As a Catholic I’m constantly faced with the question of Saints, and how “strange” it is that Catholics follow them and pray to them, etc. My defense is fairly good, and it’s given towards those ignorant of Catholicism, so it’s doubly frustrating, as one may imagine. I explain that it isn’t that we follow or pray to them or give them any higher significance than Jesus or God, but that they are a gateway, in my opinion. Regardless, I need a better defense and perhaps more educated when I’m being challenged.
…I don’t think that you (or anyone including the Pope) will ever be able to give a response to non-Catholics about the Saints (and pretty much anything else that is seen as a weakness/idol of the Faith); the best I can offer is Scriptures… we, Believers, accept that Jesus is God… so why would God ask His followers to pray to God for something that He Himself could very easily do?:
35 And Jesus went about all the cities, and towns, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease, and every infirmity. 36 And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd. 37 Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest. (St. John9:35-37)
Could Jesus not have commissioned hundreds/thousands to go onto the nations (Catholic) to preach and baptize? Yet, He Calls to His Disciples to Pray to God to send more workers… the Communion of the Saints just got started: we must work in Christ, with Christ and for Christ–but we must work with all of the Believers:
11 And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Since Christ works in and through His Mystical Body, the Church, we must understand that there is measure of transcendence:
5 For though I be absent in body, yet in spirit I am with you; rejoicing, and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith which is in Christ. 6 As therefore you have received Jesus Christ the Lord, walk ye in him; (Colossians 2:5-6)
20 And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven. 21 And you, whereas you were some time alienated and enemies in mind in evil works: 22 Yet now he hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unspotted, and blameless before him: 23 If so ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, which is preached in all the creation that is under heaven, whereof I Paul am made a minister. 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church: (Colossians 1:20-24)
…and while Scriptures does state that the dead are dead (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6), it is only a veiled truth since we know from Scriptures that love transcends death:
8 Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. (1 Corinthians 13:8)
And it is Christ Himself that testifies that in God we are Alive:
31 And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken by God, saying to you: 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (St. Matthew 22:31-32)
So, our Omnipotent God, to Whom Believers are Alive, Commands us to Pray… the Saints, as attested by St. Paul, recognize that ours is not an individual race to the finish but as members (parts) Unified in the Mystical Body of Christ!
They’re heroes of the Christian faith! When we read of their spiritual experiences, of their transformations, sometimes from gross sinfulness, of the intensity of their seeking, of their hearts for God and the ways He often responded to them, we, ourselves become inspired and encouraged as well as edified.
People who ask these kinds of questions are ignorant of Christian history. They seem to conveniently forget that up until the reformation (and a long time after) all Christians believed in the Communion of Saints as the Church still teaches it.
The various sects and denominations that split from the Church dropped many of the Catholic teachings of their founders over the centuries. Many splinter groups started long after the reformation with little to knowledge of Church history, so it’s not surprising they think their ideas came straight from heaven merely by reading the Bible, but it isn’t that simple and never was.
It is they who have to explain why they abandoned the ancient practice of all Christians everywhere. Ask them to prove that we cannot pray for the intercession of the saints in heaven.
If they are sola scriptura, which they usually are, they will trot out a few verses against necromancy–but we are not conjuring up the dead when we ask the intercession of the saints. We are addressing living members of Christ’s body who have gone before us into heaven.
Ask them to prove that the dead in Christ are not living with him or that they can’t hear our intentions or that God doesn’t give them the ability to aid us–through the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t let them get away with saying that none of these things are possible or of God without backing up their claims with historical proof, not merely taking Bible verses out of context.
IOW, turn the tables on them–if they make the claim that we cannot pray for the saints’ intercession then the onus is on them to prove it.
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."
“Face to face” means knowledge of God’s own thoughts. Meaning God the Father reveals to them what is going on. And since God is unlimited in his knowledge, the angels know from him all they need to know.
It is the same for the human saints in heaven as well for they too see God face to face, so they too receive knowledge from God’s own infinite knowledge. They know the requests made to them thru God.
But one of the problems with any argument about saints in heaven is that some Christians do not believe/know that people’s souls go to heaven after death. They believe in something called “sleep death”, which means they are really totally dead until the resurrection at the end of the world. So they will have a problem with any argument about people in heaven. So it would be good to point that out … people are in heaven … the transfiguration is one where Moses and Elias are alive.
