Why doesn't the New Testament mention prayers to Mary and the saints

I was having a discussion today with a friend of mine, who is Protestant (we used to go to the same Protestant church). He asked me why the Bible doesn’t say anything about praying to Mary and the saints. I mentioned that Mary was still alive when St Paul was writing his epistles, so that’s why he doesn’t mention prayer to her. But he said that when the New Testament was being written, there were saints like St Stephen and St James in heaven.

How do I give a good answer to this criticism of Catholic teaching? I want to lead my friend into the Catholic Church.

Actually it does, I just saw this on a show on EWTN called “call to communion” but I forgot the actual scripture passages. Of course it isn’t to the Blessed Mother but to the Saints. If I come across it I will post it.

You answered regarding Our Lady well.

catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-bible-supports-praying-to-the-saints

catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/praying-to-saints-revisited

catholic.com/tract/praying-to-the-saints

catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/praying-to-dead-folks

catholic.com/qa/what-is-the-biblical-reason-catholics-pray-to-saints-for-intercession

and many more …on the main site.

Firstly, as Catholics we don’t assume that everything is spelled out in the Bible. The Bible is a collection of inspired sacred texts that the Church originally codified primarily for divine worship…texts to be read / prayed in the liturgy. Without the Church there would be no Bible. It is the Church herself who is the “pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
That being said, the New Testament does show the saints in heaven interceding for those below on earth:
When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
(Rev. 5:8, NRSVCE)

The Book of Hebrews (New Testament) encourages Christians to approach the saints in heaven, just as they approach God the Father and Jesus Christ the Lord: “But you have approached Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, and the assembly and church of the firstborn who have been enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and spirits of righteous ones who have been made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood which speaks better than that of Abel” (Heb. 12:22-24).

It is clear the Christian has approached a number of heavenly beings: the heavenly Jerusalem, the angels, God the judge, and Jesus the mediator. “The assembly and church of the firstborn who have been enrolled in heaven” and the phrase “spirits of righteous ones who have been made perfect” can refer only to the saints in heaven.

There are any number of possible reasons why there is a lack of explicit mention of prayerfully addressing the saints in heaven in the New Testament. For instance, it could be because Christians didn’t do it back then, either because they hadn’t thought of it yet or hadn’t yet warmed up to the idea or because they thought it was wrong, or the lack of explicit mention of the practice could be because it was so commonplace and uncontroversial among Christians that the sacred writers didn’t feel the need to explicitly mention it. Since there is no explicit New Testament condemnation of the practice and since it seems to have been a common, well-established Old Testament practice, I favor the last explanation.

Bless the Lord, all you his angels, mighty in strength, acting at his behest, obedient to his command. (Psalm 103:20 RSV-CE)

Praise him, all you his angels; give praise, all you his hosts. (Psalm 148:2 RSV-CE)

Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. (Daniel 3:58 NAB-RE)

Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. (Daniel 3:86 NAB-RE)

Since prayerfully addressing the good angels and the righteous dead was a well-established, Old Testament practice, as the above prayers prove, by the words “the prayers” in Acts 2:42, the sacred writer may well have intended to include prayerfully addressing the saints in heaven: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Everyone wants more on our Holy Mother and the Saints in the Gospels but we have to remember that it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is its purpose. The Church provides us with more that enough information on our Holy Mother and the Saints. The Gospel is about Jesus and nothing else should over power that message.

Prayers to Mary would be the wedding at Cana - when she asks Jesus to intervene for the family and he does.

I hope the following article is helpful.

catholic.com/tract/praying-to-the-saints

Ed

Revelation 8:3 Another angel came and stood at the altar,* holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne.4 The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.

Peace

In depth article from catholic answers about this:

catholic.com/tract/praying-to-the-saints

But in a nutshell, refer to Rev 5:8, I Tim 2:5, 1 Tim 2:1-4, Rom 15:30-32, Eph 6:18-20, Col 4:3, I Thess 5:25, 2 Thess 3:1 and Matt 5:44.

Edited to say, Oops, looks like Ed beat me to it. :thumbsup:

A simple answer would be there was never a problem with praying to saints till mid 1500. Except for the Gospels, which are mostly about what Jesus said and did. The letters were written mostly to clarify or correct a problem. The Bible never mentions the Trinity, one of the basic teachings of Christianity. It was only defined when there was a problem three hundred years latter. The Trinity is implied in the bible so also is praying to saints.

[Mk12:24 And **Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? 25 … 26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.]

[Hb12:22 But **ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.]

Assembly and church of the firstborn=those on earth who’s names are written in the book of life. The spirits of just men made perfect=the souls of saints in heaven to whom one may come, if we may come to them, we can ask them to pray for us? Just as we pray, or beseech, our brethren on earth to intercede for us. When one is troubled they usually ask others to pray for them. One may come directly to God, to angels, or to the spirits of just men made perfect, through the one Mediator=Christ, as the veil no longer prevents one from entering the Holy of Holies. Through Christ we come by worship=Mass or prayer to the city of the living God and to all who are in the heavenly Jerusalem.

[RV 5:8 And when he had taken the book, **the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours which are the prayers of saints] The twenty-four elders are the spirits of men, they are saints in heaven, only saints receive crowns. They are offering up the prayers of the saints on earth to God thru the Lamb, Christ our mediator.

[Rv 8:3 And **another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.]

[Tobit12:15 I am Raphael **one of the seven holy angels which present the prayers of the saints and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.] The prayers of the saints on earth are offered up to God out of the hands of angels.

