Metropolitan Hilarion: “The Mother of God”
“The Mother of God stands at the head of the host of saints glorified by the Church. In accordance with ancient tradition, the Church venerates the saints and addresses prayers to them. Accusations that the Church worships mere human beings in the same way as God are unfounded. Greek theology makes a clear distinction between the worship (latreia) of God and the veneration (proskynesis) of saints. The latter are not venerated as gods, but as people who have attained a great spiritual height and who have become united with God. The saints are closely connected with each other and with Christ. In venerating the saints we venerate Christ, who lives in in them:
Christ is the beginning, the middle and the end. He is in all people-the first, the middle and the last. Those who have become saints from one generation to the next through fulfilling the commandments, replace the previous saints and are united to them, they are illumined and become like them through communion with the grace of God, and they all become a golden chain, each individual link being connected with the previous through faith, deeds and love.
The golden chain of Christian holiness stretches from apostolic times to our own age: even now there are no few saints-secret and known-who will one day be glorified by the Church.”
Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, The Mystery of Faith.