That’s how I explained it the other day to a Baptist and their answer was - why not just pray directly to God why pray to a saint? How would you answer?
I personally do not pray to saints with the exception of my Dad - I pray direct to God - doesn’t make sense to me to pray to saints when I have a direct line with Christ - so in some ways I agree with this person because I don’t practice it - which is a choice I am free to make - but I do understand the Catholic position. I think that is the opposition to praying to saints - why pray to a saint when you can go directly to God with your prayer. So how should a Catholic respond to such an answer.
Being a Saint simply means that the person is in heaven - we all will be saints one day.
Who do you think is more aligned with God’s perfect will–a saint in heaven or we who are still struggling with sin in this world? We may think we go to God with perfect intentions, but in all honesty, we don’t. Why do you think people’s prayers are not answered when they “go directly to God?” It is always because God knows better? No, often it’s because we ask from self-interest instead of in line with God’s will. When we ask a saint in heaven to pray for us, that saint cannot ask apart from God’s perfect will. The saints, in effect, offers our prayers cleansed of all self-interest and detached from worldly hopes and desires.
They are living members of the family of God, of which we are a part. God wants us all to pray for one another, be we still on earth or in heaven. Those in heaven have a better understanding of God’s will and have been perfected in his love. It’s not mere sentimentalism that prompts us to ask for the saints’ prayers, but a real need for them. If we didn’t have such a need, God would not have allowed us to ask for their intercession. Remember the saints in heaven are alive and active and want to help us. They are not dead and gone.
Being a Saint simply means that the person is in heaven - we all will be saints one day.
You are espousing universal salvation here, which is not correct. Just because we have been baptized, go to Mass, and pray doesn’t mean we will go to heaven when we die. You statement might give some a false sense of security, which is presumptuously dangerous to our souls.
Just because we have been baptized, go to Mass, and pray doesn’t mean we will go to heaven when we die. You statement might give some a false sense of security, which is presumptuously dangerous to our souls.
I said that - can you show me where? Don’t recall or see anywhere that I said that - please do not read into my statements and comment for me thats not a statement I would make - I would not do that to you
[quote="Della]Just because we have been baptized, go to Mass, and pray doesn’t mean we will go to heaven when we die. You statement might give some a false sense of security, which is presumptuously dangerous to our souls.
You stated that we’ll all be saints in heaven one day. That assumes that we are doing the things we believe will get us there, such as the things I listed. I extrapolated your assumption that we all will go to heaven into what many believe it takes to get there. So, I didn’t put words in your mouth, but merely followed the logic of your argument to it’s natural ending.
This is related to the topic because making assumptions about the significance of any Church teaching, in this case why we pray to saints, often leads people to think that they know better than the Church–again following the logic of the argument that we don’t need to ask the intercession of the saints. I said that that isn’t wise, nor is assuming we’re all going to go to heaven.
Ah, I see. I didn’t intend to twist it into anything. Sorry if I offended. But, a statement of hope, if based on wishful thinking rather than on solid theology, is only that. I too hope we all go to heaven, but that doesn’t mean we will, does it.
I guess you missed Jesus command that His Disciples pray to the Father (owner of the field) for more workers… why didn’t He just simply get more disciples, was Jesus being facetious?
…you may also be forgetting all this mess with St. Paul praying for and asking for prayers… isn’t he the guy that went to the second heaven, in body/spirit… why would he need intercession of the saints? Why would the saints, for that matter, not go directly to God, but actually have a need for St. Paul’s prayers?
It is called the Communion of the Saints because we are part of Christ’s Mystical Body–every Believer is part of the Church… interestingly enough, St. Paul did make a list of functions… “are we all Apostles?” Clearly, as the Church Teaches, we are not all called in the same Gift/Charism by the Holy Spirit!
Do you ever ask fellow Christians here on Earth to pray alongside you to God? That is something you can also do with the saints in Heaven. The fallacy in the “you could just pray to God” argument is the assumption that you are not praying directly to God as well. You are praying to God and asking the rest of the Body both on Earth and in Heaven to join their prayers to yours. If the Baptist believes that getting a bunch of other Christians to pray with you is ever a good idea, there can be no inherent objection to including Christians who have gone on to their reward.