WHY DO CATHOLICS PRAY TO SAINTS?
Summary vid + full text.
- What we do in our daily life: ask prayers and help from our friends
- The Saints, as models of prayer, intercessors and friends
- The doctrine of the sole mediation of Christ does not exclude subordinate mediations.
A young man asked me the same question a few weeks back (pray for him please) during an informal conversation just outside the Church after Mass. It is a practice which our non-Catholic Christian brethren find it difficult to accept perhaps due to a literal, myopic and thereby erroneous interpretation of the Holy Scriptures which teach that there is only one Mediator between God and Man, Our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:3). Besides, a non-Catholic might ask: “Why not just pray directly to God?”
This could easily be understood and answered with another question: Why do we ask our friends or even people we don’t know to pray for us? Not only Catholics do this, but almost everyone who has faith in the power of prayer. Why do we ask help from our friends when we have a difficult transaction or undergoing a problem? Because we know they can help us, perhaps, expedite an operation or even solve a problem.
If we ask prayers and help from our friends, or not even friends, just mere acquaintance, or a friend of a friend, here on earth, to expedite a matter, solve a problem, why not ask prayers and help from our friends and brethren who are already in God’s company in heaven? Catholics pray to saints asking them to pray for us for they are already God’s company. It is what we call prayer of intercession, i.e., we ask the saints to pray on our behalf, just as we do here on earth, when we ask people, friends and even strangers, to pray for our intentions. This is an element of what Catholic faith teaches on the communion of saints.
Saints are models of prayer. They have already reached their goal and are now contemplating and enjoying God’s vision and company. Through the doctrine of the Communion of saints, they, as our friends and brethren, are willing to help us during our earthly pilgrimage.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 2683 teaches:
The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were “put in charge of many things.” THEIR INTERCESSION IS THEIR MOST EXALTED SERVICE TO GOD’S PLAN. WE CAN AND SHOULD ASK THEM TO INTERCEDE FOR US AND FOR THE WHOLE WORLD.
The saints are “intercessors and friends of the faithful who are still on the earthly pilgrimage, because the Saints, already enraptured by the happiness of God, KNOW THE NEEDS OF THEIR BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND ACCOMPANY THEM ON THEIR PILGRIM JOURNEY WITH THEIR PRAYERS AND PROTECTION (Directory on Popular Piety n. 211).”
The doctrine of the sole mediation of Christ (cf. 1 Tim 2, 3), does not exclude subordinate mediations, which must always be understood in relation to the all embracing mediation of Christ (Cf. (Directory on Popular Piety n. 210). In the same way as Jesus, during his life, asked His Apostles to do things for Him (preparation of the Passover, baptize, preach, cure, forgive in His Name etc.), God also delegates some tasks to His Angels and saints to protect, help and intercede for us during our earthly pilgrimage.
O God Almighty, we thank you for giving “us an example to follow in the lives of your Saints, assistance by their intercession, and a bond of fraternal love in the communion of grace (Preface of Saints)” for your honor and glory and our sanctification by conforming our life fully to your divine will and by imitating the virtue of those who were your preeminent disciples.
Below you have the AV summary:
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