Saints

As a Quaker, my worship is a plain, no-frills one. I have always wondered about the Saints. I have heard critics of Catholicism rant because Catholics pray to Saints and not to God. Is this accurate? My understanding is that one asks Saints to intercede on one’s behalf to God, for whatever is needed in one’s life. Even as a Quaker, I often “speak” to St Francis of Assisi (I am an animal lover), St Christopher (for safe travel) and St Anthony ( I apologise for not knowing his full title) when I am seeking something that’s been lost. Any thoughts or explanations are welcome.

Pray <> Worship. Pray = Ask. In modern times, courts still use the word pray in a usage that implies “ask”; such as “I pray the defendent… blah blah blah…”.

We are “asking” the Saints to pray to God on one’s behalf.

This is because the Saints are alive more in Heaven than on Earth. Asking Saints to pray for us is just like someone on earth asking their family to pray for them. And the Saints are holy people now, and they want to help the pilgrim Church on earth. God also answers prayers through his Church. Thus, it’s powerful prayer to pray to God, Mary, and the Saints.

Kindly - James

Thank you, James. Your explanation is how i understood it, and felt comfortable with. I have talked to a priest only once, who assured me that it was OK for a non-Catholic to ask the Saints for help. I honestly did not want to offend, or go where I was not allowed to go. Bless you for being open-minded and open-hearted. I seek the Light in all people; I’m finding a lot of it here. :thumbsup:

The jewish roots of praying to saints…calledtocommunion.com/2012/08/relics-saints-and-the-assumption-of-mary/

I have a related question. It’s something that’s always baffled me about the way Christians here in the South talk about prayer, and I don’t know if I have the train of logic quite correct.

Why would you ask someone else to pray for you? It’s my understanding that Christians believe they have a personal relationship with God, and that God hears their individual prayers. Wouldn’t it be easier just to pray on your own behalf, then, and trust that either the prayer will be granted or not? Isn’t asking someone else to pray for you kind of like asking your brother to ask your dad for gas money instead of asking your dad for gas money yourself, for instance? Or do you guys believe that your collective prayers are more likely to sway God for some reason (and how does that work in light of the personal relationship thing)? Or is it seen more as just a way of asking for psychological support and the practical effect is understood to be the same?

Thanks in advance for answering this question.

If we were to stop asking others, in heaven or on earth, to pray for us that would be a rather extreme form of spiritual isolation. We Christians are in this together, praying for each other as well as for ourselves. To pray for another person is a generous, unselfish thing to do, and the whole process of asking others to pray and praying for others helps bind us together as a community.

As for efficacy, obviously God knows everything we need before we ask, as Christ Himself once mentioned. For this reason we aren’t likely to get much into complex strategies to get our prayers heard. Even forms of prayer that may seem complex at first glace to outsiders, such as the Rosary or Novenas or the Liturgy itself, are quite simple in spirit for those who understand them from the inside. The same goes for going to patron saints or living friends for help on certain issues, or praying communally for something at a mass or a Protestant service. It’s not a tactical stratagem for getting God’s attention or coercing Him into answering a prayer. It’s a simple matter of going to God about our needs both as individuals and as communities bound to each other by love.

It is a matter of humility. I believe that I am a greater sinner than my fellow neighbor, therefore I plead for his intercession before God. This is the ancient Christian belief of the Communion of Saints.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

“I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” (Romans 15:30).
“You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:11).
“Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:18-20).
“Yes, and I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19).
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:2-4).
“Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25).
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men; for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).
“At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be granted to you” (Philemon 22).

We know that the saints in heaven pray for us because Scripture tells us.

For instance, Judah has had a vision in which St. Onias the high priest shows him Jeremiah the prophet, now in heaven, and we read:

“And Onias spoke, saying, ‘This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God’” (2 Maccabees 15:14).

Also in the book of Revelation we read:

the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God

Some argue that the saints in heaven cannot hear all of our requests of prayer. That is of course inexact:

For [now] we know in part … but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. …] Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

Again, many think they just follow the Bible, but in truth they follow their interpretation of the Bible. On the other hand, and I say this with as much humility as I can, we simply follow what we have received all the way back from the apostolic age, as found in the writings of the first successors of the apostles. A few examples:

Clement of Alexandria

“In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer].”

