The saints are our examples of how to "be like Christ" from our particular situation.
Some saints are more applicable than others, that's why we have so many. We do get to pick which saint to emulate, based on our situation. The saints aren't uniform in situation or personality, but they all point toward Christ.
But not everything every saint ever did is worthy of emulation, so if "being like St. M" leads to
different behavior than "being like Christ" it's better to avoid emulting her in that regard.
So, being like a particular saint is sometimes easier than being like Christ, particularly in situations Christ never encountered (like being female or raising children), but saints have sinned, so it's good to be selective.
Fr. Seraphim might have said, 'Try being yourself first and once you know who you really are, then ask the question again.'
I have been an admirer of the 'What would Jesus do?' meme but ultimately this is weird because while Jesus suffered as a man and people came to Him to be an arbiter in contentious issues, He is not a magic eight ball to be shaken up and consulted. Faith in Christ revitalizes the organ of conscience and for a Christian regularly receiving the sacrament of confession conscience - the voice of God within us - continues to become stronger and more reliable guide in life. Being 'made whole 'in Christ is less about imitating others than becoming who we really are as unique members of creation.
The saints are inspiration. Faced with difficult choices, their faith prevailed and they shown as 'cloud of witness'. In my mind there is nothing more shallow and pathetic than some poser wearing chains or trying to walk across the country on their knees or some crap like this. This is deluded. Yet who among us has not been influenced in major decisions and undertakings by the opinion and behavior of their friends?
As for imitating Jesus, this only makes sense if you see Christ as a 'good man' and not God or if you have a few screws loose and you also talk to God about whether James Brown or Elvis is really the 'King'.
My Lame 2 cents
I never would have imagined that Fr. S would say such a thing, but I like that imagined answer.
I ask this question because a very energetic protestant crossed my path recently. Assuming I was an unbeliever he started in with his proselytizing shtick. I asked him to please pray for me (which is usually what I do when a non-Orthodox Christian starts trying to convert me to their particular sect. I figure it never hurts to have someone praying for me, even if they're Mormon or whatever). His response to me asking him to pray for me was to ask if I was a believer. This irked me because I felt that as a missionary type (which he clearly was) his first response to a stranger asking him for prayers should be, "Yes, of course I'll pray for you, what is your name?"
I told him yes, that I was a believer. He then asked if people come to me at my place of work for solutions to their personal problems. I told him no, not really...not that I'm conscious of. He then started to mildly attack (correct? counsel?) me by telling me that my faith should be such that it shines before men and entices them to seek my counsel. He extorted me to be like Jesus.
I was admittedly in a foul mood when I ran into this man and I told him as much. Then I told him I could not be like Jesus, because Jesus is the Son of God whereas I am merely a human. I told him that I strive to be like the saints. He got very cocky with me and told me that Christ should be our example. I told him the saints were mine. Then I excused myself and walked away. As I walked away he huffed again at me and said that Christ is his example.
I remember an influential Orthodox Christian telling me once when I was a learning about that faith that it is a false teaching to try to "be like Jesus." I also recall a priest saying something along those lines, too. This made sense to me, because it personally irks me when a Christian thinks he can speak with the same authority and power that Christ did. Or that every thought that comes into their mind is directly from God and therefore all of their opinions are true, etc and they try to speak to others as though they are Christ himself.
Edited at 2010-05-08 11:56 pm (UTC)
Clearly a case of the Guy, God and Elvis.
Protestants are prepared for your anger. It's part of the script of their movie. What they're more often not prepared for is pity and compassion for the fact that they don't have the company of the saints or the teaching of the Church so all they have is Jesus. Of course, Jesus is a powerfully ally but I don't remember His admonition to go forth and Be Smug before all nations.
Archbishop John delivered a similar line about the responsibility of being Orthodox, that each believer was like a drop of water that could potentially 'reflect the whole rainbow of Orthodoxy' but the idea that you should be a magnet for counsel is just silly. We strive to reflect the love we have recieved (not immitate God's love) so that our example might let others know who we are: Christians.
I think your defensive stance is just you being annoyed with Protestants in the advanced stages of the Me, God and Elvis disease. Don't let the kooks play your keyboard.
Say thanks. Be appriciative but not forthcoming with details.
Wear a clown hat.
Lamesolutions for Lame Situations
By God's Providence I just re-read an edited version of New Martyr Maria of Gatchina's life (from Conquering Depression) and from it I quote: "Completely strange and unknown people, finding themselves in sorrows, grief and depression began to visit her [when she was lying in the hospital dying of Parkinson's disease]. Everyone who came to her left consoled, feeling an illumination of their grief, a calming of fears, a taking away of depression."
Reading these words made me realize I was being a complete asshole to this Protestant guy. He's right. I should be a source of light in the world, but I am often not. I am more often a fount of anger and negativity. I need to repent of that...
Edited at 2010-05-09 08:40 pm (UTC)
Well, I always vote for repentance because it can't do harm and if it is based on self reflection, that's what we're called to do in the Life in Christ. Greet folks with a smile and strangely enough, they may leave you alone.
Maria of Gatchina was a Saint and people came to her for consolation from the Lord. She didn't put a sign up ''the doctor is in". You, on the other hand, have a lot of life experience. I won't go into it here on the forum, but you know what I'm talking about and its valuable stuff. You don't need to go out and join a mendicant order of leper supporters. There are plenty of opportunities to share compassion with those closer to you.
I hope your take on your experience with the Protestant guy is the way to resolution. I personally resist, too, when aggressive do gooders try to fix me up. To repent of a negative attitude is positive, but I would still be wary of letting niggling finger pointers direct my conscience just because they had a good hard look at my character flaws. We can learn for anyone in any situation, but there is such a thing as over reaction to those who point out our faults. It is pretty common for outsiders to see plainly the faults that are semi-hidden for ourselves (i.e. when we are acting like a-holes) but the embarrassing flash of enlightenment that comes when we realize that others can see us as we really are doesn't give them the right to start directing traffic on the inside.
You're bad. Tsk tsk.
In fact, D, you are Super Bad.
Jump back. Kiss yourself.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv5TeJUBdq4
Long time no post! Let's argue sometime soon.
Yeah, real life is more exhausting but the benefits from being tired after a days work sure beat the hollow empty feeling of being tired after staying up all night on the Internet.
Aflame with lame