The Friends of God
All Saints of Great Britain
Key Facts and Ideas
Christianity is a lived thing and we need to see it lived. This means that the health of the Church is measured by the Saints who are called forth from her, for the Saints have lived the gospel in an outstanding way. Now, in the Scriptures all believers are called "saints" and that is because they are bearers of Christ. Outstanding sanctity is not given to all but rather as an encouragement to the whole Church. Such Saints (uppercase) are so infused with the Holy Spirit that their transparency to God is a call to the Church in every generation to advance further in the way of gospel living. Orthodoxy (true worship/belief) ceases to be Orthodox if it is not also Orthopraxy (true practice). The Saints show us this pre-eminently.
The saints (upper and lower case) are also part of the Christian family of course, the Church, the Body of Christ. Orthodox Christians ask the prayers of the saints in heaven simply because they may ask a brother or sister in Christ to pray for them on earth. We love our brothers and sisters in Christ on earth so we also love the saints in heaven. We are always conscious of this family on earth so we are always conscious of it in heaven as well. The saints who repose in the Lord are not "dead" in Christ; they live in him. Death marks a change not in the unity of the Church - which endures beyond the grave, Christ having destroyed death - but in how we live and relate to one another.
Today, death is the great 'unmentionable.' People tend to repress grief or not grieve at all because neither the reality of death nor its destruction by Christ is acknowledged. A culture deeply permeated by the Easter faith of Christianity would never function like this (or we should say, dysfunction). The demise of the saints in the western world is paralleled by both the decline of Christianity itself and eclipse of the resurrection in the hearts and minds of the people. The issue of the saints is that crucial in the Orthodox Church.
Finally we should say that the saints are not just a nice idea in Orthodox Christian piety. They vitally inform our daily Christian life in the home, in Church, at work, at school in every kind of situation. We seek their prayers, we venerate their icons and relics, we visit their shrines, we celebrate our name days - their feasts and all this we do because we too, even in some small measure, wish to follow in their footsteps towards God.
The Saints are our brothers and sisters in the Lord. They help us toward a closer conformity of our lives to and in Christ because their friendship with God and transparency to His Love is tested and true.
Who is my favourite saint and why? What cost might there be in becoming a saint in this time?
On the Saints and their Writings (Bishop Alexander Mileant's Web Site)
Your Own Questions Answered Here