Many times, Protestants ask me questions such as: Why do you worship saints? Why do you pray to Mary?
I usually respond by explaining to them that this is a misunderstanding and proceed to point out Bible passages and so on to make whatever point I am trying to make.
I am almost 100% greeted with a bland expression which translates to: I really do not care for your explanation but I am going to believe what I want regardless of what you say and still call you Mary/Saint worshipers.
To Protestants guilty of this: Why bother asking?
To Catholics: How often do you encounter this when you sincerely try to explain something?
To answer you question about how often I encounter this…well…not often.
Perhaps it is because most of time I am discussing such matters on line so I don’t “see” the expression you speak of. I encounter one of three replies…
A cordial thank you for the explanation and a quick end to the conversation
Some more questions and generally polite conversation - though generally not agreement.
A profound rejection of any attempted explanation and I will - after a time - politely bow out of further conversation with the person.
Regardless of the path taken, I have explained the Church’s position on the given matter to the best of my ability and that is as much as I can do. I’ve planted a seed. Maybe it will germinate or maybe not…
This implies to anybody. In psychology, the so-called world makes sense in our individual brain, so we’re only interested in sharing our point of view (that’s all we have!). To contradict thoughts is contradicting the other brain’s life experiences. I was a protestant, and I knew the third year in RCIA my brain was slowly unlearning to learn, and it was a struggle. But Christ made it possible. I went beyond my brain’s experiences because I asked Christ to lead me, and he showed me. It wasn’t my doing nor my brain’s experiences, but Christ who sent me there.
Because he sent me there, I was taught by the church. What I learned with church history was now part of my experience. I couldn’t leave. If I tell someone about St. Ignatius of Antioch in 107 A.D. who stood for the catholic church, and even if he was a student of St. John, even if he deeply inspired me to become Catholic, they wouldn’t care because it’s not part of their experience yet. But it just takes that little spark, and it will blow your mind with what you didn’t see before. I’m just as fired up inside as I was coming into the church because I found it with Christ.
Protestants are not “guilty” of anything, at least not anything that we aren’t all guilty of ourselves (stubbornness, close-mindedness, pride). As for “the Protestant Attitude,” you’ll find no such unifying force. If someone responds poorly to the teachings that you explain, it almost always reflects their personality (and moreso, their prejudices) – and not their faith.
I would advise explaining the teachings of the Church when asked (or when prompted to defend them), and not take the response personally. Be respectful and turn the other cheek if you feel yourself getting slapped. Don’t just be a sponge for punishment, though; gracefully bow out of a conversation you feel is based more on passions than ideas. In this way, we can all learn to be more humble and less concerned with what others think of us or our beliefs.
I usually tell my protestant friends that I don’t worship saints. I try to imitate their good lives. Even Saint Paul in I Corinthians 11:1 said, ‘Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.’’ The Saints are our examples and point our way to moral living in Christ.
As for praying to Mary and the Saints, I’ve explained that we ask them to pray for us. I told a protestant friend of mine, ‘Catholics believe that the body of Christ is one, and that it’s always one; just as I can ask you to pray for me when you’re alive, Catholics believe that if you were to die, I could still ask you to pray for me.’ My friend thought about it and said, ‘Well, when you explain it like that.’ And he seemed to accept it, because all Christians believe that the body of Christ is one.
That’s a good explanation. It also shows that if we are one with Christ, then the church is also one. The bible says “of one faith” as well. Not 35,000 denominations because that’s not one. I’m sensing a new quote: “If it’s not one, be afraid. Be very afraid.”
It’s their way of opening up the topic so they can prove you wrong. It’s their hidden agenda, I think. That being said, occasionally, I do think some really are curious and want a better understanding.
How can you speak to dead people? Quite clearly you are trying to communicate with the dead. Either way you are praying to them, since pray is a method of communication. Just look at this. I’ll just take on prayer show how different it is compared to what the Bible teaches. marypages.com/PrayerstoMary.htm
Prayer to Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham
O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus,
your divine Son, dying on the Cross,
confided us to your maternal care.
You are our Mother, we desire ever to remain your devout children.
Let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ.
make your Name again glorious in the shrine once renowned throughout England by your visits, favours, and many miracles.
Pray, O holy Mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.
O blessed Mary, Mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us.
Intercession is the work of both Christ and the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
2 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
The Greek word for “Advocate” is the words “Parakletos” which is used in John14-16 for the Holy Spirit. Again we don’t need man doing what is only the work of God. Only God has the power to make intercession for us and not any human.
