Degrees of Sanctity July 26, 2010Posted by daniel ayad in Saints.
People may ask what the degrees of sanctity in the church are. Is there a ladder of saints based on sanctification?
I am not aware of a total consensus on this issue, but at least certainly there is a general consensus.
1. The church has taught us that the ladder of the saints starts with our Mother, the Virgin, whom the church calls “the mother of all saints”. She is full of grace on whom God’s spirit descended, purifying and sanctifying her, and making her an example to all the saints in virtue and a faithful intercessor for all humans.
Hopefully you can recall our post of St Mary the Virgin, where we briefly explained her great glorification above all the heavenly creatures, except the Heavenly Creator.
2. After Saint Mary is the archangels and angels, creatures of God who humbled themselves before Him. The angels are, among other things, ministering spirits to those who are being saved and an example to us of faithfulness to God, as well as intercessors for us before God.
Remember that Satan was an archangel who was full of pride and therefore fell. He chose, along with a large host of angels to rebel against God, saying “I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14: 14).
3. The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were a good example of those who worshipped God in an age that was full of idolatry, corruption, and much sin. They were promised that the Lord Jesus would descend from them, a blessing and salvation for all mankind.
4. The prophets: they were saints who obeyed God and lived in accordance with His commandments. They conveyed His message to His people, the Jews, in order that they might repent of their evil and give up idol worship.
5. The martyrs: these come next for they held their lives of low estate for the sake of their faith in the Lord Jesus and died for Him. They showed adherence to their Orthodox beliefs and persistence in the life of purity. They were lovely examples of those who cared more for the things of heaven than of the earth, for heaven is infinite and lasting, while earth is temporary and transient.
6. Last come the saints: they are the monks who loved God and left all to be with Him, or they are married laymen or the celibate who consecrated their hearts to God, whether through a general spiritual consecration or a special one into the priesthood, or through adopting a life of monasticism and ministering celibacy.
This view is taken from H.G Bishop Moussa, from Who is the Church, pg 30-31 (2007)