I. We are One Family in Christ in Heaven and on Earth
Eph. 3:14-15- we are all one family ("Catholic") in heaven and on earth, united
together, as children of the Father, through Jesus Christ. Our brothers and
sisters who have gone to heaven before us are not a different family. We are
one and the same family. This is why, in the Apostles Creed, we profess a
belief in the "communion of saints." There cannot be a "communion" if there is
no union. Loving beings, whether on earth or in heaven, are concerned for other
beings, and this concern is reflected spiritually through prayers for one
Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23-32; Col. 1:18,24 - this family is in Jesus Christ, the head
of the body, which is the Church.
1 Cor. 12:12,27; Rom. 12:5; Col. 3:15; Eph. 4:4 - we are the members of the one
body of Christ, supernaturally linked together by our partaking of the
Rom. 8:35-39 - therefore, death does not separate the family of God and the
love of Christ. We are still united with each other, even beyond death.
Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30 - Jesus converses with "deceased" Moses and
Elijah. They are more alive than the saints on earth.
Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38 - God is the God of the living not the
dead. The living on earth and in heaven are one family.
Luke 15:7,10 – if the angels and saints experience joy in heaven over our
repentance, then they are still connected to us and are aware of our behavior.
John 15:1-6 - Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The good branches are
not cut off at death. They are alive in heaven.
1 Cor. 4:9 – because we can become a spectacle not only to men, but to angels
as well, this indicates that angels are aware of our earthly activity. Those in
heaven are connected to those on earth.
1 Cor. 12:26 - when one member suffers, all suffer. When one is honored, all
rejoice. We are in this together as one family.
1 Cor 13:12; 1 John 3:2 - now we see in a mirror dimly, but in heaven we see
face to face. The saints are more alive than we are!
Heb. 12:1: we are surrounded by a great glory cloud (shekinah) of witnesses. The “cloud of witnesses” refers to the saints who are not only watching us from above but cheering us on in our race to heaven.
1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 20:6 - we are a royal family of priests by virtue of baptism.
We as priests intercede on behalf of each other.
2 Peter 1:4 - since God is the eternal family and we are His children, we are
partakers of His divine nature as a united family.
1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 1:7 - we are called to be saints. Saints refer to both those
on earth and in heaven who are in Christ. Proof:
Acts 9:13,32,41; 26:10; 1 Cor. 6:1-2; 14:33; 2 Cor. 1:1; 8:4; 9:1-2; 13:13;
Rom. 8:27; 12:23; 15:25,26, 31; 16:2,15; Eph. 1:1,15,18; 3:8; 5:3; 6:18; Phil.
1:1; 4:22; Col 1:2,4,26; 1 Tm 5:10; Philemon 1:5,7; Heb. 6:10; 13:24; Jude 1:3;
Rev. 11:18; 13:7; 14:12; 16:6; 17:6;18:20,24; Rev 19:8; 20:9 - in these verses,
we see that Christians still living on earth are called "saints."
Matt. 27:52; Eph. 2:19; 3:18; Col. 1:12; 2 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 5:8; 8:3-4; 11:18;
13:10 - in these verses, we also see that "saints" also refer to those in
heaven who united with us.
Dan. 4:13,23; 8:23 – we also see that the angels in heaven are also called
“saints.” The same Hebrew word “qaddiysh” (holy one) is applied to both humans
and angels in heaven. Hence, there are angel saints in heaven and human saints
in heaven and on earth. Loving beings (whether angels or saints) are concerned
for other beings, and prayer is the spiritual way of expressing that love.
III. Specific Instructions to Mediate and Examples of
Matt. 5:44-45 - Jesus tells us to pray for (to mediate on behalf of) those who
persecute us. God instructs us to mediate.
Matt. 17:1-3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30-31 – deceased Moses and Elijah appear at the
Transfiguration to converse with Jesus in the presence of Peter, James and John
(these may be the two “witnesses” John refers to in Rev. 11:3). Nothing in
Scripture ever suggests that God abhors or cuts off communication between the
living in heaven and the living on earth. To the contrary, God encourages
communication within the communion of saints. Moses and Elijah’s appearance on
earth also teach us that the saints in heaven have capabilities that far
surpass our limitations on earth.
