Questions from an Evangelical


#1

Hi, I’m a Born Again Evangelical with some questions on the Catholic faith. Been pretty busy, but I finally have the chance to ask my first question. Now, I know a lot about Mary and the Catholic belief on why you pray to her for intercession and so on, but as many people who know my faith, know that we believe otherwise.

Here is where we come from: Heaven is a place of pure peace, solitude, and perfection, free from the troubles the world brings about. I’m sure many of you believe that as well, so I think this is a good starting point.

My problem arises when this is contradicted by the notion of being able to talk to and ask those who have passed on (Mary, the Saints—people who were exactly that…people), and concern them with the troubles of the world. With this said, another problem arises: why would I pray to Mary or any other, when I can talk freely to Jesus himself? The way I look at it is: ‘Why would I talk to the bouncer when I know the owner of the club?’. God is a loving Father. All I know is that a loving father would welcome his child to come speak to him directly. Jesus does not need extra persuasion from his mother to do something for his child. Mary will not tell him anything the all-knowing Father wouldn’t already know. He is the source of all knowledge, generosity, empathy, and kindness. No one can add to what the Lord knows and sees. God’s decisions are final and just…because of his infinite wisdom and love. In this respect, what benefit is there in believing that Mary or any of the saints could have more of an impact than your own personal prayers, or of those still alive?

Well, I’m sure that the questions and topic will expand from this point on, sorry if it’s a little confusing!
Thanks again for listening everybody, and for helping.
God Bless you all."


#2

First of all I think Scriptures supports the notion that the saints in heaven are concerned for those of us still on earth.

Rev 6:9 “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”

Remember also that we do not pray to Mary (or any other saint) instead of praying to God. We most certainly pray directly to God but we also invoke the assistance of those that have gone before us, especially Mary because of her unique relationship to Jesus. If we really believe in the Communion of Saints and ask for each others assistance and prayers, why would we not also ask the same of those who are now in perfect union with God. Im not sure about your analogy with the bouncer and the owner, because unless you refrain from asking others to pray for you then you are not even talking with the bouncer but to some other person in line next to you. Why would you do that if you are so friendly with the owner or even the bouncer?

Mary fights for her children, those that believe and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gave her to us…she is our mother too. She is a strong allie against the evil one…why would we not call upon The Woman whom Jesus even entrusted Himself!

I guess I would ask you if you believe in the Communion of Saints and if so wouldn’t you say the souls in heaven experience and even greater communion that those of us on earth?


#3

If you read Matthew, you’ll note that the Saints, when a lost sheep is found, “Rejoice”.

If you look at Revelations, you’ll see that the Saints “offer up our prayers in the form of incense”.

So, if the Saints, who are perfected in Heaven, care about the souls of the lost sheep on earth, and pray for us to God, what’s the difference in asking them to pray for us as well as our friends on earth? Actually, the difference is, their prayers are more effective then ours.

If this point is clear, then we can move on to Mary.

If you look at BathSheba’s role, when she was Queen Mother during David’s Kingship, as the chief intercessor (or Gebirah), then you’ll see that Mary is our Gebirah in Heaven.

Please note, if you don’t feel comfortable praying to Mary, you won’t lose any “Salvation Points”. Most Catholics just feel comfortable asking her to say a prayer for us while we are praying to God.

Personally, I like to ask Mary to say “The Lord’s Prayer” with me several times a day.

Thanks,

NotWorthy


#4

Hi skattas, and welcome.

Regarding those in heaven experiencing the woes of those on earth, the same applies to God. God is in heaven (or is heaven in God?), and yet He knows every sin, every suffering, every evil that is, was or will be. Is God not then perfectly happy in heaven? If He is, then we know that it is possible to know of unhappiness and evil and still be perfectly happy in heaven. Since those in heaven are now partaking in the divine nature, we can assume this applies to them as well.

