Hello everyone, my name is Christopher and I am a firm believer in God. I was raised Lutheran but became athiest in highschool. After much soul searching, i have discovered God again. My current girl friend is catholic, so i decided to study it and learn about the religion to see if it might be the one for me. My dilema is this. From what i have researched, catholics pray TO God and God alone, yet they request from certain saints for those saints to offer prayers to God as well in combination with their own, the same way you would ask your church group to pray for you or your family. I understand this and fully accept it. BUT, i have seen on many websites and forums of catholic sites that people say " Pray to Mary, Pray to Saint Michael, Pray to so and so." I do not think this terminology should be used, because it confuses people studying like me. Am i wrong in my assumption that catholics definately do NOT pray to saints, but simply ask saints for help with prayer?
does your religious tradition frown on the practice of asking the minister or pastor to pray for people, asking the congregation to pray for needs of its members, praying for the family of a deceased member for instance, or praying for general needs (world peace, for flu victims and so forth)? if not, then they should see no irony in asking saints to pray for you or for others, unless they do not believe that the deceased who were holy and righteous in life are still in God’s good graces after death. If I say “pray to Mary or to St. Anthony” I am saying “ask Mary or St. Anthony to intercede for you” in precisely the same way as I would ask Pastor Jones or Reverend Smith or some of their congregants to pray in intercession for my needs or for any other just cause.
Why should it confuse you?
Let me draw an analogy. Let’s say I work in a very junior position in Microsoft and want to approach the CEO (Bill Gates) with an idea or a request. So I say to a friend I’ll ‘talk to Bill Gates about this’.
It’s to be expected, and is in fact understood, that this doesn’t mean I’ll just be marching straight into Mr Gates’ office and eyeballing him. I will probably find it incredibly helpful, if not literally necessary, to, for example, contact his secretary to set up an appointment or the like.
Now in such a situation if I say ‘I’m going to talk to Bill Gates’ secretary’ instead, again my friend is going to understand, correctly, that it’s not because I believe the secretary is the one with the power to yay or nay my request, but that I am approaching him or her as a means of getting through to Bill, no?
So either way of phrasing it is in fact correct. I AM going to Bill Gates’ secretary, but it’s well understood that I’m not doing so as an end in itself, but as a means of achieving my ultimate aim of getting Bill to hear my request.
You are right, but sometimes you’ll find the ocasional Catholic who gets tripped up with excessive devotion to the saints. Their lives of faith and Christian witness inspire us, and as our sisters and brother in heaven we ask their prayers. We do think of them as better than us, but if you believed that someone you knew had a deeper relationship with God you’d probably be more inclined to ask their prayer rather than someone who seemed to have less faith and commitment?
The following is something I wrote when asking their prayers. I don’t know if it’s useful to you, or not, but, anyway…
Appeal to the Saints
Saints and Angels of God, you fill Heaven and Earth with praise, gratitude and intercession. You are resplendent expressions of God’s love. You harmoniously enrich each other and glorify God in the perfect accomplishment of God’s image in you. Please offer for us the fruits of your earthly fidelity and charity and your heavenly blessedness, united with Jesus’ sacrifice.
The dilemmas and burdens of temptation, sin, guilt and suffering are eternally lifted from you, yet in the vivid, passing moments of life you lived with these things as I do now. To you the love, truth and glory of God are living realities that to my best understanding remain elusive, shadowy hopes.
Please pray to God for me out of your secure place in Heaven, for I, your kin and ransomed by Jesus’ blood, may yet be saved and sanctified. I may yet become, not just ‘a religious person who frequents the Sacraments’, but a channel of love and witness to others. Pray that I faithfully desire God’s highest will for me and for others whom He wishes to benefit through me, and never let us drift from His presence.
Pray that physical desires or errant spiritual aspirations do not possess us. Heaven’s queen, our Mother, at Fatima declared that sins of flesh are the judgement of most lost souls. For sake of her maternal love, please intercede that I aptly utilize characteristics and gifts intended for others’ welfare and my own.
Just as physical pride can become an idol in preference to God, so also can intellectual and spiritual pride lead to self-adoration. Therefore, please intercede for my wisdom and faith, for honesty regarding my real state and true relation to God. Pray that my temptations, trials, sufferings and failures, along with my good efforts and blessings, become tools of God’s Spirit.
I ask wisdom and grace to live God’s will even if I remain a disappointment to others and myself. Even without anyone’s awareness, let God make me sacramentally whole and delightful to Him.
Dear sisters and brothers in Heaven, you are kindred to all whom God created me to benefit. Let us each receive your unique blessing, for you are rich in God and glorify in unique fashion, the love of our Creator. Please surround us with your love, protection and intercession, so that you may welcome us into our everlasting home in the presence of God, together with our Mother, and the Angels!
All saints of God please powerfully pray for us that God’s desires will be fulfilled in our lives as we joyfully anticipate the fullness of communion in heaven. God, we honour and thank You for the example and teaching of Your Saints. Thank You for their intercession, requested, and voluntary, out of Your love for us.
“It is God’s will that in this world souls shall dispense to each other, by prayer, the treasures of Heaven, in order that when they reach their everlasting Home they may love one another with grateful hearts, and with an affection far in excess of that which reigns in the most perfect family on earth.” “I have often thought that perhaps I owe all the graces, with which I am laden, to some little soul whom I shall know only in Heaven.” [Saint Therese of Lisieux]
Maybe coming from a non Catholic Christian background, prayer reference to scriptural figures known to you might make more sense?
Apostles, pray for our restoration and faith
Dear Apostles of Jesus, many of us experience crucifixion in our lives and in the lives of dear ones, as you did. Please pray for us and guide us, so that if loss and pain engulfs others’ lives or our own, we will continue to pray and evangelise.