Matt. 26:53 – Jesus says He can call upon the assistance of twelve legions of angels. If Jesus said He could ask for the assistance of angel saints, then so can we, who are called to imitate Jesus in word and in deed. And, in Matt. 22:30, Jesus says we will be “like angels in heaven.” This means human saints (like the angel saints) can be called upon to assist people on earth. God allows and encourages this interaction between his family members.
Matt. 27:47,49; Mark 15:35-36 – the people believe that Jesus calls on Elijah
for his intercession, and waits to see if Elijah would come to save Jesus on
Matt. 27:52-53 - at Jesus' passion, many saints were raised and went into the
city to appear and presumably interact with the people, just as Jesus did after
Mark 11:24 - Jesus says that whatever we ask in prayer, we will receive it. It
is Jesus, and also we through Jesus, who mediate.
John 2:3 - Jesus knew the wine was gone, but invites and responds to Mary's
intercession. God desires our lesser mediation and responds to it because He is
a living and loving God.
John 2:5 - Mary intercedes on behalf of those at the wedding feast and tells
them to do whatever Jesus tells them. Because Mary is our perfect model of
faith, we too intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters.
John 2:11 - in fact, it was Mary's intercession that started Jesus' ministry.
His hour had not yet come, yet Jesus responds to Mary's intercession. Even
though He could do it all by Himself, God wants to work with His children.
Acts 12:7 – an angel strikes Peter on the side and wakes him up, freeing him
from prison. The angel responds to Peter’s prayers.
Rom. 15:30 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for him. If we are united
together in the one body of Christ, we can help each other.
2 Cor. 1:11 - Paul even suggests that the more prayers and the more people who
pray, the merrier! Prayer is even more effective when united with other's
2 Cor. 9:14 - Paul says that the earthly saints pray for the Corinthians. They
are subordinate mediators in Christ.
2 Cor. 13:7,9 - Paul says the elders pray that the Corinthians may do right and
improve. They participate in Christ's mediation.
Gal. 6:2,10 - Paul charges us to bear one another's burdens, and to do good to
all, especially those in the household of faith.
Eph. 6:18 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for each other.
Eph. 6:19 - Paul commands that the Ephesians pray for him. If there is only one
mediator, why would Paul ask for their prayers?
Phil. 1:19 - Paul acknowledges power of Philippians' earthly intercession. He
will be delivered by their prayers and the Holy Spirit.
Col. 1:3 - Paul says that he and the elders pray for the Colossians. They are
subordinate mediators in the body of Christ.
Col. 1:9 - Paul says that he and the elders have not ceased to pray for the
Colossians, and that, by interceding, they may gain wisdom.
Col. 4:4 - Paul commands the Colossians to pray for the elders of the Church so
that God may open a door for the word. Why doesn't Paul just leave it up to
God? Because subordinate mediation is acceptable and pleasing to God, and
brings about change in the world. This is as mysterious as the Incarnation, but
it is true.
1 Thess. 5:11 - Paul charges us to encourage one another and build one another
up, in the body of Christ. We do this as mediators in Christ.
1 Thess. 5:17 - Paul says "pray constantly." If Jesus' role as mediator does
not apply subordinately to us, why pray at all?
1 Thess. 5:25 - Paul commands the family of God to pray for the elders of the
Church. He desires our subordinate mediation.
2 Thess. 1:11 - Paul tells the family of God that he prays for us. We
participate in Christ's mediation because Christ desires this.
2 Thess. 3:1 - Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for Him, Silvanus and
Timothy so that they may be delivered.
1 Tim. 2:1-3 - Paul commands us to pray for all. Paul also states that these
prayers are acceptable in the sight of God.
2 Tim. 1:3 – Paul says “I remember you constantly in my prayers.”
Philemon 22 - Paul is hoping through Philemon's intercession that he may be
able to be with Philemon.
Heb. 1:14 – the author writes, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth
to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”
Hebrews 13:18-19 - the author strongly urges the Hebrews to pray for the elders
so that they act desirably in all things.
James 5:14-15- James says the prayer of the priests over the sick man will save
the sick man and forgive his sins. This is a powerful example of men forgiving
sins and bringing a person to salvation with the sacrament of the sick.
James 5:16 - James instructs us to confess our sins to one another and pray for
one another so that we may be healed.
James 5:17-18 - James refers to God's response to Elijah's fervent prayer for
no rain. He is teaching us about the effectiveness of our earthly mediation.
1 John 5:14-15 - John is confident that God will grant us anything we ask of
God according to His will.
1 John 5:16-17 - our prayers for others even calls God to give life to them and
keep them from sinning. Our God is a personal and living God who responds to
3 John 2 - John prays for Gaius' health and thus acts as a subordinate
Rev. 1:4 – this verse shows that angels (here, the seven spirits) give grace
and peace. Because grace and peace only come from God, the angels are acting as
mediators for God.
Rev. 5:8 - the prayers of the saints (on heaven and earth) are presented to God
by the angels and saints in heaven. This shows that the saints intercede on our
behalf before God, and it also demonstrates that our prayers on earth are
united with their prayers in heaven. (The “24 elders” are said to refer to the
people of God – perhaps the 12 tribes and 12 apostles - and the “four living
creatures” are said to refer to the angels.)
Rev. 6:9-11 – the martyred saints in heaven cry out in a loud voice to God to
avenge their blood “on those who dwell upon the earth.” These are “imprecatory
prayers,” which are pleas for God’s judgment (see similar prayers in Psalm
35:1; 59:1-17; 139:19; Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 18:19; Zech.1:12-13). This means that
the saints in heaven are praying for those on earth, and God answers their
prayers (Rev. 8:1-5). We, therefore, ask for their intercession and protection.
Rev. 8:3-4 – in heaven an angel mingles incense with the prayers of all the
saints on the golden altar before the throne of God, and the smoke of the
incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before
God. These prayers “rise up” before God and elicit various kinds of earthly
activity. God responds to his children’s requests, whether made by his children
on earth or in heaven.
Gen. 20:17 - God responds to Abraham's intercession and heals Abimelech, and
also his wife and slaves.
Gen. 27:29; Num. 24:9 - blessed be everyone who blesses you. If we bless others
in prayer, we are also blessed.
Exodus 32:11-14, 30-34; 34:9; Num. 14:17-20; 21:7-9 - these are many examples
of God's response to Moses' saintly intercession.
1 Sam. 12:23 - Samuel says that he would be sinning against God if he didn't
continue to intercede for the people of Israel.
1 Sam. 28:7-20 – the deceased prophet Samuel appears and converses with Saul,
which is confirmed by Sirach 46:13,20).
1 Sam. 28:7; 1 Chron. 10:13-14 - Saul practiced necromancy. He used a medium,
not God, to seek the dead and was therefore condemned. Saul's practice is
entirely at odds with the Catholic understanding of saintly mediation, where
God is the source and channel of all communication, and who permits His
children to participate in this power.
2 Chron. 30:27 - the prayers of the priests and Levites came before God's holy
habitation in heaven and were answered.
Tobit 12:12,15 - angels place Tobit and Sarah's prayers before the Holy One.
This teaches us that the angels are also our subordinate mediators. We pray to
the angels to take up our prayers to God.
Job 42:7-9 - Job prayed for three friends in sin and God listened to Job as a
result of these prayers.
Psalm 34:7 – the angel of the Lord delivers those who fear him.
Psalm 91:11 – God will give His angels charge of you, to guard you in all your
Psalm 103:20-21; 148:1-2 – we praise the angels and ask for their assistance in
doing God’s will.
Psalm 141:2 - David asks that his prayer be counted as incense before God. The
prayers of the saints have powerful effects.
