Saints who loved Him
If we meditate on the lives of those saints who loved God and familiarity they had with God, and the high rank He gave them to the extent that He considered them as His friends entrusting them with His mysteries, we will certainly love Him as they did.
The biographies of the saints lift us up to a high spiritual level.
They lift us high over material, over the world, over the body and sin. They remove the world away from the heart so that God may dwell in it. They are a nourishment for the soul as Mar Ishak says: “Pleasant are the stories of the saints, like water to a new paradise!”
The biographies of the saints have their influence on the soul, calling upon us to take them as models.
The biography of St. Anthony written by St. Athanasius to the Romans had a deep effect on many. It led St. Augustine to repentance and asceticism. It turned him into a great saint whose great love for God was revealed in his contemplations which were carried on from one generation to another.
Likewise the biographies of the saints of the wilderness, which were recorded by the tourists who visited the monks of Egypt in late fourth century and early fifth, these biographies had a great influence on the souls. They led many thousands to monasticism, devoting their lives to God satisfied with prayers in communion with God and love for Him.
Indeed the world was not worthy of them (Heb 11: 38)
The earth was not worthy of their feet treading it.
For their prayers God brought down rain.
They were God’s image on the earth. They restored the divine image in which the first man had been created. Whoever saw them desired to stay with them to enjoy God’s life revealed in them (Gal 2:20).
God endowed those saints with open eyes that can see the invisible.
The Lord blessed the eyes of His disciples “for they see” (Mt 13: 16); and Elisha the Prophet saw things which his disciple Gihazi could not see, so he prayed that God might open his eyes, and he saw the Lord’s troops surrounding the city to save it.
And how wonderful are the eyes of John the Beloved which saw the things which he recorded in the Revelation!
How beautiful are his words: “Behold, a door standing open in heaven… Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and one sat on the throne”! (Rev 4: 1, 2).
We have also St. Paul the Apostle who was caught up to the third heaven and heard inexpressible world (2 Cor 12: 2,4).
Many also are the visions of God’s holy men, whether those recorded in the Scripture like the visions of Daniel and Ezekiel, or those of the church history which are innumerable. Through such visions God revealed His will to His beloved, revealed to them future things by which He strengthened and comforted them. Take for instance St. Anthony, St. Bishoy, St. Paul the Simple… and many others.
When we read all this we long to have similar visions. But how could this happen unless we love Him and have purity of heart.?! For the Lord says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt 5: 8)
What a great glory we do not deserve! May You, O Lord, give us such purity of heart which You gave to Your beloved!
John the Beloved saw part of the Lord’s glory and St. Bishoy saw Him and washed His feet. Many others saw Him in visions or dreams and heard His voice. I remember the holy men of the Old Testament who saw Him and were entrusted with messages to people.
Those saints had familiarity with God.
God took them as friends, revealed to them His plans and His will, permitted them to express their opinion and to argue with Him Our father Abraham in an example (Gen 18: 17): “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?!” And God let him argue: “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?… Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Abraham continued arguing till God said that He would not destroy the city if He found ten righteous people there! (Gen 18: 23-32).
The same happened with Moses the Prophet when God wanted to destroy the people for worshipping the golden calf.
He first told Moses what He was going to do (Ex 23: 9), but Moses spoke to Him with familiarity, saying, “Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people… Turn from your fierce anger and relent from this harm to Your people…” And the Lord relented! (Ex 32: 11-14).
All such stories have their influence on the heart, so one longs to have such familiarity and exchange love with God. Those saints had that familiarity and favor with God even after their death.
God did not punish Solomon but kept the punishment to the days of his son Rehoboam, and said He would give one tribe to him for the sake of His servant David (1 kgs 11: 13). David continued having that favor with God and he said addressing the Lord, “For the sake of David Your servant,” “Remember David and all His meekness.”
Moreover, God connected His name with the names of His beloved, as He said to Moses in the bush, “I am the God of Abraham… Isaac… Jacob” (Ex 3: 6). The Lord used these words in His reply to the Sadducees concerning the resurrection (Mt 22: 32).
