even for irrational animals and for the enemies of truth and for all who harm it, that they may be guarded and forgiven.
Books:  
St. Isaac of Nineveh on Ascetical Life by Mary Hansbury
The Book of Chastity by Isho`denah
Studia Syriaca by Rahmani
Other websites: Site 1 Site 2 Site 3 Site 4


Origen of Alexandria

Life: 185-254
Bio: Origen was born Origenes Adamantius in Alexandria, Egypt. His father was Leonides, a Christian scholar. Leonides was martyred when Origen was about 17 years of age, Origen had to support his mother and his younger brothers by giving classes in the Greek language and literature. In 230, he was ordained a priest in Palestine by Bishops Alexander and Theoctistus. This was without the authority of Bishop Demetrius who subsequently expelled him from Alexandria. Origen did not receive canonization as a saint, rather before his death he was anathematized for controversial teachings. The teachings continue to be controversial in the sense that there is not complete unison in wether he was justly kicked out and to this day many still adhere to his teachings including saints that were not anathematized like St. Isaac. Personally, I believe that Origen had good intentions and may have been unjustly targeted. I humorously refer to him as my patron heretic.
Quotes:  
- I want to be a man of the church. I do not want to be called by the name of some founder of a heresy, but by the name of Christ, and to bear that name which is blessed on the earth. It is my desire, in deed as in spirit, both to be and to be called a Christian.
- For Christ, the only-begotten Son, is "everything to everyone" (1 Cor 15:28). He is the "beginning" in the human being as assumed, and the "end" in the perfection of the saints, and obviously everything in between.
Books:  
Spirit and Fire by Hans Urs von Balthasar
Documents of the International Origen Congress proceedings
Origen - Homilies 1-14 on Ezekiel by Thomas P. Scheck
Other websites: Site 1 Site 2 Site 3 Site 4


 

 

St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Life: 330-389
Bio: After their studies at Athens, Gregory became Basil's fellow ascetic, living the monastic life together with him for a time in the hermitages of Pontus. His father ordained him presbyter of the Church of Nazianzus, and St. Basil consecrated him Bishop of Sasima (or Zansima), which was in the archdiocese of Caesarea. This consecration was a source of great sorrow to Gregory and a cause of misunderstanding between him and Basil, but his love for Basil remained unchanged, as can be plainly seen from his Funeral Oration on Saint Basil (Orat. XLIII).
About the year 379, St. Gregory came to the assistance of the Church of Constantinople, which had already been troubled for forty years by the Arians; by his supremely wise words and many labors he freed it from the corruption of heresy. He was elected archbishop of that city by the Second Ecumenical Council, which assembled there in 381, and condemned Macedonius, Archbishop of Constantinople, as an enemy of the Holy Spirit. When St. Gregory came to Constantinople, the Arians had taken all the churches, and he was forced to serve in a house chapel dedicated to St. Anastasia the Martyr. From there he began to preach his famous five sermons on the Trinity, called the Triadica. When he left Constantinople two years later, the Arians did not have one church left to them in the city. St. Meletius of Antioch, who was presiding over the Second Ecumenical Council, died in the course of it, and St. Gregory was chosen in his stead; there he distinguished himself in his expositions of dogmatic theology.
Having governed the Church until 382, he delivered his farewell speech-the Syntacterion, in which he demonstrated the Divinity of the Son-before 150 bishops and the Emperor Theodosius the Great. Also in this speech he requested, and received from all, permission to retire from the See of Constantinople. He returned to Nazianzus, where he lived to the end of his life. He reposed in the Lord in 391, having lived some sixty-two years.
Quote: ...the Good Shepherd, He who lays down His life for His sheep, came to seek for that which had strayed upon the mountains and the hills... and found the wanderer; and having found it, took it upon His shoulders... and having taken it, brought it back to the higher life; and having carried it back, numbered it amongst those who had never strayed (cf. Jn 10:11; Lk. 15:3-7). Because He lighted a candle--His own Flesh--and swept the house, cleansing the world from sin; and sought the piece of money, the Royal Image that was covered up by passions. And He calls together His Angel friends on the finding of the coin, and makes them sharers in His joy... (cf. Lk 15:8-10)
Books:  
On God and Man tanslated by Peter Gilbert
Gregory of Nazianzus by Brian E. Daley
Other websites: Site 1 Site 2


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