Isaiah 6:6-7 - an angel touches Isaiah's lips and declares that his sin is
forgiven. The angel is a subordinate mediator of God who effects the
forgiveness of sins on God’s behalf.
Jer. 7:16 - God acknowledges the people's ability to intercede, but refuses to
answer due to the hardness of heart.
Jer. 15:1 – the Lord acknowledges the intercessory power of Moses and Samuel.
Jer. 37:3 - king Zedekiah sends messengers to ask Jeremiah to intercede for the
people, that he might pray to God for them.
Jer. 42:1-6 - all the people of Israel went before Jeremiah asking for his
intercession, that he would pray to the Lord for them.
Baruch 3:4 - Baruch asks the Lord to hear the prayers of the dead of Israel.
They can intercede on behalf of the people of God.
Dan. 9:20-23 - Daniel intercedes on behalf of the people of Israel confessing
both his sins and the sins of the people before God.
Zech. 1:12-13 - an angel intercedes for those in Judea and God responds
2 Macc. 15:12-16 – the high priest Onias and the prophet Jeremiah were deceased
for centuries, and yet interact with the living Judas Maccabeas and pray for
the holy people on earth.
Tradition / Church Fathers
I. Intercessory Power and Veneration of the Saints
"[T]hat it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for
the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole world (the
blameless one for sinners), nor to worship any other. For Him indeed, as being
the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the
Lord, we worthily love on account of their extraordinary affection towards
their own King and Master, of whom may we also be made companions and fellow
disciples! The centurion then, seeing the strife excited by the Jews, placed
the body in the midst of the fire, and consumed it. Accordingly, we afterwards
took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and
more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being
gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the
Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in
memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising
and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps." Martyrdom of Polycarp
17,18 (A.D. 157).
"[Appealing to the three companions of Daniel] Think of me, I beseech you, so
that I may achieve with you the same fate of martyrdom." Hippolytus of Rome, On
Daniel, 11:30 (A.D. 204).
"As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as
birthday honours." Tertullian, The Crown, 3 (A.D. 211).
"Nor is that kind of title to glories in the case of Celerinus, our beloved, an
unfamiliar and novel thing. He is advancing in the footsteps of his kindred; he
rivals his parents and relations in equal honours of divine condescension. His
grandmother, Celerina, was some time since crowned with martyrdom. Moreover,
his paternal and maternal uncles, Laurentius and Egnatius, who themselves also
were once warring in the camps of the world, but were true and spiritual
soldiers of God, casting down the devil by the confession of Christ, merited
palms and crowns from the Lord by their illustrious passion. We always offer
sacrifices for them, as you remember, as often as we celebrate the passions and
days of the martyrs in the annual commemoration. Nor could he, therefore, be
degenerate and inferior whom this family dignity and a generous nobility
provoked, by domestic examples of virtue and faith. But if in a worldly family
it is a matter of heraldry and of praise to be a patrician, of bow much greater
praise and honour is it to become of noble rank in the celestial heraldry! I
cannot tell whom I should call more blessed,--whether those ancestors, for a
posterity so illustrious, or him, for an origin so glorious. So equally between
them does the divine condescension flow, and pass to and fro, that, just as the
dignity of their offspring brightens their crown, so the sublimity of his
ancestry illuminates his glory." Cyprian, To Clergy and People, Epistle
33(39):3 (A.D. 250).
"I am also of opinion that there were many persons of the same name with John
the apostle, who by their love for him, and their admiration and emulation of
him, and their desire to be loved by the Lord as he was loved, were induced to
embrace also the same designation, just as we find many of the children of the
faithful called by the names of Paul and Peter." Dionysius of Alexandria, Books
of Promises, 5 (A.D. 257).
"Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first
Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, that at their prayers and
intercessions God would receive our petition. Then on behalf also of the Holy
Fathers and Bishops who have fallen asleep before us, and in a word of all who
in past years have fallen asleep among us, believing that it will be a very
great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while that
holy and most awful sacrifice is set forth." Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical
Lectures, 23:9 (A.D. 350).