[My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:](“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”)
Prayer to St. Lucy
Whose beautiful name
Signifies light, By the light of Faith
Which God bestowed upon you,
Increase and preserve
His light in my soul,
So that I may avoid evil,
Be zealous in the performance
Of good works,
And abhor nothing
So much as the blindness
And the darkness
Of evil and sin.
Obtain for me,
By your Intercessory
For my bodily eyes
And the grace to use them
For God’s greater honor
And the salvation of souls.
Virgin and martyr, Hear my prayers
And obtain my petitions.
The bit in bold is what the what David said many times in the Psalms when he made Psalms of his prayers to God. We only need to pray to God for our needs.
First of all, we believe that these people are NOT dead! We believe when we die, we really don’t die. We believe that when God said he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, he was talking about them being ALIVE! You think they are dead. We think they are alive. That’s the difference.
So, in the same way you can talk to your friend, ask him to say a prayer on your behalf…Think about that! Why do you ask your friends, family, pastor, etc., for prayers? Why don’t you go directly to the “man upstairs”, yourself? Why ask for intercession, prayers, or anything else from anybody else?
So, in the same way you find it acceptable to ask for friends from…coworkers, friends, family, church members, we find it just as acceptable to ask for prayers from those who have already died, who have been declared saints, in heaven.
In fact, we believe it to be more beneficial to ask for the prayers of somebody already in heaven than some sinful person here on earth. We think God would be more willing to listen to someone in heaven than a sinner on earth.
Mary, especially, has been our advocate since the Wedding of Cana, if not before. She turned to Christ and expected him to help. He asked her what she wanted of him. She, with great faith, advocated on behalf of the couple who didn’t have enough wine, and it worked. Christ listened to her!
We believe that sometimes Christ will not listen to us, due to our sinfulness and unworthiness. However, there are times, due to his relationship with Mary, he will listen to her, though.
It’s like how a child will be denied by the father, but if the mother intervenes on behalf of the child, a father will often listen.
Catholics believe that the body of Christ is eternally one. When Jesus was on earth, he spoke with Moses and Elijah regarding the things he would accomplish in Jerusalem (The Transfiguration Luke 9:28-33) Could Jesus be accused of speaking to the dead? (Elijah wasn’t dead though). Jesus said that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. The saints are not dead: They are alive with God in Heaven.
Regarding Jesus as the only one who can make intercession for us: Catholics agree that it is only through Christ that we are saved: He was the only one, God Himself, the sinless sacrifice who could have accomplished this for us-not Mary or the saints. But anyone can intercede for another–Christians everywhere ask others to pray for them–prayer is interceding for another. Catholics believe that both Christians living on earth and the saints living in heaven can make intercession.
Many Protestants use questions not in order to learn but in order to get Catholics to doubt their Church’s teaching. They often assume that Catholics are Catholic just out of “blind tradition” and haven’t asked the “obvious” questions about their Church’s “absurd” and “un-Biblical teachings.” The idea is that once you get Catholics to get beyond their fear of going against the Church and get them to ask themselves where in Scripture the Church’s teaching are found, they will be “liberated” and come to a true (or a purer) Christian faith.
If you look at the titles of threads on this forum, you will see that Catholics use this unfortunate tactic as well:p
But here’s the thing: even if that’s how the Protestant starts out, a good, thoughtful answer may get through to them. Whether or not it convinces them, it may show them that you do in fact believe in the Church’s teaching in a thoughtful, spiritually serious way, and perhaps that the Church’s teachings (even if wrong) are not as absurd as the Protestant thinks.
I know that this is possible, because I was once such a Protestant. I remember when I was ten or eleven years old interrupting a nice conversation my parents were having with a Catholic bookstore owner to ask her belligerently why she believed in papal infallibility. (If you think I’m aggressive and obnoxious in debate now, you should have known me when I was a kid–or rather thank God you didn’t!) She gave me a very good answer, pointing out that Catholics don’t believe that the Pope is infallible in absolutely everything he says but that God will prevent him from teaching error under specific circumstances. Her patient, thoughtful answer (combined with my parents’ scolding afterwards for my rudeness) made a great impression on me.
So it’s always worth answering carefully and with charity even if (or perhaps precisely because) the Protestants aren’t really looking for a substantive answer.
I get more annoyed than I should by either Protestants or Catholic using this sort of supposedly loving tactic to “get people to think.” Dang, my faith in Christianity over against Judaism is weak enough already. If it weren’t for Jesus Himself, all the mutual faith-undermining efforts going on here would have made me return to the Judaism my dad left. It’s such an ugly, obnoxious, prideful way to try to convert people, cloaked in a misguided goodwill. (I believe the goodwill of those who do this sort of thing is real, but perverted by pride.)