The communion of saints

The importance of the company of the faithful is in the creeds but seems to get varying degrees of attention or prominence in practicing the faith and devotionally. Is it possible to reach a more detailed and engaged consensus beyond a vague, formal celebration of the cloud of witnesses?

Comments

  • I am assuming you're discounting the Catholic and Orthodox Churches? Otherwise there's your answer.
  • PhilipVPhilipV Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    I am assuming you're discounting the Catholic and Orthodox Churches? Otherwise there's your answer.

    How does that answer the quest around consensus? Saints as intercessors and the idea of a distant heaven is one perspective - not without its limitations in working towards an appreciation of holiness.
  • I was referring to the vague, formal celebration. Neither the RCC nor the EOC is vague on the saints. Of course many Protestants go OOOOH ICK ICK THAT'S TOO PAPIST!!!!!! about the saints. Not sure how you can get a consensus with folks like that in the tent.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    In the 1979 TEC prayer book, after the prayers of the people, there are eight collects from which the celebrant can choose.

    One of them goes
    Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen

    Unfortunately, this prayer is rarely heard in most churches.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Of course many Protestants go OOOOH ICK ICK THAT'S TOO PAPIST!!!!!! about the saints. Not sure how you can get a consensus with folks like that in the tent.
    Not sure how you can get a consensus with folks whose opening salvo is a caricature like that, either.

    Since this is Kerygmania, can you enlighten me about the precedent in the Bible for deceased saints as intercessors?

  • When my father died the vicar said, "Every time we repeat the words, 'Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven,' we are celebrating that X is still with us". Recently I repeated those words at my mother's funeral.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Being post-Prod I don't ICK no more. Happy to deconstruct any Christian traditional ritual, where necessary, and reconstruct it to where it works rationally for me and I certainly wouldn't dream of questioning another in a matter of religion.
  • " I certainly wouldn't dream of questioning another in a matter of religion."

    Sorry, I've been overtaken by a coughing fit. Does anyone have any sal volatile?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited January 15
    " I certainly wouldn't dream of questioning another in a matter of religion."

    Sorry, I've been overtaken by a coughing fit. Does anyone have any sal volatile?

    : ) I might well state my take. But it is not for me to question an article of faith. It's easier not to with non-Christians, I ask for clarification with my Muslim colleagues for example (and now only ever refer to 'The Prophet'). I've done the same with Hindu and Sikh colleagues. And no, I would never state my take unless it is in agreement. Although I wish I had once. My Muslim boss was having a homophobic rant and assuming I as a Christian agreed. I kept my peace but thought afterwards of what I wished I'd said.

    So it is with Orthodox and Roman distinctives. I have mellowed... one reserves ones vitriol for generic and Protestant... issues. But only here. Never in person. Well not for 10 years.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Of course many Protestants go OOOOH ICK ICK THAT'S TOO PAPIST!!!!!! about the saints. Not sure how you can get a consensus with folks like that in the tent.
    Not sure how you can get a consensus with folks whose opening salvo is a caricature like that, either.

    Since this is Kerygmania, can you enlighten me about the precedent in the Bible for deceased saints as intercessors?

    Can you enlighten me about where in the Bible it says we should only do things that are in the Bible?
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    It doesn't, but this thread is in Kerygmania, which is (in theory) about Bible texts.

    I'm going to have to leave it there because as it happens, since I last posted on this thread, my dad has joined the ranks of that great cloud of witnesses. The Ship just lost a great long-time lurker.
  • Oh dear. I'm so sorry.
  • I am very sorry to hear, Eutychus. May his memory be eternal.
  • Given that the OP says nothing about Bible texts, and the veneration of saints is outside the Protestant Bible (there are some texts in Maccabbees but not everybody accepts that as scripture), may I suggest this be changed over to Ecclesiantics?
  • PhilipVPhilipV Shipmate
    I wonder if there is another way of thinking about saints that doesn't necessarily imply veneration is required. I wonder why so many automatically think of sainthood as confined to a postmortem phase or state. As chalcedonians, beyond affirming the company of saints there should be some acceptance that common ground and differences of opinion about its nature can coexist. Seems central yet overlooked.
  • We don’t really do veneration—respect and honor, yes, but anything else is basically terra incognita. We aren’t frothers-at-the-mouth either. It’s just a doctrine that has received relatively little attention.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Eutychus
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Deepest sympathy Eutychus, prayers for your father as well as you and his family
  • Prayers for @Eutychus and his family.
  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    @Eutychus 🕯
  • wordkeeperwordkeeper Shipmate Posts: 32
    Prayers for @Eutychus and his family.
  • Prayers for Eutychus.


