While I have my own thoughts as to my having access to a living saint (in a way to be distinguished from all Christians being saints), nearly all of my access to the life of the saints is through books.
I have gained an ever greater appreciation since my chrismation that learning about theology is poorly done by way of theology books, though in God’s grace these serve us, too. Rather theology is best learned by reading the accounts of the life of the saints, emulating them in humble realization of our own weaknesses and limitations, and by praying to them.
I have collected, over the internet, akathists to some of our household saints (St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, St. Herman of Alaska, and Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim Rose of Platina), but have felt the lack of services to the other of our household saints (St. Benedict, St. Genevieve, St. Nina and St. Brigid). Thanks to St. John of Kronstadt Press I have gained some of what has been lacking.
Probably the best of the bunch was the life of St. Genevieve of Paris (Anna’s saint), which contains a fairly full account of her life, but best of all has three prayers (two set to music) at the end of the book. I don’t know why, but finding prayers to St. Genevieve (from Orthodox sources), has been difficult. This is a real treasure.
I also picked up the service, akathist and life and miracles of St. Nicholas (yes, that St. Nicholas). With the Nativity fast and St. Nicholas’ day coming up, I wanted to really be able to enter into his feast day this year.
But of course, it was most satisfying to receive the booklet of the life, service and akathist AND translation of the Rule for St. Benedict. And in celebration, I prayed small compline with the akathist to St. Benedict last night. At the risk of making an utterly inane comment, it prays very well.
SKJP also has a life and akathist for St. Nina (Sofie’s saint), and next I need to find an Orthodox (or pre-Schism) source for prayers (or an akathist) for St. Brigid (Delaina’s saint).
It’s amazing how these services really bring about an experience (as opposed to an intellectual understanding) of the closeness of the saints. (Icons do that, too, of course. In fact, our icon of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco has seemed particularly, if you’ll pardon me, alive, lately.) Last night, having prayed the akathist to St. Benedict, I really felt his living presence.