Orthodox Beliefs and Worship, 3
Every Liturgy (Communion Service) is celebrated over the relics of saints; this is in remembrance of the ancient custom of the first Christians in the Catacombs, who used to celebrate the Liturgy on the tombs of the martyrs. Often there are other relics reverently kept or enshrined in Orthodox churches. These sacred relics usually consist of tiny portions of the mortal remains of the saints, or parts of their clothing. Many, who are not Orthodox, cannot understand why the faithful keep and revere relics. The reason is twofold. First of all, we believe that the whole man, body as well as soul participates in the spiritual struggle for salvation. Indeed, it is the body of the candidate that is totally immersed in water three times at Baptism, that is anointed with holy oils in Chrismation, and receives the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. With the eyes we look at the icons and read the Scriptures; with our hand we make the sign of the Cross; we bow our knees in prayer; we sanctify our mouths by chanting and reading in church, and our ears in hearing the sacred hymns. The body, which has participated in the struggle, participates in the reward. And as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (19:12) even handkerchiefs from the Apostles brought healing to those who touched them with faith. Secondly, we believe in the bodily Resurrection of the dead, and therefore, by revering the sacred relics of the saints we proclaim our belief that they will rise again in glory and hope that we shall be numbered among them.