As to not going to God directly, it is not an either/or situation. Has the Christian ever lived who did not ask others for prayer? That is all we are are doing. Catholics pray to God. We also ask those in heaven to pray for us (the prayers of the righteous avail much). We also ask those on earth to pray for us. We are all God’s family. That’s the way families are, they ask each other for help. God allows us all to participate in His work of salvation. Praying for each other is part of that work.

When you get to heaven will you not want to continue working the salvation of those God loves here on earth?


#5

[quote=skattas]Heaven is a place of pure peace, solitude, and perfection, free from the troubles the world brings about. Solitude? I never heard that before. Where does that idea come from?

. . .

Jesus does not need extra persuasion from his mother to do something for his child. Mary will not tell him anything the all-knowing Father wouldn’t already know.
[/quote]

So then, why pray at all, even to God, if He already knows what we need?

As for “pure peace” in heaven, “peace” does not exclude care. The Saints are fully united to God; that is their peace. They are perfected in his Charity – I think that means they can feel for the struggles of us who remain on earth.

Frankly, skattas, if you knew the Catholic position, as you claim, you wouldn’t need to ask the question.

Besides, I think Catholics get sucked into defending our position regarding the Communion of Saints to the point that it overshadows the fact that 90% of our personal prayer is, in fact, actually directed towards the Holy Trinity.

BTW, I, too, am born again in exactly the way Evangelicals mean the term. Accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the age of 8.


#6

[quote=skattas]Here is where we come from: Heaven is a place of pure peace, solitude, and perfection, free from the troubles the world brings about. I’m sure many of you believe that as well, so I think this is a good starting point.
[/quote]

I think this is indeed a decent starting point. But Catholics (and I also used to be Protestant) would view these particular qualities of heaven as having different connotations. First, Heaven is indeed a place of peace and perfection, free of the troubles of this world. I am a little apprehensive about the word “solitude”, as the Church is the body of Christ. As St. Paul says, the members of the body need each other. Revelation pictures multitudes around the throne. Heaven is not a solitude. It is the glorified body of Christ, consisting of many members.

But taking the other mentioned characteristics, the fact that someone is at peace and perfect doesn’t mean that they are therefore unconcerned with the plight of their fellow Christians. Rather, it would seem to mean that, being perfected, they now care a good deal more than they ever did about the plight of other Christians on earth. Of course, they would not feel a similar sorrow as they did on earth, but the fact that they are perfect means that they have been made completely free to love their neighbor perfectly. And we Christians on earth are their neighbor. We are their brothers and sisters in Christ.

That leads to the next point. What do those Christians who care most for each other do for each other? More than anything, they pray for each other. This is what the Catholic Church teaches about the saints in heaven. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, they love us as Christ taught them to do, and they thus pray for us. Being perfect, though, they have no need of our prayers. This then answers your other concern about why wouldn’t we just go to the “owner of the club”. We do go right to the owner of the club in prayer. BUT. We also ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us. It’s not an either/or proposition. Even among Christians on earth, we both pray to God ourselves AND ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray to God for us. The situations are identical, except for the fact that our prayer partners in one situation are perfected in heavenly glory.

Peace to you.


#7

[quote=skattas]Hi, I’m a Born Again Evangelical with some questions on the Catholic faith.

Well, I’m sure that the questions and topic will expand from this point on, sorry if it’s a little confusing!
Thanks again for listening everybody, and for helping.
God Bless you all."
[/quote]

I think everyone has done a good job of answering so far, so I won’t add my two cents, but I just wanted to say to skattas that I appreciate how your questions were asked in such a respectful and non-belligerent tone. Anyone coming into this forum with a similar attitude will more likely get their questions answered in a likewise charitible and patient manner than someone coming in here ready to bash. Anyway, bless you skattas and welcome to the forums! :slight_smile:


#8

[quote=skattas]Hi, I’m a Born Again Evangelical with some questions on the Catholic faith. Been pretty busy, but I finally have the chance to ask my first question. Now, I know a lot about Mary and the Catholic belief on why you pray to her for intercession and so on, but as many people who know my faith, know that we believe otherwise.

Here is where we come from: Heaven is a place of pure peace, solitude, and perfection, free from the troubles the world brings about. I’m sure many of you believe that as well, so I think this is a good starting point.

My problem arises when this is contradicted by the notion of being able to talk to and ask those who have passed on (Mary, the Saints—people who were exactly that…people), and concern them with the troubles of the world. With this said, another problem arises: why would I pray to Mary or any other, when I can talk freely to Jesus himself? The way I look at it is: ‘Why would I talk to the bouncer when I know the owner of the club?’. God is a loving Father. All I know is that a loving father would welcome his child to come speak to him directly. Jesus does not need extra persuasion from his mother to do something for his child. Mary will not tell him anything the all-knowing Father wouldn’t already know. He is the source of all knowledge, generosity, empathy, and kindness. No one can add to what the Lord knows and sees. God’s decisions are final and just…because of his infinite wisdom and love. In this respect, what benefit is there in believing that Mary or any of the saints could have more of an impact than your own personal prayers, or of those still alive?

Well, I’m sure that the questions and topic will expand from this point on, sorry if it’s a little confusing!
Thanks again for listening everybody, and for helping.
God Bless you all."
[/quote]

Hi Skattas, welcome! I can understand your concerns, as I have a similar background as you in Evangelical wing of Protestantism. I have been a Catholic now for about three years. I’ll attempt to address your questions.

We definitely know that heaven will be free from sin and it will be peaceful and joyous. But it is an incorrect assumption that Christians in heaven aren’t aware of what is going on here. This should not detract from the peace and joy they have because they are able to see things without the filter of their own sin nature. They have perfected faith in God’s love and sovereignty. Hebrews 12:1 indicates that we have a great cloud of witnesses (those that have gone before us and, specifically, the heros of faith mentioned in chapter 11) who surround us. The picture that is created here is we have a cheering section of saints that watch eagerly as we run the race.

Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4 indicate that all the saints are praying during the time that the judgment seals are opened. Why are they praying? What are they praying about? They are petitioning God for something. If saints are unaware of anything outside the perfection of heaven, saints activities would be limited to praise and worship. The fact that they are petitioning implies to me that they are engaged in intercessory prayer for those on earth.

We are admonished to pray for one another. (Col. 4:2-3) James 5:16 also says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you can be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

So why ask saints to pray for us?

  1. The same reason we might ask friends in our Bible study to pray for us.
  2. The saints in heaven are far more righteous than any of us are here on earth. Therefore, their prayers are more effective. (Js. 5:16)

Why can’t we just pray to Jesus? We can and must! And we should be going to Jesus far more frequently than asking saints to pray for us. (Just as it would be inappropriate to constantly ask your Bible study leader to pray for you at the expense of your own personal devotion time with Christ.) But, in balance, it is beneficial to ask others to pray for us.

I should also mention that asking a saint to pray for us is a one way communication. We should not seek any communication directly from them. That is forbidden in scripture.

Hope this helps.


#9

The idea of heaven being a place of solitude – Christianity is about community, more than community it is about family, and more than family we are all part of the same Body. There is no solitude, we are part of one Body, and that Body is made up of men and women and children from every time, race and tongue.

Once that belief takes root in your heart and mind, talking to those who have gone on, those family members, those parts of the same body – is natural! As a former evangelical myself, the sense of real community was something I never felt until I came to the CC – and the Saints are as much as a part of that community as the people in the pew next to me!


#10

Welcome,

First of all you asked about the saints in heaven being able to hear our prayers, correct. Well someone mentioned Rev 5 above and our prayers going up through them to the throne. It is said that “there is more rejoicing among the angels over one repentant siner in heaven…” so it is clea that those in heaven do know what is going on. We are told in Matt 12 that the Apostles would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes. In order to judge they must know what is going on. Heb 12:1 says we are “surrounded by a cloud of witnesses”. They do know what is going on and cheer us on.

