So I have grown a tremendous love for Jesus, the Church, and all they have to offer. But I am constantly struggling with praying to Saints. I have had conversations with non-Catholics and I am always quick to defend why we pray to saints. I understand it in my head completely but i cannot get myself to sit there and pray to a saint. Even Mary I try, it just feels odd. And I’ve read things from non-Catholic Christians saying how we emphasise Mary too much and Jesus just takes the back seat. And i have mixed feelings about it. Because it does puzzle me that they seem to be against Mary, yet at the same time sometimes I do feel like Mary is emphasised more than Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I respect her so much. I just need some help and encouragement to better understand why we pray to Saints and some clarity that God does wants us to go to them.
For me, true devotion starts and ends with love to Jesus. We love the saints because they show how they love our Lord.Before, I used to be uneasy with praying to Mother Mary.But after reading the book of Saint Louis de Montfort about true devotion to Mary, I learned that I misunderstood the praying to saint.Now, I pray to and pray with Mother Mary.
A proper understanding of the Sacred Writings, say, the first eight verses of the second chapter of St. Paul’s first letter to Timothy can be of help. But, of course, we have to seek the help of a priest, the Parish Priest where you live may the best you can consult. He will also probably assign one of his assistants to help you.
I have nothing against any of our separated brethren but since they have no tradition of venerating the saints, they may not be able to enlighten anyone as regards your present concern
That’s probably typical. It felt uncomfortable to me at first too, because in spite of my newfound beliefs, I had a bit of a lingering guttural feeling that I was being paganistic or praying in vain. Your protestant upbringing isn’t going to shed off of you instantly.
I used a head-on approach. One of the first prayers I gave to Mary was a blunt statement of my situation and a request that I learn how to love her and that I would be able to comfortably pray through her. I very quickly molded into it and now I have zero problem giving intercessionary prayer. My prayer life is deeply enriched now that I commune with my eternal family in Heaven.
Just be intense and personal in your prayer. Remember that they really are your mother, brothers, and sisters, in a way even more profound than your earthly family. Lay the entire contents of your heart out. Don’t hold back. With the invention of the internet, we can probably more easily envision the glorious communion in prayer than ever before. When you focus your mind and your heart to God and begin speaking in prayer, you are truly linked up to an immense heavenly host. All of the saints that have gone before you, and all of the uncountable hosts of heavenly angels, are there for you to speak to. Their schedules are not booked: they have infinite time at their disposal and their love for you will never exhaust itself.
Yes, that! Who better to help you grow closer to God, than His Mother and our brothers and sister already with Him?! Mary and the saints CANNOT diminish our affection for the Lord. As our Blessed Mother says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord”. How can one conclude a relationship with Mary takes away from Christ, when they look at what the bible says Mary actually tells us about herself? The bible tells that if we know the soul of Mary, we can only see the Lord better!
In my opinion, one must first of all understand what prayer is. It is a direct communication with God. The “Our Father” is the greatest prayer. So where do saints come in? They do not grant our wishes. Only God in His Holy Trinity, can do that. So to pray to the saints, especially Our Lady, we do so that they may intercede for us and get what we require from Him.
My suggestion is that as far as Our Lady is concerned, you should meditate on what took place in Nazareth and Bethlehem. Notice that at Cana, it was Jesus who helped out though it was Our Lady who urged Him to help. It is the same with the saints. The diary of St. Teresa of Lisieux might help. She states clearly that we can do nothing without love for Jesus. All the saints agree with her.
I am a convert to Catholicism. The first time I tried to pray to Mary, I had to sleep with all the lights on because I was afraid I’d summoned something.
I think there is a different understanding of “prayer” between Catholics and Protestants. As a Protestant I was taught that prayer is an act of worship of the One True God, and it was reserved only for God; prayer directed to anyone/anything else was idolatry. Becoming Catholic, I thought of prayer more as a form of conversation; it could (and should) be directed to God, but I could have Godly conversations with the friends of God who were nearest Him as well.
When you pray, you know who you are talking to, whether it is God or merely a creature. It would be hard to confuse this, even if you had The Worst Catechist Ever. Are you praying to one whom you know is a speck of dust that was given immense grace and glory from God to be His own mother? Then you aren’t committing idolatry; you know she is not a goddess, and no matter how superhuman she might be, there will always be an infinite gap between Mary and God.
I have not read the other responses so forgive me if I repeat anything.
Bottom line in all of this is that if you feel uncomfortable praying to the saints - then don’t. It’s really that simple.
There is nothing in Church teaching that requires us to ask any saint for intercession.
