St Simeon Stylites

Dear Father Ambrose,

It occurred to me to ask you if the Orthodox
Church acknowledges saints canonized by
the Roman Catholic Church after the eleventh
century.

And am I correct in understanding that the
Russian Orthodox Church is putting forward
the case for declaring Czar Alexander
a saint?

What is the process, in the Orthodox Church,
for declaring an individual a saint?

Thank you for assisting my inquiries, Father.
reen12

[quote=reen12]It occurred to me to ask you if the Orthodox
Church acknowledges saints canonized by
the Roman Catholic Church after the eleventh
century.
[/quote]

The answer is basically, No.

But there is an unclear period after the Great Schism between Rome and Constantinople in 1054. For example, the Irish Church could be considered more or less as continuing in its orthodoxy until 1172 and the Synod of Cashel. This was convened by the Anglo-Norman conquerers who had invaded Ireland under King Henry II and at the urging of Pope Adrian (himself an Englishman.) That Synod dealt the death blow to all the old Irish ways by removing the Irish bishops and substituting Anglo-Normans (or Irish who were pro-Anglo-Norman.) It swept away the old Irish/Celtic forms of worship such as we find in the Lorrha-Stowe Missal and replaced it with the Sarum usage which was used in England, and in all other respects it imposed the Continental form of Christianity on the Irish.

The date of 1054 is used as a convenient marker for determining the separation of East and West and Western Saints after that date are not included in Orthodox Calendars.

[quote=reen12]What is the process, in the Orthodox Church,
for declaring an individual a saint?
[/quote]


below from Orthodox America 1982

The word “canonization” is a Roman Catholic term having to do with the process by which the Church of Rome formally declares a person to be among the blessed in Heaven. Very few are familiar with the term “Glorification”. Some think it is merely the ‘orthodox’ word for canonization especially since in translations the word has sometimes been used. The words are not equivalent and refer to different processes.

[Deleted-- a description of the lengthy Roman process of investigation and trials with ‘promoters’ and ‘devil’s advocates’… and the legal understanding of virtue and sanctity tied up with Roman doctrines of merit and super-numerary works.]

In the Orthodox Church, however, there is no legalistic weighing of
evidence and examination of merits…but a process has been developed by which a saint is given public recognition with a culminating act called ‘glorification’.

In the early Church a martyr’s death inspired Christians at once to
begin venerating and praying to such holy men and women. Miracles worked in answer to prayer and from contact with these martyr’s relics further confirmed their sanctity. There was no single formal public recognition of these saints. A person is in heaven whether or not the Church on earth makes a declaration on it.

Saint John Maximovitch of San Francisco explains what happened next in the experience of the Church:

“the choir of the saints grew unceasingly…, however the spiritual life of Christians began to decline…there was no longer a clear sense of what divine righteousness is. …the general consciousness of the faithful could not always distinguish who was a righteous man and pleasing to God. In some places dubious persons attracted a part of the flock…so the church authorities began to keep a watch over the veneration of saints…by the time of the Baptism of Russia it had been
established that the acknowledgement of a new saint was to be performed by Church authority…which only testified of sanctity…”

In order to prevent the piety of simple people from being exploited,
the church authorities guard over and guide the procedures leading to final, full, and public recognition of saints. Thus, in the cases of St Herman, St John of Kronstadt, Saint Xenia of Petersburg [and also in the case of Saint John Maximovitch, and in the case of the Royal Martyrs] there had already been a long-standing private devotion to these saints among Orthodox believers.

The bishops request a formal investigation into the lives and miracles of these saints in order to determine/confirm the sanctity for the whole Church. When in the fullness of God’s time it is apparent that an individual’s life and works have been filled with the grace and glory of God, the bishop’s commission the writing of a service to that saint, the painting of an icon, and the establishment of a feast day on the calendar. The actual
’glorification’ takes place on a predetermined day (sometimes the
actual feast day of the saint) when as many bishops and priests as possible gather for the solemnities.

To “glorify” the saints is to bestow honor and praise on them. Why? Because they are already honored by God, and so filled with His grace that, as Archbishop John has written,“it flows from them upon those who associate with them.” They have become Christlike - and all those seeking Christ, and loving Him, instantly recognize this quality in the saints and are drawn to them for this very reason.