As for why pray to Mary, why think she could have any influence, and God is going to do what he is going to do anyway, Mary’s prayers can’t influence him (I’m paraphrasing), you just argued away any value to our prayers. Why do we think we can influence God by prayer is a legitimate question against your understanding. But his very commandment says “honor your father and mother” and we have no doudt that Jesus honors his Mother. He did at the wedding of Canna by performing his first miracle for her.

Blessings


#11

Just a thought, but I have always found the version of heaven put forward by the Op to be depressing and cold. I believe and am comforted by the fact that my deceased relatives-especially my dad, whom I never met-are looking down on me from above. Because Protestants normally can give scriptual refrences for their beliefs, I have to ask, where in the bible does it state that we will be ignorant and uncaring of what happens on earth after our death?


#12

Just to add a bit to what Kage has said. . .

We enjoy Communion with one another - including “our brothers and sisters who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith” - because of our Communion with THE Communion of the Divine Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. Being in Christ we are in union with all that is His - including His Mother. :slight_smile:


#13

One more thing I want to add is that when I was a Protestant, my understanding was that there was a great divide between us and those in heaven. I understood death to be a barrier that placed a chasm between Christians.

But the Catholic faith has an extremely developed understanding of the Body of Christ (the corporate body of believers). Because Christ has conquered death, it does not divide the Church at all. Whether here on earth or in heaven, we are a unified living Church. This biblical, holistic perspective makes the idea of requesting saints’ intercession much more natural.


#14

First things first, great questions. Kudo’s to you with the manner in which you posted, very respectful and it seems as if you are honestly searching, so God Bless.

So many wonderful responses and all I can add is that scripture is quite clear that we are ONE body in Christ not seperated by the earthly reality of death. Therefore as scripture teaches, we are all alive in Christ.


#15

[quote=skattas]: Heaven is a place of pure peace, solitude, and perfection, free from the troubles the world brings about. ."
[/quote]

Hi Skattas,

I hope I don’t rehash too much of what others have said, but just because the Saints aren’t troubled like we are over Earthly events (they see the big picture), does not mean that they are unaware of them. Consider especially the passage summaries in bold:

Intercessory Prayer of Saints
Rom 15:30 - join me by your prayers to God on my behalf
Col 4:3, 1Thess 5:25 - pray for us
2Thess 1:11 - we always pray for you
2Thess 3:1 - finally, brothers, pray for us
Eph 6:18-19 - making supplication for all the saints & for me
Tob 12:12 - angel presents Tobit & Sarah’s prayer to God
Ps 148 - David calls upon angels
**Zech 1:12 - angel intercedes for Jerusalem **
Mk 12:25, Mt 22:30 - men in heaven are as the angels
Rev 5:8 - those in heaven offer prayers of the holy ones to God
Mk 12:26-27 - he is God of the living, not of the dead
Mk 9:4 - Jesus seen conversing with Elijah & Moses
Lk 9:31 - Elijah & Moses aware of earthly events
**Rev 6:9-11 - martyrs under altar want earthly vindication **
Heb 12:1 - we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses
Lk 16:19-30 - departed rich man intercedes for brothers
Rev 20:4 - saw the souls of those who had been beheaded
Wis 3:1-6 - the souls of the just are in the hand of God
2Macc 15:7-16 - the departed Onias & Jeremiah pray for the Jews
Jas 5:16 prayers of righteous man
1 Cor. 13:12 - I shall understand fully
1 John 4: 20-21 - whoever loves God must love his brother
1 Cor 12:21 - parts of Christ’s Body cannot say to other parts, “I do not need you”.

source: geocities.com/thecatholicconvert/biblecheatsheet.html

I hope that helps, and I’ll keep you in my prayers, and I hope you’ll do the same for us. :wave:


#16

[quote=skattas] Jesus does not need extra persuasion from his mother to do something for his child. Mary will not tell him anything the all-knowing Father wouldn’t already know.
[/quote]

How do we reconcile this with the wedding at cana? Mary tells him they’re out of wine, and without a definate ‘yes or no’ from him, she turns to the others and says "do whatever he tells you to do " And he does it. Jesus loves and obeys his mother. I would think if she asked for something it just may carry a bit more weight than if someone else asked.

