Many Protestants often object Catholics veneration of any saints. Often we tell them that we simply asking them for their intercession. But often time we can see clearly throughout the world that many form of venerations could be turned into worship. So when and how do we know the line between veneration and worship is crossed? I’ve noticed that many prayers for the saints, especially the Virgin Mary sound really much like God, sometimes I do feel some difficulties praying to the Virgin because of this.
Regardless of what you do, a Protestant who doesn’t understand will always see asking a person who died for their intercession before God as worship. As long as you understand that the saints, angels, Mary, etc. are not God, you have nothing to worry about. To love our Lady and the communion of saints is to love God.
How can anyone know what I worship? Just because I am showing a profound respect for someone who followed God and put their heart in it does not mean that I worship them. That would be like telling Muslims who are secret converts to Christianity that they are not Christians for praying in a mosque yet worshiping Jesus but concealing it simply because they don’t want to die. (I hope that makes sense…)
If I stand before a statue of Zeus because a pagan murderer has forced me there and pray to Jesus, am I secretly worshiping Zeus without knowing it? No.
Veneration of a saint turns into a form of worship when you end up believing that the saint in and of itself answers prayers. Not true. Only God answers prayers, and only God’s Will will be done (Daniel 4:35, Job 42:2).
My advice is that if you speculate someone is “worshiping” a saint, just gently remind them that all glory belongs to God.
Some Catholics here may deny that the “worship” of saints occurs, yet it does occur, albeit on a small scale (fortunately!). Usually, it is from insufficient catechesis. We see in Scripture that even when the angels appeared on the earth, the natural reaction of people was to bow down to the angels; the angels would correct them in their ways and point to God alone, therefore it isn’t all that surprising that similar occurrences may still take place today.
On that note, Protestants are usually defiant in their opposition to the Communion of Saints, and no healthy devotion to the Saints is going to persuade them. They use the incredibly small (less than 1%) number of Catholics who take things incorrectly to make an exaggerated point. I think in logic we call this the “strawman argument fallacy”.
Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk
God alone is adored for His own sake; the saints are venerated in relation to God. The problem is not with the words we use or the prayers we pray but with our understanding of the communion of saints. We love Mary like we love the bright moon: she perfectly reflects the light of Christ. She doesn’t give off her own light but only the light that proceeds from God. We don’t need to tone down our prayers (I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who has praised the Virgin too highly), but we need to remember Who makes the saints worthy of veneration. Don’t be shy with your Mother. All praise of the masterpiece is praise directed to the Artist!
The short answer is that the line is crossed whe we being to assign to the saint the worship and adoration reserved only for God.
The problem is that, it is very difficult to judge, by outward appearance or casual contact, whether a person HAS crossed that line. We simply cannot know what is in their hearts.
This is the problem that protestants have. They personally do not believe in praying to the saints for intercession and they judge us by appearance, not by what is in our hearts.
As to having problems with some prayers, I’m with you. While I Love my Blessed Mother and all the saints who watch over us, I tend to reserve my prayers for God and Jesus. The one regular exception is the rosary where I ask “Mom” to pray for us 53 times…
So to the OP, I say - saintly devotion is a private devotion. Use it if you are comfortable with it and don’t use it if it is uncomfortable.