[HB 12:1 Wherefore seeing, **we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,]

If they see, they will surly pray for us, so we can lay aside every weight as we have many in heaven praying for us. The Church is universal in time on earth and eternity. That one body of Christ is united in the Holy Spirit and is one with Christ who is the Head of the body the Church. continued

[Rm12:4 For as we have many members in one body and all members have not the same office 5 So **we being many are one body in Christ and every one members one of another.]

Those on earth and the souls passed over are still the body of Christ and Christ is the head. When a Protestant, many times people would testify they felt the presents and guidance of a close one who passed away and would even talk to them (not with them) as though that person was really present. This is the communion of Saints although they would never admit it. The living and the souls of those passed over to God are still members of the one body and have the same care for their loved ones.

[1Cor 12:14 For **the body is not one member but many 15 If the foot say because I am not the hand I am not of the body is it therefore not of the body 16 … 17 … 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 … 23 … 24 … 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.] The Church is one universal body, heaven and earth, united in the body of Christ and there is no schism, the members have the same care one for another]

[Eph3:14 For this cause **I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named],]

[Acts9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard **a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutes: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks]. Paul was persecuting the Visible Church (can’t persecute an invisible one) on earth, the body of Christ, Christ was in heaven. When something affects a member of the body all the body is affected].

[Mt25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, **In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.]

[Mt18:10 **Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones for I say unto you That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. ] Jesus says their angels behold the face of his Father. The angels stand in the presence of God. They have continual access to the Father. If one of their little ones are in trouble, the angel serves as the child’s intercessor before God, otherwise what’s the point?

[Lk15:7 I say unto you, that likewise **joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 … 9 … 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.]

Who rejoices in the presents of the angels? Saints in heaven. They know when a sinner repents and rejoice in the presence of the angels they know what is going on and pray for us. Do you think when in heaven and knowing a loved one is in need you will not pray for them. We are a people, a body not just lone individuals, it’s not Jesus and me, but Jesus and us. The entire body of Christ, through which the Spirit flows, in union with that body we all receive the grace to endure.

[Eph4:4 **There is one body and one Spirit even as ye are called in one hope of your calling 5 One Lord one faith one baptism 6 One God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all.]

[Eph4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 **From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.]

I am the vine you are the brances. That vine goes from the earth to its head in heaven. Connected as the one body of Christ in eternity and on earth. We are one in Christ he is the vine and we are the branches, that vine reaches from earth to heaven and the sap=Holy Spirit flows through all and is in all and by that Spirit we have access to all.

in addition to all that has been said already

Pray = to ask.

Does your friend ask you or his friends to pray for him or his intentions? I’ll bet he says yes.

You could ask him in return, where does the bible say to pray to your friends?

He would immediately say he doesn’t pray to his friends. He asks them to pray for him

So you could ask him, how then, is asking Mary to pray for us wrong?

look how the Hail Mary prayer ends?

"Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death amen"

That is what we are asking her to do for us.

Looking at this another way,

How would it come across to your friend, if he asked you to pray for him, and you said in return, absolutely not. I won’t do that.
you can go to God directly yourself.

I’ll bet that would create some discussion :wink:

Yes the Hail Mary should be explained

That the first part is scripture
The angel’s greeting
Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary - I might add while filled with the holy spirit

The center of the prayer is praising Jesus - “blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”

The final part of the prayer we are asking for her to pray “now and at the hour of our death”

I don’t see how in this prayer we are praising Mary like she is God - its simply not true.

Sorry off subject - I just finished my rosary

Correct. Re: Mary and the saints, Protestants just don’t understand it. Mostly because of how they are taught by their leadership

:thumbsup:

Rather than defend beliefs that he either has not heard of, or already rejects, you could focus on the recent (3/4 of the way through Christian history) man-made doctrine of bible alone. Get him to question his doctrines first. He needs a reason to leve where he is currently comfortable. One place to begin is to ask where the bible states that everything to be believed must be found between its covers. Ask where the bible defines its own table of contents. Ask where Jesus established His Church on writings. Where He desired the faith to be spread via ink and papyrus. Ask where our Lord taught bible alone (hint: there was no “bible” - only varying collections of scrolls at that time).

Prayer for the dead is mentioned in the “apocrypha”.

True (Maccabees, although I don’t know the specific verses offhand). But a little off topic, since the OP said prayers to, not prayers for.

[2Maccabees12:43 And **making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, 44 (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) 45 And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. 46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.]

Actually Maccabees is called apocrapha by Protestants. The Church calls those seven books Protestants removed from the bible deuterocanonical=second canon. The NT also has deuterocanonical books such as Revelation, Hebrews and some other sort letters.

They are called deuterocanonical because some objected to them. The first canon or first list was those books which all accepted without question.

Here’s one example

Pray = ask

At the wedding feast of Cana, why would Mary be the one to say to Jesus they have no more wine?

[LIST]
*]who did the servants approach? It was Mary. What does Mary have to do with their wine needs? Nothing! Mary turns to Jesus. Jesus says to her, what’s this to do with us?
[LIST]
*]Not looking good…right? Meaning from the beginning, (the servants) knew Mary had pull with her Son Jesus so they must have ***asked ***Mary for help. :wink: Otherwise, why wouldn’t they have gone to Jesus directly?
[/LIST]

[/LIST]

[LIST]
*]Bottom line, the servants asked Mary, and Jesus did what Mary asked for.
[/LIST]

[LIST]
*]One has to ask, if the servants went to Jesus directly, would He have done what they asked for?
[/LIST]

Jn 2:
2 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. 3 ***When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” ****** 4 And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me?a***] My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.