The Orthodox Church honors the saints who have pleased God every day, performs special services in honor of them and reminds us about them all the time. Why is that?
First, it is done so that when we remember the saints, we learn to imitate their virtues and to keep our souls and bodies clean and pure. The word on the Eve of the Nativity of Christ says, “Why do we commemorate the Holy Forefathers?” and answers: “Let us also, brethren, do good deeds and be friends with God and sons of His kingdom. Such were the Forefathers, too. They were men like us, but they hated the flesh, conquered the flesh to the spirit, and restrained it. They loved wakefulness, fasting, and continuous prayer. Thus, everyone should be zealous to do like they did, not like thieves, or drunkards, or villains who will be tormented with the devil.”
Secondly, the Church constantly reminds us of the saints so that we may resort to them in need and honor them. St. Basil the Great says, “The afflicted resorts to the saints, the merry one comes to them; one to find deliverance from difficult circumstances, the other to protect his well-being. Here you will meet a godly wife praying for the children, asking for the return of her departed husband, and for health to the sick. Let your petitions be worthy of the saints… Sacred choir, holy retinue! Unbroken regiment! The common guardians of the human race! Good accomplices in care, helpers in prayer, strongest intercessors, lights of the universe, flowers of churches… The earth did not hide you, but the sky welcomed you; the gates of paradise opened to you” (Conversation 19 on the Holy Forty Martyrs. Works of Holy Fathers, Vol. VIII). Such veneration was given to the saints by the Universal Teacher, and such power he attributed to their prayers.
Thirdly and lastly, the Holy Church often commemorates the saints in order to constantly guard our spiritual communion with them. The more often we remember the saints, the closer we get to them; the more we turn to them, the more we become convinced that they are our most dear mentors, friends and benefactors, and the more we come closer to them, the more we ignite our love for them. David says, How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! (Psalm 139:17). Thus, brethren, it is not in vain that the Holy Church constantly reminds us of the saints of God, but with the aim of teaching us their faith, so that we may always resort to them as reliable helpers in difficult cases of our lives, so that we may always be grateful and appreciative for their good deeds, and never interrupt our spiritual fellowship with them.
Let us, brethren, be attentive to the intentions of the Church and let us follow the saints. “Let us look upon their way of life, and envision their faith, their love, their hope, their zeal, their life, their steadfastness in suffering, and their patience, even to the point of shedding blood; that we may be crowned with them in glory.” (The Precise Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 4, Ch. 15). Amen.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds