Question on Matthew 27:51

Just got back from this mornings church service:

My preacher made two comments this morning that seemed to be anti-catholic :mad:, and I would like some help on refuting these comments.

The first comment was that he said that there is a problem with “certain people” canonizing Saints. He said all the saved are saints. The content of his sermon was supposed to be from 2 Peter, but he kind of jumped around to a LOT of different points.

The second comment he made dealt with the temple veil being torn in Matthew 27:51. My preacher said something to the extent of “we dont need to pray to any man. The torn curtain means that we can go straight to god now, and the old priesthood has gone away.” This was followed by a huge AMEN from the congegation. I don’t believe this abolished the priesthood though, since the early church does speak of priests (I forget which NT book).

Anyway, I would just like some refutations to these two things. While I was listening to the preacher, I thought about how if I ever become a Catholic (which I am considering) I would need to be able to defend the Canonizing of Saints as well as the Catholic priesthood.

In the macro sense your pastor is correct in that ALL souls who enter heaven are by definition “perfect” and thus saints. However, who knows who enters heaven? We will know on the last judgement, but what about today? The Church through the guidance of the HOLY SPIRIT can lead us to know, through a very stringent review, who has entered heaven, and has the special blessing of GOD such that they can provide miracles and blessing to us who still struggle in this life.

The Priesthood of the New Testament was formed by JESUS at the Last Supper, which was the first Mass.

Yes, all who are in heaven are saints, but some are particularly recognized by the Church. When they are ‘canonized’ it means their names may be used in the canon of the Mass.

It is true that we can go directly to God in prayer, but God also sent us the MAN Jesus (who is also God) so that we could pray to Him.

We don’t HAVE to pray through saints, but why not ask them for help? They are perfect, as they are in heaven. Scripture tells us that the prayers of the righteous avails much.

First,Most Protestants do not understand the Communion of Saints.They are not taught that their is a "relationship between Heavenly Saints and Earthly Saints or are taught that Israel believed in this communion(read 2 Macc.15:12-16).If you do not have a complete Bible,These Scripture tell of a former High Priest(deceased)named Onias and the Prophet Jeremiah(deceased)praying for Israel.For some reason they can’t accept that God raises up exceptional humans(Moses,Joshua,Elijah,Jeremiah,Isaiah,St.Paul,St.Peter,St.Benedict,St.Frances,St.Anthony,St.Burnadette,St.Faustina etc)to instruct us and be an example for us.Second point is the veil in the temple was their for the High Priest to offer sacrifices for whom?Was it not for the Jewish people?The image of the veil in the Holiest of Holies being torn or rent in to means Salvation,the Sacrifice of our Lord is available to all races.May I point out that the Church carries out exhaustive studies and verifications on anyone that is Beatified.Yes these people are worthy to be emmulated.To be looked at as an example and to pattern our lives after.We are all called to be Saints.But these people are exceptional because of their love for our Lord,their example of Holiness,True Piety and their willingness to forsake everything to follow Jesus wherever He led them even to the Arena’s,the Crosses,the wild beasts that tore them apart,to prisons,to Siberia,to the gas chambers.Yes,these people deserve our respect,but best of all,they can help us and pray for us.

There are two definitions of “Saint” in the Catholic Church and in all of Christianity:

#1: All faithful Christians
#2: All beings (aside from God Himself) in Heaven

Under these definitions, the Church canonizes saints. Canonization is simply the confirmation that someone is indeed in Heaven. The process is so vigorous because the Church wants to be certain that the person is in Heaven, so it digs into the person’s life.

Ask the preacher if he thinks Paul is in Heaven. He’ll say “Yes”. Then, ask him why he thinks Paul is in Heaven. He’ll say something along the lines of “Paul was a good person and cared about God”. Then tell him that those are the criteria the Church uses to declare someone a saint, and then tell him that canonized saints are simply people the Church has confirmed to have fit that criteria. That criteria clearly can’t be wrong if the preacher himself used it to confirm that Paul is in Heaven.

The second comment he made dealt with the temple veil being torn in Matthew 27:51. My preacher said something to the extent of “we dont need to pray to any man. The torn curtain means that we can go straight to god now, and the old priesthood has gone away.” This was followed by a huge AMEN from the congegation. I don’t believe this abolished the priesthood though, since the early church does speak of priests (I forget which NT book).

Tell the preacher this:

#1: The reason why we pray to the Saints is because they can literally see God in Heaven (remind him of what a canonized Saint is in Catholicism). The Holy Spirit brings our prayers to them, and they pray for us. Point out that God can do all things, so this isn’t preposterous, and also point out that the Bible states that God accepts the prayers of the righteous over the prayers of the unrighteous (Jon 42:8). One cannot be unrighteous and still be in Heaven, so those who are in Heaven must be righteous.

#2: The old priesthood did go away in the sense that it was only open to Jews and the type of sacrifices these priests made (cf. Hebrews 7:11). But it has been replaced with a new one open to Gentiles as can be seen in 1 Peter 2:5 and Acts 20:17 (the word translated as “elders”, which is the term the ancient Christians used for priests, is “presbyter”, which is where the English word “priest” comes from) . Now the question is “why is the Catholic priesthood the same as the priesthood talked about in the NT?”

It’s best if the preacher would see this link, which proves the Catholic Priesthood as the priesthood of the Apostles:

FanOfU2 in Christ,

Please note that both the Old and New Testaments share much in common. The OT covenants are a foreshadowing of the New Covenant. 1 Peter 2:9 says,

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,”

Please compare this verse to the following from the OT.

Exodus 19:5-6

Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

Obviously, the Jews were a priestly people in the Old Covenant just as Christians are a priestly people in the New Covenant. The declaration that we are a “priestly people” does not negate the ministerial priesthood. After God makes the declaration in Exodus concerning the people as a kingdom of priests, he then tells Moses the following:

Exodus 19:22-25

And also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out upon them." And Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for thou thyself didst charge us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain, and consecrate it.’” And the Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.

Exodus 28:1-3

"THEN BRING near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests–Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. And you shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with an able mind, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood.

Exodus 28:41

And you shall put them upon Aaron your brother, and upon his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

Likewise in the New Covenant we have deacons, presbyters/priests, and bishops. This is the ministerial priesthood of the New Covenant.

In the OT we read about Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16:1-33. It says in part:

"NOW KORAH the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men; and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” When Moses heard it, he fell on his face;

Moses responds to Korah with this]

And would you seek the priesthood also? Therefore it is against the Lord that you and all your company have gathered together; what is Aaron that you murmur against him?"

Later in the narrative we read that God destroys Korah and his followers that attempted to usurp the ministerial priesthood. Likewise there is a warning in the NT. In Jude 1:11-13 it says,

“Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion.”

The only conclusion that can be drawn from the book of Jude concerning Korah’s rebellion is that there are those that would attempt to usurp the ministerial priesthood of the New Covenant just as Korah did in the Old Covenant. Any denial of the proper place of the ministerial priesthood in the New Covenant is synonymous with Korah’s rebellion.

I hope this helps.

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