The Lives of the Saints and Us

The Lives of the Saints and Us


Fr. Andreas Agathokleous


The lives of the saints are the ‘Gospel in action’, according to the modern Serbian saint, Justin Popović. Through them, we see their struggles and strivings, their longing and their love, their blessings and grace. We realize that the Word of God is attainable, though applying it seems difficult. However, if one person has managed to do something difficult, this means that others can do so, too.

It’s nevertheless the case that, when we read about the ascesis they performed, we’re tempted to wonder whether it is all true. Because, for us today, with the comforts and the relaxed attitudes which characterize us, we think that such ascesis is excessive, if not impossible. How did they manage it?

I think that, if we’re going to understand the lives of the saints, ancient and modern, we have to accept their love for God, their zeal and their heart-felt longing for the person of Christ. This is what led them to make efforts greater than the ordinary, as an expression of their love. At the same time, because of this love, Divine Grace gave them the strength to achieve the unachievable.

As an individual, each person has his or her own name and identity. Imitation of another person, as regards their way of life, will result in failure, unless the necessary conditions are already in place.

As members of the Church, we rejoice that our brothers and sisters achieved what they did, that they ‘shone like bright stars in the spiritual firmament’. And so their grace spreads ‘throughout the whole world’, it embraces everyone, it heals pain ‘everywhere on earth’. This is why we honour and praise them.

Naturally, in order to receive their grace we have to be receptive. The sun’s rays don’t pass through a thick wall. It’s our own desire to live the Gospel that will activate our multiple, hidden powers so that we’ll perform our own ascesis, bringing the Grace of God and making the impossible possible, for us and through us.

It’s important to find what it is that’s right for us. What we can and what we want to do. The most honest thing is for us to tell ourselves what we don’t want, rather than making excuses about our incapacity. God’s not going to ask us to do anything impossible. If that were the case, there’d be no joy.

The spiritual struggle of the saints, as an expression of love for God, was the basis of their delight. So any ascesis we engage in (prayer, fasting, prostrations, study, observance of Christ’s commandments), can bring great joy, powerful boldness and familiarity with God, so long as we do it with humility. Then we understand the lives of the saints, we see for ourselves that they were real, and, along with them, we rejoice in the common Kingdom of our common Lord.





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OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.

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Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.