Origen

“But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints”

Cyprian of Carthage

“Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy”

Methodius

“Therefore, we pray [ask] you, the most excellent among women, who glories in the confidence of your maternal honors, that you would unceasingly keep us in remembrance. …] And you also, O honored and venerable Simeon, you earliest host of our holy religion, and teacher of the resurrection of the faithful, do be our patron and advocate with that Savior God, whom you were deemed worthy to receive into your arms. We, together with you, sing our praises to Christ, who has the power of life and death”

Cyril of Jerusalem

“first, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition”

John Chrysostom

“When you perceive that God is chastening you, fly not to his enemies . . . but to his friends, the martyrs, the saints, and those who were pleasing to him, and who have great power [in God]”

Jerome

“You say in your book that while we live we are able to pray for each other, but afterwards when we have died, the prayer of no person for another can be heard. . . . But if the apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, at a time when they ought still be solicitous about themselves, how much more will they do so after their crowns, victories, and triumphs?”

Augustine

“At the Lord’s table we do not commemorate martyrs in the same way that we do others who rest in peace so as to pray for them, but rather that they may pray for us that we may follow in their footsteps.”

We can and we do go straight to God with our prayers. For instance, I pray the Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer) which is definitely us praying directly to God. So, of course we can do this. The Our Father is a prime example of this kind of prayer.

But, it’s not the only form of prayer allowed to us, thanks be. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can use all the help I can get. The saints in heaven have been through all the things we have but now enjoy the Beatific Vision, in which they behold the glory of God in eternity. They have been cleansed of all selfish motivations and sins. Who better to intercede with God for us than they? When we take our prayers to the saints we know that they will pray in complete union with God’s will. One of the reasons we don’t receive answer to prayers is because we prayer contrary to God’s will or from selfish desires. The saints can only pray in union with God’s will and for our best interests. It is always desirable to want what is best for us, even if that means not getting what we think we want.

Others have addressed the communal aspects of prayer. But, we in the faith are one body, one family, one faith, one baptism. We are not “Lone Rangers” for Christ. We are all part of Christ’s body both on earth as well as those in purgatory and in heaven. This is what we call the Communion of Saints.

Please see this passage (and I would like to know what you think at the end of the passage):

Job 42:

7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

Here is what I would like get to know what you think: Why did God tell Eliphaz and friends to have Job pray for them? For what purpose?

In Our Creed, which binds all of us Catholics, we say that we believe “in the Communion of Saints”. In the Eucharist, we believe in “the Body of Christ” which unites us all.

You are blessed to believe in and pray (speak) to the Saints.

God bless!

Interesting responses.

Since it was Eliphaz and the others who originally gave Job poor counsel inspired of their own hubris, then it seems to me that having to go through Job to be forgiven in this instance would be a form of penance.

Good for you. Look like very Catholic to me.:slight_smile:

Of course it is not accurate that Catholics do not pray to God. They do, pray to God. They do, ask for intercession from the saints like how we ask our friends to pray for us. The saints are our friends.:thumbsup:

You are right on. This is Catholics’ understanding too.:thumbsup:

You seem to be very Catholic.:slight_smile: This is what some Catholics do too.

Simple thought to this is that certain saints when they were alive were given certain charism, a grace that is more prominent in them that allowed them to follow God in their lives. When they died and made saints, Catholics often see this charism as unique grace from God being gifted to them and thus asked them for intercession pertaining to the specialty that each saint has.

Thanks…and good observation too.

One more thing…since they gave Job poor counsel…or imagine or put yourself in the shoes of Eliphaz…how would now feel or react if God told you to go through Job to have him pray for you and be forgiven?

And another…from v7…because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.

Would you also say that Job was a more righteous man then Eliphaz and his friends?

From James…ames 5:16

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Well, personally, I probably would have been too shocked by the voice from the sky. :wink: But I imagine I would also probably be a bit sheepish like anyone whose pride was hurt. Going by the rest of the Job story, I’m sure the implication is that Job is more righteous. I always understood the exhortation to pray for each other as something that arises from the intention of the person doing the praying, though. So, like, my friend says “Man, I’m having a really hard time with this”, so I console my friend and then go off and pray for him of my own accord, rather than my friend saying “I’m having a hard time with this. Please, pray for me.” I think it’s because my religion has a different understanding of the relationship between gods and people and how bad behavior is dealt with, but the second one just seems to display a lack of belief that God would listen and respond to your own earnest prayer, which in turn seems at odds with other aspects of the Christian understanding of God. That might just be a Protestant thing, too, as that’s the only brand of Christianity I have much exposure to, I don’t know.

If God is supposed to stand in the place of a heavenly father-figure, wouldn’t it be really bad parenting to suggest to your kid that you won’t un-ground them unless the kid asks their more well-behaved sibling to intercede with you on their behalf? But, let’s say that the well-behaved siblings sees how upset the one that’s being punished is and of their own accord says “Hey, Dad, can you cut Johnny some slack here? I know he’s really sorry about what happened.” The second one seems to me to be more of what the verse out of James is referring to.

What is the real difference between your friend expressing a need one way or another? The intention is the same–that you render him comfort by consoling him and by praying for him. Merely asking for another to pray for us does not negate our good intention to do so.

