Armodoxy for Today
Saints are perhaps one of the most misunderstood elements of the Church. Saints are not God. We don’t worship saints. Saints are human, people, just like you and me. Just like us, they have free will. They have doubts, in fact, some have had doubts about God as well as about matters of Faith.
Jesus says, “Courage, the victory is mine. I have overcome the world.” The saints are those who took Jesus for his word, took on the challenges of the world with courage and overcame their condition and therefore, share in the victory with Christ.
In the Armenian Church, the feast of All Saints is celebrated in on a Saturday in November. In the West, All Saints is a fixed feast, that is, it is celebrated on the first day of November. The night before All Saints Day, is appropriately called All Saints Eve, or Hallows Eve, sloppily transformed into Halloween. In the Armenian Church the tradition of the evening before the feast is called Nakhadonak.
Saints have passed on from their physical life, and, as scripture refers to it, they have fallen asleep in Christ. People have tried to grapple with the notion of an end to a physical existence and have pondered about the possibilities of ghosts, hence the connection with some of the popular customs that emphasize death and spooky manifestations of the afterlife surrounding Halloween. Coupled with the huge profit motive in selling costumes, masks, movies, stories of horror, etc., the original intention and connection with saints is forgotten.
Saints give us examples of living. If you or I try (or dare) to compare our lives with Jesus Christ we are doomed for failure because Jesus is perfect. We will always fall short of perfection. But in looking at the saints, we have a model. They are human and therefore they live with frailties and imperfections; however, in their lives they were able to rise from the human condition, and for us today, they give us a model and an example for living.
From St. Nersess’ prayer, (#7), Beholder of all, I have sinned against You, in thought, word or deed. Blot out the handwriting of my offenses and write my name in the book of Life. Amen.