"Thus might you console us; but what of the flock? Would you first promise the
oversight and leadership of yourself, a man under whose wings we all would
gladly repose, and for whose words we thirst more eagerly than men suffering
from thirst for the purest fountain? Secondly, persuade us that the good
shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep has not even now left us; but is
present, and tends and guides, and knows his own, and is known of his own, and,
though bodily invisible, is spiritually recognized, and defends his flock
against the wolves, and allows no one to climb over into the fold as a robber
and traitor; to pervert and steal away, by the voice of strangers, souls under
the fair guidance of the truth. Aye, I am well assured that his intercession is
of more avail now than was his instruction in former days, since he is closer
to God, now that he has shaken off his bodily fetters, and freed his mind from
the clay which obscured it, and holds intercourse naked with the nakedness of
the prime and purest Mind; being promoted, if it be not rash to say so, to the
rank and confidence of an angel." John Chrysostom, On the Death of his Father,
Oration 18:4 (A.D. 374).
"He voluntarily undertook all the toil of the journey; he moderated the energy
of the faithful on the spot; he persuaded opponents by his arguments; in the
presence of priests and deacons, and of many others who fear the Lord, he took
up the relics with all becoming reverence, and has aided the brethren in their
preservation. These relics do you receive with a joy equivalent to the distress
with which their custodians have parted with them and sent them to you. Let
none dispute; let none doubt. Here you have that unconquered athlete. These
bones, which shared in the conflict with the blessed soul, are known to the
Lord. These bones He will crown, together with that soul, in the righteous day
of His requital, as it is written, 'we must stand before the judgment seat of
Christ, that each may give an account of the deeds he has done in the body.'
One coffin held that honoured corpse. None other lay by his side. The burial
was a noble one; the honours of a martyr were paid him. Christians who had
welcomed him as a guest and then with their own hands laid him in the grave,
have now disinterred him. They have wept as men bereaved of a father and a
champion. But they have sent him to you, for they put your joy before their own
consolation. Pious were the hands that gave; scrupulously careful were the
hands that received. There has been no room for deceit; no room for guile. I
bear witness to this. Let the untainted truth be accepted by you." Basil, To
Ambrose bishop of Milan, Epistle 197 (A.D. 375).
"Furthermore, as to mentioning the names of the dead, how is there anything
very useful in that? What is more timely or more excellent than that those who
are still here should believe that the departed do live, and that they have not
retreated into nothingness, but that they exist and are alive with the
Master...Useful too is the prayer fashioned on their behalf...For we make
commemoration of the just and of sinners: of sinners, begging God's mercy for
them; of the just and the Fathers and Patriarchs and Prophets and Apostles and
Evangelists and martyrs and confessors, and of bishops and solitaries, and of
the whole list of them..." Epiphanius, Panarion, 75:8 (A.D. 377).
"Only may that power come upon us which strengthens weakness, through the
prayers of him[i.e. St. Paul] who made his own strength perfect in bodily
weakness." Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 1:1(A.D. 380).
"But God forbid that any in this fair assembly should appear there suffering
such things! but by the prayers of the holy fathers, correcting all our
offences, and having shown forth the abundant fruit of virtue, may we depart
hence with much confidence." John Chrysostom, On Statues, Homily 6:19 (A.D.
"As to our paying honor to the memory of the martyrs, and the accusation of
Faustus, that we worship them instead of idols, I should not care to answer
such a charge, were it not for the sake of showing how Faustus, in his desire
to cast reproach on us, has overstepped the Manichaean inventions, and has
fallen heedlessly into a popular notion found in Pagan poetry, although he is
so anxious to be distinguished from the Pagans. For in saying that we have
turned the idols into martyrs, be speaks of our worshipping them with similar
rites, and appeasing the shades of the departed with wine and food…It is true
that Christians pay religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to
excite us to imitate them and to obtain a share in their merits, and the
assistance of their prayers. But we build altars not to any martyr, but to the
God of martyrs, although it is to the memory of the martyrs. No one officiating
at the altar in the saints' burying-place ever says, We bring an offering to
thee, O Peter! or O Paul! or O Cyprian! The offering is made to God, who gave
the crown of martyrdom, while it is in memory of those thus crowned. The
emotion is increased by the associations of the place, and. love is excited
both towards those who are our examples, and towards Him by whose help we may
follow such examples. We regard the martyrs with the same affectionate intimacy
that we feel towards holy men of God in this life, when we know that their
hearts are prepared to endure the same suffering for the truth of the gospel.
