Praying TO Saints VS Saints praying for us

Hi Everyone,

I fully understand the concept of the communion of saints and then asking them to pray for us. But what I don’t understand is prayers such as the Prayer TO Saint Michael the Archangel and Prayer TO St Joseph. I have a manual of prayers from Pontifical North American College and i find the Prayers of St Thomas Aquinas and then Prayers TO St Thomas Aquinas. Where do we get the notion that the saints have special rights or powers to grant things we ask of them. Isn’t that then a form of worship? Asking them to do things to us rather than plead on our behalf TO God? Why not ask Jesus to defend us in battle rather than St Michael? Isn’t St michael under the control of God anyway?

Well, how can you ask anyone for anything unless you pray to them? :wink:

And the Saints in heaven and the Angels have the power to do things for us which they derive from God and which they do through him and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

While they are our prayer partners they are more than that, they are agents of God who do his bidding.

Take the Annunciation for example. Why send Gabriel to Mary when God could simply have told her himself? Or why send Apostles to preach and teach the Gospel when Jesus could have, after his Resurrection have done it himself–he can’t die again, so why not?

The answer is God uses all of us to do his will as he wills and for his own purposes. It’s rather humbling to think of that since we too are to be his agents for good. The Communion of Saints means more than the Saints interceding for us, it also means they, as God sees fit, may assist us however God desires. I find a great deal of comfort in the thought that the Saints and Angels are on our side, aiding us in our lives as we work out our salvation. :slight_smile:

Matthew 18:20 For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

I think the sending of Gabriel to Mary was a command from God since no man can look at God directly. So send a messenger. I don’t think Mary was praying for a virgin birth.
How do we know the saints have power from God? Where do we get the idea that God gives all of the dead christians the power to interact with us here on earth? The angels i can understand. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is extremely comforting and really like the idea but I am having trouble wrapping my mind around the justification of it. Does this mean I can pray to my Grandpa, he is not a Canonized saint but he is a saint none the less.
I don’t mean to come across as facetious if I do. This is just an issue that has popped up in my mind while i continue to grow in my faith. The more i try to defend this concept to my non-catholic friends the more complex it seems to get.
Appreciate your time! :smiley:

I didn’t say Mary was praying to be Mother of the Messiah–it was merely an example, out of many biblical ones, in which God used an intermediary to do his will. And God did appear to Moses, showing him his back, so God has done that and could do that, but he chooses not to, in part for the reason you cited. So, that answers the question of why can’t God just do everything himself–because human beings aren’t strong enough to take that kind of encounter with the Creator of the Universe.

They aren’t “dead Christians” they are alive in heaven. Where did you get the idea that they are simply dead? That’s not Catholic teaching. Jesus himself corrected the idea that the dead are dead which was held by the Sadducees of his day quoting from the OT as evidence:

Mt. 222.[32] ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.

So, who can do God’s will if not the living? How is God limited in this? Can he not command the living to do his will? Of course he can and of course they can do whatever he asks of them.

If I understand this correctly, we don’t have a solid explanation for addressing individual saints for things? I guess what i am looking for is Biblical proof for my non-catholic friends for addressing individual saints rather than Jesus. Where can we call down St Michael? If I address St michael doesn’t he then take that prayer to God and then God responds back to St Micael and then we get protection?
The only thing that makes sense to me is that we are forming an adventure party in our prayers. Like dungeons and dragons. if that makes sense.

God established a kingdom. Saints are part of that kingdom.

Not everyone gets in to see the King. Sometimes you have to go to the person to whom the king has delegated responsibility.


If you read the TEXT of said prayers you will see that they are imploring them to pray fro us.
St. Michael the Archangel…DEFEND US IN BATTLE…sounds like a prayer request to me.
We’re asking them to help us ask GOD to grant.
When you get in trouble with your mom, you ask your sibling or you dad to intercede, right?
You get someone to ask the teacher about an assignment when you are worried, right?
Same deal.
St. Michael fought the devil eons ago. He knows how to be effective at it. Saints, like any person, have special gifts. Just because they are in heaven doesn’t mean those God given gifts are useless.

I think the problem may simply be use of the English language. It’s not the best way to express exceptionally abstract concepts like the communion of Saints.

I know this isn’t what you are looking for, but have you ever heard the expression “God works in mysterious ways”?

Part of our burden as humans is that one of our earliest ancestors ate from the wrong tree. Ever since we have always asked too many questions! Often I would like to know why something is the way it is, but, as a matter of faith, I just accept it as being so.

Am I advocating ignorance? NO WAY. We still need to ask questions. Unfortunately, I think many of the answers we seek can only be found by passing out of the mortal realm through death.

To be honest, Defend us in battle sounds like a command not a request.
No i do not get someone to ask my professor for me. I go to them directly.
No I do not try to drag my siblings or father into my mess with my mother. I know quite well that what i did to make her disappointed with me was my fault not theirs.
Jesus resisted the devils temptation in the desert. That battle is more in line with our current day battle with the devil and seems more relevant and perhaps a better person for protection on that matter.
I don’t think the gifts are useless. I just don’t understand where we get the authority to single out Thomas Aquinas, St Joseph or any other of them to directly effect us.
Again, I am not trying to be combative. I just don’t understand. I do reflect on the life of Thomas Aquinas. I read his stuff for inspiration. But I do not know if I have the authority to single him out and say Help me brother.

Ah, the “biblical proof” criteria many Protestants, and uninformed Catholics, use to either question Church teaching or outright deny it. We Catholics are not “people of the book” like many of our Protestant brethren are. We hold to Sacred Tradition, of which the Bible is a part. The long-standing SC of the Church is that God gives his Saints and Angels the ability to aid us in our earthly life. Just as we can help one another here on earth, so they can aid us, as well, only they have the power of the Holy Spirit to do that, whereas we often don’t, which is why we mess us and they don’t.

