Sunday, May 1, 2011

Do Catholics Worship the Saints? And Can the Saints Hear Us?

I recently received a great comment in the comment section of my latest post (which has sidetracked me from my regularly scheduled rosary series for the moment). The reason I am so grateful for this comment (and I know tone can be hard to tell so I'd like to clarify, I'm not being sarcastic!) is that it addresses many of the common misconceptions about Catholicism! Here's the comment and my response (which will actually be a second series of posts, based on the point that I'm answering):
“-If you have questions about praying to saints ask yourself this: have you ever asked someone to pray for you? Have ever had anyone say "I'll pray for you"?-

Yes but the people I ask to pray for me are alive. You are saying these people who are dead have omniscience qualities like God and that is wrong. Jesus said he is the ONLY way to the father and never said pray to anyone else. The saints are those that are saved. I'm not trying to offend you just as a former Catholic, I wish someone would have explained the Bible to me to see how wrong I was.”

From Karen
Karen this is actually a great point that really illustrates the one of the misconceptions that non-Catholics (and poorly cathecized Catholics) have about the practice of praying to the saints. This mornings post was quick, I was getting ready for Mass and wanted to respond to the onslaught that I was seeing in the comments sections on various reports about Bless John Paul II’s beatification. Tonight I’ll take a break from reading my husband’s theology thesis (41 pages down, 17 to go!) to go a little more in depth. I hope this helps you understand what the Church really teaches and what we as Catholics really believe!

I am also going to address some of the charges that weren’t made here, but that often come up when prayers to the saints is denounced.

One challenge that is often made is whether or not the Saints in heaven can hear us. This can be answered simply, from scripture. In Revelation 5:8 John tells us of the saints in heaven offering our prayers to God under the form of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

It is easy to see in this verse that the saints are offering our prayers to God and thus are aware of our petitions (this is also a scriptural example of the saints interceding for us).

You are right in saying that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, but the intercession of the saints does not violate the “sole mediatorship of Christ” which Paul mentions in Timothy when he says “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” First you must consider the way in which Christ is a mediator.

As you and I both know, Christ is unique in that he is the only person who is both fully God and fully man. He is the only bridge between us and he is the mediator of the New Covenant (mentioned in Hebrew 9:15 and 12:24) as Moses was the old mediator (Gal. 3:19-20).

The fact that asking for prayers of the saints in heaven does not interfere with Christ’s mediatorship can be seen in the verse that precedes 1 Timothy 2:5 when Paul says “First of all, then I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and pleasing to God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4).

Thus we know that the intercessory prayers that are offered are “good and pleasing to God our Savior.

In my next post I'll address a misinterpretation of Deuteronomy and the claim that Catholics think that the saint are omniscient.

1 comment:

  1. In regards to the actually comment: as my husband says, God is not God of the dead, but God of the living. If we believe the Saints are in heaven, then we believe they are alive in heaven.


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