There have been two noteworthy Glorifications/Canonisations recently. One was Saint Maria of Paris, a nun who died under the Nazis. She was declared a Saint by the Russian Diocese of France.

There is something about her on the Forum already:
forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=400613&postcount=386

The remainder of this beautiful article on Saint Maria of Paris is on the website of the National Catholic Reporter
ncronline.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2004a/020604/ss020604h.htm

There is also an article here
jacwell.org/Fall_Winter99/Plekon_Mother_Maria.htm

**Maria Skobtsova: Woman of Many Faces, Mother in Many Ways

By Fr. Michael Plekon**

Apologies. I forgot to give any information on the second Saint. It is Saint Raphael of Brooklyn (New York) declared a Saint in 2000.

He was the first Orthodox bishop (a Lebanese) to be consecrated on American soil - at the hands of Patriarch Tikhon of Russia (himself now a Saint) while Tikhon was the head Bishop of the Orthodox Church in America.

Here is a web site:angelfire.com/pa3/straphaelcanonized/

An icon

[quote=reen12]And am I correct in understanding that the
Russian Orthodox Church is putting forward
the case for declaring Czar Alexander
a saint?
[/quote]

I do not know about this? is it Tsar Alexander II - the Tsar-Liberator who freed the serfs in 1861 (the Act abolishing serfdom was signed by the Tsar on the same day as Abraham Lincoln came into office!)

[quote=NightRider]And about holy wanderers–I want to know more about them! Can you tell us more about them?
[/quote]

Get hold of a small book “The Way of a Pilgrim.” It is about the life of a Russian “wanderer” as he goes from monastery to monastery looking for guidance from the monks on his prayerlife and the use of the “Jesus Prayer.”

The book starts off:

“BY the grace of God I am a Christian man, by my actions a great sinner, and by calling a homeless wanderer of the humblest birth who roams from place to place. My worldly goods are a knapsack with some dried bread in it on my back, and in my breast-pocket a Bible. And that is all.”

This book gets a mention in Salinger’s novel “Franny and Zooey” !!

Dear Fr. Ambrose,

Thank you for your informative reply to my
queries.

It’s interesting to me, in light of your reply,
that when St. Benedict Joseph Labre died,
the people of Rome kept crying out:
“The saint is dead!”

In closing let me add: All you saints of God,
pray for us.

Kindest regards,
reen12

Dear Fr. Ambrose,

I understood it to mean Czar Nicholas [c.1917]
Perhaps I am in error on this. I’ll see if I can
find a current source.
reen12

[quote=reen12]I understood it to mean Czar Nicholas [c.1917]
Perhaps I am in error on this. I’ll see if I can
find a current source.
reen12
[/quote]

Oh yes! The whole Royal Family who were martyred with the Tsar has been entered into the Calendar of Saints for many years.

Here is a site which offers a web video of the Service of Canonisation of the Tsar and his family, in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
notofthisworld.freeservers.com/custom.html

[quote=Fr Ambrose]Get hold of a small book “The Way of a Pilgrim.” It is about the life of a Russian “wanderer” as he goes from monastery to monastery looking for guidance from the monks on his prayerlife and the use of the “Jesus Prayer.”

The book starts off:

“BY the grace of God I am a Christian man, by my actions a great sinner, and by calling a homeless wanderer of the humblest birth who roams from place to place. My worldly goods are a knapsack with some dried bread in it on my back, and in my breast-pocket a Bible. And that is all.”

This book gets a mention in Salinger’s novel “Franny and Zooey” !!
[/quote]

Thank you for providing me with this title, Fr Ambrose. I will search for it. I am especially interested in it because the fellow is a Russian. I studied three years of Russian in college and learned a tiny bit about Old Slavonic in the process. I also attended Liturgy at the local Russian Orthodox church several times. It was not the Orthodox Church of America; it was the one that desires for the czar to be reinstated, completely Russian and nothing American about it! Very, very interesting people and beautiful Liturgy. Very few people even speak English there. I was very moved the times I went there. Thanks again, Fr Ambrose.

[quote=NightRider]i was the one that desires for the czar to be reinstated, completely Russian and nothing American about it! Very, very interesting people and beautiful Liturgy. Very few people even speak English there. I was very moved the times I went there.
[/quote]

NightRider,

I think you are talking about my Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (aka Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.) It’s a small world :slight_smile:

Where did you go to Liturgy? We have quite a number of English-speaking parishes and a large number of our clergy are English-speaking or converts.

