[quote=Shlemele]Well as a “Hardcore Protestant” myself let me say that for us the best example you can give is that of intercessory prayer. My best friend is RC and he and I had many a talk about this. I still don’t agree with it but I have no real moral dilemma with it.
If you tell him it would be like asking an uncle to pray for you because he went through the same thing and you respect how he dealt with it I think that would be a good example. Of course for us it’s still a weird issue. For me I do believe it can be a stumbling block for those who are un-educated in Catholic doctrine. I remember one of my friends fathers (A RC who was just that in name) told his son who was studying to be a pastor (protestant denomination) that he had pain in his heart and prayed to the picture of Mary he kept on his wall to take the pain away.
Well as a Christian I have a problem with that because you going to the wrong source. Asking for her to “pray the father” (I hope I got the terminology right) would have been something most would understand as she is supposed to be the saint of mercy (again sorry if I’m wrong, I’m not RC but have been trying to learn). Praying TO the picture is idolatry because you are putting a picture before god in not praising him for relief (of course even better would have been to go to the damn hospital but who knows)
The RC church in the town I grew up in seems to me from the outside to be very into the “hocus-pocus” spirituality. God was this mysterious guy in the sky who you had to ask in just the right way and or maybe you should just ask this saint and do this ritual and then you’ll be ok. It was a predominantly Mexican national church so there was a culture gap there too. For me that turned me off to Catholicism probably for the rest of my life. Chances your friend has had a similar experience and s still reeling from it. Concentrate on your similarities and find common ground. Learn from your talks, you might even find that we Protestants have a few good ideas ourselves!
Well, no Catholic I know of prays “TO A picture” or to a statue or to any object ever. Such a thing is as wrong to us as it is to you.
When we pray to a saint or to Mary, we are asking another friend of Christ to help us with our request to God. As Jesus and scriptures tells us, God is not the God of the dead but the God of the living, we believe that all the saints are alive in Heaven.
A picture or statue is but a reminder of who or what that particular saint may look like, such an object does not have any power or particular influence with God. Nor are such objects replacements for the saints for whom they represent.
We may and do often times pray directly to Christ or directly to God. Why then, ask a saint or Mary for their help ? Simply for the same reason as we ask others to pray for us. Jesus tells us to pray for one another. WIth the help of other folks prayers, we have more influence with God. We know that God listens to some folks more often than others.
During their lifetimes, some saints showed a particular closeness to the Almighty. Their prayers were more often answered than not. The great miracle workers, St. Anthony of Padua, blessed Padre Pio, St. Catherine of Sienna, in particular were famous for having prayers answered immediately. While others may ask God for the same thing (or even opposing things), God chose to listen when these saints asked.
These folks were obviously closer or favored by the Almighty. And of course most favored above all others is Mary, the Mother of God. IF they were so favored in life, it has proved thourghout the ages that they are also most favored as saints too.
Many miracles have been attributed to prayers to these folks. It is through their intercession that prayers are answered more frequently. When so many prayers are answered, it is no wonder that folks continue to pray for help. IF these prayers were useless, folks would simply stop praying in this way.
If one looks at the various Marian sites, Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, Medugore, one would discover that prayers are answered on a regular basis. At Lourdes alone, 56 documented confirmed medical miracles are recorded, and hundreds if not thousands of unofficial cures are attributed to Mary’s intercession there.
IF no prayers were answered there, it would not be one of the most visited sites in the world. God gives us these sites for His graces are to be distributed through Mary, and He allows this because through Mary we are to discover His Son, Jesus.