There is more devotion in our feeling towards the martyrs, because we know that
their conflict is over; and we can speak with greater confidence in praise of
those already victors in heaven, than of those still combating here.” Augustine,
Against Faustus, 20:21 (A.D. 400).
"We, it is true, refuse to worship or adore, I say not the relics of the
martyrs, but even the sun and moon, the angels and archangels, the Cherubim and
Seraphim and 'every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that
which is to come.' For we may not "serve the creature rather than the Creator,
who is blessed for ever. Still we honour the relics of the martyrs, that we may
adore Him whose martyrs they are. We honour the servants that their honour may
be reflected upon their Lord who Himself says:--'he that receiveth you
receiveth me.' I ask Vigilantius, Are the relics of Peter and of Paul unclean?
Was the body of Moses unclean, of which we are told (according to the correct
Hebrew text) that it was buried by the Lord Himself? And do we, every time that
we enter the basilicas of apostles and prophets and martyrs, pay homage to the
shrines of idols? Are the tapers which burn before their tombs only the tokens
of idolatry? I will go farther still and ask a question which will make this
theory recoil upon the head of its inventor and which will either kill or cure
that frenzied brain of his, so that simple souls shall be no more subverted by
his sacrilegious reasonings. Let him answer me this, Was the Lord's body
unclean when it was placed in the sepulchre? And did the angels clothed in
white raiment merely watch over a corpse dead and defiled, that ages afterwards
this sleepy fellow might indulge in dreams and vomit forth his filthy surfeit,
so as, like the persecutor Julian, either to destroy the basilicas of the
saints or to convert them into heathen temples?" Jerome, To Riparius, Epistle
109:1 (A.D. 404).
"For you say that the souls of Apostles and martyrs have their abode either in
the bosom of Abraham, or in the place of refreshment, or under the altar of
God, and that they cannot leave their own tombs, and be present there they
will…And while the devil and the demons wander through the whole world, and
with only too great speed present themselves everywhere; are martyrs, after the
shedding of their blood, to be kept out of sight shut up in a coffin, from
whence they cannot escape? You say, in your pamphlet, that so long as we are
alive we can pray for one another; but once we die, the prayer of no person for
another can be heard, and all the more because the martyrs, though they cry for
the avenging of their blood, have never been able to obtain their request. If
Apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, when they
ought still to be anxious for themselves, how much more must they do so when
once they have won their crowns, overcome, and triumphed? A single man, Moses,
oft wins pardon from God for six hundred thousand armed men; and Stephen, the
follower of his Lord and the first Christian martyr, entreats pardon for his
persecutors; and when once they have entered on their life with Christ, shall
they have less power than before? The Apostle Paul says that two hundred and
seventy-six souls were given to him in the ship; and when, after his
dissolution, he has begun to be with Christ, must he shut his mouth, and be
unable to say a word for those who throughout the whole world have believed in
his Gospel? Shall Vigilantius the live dog be better than Paul the dead lion? I
should be right in saying so after Ecclesiastes, if I admitted that Paul is
dead in spirit. The truth is that the saints are not called dead, but are said
to be asleep. Wherefore Lazarus, who was about to rise again, is said to have
slept. And the Apostle forbids the Thessalonians to be sorry for those who were
asleep.” Jerome, Against Vigilantius, 6 (A.D. 406).
"Even if we make images of pious men it is not that we may adore them as gods
but that when we see them we might be prompted to imitate them." Cyril of
Alexandria, On Psalms 113 (115) (ante A.D. 444).
