Praying to Saints

May 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Dialogues

 

I have an honest question. Why does the Catholic church pray to saints?

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  • New Apologetics The Church recognizes that God is not protective of his own glory. In truth, his glory is that we share as fully as logically possible in the life and work of God. He loves us so much that he has decided to give everything to us that can possibly be given. 

    Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, writes:

    “It is because [God] has so incomprehensible a love for us that he wills to do nothing without us. The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of a poor little soul to save other souls redeemed like it at the price of all his blood.” 

    The practice of asking the intercession of the saints is the simple recognition that God’s nature is infinite generosity rather than infinite protection of his own prerogatives. We honor God’s true nature as love when we honor what he has done in the saints and when we ask for their help. He wants each of them and us to have as much glory as he can possibly give.

    Consider that even when we pray directly to God, the prayer is always answered through some creature. 

    “We can never give too great prominence to the Scholastic principle that God never does through Himself what may be achieved through created causality… For any result which does not require actually infinite power, God will sooner create a new spiritual being capable of producing that result than produce it Himself.” (Abbot Anscar Vonier, The Human Soul)

    To misunderstand God’s desire that we share in his glory is to misunderstand the gospel. Most Christians have not yet heard the good news.
  • Dakota Summers You say, that is Saint Therese of Lisieux says, He wants each of them and us to have as much glory as he can possibly give.” The Bible says “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” therefore all glory and honor belongs to God. Paul teaches that we must be dead and for Christ to live in us. Praying to saints is unbiblical for Christs sacrifice and His leading in my life qualifies me as a saint just as much as Paul.
  • Michael Zimmerman James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
    Why would you ask ANYONE, on earth OR in heaven, to pray for you? Shouldn’t you be able to “go directly to God” without someone else praying on your behalf? Of course you can. But we still ask others to pray for us, as we were commanded. And how much more potent must be the prayers of the righteous Saints who live in perfect communion with God in Heaven!
    And you say the saints are “dead,” but Jesus himself points out the error of this belief in Mark 12:26-27: “Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”” Haven’t you noticed that St. Paul says only that his deceased brothers have “fallen asleep”? That’s not merely a poetic device. And Jesus did not lie when he said that the little girl he raised was “only sleeping”; the Saints are not truly dead, but have eternal life in Heaven. We petition them to pray for us, as we were commanded to petition ALL our brothers for prayer.
  • Dakota Summers Mike Zimmerman, I beleive you have a very biblical perspective. I still will not pray to saints, but I see what you are saying. I do believe though that it is destructive to think we can NOT bring our requests directly to God which some Catholics do believe. (Some I know, not speaking for all Catholics)
  • Michael Zimmerman I can’t state authoritatively whether all Catholics practice it the way they’re meant to, but THE Roman Catholic Church sees it the way I just described. We are not broken up into conflicting denominations with different interpretations of the same doctrine the way Protestantism is; while it’s true that some grandmothers out there might exist who mistakenly actually pray TO a Saint, this is not genuinely representative of the Catholic position.
    And if you don’t want to do it, well, asking the saints for prayer is not “mandatory” by any stretch of the imagination. It is, however, a powerful tool that you might be depriving yourself of, since every single canonized Saint has miracles documented as a result of their intercession – I believe it is in fact a requirement for anyone who is to be canonized (as “proof from above” that they have made it into Heaven). But you don’t have to if you don’t want to
  • Michael Zimmerman Tim, re: early church fathers pettitioning Saints – got a site right here for you.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1781591/posts
    Also, please make note of my earlier comment; there is no inconsistancy with petitioning a Saint for prayers any more than asking someone on Earth to pray for you. Moreover, the prayers of the Saints have more power, as per the verse from James.
    Again, nothing forcing you to do it, but it’s a powerful gift that you’re depriving yourself of in the process. The saints are there, our “cloud of witnesses,” and they are perfectly willing to pray for you. You need only ask them, the same way you’d ask anyone else to pray for you.
  • Dakota Summers Revelation 5:8 refers to us, the saints. Revelation was written around 70AD before “The Saints” existed or had God work through them. The saints are the Church, the Body of Christ. We are the saints.
  • New Apologetics Dakota Summers Please excuse the delay in getting back to you.

    You wrote: The Bible says “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” therefore all glory and honor belongs to God. 

    We reply: Indeed it does. But the Bible also says that he has given it away. Really, the whole Bible is about God exalting the lowly. Here are just a few quotes:

    “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:22-23

    Have you considered that the Father does not love Jesus more than he loves you? Will he therefore keep you down or will he raise you up as high as he possibly can? We and the Bible say the latter:

    “I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21)

    You are going to be an equal of Christ by the gift of God. Jesus prays that where he is, you also may be:

    “Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:23

    And further, justification is not the point… God justifies us so that he can glorify us:

    “For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)

    You wrote:
    “Paul teaches that we must be dead and for Christ to live in us. Praying to saints is unbiblical for Christs sacrifice and His leading in my life qualifies me as a saint just as much as Paul.”

    You are right that we must die to ourselves and Christ must live in us. But when Christ lives in us, it is *CHRIST* who lives in us. We therefore take part both in his intercession and in his redemption of the whole world. Your dignity and importance is not that of Saint Paul. Know that you and Saint Paul both share the infinite dignity and importance of God the Son.
  • Michael Zimmerman ^ “the Father does not love Jesus more than he loves you”
    Wow, I’ve got to think about that one…
    And you’re absolutely right, Dakota, in that we are part of the eternal Church, that transcends time. Why should that stop once we have “fallen asleep”? The list of saints certainly does not stop at those who have been Canonized; the saints include ALL who are purified and brought to live with God eternally in Heaven. We are ALL meant to be saints. Canonization is merely an earthly recognition of a celestial reality: Canonized Saints are simply people whom we know for a fact to have made it, and whom we know to intercede for us through their righteousness and perfect communion with God.
  • New Apologetics Michael Zimmerman Concerning the fact that we wrote “”the Father does not love Jesus more than he loves you”

    You replied: “Wow, I’ve got to think about that one…”

    We respond: Jesus has already done the thinking for you: “that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:23

    And to confirm that we are not crazy, John of the Cross says the same thing: “No knowledge or power can describe how this happens, unless by explaining how the Son of God attained and merited such a high state for us, the power to be children of God, as St. John says [Jn. 1:12]. Thus the Son asked of the Father in St. John’s Gospel: Father, I desire that where I am those you have given me may also be with me, that they may see the glory you have given me [Jn. 17:24], that is, that they may perform in us by participation the same work that I do by nature; that is, breathe the Holy Spirit. And he adds: I do not ask, Father, only for those present, but for those also who will believe in me through their doctrine; that all of them may be one as you, Father, in me and I in you, that thus they be one in us. The glory which you have given me I have given them that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me; that they may be perfect in one; that the world may know that you have sent me and loved them as you have loved me [Jn. 17:20-23].1 The Father loves them by communicating to them the same love he communicates to the Son, though not naturally as to the Son but, as we said, through unity and transformation of love. It should not be thought that the Son desires here to ask the Father that the saints be one with him essentially and naturally as the Son is with the Father, but that they may
    be so through the union of love, just as the Father and the Son are one in unity of love.”