Sorry for pestering you with yet another question Father Ambrose but as an honarary Offaly man I know you wil be patient.:wink:

I was a monk for several years myself with the Cistercians and read The Way of the Pilgrim many times with very great profit, you’re right it is superb.
But tell me this please. In unending prayer in which the pilgrim never ceases from praying but becomes himself, in a sense the Jesus Prayer…is this in you opinion the equivalent to what we in the west call Transforming Union or Spiritual Marriage?
I know its difficult to translate such things from one spiritual culture to the next, but I’d be happy with your best guess.:confused:

I always liked Saint Seraphim of Sarov myself, especially himm feeding the bears!:blessyou:

[quote=padraig]But tell me this please. In unending prayer in which the pilgrim never ceases from praying but becomes himself, in a sense the Jesus Prayer…is this in you opinion the equivalent to what we in the west call Transforming Union or Spiritual Marriage?
I know its difficult to translate such things from one spiritual culture to the next, but I’d be happy with your best guess.:confused:
[/quote]

I do not know. My best shot at understanding RC mystical theology was years ago when I read Tanqueray’s “The Spiritual Life” but I could not really get a grip on him. I think that book is still on the shelves somewhere.

What do you think? Interested to hear that you were a Cistercian. We have one monastery in this country, a foundation from Ireland, and I used to visit it in the past. We had a small monastery not far from theirs and they would visit us too on the rare occasion.


The Jesus Prayer in Irish:
A Thiarna Iosa Chriost, Mac De, dean trocaire orm-se peacach

Yes Father,
I think that a few in the monastery are from Ireland down there, but I suppose like everywhere else they have difficulties with vocations.

I was always interested in Mystical Theology and did a degree in Psycology to get a better handle on it when I left the Abbey. I have read widely in the Eastern Fathers. I would say my favourite was indeed The Way of the Pilgrim, which I read many, many times as good for the novice taking her first steps as for those who are walking the mountain reaches. Although my own feeling is that if one is really going to follow that particular path it would be better to have a Spiritual Father from that tradition who has travelled that road himself. For there are pitfalls, especially for those from the western tradition, for there might be, what should I say, misinterpretations.

I was a little surprised that you hadn’t read more widely the western Saints on Mystical Theology, if you gat a chance please read Saint Teresa of Avila, specifically The Interior Mansions (or Castles) she is brilliant and what is more would be very congenial I suspect to the Eastern mind set. I know how suspicious you all are of scholasticism;) and She is very human, not simply a brain on wheels:D

Anyway, I know maybe the Way of the Pilgrim was maybe not meant to be analysed in a western sense (for that was not what it was written for) but yes, I believe that when the Pilgrim prays without ceasing, when the prayer not only arises spontaneously from the heart and is one with the Pilgrim then he can exclaim with Saint Paul, ‘I live not I but Christ lives in me!’ Then like SSaint Paul the day star will have sprung forth in his mind and the Pilgrimage will be complete. As we in the West say Spirtual Marriage or Transforming Union.

I noticed what you said about the early Celtic Churches. In fact these were very Eastern in their spiritual path. Ireland was a paradise of Monasteries and hermits, saints everywhere, a little Mount Athos in the west!:slight_smile:

By the way, Father Tanquery would not have been my first choice for you to read. The pseudo scientific methods of the early 20th century mystical theologians would probably give easterners a dose of spiritual indigestion, better perhaps someone like Thomas Merton.
But I recall reading a very famous compendium of eastern saints writings, they seemed to all be in it. I think it is standard issue for you all…I would like to read it again…is it the ladder or something?

Dear padraig,

Are you thinking of the Philokalia, which, I think,
is available in English in 4 ?] volumes.
I, too, loved the Way of a Pilgrim.
If it isn’t the Philokalia, I would like to know
what the name of the compendium is.
Thanks,
reen12

BTW, I agree heartily on Father Tanquery not
being the most user-friendly work to start
with !