"The noble souls of the triumphant are sauntering around heaven, dancing in the
choruses of the bodiless; and not one tomb for each conceals their bodies, but
cities and villages divide them up and call them healers and preservers of
souls and bodies, and venerate them a guardians and protectors of cities; and
when they intervene as ambassadors before the Master of the universe the divine
gifts are obtained through them; and though the body has been divided, its
grace has continued undivided. And that little particle and smallest relic has
the same power as the absolutely and utterly undivided martyr." Theodoret of
Cyrus, The Cure of Pagan Maladies, 8:54 (A.D. 449).
" Thou gainest nothing, thou prevailest nothing, O savage cruelty. His mortal
frame is released from thy devices, and, when Laurentius departs to heaven,
thou art vanquished. The flame of Christ's love could not be overcome by thy
flames, and the fire which burnt outside was less keen than that which blazed
within. Thou didst but serve the martyr in thy rage, O persecutor: thou didst
but swell the reward in adding to the pain. For what did thy cunning devise,
which did not redound to the conqueror's glory, when even the instruments of
torture were counted as part of the triumph? Let us rejoice, then,
dearly-beloved, with spiritual joy, and make our boast over the happy end of
this illustrious man in the Lord, Who is 'wonderful in His saints,' in whom He
has given us a support and an example, and has so spread abroad his glory
throughout the world, that, from the rising of the sun to its going down, the
brightness of his deacon's light doth shine, and Rome is become as famous in
Laurentius as Jerusalem was ennobled by Stephen. By his prayer and intercession
we trust at all times to be assisted; that, because all, as the Apostle says,
'who wish to live holily in Christ, suffer persecutions,' we may be
strengthened with the spirit of love, and be fortified to overcome all
temptations by the perseverance of steadfast faith. Through our LORD Jesus
Christ." Pope Leo the Great [regn. A.D. 440-461], On the Feast of Laurence the
Martyr, Sermon 85:4 (ante A.D. 461).
"To the saints honour must be paid as friends of Christ, as sons and heirs of
God: in the words of John the theologian and evangelist, As many as received
Him, to them gave He power to became sons of God. So that they are no longer
servants, but sons: and if sons, also heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with
Christ: and the Lord in the holy Gospels says to His apostles, Ye are My
friends. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what
his lord doeth. And further, if the Creator and Lord of all things is called
also King of Kings and Lord of Lords and God of Gods, surely also the saints
are gods and lords and kings. For of these God is and is called God and Lord
and King. For I am the God of Abraham, He said to Moses, the God of Isaac and
the God of Jacob. And God made Moses a god to Pharaoh. Now I mean gods and
kings and lords not in nature, but as rulers and masters of their passions, and
as preserving a truthful likeness to the divine image according to which they
were made (for the image of a king is also called king), and as being united to
God of their own free-will and receiving Him as an indweller and becoming by
grace through participation with Him what He is Himself by nature. Surely,
then, the worshippers and friends and sons of God are to be held in honour? For
the honour shown to the most thoughtful of fellow-servants is a proof of good
feeling towards the common Master." John of Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 4:15
"We, therefore, following the royal pathway and the divinely inspired authority
of our Holy Fathers and the traditions of the Catholic Church (for, as we all
know, the Holy Spirit indwells her), define with all certitude and accuracy
that just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the
venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit
materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God, and on the sacred
vessels and on the vestments and on hangings and in pictures both in houses and
by the wayside, to wit, the figure of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, of
our spotless Lady, the Mother of God, of the honourable Angels, of all Saints
and of all pious people. For by so much more frequently as they are seen in
artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the
memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them; and to these should be
given due salutation and honourable reverence, not indeed that true worship of
faith (latria) which pertains alone to the divine nature; but to these, as to
the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross and to the Book of the Gospels
and to the other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered according to
ancient pious custom. For the honour which is paid to the image passes on to
that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the
subject represented. For thus the teaching of our holy Fathers, that is the
tradition of the Catholic Church, which from one end of the earth to the other
hath received the Gospel, is strengthened." Ecumenical Council of Nicea II,
Action VII (A.D. 787).