He ascribes His law to Moses, saying, “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded Him in Horeb…” (Mal 4:4).
The words Moses’ Law is repeated on many occasions, as in (Lk 2: 22; 1 kgs 2: 3; Neh 8:1 ; Da 9: 11; Jn 7: 23; Acts 13: 39, 15: 5; Heb 10: 28) He also called the Holy Scriptures with the names of His beloved, like the Books of Samuel, Nehemiah, Esther… Does all this honor which God gives to His children have no influence on you, that you may live with Him and enjoy his blessing?!
He also gave His children the keys of the heavens and the earth. (Mt 16: 19)
“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Mt 18: 18) “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn 20: 23) The Lord gave them Power to work miracles. See what amazing words He says; “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.” (Jn 14: 12)
O Lord, how wonderful such love! Who cannot love You!
He entrusted His Children with His stores to give from them as they want, as their will conform with His will.
Now beautiful are His words about Moses the Prophet: “He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face… he sees the form of the Lord.” (Num 12: 7, 8) To the son, the brother of the lost son, He said wonderful words: “all that I have is yours.” (Lk 15: 31) he even says to the Father about His disciples: “The glory which You gave Me I have given them!” (Jn 17: 22).
I stand bewildered before these three words, trying to go deep into them that I may understand them well.
How deep indeed is god’s indescribable love! How wonderful is His goodness and bounty! He gives everybody, even the ungrateful son (Lk 15)! Shall we not then love Him from all our hearts?!
Let us meditate on the lives of those saints and see how they loved Him:
Daniel for God’s sake preferred to be cast into the lions’ den than to deny Him. So he deserved to have such a wonderful experience: “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths.” (Da 6: 22)
Likewise the three young men preferred to be east into the burning furnace than to deny Him. So they enjoyed two wonderful thing: the Son of God walking with them in the midst of the fire, and the fire having no power over their bodies; the hair of their head was not singed (Da 3: 24-28).
Our father Abraham, for his faith and obedience, was about to offer his only son as a burnt offering to the Lord. His love for the Lord was deeper beyond measure than his love for his only son. So he enjoyed the blessing: “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand… In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,” (Gen 22: 16- 18).
Time is lacking to speak about the stories of the martyrs, confessors, preachers, and all the beloved of the Lord, or to speak about the power given them to work miracles, the visions they saw, and their acceptable intercessions even after death.
Let us remember the way many of those saints departed from our mortal world.
Some cases are rare high levels, such as the way Elijah the Prophet went up unto heaven (2 kgs 11), Enoch and how the Lord took him (Gen 5: 24), the story of the dormition of the holy Virgin and the ascension of her body. But let us see what the Scripture says, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his!” (Num 23 : 10). St. Anthony saw the soul of Amba Amoun carried by angels with joy; Amba Karass the anchorite whose soul was received by saints singing to him Psalm (114); and St. Stephen at the time of his martyrdom saw the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right of God (Acts 7: 55, 56). His face was like an angel’s face (Acts 6: 15).
Some saints on their departure the room was filled with light and incense. Others at the time of departure saw comforting visions, so their hearts rejoiced and a smile was on their faces.
Because they loved God, He made the time of their departure a time of joy.
Some were informed by the Lord of the time of their departure, like some anchorites. Among those are Abba Nopher; St. Sedaros the solitary, and Mary the Copt.
Many others appeared after their death to some people.
Among those is St. Ignatius of Antioch the martyr who was cast into the hungry lions. They devoured him, and after his death he appeared to his companions who were in prison, comforted them, and encouraged them. Miracles sometimes happened while some saints were tormented. This made many beehives, as in the story of St. George. Sometimes the means of murdering those saints failed as with St. John the Beloved, St. Polycarp, and the poison for St. George.
When we meditate on the beautiful attributes of those saints we love them, we love their attributes, and we love God who dwells in them.
All this is a mere example for such a long subject. You can further meditate on it by yourself.