    My stock answer on the intercession of the saints is that if we can ask members of the Church Militant to pray for us, how much more can we ask of those in the Church Triumphant who are freed from the cares and time constraints of this earthly life?

    Such requests also have the effect of drawing us into fellowship with them, to remind us that we are surrounded by that "cloud of witnesses". When I ask St Baithene to pray for me and for the church here, it sooths my heart to know that he walked here before me and knew this place well.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    As prayer can have no effect on God having an effect, I'm happy to do it in solidarity with the living, for their encouragement, in that light. As for our transcendent, I suppose I could include them if they're listening, but why would and how could they be? And if they were, how could they respond? Apart from onward and upward? Sending more 'incense' up?
  • PhilipVPhilipV Shipmate
    Martin54 wrote: »
    As prayer can have no effect on God having an effect, I'm happy to do it in solidarity with the living, for their encouragement, in that light. As for our transcendent, I suppose I could include them if they're listening, but why would and how could they be? And if they were, how could they respond? Apart from onward and upward? Sending more 'incense' up?

    nice monergistic stance - when everyone else is turning arminian.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    I'll be waiting at the top of the mountain for them.
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    Prayers for Eutychus.
    My stock answer on the intercession of the saints is that if we can ask members of the Church Militant to pray for us, how much more can we ask of those in the Church Triumphant who are freed from the cares and time constraints of this earthly life?
    That's more or less my position, but in slightly more Prot language and limitations.
    There's obvious biblical precedent for sharing prayer requests and asking for prayer (by the nature of the books we have the actual requests are top down) from the living. Rom 15:30 "I urge you ... [to be] praying to God for me. Pray that I..."
    There's biblical case for the saints in heaven praying in e.g. Revelation and us praying for each other (commanded but not neccessarily following prayer requests) and for the saints in heaven to some extent being 'alive'.

    Which I think seals the deal to some extent, as to it being vaguely logical.

    On the other hand the is of course also a very strong case for Jesus/the Father being informed, caring (and in Jesus case actively praying for us, and in the fathers case receiving prayer). Out of the three options (direct, via living and via named saints) I'd drop prayers to the saints first on the basis that the living can do the tangible aspects better, and God cares for us infinitely more and knows himself more than Mary does. And I'd worry about building too much dependence on specific living individuals or specific saints. but if there isn't a competition ..., definitely when in Rome...

  • PhilipVPhilipV Shipmate
    Officially the Reformed group reject prayers for the dead. Prayers at funerals should give thanks for the life and seek support for the bereaved. However, this seems to be observed increasingly by the more 'correct' and 'doctrinaire' now.

    However, "we're all arminians now", so funeral prayers often include the 'eternal rest and everlasting light' dedication.

    The RCC and others have prayers for the dead. The problem with this attitude is that it seems to relieve the living of their most fundamental duty of loving God in order to love each other and vice versa. This is an existential requirement and not something that can be postponed to death. That suggests the mistake of deferring social responsibility. Reformed people are reminded of the lack of prayers for the dead and of the lack of knowledge of what happens postmortem. Indeed death is the ultimate test of our living faith.

    I believe Pope Francis asks for prayers for himself so that we can develop this communion of the faithful in heaven and earth. He is a great leader who calls on people to assemble spiritually together so that we can work together to strengthen our shared faith commitment. He's a saint.
  • ... and my problem, which in no way represents a solid, fully-crunched down position, is that I have no way of knowing whether anybody (bar God himself) can actually HEAR what I'm praying; and I'm inclined to think we would have been told....

