The contemporary holy elders, whose lives our website presents – with God’s help – are characterized by a remarkable unity with the saints of old, both in their faith and life, a unity which is not the work of human strength or imitation but a natural consequence of the unity of old and new saints with Christ, Who is ever unchanging (Heb. 13:8), a unity of branches with the live-giving Vine (John 15:4-5). If the tree is known by its fruits (Matt. 7:16-20), then the lives of the saints testify to the action of the All-good, All-wise and All-powerful Holy Spirit in the history of the Church.

The miraculous events and signs in the lives of the saints – witnessing chiefly to those around them – and much moreso their astounding virtues, such as their uplifting deep humility and their genuine abundant love towards God and their neighbor, are phenomena and conditions which pervade the lives of all the saints, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, ascetics in proportion to the faith of each, from the beginning of history till our days and are proof that the gates of Hades will not overcome the Church (Matt. 16:18). According to St. Justin Popovic: "And what are the ‘Lives of the Saints?’ They are nothing else but a certain kind of continuation of the Acts of the Apostles. In them is found the same Gospel, the same life, the same truth, the same righteousness, the same love, the same faith, the same eternity, the same ‘power from on high,’ the same God and Lord. For ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever’” (Heb. 13:8).

In the Orthodox Church, it was never accepted that the age of the Holy Fathers was limited only to the first centuries after Christ, ending with St. John of Damascus – as in Roman Catholicism – but every holy teacher of the Church is considered a father of the Church, since in the life of the Church “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21); the witness of the Holy Spirit gives a particular authority to the teaching of the saints. St. Symeon the New Theologian characterizes those Orthodox who deny the possibility of sanctification for the faithful of the later years of the Church’s life as the worst heretics: “But those of whom I speak and whom I call heretics are those who say that there is no one in our times and in our midst who is able to keep the Gospel commandments and become like the holy Fathers ... Those who say that this is impossible do not have some particular heresy, but all of them – if such a thing is possible – since this [belief] surpasses them and outweighs them with impiety and the excess of impiety. Whoever says this undermines the whole of Holy Scripture” (Logos 29).

The life of our Holy Church is the giving of the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under heaven to the saints of the Most High until the end times and after the end times (Daniel 7:22-27), a fulfillment of the unfailing promise of Christ, that the Comforter “abides with you forever” (John 14:16).

    


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By Elder Porphyrios. The crucial thing is to enter the Church – to unite with our fellow beings, with everyone's joys and sorrows,.. (29/4/2011)


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