I’d ask your friend for biblical proof that the Saints and Angels do not/cannot aid us. It’s his criteria let him proof his position rather than you assuming his. :wink:

No saint has any “power” to use that God hasn’t given them specifically for that intended purpose. Praying “To” or “For” a saint to help us, or to intercede on our behalf, is not an act of worship towards them.

Any prayer to a saint is always a petition to God through them, as they are in heaven and thus in Gods presence. You might say asking them to help us is like having a close friend or family member, who can whisper in Gods ear on our behalf. Anything that happens as result is because its Gods will and His alone.

Indeed so. This little exchange between Zacharia and Gabriel is a case in point:

Lk. 1:18 And Zachary said to the Angel: Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.

19 And the Angel answering, said to him: I am Gabriel, who stand before God: and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings.

If you are sick, you can just pray to God for healing or you can also seek the services of a physician and take the recommended medicine. There is no fault in seeking the services of a physician and taking medicine because the physician’s skill and the potency of medicine are both gifts from God for the common good. (see Sirach 38:1-15) In the same way, if you are seeking a miracle, you can just pray to God or you can also seek the miraculous intercession of the saints because their ability to work miracles is also a gift from God for the common good. (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-31)

Or you can pray to, e.g. Saint Panteleimon or Saint Luke, who are renowned physicians and powerful intercessors.

I really appreciate everyones responses here.
I think I am beginning to understand it.

Let me use this analogy.

If I am having trouble in school understanding something I have a few options. I could A) Go directly to the professor and wait in line for office hours and then when i do get my time, Hope i walk out of there understanding. B) I could talk to classmates and try and create a study group where we can help each other out with things we don’t understand. C) I could seek out Supplemental instructions along with a study group making our time much more effective.

The thing with going directly to the professor is that we want to know NOW but the professor doesn’t have the time to explain multiple ways of understanding said problem to us. So it is in prayer, we may not always understand what is being done because we may not have the time or patience to hear God in such direct ways. However, if the lives of the saints are being reflected on before prayer and we are asking to see resolutions through their lives, then perhaps hearing God or seeing his work in our lives will be easier?
To wrap it up the lesson to be learned is…We are a communion of people united in physical body in the physical church with the Heavenly church and heavenly people. They are our classmates in our spiritual life. If we seek to understand God in their lives perhaps then we can see God in our lives in similar ways?
IT forces us to not put it all on ourselves. Because it humbles us to seek out others for help and guidance? Perhaps to remind us that we all suffer, we all go through difficult situations and so if we learn to seek out the friendship of others we can hear God more readily. To build each other up and not to tear down.

From Sacred Tradition.

The problem is that worship, as understood in colloquial English, isn’t a particularly precise term.

Fr. Hardon defined worship as follows:

Acknowledgment of another’s worth, dignity, or superior position. In religion, worship is given either to God, and then it is adoration, or to the angels and saints, and it is called veneration. Divine worship actually includes three principal acts, namely adoratin (or the recognition of God’s infinite perfection), prayer or the asking for divine help, and sacrifice or the offering of something precious to God. Worship as veneration also has three principal forms, whereby the angels and saints are honored for their sanctity, asked to intercede before the divine Majesty, and imitated in their love and service of God. (Etym. Old English weorthscipe, honor, dignity, reverence: weorth, worth +ship.)

In a certain sense, yes, we do worship Saints. In fact, older texts or manuals or prayers might say as much. To worship something is simply to acknowledge that it has a certain worth.

However, most people today use the verb to worship only in the sense of adoration. In that sense, we do not worship Saints, and praying to them is not a form of adoration. Here is Fr. Hardon’s definition of adoration:

The act of religion by which God is recognized as alone worthy of supreme honor because he is infinitely perfect, has supreme dominion over humans, and the right to human total dependence on the Creator. It is at once an act of mind and will, expressing itself in appropriate prayers, postures of praise, and acts of reverence and sacrifice. (Etym. Latin ad- to + orare, to pray; or os, oris, mouth, from the pagan custom of expressing preference for a god by wafting a kiss to the statue: adoratio, worship, veneration.)

None of the above applied to praying to Saints. When I pray to St. Therese, I’m not recognizing her as “alone worth of supreme honor” nor do I think she “has supreme dominion over humans.” I am simply communicating to her in a supernatural way.

I can ask a human being to pray for me, and I can also ask him to do something for me. It’s no different with the Saints. God DOES give Saints an ability to influence our lives beyond merely praying for us. Why? Because He wants to. Why not? Why would he give my surgeon the ability to operate on my spine, but not simply heal me Himself? Why would He create us as social beings full stop? Because, clearly, that’s the best way to do things. Is there anything obviously unreasonable about that?

Why not ask Jesus this question yourself rather than relying on me (or anyone else reading this thread) to respond? Because we clearly live in a universe wherein God has set up delegates.

St. Michael has free will, of course. Likewise, all of his power was given to him by God. But don’t you think he can exercise this free will and power in a manner that is both consistent with God’s will and which is to our benefit? Is that unreasonable? Of course not: it’s the most reasonable thing in the world, and we see it every day all around us. Is any human being more intelligent or wise than God? Of course not! Then why do we bother asking them things? Because God gave them gifts, and God always gives gifts so that they can be shared with others. So it is with us, so it is with the Saints.

Lastly, while some apologists make this distinction between praying TO Saints and asking them to pray for us, I consider this antics with semantics. Yes, we pray TO Saints in the same what I am typing TO you. No, that does not imply we believe the Saints to be somehow more powerful than God.

exactly :thumbsup:

Thanks a lot for this response. Extremely helpful! :smiley:

You got it Bubba. :thumbsup:

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