Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Martyrs and Saints

There were two topics that came up on my Twitter feed yesterday that caught my attention. The first was the Coptic Church recognized the martyrdom of the 21 Christians killed by ISIS, with several people posting the above icon. The second item was that Pope Francis declares Saint Gregory of Narek a Doctor of the Church. This Saint Gregory of Narek was an Armenian priest an monk who lived at the end of the 10th century, and is an important saint in the Armenian Apostolic Church, although he is also recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church. He is known for his poetry, some of which has been compiled in this nice website.

One thing that ties these two events together is that the Coptic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church both separated from Rome after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. What I find amazing is how similar these churches are to the Catholic Church, even though this division is so old. I attribute that to the mercy of God, who has maintained a level of unity of faith, even after formal unity was lost. This gives me hope that we will see full unity between our churches soon.

The other thing that ties these events together is that we are celebrating the Communion of the Saints. Those 21 Coptic martyrs are in heaven now, together with Saint Gregory of Narek and all of the other saints. Their arrival in heaven, however, has not cut them off from us. We may not see them now, but they are aware of us who are still on earth, and they are praying for us.

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