In bad times don’t you want everyone you know on your side rooting for you? That’s why we ask friends, etc to pray for us. And what a comforting thought that saints in heaven, who are closer to Jesus than we are could possible give a little extra prayer for us? St Somebody taps Jesus on the shoulder and says you know our friend skattas is having a really rough time, we’d be grateful for any extra help you could throw his way.
No one suggests that Jesus isn’t aware of us or our plights, but does it honestly hurt to have just one or two or 30 more people who have favor with him in your corner?

Where in the Bilble, or tradition does it say that once we die we have no knowledge of earth, or life on earth? Obviously none of us have first hand knowledge of heaven, but wouldn’t it be safe to say that things that are not possible on earth WOULD be possible in heaven? Why should we limit the possibilites of what heaven could hold?

:):):blessyou:


#17

[quote=skattas]Jesus does not need extra persuasion from his mother to do something for his child. Mary will not tell him anything the all-knowing Father wouldn’t already know. ."
[/quote]

While Catholics agree that Mary doesn’t tell anything to God He doesn’t already know, we recognize that God can wait to bestow blessings until such time as we act according to his plan.

Can you see how building up friendship among God’s family through prayer and love for one another can be part of God’s plan that he wills for us?


#18

One might as well ask why, when we are in heaven, we would bother to communicate with others there–our relatives and friends as well as other believers, and the many we know who have gone before. We will, after all, be in direct communication with God himself in a most ineffable way.

The answer, I believe, is that we were created for community, not designed as solitary creatures who may only commune with God alone.

If you know the father of a family, why do you bother to speak to any of the other members?

It is because, in the unity of the Church, both on earth and in heaven, we are a community. We are here to help each other. We don’t cease that help merely by going to heaven.


#19

Your question is often asked of Catholics and the one common thread I usually see is the term “need”. God doesn’t “need” this or Jesus doesn’t “need” that. You are 100% correct, when you couch the question with the term “need”. God/Jesus doesn’t need anything.

But we must still face the following:
(1.) God doesn’t “Need” Angels but still uses them
(2.) God doesn’t “Need” the Earth, solar system or the universe but he still created them.
(3.) Jesus didn’t “Need” the Apostles but he still chose them.
(4.) God didn’t “Need” Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt but he did it anyway.
(5.) Jesus didn’t “Need” to speak with Moses and Elijah during the transfiguration but he did it anyway.
(6.) God doesn’t “Need” to give us guardian angels but he does it anyway.
(7.) Do you really need to ask a friend to pray for sick relatives, when you have already done it?.
(8.) Did God need to create His Church or Bible? No, but he did it anyway.
(9.) Does Jesus “need” us to preach the Gospel? He would be better at it.
(10.) Jesus didn’t “need” to turn the water into wine but he did it anyway and despite the fact that “it wasn’t his time”.

The list could go on and on…


#20

I think the question that needs to be asked is why pray to God at all. When we pray to God to be mindful of a sick friend does God suddenly slap His forehead and say, “I sure am glad you mentioned that person cause I had forgotten all about them!” I tend to believe that God purely wants us to pray and pray often. That is what it is all about. Does God tire of hearing the prayers of the Saints or of Mary? I tend to doubt it. Finally, would Jesus be offended if His mother came to Him with a concern of ours? Again, I doubt it.


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