You were His chosen companions. Your hearts were broken and your lives shattered by the terrible betrayal and death of your great hope Jesus. He had preached love and faith; He had preached the Kingdom to which He claimed all persons are called. Defeated and disgraced with no more honour than the vilest criminal, He was tortured, executed and buried.
His words and acts now meant nothing, as all of you—except John—scattered and hid to avoid a similar fate. Disillusioned, you wondered if the last few years were a shameful mistake. Were you betrayed by your discipleship to this condemned man?
Poor men, how could you reconcile the terrible events of this Passover with the Son of God, the Saviour whom you had believed Jesus to be! How could this disgrace, loss, and failure be the end to which He, and possibly yourselves, could be destined!
Peter, you, His appointed one, denied even an acquaintanceship with Him. How great your shock and your disillusionment when the full realisation of your perfidy assailed you!
Only John returned to stand beneath the cross with the grieving women. Beloved John! Shaking with grief and shock, you stood there, gutted by the unbelievable tragedy unfolding before you. Faith and love supported you, yet did you not experience the same terrible emptiness and loss as your fellow apostles and other disciples?
Dear Apostles, throughout the ages, countless individuals experience in some way the crucifixion of a loved one, or of themselves, and the consequent challenge to hope and faith. They may feel emptiness, or loss of zeal. They may lose all trust in the living, merciful God.
Pray for them, for us, that in such periods we may be faithful, regardless of broken heart and anguish of spirit. Pray that we may be restored to hope, to trust, to prayer, to active service of love in the Kingdom. Intercede for such resurrection in us. Implore the Holy Spirit to come and restore our spirits, making us true apostles of Jesus. Pray that we become evangelists, enabling the Spirit to draw others into the Kingdom of God.
Thank you, Apostles of Jesus, whose weaknesses mirror our weakness, and whose restored faith, zeal, and courage, inspire us. Pray for us who are your sisters and brothers throughout the ages. Share your blessings with us. Pray that we shall receive in fullness those precious gifts of His love that He longs for us to share and distribute.
Obtain that we honour and delight our God with all heart and strength. Then, when at last our souls rise to join yours, we shall enjoy eternity at your side, honouring and loving the great Son of God, whom we once betrayed out of our fear and selfishness. 1999
I understand what you are trying to say with the anology of Bill Gates and such, but does the bible say the only way to God is through Jesus Christ? From what i have researched, this includes Prayer. No where does it say that we should would or even could use a saint to intercede for us to God. If anything, the only thing you should ask a saint to do is offer a prayer for what you wish from God up to God in conjunction with your prayer, the same as youd ask your church to offer with you. But again, this understanding i have goes against alot of people when they say Pray to Saint michael and ask him to help you with a certain thing. Ive seen it multiple times on this forum, people saying " Oh if you want your question answered, pray to saint michael or saint _______ and they will help you with that." To me that seems alot like idolization of someone other than God.
Or it’s like if you were a kid who just broke a window at the house. You’re afraid of how your father is going to punish you so you ask mom to soften him up a little.
In the Book of Exodus, the people went to Moses to speak to God on their behalf. Obviously God could hear their prayers; but they had confidence in Moses as their benefactor.
There seems to be no reprimand of this in the Torah or oral traditions, so why should praying with saints be different?
Because you are speaking of the old testament, whereas if you are catholic you believe in the new covenant, so you believe that the only way to God is through Jesus. If God allowed intercessors before Jesus, its obvious the only intercessor between us and him now is Jesus. I am not necessarily trying to be combative, if anyone can help me see this differently please help me out
Yes, like Bill’s secretary will help me with my goal.
The secretary’s help might simply be that they make the appointment with Bill. Most secretaries are taught to screen very carefully who gets acces to the boss and who doesn’t). Possibly (as some secretaries do) by asking the nature of my business with him and suggesting the best method of presenting my request. Either way acknowledging the secretary’s help doesn’t deny Bill’s final and ultimate role, does it?
How is it that we are happy to acknowledge what our earthly benefactors do for us, even though all the goods THEY do ultimately come from God, just as much as those of any heavenly saint, and yet cannot do the same for heavenly benefactors? Don’t you say ‘I’ll go to Mum and she’ll lend me a few dollars’, even though ultimately everything she has and does for you is ALSO only because God permits her to, just like if you asked saint xyz to help you obtain $5?
Prayer, pre-Reformation, primarily meant “to ask”. That’s why the phrase “pray tell” is often found in Shakespearean literature.
Catholics believe in the Communion of Saints - that the Church is made up is made up of those on earth, those in Heaven and those in purgatory. We are always connected, and everyone helps each other out. We ask the saints in heaven to help us with our problems, and we pray for the souls in purgatory - that God may have mercy on them and help them get to heaven faster.
Christopher I think you are limiting the meaning of "pray"
To pray does not mean worship, not is the word confine to God
It comes from the **Latin root precari to implore/B]
- To utter or address a prayer or prayers to God, a god, or another object of worship.
To make a fervent request or entreaty.
- To utter or say a prayer or prayers to; address by prayer.
2.** To ask (someone) imploringly; beseech**.
- To make a devout or earnest request for:
- To move or bring by prayer or entreaty.
- to say prayers (to one’s God)
to ask earnestly; beg
verb 1. say your prayers, offer a prayer, recite the rosary
verb 2.** beg, ask, plead, petition, urge, request, sue, crave, invoke, call upon, cry, solicit, implore, beseech, entreat, importune, adjure, supplicate**
I do suppose you are right that im limiting the word, i was looking at it one dimensionally from the sense of prayer to God.
God bless you in your search Christopher
These links might help you out.