Confused about saints; just intercession, or intervention, or both?

I have a handbook of prayers and it asks Mary and St. Joseph to protect to guide to teach etc, not just intercede in prayer. I have tried to find official magisterial teaching on how to understand this type of language when it’s used in this context, but I get two opinions.

When saints are asked to do things directly, it’s almost Catholic speak for, pray to God that he would teach me to… The saint is not actually influencing your heart or mind - even though it would be by God’s power and will - this would be idolatry.

The second opinion is a both and. Saints both intercede and intervene on your behalf - both only by God’s grace of course. For example saint Anthony would help me find keys by praying to God for me that I would find them AND being allowed by God to guide me somehow to the place they are.

The second opinion seems to square more with what I see in traditional prayers vs the standard apologetic argument that the saints pray for us and nothing more.

I see both opinions cited as the definitive Catholic Answer.

Thanks so much for your time guys.

To pray means to ask. It’s always been used that way, and is still used that way in many judicial system. When we pray to a Saint, we ask them to pray to God for us. It may then be God’s prerogative to have that saint directly influence the world around us or speak to our hearts. In order for it to be idolatry, we would have to be adoring the saints and ascribing power to them instead of God. Since we believe that anything they do is only in accordance with God’s will, and derived from His power, we do not ascribe any power to the saints themselves, and therefore are not committing idolatry.

When a Protestant uses the word pray, they most often mean what we term adoration, which is the praise and worship due solely to God. If we were praying to the saints the same way we pray to God, then yes, there would be an issue; but we are not; we are simply asking for their help and prayers, just ask we would ask a neighbor or loved one for their help or prayers.

The second opinion is a both and. Saints both intercede and intervene on your behalf - both only by God’s grace of course. For example saint Anthony would help me find keys by praying to God for me that I would find them AND being allowed by God to guide me somehow to the place they are.

This is what i believe to be the case, and what I think the Church teaches, though I’m not positive.

The second opinion seems to square more with what I see in traditional prayers vs the standard apologetic argument that the saints pray for us and nothing more.

I see both opinions cited as the definitive Catholic Answer.

Thanks so much for your time guys.

I don’t see how these options are conflicting… could you please elaborate?

Thank you family. That’s really helpful and I appreciate your help. The both and scenario makes sense.

But it takes getting used to and I feel guilty when I see these prayers and get an uneasy feeling. I’ll talk to my spiritual director about this.

I am a new convert so it’s an adjustment.

I’m sure it is. I’m fortunate to have been born Catholic, so it’s always been a part of my life. I can’t imagine what it must be like for you guys making the transition. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. ^^

Also, welcome home, we’re happy to have you!

It’s great to be home. It’s a huge house and I have lots of rooms to explore lol. :wink:

I can link my testimony if you’d like to read it. Have a radio Maria interview as well.

Oh, very neat. Were you on The Journey Home?

Think of it like finding a mentor. “Dear St. So-and-So, I really like how you handled x. Please help me follow your example to help me be more like the person God wants me to be.” It can also be like having a friend, in your lost-item example. “St. Anthony, I’m so absent-minded. Could you please help me out?” But think of them as real relationships with people who are alive-- even if they died centuries ago.

Good luck on your path! :slight_smile:

Not yet. I did apply though; waiting to hear back. :slight_smile:

catholic-convert.com/blog/2015/05/09/white-supremacy-black-power-and-the-road-to-damascus-my-journey-into-the-fullness-of-the-christian-faith/

Radio Maria

salvationisfromthejews.com/audio/20150516salvationfromjews.mp3

Thanks! I thought about this, too:

When I ask fellow Christians on earth to help me, do I say, “Now, brother, you can only help me and interact with me by praying for me. Don’t you dare speak to me or teach me, or even watch my back if someone tries to hurt me! If I allow you to do those things, I’m crossing the line and worshipping you. God would be so mad!”

LOL. See how ridiculous that would be?

Now, since the saints are more alive than my brother on earth, couldn’t they - by God’s grace and for His glory - teach me, guide me, protect me (not JUST pray for me) even MORE?

When we receive help - not just prayer - from people on earth and it’s not idolatry, it shouldn’t be a problem for the body of Christ in heaven helping us either.

Did I just have a breakthrough? :wink:

I believe that this is the Church’s teaching on the matter (but am not positive). To give an example, there are a number of Catholic men who have a devotion to St. Joseph (Christ’s adoptive father). Men with this devotion pray to St. Joseph to ask his help in leading their families. I have prayed to him to ask him to help me be a better husband. When I do this, it’s not like I’m saying “St. Joseph, I don’t want to ask Christ for this because he didn’t have any kids, so I’m asking you.” It’s more like “St. Joseph, the Lord of Heaven and Earth chose you to raise His son in what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a faithful follower of Him. Please, guide me as you guided your son, and support me as you supported your son, and love me as you loved your son.” At the end of a prayer like this, I think most people conclude with “I ask all of this in the most Holy name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

The point is, we understand that the focus is on Christ, as our single mediator to God; but we also understand that Christ told us to pray for one-another. If, as you have rightly stated, the Holy Souls in Heaven are more fully alive than we are, and are basking in the unfiltered presence of The Almighty; then how much more efficacious (effective) would their prayers be than ours? Since they are so fully alive, it makes perfect sense that we would ask for their prayers and help just as I would ask for your prayers and help; and just as you have asked for our help with this thread. ^^

Tomorrow is an open forum on Catholic Answers live; this would be a perfect question to ask and either Patrick Madrid or Jimmy Akin (tomorrow’s two guests) would be able to give you very complete answers. They both know their stuff!

Excellent perspective! Thanks! Your example of St. Joseph is exactly how I would think of it. When he helps you be a better father, you understand that God is allowing him, and gracing him, to help. Does God need to do this? Absolutely not. Does he LOVE to include members of his body to minister to other members? Absolutely!

And yeah, you all HELPED me with this thread. Did you just pray for me? You may have (lol). But you also typed words on a keyboard. :slight_smile: Prayer and help - both and. I’m actually going on a mini vacation tomorrow, so I don’t think I can call in. But maybe in the future…

They have open forums every Tuesday and Thursday, and love hearing questions from recent converts… well, they love questions from anyone, but they especially love helping new converts. A significant portion of the CA apologists are converts themselves, so they understand the difficulties people face while converting.

Have a good vacation!

Thanks! Please continue to pray for me and my wife. We both entered the Church this easter, and our first baby will be here in three months, so we’re trying to get away while we still have time.

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