Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | April 23, 2010

Intercession of the Saints, not by our merits,

There are some people that ask, why do Catholics pray “to” Saints. They should only pray to God directly…

For those of you that know me, know I can have a real witty sense of humor when I choose to have one. My usual answer is I’ll take all the help I can get, heavenly earthly, i don’t know about you, but I’m a sinner that needs help.

Unfortunately,  many protestants don’t have the understanding of God, in the way that they should. To say that God can’t work through the Saints is to limit God in ways that He can’t be limited. God is God, and we are not, in the words of St Augustine. Saintly intercession is Biblical, and quite frankly necessary, let’s take a look.

“For we are saved by hope, But hope that is seen, is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because he asketh for the saints according to God.” (Rom 8, 24-27)

The first thing that we need to notice is the following “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought” This is the translation from the Latin “nostram nam quid oremus sicut oportet nescimus”

a. From our own merits, we do not know how to pray. If you remember from St Luke’s Gospel, one of the disciples said “teach us to pray” Jesus goes on to teach the Our Father. We are body/soul composite for those of us that don’t remember. The Our Father is the structure for which all of our prayers should be based on. Obviously God would not limit us to just that one prayer. Our ability to pray comes from the Holy Spirit, not from our own merits.

b. “because he asketh the saints, according to God”…In some translations they use “holy ones” This is an incorrect translation, the use of “holy ones” is to oppose the Catholic understanding of Saints. The Saints aren’t dead, they’re alive in Christ, and nothing, not even death sepearates us. That’s what the Communion of Saints is all about. I know community is shunned upon in circles, but yes, we are a community. The Catholic Faith is not individualistic, when we sin, we affect one another. It’s not just “Me and God”

c. “And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel. And the Angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar and cast it on the earth and there were thunders and voices and lightnings and a great earthquake.” (Rev 8, 3-5)

1. “that he should offer the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar”..This time you can’t make the case that they’re on earth. They’re before the altar in heaven. They are offering their prayers. (Thank goodness too ;)). The Saints hear our prayers and place them before God. In no way does this diminish God, in fact it shows how much God does love us. Again, I don’t know about you, but I sin a ton, and need the help of the Saints, why? God  gets a bit ticked off when I sin, and the Saints don’t get mad at me, they’re human. Did protestants seriously think we make this stuff up? Are you serious?

2. “And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of an angel.” God hears the prayers of the Saints and answers them in accordance to His will. The incense used at Mass is symbolic of the prayers of the Saints. Again, not made up out of thin air. As I tell protestants, all Catholic teachings are in the Bible, maybe not explicitly, but always implicitly they are there. Sometimes you have to dig through the Greek or Latin text to find the teaching, but Catholic teaching can be found. And if you don’t believe us, just look at the evidence of the Christians,

here’s a quote “[T]hat it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole world (the blameless one for sinners), nor to worship any other. For Him indeed, as being the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the Lord, we worthily love on account of their extraordinary affection towards their own King and Master, of whom may we also be made companions and fellow disciples! The centurion then, seeing the strife excited by the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire, and consumed it. Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps.” Martyrdom of Polycarp 17,18 (A.D. 157). St Polycarp learned from St. John.

I could talk more, but well, I have things to do today 🙂

Pax Vobis


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