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How to Answer Protestants Forum: Prayers To The Saints

by Catherine Frakas 04 Aug 2002

Prayers To The Saints QUESTION from Pat on July 27, 2002 Hello! Me and my family are fairly new Catholics, (Easter Vigil 1999). My daughter, she is 28 years old, has been talking to someone she met about Catholicism and he had a question that we couldn't answer. The question is why do Catholics pray to the Saints? Only God is omnipresent and is the only one that can hear so many prayers at one time. I realize that we don't pray to the saints, but through them. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. But, it's a good point that the saints aren't omnipresent and therefore not able to hear so many prayers. Thank You, Pat
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on August 20, 2002 Dear Pat:
First -- Welcome Home!
As for your question, that is a fairly common one amoung non-Catholics and new converts.
Part of the problem is defining the terms we use. For most non-Catholics, praying is their highest form of worship and as such is reserved for God alone.
Catholics use the word pray in the older sense (we are VERY slow to change) of petitioning a higher authority. Less than a century ago, one would have heard an attorney addressing a judge with a request like I pray thee. Obviously the attorney was not praying to the judge like we pray to God, rather recognizing the judge's superior position and ability to grant his request. In today's language, it may be less confusing for non-Catholics if we refer to asking Saints to pray for us.
But why would we ask them to pray for us since only God is omnipresent? Of course, the next question is why ask other living humans to pray for us since God can hear our prayers as well as theirs. The answer to both questions is the same: Because when we are baptized we are brought into a family relationship God (adopted sons & daughters) but also with each other. Family members care for each other and want to be involved in helping one another. Our loving Father allows us all to take part in caring for one another through our prayers and acts of charity.
The passage from 1 Timothy 2 referring to Jesus as the One mediator in immediately preceeded by a reminder to constantly pray for one another. Of course Jesus Christ is the only mediator -- all our prayers and the prayers of the Saints are THROUGH Him and dependant upon Him.
The important thing to remember is that our prayers for each other are rooted in the love of Christ that binds us together as a family. And, as St. Paul reminds us in Romans 8, not even death can separate us from Christ.
If we are called to pray for each other in this life, why would we assume that ends in the next? The accounts in Revelations depict the saints and martyrs praying before the throne of God for the benefit of God's people on Earth. I can't think of anything more clearly indicating the appropriateness of expecting those who have won the race to cheer us on!
Enjoy the Peace of Christ modeled in His Saints.
Pax Christi, Troy
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