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Orthodoxy and Saints - John Mark - 21-05-2007 01:34 PM

With regards to saints and the difference somewhat between the EO and OO churches I realise that the BOC regards many saints within Eastern Orthodoxy as Orthodox but is there a line drawn somewhere between who is and who is not a saint?

I presume the approach to Christianity is the focus as one of Orthodoxy rather than the actual existence of a division? EO and OO are for all intents and purposes the same except in variations of expression in worship and of course the difference in theological expression and terminology.

Perhaps an extreme example would be that the Russian Orthodox Church has canonised Tsar Nicholas II as Saint Nicholas The Passion Bearer, would he be regarded as a saint by the BOC or am I approaching the idea of sainthood in a too legalistic manner?


In Christ

JM


Saints - John Charmley - 22-05-2007 06:25 AM

Dear John Mark,

Your question is an interesting one, and is one that Peter Farrington and myself have raised with the Eastern Orthodox; of course some of the latter do not (alas) regard us as Orthodox at all, and so at times one can end up with the oddest sort of discussion. The strangest one was when some EO tried to insist that St. Isaac the Syrian has not been a member of a Church they called 'Nestorian'; this was very odd, since it was the EO who called the Church of the East Nestorian in the first place.

That bears on your question, because it is clear that all Orthodox and Catholic Churches regard Issac as a saint. One of the bones of contention in the talks about unity is what we do about the issue of saints, because there are those in the EO who refuse utterly to regard Sts. Dioscorus and Severus of Antioch as saints. Mind you, the Russian Patriarchate does not, if memory serves me correctly, accept ROCOR's definition of Nicholas II as a saint.

The process by which saints are made in the Orthodox Church is far less legalistic than in the Roman Catholic Church - and it would be useful to have more information on this subject. My understanding (which is probably as fallible as my memory) is that we do recognise the EO saints, even if they do not recognise ours.

In Christ,

John


- John Mark - 25-05-2007 10:58 AM

Dear John, thank you for the reply;

It is as far as I can tell a good approach to the saints if one recognises they were just as sinful as us which is useful for reminding us of what we can achieve. Also the BOC position (as it would seem to me) of recognising Christian holiness before denomination is eminently sensible.

With regards to St. Nicholas it will be interesting now that ROCOR and the ROC have reconciled to see what will happen with regards to monarchist saints. I suppose in his case one might argue it was more what he represented as a figurehead than necessarily his being a holy man? Nonetheless the Tsar appears to have been a relatively nice chap as absolute monarchs go but was very much out of his depth in early 20th century Russia!

In Christ

JM


Saints - John Charmley - 12-06-2007 09:16 PM

Dear John Mark,

Indeed. The attitude of some of the Russian Orthodox to Nicholas II is a source of never-ceasing amazement to me. On another forum Peter and I have encountered those who simply refuse to accept that as a monarch he was totally useless; really up there with Charles I - who was, of course, long regarded in the C of E as a martyr!

It would be splendid if more took the view that EO and OO are essentially one - but in ROCOR in particular, you will be fortunate to find many who do - which is a shame, but something one learns to live with.

This can come up especially with someone like St. Severus of Antioch, who some EO have real problems accepting as a Saint; when pressed they usually find it difficult to substantiate their view - falling back on the 'I was taught this'; not, alas, that they always seem willing to be taught differently.

In Christ,

John