Yes Reen, of course! The Philokalia! Excellent. Anyone who can claim to understand that book should be made Patriarch of Greece, I think!:smiley:
The westerner reading eastern books has to change gears completely. It gets more difficult when you move further east to say Zen Buddhism. But thats I think whats good about Eastern Christianity, it serves as a great bridge to understanding the great religious traditions of Asia.

People like Tanquery try a little too hard to excise the head from the heart, if you know what I mean. I don’t beieve folks should be writing on prayer on less they not only talk the talk but walk the walk if you know what I mean.
In this respect eastern criticism of the west was very right!:o

By the way Reen there was a great book about an Russian Orthodox monk Fr Silhouan who died on Mount Athos in I believe the 1920’s. A very great saint, I believe he may have kept a spiritual diary. Well worth reading, maybe Fr Amrose will recall if he reads this and if he was raised to the altars?

Dear padraig,

I’ve read it! A wonderful book. Author: Sophrony?
Title: Silouan: Monk of Mt. Athos? The little grey cells
are not serving me well, today.

BTW, padraig, I’ve been reading on Buddhism for
35 plus years, and having some fine exchanges
with one of the posters on the NonCatholic forum.

I earned [and I do mean *earned ! ] a BA in philosophy
many years ago, and then proceeded to read steadily on: Buddhism, Hassidism, psychology, Orthodoxy [especially
the Orthodox saints] and hesychasm. You can do a
lot of reading in 35 years. [Still can’t spell, though.]

What else do you recommed as worth reading? and
what do you make of the words to Fr. Silouan: “Keep
your mind in hell, and despair not.”

Best regards,
reen12

You’ve being doing some reading Reen. But have you read many Catholic mystics/mystical writers? You asked for recommendations so I wasn’t sure.

Fr Silohan’s words baffle me, but no doubt Fr Ambrose will explain.
In Catholicism talkiing about hell kinda went outa fashion since Vatican Two.
There used to be a vow the Redemptorist Order used to take to preach on Hell but they’ve dropped it. A priest I know started to preach on hell but the Bishop ordered him to stop it! We used to have a tradition of meditating on the three last things but thats long gone.
I would be kinda nervous of pointing someone’s nose hellwards in meditation, seems negative and depressing…
Still perhaps Fr Ambrose has a better take on this…:confused:

[quote=padraig]I was a little surprised that you hadn’t read more widely the western Saints on Mystical Theology, if you gat a chance please read Saint Teresa of Avila, specifically The Interior Mansions (or Castles) she is brilliant and what is more would be very congenial I suspect to the Eastern mind set.
[/quote]

I have read Teresa and John of the Cross when I was younger. The imagery is not very congenial to the Orthodox and as you would now, any “dark night of the soul” is an aberration in the spiritual life of Eastern monastics, something to be dealt with as quickly as possible with the aid of one’s spiritual father/mother, by confession and communion and by earnest prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ.

By the way, Father Tanquery would not have been my first choice for you to read. The pseudo scientific methods of the early 20th century mystical theologians would probably give easterners a dose of spiritual indigestion

I was reading Tanqueray, and others, in the 1960s. At that time I would think that he and his approach was all that was available. By way of contrast I was reading Lossky’s “Mystical Theology” at the same time. Could there be a greater contrast?!

better perhaps someone like Thomas Merton.

Padraig, you are makine me feel so a-n-c-i-e-n-t ! I first started with “The Seven-Storied Mountain” when I was a teenager and before I studied Tanqueray.

But I recall reading a very famous compendium of eastern saints writings, they seemed to all be in it. I think it is standard issue for you all…I would like to read it again…is it the ladder or something?

“The Ladder of Divine Ascent” is the work of Saint John Climacus (monk of Mount Sinai, 6th century) and is still a textbook for Orthodox monks and nuns. It is a book which we are asked to read through every Lent.

But the compendium of Saints’ writings which you may have in mind is the Philokalia - a five volume collection of spiritual writings on the Prayer of the Heart, encompassing holy authors from the 4th to 14th centuries.

Father,
I’m not quite sure if you’re using the term ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ in a western sense. Here it would be taken as a pretty rare spiritual event, a sign of real holiness. You seem to have it as almost a regular event? Maybe you’re thinking of the night of the senses…the moving into contemplative prayer?

Why do you think we in the west concentrate so much on the Crucifixtion and the dark while in the east there is so much emphasis on the light and Easter?

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