I think it’s because my religion has a different understanding of the relationship between gods and people and how bad behavior is dealt with, but the second one just seems to display a lack of belief that God would listen and respond to your own earnest prayer, which in turn seems at odds with other aspects of the Christian understanding of God. That might just be a Protestant thing, too, as that’s the only brand of Christianity I have much exposure to, I don’t know.

Of course God responds to our earnest prayers. But we hold each other up by praying for one another. I know when I have a heavy burden I deeply appreciate knowing that others care enough to pray for me. Why be selfish about it? Why not let others help us? It’s what God wants us to do–to love each other and aid each other in all ways we can.

If God is supposed to stand in the place of a heavenly father-figure, wouldn’t it be really bad parenting to suggest to your kid that you won’t un-ground them unless the kid asks their more well-behaved sibling to intercede with you on their behalf? But, let’s say that the well-behaved siblings sees how upset the one that’s being punished is and of their own accord says “Hey, Dad, can you cut Johnny some slack here? I know he’s really sorry about what happened.” The second one seems to me to be more of what the verse out of James is referring to.

God is not a type of heavenly father-figure. He is the Father Who Is–I Am Who I Am. He has asked us to care for one another by praying for one another. Not because he won’t grant prayer requests if we don’t but because he wants us to bear one another’s burdens. It’s a form of loving others not a punitive action.

That’s actually the nature of my question, and your response seems to indicate that the prayer request leans more towards an understanding of social support rather than an expectation of a different spiritual outcome. The difference between the two statements is what the person who asks for the prayer to be said on his/her behalf is seeking as a result of the request: social comfort only or spiritual intercession that the person making the request feels inadequate to seek personally for some reason. The former I can understand as just a roundabout way of asking for additional social support, but the latter seems weird to me in terms of my understanding of the human/God relationship in Christianity unless, like in Eliphaz’ case, there is a specific reason that the person feels inadequate.

Of course God responds to our earnest prayers. But we hold each other up by praying for one another. I know when I have a heavy burden I deeply appreciate knowing that others care enough to pray for me. Why be selfish about it? Why not let others help us? It’s what God wants us to do–to love each other and aid each other in all ways we can.

That’s probably what confuses me, then, as my religion is geared more towards self-sufficiency.

God is not a type of heavenly father-figure. He is the Father Who Is–I Am Who I Am. He has asked us to care for one another by praying for one another. Not because he won’t grant prayer requests if we don’t but because he wants us to bear one another’s burdens. It’s a form of loving others not a punitive action.

That kind of skirts the issue I’m asking about, though. I get that your God asked you to pray for each other, I’m just trying to understand the fine gradations of that request. Is that a command to pray for people who are having difficulties of your own initiative (so, basically, you become aware that someone is suffering and you pray for them without needing to be asked) or is that a command that you should seek spiritual intercession from other Christians rather than or in addition to inquiring on your own behalf (you’re suffering and you ask someone to pray to God on your behalf, ostensibly in addition to your own prayers), or is it both? The first circumstance I completely understand, that’s just simple empathy for your fellow human beings. The second one seems murkier to me in terms of what Christians actually expect to happen under those circumstances, which is why I ask.

We don’t have such a truncated view of sharing goods with each other. Of course it’s spiritual support as well as social. It’s both/and/all of the above.

That’s probably what confuses me, then, as my religion is geared more towards self-sufficiency.

Personal responsibility is certainly a good thing and part of what we believe/teach, as well. But, we aren’t all able to be totally self-sufficient. I dare say that even those who think they are really aren’t. We all depend on one another in one way or another. Indeed, none of us would even be here without a man and a woman relying on each other to produce us. :wink:

That kind of skirts the issue I’m asking about, though. I get that your God asked you to pray for each other, I’m just trying to understand the fine gradations of that request. Is that a command to pray for people who are having difficulties of your own initiative (so, basically, you become aware that someone is suffering and you pray for them without needing to be asked) or is that a command that you should seek spiritual intercession from other Christians rather than or in addition to inquiring on your own behalf (you’re suffering and you ask someone to pray to God on your behalf, ostensibly in addition to your own prayers), or is it both? The first circumstance I completely understand, that’s just simple empathy for your fellow human beings. The second one seems murkier to me in terms of what Christians actually expect to happen under those circumstances, which is why I ask.

It’s all encompassing. We share an abundance of goods with each other: spiritual, physical, emotional, etc. Whatever makes us human makes it necessary that we share whatever we have to give. Some can give money because they have wealth, but for those who don’t we can pray and the benefits are just as great if not greater. It’s more than empathy, it’s being intimately connected with one another in sacrificial love.

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