    Which is to say, I suspect we're in a position rather like that of immigrants to the New World and their left-behind families at the very, very beginning, when taking ship meant basically resigning yourself to never being heard of no more. The "left behind" could console themselves with the belief that their loved ones were okay, and even thriving, in the New World; but the chances of ever getting a letter in either direction were remote.
  • If you believe God is outside of time, then prayers for a dead person are exactly equivalent to prayers for a living person.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited January 22
    Not talking about prayers for anybody, living or dead. Wondering about prayers TO somebody other than the Lord, whom we know hears us. But if I address another human being across the divide, whether that be St. Mary or my little sister, what surety do I have that they hear me? That's the sort of thing that would keep me up at night wondering. (and it's why, in what is perhaps a childish fashion, I ask the Lord if he would be so kind as to pass along whatever message I'd like to get to my sister--I KNOW he is on both sides and hears both, but he's the only one I'm sure of. )
  • Not talking about prayers for anybody, living or dead. Wondering about prayers TO somebody other than the Lord, whom we know hears us. But if I address another human being across the divide, whether that be St. Mary or my little sister, what surety do I have that they hear me?

    Surety? I don't have surety of any of it. And by "it" I mean the whole Christian enterprise. If you feel you do, you are luckier, or more blessed, or something, than I am. I have to fly by faith, and sometimes it's definitely blind. I have no surety. I can only wonder at those who do.
  • Prayers for the dead makes no theological sense to me, but loads of emotional sense. When my father died I was only 22, and it was the most natural thing in the world to continue to pray for him because I still loved him. As it was for the many others who have died since then. In addition, if I read in Church History of a group of Christians being persecuted my automatic impulse is to ask God to bless them.

    I don't believe any prayer is wasted, so I'll leave it to God to sort out.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Not talking about prayers for anybody, living or dead. Wondering about prayers TO somebody other than the Lord, whom we know hears us. But if I address another human being across the divide, whether that be St. Mary or my little sister, what surety do I have that they hear me?

    Surety? I don't have surety of any of it. And by "it" I mean the whole Christian enterprise. If you feel you do, you are luckier, or more blessed, or something, than I am. I have to fly by faith, and sometimes it's definitely blind. I have no surety. I can only wonder at those who do.

    We are at the incommunicable edges of the same intersection there. Like the universe.
  • Prayers for the dead makes no theological sense to me, but loads of emotional sense. When my father died I was only 22, and it was the most natural thing in the world to continue to pray for him because I still loved him. As it was for the many others who have died since then. In addition, if I read in Church History of a group of Christians being persecuted my automatic impulse is to ask God to bless them.

    I don't believe any prayer is wasted, so I'll leave it to God to sort out.

    Yes, it's really hard to stop the impulse to pray for someone who is already most blessed! I'm not entirely sure what the prohibition in some church bodies is all about, probably just trying to underscore the idea that "at death comes judgement" and we shouldn't be expecting second chances, etc. afterward. But I don't see it as a ban on talking to the Lord about that person, certainly.

    At any rate, I do things that any church body would regard as absurd, such as saying "God bless God" (that pops out every so often, hopefully not when others are listening!) so I figure God is used to me and will sort it all out.
  • "God bless God." I like it.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Prayers for the dead makes no theological sense to me, but loads of emotional sense. When my father died I was only 22, and it was the most natural thing in the world to continue to pray for him because I still loved him. As it was for the many others who have died since then. In addition, if I read in Church History of a group of Christians being persecuted my automatic impulse is to ask God to bless them.

    I don't believe any prayer is wasted, so I'll leave it to God to sort out.

    A probably Purgatorial response: it makes every emotional sense to me too. Prayers certainly aren't therapeutically wasted. I had a friend who lost a young adult daughter to suicide. She started seeing her. Full on hallucinations. The typically hard right, narrow, damnationist, demon obsessed, evo Anglo congo didn't like it. She was so relieved when I unconditionally endorsed her experience.
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