Post date: Jul 1, 2013 5:19:12 PM
Each year as name days come around, I think about their significance. Most of us are given a saint’s name—perhaps even more than one. Sometimes, these names come to us because they were names of a loved one in our family, a grandmother, an uncle, a godparent, a dear friend. Other times, we were given these names because someone—our parents or godparents, usually—had a strong connection with a particular saint. Whatever the case may be, if we have a saint’s name, we have a patron saint, someone who is close to God and whose intercessions we can request.
In the morning prayers we can find in most Orthodox prayer books, towards the end, we find this intercessory prayer: “Pray to God for me, O Saint <name>, well-pleasing to God. I fervently entreat you who are the sure help and intercessor for my soul.” We have a daily opportunity to ask our patron saint for his prayers; this is certainly within our tradition. But we should not let this be a one-sided relationship. What do I mean by that? That, just as our relationship with God should not be one of simply asking, our relationship with our patron saint should not be one of simply asking.
Of course, since we are talking about saints, they are not in need of our prayers for them: they are already with God. However, we can honor them with services (if you have a saint you would like to honor by celebrating the feast day with the divine services, all you need to do is let me know and show up). If we have Vespers for the saint’s feast, we can offer the artoklasia and bless the entire parish with our offering in honor of the saint. Just as importantly, we can become familiar with their lives and learn from their examples. After all, the saints have grown close to God and therefore they desire for us the same thing that He desires: our salvation. In the end, following their lead (and, through them, Christ’s lead) into the kingdom of heaven is the best way to honor the saints whose names we bear.
With love in Christ,