From a Sunday Lesson on March 8, 2020
Bp. Rob began, “I want us to start looking at the lives of some of the Saints in the Church.”  Immediately those from a Protestant background may have some worries or concerns.  They think consulting the Saints in heaven may be “necromancy,” strictly forbidden in Scripture; or worry that it would be false worship or idolizing a spiritual being other than God.

Neither of these worry need concerning us, for they are not true.  “Praying to Saints” is not worshiping them, or trying to get them to speak into this world.  First of all, the saints of God who have died and are in heaven, are alive and not dead.  When we address them we are simply soliciting their help with spiritual battles, in our walk through this life, the same way we ask others here in the Church Militant to pray for us in times of trouble or need.

There are advantages in asking the victorious Church Triumphant to pray for us: they have time (both in the sense heaven’s “time” is different from this world and in the sense they are not encumbered by scratching a living from a ‘weedy’ garden!); And they are on the other side of the ‘veil’ of heaven, and thus are in human terms ‘closer to the Lord Jesus’ than we, who are on this side of the grave.  Hebrews 12:23, 24 addresses the scene in heaven as the “assembly of the firstborn… and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, with Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…”. They are literally closer to Jesus our Lord and Savior.  In addition, they have been through trials and tests in this world (whether they passed or failed).

After the listing of innumerable saints in Hebrews chapter 11, chapter 12 begins: Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) [1] Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The prayers of particular saints may help us in specific spiritual battles because of their experience (and victories) in similar struggles.  Bp. Rob volunteered that when he is battling evil spirits in a healing service (or exorcism) he often calls upon Elijah who battled Jezebel and her ‘necromancers’; and upon St. Benedict (a leading founder in western monasticism and reformer of the Church) who is known for his battles with Satan and demons.  Bp. Rob shared that the Blessed Virgin Mary is his favorite saint from which to request help.  She is the closest person to Jesus, as any mother would be to her child.  Bp. Rob solicits the prayers of St. Luke the physician when praying for the healing of others.

There was a precious piety lost when the ‘divorce’ between “Protesters” and the Roman Catholic Church took place in the 16th century. We are only recently beginning to recover these losses.

All this is not to say that saints are perfect people!  (Just read the history of Abraham the father of all those who have faith!).  But faith is our hope and assurance of things that are not visible, not “testable” in a ‘scientific’ sense.  The important point is that we do not confine our understanding of reality to that which we can see.  We’re brought up in and constantly bombarded by a hyper-rational world-view or philosophy of materialism.  Yet God is a Spirit and everything in the universe, visible and testable, are made by God having spoken them into existence.  Thus, all that we see, testifies to the Creator, no matter how often or loudly people chant ‘there is no god.’

Living in a world with a hyper-rational view of how everything works may make it harder to believe that just the “word” spoken over a valley of bones would bring life to them.  But it did.  Accounts in the Bible are NOT fables, but reality from the Author of our faith, the Creator of the universe.  If you cannot believe these miracles, then how can you confess that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead and is living now today?  (To which we attest each week in the Creed.  Be careful, God takes your words seriously.)

What is God saying in all this?  What is the lesson today?  We are all to seek a personal intimate relationship with God, the Creator.  Our physical bodies are important and will be redeemed and resurrected.  Don’t let God’s gift of rational thought limit your faith in what God can do; that which we cannot see.

A word from the writer:
I have tried to faithfully convey as accurately as I can Bishop Rob’s  communication. If something bothers you, or you disagree with what I have written, it may not be Bp. Rob’s teaching that is bothering you! Please understand I am sharing what I myself (Fr. Jeffrey Welch) have received from the Adult Sunday teaching and the experience I had that Sunday
-Father Jeffrey Welch

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