We’ve all heard the non-Catholic Christian objection to saintly prayers and devotion to Mary and I agree that the potential for error is there. Indeed there are many ways in which one can get “off track” whether one is Catholic or not…
One of the oft heard phrases is “To Christ through Mary”…but I really think that in your case, it is the opposite that will work best. Ask Jesus to show you His mother.
As for other saints and prayers…I’m like you…I just don’t feel the desire or need to “pray to a saint”.
Now that said, I do have a personal saint who I talk to every day. It is my dear wife who passed away three weeks ago today. I don’t “pray” to her…but we just talk.
Perhaps this is a key for you. If there is a saint that you wish to commune with - then just talk to them. Have a conversation. See how that feels rather than the more formal “praying” to them…
So - in short - focus your prayers in the way that is comfortable for you and ask Jesus to help you grow in understanding of these matters.
Now to specifically address why we do it and why it’s OK…
Simply put - it is because our God is a God of the living not of the dead. The saints are among the living Church and as such are willing and able to intercede for us just as the earthly church (Church militant) is able to intercede for us.
So - if you can as me to pray for you - then you can ask Mary, or St Theresa, or John of the Cross, or any other saint to pray for you.
Hope this helps a little
To pray to the saints we need to get to know them. Read about their lives. Meditate about what they were like. Develop a relationship to them. Once that happens, you cannot help but Love them. Once you Love them, you want to talk to them - like you do with people you love on earth. Then you want to ask them for their prayers on your behalf.
I have an army of saints that I call upon in times of need. People like St Andre Bessette (who built the St Joseph’s oratory in Montreal), St Philomena, St John Vianney, etc.
Meditate on our Lady. What was it like for her during the annunciation when she without hesitation said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to Thy Word”. What was she feeling when they fled into Egypt to escape from Harod. What was she feeling as she stood at the foot of the cross waiting for her Son to die. Look into her eyes when Jesus says, “Woman - Behold your son. Son - behold your Mother”. Once you get to know her, you cannot help loving her. Who cannot love their own Mother - given to us at the foot of the cross by our Beloved Lord.
Thank you for that post!
I have been wanting to find some good Catholic books, maybe I will check this one out!
I did not read all the answers so I may write something written before but you do not pray TO the Saints. You ask THEM to pray for you. Think about “Hail Mary”, what do you pray? “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for US sinners…”
I suppose I am the oddball, because Mary and the saints brought me to Catholicism, rather than repelled me from it.
For me, I look to Mary as a mother to us all. Think about when you were a child - for many people, their mother was their comforter, their cheerleader, and even the intermediary sometimes between the child and their father. My mother helped encourage the relationship between myself and my father and would sometimes intercede for me for privileges. It is the same way with Mary and God. She loves us, encourages us, and wants us to grow ever more closely to God and her son. Who better to pray with? Even when I ask her for something, it’s with the intent that she intercede for me - I don’t expect anything from her other than love and communal prayer. I find it very comforting.
The saints are a bit different, because they are far more human than Mary. Many of them were huge sinners, and I find that very relateable. It’s like having a conversation with an older, wiser aunt - they understand, because they’ve been there. Praying to the saints is different than praying to Mary for me. With Mary, I feel pure, unconditional motherly love. With the saints, I feel a strong sense of community. And because of their experiences, I feel like they understand that human, erring side of me, and can more effectively intercede for me, knowing what it’s like to struggle with being human.
God and Jesus are harder for me - I don’t feel as comfortable praying directly to them. How can someone as lowly as I be worthy to ask them for anything? Me, who sins over and over again? For me, praying to Mary or the Saints to intercede for me is a way of humbling myself before God. I give thanks to God and Jesus, but I ask Mary and the Saints when I desire intercession.
This is all just personal feeling, no doctrinal basis, but wanting to throw my perspective in there. I’ve noticed that many protestants have a strong, brotherly love for Jesus, and they pray to him in the way that many pray to the saints. Really, I think it all comes down to what you’re comfortable with. If you don’t feel comfortable praying to the saints, there’s nothing wrong with directing your prayers to God or Jesus.
JRKH You have no idea how much help your response was… Thank you.
I ask for the Saints prayers as I need all the help I can get.
You are welcome.
My condolences on the passing of your wife. May she rest in the Lord’s peace.
Thank you. I know that she is at peace with Our Lord.
This is reflected by one of my favorite prayers: the Confiteur which is said by the congregation near the beginning of mass.
"I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
Therefore, 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."
In this prayer the entire congregation along with all of the saints are praying together to God for the forgiveness of each member of the congregation.