I have questions


Hi everyone! I’m new in this forum, so please excuse me if my message is not in the right category…:slight_smile:

I became a Catholic about a year ago. I’m still in the process of learning about the saints, the different types of prayers, etc. I have a couple of questions and I would be very grateful if you could answer me :slight_smile:

  1. What is the difference between a rosary and a novena? What is exactly the point of doing that?

  2. Why do we pray saints instead of God? What is their function?

I’m sorry if I made mistakes, English isn’t my first language (still learning it…) Feel free to correct me!


First, it’s very important to realize that Catholics do not pray to ANYONE but God. We do, however, ask the saints (including Mary) and the angels to pray along with us. This is called “intercessionary prayer”

When I teach this concept in my college Western Civilization classes, I phrase it something likes this.

  1. If you are a Christian, have you ever asked your congregation to pray for an intention, like a sick relative? The answer is that most likely, you have. Your whole congregation, together, prays aloud for the person to get better (or whatever the intention is). Is this problematic?

  2. As a Christian, do you believe in eternal life, whether it be in heaven or hell? For MOST Christian denominations, this is a key element of the faith. It is critical that we understand that when we die, we do not simply cease to exist, but continue on, thanks to the saving power of Christ. Death no longer has any power over us.

  3. So… if people do not cease to exist, and it’s ok to ask for a group of living people to pray together, why wouldn’t it be ok to ask both the living AND the dead to pray for our intentions?

Look at two famous Catholic prayers:

In the Hail Mary, we say “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray FOR us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” We are not praying TO her as much as we are asking her to pray WITH us and FOR us.

Now, look at the Penitential Rite of the Mass, which you will hear every week in church:

“And I ask Blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
All the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray FOR me to the Lord our God.”

Catholics consider prayer so important, that here, we are actually asking the whole of creation to join us in prayer, including both the living, the dead, and even the angels and saints! This serves as a reminder that we are a part of a larger creation, and helps foster Christian unity.

I hope that helps!


Thank you SO much for your answer! It was very, very helpful! :tada:


Hi, :slight_smile: welcome to the forum!

a novena is a nine day prayer. The reason it exists is because the Apostles prayed for 9 days before Pentecost. It can help develop perseverence in prayer :slight_smile:

  1. Why do we pray saints instead of God? What is their function?

we ask the Saints to pray for us, and for their intercession and help, but ALL prayers eventually go to God. He decides how they are answered. So it’s not really that we pray to Saints instead of God, but rather that they are intercessors for us with God :slight_smile: the reason is, in the Bible it says that the prayer of a righteous person is very powerful, and since they are in Heaven they are definitely righteous and close to God. He hears everyone, but not all prayers are the same.

I’m sorry if I made mistakes, English isn’t my first language (still learning it…) Feel free to correct me!

you didn’t make any mistakes :slight_smile:

God bless!!


In regard to your first question - a novena is any one of many many different prayers, that you say in multiples - for example every hour for nine hours, or every day for nine days. The practice is quite scriptural, based on the Apostles’ praying fervently for nine days in between Christ’s Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

A Rosary is different - it is a formal prayer rule of saying multiple Our Fathers and Hail Marys, based on decades (groups of one Our Father and ten Hail Marys). More importantly, WHILE you pray the Rosary you meditate on (contemplate) different events from the lives of Jesus and Mary - a different ‘mystery’ (event) for each decade.

So, for example, if you say the five ‘Sorrowful mysteries’, you’ll be meditating in turn on Christ’s agony in Gethsemane, His being scourged (whipped), His being crowned with thorns and mocked, His carrying the cross and finally His crucifixion. It’s a very Christ-centred prayer for this reason even with all the ‘Hail Marys’

Why these repetitive (but never vain repetition!) prayers? Well, Jesus taught us, in the parables of the publican who repeatedly prays ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner’ and the parable of the widow who pesters the judge, to be persistent in our prayer. Both novenas and Rosarys are a way of developing this persistence and learning to ‘pray unceasingly’ as Paul taught us.

Since prayer should also be about praise, when we pray thus we also join the chorus of angels who unceasingly sing ‘Holy Holy Holy’ before the throne of God in heaven. Our Lord demonstrated this in His own life in Gethsemane when He prayed three times using the same words.


I would like to add this link to the Catechism and the teachings on the Communion of Saints. I suggest that you read the whole section, not just this little quote. This is a searchable online version of the Catechism so you can look up other questions you might have as well.

956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus . . . . So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."495

Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.496
I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.497

957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself"498:

We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!499


960 The Church is a “communion of saints”: this expression refers first to the “holy things” (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which “the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about” (LG 3).

961 The term “communion of saints” refers also to the communion of “holy persons” (sancti) in Christ who “died for all,” so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.

962 “We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers” (Paul VI, CPG § 30).

So we pray to saints to unite their prayers with ours to the Father with Christ as our Mediator. Since the saints in heaven are purified and united to Christ, their prayers on our behalf are very powerful.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.