Question from Semi-Returning Catholic

and I say Semi, cause I’m questioning my own belief in prayers to saint… but I still love the traditions of being Catholic, including confession.

I left the church for a long time, and just recently I felt the need to go back to church so I decided to go back to my roots… but praying to saints still bothers me. When I returned I’ve been told by many members praying to saints isn’t a major part of being Catholic…not an important part and doesn’t have to be done if I don’t want too… so here’s my question:

How? how can I go to church and respectfully not participate in prayers to saints, especially Mary… and can I respectfully ask my father, my priest for absolution for my sins without saying 10 Hale Mary’s or what ever number of prayers he wants me to say as penance for my sins? Isn’t it more of an insult to God to say them and not mean the words I say, I’d rather say 10 of the Lord’s Prayers…

so basically can I be a true Catholic without praying to saints?

Well, let’s look at the word “pray”. Pray means to ask.

So, if I asked you to pray for me, you would do so, right? As I would pray for you.

I also pray for family members, friends, strangers, people I will never meet.

Now, if I, as imperfect as I am now, pray for others, let’s imagine heaven.

If you were to die today and open your eyes in heaven, you would still love your family and your friends, right? You would be perfect so your love would be even more than it is now, right?

So, would you not stand right there with God and ask Him to bless, keep, guide those who are still here alive on earth? You would be praying for them!

We simply ask Mary, and other Saints, who are alive in heaven and who are now perfect in love, to ask God to bless, help, keep us.


Saints are like your elder siblings who’ve already walked the hard road and now enjoy eternal friendship with God. They see (by God’s help) us on Earth as younger brothers and sisters still struggling to find our way. They surround us like a cloud of witness and are there to pray for us. Mary in particularly takes a motherly role, since we are raised as brothers and sisters of her son, Jesus, and in relation to Jesus as king she is the Queen Mother, ever willing to pray for and intercede in prayer for the people of his kingdom.


OK you ask family members and friends to pray for you and your loved ones when you have a need. They are not God they are only asking God for help for you in the way you need it.

Well the Saints are even closer to God and more alive in Heaven than they were on Earth. When we pray we ask them to add their prayer for our need with their own and bring it to God for us. They can do NOTHING ON THEIR OWN----we are NOT praying for them to do any healing or anything themselves (they can’t ONLY God can) but for them to ask God because they are there with Him to give the person praying the help they need.


I’m in the process of returning to the Church myself.

May I ask what issues or questions you have regarding invoking and asking the intercession of Saints?

Now, I’m sure if you explain your discomfort to him, your Father-Confessor would be willing to help.

While it is not unheard of to have prayers addressed to saints before or after the Mass, there aren’t any in the Mass itself. Unless I misunderstand things, you are not obliged to participate in prayers that are not a part of the Mass.


Talk to Father ASAP and he can definitely help you in all of this.


I didn’t really want anyone to defend the prayer to saints, I understand where Catholics are coming from with their prayers, I understand they want to get all the help they can get, I respect that. Its just asking saints for help not actual prayers to them. I’ve also read the biblical scripture that says angels do pray from us… its in Revelations I think. So I get it, its an important part of being a Catholic. But, I also understand the Dictionary definition to the word pray and that’s kind of where its feels wrong to me, if you want to be technical… but that’s not my question. That’s not why I’m here. You, as a Catholic if you want to pray to saints, go for it… but my question is can I be a practicing Catholic without praying to saints?

For me, on a personal level prayers to saints is not the same as asking someone to pray for me. Its not to me, it doesn’t feel the same, it feels like I’m on my knees, standing up, bowing my head, folding my hand, closing my eyes or any way you do it, praying to someone who isn’t God, so it’s not the same as saying ‘hey, buddy pray for me’… it just doesn’t feel the same.

Besides, since you don’t know me, let me tell you, I would never ask anyone to pray for me…I just don’t. I just kind of think of they’d do that on their own without me asking, so I never do… and yes I’ve prayed for others, a LOT of people, weather they ask me too or not… so that’s not the issue. To me, the issue is how I feel that praying to saints just feels to much like a prayer to someone who isn’t God. Prayer for me should just be for God.

so can I be a practicing Catholic without praying to saints?

