The body of Christ is one Body. There is only One Church -- not divided between those who have fallen asleep in Christ and those who remain behind. Whether we are here or in the hand of God, the struggle is the struggle of the whole Church. My success or failure in my spiritual life is not my private business, but the concern of a great cloud of witnesses. Neither are they watching only as disinterested bystanders. They urge us on and support us with their prayers. Were they to watch us without participating at the same time in our struggles, the watching would be like torture. As it is, their watching is prayer and participation of the deepest sort.
It is for this reason (among many) that many services in the Eastern Church contain the phrase, "Lord Jesus Christ, through the prayers of our holy fathers, have mercy on us and save us." It is a humility of sorts, a demurring to the prayers of greater Christians -- but it is also calling on a reality that abides. We are not alone. The great cloud of witnesses stands with me and in me in prayer.
Every prayer we ourselves offer is a participation in the life of the world. We have a participation in the great cloud of witnesses, but we also have a participation in everyone who is. The prayer of a righteous few has an amazing salvific impact on the life of the world. If they'd had but a few more righteous men, Sodom and Gomorrah would still be standing. To this day we do not know how many or how few, in their righteous prayers, preserve us before God.
Today, April 23, we remember Holy Greatmartyr, Victorybearer and Wonderworker George, and ask him to also remember us to God.