MiserereMei, in my church its during mass, after we bow our head to confess out sins to God during the service, its ended by praying the Hail Mary, and then mass is ended by the Saint Michael prayer… and the class I go to… after each class they end with a prayer which includes the Hail Mary… and I don’t want to be disrespectful to anyone so I don’t participate… so back to my original question… can I be a respectful practicing Catholic and not pray to saints?

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The Hail Mary is a Scripture passage and then a request for Mary to pray for you. Nothing more.


Either you accept it all, or you accept none of it. Being Catholic is not pick and choose. Now, no one is required to have a particular devotion (not every Catholic prays the rosary), but you are required to give your full assent to the Church’s teaching.


Does it not say the following in the good book:? James 5:16 “confess therefore your sins one to another: and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much.” Who is more just than the blessed in Heaven? I think the King James says righteous, again, who is more righteous than those in Heaven?

I think, from your description, you are mixing up praying (asking help of) saints with worshiping them. I pray (ask) saints to intercede for me with the Father or with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. I do not worship them. They would be the first to say they are not worthy of worship, no more than you or I.

I hope this helps.



Let’s say that someone said they were living with their boyfriend and using contraception, I think that they should still come to church but not receive the sacraments until things get sorted out.

If it makes you uncomfortable to pray to the saints, I don’t see that as a reason that you should not be going to church and the sacraments.

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So, as far as I can see, everyone is trying to convince you praying to saints is great, as opposed to answering your question. While I agree that praying to saints is great, I will try to focus on your question:

I suppose one can to some extent. One cannot deny the dogma of the Communion of Saints. One should show proper reverence for the saints and especially Mary. But if one does not want to pray to them, again to an extent you can minimize it, but probably not get away from it altogether. For example, a priest is likely to include a Hail Mary or two in your penance at confession. For Marian feast days, you can expect some Marian hymns to be sung in Church. All of could be worked around (with some difficulty with regards to the penance issue I suppose). Finally, perhaps the big issue, there is The Confiteor said at the beginning of mass. This explicitly includes a prayer to the Mary, the angels and saints. One cannot just ignore this, one has to participate in the mass fully. You don’t have to say it out loud, but you should be saying it silently at the minimum.

Maybe all of that helps.

ETA: I do agree with those who say you should talk to your priests. In general, I suspect that if you come back to the Church, overtime you will find your distaste for praying to saints fades away to nothing.


I would recommend you speak to your priest. You are likely to get many more apologetic-based answers on this forum than are helpful.

I am sorry if I upset you with my post. I wish you the best in your search.

I cannot for the life of me as a lifelong Catholic remotely understand how any Catholic would have an issue with saying the Hail Mary. I can’t imagine how offensive that might be to her Son. The whole prayer is scriptural and honors Him. You should speak to a good priest about this.


You say you understand the Catholic position on this subject, but your own commentary betrays that claim.

In short, can you accept all that we profess in the Nicene Creed (as a starting point), including “the Communion of Saints”? If yes or maybe, it’s worth further discussion; if no, then see my first paragraph above.


Do not focus on the dictionary meaning of "prayer’, but rather the Catholic meaning and intent in particular circumstances-- and btw, those other than “worship” meanings of prayer are also in any dictionary other than the most minimal.

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No, you can’t.

Communion of the Saints is a Credal dogma.

Every Mass, and every litany, includes prayer to the Mother of God, and other saints. (Typically in hierarchical order: Theotokos, angels, John the Forerunner, etc.).

You may find clarity in reading the Catechism on Latria, Hyper-Dulia, and Dulia.

Deacon Christopher


Do you realize that coming here to CAF and asking sincere questions about growing in faith, is actually doing that: “praying to the saints?”

We, as Christians, are called the saints on earth. We are supposed to ask for what we need, and pray for each other.

How much more are the saints in heaven, who see God, able to pray for us when we ask that of them.


but I’m not asking you to pray for me, or talk to God on my behalf… I’m asking if I can worship God without going through you… through Mary or any other saint.

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